Friday, May 24, 2013

Today's Posts

Brave & Reverent? The Boy Scouts Surrender.

The Boy Scouts have fought long and hard against being forced to include avowed homosexuals in its ranks as either Scouts or scoutmasters. In the Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), the Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts' First Amendment right of expressive association in removing an assistant scoutmaster who was “an avowed homosexual and gay rights activist.”

In writing for the majority, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said that the “presence [of the avowed homosexual] in the Boy Scouts would, at the very least, force the organization to send a message, both to the youth members and the world, that the Boy Scouts accepts homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior”. Forcing the Scouts to do this would have violated their First Amendment right because, as the Court noted, the Boy Scouts asserts that it "teach[es] that homosexual conduct is not morally straight," and that it does "not want to promote homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior."

This just changed…The organization, as Justice Rehnquist might express it, just sent a message. It’s the same message that the homosexual activist was trying to force the Scouts to send back in 2000 –  “that the Boy Scouts accepts homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior.”

What the Supreme Court conceded to the BSA only 13 years ago; namely, that the U.S. Constitution gave the Boy Scouts legal protection from homosexual activists destroying their historic moral creed, the BSA cowardly chose to just give away yesterday.

I can't think of how this is anything but a disaster for the Boy Scouts. But then that's how political correctness works. It hates the past and it doesn't care a whit for the future. Stupidly short-sighted, political correctness has no moorings in reason or morality. It simply throws tantrums, yells threats and epithets at anyone who gets in its way, and wreaks an awful havoc on the formerly serene surroundings around it.

With this craven cave-in to immoral pressure, the Boy Scouts of America can no longer boast (and I take the following from the Boy Scout oath and law) of being brave, reverent, trustworthy, morally straight, or doing their duty to God.

The Boy Scouts dropped their compass somewhere in these last 13 years and now...they are sadly, hopelessly lost.

Wind Turbines Are Terribly Ineffective...Unless You Want to Kill Birds

"It uses tons of fossil fuels every day, emits a greenhouse gas that’s like CO2 on steroids, can’t do the job it’s made for, costs taxpayers exorbitant fees, and makes the federal government look mentally ill for giving it outrageous subsidies. It also chops up birds, bats and scenery with roads and monstrous 400-foot-tall machines. 'It' is wind power, of course."

You may have been suspicious about the fulsome praise heaped upon those massive (and extremely expensive) wind power generators that have sprouted in such ugly fashion across the American landscape. But, brother, the truth is a lot worse than you thought.

Ron Arnold has a stunning article here which you shouldn't miss.

(And yes, you're right. There are revelations here of Team Obama's anti-business, anti-American policies as well as the junk science used by the environmental powers-that-be. Definitely good stuff for water cooler conversations.)

A Weekend IRS Roundup

Among all the articles dealing with the IRS scandal that you may be
seeing, definitely don't pass these NRO columns up.

* "IRS Morality: Defend Planned Parenthood, Deluge Adoptive Families with Audits" by David French.

* "Lois Lerner at the FEC" by Eliana Johnson. Lerner's passion to go after Republicans goes way back.

* "The Real Voter Suppression of 2012: Voter ID didn’t reduce turnout, but the IRS may have." by John Fund.

Obama's Anti-Security Security Speech

Barack Obama's national security speech yesterday afternoon (actually, it was more of an anti-security speech) demonstrated again how naive, foolish and utterly dangerous this man is to Americans and her allies.

In his speech, Mr. Obama went beyond utopian ideals -- way beyond even wishful thinking. His narcissism is so deep that he seems to really believe that the jihad against the West is going to end merely because he says it must.

Really, Mr. President? Send your speech to those Islamic axe-murderers in England and see how they react.

But, of course, much more alarming than yesterday's performance is that Barack Obama has gone way beyond thumb-twiddling speeches. His policies have gone a dangerous way towards dismantling America's military, dissing our best allies, and tearing down our standing in the world.

We're in serious trouble.

Here, by the way, are a few of the web's best responses to the President's speech.

"Obama’s Speech: Hamlet as Wartime Leader" by Bing West (U.S. Marine and a former assistant secretary of defense) over at NRO.

In seventy lugubrious paragraphs, President Obama today asked America whether as commander-in-chief he should bomb terrorists. He concluded that sometimes he should, and sometimes he shouldn’t. He couldn’t quite make up his mind. Therefore, he would appoint a panel to advise him.

Mr. Obama has already authorized more than 200 such drone bombings. His staff has bragged that before ordering a bombing, he personally reviews who lives and who dies. Imagine if Prime Minister Churchill or President Truman had appeared on television to announce an advisory panel before bombing our enemy. We would be appalled. The president appeared before us not as our leader, but as our Hamlet.

The president explained that we are not at war as we were on 9/11. In one paragraph, he said,“we must define our effort not as a boundless global war on terror.” A few paragraphs later, he said, ”al-Qaeda and its affiliates try to gain a foothold in some of the most distant and unforgiving places on Earth.”

English translation: The war on Islamic terrorists is not boundless, but it does encircle the globe. Welcome to New Age geography.

Mr. Obama then criticized the Guantanamo prison for terrorists. “We compromised our basic values,” he said, “by detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.” His remedy? He was sending 62 of the 86 prisoners back to Yemen. Those killers would then be someone else’s problem. Let’s hope Yemen does not copy the president’s example and let them loose to kill more Americans. That result would conflict with “our basic values.”

The rationale for the speech was obvious: Forget Benghazi, the IRS, and wiretaps of journalists. Instead, let’s talk about drones, Guantanamo, and the irresolvable burdens of the commander-in-chief. Having not told the whole truth about the death of our ambassador to Libya, the IRS targeting of U.S. citizens, and the FBI targeting of journalists, the president wanted to change the subject and divert attention.

The speech was cynical and sly.

Also check out, "Obama’s Speech: Replacing Nothing with Nothing" by James Jay Carafano at NRO.and this clip of Charles Krauthammer responding on Fox News.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Today's Posts

One of the "Secrets" to Effective Prayer? Recognize God Isn't Your Errand Boy.

