Monday, October 31, 2005

Bush Nominates Sam Alito for Supreme Court

I heard the news this morning on my drive to work. Laura Ingraham is thrilled with Judge Sam Alito as President Bush's latest choice for the Sandra Day O'Connor vacancy on the Supreme Court. Here is the text of the President's announcement. Here is Alito's statement.

Laura played the audio of Senator Chuck Schumer's statement about the Alito nomination. He started with a glowing tribute to Rosa Parks, then degenerated into using Rosa Parks to score a cheap political point against Judge Alito. I called Senator Schumer a really bad name that nobody but God heard. I knew Schumer had chutzpah up the ying-yang, but I had no idea he could be that low, that slimy as to cheapen the memory of such a great woman this way. Here's what he said:

This morning I went and visited Rosa Parks in the Capitol Rotunda to pay my respects.
Being in the presence of Ms. Parks was awe-inspiring. This was a woman who changed history with one thin dime. She paid her fare and took her rightful seat on the bus and America was never the same again.

Like Rosa Parks, Judge Alito will be able to change history by virtue of where he sits. The real question today is whether Judge Alito would use his seat on the bench, just as Rosa Parks used her seat on the bus, to change history for the better or whether he would use that seat to reverse much of what Rosa Parks and so many others fought so hard and for so long to put in place.

Does Sen. Schumer honestly think that having Sam Alito on the Supreme Court will cause all civil rights to roll back to pre-Rosa Parks 1955? Does Sen Schumer honestly think that the Supreme Court is poised on the brink of declaring segregation constitutional save for one lone vote that Alito will provide? Does Sen. Schumer honestly think?

I can't begin to understand just how little Sen. Schumer believes the American people understand.

As I said, Laura Ingraham is thrilled with the choice of Alito. Hugh Hewitt is also thrilled. Of his two weekly guests, The Smart Guys (Left and Right law professors, Erwin Chemerinsky and John Eastman), John is thrilled, and Erwin hates the idea.

Since all these lawyers and law professors on the right are thrilled and those on the left are extremely un-thrilled, then I couldn't be more pleased. Filibusters are threatened. The Democrats are flinging rhetoric all over the place. And the Gang of 14 doesn't look like it's going to hold out for the filibuster over this nomination.

All is right with the world.

Scooter Libby Indictment

Note: This is not an accusation of witch hunts.

When I was in early high school, I was fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials. I wrote more than one report on it, whenever the homework assignment allowed it as a topic. Since I first started the research, I've been upset by the misinformation out there about the whole episode. But even more upsetting was the way the case itself was prosecuted.

Several girls, in a fit of hysteria encouraged by a slave from the Caribbean, accused some of the less reputable women in Salem of witchcraft. Once the accusations were leveled, then hearings were held. At the hearings, the girls again went into fits and accused these same women again of using witchcraft then and there to hurt the girls. The people who were accused during the hearings were tried for charges of witchcraft committed during the hearings. No charges were filed for the alleged incidents of witchcraft that happened before the hearings.

The trials began, the hysterics continued, and the accusations of witchcraft spread until they were leveled against some of the most reputable women and men in town. In the end, one man was pressed to death in an effort to get him to agree to be tried by that court, nineteen people were tried, convicted, and hung, and two dogs were hung (I never found transcripts of the dogs' trial).

My point is that it always seemed unfair to me that the hearings were the basis of the charges filed against the first of these people. If the legal system found the original accusations believable enough, then those people should have been tried on those charges. But the accusations weren't believable and the people weren't tried for those "crimes." The hearings, and then the trials, became simply a vehicle for stirring up new "crimes" for prosecution. If the legal system had decided there were no crimes to begin with and hadn't held these hearings, then nobody would have died.

And that's my gut feeling about the Scooter Libby indictment.

Over and over I've heard that releasing Valerie Plame's name was not a crime. It's a crime to release the name of a covert CIA agent within five years of that agent's cover operations. Valerie Plame had been back for more than five years, so releasing her name would not have fallen under this statute.

So there was no prosecutable offense, but we held Grand Jury hearings anyway. And during the course of the hearings, Scooter Libby said something that turned into a criminal indictment.

Call me naive, but it doesn't seem fair. It almost seems like double jeopardy. Why couldn't Fitzgerald have simply said, "There isn't a crime," and stopped the investigation at that point? Judith Miller would have been spared her time in jail, and Scooter Libby would still be helping the Vice President.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Goldfish and Badgers

The city of Rome has banned goldfish bowls.

I suppose it's still legal to use them for potted plants, but certainly not for keeping goldfish. The animal rights activists say goldfish bowls cause the goldfish to go blind, and the round shape doesn't provide enough oxygen for the fish.

What I want to know is how the animal rights activists know when the goldfish are blind. Do the fish start running into the bowl or the little castle in the middle? Do they stop being able to find their fish food when it's sprinkled on the water? I've had goldfish before--in a goldfish bowl--and never noticed any vision problems. Except when the fish died. I suppose death caused blindness, because the fish didn't see too well after that.

This story makes me think of Italy's intellectual and artistic history. The Italian Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci. Michaelangelo. What happened to that heritage?

It's been replaced by bureaucrats who listen to the brain trust at the animal rights organizations, groups that are bent on protecting goldfish.


Meanwhile, another group needs protecting. This time from the animals. Ananova reported recently that badgers in Wiltshire, England, attacked prison guards, wounding one of the guards.

Badgers are protected in England, so when they tunneled under the prison walls, the guards were required by law to leave the animals alone.

The badgers were free to wander the grounds for months after breaking in earlier this year.

Apparently this appeasement only emboldened the animals. It was only after the attack that the Department of Food and Rural Affairs finally granted the prison permission to remove the badgers.

Friday, October 28, 2005

This Is "News"?

On her radio show this morning, Laura Ingraham played a few clips from, and made fun of, Tom Brokaw's NBC News special about that new phenomenon: Evangelical Christians. The special was called, "In God They Trust," and went to "the epicenter" of evangelicals, Colorado Springs, CO. Judging by the title (In God "They" Trust?) and by Brokaw's introduction, which included a statement along the lines of, "I'd go to parties and people kept asking me, 'Who are these evangelicals?'" it was clear that Brokaw and NBC News saw evangelicals as some kind of alien species that had come to inhabit America. Recently.

So they produced this show to explain the the new phenomenon of evangelicals participating in American life and politics. The only problem was, as one of Laura's callers pointed out, that NBC News produced a special 17 years ago explaining who these evangelicals are.

And if Colorado Springs is the epicenter of evangelicalism, then does that mean that the strength of faith or political interest fades as you move away from there? Am I a weaker evangelical because I live in Southern California and not in Colorado? Epicenter is a strange choice of words, because it implies not only centrality (and evangelicals are certainly not centralized) but also disaster. Odd that Brokaw sees the "They" of his news story as so foreign and so dangerous. And so new.

Last time I looked, evangelicals were a normal part of America and had been for a long time.


George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu, the helmsman on the original Star Trek, has come out as a homosexual. This is hitting the news today.

Now, I'm not on the cutting edge of anything. I'm just a regular person working a Monday to Friday job just as I have for over 25 years, and I knew about Takei 20 years ago. One of the men I worked with in 1985 told me that Takei had hit on him at a Star Trek convention some years before that. My co-worker declined, and that was that.

But the fact that this is news to the world when it's old news to me is just like when Rock Hudson died of AIDS, also in 1985. I heard about Rock Hudson and Gomer Pyle being an item on the playground in fourth or fifth grade (in the late '60s) from another girl whose father told her. Everybody said, "Eeeewww!" and never came back to the subject. So I figured if I knew, then the whole world must already know. After all, I went to school in a mostly Navy-enlisted, lower-middle class neighborhood in a San Diego suburb--not the kind of place that would be in-the-know about Hollywood insider details.

But the rest of the world was shocked when Rock Hudson died of AIDS, just like the news media seems shocked now to learn that Sulu is gay. But it's old news.

