Monday, September 30, 2013

Today's Posts

When You Remove the Lighthouse...

"The Unhinged, Morally Unanchored Nature of Islamist Violence"

ObamaCare Requires You to Pay for Abortions

Yes, Virginia. The Crisis Is the Democrats' Fault.

ObamaCare -- Bad for Jobs & Economy. But Bad for Marriage Too?

When You Remove the Lighthouse...

When you remove the lighthouse, the ship of state invariably flounders.

And by foolishly, unjustly attempting to eliminate Christianity from education, commerce, cultural expression, and all other arenas of public life, the nations of the West are doomed to learn this lesson the hard way.

"The Unhinged, Morally Unanchored Nature of Islamist Violence"

In Western news-making and opinion-forming circles, there’s a palpable reluctance to talk about the most noteworthy thing about modern Islamist violence: its barbarism, its graphic lack of moral restraint. This goes beyond the BBC's yellow reluctance to deploy the T-word – terrorism – in relation to the bloody assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya at the weekend.

Across the commentating board, people are sheepish about pointing out the historically unique lunacy of Islamist violence and its utter detachment from any recognisable moral universe or human values. We have to talk about this barbarism; we have to appreciate how new and unusual it is, how different it is even from the terrorism of the 1970s or of the early twentieth century.

We owe it to the victims of these assaults, and to the principle of honest and frank political debate, to face up to the unhinged, morally unanchored nature of Islamist violence in the 21st century...

Brendan O'Neill, author, writer and editor of "spiked," has the must-read article of the day. That article is entitled, "I'm sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism" and you'll find it here in the Telegraph.

ObamaCare Requires You to Pay for Abortions

Why will there be coverage for potentially abortion-inducing, cancer-causing contraception in my healthcare plan?

Because Obamacare gave the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to label pregnancy as a “preventable disease.” Treatments of these “diseases” must be covered at 100% in all
insurance plans nationwide starting Jan 1, 2014. These drugs are considered ways to “prevent the disease” of pregnancy.

If I give money to a charity, will my donation be used to fund
abortion coverage in their employee health care plans?

Probably yes, unless that organization has refused to comply and
pays massive fees or dropped their employee health insurance plans.

Even if I find a health insurance plan with no abortion coverage, will my tax dollars be used to give subsidies to those who normally couldn’t purchase health care and chooses abortion in their plan?


Guys, this is a "Yipes moment" of the first degree. Prayers and citizen action are much-needed. Here are more details about ObamaCare's requirements that you pay for abortion. Check out the web site, "We Demand Abortion Free Health Care."

Yes, Virginia. The Crisis Is the Democrats' Fault.

Here’s a simple question: Why are we currently funding the federal government through a series of short-term measures known as “continuing resolutions”? The answer is that the budgeting process has completely broken down in recent years, and the two men most responsible for that breakdown are President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

For three consecutive years — 2010, 2011, and 2012 — the Democrat-controlled Senate did not pass a budget bill because Reid knew that it would be a political liability to do so. Passing a budget that detailed the Democrats’ plans for spending and revenue as official policy would have exposed the “something for nothing” swindle that Reid and his colleagues are perpetrating on the American people…

Reid and the Democrats knew this. They knew very well that the federal deficit was spiraling out of control, that there was not enough tax revenue to pay the mushrooming cost of entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment, et cetera), and certainly there wasn’t enough revenue to pay for all the boondoggles and giveaways the Democrats voted for in the name of “stimulus.”

Adding to this, there was not enough revenue to pay the cost of Obamacare, which Democrats rammed through Congress in March 2010 on a party-line vote. Passing an actual budget would have made clear the unsustainable fiscal nightmare into which Democrat policies have plunged the nation during the Obama Age, and so Harry Reid simply didn’t pass a budget for three years…

Read the rest of "Extremely Extreme Extremists" by Robert Stacy McCain at American Spectator.

ObamaCare -- Bad for Jobs & Economy. But Bad for Marriage Too?

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, the former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor who now directs Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute, has some very disturbing news about ObamaCare -- news that you won't be hearing from President Obama's lapdog press.

...As well as effects on hiring, the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, could increase the incentive to divorce and discourage marriage. 

Under the Act, if workers have affordable single-family coverage from an employer — coverage that by law workers are obligated to accept — their family members will not be eligible for premium subsidies on the exchanges. This can make the cost of insurance for some low- or middle-income families unaffordable. But if they divorce, they get the subsidy.

Without subsidies, low-income families will not be able to afford to buy insurance on the state exchanges. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that family plans will cost $20,000 (in after-tax dollars) a year by 2016. Anyone under 400% of the poverty line, currently $94,000 for a family of four, qualifies for a subsidy — unless a family member has employer-provided insurance.

In a 2011 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper , Cornell University professor Richard Burkhauser, Indiana University professor Kosali Simon, and Cornell PhD candidate Sean Lyons showed that in 2014, when the law will take full effect, 13 million low-income Americans may be unable to get subsidized health insurance through new state health care exchanges because one family member has employer-provided coverage for that person only.

Perversely, the only way for other family members to get subsidized coverage would be for the spouses to get divorced. Then the spouse without coverage and the children could get coverage on the exchange.

This provision of the Act also discourages marriage. Say that Jeff, who receives health insurance from his employer, wants to marry Jenny, who is buying her subsidized health insurance from the state exchange. If they married, Jenny would no longer qualify for subsidized coverage.

Furthermore, since premium subsidies are on a sliding scale, two married people getting their coverage on the exchange would pay more than if they were single.