The Government's Super Summer Sales Event: ObamaCare!

University of New Hampshire Outsources, Outspends and Outrages

The U.S. State Department's Weak Response to the Persecuted Church

NPR: Lois Lerner Is "The Face of the Scandal"

One of the "Secrets" to Effective Prayer? Recognize God Isn't Your Errand Boy.

I print below a brief section from my sermon last Sunday morning. We have, for several weeks, been examining Matthew, Chapters 5-7. It's the section of the gospel usually called the Sermon on the Mount. Sunday's text was Matthew 7: 7-12. Anyway, after a couple of conversations this week, I decided to post this particular section of the sermon in order to help Vital Signs friends think through some of the key issues about prayer.

I suggest before reading through the comments below that you familiarize yourself with that passage in Matthew's gospel.

...In verse 7, Jesus begins describing the life of prayer He sets for His disciples. And I say “life of prayer” because the Greek tense used here is the present imperative which means not just to ask but to keep on asking…not just seek but keep on seeking…not just knock but keep on knocking.

Jesus has been emphasizing throughout this discourse to His disciples that they demonstrate a lifestyle of belief in God, of dependence upon God.  And now He insists that they do the same with prayer -- make it a lifestyle thing as well. Ongoing, patient, trusting, expectant.

These verses really smack down the life of independence and self-reliance that we are so won't to embrace. But no, the theme song for a Christian is not “I Did It My Way.” It is more like "Trust and Obey" or "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."

We must strive to live in a conscious dependence on God.  And, as we do so, a lifestyle of prayer (frequent, humble, trusting) will be an inevitable outgrowth.

Ask, seek, knock. Note that all of these verbs require the acknowledgement that our answers, our resources, our blessings come not from within us -- but from outside us. I don't work them up. I don't reach deep inside. I don't get "my stuff together."  The gifts come from God.

These verbs also show an intriguing progression. These three verbs are not to be taken as synonyms. They illustrate the development of the prayer lifestyle.

Ask is an action of the voice. It's an opening for conversation with God. But to seek stretches us a bit more.  Seeking involves our body and our mind.  It requires care and application and time. It’s an investigation. And to knock? That verb carries connotations of earnestness and perseverance.  It suggests a willingness to address obstacles -- yet always with the knowledge that the door must be opened from the other side.  We don’t kick the door in for we believe there is Someone on the other side Who alone has the power to open the door.

The image created by the combination of these three verbs is a neat one, for it helps us to visualize the ultimate satisfaction of answered prayer; namely, the one-on-one fellowship we experience with God (and all the attendant blessings) when He opens the door to us.

You see, prayer has an ultimate goal. And I know I'll be bursting some bubbles here, but that ultimate goal is not you getting your way or getting your requests answered according to your desires and timetable. No, prayer’s ultimate goal is closer fellowship with God.

Of course, to pursue this course requires virtue.  To ask, seek and knock in the appropriate fashion requires faith and hope, confidence and patience, perseverance and trust in God’s character and power. In other words, to pray in the way Jesus is instructing, you must have "the right stuff.”

How is that possible? We are sinners. By choice, we do bad, selfish stuff. In fact, even when we want to do the right thing, we mess up. We don't have the staying power. Our breaking point for holding onto holiness is very low.

Well, remember what we have stressed throughout this sermon series. Remember, Jesus has been teaching throughout this discourse that the righteousness of His disciples (the citizens of the kingdom of heaven) must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. That righteousness must be complete and pure. It must reflect the royal law and thus be of the same character as Jesus Himself.

So, is Jesus just pulling their chain? Is He pointing to a standard of thought and conduct that will forever be far away from them? No. Jesus' teaching about the royal law serves the same purpose (only more thoroughly, dealing as it does with the thoughts and intents of the heart) as the law did in the Old Testament. And that purpose is to show the unfathomable distance between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man.

It's a distance that can't be traversed by man. No matter what he does, he can't get over the chasm. But He can be lifted over by the grace of God -- a God Whose judgment on sin is satisfied by the vicarious suffering and death of Jesus. He took our penalty upon Himself. He paid our debt. And those who believe in Him, who wholly put their trust in His sacrifice, are not only forgiven, cleansed and adopted into God's forever family, they receive the imputation of Christ's righteousness and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian receives as the free gift of God that "right stuff" that empowers him to live according to the royal law…to experience a righteousness that exceeds religious legalism…to live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven…to live a lifestyle of humble prayer.

Keep on asking. Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking.

Now, of course, several other Scriptures illuminate this lifestyle of prayer but we just don’t have time to explore those passages this morning.  But let’s look at least at one very key element. It's in the next verse.

Verse 8 reads, “For everyone who asks receives and he who seeks finds and to him who knocks it shall be opened.”

The point?  Persistent prayer -- when offered with a clean heart and truly desiring that the will of God be performed (Remember the pattern of prayer Jesus had earlier laid down? "Thy will de done.") -- will be answered. And as it is answered, the ultimate goal (closer fellowship between the disciple and his heavenly Father) will be achieved.

Now to many people (maybe, some of you guys too), this is a rather disappointing perspective on prayer.  Because sometimes we are not really looking for God’s will to be done as we pray nor nor are we desiring more intimate fellowship with God through our prayers nor are we desirous most of all to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ through our prayer experience. No,  what we're looking for in a sermon or book or radio program about prayer is “How can I get what I want?  What’s the trick to getting God to come through with exactly what I’m requesting and, by the way, without further delays?”

Here’s important news for such folks. God is not your errand boy.  God is not your go-fer.  God is not a genie that you rubbed out of a lamp or a magic fish you pulled out of the pond who will grant your every wish.

God is God.  The Creator of heaven and earth.  The Sovereign Lord over all.  The One (the only One) Who is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. His will runs the universe, not yours.

And once you get hold of that brilliant truth, prayer becomes an opening to tremendous satisfaction, empowerment, spiritual growth, and other blessings.  To know that your prayers (when they come from a clean, dependent heart) are always answered and that the ultimate goal of prayer is always being achieved is of utmost importance.