The story for me about George Takei, since I know how long it's been since he approached a young man at a Star Trek convention, is how hard life must have been for him, hiding the truth about who he is and what he does and always being afraid of discovery. By taking this step, Takei is now free of that fear. And freedom from fear is a freedom unlike many others.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Harriet Miers Withdraws

I'm disappointed. I'm disgusted.

I'm disappointed that Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court (here's the link to her withdrawal letter). I'm disappointed that I won't get the chance to see her for myself in the hearings, that I won't be able to either see some of the qualities that made President Bush believe she'd do well on the Supreme Court, or see her blathering inanities that would confirm her critics' analyses of her.

I'm disgusted by the way so many have treated Miers, hunting for the worst of what she has ever said or written, and interpreting things in the worst possible way. A case in point is the "affirmative action" document produced while she was head of the Texas Bar. Hugh Hewitt reproduced that document in the 10:50 AM Update at the bottom of this post yesterday. Many of the Miers critics used this to conclude that Miers was in favor of racial set-asides, and they assumed that this document meant Miers would come out in favor of hard-core affirmative action programs when she was on the bench. But the document spelled out a voluntary program that law firms were not required to sign up for. And the language is similar to this point at the end of the document (emphasis added):

(d) Ensuring equal opportunities for Minority Lawyers to achieve partnership or senior corporate counsel status by:

- Using the same criteria for Minority and Non-Minority Lawyers in evaluating lawyers for promotion to partnership or senior corporate counsel status

- Guiding the development of Minority Lawyers in the same manner as non-Minority Lawyers

- As Minority Lawyers near consideration for partnership or senior corporate counsel, assigning responsibility for important client matters to senior Minority Lawyers in the same manner and extent that such matters are assigned to senior non-Minority Lawyers.

What's so frightening about this?

Laura Ingraham seemed to be celebrating on her radio show, repeating the accusation that Miers favored minority set-asides. I couldn't listen, because this isn't a cause for celebration.

A good woman's reputation has been savaged. And her withdrawal leaves that tatters of a reputation as the last thing the public hears. "Harriet Miers? Isn't she that woman who couldn't cut it?" Her accomplishments speak better of her than this.

To the harshest of the Miers critics I say this: You raked the GOP half of the Gang of 14 over the coals for breaking ranks over judicial nominations, and then you broke ranks, yourselves, over judicial nominations. You reminded the Senate Democrats that they don't get veto power over nominees, but then you demanded veto power over Supreme Court nominees. You've made yourselves the new Gang of 14--the new arbiters of judicial qualifications. Pity the next nominee, who has to satisfy not only the Senate, but all of you as well.

This is a sad day, because the process got cut short without having a chance to work itself out.

Go ahead and gloat, all of you who feel as though you've "won." I'm not listening.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More Hewitt on Miers

I have to admit that I stand, more and more, with Hugh Hewitt on the debate over the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court, and I think it has something to do with polarizing filters.

A polarizing filter only allows the light waves to come through if those waves are traveling in the same direction as the filter is aligned. All the light waves traveling at some other angle just smack up against the filter and don't get through.

I think the neurological pathways in my brain are aligned the same way as Hugh's on the Miers debate, because his arguments make sense to me, while the anti-Miers arguments just seem to smack against my head and bounce off. I see them, I read them, but these arguments don't mesh with the total mental picture I have of politics/the judiciary/faith/economics/people/life, and what's important. If new information doesn't fit what I already understand (yes, I allow for adjustments), it doesn't get accepted immediately. (For a couple decades, I wondered why rainbows curve, and people tried giving me answers, but they didn't explain all the rainbow combinations I had seen. When I was given an explanation that took it all into account, I was finally able to accept that as the answer. The Miers debate is like that.)

When the announcement first came out, I was as disappointed as everyone else. And just as clueless about who this woman was. But as the debate has continued, I've been more amazed at the anti-Miers crowd's ability to dismiss Miers' many accomplishments as irrelevant to the Supreme Court and to dismiss the anti-anti-Miers crowd as somehow not up to the intellectual firepower needed to make this kind of decision.

Once upon a time, the burden of proof was on the Senate to prove a nominee was incompetent or unworthy. Now, it seems, the anti-Miers people want the burden of proof to be on the nominee to prove herself worthy of the position. This isn't right.

It all comes down to what's important. For conservatives, particularly the GOP, there seem to be two important issues at stake. The first is that we get a non-activist/strict-constructionist/originalist on the bench who will be there for a long time and won't turn into the next Souter. The second is that the GOP retains control of the Senate and the White House, so more non-activist/strict-constructionist/originalist justices can be put on the Supreme Court.

The anti-Miers folks seem to hold the first as their most important concern. The anti-anti-Miers folks (Hugh at least) seem to hold the second as their top concern. It's not that either side doesn't see the importance of the other issue, but it's about how much priority each concern is given. And I'm willing to allow my uncertainty about Harriet Miers to take a back seat (or at least not take the driver's seat) to the importance of the political future of the GOP beyond the Bush years.

With that in mind, I'll end with a couple quotes from Hugh's post today:

Maryland's Lt. Gov. Michael Steele declared yesterday for the seat being vacated by Senator Sarbanes. Will it help or hurt this dynamic candidate who has a chance to become the GOP's first African American senator since Brook of Massachusetts if the Judiciary Committee's GOP members pummel Miers over the Texas Bar Association's policy of encouraging minority recruitment? Will such a verbal blast help Ohio's Ken Blackwell, the African American candidate for the Buckeye State's governorship?

In Minnesota, where Mark Kennedy has a shot at the open seat of retiring Mark Dayton and where pro-life sentiment cuts across party lines as it does in Pennsylvania where Senator Santorum faces an uphill battle against a self-declared pro-life Bob Casey, Jr., will it help either man for Republican senators to reject a nominee who has supported the Human Life Amendment and battled the ABA over the issue?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

CBS News Poll on Evolution

CBS News has released the results of their new poll on evolution vs. creation.

According to the poll, 51% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form (there was no evolution, at least for humans). Another 30% believe that God guided evolution to get humans to their present form. Only 15% believe that evolution got us here without any help from God.

The results must be dismaying to the media and the liberal education establishment, after decades of hammering evolution as accepted fact into the brains of American children. They may have taken God out of the public schools, but He has managed to stubbornly keep His fingers in the evolution/creation debate.

The only bright spot for the die-hard evolution-only folks (who include a higher percentage of liberals, non-churchgoers, and college-educated people than average Americans) is that the numbers have shifted slightly in favor of evolution than the same poll taken last November. In that poll, 55% believed God created humans, 27% believed God directed evolution, and 13% believed in evolution only.

WorldNetDaily reported, in their coverage of the CBS News poll, that AOL conducted its own unscientific poll in response to the CBS News poll. AOL had a fairly even split among the three options. At the end of their article, WND gave a representative AOL discussion board comment from an evolution believer and a creation believer that sum up the debate beautifully:

"How can anyone disagree with evolution with so much evidence out there?" asked one AOL user in an associated messageboard. "I don't see any evidence of how God got here."

"Did God create liberals?" asks another. "No. Liberals clearly evolved, by accident, from apes. Dumb apes. The average American liberal shows no hint of intelligent design. No wonder liberals are pro-Darwin."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Miers, Terror, and Border Fences

Hugh Hewitt is back from vacation, and his latest post is a brilliant (and long) analysis of the Harriet Miers nomination, the anti-Miers crowd and their reasoning, as well as the anti-anti-Miers crowd and their reasoning too. For me, the best part of Hugh's analysis is his survey of the political landscape if she is confirmed and also if her nomination is withdrawn.

As Republicans, Hugh says, we need to understand that "any political event with the capacity to significantly degrade the political strength of the president or the Congressional majorities has to be thought through very carefully indeed." And Hugh thinks it through very carefully and very thoroughly. Be sure to read the whole post.