Those at 133% of the poverty line can pay no more than 3% of their income in premiums. Someone at 400% of the poverty line can pay no more than 9.5% of income. Two people making $32,000 annually would qualify for subsidies when single, but not when they got married and earned a combined income of $64,000…

The structure of the Affordable Care Act will increase the already widening gap between the rich and the poor. More divorces and fewer marriages at the lower end of the income scale result in more households headed by singles. Children in these families often have fewer advantages and lower educational performance, making it harder for them to get a well-paying job when they grow up.

There will be many glitches when the state exchanges open for business on Oct. 1. But the effects of the Act on job creation and marriage — two of the stepping stones to the American dream — are even more damaging.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Today's Posts

Afraid to Make a Primary Choice?

There are several distinguished conservatives running for Nebraska governor this time around and that makes it difficult to decide just who to throw in with as the primary campaign develops.

For not only are there the candidates themselves to carefully consider -- their positions, their character, their strategies, and their electability -- but there are often the dangers of disappointing (even offending) good friends who happen to prefer the other guy.

Many avoid that second problem by not getting involved in the primary at all. Even if there is a particular candidate they think would be best, they hunker down and wait until the party candidate is actually nominated before declaring their preference to friends, sticking in a yard sign, or making a donation.

But that approach doesn't best serve the interests of a spirited and effective political process. In fact, it doesn't even serve the best interests of authentic friendship.

And so last night we were in Lincoln to hear Pete Ricketts talk about why he's running for Nebraska Governor. We know Pete slightly -- Claire and I earnestly supported Pete in a previous political race and he and I are both on the Advisory Board of the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research. The affair last night was hosted by good friends of ours: Kay Orr, Jim & Suzanne Gage, and Taylor Gage. They are enthusiastically supporting Pete and they are certainly friends whose spiritual character and political acumen we trust.

Pete was engaging, honest and spot on regarding the important issues. His comments about educating young people for trades, lowering taxes in order to more effectively retain and recruit employers, and standing strong on the moral issues of marriage, religious freedom, gambling and, of course, promoting and defending the sanctity of life were especially good.

So will we again be putting a Pete Ricketts sign in the yard again? Perhaps.

But there are a couple of other candidates we're going to check in with before we make our decision. They too are well qualified pro-life advocates with solid positions, proven character and servant's hearts. They are Mike Foley (another Advisory Board member of NCER) and Beau McCoy.

I'll be reviewing these guys in subsequent posts so stay tuned.

And don't be afraid of making a declaration during the primary. You will undoubtedly have friends "trusted and true" who support one of these other fellows. That's fine.  In fact, if your conversations about the candidates are marked by humility and honesty, understanding and balance, your friendship will be the better for it. As will our state's political strength.

Protesting Slave Labor in Qatar

Could the ultra-extravagant, ultra-expensive construction projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar end up costing human lives? Indeed, hundreds, even thousands of human lives? That's the fear of the International Trade Union Confederation which claims the massive scheme involving stadiums, hotels, and related structures will be built by what amounts to slave labor working under extremely dangerous conditions.

Indeed, based on the current deplorable conditions (44 Nepalese workers forced to labor in 120 degree heat without access to water died in just one month last summer), the ITUC is projecting a lot worse to come as over a million new workers will be brought into the country. "The ITUC estimates that of the hundreds of thousands of workers flowing into the country from countries such as Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka to labor on building sites, as many as 600 a year could die, absent reforms to harsh working conditions and unsanitary living quarters."  

“The allegations suggest a chain of exploitation leading from poor Nepalese villages to Qatari leaders,” the Guardian concluded. “The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world’s most popular sporting tournament.”

“There is no longer a risk that the World Cup might be built on forced labor,” said Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International. “It is already happening.”

Below is the letter I'm sending to the Qatar consulate in Washington, D.C. And, for those of you who would like to join in this chorus (and I certainly hope there is a chorus), you'll find the address of the embassy below too.

Dear sirs,

After reading recent articles in the Guardian, National Review and other sources which spoke of the deplorable conditions in which immigrant laborers from Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka are forced to endure while working on construction projects in Qatar, I decided to write and express my deep sadness and disappointment to someone who might be able to effectively intercede. So, please do what you can to pass on to officials in your country the desperate need to improve conditions among these workers. Better sanitation. Better oversight. Safer conditions. And appropriate freedoms and protection.

To do so is an important, perhaps life-saving grace to the workers. But it is also a way to elevate Qatar's reputation among the nations, to avoid the international scandal that is now brewing and which will only receive more attention as the World Cup nears.

Thank you for considering my sincere request.


Embassy of the State of Qatar
2555 M. Street N.W.
Washington, , DC, 20037-1305  USA

"The World Misses the Old America."

From Peggy Noonan's "A Small President on the World Stage" in theWall Street Journal. 

The world misses the old America…

Our friends, and we have many, speak almost poignantly of the dynamism, excellence, exuberance and leadership of the nation they had, for so many years, judged themselves against, been inspired by, attempted to emulate, resented. As for those who are not America's friends, some seem still confused, even concussed, by the new power shift. What is their exact place in it? Will it last? Will America come roaring back? Can she? Does she have the political will, the human capital, the old capability?

"We want American leadership," said a member of a diplomatic delegation of a major U.S. ally. He said it softly, as if confiding he missed an old friend.

"In the past we have seen some America overreach," said the prime minister of a Western democracy, in a conversation. "Now I think we are seeing America underreach." He was referring not only to foreign policy but to economic policies, to the limits America has imposed on itself...