This means, of course, that your prayers are often going to be answered in ways that are quite different than what you’re hoping.  But that’s as it must be. For God knows best what you need.  God knows best how His eternal plan is being enacted.  And God knows best how to bring you into a closer walk with Him.

Remember these points as you meditate on the subject of prayer and, more importantly, as you engage in the frequent practice of prayer. God’s will.  God’s power.  God’s goodness.  And the fervent pursuit of that ultimate goal of prayer – a more intimate, more bountiful relationship with the Father.

Okay, let's look at the next verses...

The Government's Super Summer Sales Event: ObamaCare!

Get ready for the billion dollar blitz to promote ObamaCare this summer. Political speeches. Television ads. Radio. Celebrity pitches. Social media. Billboards. Brochures. Bus benches and taxi signs. Airplane banners. Buttons. Sandwich boards. Parades. Talking dogs. Stickers in bathrooms.

It's an all-out sales campaign.

Why? Because there's no way ObamaCare sells on its own merits. So you, Binky, are picking up the very expensive tab to sell it to yourself.

Here's more on the menacing matter from Bruce Japsen at Forbes.

As states and the U.S. government prepare to market health plans to the uninsured, a feeding  frenzy has begun among advertising and marketing agencies clamoring to get  a portion of promotional spending that could reach billions of dollars.

The potential windfall to ad, PR and marketing shops could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars just from government business alone to market the online marketplaces where consumers will begin enrolling in health plans on Oct. 1 of this year.  And once ad dollars from private health insurance giants like Aetna (AET), Cigna (CI), Humana (HUM), UnitedHealth Group (UNH) and Blue Cross plans are included from their efforts to reach a new market of uninsured, the ad spending could reach into the billions of dollars…

The barrage of advertising across the country is expected to begin this summer.

“It’s going to be Black Friday for health insurance,” Michael Mahoney, senior  vice president of consumer marketing for,  a technology company with a platform used for purchasing health insurance, told Forbes in an interview. “Just like the holiday shopping season has its rush, this is going to be a rush to be the first mover to get out in front. Most people have heard about the Affordable Care Act but they have not seen any messaging from the government or private entities about what to anticipate next.”

The Obama administration says states may use federal grants for marketing activities that include “production and distribution of brochures, direct mail, print ads, social media, and digital/online ads, and TV and radio buys” related to their exchanges. Here’s a link with more detailed information on use of federal funds for marketing.

Whether the ad and marketing spending will be effective is another story.

University of New Hampshire Outsources, Outspends and Outrages

From the Cato Institute comes a story of "Great Moments in Government Waste." 

Last year, officials at the Univerity of New Hampshire complained bitterly about legislative budget cuts. UNH President Mark Huddleson, who earns more than three times the salary of New Hamphire’s governor at over $330,000 a year, called the cuts “a devastating and historic loss of $31 million,” which is just under six percent of UNH’s $583.5 operating budget.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth made the recent revelation that UNH was paying a New York City marketing firm between $91,400 and $108,200 to redesign the school’s logo particularly surprising.

University officials felt that the school’s current logo (shown above) was not competitive enough in the 21st century so they paid the NYC firm to produce three proposed logos. Apparently this is what $100,000 gets you:

Unsurprisingly, a number of students and alumni are not happy with any of the proposed designs and some created a Facebook page to organize the opposition. (“I think that a bunch of first graders could have come up with better designs! These are awful!” wrote Julie Glover, a 1983 UNH graduate. Scotty Arsenault said the university should hire a local artist. “You’re paying a ridiculous amount for insultingly mediocre designs. Don’t limit yourselves to this shield/crest concept.”)

Grant Bosse, the editor of New Hampshire Watchdog, responded by creating a public Facebook page to crowdsource a new logo. Within 24 hours, there are already several submissions that at least as good as the $100,000 logos.

Not only is crowdsourcing free, it’s likely to create a better logo from an involved community that is clearly more invested in the product.

The U.S. State Department's Weak Response to the Persecuted Church

Once again, the latest State Department International Religious Freedom Report leaves much to be desired, especially relating to the desperate need of persecuted Christians around the world.

Paul Marshall, the senior fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and the author of the highly esteemed Their Blood Cries Out, God and the Constitution: Christianity and American Politics, Islam at the Crossroads: Understanding Its Beliefs, History and Conflicts, and the co-author of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, describes this tragic weakness in the report in this NRO column.

...However, there is no systematic attention to growing attacks on Christians worldwide, despite the fact the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the world’s preeminent source of reliable religion statistics, finds that Christians are the most widely persecuted religious group in the world. (Pew senior researcher Brian Grim has reported that “Christians faced governmental and societal harassment in a larger share of the world’s countries than did other religious groups individually,” a total of some 133 countries.)

This persecution is mentioned in the executive summary, but in such a way as to downplay, even slight, the point. It states “while Christians were a leading target of societal discrimination, abuse, and violence in some parts of the world, members of other religions, particularly Muslims, suffered as well.”

All of this is true – I know no one who rejects it — but this wording shunts the fact that Christians are indeed “a leading target” (in fact the leading target) into an aside. Thus the issue is not highlighted, but sidestepped and ignored

This is a particular problem in at least two areas. One is Nigeria. The Jubilee Campaign has been meticulously documenting the killings of Christians and others there in the last four years, especially by the murderous terrorist group Boko Haram. Jubilee maintains that more Christians were killed in religious violence in Nigeria in 2012 than in the rest of the world combined. Ann Buwalda of Jubilee reports that almost 1,000 people were killed by Boko Haram in 2012, whereas the State Department refers only to “hundreds” of such victims, and contains many other inaccuracies.

The other major problem is reporting on the Middle East. Of course, almost everybody of any religion and none is suffering in the Middle East, but a particular burden is falling on Christians and other religious minorities — the ones that do not have their own militias, and who thus become particular targets.