Mark Steyn has another column, this one in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times, that touches on the Global War on Terror. But it's in the context of a UNICEF anti-war Smurf cartoon that's at its heart an anti-American Smurf cartoon. Steyn skewers the film, UNICEF, and the UN's warm embrace of oppressive, totalitarian dictators.

Saddam's Iraq, Steyn says, "is gone now -- not because of UNICEF and the other transnational institutions that confer respectability on dictatorships, but because America, Britain, Australia and a few others were prepared to go to war."

Read the whole column--it's Mark Steyn, so of course you must read it.


Finally, here's an article from WorldNetDaily's October 10 edition, on the possibility of building a border fence. There are companies that are already building sound barriers along freeways, and their building methods are both feasible and affordable.

Lee Plank, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Diamond Manufacturing Company in Wyoming, Pa., says his company has not been approached about border security fences, but, he said, they would be a good idea.

"I think they'd have to be about 10 feet high," he told WND, and would cost "about $636,000 a mile" to build. That's about $1.27 billion for 2,000 miles of border fence, similar to the government's figures.

I like the idea of a complete fence along both borders, especially if we have roads built to run alongside the fences, so the Border Patrol can actually patrol our entire borders. We have immigration laws in place but lack enforcement. A fence might slow down the tide and allow our enforcement personnel more time to perform their enforcement duties.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Southern California Autumn

Autumn is coming to Southern California. It's subtle, and if you don't pay attention, you'll miss it coming and you'll miss it going.

It shows up mostly in the ivy that grows on retaining walls or in the liquidambar trees. I hunt for it and savor it each year, pretending when I see it that I live somewhere with seasons, with Octobers that turn gold and red and have a cold bite in the air.

I don't really like liquidambar trees, but I put up with them this time of year because they're the trees most likely to turn actual colors. Other deciduous trees go from green to brown to bare without bothering to find a color along the way.

At first glance, liquidambars look like maple trees, with their hand-shaped leaves. But it's a ruse--an elaborate deception inflicted on the unwary. Maple trees hide their seeds in delicate wing-shaped pods that separate and spiral to the ground like a ballet of tiny helicopter blades. It's a delight to watch the helicopters and even to anticipate their coming.

But liquidambars hide their seeds in hideous spike-balls that drop to the ground without any grace, littering the grass beneath the trees. No ballet. Nothing to delight the eye. Only brown seed balls that crunch underfoot.

Still, I parked the car on a quiet street and took pictures of a liquidambar tree trying to proclaim that autumn is here. I'll take its word and watch for the autumn leaves that are changing amid summer flowers still in full bloom.

It's worth the effort.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Left Accuses Bush of Being Pro-Death

This is rather like the pot calling the kettle black.

Common Dreams, a Progressive media outlet, published a commentary Friday by Susan Lenfestey entitled "Miers and Bush: Pro-Death" (HT: WorldNetDaily). In it, Lenfestey makes many unsubstantiated claims as support for her position that Bush (and by association Miers) promotes a culture of death. Here are some of her claims:

As governor of Texas, Bush earned the nickname Governor Death for overseeing 152 executions in six years. Although Texas is notably lax in its lab work and defense attorneys occasionally slept through their clients' trials, this compassionate conservative chose death again and again, reportedly even mocking the pleas of Karla Faye Tucker shortly after he refused to commute her death sentence.

From whom did Bush earn the nickname "Governor Death?" From people opposed to the death penalty? From Al Gore's campaign staff? From Lenfestey herself? She doesn't say, and personally, I don't remember hearing that nickname. But then again, I don't travel in Progressive circles.

Lenfestey claims that Bush's nickname was earned because he oversaw 152 executions. But on the website of Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP), on the page about George W. Bush (c. 2000), there is this statement: "It must be said that George W. Bush is not responsible for the increased pace of executions, nor did he create Texas' arcane clemency procedures." Yes, Bush had the opportunity to commute many (I don't know the exact numbers) death sentences, but there were other cases that Texas law took out of the Governor's hands.

Lenfestey then says, "Texas is notably lax in its lab work." How notable is this laxity? Is it 20% error-prone? Or 75%? And it is lax in the entire state of Texas? This is a sweeping attack on the quality of forensics in a major state of the US, and Lenfestey offers no sources for this statement.

Her next statement, "defense attorneys occasionally slept through their clients' trials," is easier to find source material. The aforementioned CUADP page on GW Bush states: "This is pointed out so clearly in the September 1999 issue of Harper's, in the Index: 'Number of death sentences upheld by Texas courts since 1990 for men whose lawyers slept during their trials: 3.'"

So, out of 152 executions, three had defense attorneys who fell asleep during the trial. And though Lenfestey places the blame for these three convicted murderers' executions at Bush's feet, Harper's clearly states that it was the courts that upheld the death sentences. The sleeping apparently wasn't at times in the trial that would have affected the verdict, or the courts would not have upheld the sentences.

The reports of Bush "mocking the pleas of Karla Faye Tucker" all go back to one interview. Tucker Carlson, in 2000, interviewed candidate Bush for Talk Magazine. Wikipedia provides the salient text of Carlson's article:

In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, a number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Fay Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, "What would you say to Governor Bush?" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me." I must look shocked--ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel--because he immediately stops smirking.

Note the emotionally loaded wording Carlson uses throughout this paragraph: "whips around" "snaps" "whimpers" "mock desperation" "smirking." From reading this paragraph, it looks as though Tucker Carlson wasn't very fond of Bush to begin with, so his characterization of Bush as "mocking" Karla Faye Tucker may not have been an accurate portrayal, though it actually may have. Wikipedia ends this entry with, "Bush denied that he had intended to make light of the issue." While denials run rampant during a presidential campaign, Lenfestey does not allow for the possibility that Tucker Carlson misread Bush's intent.

To her credit, Lenfestey doesn't remain mired in the 2000 campaign. She has this to say about Bush's presidency:

As president, George Bush continues to err on the side of death. Not only has he brushed aside health care and environmental protections that value life in the broadest sense, he has sent our troops into a war that they cannot win on a pack of lies as thin as their armor.

President Bush has not "brushed aside health care and environmental protections that value life." He may have brushed aside the health care and environmental proposals that extremists on the left hold sacred, but that doesn't qualify Bush as "err[ing] on the side of death."

As far as sending our troops into Iraq, well that debate has run its course, and you're on one side of it or the other. Lenfestey has simply revealed which side she's on about Iraq. Because soldiers (who are trained for war) have been sent to war, she interprets this as a pro-death action.

One statement Lenfestey makes is an amazing display of chutzpah: "Putting abortion aside for a moment -- if anyone can," and then she proceeds to put it aside, other than to say that it doesn't matter where Harriet Miers stands on abortion, because Miers is unfit for the Supreme Court since her policies are intertwined with President Bush's policies.

In Texas, during Bush's time as governor (1995 - 2000), there were 502,684 abortions reported (compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston from TDH data) . But Lenfestey wants to "put that aside" and focus on the 152 executions of convicted murderers.

This is an article on "pro-death" policies. That Lenfestey, who appears to be representative of the hard left, will not include abortion in her discussion of death is very telling. But her side would not come out ahead on that topic. Instead, she either refuses to acknowledge that abortion involves death, or she is so wrapped up in tearing apart President Bush and his policies, that she has no room left in her mind for analyzing non-Bush issues.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Mark Steyn on GWOT

I've noticed a pattern with the columns Mark Steyn writes for the British, Canadian, and American press: It all comes back to the Global War on Terror.

There are people out there who want to kill us, and they will not stop until every single one of us is either dead or becomes one of them. Or until we kill them first. It's that simple.

But it's not that simple to the left-leaning media, which has bowed down to the god of Appearing Objective.

Steyn's column in the October 16, 2005, Chicago Sun-Times takes the mainstream media to task for their refusal to properly identify the source of all the terror going on in the world. MSM reports list "insurgents," "militants," "rebel forces," and the like.