The second takeaway of the week has to do with a continued decline in admiration for the American president. Barack Obama's reputation among his fellow international players has deflated, his stature almost collapsed. In diplomatic circles, attitudes toward his leadership have been declining for some time, but this week you could hear the disappointment, and something more dangerous: the sense that he is no longer, perhaps, all that relevant. Part of this is due, obviously, to his handling of the Syria crisis. If you draw a line and it is crossed and then you dodge, deflect, disappear and call it diplomacy, the world will notice, and not think better of you. Some of it is connected to the historical moment America is in.

But some of it, surely, is just five years of Mr. Obama. World leaders do not understand what his higher strategic aims are, have doubts about his seriousness and judgment, and read him as unsure and covering up his unsureness with ringing words...

Read the whole column here; it's well worth it.

72 Members of Congress: "The Obama Administration Has Committed Unprecedented Attacks Against the Unborn and Religious Freedom"

Today, 72 congressmen sent a letter to House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) urging him to insert language ending abortion funding and religious discrimination in Obamacare into any funding or debt ceiling legislation.

The letter also included this zinging (but easily demonstrable) statement, "The Obama administration has committed unprecedented attacks against the unborn and the religious freedom guaranteed in the Constitution, all under the guise of 'access to health care.'"

Here's the letter.

Here's the text of H.R. 940 (which, by the way, has 183 co-sponsors, including all of Nebraska's Congressmen)

And here's more of Craig Bannister's CNS News report.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Today's Posts

GKC on the Mysterious Message of Beauty

They’re Killing Christians (While the World Looks Away)

About Those Words, "Unwanted Child"

Barack's Bad Habit? It's Not Smoking, It's Lying.

ObamaCare Premium Costs: Into the Stratosphere

Humor Alert: Panel Discussion Double-Speak

GKC on the Mysterious Message of Beauty

They’re Killing Christians (While the World Looks Away)

Sheila Liaugminas reviews for Mercator the latest acts of murder and terrorism directed at Christian minorities in Pakistan, Syria and Egypt.

...Last week at the National Liberal Club there was a discussion asking why the American and British press have ignored or under-reported this persecution, and (in some people’s minds) given a distorted narrative of what is happening.

Judging by the accounts given by one of the other speakers, Nina Shea of the Center for Religious Freedom, the American press is even more blind, and their government not much better…

The night ended with historian Tom Holland declaring sadly that we are now seeing the extinction of Christianity and other minority faiths in the Middle East. As he pointed out, it’s the culmination of the long process that began in the Balkans in the late 19th century, reached its horrific European climax in 1939-1945, and continued with the Greeks of Alexandria, the Mizrahi Jews and most recently the Chaldo-Assyrian Christians of Iraq. The Copts may have the numbers to hold on, Holland said, and the Jews of Israel, but can anyone else?

Pay attention, world. This demands an all-in effort to aid humanity and fundamental human rights. But the world is busy and distracted. That’s both understandable, and incomprehensible when this is happening.

The saddest audience question was from a young man who I’m guessing was Egyptian-British. He asked: ‘Where was world Christianity when this happened?’

Nowhere. Watching X-Factor. Debating intersectionality. Or just too frightened of controversy to raise Muslim-on-Christian violence.

That’s a very likely reality.

The most outspoken British religious leader has been Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and the debate brought to mind something Rabbi Sacks recently said about Middle Eastern Christians, comparing their fate with those of the Jews in Europe, and quoting Martin Luther King: ‘In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’

About Those Words, "Unwanted Child"

Barack's Bad Habit? It's Not Smoking, It's Lying.

It seems that Barack Obama was caught telling a lie to Maina Kiai, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights, about not having a cigarette in 6 years. Here's Charles C. Johnson's story in the Daily Caller.

It is, of course, just the kind of thing the press would zoom in on -- if the lying President were a Republican.

But since he's not, the press ignores this lie just as carefully as they have avoided honest and thorough reporting of any of Mr. Obama's other lies.

And much bigger lies they have been too -- like Benghazi, runaway government spending, vote fraud, ObamaCare, the IRS, Planned Parenthood, energy, executive orders, the economy and jobs, regularly breaching the Constitution, and so on.

That's a lot of lies. But, thanks to the diligent know-nothingness of Barack Obama's compliant press, they've all gone the way of the president's Marlboros -- up in smoke.

ObamaCare Premium Costs: Into the Stratosphere

...Last night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finally began to provide some data on how Americans will fare on Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchanges. HHS’ press release is full of happy talk about how premiums will be “lower than originally expected.” But the reality is starkly different.

Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men...

“Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected,” HHS cheerfully announces in its press release. But that’s a ruse. HHS compared what the Congressional Budget Office projected rates might look like—in 2016—to its own findings. Neither of those numbers tells you the stat that really matters: how much rates will go up next year, under Obamacare, relative to this year, prior to the law taking effect.

Former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin agrees. “There are literally no comparisons to current rates. That is, HHS has chosen to dodge the question of whose rates are going up, and how much. Instead they try to distract with a comparison to a hypothetical number that has nothing to do with the actual experience of real people.”

And so what do the real numbers look like? Read the rest of "Double Down: Obamacare Will Increase Avg. Individual-Market Insurance Premiums By 99% For Men, 62% For Women" by Avik Roy in Forbes.

Humor Alert: Panel Discussion Double-Speak

Humor, when it's really good, has a bit of real-world wisdom in it. Case in point? Here's NRO's Jim Geraghty with "Comments You Hear at Every Panel Discussion, and What They Really Mean."

Panelist: "Why don't we ever talk about [topic]?"