Christians are being driven out of the Middle East, their ancient heartland, and the State Department is almost silent. While the U.S. used to be regarded as the country that takes religious freedom seriously, it is its former critics, the Europeans, especially the Germans, French, and Italians, who are sounding the alarm. Unfortunately, Representative Frank Wolf’s call for a special envoy for the Middle East’s religious minorities finds more resonance beyond the U.S. than it does with the current administration.

NPR: Lois Lerner Is "The Face of the Scandal"

It's not surprising that a story about Lois Lerner's "taking the fifth" at the Congressional hearings yesterday tries several times to cast her in the most positive light possible.

But, in the end, even the NPR writer (Frank James) has to conclude she's in deep trouble. Indeed, with the damning quotation he cites, James skates very close to suggesting she do the right thing; that is, resign.

On the other hand, something recently written by David Cay Johnston, a journalist who knows the IRS better than many people who work there, is exactly the sort of thing she may want to put out of her mind:

"Only a person lacking a sense of honor and integrity would cling to their job in the face of the horrendous damage caused to the agency they work for, to her superiors and to the welfare of the Republic if her mistakes prompt even more IRS budget cuts.

"No one in this century has done more to breed disrespect for our tax system than Lois G. Lerner, undermining the public confidence on which voluntary compliance rests."

It would be hard to find stronger evidence for her having become the face of this scandal than that.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today's Posts

Breaking News: Nebraska AG Files Charges on Late-Term Abortionist's Nurse

When Health Care Professionals Don't Care

You Couldn't Make This Stuff Up If You Tried

Will Lois Lerner Also Take the Fifth About Her Antagonism to Religion?

Obama's Undermining of Press Freedom: Did the Press Contribute to the Problem?

Breaking News: Nebraska AG Files Charges on Late-Term Abortionist's Nurse

Pro-life activists have certainly been hoping that the guilty verdict handed down on murdering abortionist Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia might embolden journalists to do exposé stories on other abortionists, encourage lawmakers to better protect the would-be victims of abortion, and perhaps even encourage attorneys general and health officials to pursue legal investigations of those who are involved in the grimy and generally unregulated business of abortion in their areas.

Leslie Reed writes in the Omaha World-Herald about one example of those hopes being realized in a very relevant way:

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has filed medical disciplinary charges against a registered nurse employed by the Bellevue abortion clinic run by Dr. LeRoy Carhart.

The petition accuses Lindsey Creekmore, the sole registered nurse employed at the clinic since April 30, 2011, of administering incorrect intravenous dosages of sedatives and a labor-inducing drug to 11 patients between January 2011 and March 2012...

The complaint also alleges that the clinic did not routinely staff its recovery room with licensed medical staff, in violation of a rule that prohibits a registered nurse from delegating complex nursing care to unlicensed staff.

The charges are scheduled for an Aug. 5th disciplinary hearing before the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Division.

“Clinic records show a significant pattern of substandard care practices that, in any surgical center, would endanger the health and safety of the public,” said Bruning. “We are seeking license revocation.”

Nebraskans (or anyone else, for that matter), if you'd like to thank Attorney General Bruning for taking this action, give his office a call at (402) 471-2682. We already did.

When Health Care Professionals Don't Care

This Ian Birrell story in the Guardian ("The NHS is Killing Disabled People") is both an alarming and profoundly sad one. It's a story about arrogance, bigotry, indifference, self-satisfied ignorance, and an elitism so fervent that it embraces eugenics.

Oh yes, it's also about the inefficiency and heartlessness that is rife within national health care.

...Staff should be used to patients with complex conditions and disabilities; sadly, this is often not the case. We have experienced far worse than these minor annoyances in the 20 years since our daughter was born, including a doctor giving her an injection despite being warned it could kill her. Thankfully, she survived. But all too many people with disabilities end up being killed by the health service – the very institution supposedly dedicated to saving their lives.

The latest case is distressing and disturbing: Tina Papalabropoulos, a young woman scarcely older than my own child dying after a series of blunders by two NHS organisations – a hospital and out-of-hours GP service – in Essex. Quite rightly, her mother, Christine, is angry. "When your child becomes ill and you need professional help from doctors, you and your child are looked at and you can see their mind working, 'Is there any point in trying to save this child's life?' You can see that they think, 'This child has an existence and not a life'," she said.

The loss of this young life was a needless tragedy. But it is far from an isolated one. Each week 24 disabled people are killed by such prejudiced presumptions; indeed, there was a case at my local hospital recently. These shocking figures are based on a government-commissioned inquiry into one region of the country, which found people with disabilities 37% more likely to be killed by incompetence or inadequate care – and their lives end on average 16 years earlier than they should. The more serious the disabilities, the higher the risk.

Forgive me if I fail to join the national worship of the NHS. Mencap has been campaigning to prevent these deaths, logging at least 100 cases over the past six years. The charity blames poor communication with parents and carers as the main cause – but it has concluded that the only explanation for so many preventable deaths is prejudice. Doctors and nurses reflect views prevalent across society that people with profound disabilities are second-class citizens, their lives not worth saving. Imagine the furor if any other minority group was dying in such numbers.

There is a shameful failure to understand that every life is different yet all have the same value. This is the fumbling bigotry – and that is the only word for it – that emerges when people tell a grieving parent their son or daughter is perhaps better off dead. This is the starker bigotry that explains the rise in hate crime, the reluctance of employers to hire people with disabilities, the resurgence of eugenics.

You Couldn't Make This Stuff Up If You Tried

Here's several items you shouldn't miss:

Georgia embraces atheism. "The atheist books will be placed alongside Gideon Bibles already in every state park cabin as directed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on Wednesday. 'We appreciate the governor’s invitation to place atheist books in the cabins and look forward to providing visitors with the opportunity to learn more about atheism when they visit Georgia’s beautiful state parks,' said Managing Director Amanda Knief."

* The federal government seizing records of reporter's offices. Seizing records of reporters' personal phones.  Seizing records of the phones of reporter's parents. Good grief...where will it end?

* "Accused Fort Hood Shooter Paid $278,000 While Awaiting Trial"

* Team Obama: Incompetent. Arrogant. Secretive. And, most likely, guilty of several illegal and unconstitutional actions.

