Monday, February 28, 2011

Joyful Prolife "Flash Mob"

Participants in a "Walk for Choice" demonstration were surprised to be joined by a buoyant prolife "flash mob" on Saturday in downtown Chicago. I like their initial entry into the plaza with the LOTR "Shire" theme. A striking example of how new media and a joyful positive approach can help bring about a much needed seismic cultural shift to our society.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Discovery Sets Sail One Final Time


Space Shuttle Discovery launched this afternoon to deliver vital hardware and supplies to the International Space Station. This is the final flight planned for Discovery, which has been flying since 1984.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Are We on the Cusp of Something Big?

Events have been moving increasingly fast recently, with so much going on that I have to let go of any thought of covering it all on this humble blog. But just to take a few of the events occurring in the nation and the world the past few weeks, are we on the cusp of some tectonic cultural shifts?

Take for example, the upheaval in Egypt and other countries where leaders who have ruled for decades are suddenly being turned out amidst mass demonstrations by many citizens of those countries. I don't think there have been so many near simultaneous changes in so many countries since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in late 1989. Whether these changes lead to a new birth of freedom for people in that part of the world or to something more grim that could be trouble for all of us remains to be seen.

Closer to home, we see the Republican led House of Representatives making serious cuts in most federal programs in the Continuing Resolution for the balance of the fiscal year 2011. With Senate Democrats and President Obama likely to be opposed to many of the cuts, we could be headed for a government shutdown on March 4 if no agreement is reached. A shutdown did occur in 1995, which was perceived to have been damaging to the Republican Congress at that time. With the nation's deficit situation much more severe now and a whole different media environment, the political ramifications could point in a different direction, reversing the growth of government that has taken place for decades.

This battle is being played out more dramatically in Wisconsin and other states, where elected officials are confronting entrenched public employee unions with the dire fiscal consequences of continuing the generous benefit packages of the past. This may be the start of a confrontation between the left wing community organizing movement and the more conservative Tea Party movement over the direction our nation takes.

Finally, as part of the House budget actions, but worthy of being highlighted, is the passage of a measure defunding Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood has managed to embed itself into our society with a "mainstream" image for decades, but that image is crumbling, and hopefully with it, the organization's destructive influence on our society. The defunding measure was sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), who gave a stirring keynote address at the Susan B. Anthony List Gala I attended on Wednesday evening.

In short, we may be on the verge of a cultural shift at least as profound as that of the sixties and seventies that changed our society and continues to influence cultural assumptions to this day. The new shift will not be a return to 1950s social norms, but it could reject some of the more negative influences of the shift that followed, leading to 21st century norms that hopefully will include more respect for life and liberty.

Comet Close-Up

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

NASA's Stardust-NExT made a close approach to Comet Tempel 1 on Monday, providing spectacular images along with data to be analyzed.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Trillions with a T

President Obama sent his $3.7 trillion FY2012 budget to Congress today, opening the next phase in the debate of how to deal with the nation's huge and mounting deficit situation. Republicans (and others)are saying that the budget does not contain nearly enough reductions to make a serious dent in the burgeoning deficit. With major cuts likely in the pending Continuing Resolution (CR) that will probably stand from March 4 through the rest of FY 2010, this budget story is going to be a wild ride.

The budget proposal for NASA is $18.7 billion, equivalent to the amount in last year's (FY2010) budget. Cuts in the current House CR proposal for FY2011 take this year's budget ~$300 million lower. Given the need to tackle the deficit, cuts in every program are unavoidable. The trick in an area like space, which has so much potential for spurring future economic growth, is to allocate the resources we have most effectively. The most significant way of doing this is to sustain the efforts currently underway to engage the private sector in a greater role in human expansion into space.

Hard choices will have to be made across federal, state and local budgets. While many budget reductions will be painful cuts in beneficial programs, some cuts will be a no-brainer, especially this one.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Commercial Space Developments

This (~10 min) video describes the exciting developments occurring in commercial space activities that many people are barely aware of.

Change in Egypt

People in Egypt are celebrating the departure of Hosni Mubarak from office as leader of that country. For now, the military is heading up a "transitional" government. Pray that today's events truly lead to a free and peaceful future for Egypt, and not in a darker direction where some forces there would go.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Ronald Reagan Centennial

Tomorrow, February 6, would have been the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan. Reagan will be remembered in history for his role in ending the Cold War in favor of freedom over communism, for reviving the American economy with free enterprise oriented solutions, and for being the first US President during the dark abortion-on-demand era to take a strong stand in favor of life.

Here is the official Reagan Centennial web site, which contains tributes, multi-media resources, and information on events that will go on through this year.

I probably can't say much that hasn't already been said and an abundance of Reagan tributes and info are available. Quite a number of good articles and resources are currently available at National Review online.

Here's an excerpt (~ 4 min) of the 1964 speech (" a time for choosing") where Reagan initiated his involvement in national politics. The full version (~30 min) is here.

And here's an excerpt of one of President Reagan's 1980 debates with President Carter which includes one of Reagan's most famous quotes.

Another Evil Empire Crumbling?

A fast pace of breaking news recently about revelations concerning Planned Parenthood (PP), the nation's largest abortion provider and a radical sexual revolution advocate. Recently came the release of the book Unplanned by Abby Johnson, a former PP center director in Texas who quit her job at PP and joined the prolife movement, a conversion she explains in the book.

Then, of course, there are the recent revelations by Live Action, which has in fact been revealing the dark side of PP for several years. The latest being the release of several videos of undercover visits to PP facilities by persons posing as a pimp and an underage girl from outside the US looking for assistance to deal with the consequences of illegal human trafficking without stopping the activity.

Further background is provided at this web site assembled by a coalition of prolife groups, where you can watch a replay of a Thursday night web cast (~ 73 min) explaining the situation and actions planned to deal with it.

The fact that these occurrences have occurred at several PP facilities indicates something more than the aberrant actions of one or two employees, but a mind set within that organization that seems to take any kind of sex anywhere, any time, as a given with a blindness to the consequences. For too long, Planned Parenthood has manage to embed itself into society pretending to be a "mainstream" organization. Now, with the combination of new media investigative journalism and a renewed determination on Capitol Hill to at least end taxpayer funding of PP, we can hope, pray and work for the curtailment of the PP world view's destructive impact on society.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Egypt in Upheaval

In 1993, I went on a Holy Land pilgrimage that included both Israel and Egypt. Memories of Egypt, and Cairo in particular, came back in recent days with the upheaval after nearly thirty years of rule by Hosni Mubarak. (Here's a timeline of highlights of recent events.)

The events have generated mixed feelings with hope and prayer that the many Egyptians who truly aspire for more freedom (sort of an Egyptian Tea Party) prevail over the darker forces in play that might take Egypt into the most extreme form of Islam. This later outcome would be particularly threatening to Egypt's Christians and to the neighboring nation of Israel.

It's time to pray for the people of Egypt and their leaders to find a path to a more free and peaceful land. Also, for guidance for our own leaders as they figure out what role to play in this delicate situation.

Judge: Obamacare Unconstitutional

A lot happening this week. On Monday, a U.S. district judge ruled that the health care law violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution by requiring individuals to buy insurance. Twenty six states have taken legal action to stop Obamacare from being implemented. This case is headed to the Supreme Court.

If the Supremes don't outright overturn Obamacare, Congress may disassemble it. Either way, there's hope that this debacle can be thwarted.