Rebels," by the score. But why were they rebelling? What were they insurging over? You had to pick up the Globe & Mail's rival, the Toronto Star, to read exactly the same Associated Press dispatch but with one subtle difference:

''Nalchik, Russia -- Scores of Islamic militants launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings . . ."

Ah, "Islamic militants." So that's what the rebels were insurging over. In the geopolitical Hogwart's, Islamic "militants" are the new Voldemort, the enemy whose name it's best never to utter. In fairness to the New York Times, they did use the I-word in paragraph seven. And Agence France Presse got around to mentioning Islam in paragraph 22.

I underestimated multiculturalism. After 9/11, I assumed the internal contradictions of the rainbow coalition would be made plain: that a cult of "tolerance" would in the end founder against a demographic so cheerfully upfront in their intolerance. Instead, Islamic "militants" have become the highest repository of multicultural pieties.

I'm aware the very concept of "the enemy" is alien to the non-judgment multicultural mind: There are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven't yet accommodated. But the media's sensitivity police apparently want this to be the first war we lose without even knowing who it is we've lost to.

For those of us who understand what this war is about and who understand the stakes, we must take the battle to this front as well. The GWOT is being fought in Afghanistan and Iraq by our military, coalition forces, and the newly trained Afghan and Iraqi forces. But the propaganda war is being largely ignored here on the home front. We need to be diligent in exposing the MSM whitewash of our enemy. If the left-wing mouthpieces succeed in getting majority opinion on their side, then the GWOT will eventually be lost.

The stakes are too high. We must join the battle every way we can.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Changes At Work

My day job is really doing a number on my blogging. So much work, so little time...

But there's hope on the horizon, because Monday they did a reorganization and moved our group under a different VP. We no longer work for the one whose smile is so heavy it can't reach all the way up to her eyes. Now we're under a VP who is animated and enjoys her work. And who seems to care about the people who work for her. Maybe she'll even approve hiring more people to take up some of the workload.

Those of us who were hoping we'd get laid off or fired are now taking a wait-and-see stance. It might actually prove to be good being gainfully employed. Who'da thought?

Thank you to those of you who are praying for my back to get better. It's helping. I've gone from "dang!" level pain down to the occasional "ow." Another visit to the chiropractor tomorrow.

Life is good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

UN Shows Its Colors

If we needed any proof that the UN sides with dictator-thugs, this is it. Denis Barnett, of South Africa's Mail & Guardian, writes that the UN invited Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to speak at the 60th anniversary of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

"I find it amazing they've invited Mr Mugabe to speak at the 60th anniversary, who in a way has done so much to hurt the hungry, and who has absolutely turned his back on the poor," said Tony Hall, US ambassador to the UN food agencies in Rome.

"I find it amazing. What can he possibly say to us at the conference, when he has done so much to hurt his own people? Food has been used as a weapon against his own people," Hall said late on Friday.

"The country used to be a net exporter of food and now a good portion of the people have to be fed," said Hall, who was on a tour of World Food Programme aid stations in the stricken Southern African country.

Where is the UN's outrage over Mugabe's destructive policies? If not outrage, where is their concern? Inviting Mugabe to speak to the FAO is like inviting Saddam Hussein to speak before an organization dedicated to ending the use of chemical weapons.

I've posted before about Zimbabwe and their deteriorating economy and society as a result of Mugabe's various policies. This post has links to the other posts.

I know our leaders, including President Bush favor reforming the UN over abandoning it, but where will they draw the line? When the UN works hard at slamming democracies and then rewards oppressive, murderous regimes, what choice do they leave us?

How long will we wait before we finally pull our funding from the UN and send the whole lot of them packing to some other shore?

Back Again

I got in my car this morning and started for work. Laura Ingraham was discussing something that was not the Miers nomination, so the radio stayed on. When I adjusted myself in the seat, I felt a sudden pain in my back at my waist. Not a good sign.

Last year, when I was taking the garbage can out to the curb on Garbage Day, one of the handles slipped from my hand and all the weight ended up suddenly in the other hand. I had a sharp pain run from the side of my spine down my leg. The pain went away, so I went to work, where it started getting worse and I called a chiropractor to make an appointment. As I headed for the elevator, my back went into a spasm that had me doubled over against the wall, sliding to the floor in pain. I don't swear, but I said the 's' word--the real one--because it hurt that bad. During the course of my chiropractic treatment, I tracked my progress by the word I said when my back hurt. When I was at "ow," I knew I was almost cured.

Today at work, I had one order that absolutely had to get finished before I could go home. I walked around like a stooped-over old lady, and when my back hurt, I said "dang," so it's not as bad as last year. My chiropractor is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I'll go camp at his doorstep when he opens tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, I had planned on posting on a Zimbabwe article or two, or on Mark Steyn's latest, but I worked straight through my lunch hour, because all I wanted to do was get home and lie down on my ice pack. Which I did, and it helped. But I still have other orders I have to work on from home.

Soon, though, I'll get to those articles. Soon.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Immigration Reform

Excellent post over at Big Lizards (HT: Hugh Hewitt) on yesterday's KRLA Talkfest that featured Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Mike Gallagher.

The part that interested me was Dafydd's analysis of the immigration issue. I can't quite tell how much of what he posted was summary of the panel's discussion and how much was his own alalysis, but really it doesn't matter. He made sure to cover all the facets of the issue in a way that looks workable.

Most people on one side or the other of immigration only look at their pet facet of this question. Some people say that immigration is and always has been good for our country, but they ignore the negative consequences of unchecked immigration. Other people say the illegals are breaking the law and must be deported now, but they ignore the need for low-wage workers in our economy.

Dafydd starts with a wholistic look at what's needed, what's beneficial, and what's harmful. His proposed policies can help us get to that ideal.

The most crucial point that he makes is that assimilation into the American culture is essential to any viable immigration policy. Without it, we end up with the kind of fifth column that the Western Europeans are facing in their Muslim populations.

We must change our educational system to teach our children--all of them--what it means to be an American. People leave their native countries and come to America for a reason, and we need to be sure we communicate that reason to our citizens and our citizens-to-be.

Along with the Americanization of Americans, Dafydd says we need to make legal immigration easier, and he proposes an excellent solution. When I read his proposal, I feel hope over the immigration issue.

Now we have to figure out how to get Dafydd into a policy-making position, so his proposals can actually be implemented. Read his whole post.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Undecided No More On Harriet Miers

I posted earlier about the opposing opinions on the Harriet Miers nomination that I get from my morning and afternoon commute. Laura Ingraham opposes the nomination, and Hugh Hewitt supports the nomination.

When President Bush first made the announcement, I was stunned. Disappointed. Clueless. She wasn't one of the names on "short list" of everyone in the know. Laura (who is an attorney and who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas) and Hugh (who is a Constitutional Law professor at Chapman University Law School) both had very similar short lists that included Michael Luttig and Michael McConnell. On the day of the nomination, however, it became very clear that Laura and Hugh were headed in opposite directions about the worthiness of Harriet Miers.

I remained hopelessly undecided.

Until this past Thursday.

I've listened to Laura and Hugh on the radio for the past couple weeks, listened to the guests they had on their shows to talk about the nomination and the nominee, and read the arguments on both sides of the question. It wasn't until Thursday on my drive to work that I realized I had left the ranks of the undecided. Laura was talking against the nomination, and I turned my car radio off, because I couldn't listen anymore.

When Laura was coming back from a break, they played a sound clip from a debate between Justice Scalia and Justice Breyer. Scalia was telling Breyer that Breyer only selected those decisions made by international courts that supported Breyer's views and ignored the others.

When Laura started talking about the Miers nomination, she quoted John Fund, Bill Kristol, and other opponents of Miers. But she didn't mention Fred Barnes, Hugh Hewitt, Ken Starr, or Jay Sekulow, all of whom support the Miers nomination. She was doing exactly the same picking and choosing that she criticized Breyer of doing when she played the Scalia/Breyer debate sound bite.