TRANSLATION: "The moderator didn't ask about this, but it's my favorite topic, so I'm going to go on at length about it."

Panelist: "As I said earlier…"

TRANSLATION: "I am out of new material, and I think some people in the audience weren't paying attention the first time I said it."

Panelist: "If I could just jump in…"

TRANSLATION: "I'm tired of sitting here and not talking."

Audience member: "I have a three part -- well, I guess it's more of a statement than a question…"

TRANSLATION: "I should have been invited to speak on the panel and I'm miffed."

Audience member: "And one quick follow-up…"

TRANSLATION: "I am never giving back this microphone."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Today's Posts

A New Addition to the "When Swing Was King" Schedule?

Claire and I had a trial "When Swing Was King" presentation at a new place yesterday afternoon and I don't think it could have gone better. The residents really loved it (23 of them) as did the family members present and the staff. We had a lot of complements, a lot of warm thank-yous, and a lot of people asking us to come back soon.

We may do just that. But there are issues involved. You see, because we believe the relational element is particularly important to the ministry of "When Swing Was King," we go to the same facilities every month. That way we are providing more than entertainment, more than memories -- we're establishing ongoing friendships. That breaks down (currently) to presentations at 13 different places. Some are nursing homes, some are assisted living centers, and a couple are independent living senior facilities. And that figure of 13 already represents 3 more places than what we had once decided was our absolute limit!

So how can we consider adding another place? I should say, adding two more places for we're actually doing another trial showing at a facility in Ashland this afternoon.

Here's the answer. We're doing so only because we will probably be dropping a couple of places from our current schedule. Audience numbers are a factor in our deliberations but that's not the most important. Currently we play to groups of six, sixteen, thirty, and one place where the audience ranges from sixty to a hundred. We're appreciated by all of those audiences and we're truly honored to play for all of them. The numbers aren't the main thing for us.

No, the basic reason we're considering dropping 2 or 3 places from our current rota involves a serious lack of support from the facility staff. In most of the places on our schedule, the staff are more than conscientious and kind. They promote "When Swing Was King." They get residents down to the room and are careful to seat them where they can best see and hear the program. They're sometimes even helpful to us in getting our equipment set up. But, most important, they make sure that at least one staff member stays with the group during a presentation so that when a resident needs help or starts to get out of their wheelchair, there is someone qualified, authorized, and "in the know" to provide that help.

Obviously, this last factor isn't a necessity for, say, an independent living facility. But for places where the residents have medical or mobility issues, it's extremely important -- and not just for us, the Vital Signs Board, our insurance agent and lawyer -- but for the residents themselves. And so, I regret to say, because a couple of the places on our current schedule are not looking after their charges as they should, we will most likely be discontinuing our visits there soon.

But this place yesterday was the very picture of involvement, responsibility and enthusiasm. We were warmly welcomed. We were given a lot of help getting set up. Several staff members stayed during the performance and the offices of several others are right across the hallway. Finally, we were graciously thanked by everyone at the program's conclusion.

Very, very nice.

We even experienced a couple of extra delights yesterday in that the afternoon's show was "hosted" by longtime friends Tom & Joan Meradith (Tom was recently appointed the chaplain at this facility) and that Claire met another staff member who she knew when they were kids. You can imagine how sweet it was for Claire (who just had a birthday last week) to be immediately recognized by a gal who hadn't seen Claire since high school. -- "Claire Aylward! Oh my gosh. I knew you as soon as you walked in! How long has it been!"

By the way, here are a couple of notes the Meradiths sent our way afterward. First, from Joan. Denny & Claire - It was a wonderful presentation. You guys put a lot of time and love into it and the residents and staff were so impressed. Plus it is always great to see you guys. Thank you!!

And from Tom. Denny and Claire, I can’t thank you enough for the blessing you brought to our residents here at Brookestone Meadows. They truly were blessed. You both have an amazing ministry with everything God has led you into. May His name be praised.

Like I said, very nice. Who wouldn't want to go back!

Oh, one more thing while I'm talking about thank-yous. We received a really terrific encouragement last week as we started setting things up for the "When Swing Was King" program at Skyline. Activities directors, Sarah and Lena, brought in some ladies who had spent one of their craft sessions making thank-you cards for us and the gals were enthused about presenting them in person. How grand, huh? Here's a photo of the "little" cards they had pasted onto a "big" card.

Ben Sasse on the Hypocrisy of Washington Insiders

"The American people firmly opposed ObamaCare before it was passed. It was rammed through anyway via a dishonest legislative gimmick. And now that it's on the verge of being implemented, the very people who forced ObamaCare on the rest of us demand to be exempted from the most punishing aspects of it when it applies to them. This is crazy."

"The millionaires in the Senate should not be getting a taxpayer-funded subsidy to pay for their health care. They don't need or deserve an extra premium support plan that's just for insiders. It is time for every Republican in Washington, starting with minority leader Mitch McConnell, to show some actual leadership on this issue by voluntarily giving up their health care subsidy. If D.C. politicians are going to force this country to accept President Obama's experiment with socialism, they have to live under it with the rest of us."

Dr. Ben Sasse deserves very careful attention for Nebraskans who are looking for a bright, engaging, and authentic conservative to serve our interests in the U.S. Senate. His impressive educational experience includes Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and St. John's University while his work experience includes Boston Consulting Group (a global management consulting firm), the chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy in George W. Bush's tenure and, since 2009, the President of Midland University in Fremont.

Check him out in this refreshingly forthright clip.