* "Diversity, not Jesus, saves says Presiding Anglican Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori."

* "Colorado passed some of the nation’s strictest gun-control measures earlier this year, and 54 of the state’s 64 country sheriffs have joined onto a lawsuit that attempts to block them."

* "Three Labor Unions, Including Teamsters, Want ObamaCare Repealed; When Will Media Report?"

* Regarding Congress demand for the IRS records of communications with the White House over the targeting of conservative groups: "The IRS -- which requires working Americans to file their tax returns by an April 15 deadline each year or else face penalties -- did not comply with this deadline imposed by the congressional committee that has oversight over its activities."

* "All of Obama's Scandals Are Ultimately About Information Control"

* The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia (the fellow responsible for the unprecedented and unconstitutional surveillance of Fox News) is a Barack Obama enthusiast who gave money and volunteer work to the Obama campaign.

* To Howard Dean, “Benghazi is a laughable joke.”

* Joe Biden, "The standing joke in the office is Barack’s learning to speak without a teleprompter."

* "The list of keynote commencement speakers at Ivy League institutions for 2013 does not include a single conservative."

Will Lois Lerner Also Take the Fifth About Her Antagonism to Religion?

Okay, you think you understand where Lois Lerner is coming from after her taking the fifth this morning and refusing to answer questions about her role in the developing scandal of the IRS' highly partisan, patently immoral, and dangerously unconstitutional targeting of conservative groups.

Well, it looks like there's an even uglier side to Ms. Lerner's motivations. "It turns out that in her prior position at the Federal Elections Commission, Lerner was obsessed with religious organizations and their religious practices, some of which she apparently wanted to suppress."

Mark Hemingway and John Hinderaker have more.

And, believe me, you just can't miss the grilling that Oliver North was subjected to an FEC lawyer, acting under the direction of Lois Lerner. It is really amazing, infuriating stuff.

Obama's Undermining of Press Freedom: Did the Press Contribute to the Problem?

In the next few weeks, we will probably hear more stories about journalists whose correspondence was monitored, and more creepy details about the corruption of the IRS. The fault, however, is not Obama’s alone; he is what he is — a take-no-prisoners tough Chicago politician who came to power in Illinois by suing to remove opponents from the ballot and leaking the sealed divorce records of his primary and general-election senatorial opponents. Such things worked there, and they work on the national level as well.

Instead, the problem has been the press, which for a variety of reasons invested in Obama to the point that it gave up its integrity and for the last five years essentially surrendered its vital watchdog role in a free society.

Read the rest of Victor Davis Hanson's column right here. Good stuff.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today's Posts

Michelle “Could Take Up a Whole Afternoon Talking About Barack's Failures.”

Michelle Obama, speaking to high school grads in Tennessee yesterday, said about her husband, “I could take up a whole afternoon talking about his failures.”

Interesting little barb.

And more than a bit disconcerting since we can pretty much guarantee she wouldn't be counting among his failures Benghazi, dismantling the American military, appointing a slew of radical socialists and anti-American types to positions of high leadership, or the apology tours.

Neither is that afternoon of criticism likely to point to Fast & Furious, wasting taxpayer's funds on vacations and golf, blaming Republicans for his failures, or punishing whistle-blowers.

And what of the records America has set under her husband's tenure for food stamps, unemployment, gas prices, businesses going under; and the national debt? I don't think Michelle would even consider those subjects.

The IRS scandal certainly wouldn't be among that afternoon-long harangue. Neither would his woeful energy policy, sending the economy in the tank, promoting homosexual marriage, or his habit of exploiting tragedies and crises for personal gain.

There's also no doubt that Michelle would omit from her gripe list Barack's subverting the 2nd Amendment, manipulating a lapdog press, dissing our allies, going all out to defend (and provide gobs of cash) to Planned Parenthood, and telling lies like he was doing it for a living.

Praising Islam, protecting terrorists from even being criticized as such, refusing to acknowledge (let alone prosecute) voter fraud and intimidation? Nope. They won't be among Michelle's complaints about Barack. Neither would the disaster that is ObamaCare, the soiling of America's reputation among the nations, the failure to address the plight of persecuted Christians and other prisoners of conscience -- no, those won't ever be addressed.

Nor will the First Lady get on the First Husband's case about his depressingly poor performance when it comes to Israel, Syria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, North Korea, Iran, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Russia…or Arizona.

I'll bet she won't even bring up his lousy performance on the basketball court last month.

So, I'm really getting curious now.

Just what would that afternoon's worth of Barack's failures include?

Thinking of President Rufus T. Firefly

White House press secretary Jay Carney is admitting that several senior White House staff knew of the ongoing investigation into the IRS's targeting of conservative groups before the release of the report from a Treasury Department inspector general. But none of them bothered to mention to Mr. Obama this outrageous subversion of the Constitution nor the mind-numbing scandal that it would inevitably cause if and when it were discovered.


Which is the most frightening possibility here? That Carney is lying through his teeth and the President did know about what was going on, did nothing about it, and is himself lying about it now?

Or that the captains of Team Obama see no reason to get the President of the United States actually engaged in the governing of the United States?

President Rufus T. Firefly, the Groucho Marx character in Duck Soup, comes inevitably to mind. As do his senior advisers, Chico and Harpo.

Of course, whichever of the above two answers turns out to be true (and you don't need me to tell you this), neither one is good for the Republic.

More Intimidation from Eric Holder's DOJ

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General published a new report Monday that confirms former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke leaked a document intended to smear Operation Fast and Furious scandal whistleblower John Dodson...

In addition to Burke’s involvement in leaking the document, emails the IG uncovered show senior officials at the Department of Justice discussed smearing Dodson.

One of those was Tracy Schmaler, the Director of the Department’s Office of Public Affairs, who resigned her position at the DOJ after emails uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request showed that she worked with leftwing advocacy group Media Matters for America to smear whistleblowers and members of Congress and the media who sought to investigate DOJ scandals under Attorney General Eric Holder.