In the end, I found Hugh's arguments more compelling. Constitutional law is not rocket science. The Constitution is short and quickly read--even with all those ammendments--and it's fairly easy to understand. Since conservatives are looking for an originalist or a strict constructionist (someone who will look to the Constitution itself and not make stuff up that the Constitution doesn't say), then we don't need a nominee who has spent his or her entire career analyzing the kind of constitutional case law that determines that localized endangered toads threatened by a housing development somehow fall under the interstate commerce provisions of the Constitution.

Since the Constitution isn't that hard, and the constitutional legal establishment is starting to sound like they're suffering from some intellectual inbreeding, now seems like as good a time as any for some fresh blood to be introduced into the "family." Provided that the fresh blood is sharp and capable. Hugh has posted emails and links to blogs that have spelled out the stellar qualities of Harriet Miers. Here's just one of those posts.

It seems to me, based on the instantaneous reaction against Miers' nomination, followed still by relentless opposition, that Laura and her fellow opponents are pouting over not having got their way. They knew who they wanted (Luttig or McConnell or Owens or Jones) and they didn't get it and they're looking for justification for their anger.

If their opposition came after the hearings, then I might give more weight to their arguments.

As it is, I would advise Laura and her friends to reread the Constitution. The last time I looked, it didn't give the power to nominate judges to the leading loyal members of the President's political party. The Constitution gave that power to the President alone, and he has exercised it.

So to paraphrase the title of a wonderful book, "Shut Up and Broadcast," Laura.

GodBlogCon Wrapup

I planned on writing a summary of what I got out of GodBlogCon, but then I read what Lores wrote on her Just A Woman blog about Excellence, Tone, and the Bork/Miers Lesson, so I won't reinvent that wheel. She nailed it.

When I decided to attend the conference, it was for what I could learn, so I can correct the stupid mistakes I don't know I'm making, or so I can learn other ways to do this better.

But the best part of the conference for me turned out not to be what I learned. It was meeting the other bloggers. In the end, people are what matter.

It's one thing to get to know someone by reading what he or she has written--and we can get to know them this way. But it's something entirely different to meet them in person. I've now put a face, a voice, a sense of humor (or not) to the words I've read. And I've met other people whose words I haven't read before but now want to. Sharing a common faith and a common interest with them has started me on the path to new friendships.

I'm glad I went. And I expect that I'll be back next year.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Elizabethtown Movie Review

It's good to be back home after spending Thursday through mid-day today at GodBlogCon. And one of the best parts is that my laptop is now behaving and making a reliable internet connection, unlike the way it behaved at the conference.

Thursday night, Grace Hill Media offered a pre-screening of Elizabethtown. I realize, though, that my review isn't as timely as it might have been if the laptop had been minding its P's and Q's.

Overall, my review is this: I laughed. A lot. Normally I just smile or chuckle at funny movies.

Now for the detail (this is not a spoiler, so don't worry on that score). I had trouble connecting with Kirstin Dunst's character, and I had trouble seeing the connection between her and Orlando Bloom's character. Her quirkyness had its charm, but didn't hit the right emotional note for me.

But that's OK, because she's not the focus of the movie, just its ongoing catalyst. Orlando Bloom did a fine job of portraying a young man who's had life beat him up with an I-beam and who begins to find healing in the midst of tragedy.

The movie really sings, though, when Bloom's Kentucky family is on display. They surround--and even smother--him with their unique brand of affection, and this is the part of the movie that works best.

One thing was missing from this movie (it was pointed out to me by cehwiedel of Kicking Over My Traces). It's set in Kentucky, in the Bible Belt, and there's a funeral in the movie. And there wasn't one Baptist preacher, or any other member of clergy. The closest they got was the funeral director.

Elizabethtown is not Oscar material, but it's not supposed to be. There are plenty of laughs in the movie that they didn't give away in the trailers, so if you're looking for an enjoyable movie without much to object to (no overt sexuality), then this should fill the bill.

Hugh Hewitt's Broadcast From GodBlogCon

After the second Plenary session at GodBlogCon, we had Free Time, which coincided with the first two hours of Hugh Hewitt's radio show that was being broadcast live from GodBlogCon.

Hugh Hewitt is Blogfather to a lot of the bloggers here at the conference, some who got started after reading Hugh's book, In But Not Of, where he said that if you want to influence the world, start and keep a blog. Others either heard Hugh talking about blogging on his radio show or read his book Blog or both. I'm in the "both" category.

So it was baffling to me how many bloggers had never heard Hugh's show. And that meant they didn't know about the last hour on Friday, with Emmett of the Unblinking Eye doing movie reviews and the Top 10 List of movies.

Hugh devoted the first two hours of his show to GodBlogCon, interviewing some of the speakers and bloggers, and the room was packed. But when the movie hour rolled around, about a third of the people left the room (probably because it was the official start of dinner time). For those of us who stayed behind, we had a real treat.

Emmett was on the show via phone. When it was time for the top ten list, this week's category was Technology (in honor of GodBlogCon). I wrote down the list of movies, and unlike most of the time, I actually agreed with Hugh when he protested the second best movie of all time involving or about Technology: 2001 A Space Odyssey. I would post the rest of the list, but that's really Emmett's privilege.

Next, I jotted down a couple of movies that Emmett left off the list: I, Robot and Enemy of the State. By far, Enemy of the State is the better of the two. During the commercial break I asked Hugh how to get a movie title on the show, and he told me to call the show from my cell phone, but the line was always busy, because everyone else thought Emmett's list was seriously flawed.

As the show was coming back on the air, I showed "Enemy of the State" to the blogger of A Ready Defense, who was sitting ahead of me, and he agreed that it was an excellent choice. So he wrote the title in large letters on his notepad and held it up for Hugh to read. The first thing Hugh said on the air after his "welcome back" was that he had thought of the perfect movie that should be on the list, and it was his idea. He emphasized that part.

Emmett agreed that Enemy of the State was worthy of the list (though I'm not sure he would have switched it for 2001), and the show continued.

We love Hugh, but the man is utterly, incorrigibly shameless.

Friday, October 14, 2005

GodBlogCon III

GodBlogCon's Plenary Session 2 had the same speakers as the first session. In the first session, they talked about blogging within the Christian community. This time, they talked about Christian blogging and the world.

Dr. Andrew Jackson said that we will never have an impact on the culture unless we're interpreting the culture properly. We need to look at the trends and issues in the culture that we want to impact and go from there.

He said he recently visited Western Europe and was sobered by the realities there. They have no ideologies or voice that can stand up to the militant Islam in their midst, because the non-Muslims have gone secular and so they're not united around any common belief. We the Christian bloggers can be the voice of salt and light. And this is important because it's not just the European culture but Western civilization that's at risk.

The three speakers talked quite a bit about developing community among Christian bloggers. Christianity is not a solo religion to be practiced as individuals. Rather, it is all about relationships, and we need to look at how to get relationships to be more of what Christian bloggers are about. And since blogging is an extension of how we live our lives, then we need to work more toward that goal.

One of the warnings that they gave, particularly for political bloggers, was to be careful that we don't start with a political party and shape our Christian beliefs around party policies. We need to start with our faith and shape our politics around those beliefs. It's a valid warning, because if we start on the wrong foundation, we risk losing our credibility.

So I'll make sure to be up front. I am a Christian. And I am a blogger. But the focus of my blog is not evangelism or theology. It's about the way this Christian blogger sees the world.

GodBlogCon II

Today's schedule at GodBlogCon started with a devotional time, which I missed because I was trying to get my laptop's wireless to find the connection at Biola. No such luck.

I got to the first Plenary session, and one of the other bloggers tried to get my laptop working, but she couldn't make it work either. I felt better about my technological challenge, and started typing in a Notepad document to save for later, which it is now.

The first session was a panel of three of the bigger Christian bloggers discussing blogging within Christendom. I typed a lot of what they said in detail, but I'm only going to post what most spoke to me.