More ObamaCare Woes (But O Ain't Worried)

* "Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four" (Chris Conover, Forbes)

* "One man's ObamaCare nightmare" (Jim Angle, Fox News)

* "Lower Health Insurance Premiums to Come at Cost of Fewer Choices" (Robert Pear, New York Times)

WASHINGTON: Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law. But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.

From California to Illinois to New Hampshire, and in many states in between, insurers are driving down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their new health plans...

* "The Hypocrisy Of Congress's Gold-Plated Health Care" (William Bennett & Christopher Beach, Wall Street Journal)

* "Alabama Residents Won’t Get Any Details About ‘Obamacare’ Plans Before Insurance Options Go Online Oct. 1" (CBS Washington, D.C.)

* "Obamacare: One blow after another" (Jennifer Haberkorn & Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico)

The Obamacare that consumers will finally be able to sign up for next week is a long way from the health plan President Barack Obama first pitched to the nation.

Millions of low-income Americans won’t receive coverage. Many workers at small businesses won’t get a choice of insurance plans right away. Large employers won’t need to provide insurance for another year. Far more states than expected won’t run their own insurance marketplaces. And a growing number of workers won’t get to keep their employer-provided coverage.

Every branch of the federal government played a role in weakening the law over the past three years, the casualty of a divisive legislative fight…The result has been a stark gap between the promise of Obamacare and the reality -- one that has fueled a deep vein of skepticism about the law as it enters its most critical phase...

Will the Supreme Court Protect Religious Freedom?

Last Friday, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court “to decide that for-profit corporations cannot deny their employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.”

And you still think you're living in America?

Attorney Kyle Duncan of The Becket Fund puts it this way, "The United States government is taking the remarkable position that private individuals lose their religious freedom when they make a living."

Let's pray (hard, fast and frequently) for the Supreme Court to deny the outrageous position being insisted upon by Barack Obama and the Democrat Party…and to recover for the American people some sense of religious freedom and moral sanity.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Today's Posts

Remembering Saye Zerbo

Iran Frees Some Political Prisoners, But Not Pastor Saeed

Planned Parenthood: A Quick Peek Inside

Yet More Bad Apples in the TSA? (This Is Getting Monotonous.)

The Nanny State Drops the Hammer on Christianity

The "Big Picture" of Team Obama

Praying for the Persecuted Church

Remembering Saye Zerbo

Earlier this week, the former President of Burkina Faso, Saye Zerbo, passed away. I was grieved at this news but I found great comfort in knowing that Saye Zerbo's eternal destiny was secure and even at this moment he is enjoying the presence of his Savior, Jesus Christ.

I had the honor of being a guest at Colonel Zerbo's home several times during the two visits I have made to Burkina Faso. Indeed, I had spent many stimulating hours with he and his family in the course of making a documentary film about his life. I wrote and narrated for the documentary the general outline of Zerbo's history, but much of the story (the best parts, certainly, such as his compelling journey from Islam to Christianity) were told by the Colonel himself. 

That film, produced and directed by Patrice Kabore, was called "Come To The Light." And though Patrice was unable to secure general distribution of the film, it has been shown in Burkina Faso, on Christian television programs, and the Vital Signs Ministries website. It is also available throughout the world on YouTube.

But for those interested in an intriguing biography, one that includes a miraculous conversion to Christianity, I'll make it easy for you and embed the 4 parts of "Come To The Light" right here:


Iran Frees Some Political Prisoners, But Not Pastor Saeed

I frequently urge visitors to Vital Signs Blog to remember the persecuted church, even giving specific cases, prayer requests and advocacy actions that can be taken. Among those have been Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor who has been unjustly imprisoned in Iran's brutal prison system.

Here's the latest call for help for Pastor Saeed from the ACLJ:

In advance of new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's first trip to the United Nations, Iran has freed a number of political prisoners  including one of Iran's most prominent human rights advocates.

While we of course welcome this humanitarian gesture in Iran, it's past time for Iran to release Pastor Saeed Abedini.  His only crime is his Christian faith, he presents no threat to Iranian national security, and he only wants to return home to his family in Idaho.  There is simply no just cause for continuing a prison sentence that violates not only the Iranian constitution but also international human rights conventions...

For contact info, simply note the addresses listed in the first link above.

Planned Parenthood: A Quick Peek Inside

It's basic stuff yet your friends, family and co-workers may not know it. The clip below is clever, clear and memorable. Save it. Share it.

Yet More Bad Apples in the TSA? (This Is Getting Monotonous.)

* "TSA agent accused of helping smuggle illegal immigrants into US" (Fox News)

* "Dozens Of TSA Employees Fired, Suspended For Illegal Gambling Ring At Pittsburgh Int’l Airport" (CBS Pittsburgh)

* "A federal judge Monday denied bond for a former Transportation Security Administration screener (29-year old Nna Alpha Onuoha) charged with making threats against Los Angeles International Airport." (CBS Los Angeles)

* "At least two Transportation Security Administration officers at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport have been arrested in a police sting operation involving stolen parking passes and dozens of others could be in trouble, NBC 5 has learned." (NBC DFW)

* Only 16 airports have private screeners, and Florida Congressman John Mica blames TSA scare tactics. "TSA intimidates the airports." Mica continued, "We need to get the government out of the personnel business. "It's failed in almost every instance to stop people known to have terrorist credentials."