(Matthew Boyle, reporting for Breitbart.)

Natural Marriage Is Unique...and Critically Important!

Here's more.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Today's Posts

The Leftist Politics of Intimidation: One Family's Story

A Look into Castro's Prisons

Pro-Life Politics: Take the Direct Course

Ignorance Is "In" at the White House

Bob Schieffer to Obama Mouthpiece, "Why Are You Here?"

Another Miller Myth: IRS Applications Were Actually Fewer Than Previous Year

The Leftist Politics of Intimidation: One Family's Story

Good grief, what kind of country have we become?

You decide you're going to work to make your country a better place by helping insure elections are fair and aboveboard. It's not only a legal cause, it's a quite noble one and you do everything right.

What happens?

You end up hassled, intimidated, and mercilessly vilified by the IRS, OSHA, the FBI, the ATF, and leftist politicians. Oh yes, on top of all this, petty bureaucrats cite trumped up wrongs and lay down heavy fines on your family business.

Welcome to Barack Obama's progressive America.

Catherine Engelbrecht’s tale has all the markings of a classic conspiracy theory: She says she thinks that because of her peaceful political activity, she and her family was targeted for scrutiny by hostile federal agencies.

Yet as news emerges that the Internal Revenue Service wielded its power to obstruct conservative groups, Catherine’s story becomes credible — and chilling. It also raises questions about whether other federal agencies have used their executive powers to target those deemed political enemies…

"True Scandal" by Jillian Kay Melchior over at National Review is truly not to be missed. Indeed, I'd suggest you pass it along with due diligence.

A Look into Castro's Prisons

And it's not pretty. Or fair. Or humane.

Here's part of a letter from a person living through the hellish existence that is a Cuban prison.

If the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva saw through a crack the horrors that occur in Cuban prisons, surely it would do two things:

1) Expel Cuba from the United Nations.

2) Knowing the alleged violations that are occurring in the prison of Guantanamo Bay, according to accusations from the Castro government, they could send the directors who lead the prisons in Cuba — true concentration camps — to pass a course at Guantanamo, in order to improve their behavior.

The dictatorship, always obsessed with attacking the United States, transmits TV images denigrating what is allegedly happening in Guantanamo Bay.

It’s not my job to defend it or make value judgments about it, this is the role of the American people; my obligation as a Cuban and intellectual is to denounce the terrible tortures that take place in the prison where I have been held and of which I am now a witness.

At present, in the cell, there is a young man with his mouth sewn shut with wire. Today he passed through the prison before the frightened looks from the other inmates.

There are daily fights between prisoners and between them and the guards. I guess this is common in any prison in the world but I am not a specialist to confirm that. But here, when the guards confront a prisoner, the ratio is ten to one, along with their batons and pepper sprays.

The food they serve is a tiny amount and badly prepared. It consists of a few grams o rice, a boiled egg, and a colorless and odorless but always disgusting soup.

The barracks are populated by prisoners who have completed their sentences, and who, because of bureaucratic problems, remained locked up without any consideration. The constant beatings and dungeons are increasing their sentences along with the blackmail to not demand their “rights.”

Silence is the only ally of the Cuban prisoner; talking could lead to a new condemnatory charge in the most arbitrary of decisions.

They wait and resign themselves. They have no alternatives…

Hopefully the Rapporteur who is sent to Cuba will be able to meet with the people who so greatly suffer the need for him.

Pro-Life Politics: Take the Direct Course

Dr. Susan Berry warns the GOP that using the next debt limit crisis to try and win some restrictions on late term abortion would likely cheapen the pro-life cause and take it away from the high moral ground it now occupies. She urges instead that Republicans pursue a direct course: openly and constantly champion the sanctity of life, expose the horrors of abortion, and diligently seek greater protection for all preborn children.

Here are excerpts from Dr. Berry's article published by Breitbart.

With the brutality of abortion on full display during the recent trial of Kermit Gosnell, pro-life members of Congress are poised to draw the nation into a conversation about why abortion clinics like Gosnell’s have been allowed to continue in operation. Though abortion supporters have persistently claimed that the passage of Roe v Wade in 1973 would finally make the practice “safe” and “legal,” it is being revealed that Gosnell, and others like him, have been engaging in gruesome and unsafe practices for decades.

The way in which pro-life congressional leaders seize the moment, however, to investigate how states regulate abortion clinics, and to design pertinent legislation, will likely be critical to their success. Therefore, if you are pro-life, you’re hoping this moment doesn’t get screwed up.

For example, in the Washington Post on Thursday, Lori Montgomery wrote that, after a “two-hour listening session” in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, she learned that “rank-and-file lawmakers” were strategizing for the next debt limit “showdown.”

Writing from a particular perspective, Montgomery wrote that the “good news” is that most Republican legislators “agree that they probably should not block a debt-limit increase” this time around. On the other hand, Montgomery observes that the “bad news for President Obama” is that the GOP will require something in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling.

“But what should they ask for?” Montgomery wonders. Among the suggestions she says she heard was tying restriction of late-term abortion to a vote to hike the debt limit.

Though the “listening session” produced no decisions, the notion of linking restriction of late-term abortion to raising the debt ceiling could be a surefire way to mix apples with oranges and, consequently, be left with nothing but fruit cocktail.

At a time when we are seeing increasing evidence that gruesome “back-alley” abortions are as prevalent today as they were in 1970, why not use the direct approach?...

Sen. Mike Lee introduced a resolution that calls upon the Senate to review public policies that led to the illegal abortion practices of Gosnell and others like him. Lee hopes to investigate abortion practices and the interstate referral of women and girls to abortion facilities that engage in late-term abortions. In addition, his resolution also recognized the 20-week pain threshold for babies in utero. Senate Democrats, needless to say, have objected to the resolution.

Franks and Lee, as well as other pro-life leaders in Congress, have spoken out about the need to address protection for the unborn, for those babies born alive during abortions, and for the women themselves. With the nation focused, pro-life members of Congress should not hesitate to draw the attention of Americans to conversation and legislation regarding abortion directly.