The panelists were:

Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost
Dr. Andrew Jackson of Smart Christian
Pastor David Wayne of Jolly Blogger

And the moderator was John Schroeder of Blogotional.

Blogging allows for the concept of "iron sharpens iron" to happen. We hone each other's work by critiquing, questioning, and reflecting on what is said.

"I don't really know what I believe until I sit down and write it. That's when it becomes clear even to me." Sorry, I'm not sure who said that.

The panelists agreed that, in the same way that going to church each week isn't considered a hobby, neither is blogging. It's a natural extension of who we are, not simply another task on our to-do list that's fragmenting our lives.

When asked "What's a blog?" by other people, we were advised not to give the technical explanation. Find out what their interests are and point them to a blog along those lines. Is it a woman who is newly divorced after a long marriage? Show them "A View From Her." Are they interested in politics? Show them Hugh or one of the other Christian Poliblogs.

Small churches especially should take advantage of Christian blogs, because the blogs can help supplement what the churches do, in a way that the church's size would prevent. But we need to educate our churches and fellow Christians about what's available to them in the blogosphere.

GodBlogCon I

I didn't get much sleep last night, and it didn't help that the hotel, like all hotels, short-sheeted the bed. I need the covers to be up around my shoulders, and hotels only let the blanket come up to my armpits. How can I get warm? How can I sleep that way? I had to scrunch down in the bed and turn at an angle so my feet didn't run out of room, and it still took until after 1:30am untli I fell asleep.

Last night's opening session of GodBlogCon was a lecture by Dr. John Mark Reynolds on blogging and the question raised by the premise of Hugh Hewitt's Blog book. Is blogging really akin to the cultural revolution brought about by the invention of the printing press, which gave us the Gutenburg Bible, which gave us the Protestant Reformation? Reynolds' answer was an emphatic yes.

He talked about the ages-old tug-of-war between preserved performance and live performance. Preserved performances (books, music CDs, film, etc.) never change, never respond to their audiences--and can even be inappropriate to some members of their audiences.

Live performances (conversation, concerts, live theater, etc.) are fleeting, yet they respond to their audiences--and can even filter out inappropriate contact with certain members of their audiences. The example he gave was, if a crazy man came into the room and asked, "Where are the guns?" As a live performance, Dr. Reynolds could refuse to give him the answer (assuming that because this is a conservative Christian college, of course there must be guns all over the place), knowing that it would be inappropriate. But if this were a preserved performance, such as a written list of where the guns are, then the crazy man would have access to it, even though it is only appropriate for the responsible administrators to have that list.

What does this have to do with blogging? Everything.

Blogging is revolutionary, because it's the first time we have been able to blend both preserved and live performances. A book stands alone. A blog ("a good one," he said) has liinks to other websites and other blogs, so there is no way to hold onto the blog without holding onto all of the linked-to posts in the entire web of links. There is interaction between the blogger and his or her audience that captures the essence of live performances, while preserving the interactions.

And it's available to the masses, instead of being controlled by by an exclusive elite (although he warned that sometimes having elites is good, because sometimes the masses can be stupid).

It's all a blend. Of preserved/live, of brilliant/stupid, of elite/regular folk. Our conference is well-begun.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

GodBlogCon 2005 Starts Tonight

Tonight is the start of the first Christian Blogging Conference, GodBlogCon05, and I'm looking forward to it. But I can't go until I get my work done, so this will be short today.

It's being held at Biola University in La Mirada. Hugh Hewitt will be moderating a panel of some of the big names Friday night at 7:00, and there may still be some tickets available to the public. Check here if you're interested.

Tonight, though, they'll have a special showing of the movie "Elizabethtown" with the hope that all us bloggers will post our reviews and help generate favorable buzz. I plan on going to see the movie, and if I manage to stay awake for the whole thing (sleep-deprivation issues), I'll post my review.

Grace Hill Media, the distributor of "Elizabethtown" has offered pre-screenings for bloggers before, and apparently finds that screening to bloggers is an effective (and relatively inexpensive) marketing tool.

More to come...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Fun-Free Playgrounds

I have two kids. They're grown, so they don't (that I know of) play on playgrounds anymore. So I haven't been up on the latest trends in Playground Science. It took this from South Florida's Sun-Sentinel to bring me up-to-date.

Swings are bad. Teeter-totters (see-saws to some of you) are bad. Merry-go-rounds are extremely bad. All moving parts are bad, according to Broward County Safety Director Jerry Graziose. "Moving parts on equipment is the number one cause of injury on the playgrounds."

And the way I see it, lack of moving parts on equipment is the number one cause of sheer boredom on the playground, which will quickly become the number one cause of kids beating the heck out of each other for the entertainment value, which will become the number one cause of injury on the playgrounds.

When my son was thirteen months old, his daycare provider picked up and moved over the weekend without warning. My husband went there to drop off our son that Monday, only to see through the window that the house was empty of everything but a small pile of trash in the middle of the living room. We had to find a new daycare lady in a hurry. After lots of visits, we narrowed down our choices to two.

One woman was our age, with her own small son. She had a fireplace with a hearth that she covered with carpet scraps, so the kids wouldn't get hurt if they fell down on it. Her back yard was grassy, but part of it was fenced off, so the kids wouldn't get hurt.

The other woman had a fireplace with a low brick hearth. Not covered. She had a two-foot high cinderblock retaining wall in the back yard with concrete steps in the middle leading to the higher level of grass. My husband and I talked about it and agreed that our son could get hurt pretty badly at the second house. But it looked so much more fun, so that's where we took him.

If, like Broward County, we let the lawyers decide what can be in playgrounds, we're going to get dull, play-free playgrounds. If we keep on letting the lawyers decide, we're going to end up raising a generation of hermetically sealed "Bubble Boy" children. And that would be a shame, because there's no fun in that.

By the way, my son (and later my daughter) never got injured at the daycare lady's house.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It Won't Work, Senator McCain

I found this story in the LA Times today. John McCain is campaigning with Gov. Schwarzenegger in support of the Governor's four ballot measures (74 - 77) that are designed to reform some of the problems with the way California is run.

The Times put this spin on McCain's visit:

McCain appeared with the governor at campaign events in Burbank and Oakland, touting the initiatives that Schwarzenegger wants passed in the Nov. 8 special election. By bringing in a senator who built an identity challenging the status quo, Schwarzenegger was trying to stoke interest in the ballot measures, which have been trailing badly in public opinion polls.

Keep in mind that the LA Times is as Left as it gets. There's no tax, no bond measure, no anti-business or socialist bill that the Times doesn't like. And they like McCain.

They like him so much, in fact, that when McCain meets with Schwarzenegger, all the Times can see is that McCain is a boost to Schwarzenegger's popularity.

Funny, that idea never crossed my mind until I read the LA Times article. My first thought upon hearing the news on the radio was that McCain came to California hoping that Schwarzenegger and his fund-raising capability might somehow rub off on McCain himself. With McCain thinking ahead to 2008 and vowing that he won't settle for the Vice Presidency, this move on his part looks mighty obvious. Except to the LA Times.

The problem for McCain is that he would have to win the Republican nomination. And that could be a major challenge, considering that he's stabbed the Republican leadership in the back. By creating the Gang of 14, he cut the supports out from under the Senate leadership over the "Constitutional Option" and threw doubt into the question of whether the Republican Senators can overcome a judicial filibuster. That doubt has likely contributed to the Harriet Miers nomination, which is putting a rift through the Republican party. Nice work, Senator McCain.

Here's how Hugh Hewitt puts it:

Mark Levin correctly focuses on the John McCain-led Gang of 14's role in the nomination melt-down. I hope the east coast conservatives also know that McCain's support for the pro-choice candidate in Tuesday's special election to replace Chris Cox, drained 16% of the votes away from the Club for Growth-supported John Campbell, who reached 46% in the 17 person race, but thanks to McCain, didn't get to 50% plus 1, and thus must campaign another nine weeks, spend another round of scare dollars, and miss all votes between now and early December.