Mica said a recent government report that showed a 26 percent increase in TSA misconduct proves the agency needs an overhaul. Officials said TSA workers were caught sleeping on the job, stealing from passengers and fast-tracking friends and family. In one case, a TSA worker tried to get a relative's bag past security without screening it. (The screener wasn't fired, by the way. Just suspended for a week.) (WFTV, Orlando)

* And from "Patience with TSA is just about up" (Christopher Elliott, USA Today)

...The [latest] GAO report is notable for two reasons. First, no other official report card has come this close to reflecting the traveling public's deep disappointment with America's federal screeners or with the TSA's apparent disinterest in fixing itself.

The study, which found a 26% rise in employee misconduct in the last three years, outlined numerous agency sins, such as transportation security officers who failed to conduct security or equipment checks or who simply allowed passengers and baggage to bypass screening. 

It also described an organization that appears disinterested in improving its image at a DNA level. Of the 9,600 cases of employee misconduct analyzed by investigators from 2010 through 2012, less than half resulted in letters of reprimand, less than a third resulted in suspensions of a definite duration, and just 17% resulted in the employee's removal....

The Nanny State Drops the Hammer on Christianity

The religious intolerance of the Orwellian Nanny States is deep, strong and very aggressive. Indeed, those governments have stepped up the pace in striking hard at anyone who refuses to accept their version of political correctness.

Here's some examples just from the last couple of days.

* "Lesbian couple win anti-discrimination suit against Honolulu B&B" (SG Gate)

* "UK Christian B&B Forced to Sell Business After Denying Gay Couple Room" (Christian Post)

* "The Labor Department announced Wednesday that legally married same-sex couples should receive their 'spouse’s' employee benefits — even if they live in a state that does not recognize their union." (Citizen Link)

* "Obama Admin Takes Hobby Lobby to Supreme Court to Force it to Obey HHS Mandate" (

* "Obamacare is before the U.S. Supreme Court again. On Thursday, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyers filed the first viable petition for Supreme Court review involving Kathleen Sebelius’ HHS Mandate, which requires employers to provide abortion-related insurance coverage, even if those employers have a religious objection to abortion." (Breitbart)

The "Big Picture" of Team Obama

Praying for the Persecuted Church

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Today's Posts

An Endangered Species? The Religious Tax Exemption.

I Guess Drudgery Is Cleaning Your Own House

You Can't Fix ObamaCare. You Must Repeal It.

"Indefensible" -- Obama Administration Opposes Religious Rights Envoy

An Endangered Species? The Religious Tax Exemption.

In an eye-opening column over at Juicy Ecumenism, Rick Plasterer warns
of the coming battle that religious believers, churches and organizations in the United States will have to fight to in order to maintain the historic policies of tax exemption.

In the introduction to "The Tax Threat to Religious Charities," Plasterer writes, "The wide ranging assault on religious freedom occurring in America under the Obama Administration, and mirrored throughout the western world, currently focuses on the HHS contraceptive/abortifacient mandate, requiring religious institutions that are not houses of worship and businesses owned by objecting religious proprietors to supply goods that violate their consciences."

"But another area of assault, which may become a reality fairly soon, concerns the tax exempt status of religious and other charities."

Plasterer illustrates how the course of this conflict likely will be played out -- in the same way that it has in Great Britain:

...The United Kingdom, where religious charities face aggressively secularist activist groups and a bureaucracy that responds to secularist opinion, may show what lies in store for the United States. In 2006, the U.K. Charities Act removed the presumption that religious charities are for the public benefit, requiring instead that they prove public benefit according to secular standards.

Proposed changes in guidance concerning public benefit provided by the U.K. Charities Commission were analyzed by the Christian Institute legal service organization in Britain in 2008, and found to be open to interpretations of "harm" which would deny charitable status to religious organizations that maintain an opposition to homosexuality. Additional danger to religious charities in the U.K. was also shown by the 2008 Prospects case, in which a Christian charity for the disabled, Prospects, was told by Britain’s Employment Tribunal that it could not maintain a policy of hiring only Christians.

The Barnabas Fund, a British charity that supports Christians persecuted in the Middle East, although ultimately exonerated, was accused of supporting “Islamophobia” and thus being unworthy of charitable status. More recently, the Charities Commission denied charitable status to the Plymouth Brethren, because of their religious doctrine and practice of giving Holy Communion only to church members...

And you were sure it could never happen here, Reverend?

To read the whole article, go here.

And, by the way, this article gives me a reason to again post the Beatles song that was more prescient than any of their other records.

I Guess Drudgery Is Cleaning Your Own House

This Bloomberg article desperately wants to make good news out of the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Thus they delightfully report, "Unemployment data appear to reflect big advances for women. The jobless rate in August for females 20 years and older was 6.3 percent, the lowest since December 2008."

But the numbers showed something else too and, bless their hearts, the reporters at least admitted it; namely, "The downside is that the gains have been largely in lower-paying industries such as waitresses, in-home health care, food preparation and housekeeping."

So much for those "big advances for women."

And so much for women's liberation too.

After all, a key theme of secular feminism has been to decry the menial drudgery required of stay-at-home moms. However, those same feminists (loyal Democrats who support the present administration) are now forced to applaud women whose work is all about fixing and serving food, cleaning up, and taking care of kids.

Can you say, irony?

And yes, I'm reminded of the same line from GK Chesteron that you probably are; that is, his description of a feminist rally in his day: "Ten thousand women marched through the streets shouting, 'We will not be dictated to,' and went off and became stenographers."

You Can't Fix ObamaCare. You Must Repeal It.

It seems that Democrat Congressman Ron Barber from Arizona, like everybody else in his party, needed the humongous ObamaCare bill to pass in order to, in Nancy Pelosi's now infamous phrase, "find out what was in it."