Any notion of using the gruesome and brutal spectacle, to which we have recently been exposed, as a bargaining chip in other national debates will likely cheapen and obscure the issue. The result would be failure -- perhaps forever -- for the pro-life community and, most unfortunately, for the most vulnerable among us.

Added excerpt. In making her case (a good one) against the GOP using abortion as a "bargaining chip," Dr. Berry makes this point about the hypocrisy of Planned Parenthood.

The president of Planned Parenthood Southeast Pennsylvania admitted that she knew what was happening at Gosnell’s “house of horrors,” through reports from women who went there to receive services, but her organization, which claims to be a group that advocates for women, did not report the concerns to state health officials.

Planned Parenthood abortion clinics themselves have been found to be unsanitary, with claims made of conditions and practices similar to those at Gosnell’s clinic, perhaps because the abortion giant’s clinics were treated with kid gloves by state oversight agencies eager to stay on the “correct” side of political opinion.

Ignorance Is "In" at the White House

Speaking at Ohio State University earlier this month, Barack Obama urged students to pay no attention to those paranoid types who “incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity.”

Oddly enough, in recent days the most compelling testimony for this view of government has come from the president himself, who insists with a straight face that he had no idea that the Internal Revenue Service had spent two years targeting his political enemies until he “learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this.”

Like you, all he knows is what he reads in the papers.

Which is odd, because his Justice Department is bugging those same papers, so you’d think he’d at least get a bit of a heads-up.

But no doubt the fact that he’s wiretapping the Associated Press was also entirely unknown to him until he read about it in the Associated Press.

There is a “president of the United States” and a “government of the United States,” but, despite a certain superficial similarity in their names, they are entirely unrelated...

Mark Steyn is at his best when the opposition gives him something to work with…and, boy oh boy, has Team Obama done that in recent days!

No kidding, don't miss reading the rest of Steyn's weekend column for National Review.

Bob Schieffer to Obama Mouthpiece, "Why Are You Here?"

Bob Schieffer to White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer yesterday on Face the Nation.

But with all of these things, when these things happen, you seem to send out officials many times who don't even seem to know what has happened. And I use as an example of that Susan Rice who had no connection whatsoever to the events that took place in Benghazi, and yet she was sent out, appeared on this broadcast, and other Sunday broadcasts, five days after it happens, and I'm not here to get in an argument with you about who changed which word in the talking points and all that. The bottom line is what she told the American people that day bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed. . . .

Why did you do that? Why didn't the Secretary of State come and tell us what they knew and if he knew nothing say, "We don't know yet?" Why didn't the White House Chief of Staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this as no disrespect to you, why are you here today? Why isn't the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?

Another Miller Myth: IRS Applications Were Actually Fewer Than Previous Year

There's an awful lot of lies pouring out of Washington nowadays as Team Obama scrambles to spin its way out of scandals involving the IRS targeting of conservative groups, Benghazi and its coverup, the DOJ grabbing AP phone records, and more. It's hard to keep track of them.

But I thought I'd pass along an interesting one caught by Mike Flynn over at Breitbart.

In House testimony Friday, former Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller explained that the IRS mistakes in handling applications for non-profit status from tea party groups were due, in large part, to a flood of applications following the Citizens United decision. Miller said the targeting was a botched attempt to centralize the process to account for the increased workload. However, there were fewer applications in 2010, when the IRS began targeting conservative groups, than the year before.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Today's Posts

Into the Weekend...Almost.

Blogging was a bit limited this morning as we have an early "When Swing Was King" presentation to get ready for. It will be our fourth this week. We're also hoping to get the lawn mowed and some ground cover planted around the front sidewalk.

Yes, it's only been four days since I mowed the lawn but it's growing like crazy out there. And it looks terrific.  Also on the agenda is working on Sunday's sermon, the LifeSharer letter, and the Top Ten.

The weekend? Tomorrow morning (8 o'clock) we will be praying in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion mill on north 93rd Street. (We'd love to have you join us.) In the afternoon, Claire is heading to Lincoln to see family while I finish the LifeSharer. Saturday night is a wedding anniversary party for friends. Sunday morning -- church.

And Sunday night we're hosting one of our "P.A.L. Nights" at the church beginning at 7 o'clock. If you're interested in shining the light of Christ into the public square (and other places) by writing a few letters, why don't you plan on joining us? E-mail us for details at

Have a wonderful weekend.

Obama's Ugly Umbrella Moment

Yesterday's press conference certainly didn't deflect the increasing national anger over the scandals swirling around the White House.  Mr. Obama was his typical self: evasive, parsing, blaming, aloof, dispassionate. He had no answers. He took no decisive action.

And that elitist, most unmanly image of the President requiring a Marine to hold an umbrella over him (while the Marine in his dress uniform is rained upon) will long burn in the minds of many Americans.

Barack Obama did not serve his country well yesterday. He didn't even serve his own cause well.

It's Becoming Hard to Keep Up with Obama's Scandals

So here's a little help...

* "IRS Deliberately Chose Not to Fess Up to Scandal Before Election" by Daniel Halper, The Weekly Standard.

* "The Nine Lies of Lois Lerner" by Kevin D. Williamson over at NRO is particularly good.

* "When it rains, it pours: Ten press conference take aways" by Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post.

* "IRS denied tax-exempt status to pro-lifers on behalf of Planned Parenthood" by Joel Gehrke at the Examiner.

* "This Is No Ordinary Scandal" by Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal.

* "IRS Official in Charge During Tea Party Targeting Now Runs Health Care Office" by John Parkinson, ABC News.

 * "All the president's fall guys" by Kevin O'Brien, Cleveland Plain Dealer. 

* "Strange Goings-On at the White House" by John Fund at NRO.

Venezuela's Communist Government Blames Toilet Paper Shortage on "Excessive Demand"

How goes it in the never-ending socialist revolution of Venezuela? Well, if you need to use the bathroom, not so good. 

First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities — toilet paper.

