Baby holocaust. The stars of the hit television program 19 Kids and Counting, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, lent their voices to Texas pro-life efforts this week. They appeared at a rally in Austin to support legislation that would put in place strong protections for the unborn. At the rally, Michelle Duggar called abortion a “baby holocaust.” She said her daughter Josie, 3, is an example of a child born at 25 weeks, an age at which many children are aborted. The Texas House passed the bill, and the Senate likely will take it up today. Barring parliamentary barriers, the bill should pass the Republican-controlled body. Gov. Rick Perry has promised to sign it into law.
Good or bad? On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2013 Farm Bill on a mostly partisan vote of 216-208. Democrats aligned against the legislation, because it did not include a food stamps component. All but 12 Republicans voted for it. So was this a conservative victory? Yes and no. Decoupling food stamps from the farm bill—both massive pieces of legislation—theoretically gives legislators, watchdog groups, and citizens more chance to bring accountability to both programs. However, practice trumped theory yesterday. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, this bill “greatly expands the crop insurance subsidy program, where farmers’ premiums and insurance companies’ administrative costs are heavily subsidized. It includes no means tests for those subsidies. It leaves in place the sugar program, which is a central planning scheme that allocates domestic supply, restricts imports, and sets prices substantially higher than the world price.” And we still don’t know what will happen to food stamps. So for now, let’s call it two steps forward, and one step back.
Vomit button. Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, 83, said during his 700 Club show that “liking” same sex couples’ photos on Facebook is equivalent to condoning homosexual behavior. He further suggested, half jokingly, that he wished Facebook had a “vomit button” he could use when he saw such images. Robertson’s critics said they would use such a “vomit button” on his own page. I don’t find myself very often defending Pat Robertson. In general, I think he’s overstayed his welcome on television, where his verbal indiscretions are too often broadcast unedited. This time, though, despite Robertson’s indelicate language, I think he has a point. Social media sites such as Facebook create a false sense of what the general population finds praiseworthy. Also, Robertson is reminding us that certain behavior is, to put it plainly, shameful. For Robertson to say that plainly may make him an anachronism, but it does not make him wrong.
Still taking chances. Regular readers of this space know I’m a fan of Michael Martin Murphey. One of the reasons I admire him is his longevity in the music business. He had his first hit in the 1960s, when the pop band The Monkees recorded his song “What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ Round.” He had pop hits, including the iconic “Wildfire.” through the 1970s. In the 80s, he turned to country music, and had a string of Top 40 hits there, including “What’s Forever For” and “Still Taking Chances.” Since then, he has been a driving force in the re-invigoration of Americana music. His album Cowboy Songs sold a million copies, and his 2009 album Buckaroo Bluegrass (produced by his son Ryan) got a Grammy nomination. His latest album, Red River Drifter, came out this week, and it proves he’s not resting on his laurels. The album is already getting airplay and Deep Roots Magazine just named it “Album of the Week.” Murphey himself still plays more than 100 shows a year. Not bad for a guy who is approaching a half-century in the business.
Taking a break. One final note: I’ll be taking a break from “Signs and Wonders” next week. I look forward to being with you again on July 22, Lord willing.