Well, lo and behold, once it passed and Barber's constituents found out what was in it, they were anything but pleased. In fact, they were really ticked off. As a result, Congressman Barber is now seeking to repeal a particularly egregious bit of the package; namely, the provision of Obamacare that diminishes the amount of medical expenses that senior citizens can deduct on their tax returns.

You see, taxpayers have been able to take a federal income tax deduction for medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income. But under ObamaCare, this will be raised raised to 10% for taxpayers under age 65 and, in three years, it will also apply to taxpayers 65 years and older. Barber's constituents are complaining that the financial damage caused by limiting deductions for medical expenses will "be disproportionately borne by that ‘selective segment’ of the population that, via the ‘aging process,’ is already the victim of catastrophic non-reimbursable medical expenses.”

They're right.

But Barber is wrong. Specifically, he's wrong in trying to fix the mandated mess that is ObamaCare merely by fixing just one of its many drastic errors. No, Congressman Barber, the whole thing needs to be defunded and dismantled…as soon as possible. Get on it, will you?

"Indefensible" -- Obama Administration Opposes Religious Rights Envoy

For a second time, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation – by an overwhelming margin – to establish a special envoy focusing on the rights of religious minorities in parts of the Islamic world, with priority given to Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The Obama administration opposes the legislation, and the previous bill died in the Senate after a Democratic senator placed a hold on it, citing State Department advice, and then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) declined to hold hearings on the matter.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) passed Wednesday by a vote of 402-22, an almost identical result to the 2011 vote, which was 402-20.

Wolf urged swift action in the Senate this time.

In a speech on the House floor, he called the administration’s opposition to the establishment of the special envoy post “short-sighted and, frankly, indefensible.”

Here's more from CNS News.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Today's Posts

Adult Stem Cells: The Future of Medicine

We've been demonstrating for a long time that the hope among scientists and grant writers that the use of embryonic stem cells would somehow, some way, someday prove medically useful was an immoral, expensive, and ultimately unworkable dead end.

Indeed, over and over again, it has been adult stem cell experiments and practical treatments that have paved the way for the future. Restored health, energized hope, lives saved -- that's the record of adult stem cells. Whereas ESCR has given us zero.

Want a case in point?

6 Key Things in Understanding Suffering

Ever since the ancient revolt, suffering has been woven, with perplexity and pain, into the fabric of human experience. We all live and move and have our being amid Eden's wreckage. Affliction and evil -- universal as they are real -- haunt us, stalk us, plague us.

In a recent lecture delivered at Houston's Lanier Theological Library titled "Going Beyond Clich├ęs: Christian Reflection on Suffering and Evil" [video link attached], Don Carson proposes six pillars to support a Christian worldview for stability through suffering.

"A Christian worldview rests on huge, biblically established, theological frameworks -- all of which have to be accepted all of the time," the research professor of New Testament explains. "And this massive structure is stable and comprehensive enough to give you a great deal of stability when you go through your darkest hours." His proposed pillars aren't cute musings, in other words, but crucial bulwarks.

Good stuff -- insightful, helpful. Check it out here.

(Missionary Doug Nichols alerted me to this article. Thanks, Doug.)

Solid Theology for a Steady Life

Goodnight, America

Remember Barry McGuire's musical question, "And you tell me over and over again, my friend, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction?"

Here's just a few examples from the morning's news that show how inescapably relevant Barry's question is in the fall of 2013.

* High school students in Tennessee doing a three-week course on world religions have been taken to a Hindu temple and to a mosque -- where they were given cookies, a lecture on Islam, and copies of the Koran. But no field trips were allowed to a church or synagogue. In fact, the whole course was heavily biased in favor of Islam. Also, students who protested the heavy-handed and unfair policy were harshly punished. (Read the details in this Todd Starnes column.)

* Proudly citing their introduction of Jackie Robinson to manor league baseball and being "on the right side of history, " the Los Angeles Dodgers have announced their first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Night OUT event on September 27 when they play the Colorado Rockies. Other teams have hosted similar "outings" including the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, and San Francisco Giants.

* Households on Food Stamps Now Outnumber All Households in Northeast U.S.

* "UK Bioethicists Promoting Second Wave of Eugenics, Genetic Manipulation of Embryos" (Michael Cook,

* Census on Obama’s 1st Term: Real Median Income Down $2,627; People in Poverty Up 6,667,000; Record 46,496,000 Now Poor

* "7 Examples of Discrimination Against Christians in America" (John Hawkins, Right Wing News)

* "Suki L. Handly was convicted of prostitution, drug possession, and larceny in the late ’90s. In 2008, the state of Connecticut hired her to dispense welfare, and what followed was...exactly what you’d expect, actually." (Jillian Kay Melchior, "Connecticut Hires Ex-Hooker to Dispense Welfare, Predictable Results Ensue," NRO)

* "Student Indoctrination" (Walter E. Williams, Town Hall)

Terry McAuliffe Wants Abortion, No Matter What

Terry McAuliffe, the Clintonian liberal who ran the Democratic National Committee and who now wants to run the state of Virginia, is now on record as opposing basic safety and sanitation regulations for the abortion clinics in that state. Indeed, McAuliffe's zealotry for abortion is so extreme that he's promised to circumvent the law and the will of the people by using executive orders to protect abortion mills from meeting those basic health standards required of dentist offices, emergi-care clinics, and tattoo parlors.

And they say it's Republicans who are waging a war on women?