Blaming political opponents for the shortfall, as it does for other shortages, the embattled socialist government says it will import 50 million rolls to boost supplies.

That was little comfort to consumers struggling to find toilet paper on Wednesday.

"This is the last straw," said Manuel Fagundes, a shopper hunting for tissue in downtown Caracas. "I'm 71 years old and this is the first time I've seen this."..."I've been looking for it for two weeks," said Cristina Ramos. "I was told that they had some here and now I'm in line."

Economists say Venezuela's shortages stem from price controls meant to make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the government's controls on foreign currency.

"State-controlled prices — prices that are set below market-clearing price — always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union," said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.

President Nicolas Maduro, who was selected by the dying Hugo Chavez to carry on his "Bolivarian revolution," claims that anti-government forces, including the private sector, are causing the shortages in an effort to destabilize the country…

Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming blamed the shortage of toilet tissue on "excessive demand" built up as a result of "a media campaign that has been generated to disrupt the country."

"The revolution will bring the country the equivalent of 50 million rolls of toilet paper," he was quoted as saying Tuesday by state news agency AVN. "We are going to saturate the market so that our people calm down."

Anointed by Chavez as his successor before the president died from cancer, Maduro won a close presidential election April 14 against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who refused to accept the result, claiming Maduro won through fraud and voter intimidation. He filed a complaint to the Supreme Court, asking for the vote to be annulled, though that's highly unlikely to happen since the court is packed with government-friendly justices.

Patience is wearing thin among consumers who face shortages and long lines at supermarkets and pharmacies. Last month, Venezuela's scarcity index reached its highest level since 2009, while the 12-month inflation rate has risen to nearly 30 percent. Shoppers often spend several days looking for basic items, and stock up when they find them.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Today's Posts

Shining the Light on Planned Parenthood

Once again this morning, Claire and I, Keith Moran, and Quint Coppi spent time in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion mill in northwest Omaha praying together, holding our beautiful pro-life signs and banners, and speaking to those abortion clients who park in front of the building. (We will be there again Saturday morning too.)

It's no surprise then that I wanted to post the following items on this morning's Vital Signs Blog. Both of them will be very helpful to those of you who desire to more effectively battle this wicked business in your own spheres of influence.

The first is a short but valuable article from Lauren Enriquez and available through It's called, "Five Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Business" and though the information it contains may be "old news" to many of you, it is a great review AND a terrific example of how to present basic facts about the mega-abortion corporation to others.

And the second is this nifty prayer guide (The "3 for 5" Plan) that we created a year ago here at Vital Signs Ministries and which is being used by pro-life Christians all over the country. It is also a brief piece but of tremendous import, helping bring God's people together more frequently and more strategically in intercession against Planned Parenthood.

Eric Holder: The "Know Nothing" Attorney General

For Democrats in the Obama administration (including Himself), ignorance is truly bliss. Indeed, if their own statements are to be believed, ignorance is also a defense, an excuse, and standard operating procedure.

In this morning's Washington Post, Dana Milbank excoriated Eric Holder for his mealy, mousey performance yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee. Holder didn't know anything (and I do mean, anything) about his DOJ snooping through the phone records of Associated Press offices and reporters. And he wasn't even curious about finding anything out.

But Milbank concluded, "When the Justice Department undermines the Constitution, recusal is no excuse."

Of course, this wasn't the first time Eric Holder has prided himself on his ignorance. He knew nothing relevant about Fast & Furious, several cases of voter fraud and intimidation, why the DOJ refused to obey the law by defending DOMA, persecution of pro-life activists, and so on.

Eric Holder thinks ignorance is a good good that he wants to make sure the American public remains ignorant of all these things too.

Here's one more example of AG Holder's contented surrender to know-nothingness. Over at NRO's The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez posted an excerpt of the hearing that hasn't yet received anything close to the attention it deserves.

Representative Trent Franks raised the issue of Kermit Gosnell with Attorney General Eric Holder today, asking if the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act has ever been enforced. The attorney general of the United States, the week of Gosnell’s conviction, has no idea.

From the exchange:

FRANKS: In, 2002, Congress enacted the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act that provides that all federal protections — including from your office, sir — for persons apply to every infant born alive. So will you enforce the infant — the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act as attorney general and will you consider carefully what’s happening in clinics across the country like happened at the clinic that Kermit Gosnell ran?

HOLDER: Well, like you, I share the many of the concerns that you talked about. I’m a father. I have three kids. And I am interestingly married to a woman who is a obstetrician, gynecologist, very accomplished in her field. I have responsibilities as attorney general to enforce all the laws that congress passes.

FRANKS: Have you ever enforced this law even one time?

HOLDER: I don’t know …

FRANKS: Will you get back to us on that? Have you ever enforced the born alive infant protection act even one time.

HOLDER: We can examine that, since the law was passed you said in 2002, how many prosecutions there have been under that law.

REP FRANKS: There’s been 18,000 opportunities a year since then approximately. so I’m just wondering if you’ve even enforced once?

AG HOLDER: I don’t know whether there was enforcement during the Bush administration or the Obama administration since the passage of the law in 2002. I just don’t know what the statistics are.

Other Top-Rated Reads

* "Benghazi Emails Directly Contradict White House Claims" (Stephen F. Hayes, Weekly Standard)

* "Obama’s attempt at damage control laughable" (Joe Battenfeld, Boston Herald)

* "Benghazi emails show State Department had heavy hand in watering down account of attack" (Fox News)

 * "A brief history of slimy Dem snoops and dumpster divers" (Michelle Malkin)

* "Benghazi and the IRS: Politics by Other Means" (Michael Barone, NRO)

* "The 'Independent' Revenue Service: President Obama has a strange view of IRS political accountability" (Editors, Wall Street Journal)

* "Three Questions about Government Spying on the Press" (Julian Sanchez, Cato Institute)

* "Soros Gave $6.1 Million to Groups Linked to Pressure on IRS to Target Conservative Nonprofits" (Mike Ciandella, CNS News)

* "IRS approved liberal groups while Tea Party in limbo" (Gregory Korte, USA TODAY)