So if McCain thinks he can kiss up to Governor Schwarzenegger and the governor will put him on track to the Presidential nomination, McCain has another thing coming. His slime-bucket tactics within the Senate and within the GOP are enough to utterly destroy his chances of EVER winning the nomination. And the LA Times can't begin to put enough spin on McCain to change his chances.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Rogue Reptiles

South Florida's Sun-Sentinel reported today about incidents with pythons in the Miami-Dade area. The latest involved a 66-year old woman, Elidia Rodríguez, whose 18-pound cat was eaten by a Burmese python.

On Sunday morning, Rodríguez was walking her dogs when she encountered the snake, which was 10 to 12 feet long, her son said.

He said his mother called him to the scene because he had caught snakes on the property before. He said he was trying to capture it when he noticed the bulge. That's when he decided to call 911. The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue anti-venom unit arrived and bagged the python about 11 a.m.

"It was a pretty good size animal, and it wasn't friendly, either," said Capt. Al Cruz.

He said when he tried to grab the python, it tried several times to bite him. He said the snake had several rows of about 100 teeth and could have inflicted a significant wound.

"I figured it hasn't been a pet snake for some time now, especially with the temperament that it had," he said

Cruz said the bulge in the python's stomach was about 15 to 16 inches, and he suspected it was the 18-pound cat.

But that's not the only snake on a rampage in the area.

A 13-foot python recently gulped down a 6-foot alligator until its stomach ruptured, alarming public officials and citizens.

Were the officials and citizens alarmed because there was a python big enough to swallow an alligator? Or was it the ruptured snake guts that alarmed them? The article doesn't say.

Cruz said the anti-venom unit sees about three to four pythons a year roaming the streets of Miami-Dade County. He said they could be found from Miami Beach to Cutler Ridge.

"They are pets that people have that get away, or people release them," he said. He said a reptile 10 to 12 feet long can kill an adult or child through strangulation, but most won't unless they're confronted.

That's so comforting... Makes me glad I live in California where we only get earthquakes and wildfires.

`Victims of Communism Memorial' Planned

The AP had this article last Thursday (HT: WorldNetDaily).

The National Capital Planning Commission voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to the "Victims of Communism Memorial."

The 90-square-foot monument would be built on National Park Service land one block west of the Capitol. A central feature will be a bronze Goddess of Democracy statue similar to the papier-mache and Styrofoam statue erected by pro-democracy students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square during 1989 demonstrations.

The memorial will honor an estimated 100 million people killed or tortured under communist rule.

"They include those who died in Stalinist purges, Mao Zedong's cultural revolution, or under the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia," said Lee Edwards, a fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington.

If final approval is granted in December, construction could begin next spring.

It's about time. After the fighting over the International Freedom Center at Ground Zero in New York, I'm surprised anything pro-American (or anti-BadGuys) was able to be approved at any stage in the process.

As a nation that has been stalwart in fighting communism and its close relations, the US is the ideal location for a monument that memorializes the victims of what we fought so hard to defeat. That there were so many victims in so many places speaks of the importance of our efforts. And we must not stop that war against those who would tyrannize and slaughter their people. The GWOT is simply the continuation of that same war.

But don't be surprised in December. If the Victims of Communism Memorial is given final approval, expect the MSM to start screaming about it (or reporting quotes from people who are screaming about it). The more left-leaning of their ranks seem to prefer the illusion that communism is a force for equality and justice in the world.


I worked from home Friday, and I surprised myself. At other jobs, when I've worked from home, there has always been something that distracted me from total focus on work. There was laundry that needed doing, or a package that needed to go to the Post Office, or grout that needed to be scrubbed with an old toothbrush. Anything but work.

Friday, though, I had to stay home to wait for the towing company to call me.

I had a '96 Mercury Villager with 248,000 miles on it, and it died. I decided on a Toyota Echo as a replacement vehicle for the gas mileage (44mpg hwy) and price ($10,000 base price), signed up at Costco so I could use their car-buying service, only to be told by the Toyota dealer they sent me to that Toyota doesn't make the Echo anymore. That was already Plan B (Plan A was another minivan, but fat chance on my being able to afford one). Tried the nearest Toyota dealer's used cars for an Echo, and they had one with high miles and a 5-speed stick for almost as much as a new one would have cost and the dealer was making signals that they wouldn't budge on the price.

Went to the next-closest Toyota dealer's used cars. No Echos on the lot. Try the Camry; we'll come down from the sticker price. I drove it, liked it until I saw that it had 114,000 miles. Hmmm. As I was pulling back into the lot, I spotted a Mercury Villager sitting out in front. "What about that one?" It was an advertised special that, after tax & license, came to less than the cost of putting a remanufactured engine in my old Villager. And it only had 64,000 miles. I took it.

The leather on the driver's seat was ripped, but I noticed the seat setup was identical to my old minivan, which was still sitting at the Ford dealer, where I left it when they gave me the sticker shock over the projected repair costs. So I took the new one down to the Ford dealer so they could swap the seats from one van to the other (for a fee). Once that was done, I called a local wrecking yard to come and take the old one away. Which was why I was working from home Friday.

Other than stopping to make tea (which I do at work) and to let Abby outside once in a while (which I don't do at work), I stayed focused on getting my work done. Run stuff. Send it the printer so it would be ready for me for Monday. Check emails for answers to my questions so I could do more work. I finished everything that I would have finished if I had been at work.

Impressive. Surprising. Food for thought, since the company reimburses people who telecommute (not sure how or how much). But traditionally, our group's management has wanted to see warm bodies sitting at their desks during normal work hours (although they're happy if they also see you signed on from home after normal work hours).

The only problem I see with a telecommuting arrangement is that I didn't blog at lunchtime Friday, because I was working through my lunch hour so I'd have as much work done as possible before the tow truck guys called. It was a different mindset at home.

Regardless, I think I might start making noises about working from home one day a week and see if anything hits the fan.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Reactions To The Reactions To Miers

I listen to Laura Ingraham in the morning on my way to work. On the way home, I listen to Hugh Hewitt. When it comes to the Miers nomination, it's a lot like having a little devil on one shoulder and a little angel on the other (no, I'm not going to say which radio host is which critter on my shoulder), and they keep contradicting each other.

"Oppose Miers. She's unqualified."

"Support Miers. She's got great experience."

In today's OpinionJournal, Peggy Noonan writes a brilliant assessment of where the two sides find the basis of their opposition or support, as well as what the nomination says about the President (Used with permission from, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.).

[T]he Miers pick was another administration misstep. The president misread the field, the players, their mood and attitude. He called the play, they looked up from the huddle and balked. And debated. And dissed. Momentum was lost. The quarterback looked foolish.

The president would have been politically better served by what Pat Buchanan called a bench-clearing brawl. A fractious and sparring base would have come together arm in arm to fight for something all believe in: the beginning of the end of command-and-control liberalism on the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Democrats, forced to confront a serious and principled conservative of known stature, would have damaged themselves in the fight. If in the end President Bush lost, he'd lose while advancing a cause that is right and doing serious damage to the other side. Then he could come back to win with the next nominee. And if he won he'd have won, rousing his base and reminding them why they're Republicans.

I agree. I wanted a fight--a fight over judicial philosophy and over control/obstruction of the Senate confirmation process. My disappointment is not so much over Harriet Miers and her qualifications or lack thereof, but over the lack of that fight.

Here's how Hugh characterized the issue, in part:

Let's be more specific. Conservatives, me included, want Ralph Neas, Nan Aron and the radical Democrats in the Senate humbled. They want the Democratic Party split over its remaining center-left Democrats and its left-fringe Democrats. Some of us want the courts to return to their proper role and remove themselves from the social engineering best displayed by the Massachusetts Supreme Court's declaration of imposition on the subject of same sex marriage, and SCOTUS' pronouncement that all the state legislatures in all of the states could never find a 17 year, 364 day old cop and child killer suitable for the death penalty.