Dr. Susan Berry's story over at Breitbart quotes Steve Rossie of the Family Foundation: McAuliffe’s “reckless promise comes in the recent aftermath of the conviction of notorious Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell for killing babies after they survived botched abortions. Remember, it was then-Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge who ignored the law in that state requiring abortion center inspections that allowed Gosnell to go unnoticed for years, harming untold numbers of women and children.”

McAuliffe is running against an authentic pro-life advocate, Ken Cuccinelli, a fellow who has voted to overturn former Gov. Mark Warner’s veto of a partial-birth abortion ban, drafted Virginia’s parental consent law, led efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and demanded that the state’s abortion facilities meet the same health standards as other surgical centers.

Cuccinelli is running behind McAuliffe in the polls right now and could certainly use more prayers and more financial support. Here's his website.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Today's Posts

A Seed of Kindness

H/T -- "This Three Minute Commercial Puts Full-Length Hollywood Films to Shame" (Neetzan Zimmerman, Gawker)

The Hypocrite-in-Chief: Obama's Selective Outrage Over Poisoned Children

The excerpts below are from Star Parker's excellent column, "Abortion Support Undermines Obama's Moral Leadership."

Whether we are talking about respect for a nation or for an individual, nothing undermines respect more than duplicity -- saying one thing and acting differently.

I think it is a big reason why President Barack Obama's Tuesday speech to the nation, in which he attempted to explain why he has proposed military action in Syria, fell so flat…

Earlier this year, Obama became the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America. He concluded his remarks to that group the same way he concluded his address to the nation about Syria, saying, "God bless you."

How can a president who appeals for God's blessing for America's largest abortion provider possibly be credible in justifying American military force abroad because of moral outrage?

If the use of chemicals to destroy children is what bothers this president, why does it not bother him that a growing percentage of abortions done in our nation are chemically induced using drugs? The most common is RU486, which became legal in 2000.

In 2008, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, 32 percent of the early-term abortions performed in Planned Parenthood clinics, for which our president seeks God's blessing, were done using these abortion-inducing drugs…

 In June, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives -- sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., with 184 co-sponsors -- that would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks (five months). The legislation is called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

The bill includes this language: "By 8 weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling."

The Obama administration wasted no time in issuing a statement noting opposition to this legislation and indicating, "If the president were presented with this legislation, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto this bill."

Perhaps abstract arguments can take place regarding the status of the unborn child in very early stages of pregnancy. But after five months, as the pregnancy enters the third trimester, the living, human status of the unborn child is clear and obvious. It takes a true moral callousness to deny this.

This president not only sits by and allows wanton murder of unborn children. He supports and endorses it, using dubious arguments about women's health and "reproductive rights."

The light of liberty cannot shine if it is not fueled by the light of consistent moral principle…

A Gun That Liberals Will Like?

Guns? To progressives, guns are bad because, after all, they can kill people.

But abortion? To progressives, abortion is good because, after all, people in the womb can be killed without compunction.

Imagine then the schizophrenia progressives will experience when they meet the "abortion gun."

Kristan Hawkins and James Christophersen have the story here, "Shooting a Gun at Women’s Private Parts is a Big Deal." And it's a story that details the extreme dangers that so-called contraceptive devices pose both to babies and their moms.

Have You Asked Your Politicians to De-Fund ObamaCare...Lately?

When I talk to people about making their views known to their political representatives, I often hear something like "Oh yes, I signed one of those online petitions last year" or "He knows where I stand. I sent him a letter when he was elected."

That's fine but our political reps need to hear from us frequently. After all, we need to remember that they live in a very noisy environment. The voice of their constituency can easily be drowned out by the press, the TV networks, the talk radio programs, and the endless lineup of lobbyists showing up at their office door.  Therefore, your views need to be stated clearly...and re-stated with some regularity.

It is often suggested that citizens contact their representatives once a month (or once every two months) on issues that they are especially keen on. Is that too much? Not at all -- particularly if your call or letter has a new point or additional information from your last contact. Of course, your letter, call or e-mail may only register as a single digit in an ongoing tally of pros and cons, yet even that can be of extreme importance.

So, don't just make your opinions known to the guys you meet for coffee at the donut shop. Share them with those who can make a difference.

Case in point? I'm sending e-mails to my Congressman and Senators with a copy of the photograph below AND a link to John Fund's NRO article, "Congress’s Exemption from Obamacare." You can join me (in fact, I heartily encourage you to do so) by simply copying these two URL links and sending them to your representatives too. Let's go.

Planned Parenthood: Maintaining Margaret's Meanness

This past weekend Planned Parenthood celebrated the birthday of their founder, Margaret Sanger. And though Sanger was, as proven by her own writings, an alarmingly outspoken racist, elitist and eugenicist, the organization she started continues to honor her.

Worse still, however, is that Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in the world, continues to apply Sanger's mean-spirited doctrines.

Amazing? Disgusting? Yes to both. But the most pressing question is why the American public doesn't know the truth about Sanger and the radical abortion business which Planned Parenthood has become.

And that's where you and I come in; namely, to awaken our friends and neighbors to those plain and terrible facts about Sanger and her mega-abortion corporation -- facts that the liberal media has kept well-hidden.

Here at Vital Signs Blog we frequently provide you with just the information you need for this task. For instance, among the recent posts you'll find of use are:

Planned Parenthood’s 3-Step Plan for Young Women

Here's 9 Things About Planned Parenthood Everyone Should Know

Despite Media Cover, Planned Parenthood's Scandals Are Hurting the Brand and

Democrats Still Throwing Money to Planned Parenthood.

And for more, you can scan all the posts which appear under the heading of "Planned Parenthood" on the right sidebar.