In short, we have to win this battle, or all of the other battles --including the GWOT-- become imperiled if not lost.

The recriminations now being hurled at the White House are delighting the MSM and their friends on the left. There's a reason why the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times are running huge stories on this fight, and it isn't because the fight is good for the conservative movement.

Part of my disappointment with the conservatives piling on the White House is the refusal to look at the entire political situation as it exists right now, 10 months into a 48 month term, 13 months before a crucial election, a week before the Iraq election and four years into a war that will go on for decades.

Bush and his team made a judgment on what was best for the cause of reforming the judiciary now, and he's been stalwart in that cause throughout. Judging his judges on the Miers nomination is lousy analysis, especially as the case isn't ripe. Talk to me in 2009 about the Bush judicial legacy. As of today, it looks extraordinarily good, but some conservatives seem intent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

This nomination is becoming a wedge splitting the solid wood of the Republican Party in two. If Miers were to withdraw her name this minute and allow President Bush to nominate one of the names on the well-publicized short list (Luttig, Jones, Owen, McConnell, etc), I'm not sure the GOP would have the heart to fight things out with the Democrats just yet. The infighting over Miers is starting to bloody the party, and looks like it's going to take time for the party to heal well enough to be back at fighting strength.

Ultimately--constitutionally--the decision of who to nominate to the Court is to be made by the President. Not by a majority of his party. Not by his base. Not by loyal attorneys who believe they know what the proper qualifications are. The decision is the President's alone. He has made it. Let that decision play itself out.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Coexisting With The Islamists

Mark Steyn, always spot-on with his analysis, scores another perfect assessment of the world situation. This one is in yesterday's Australian.

[N]obody seriously thinks what happened in Bali has anything to do with Iraq. There are, in the end, no root causes, or anyway not ones that can be negotiated by troop withdrawals or a Palestinian state. There is only a metastasising cancer that preys on whatever local conditions are to hand. Five days before the slaughter in Bali, nine Islamists were arrested in Paris for reportedly plotting to attack the Metro. Must be all those French troops in Iraq, right? So much for the sterling efforts of President Jacques Chirac and his Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, as the two chief obstructionists of Bush-Blair-Howard neo-con-Zionist warmongering these past three years.

I found myself behind a car in Vermont, in the US, the other day; it had a one-word bumper sticker with the injunction "COEXIST". It's one of those sentiments beloved of Western progressives, one designed principally to flatter their sense of moral superiority. The C was the Islamic crescent, the O was the hippie peace sign, the X was the Star of David and the T was the Christian cross. Very nice, hard to argue with. But the reality is, it's the first of those symbols that has a problem with coexistence. Take the crescent out of the equation and you wouldn't need a bumper sticker at all. Indeed, coexistence is what the Islamists are at war with; or, if you prefer, pluralism, the idea that different groups can rub along together within the same general neighbourhood. There are many trouble spots across the world but, as a general rule, even if one gives no more than a cursory glance at the foreign pages, it's easy to guess at least one of the sides: Muslims v Jews in Palestine, Muslims v Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims v Christians in Nigeria, Muslims v Buddhists in southern Thailand, Muslims v (your team here). Whatever one's views of the merits on a case by case basis, the ubiquitousness of one team is a fact.

As a spokesman for the Islamic Army of Aden put it in 2002, explaining why they bombed a French oil tanker: "We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels."

Bali three years ago and Bali three days ago light up the sky: they make unavoidable the truth that Islamism is a classic "armed doctrine"; it exists to destroy. The reality of Bali's contribution to Indonesia's economic health is irrelevant. The jihadists would rather that the country be poorer and purer than prosperous and pluralist. For one thing, it's richer soil for them. If the Islamofascists gain formal control of Indonesia, it won't be a parochial, self-absorbed dictatorship such as Suharto's but a launching pad for an Islamic superstate across Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Can they pull it off? The reality is that there are more Muslim states than a half-century ago, many more Muslims within non-Muslim states, and many more of those Muslims are radicalised and fundamentalist. It's not hard to understand. All you have to do is take them at their word. As Bassam Tibi, a Muslim professor at Gottingen University in Germany, said in an interesting speech a few months after September 11, "Both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms, these mean different things to each of them. The word peace, for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam -- or House of Islam -- to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace."

That's why they blew up Bali in 2002, and last weekend, and why they'll keep blowing it up. It's not about Bush or Blair or Iraq or Palestine. It's about a world where everything other than Islamism lies in ruins.

I left out quite a bit. Be sure to read the whole thing. It's chilling, but we need to be sure we keep our eyes open to the truth about the people who have declared themselves our enemy. The stakes are too high to remain in the dark, arguing about whether the President's Supreme Court nominees are conservative enough or whether FEMA reacted quickly enough to the hurricanes.

The stakes are life and death. One group will live and the other will die, and the war will decide which group lives: the Islamists or the "infidels." There are no other options.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Miers Coverage in WorldNetDaily

I like to use WorldNetDaily as the news site I keep open on my computer at work. I like the layout, because it's a list of headlines and sub-headlines, with links, that give me a quick overview of what's going on in the world. If something catches my eye, I can read further.

I don't like FoxNews or CNN on my desktop, because they stick one or two big fat pictures on the main page, so there's only room for a couple stories, and I have to hunt to find out what else is happening.

Today, though, WorldNetDaily is suffering from Handy But Inaccurate Syndrome (HBIS). Their number one story this morning, on the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, makes the claim that Miers "courted the support of the Lesbian/Gay Coalition of Dallas in her successful 1989 campaign."

But yesterday's Monterey Herald had an article (also see my post from last night) in which one of the leaders of the Lesbian/Gay Coalition of Dallas was quoted as saying that Miers did not seek the support of this group. Instead, she visited with them and spoke to them, and the group was confused about why she even went there, if she wasn't asking for their support.

"Usually, if you bothered to come, you wanted our endorsement," [Louise] Young said. "She came to talk to us anyway. I thought that was very odd."

So, it looks to me as though Joseph Farah (founder of WND and author of the article) does not like President Bush's selection of Harriet Miers, and he is looking for evidence to support his dislike of this choice. Here is the list at the bottom of the article of "Related Stories:"

Miers pick: 'Betrayal' or 'excellent choice'?

President taps Texan who's never been judge

Miers gave to Gore, Bentsen

Harriet Miers' statement

Notice that the headline, "Miers gave to Gore, Bentsen," gives the impression that she's a supporter of Democrats only. But the article spells out that her giving to Democrats was a long time ago (1987 - 1988) and was a small portion of her total political giving.

According to FEC data, Miers has contributed a total of $14,770 to candidates and special-interest groups since 1987. Of that amount, $3,000 went to Democrats.

Beginning in 1990, Miers' political giving all went to Republicans or special-interest groups, including two gifts of $2,000 to George W. Bush, one during each of his election cycles.

Some of the callers to Hugh Hewitt's show yesterday said that in 1988, Al Gore was still pro-life. As I recall, Gore didn't become pro-choice until 1992, when he was picked as Bill Clinton's VP running mate.

I'm disappointed in WorldNetDaily's willingness to allow misleading headlines and to skip the fact-checking process in their pursuit of an agenda. Kinda reminds me of Dan Rather's Memogate "fake but accurate" statement.


I sent Joseph Farah, Editor and CEO of WorldNetDaily, an email taking him to task over the inaccuracy in his article about Harriet Miers' visit to the Lesbian/Gay Coalition of Dallas. He was gracious enough to reply.

He made the distinction between Miers not seeking the group's formal endorsement (which could have hurt her in the City Council election) but still seeking the support of the group members. In this respect, he was accurate, but I'm not sure I agree that Miers was looking for their support, considering some of the answers to their questions were certain to be contrary to what the group stood for.

Regardless, Farah seems to me to be opposed to the Miers nomination. I still haven't decided.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harriet Miers Update

I was listening to Hugh Hewitt on my way home from work, and he was giving what-for to the skeptics about the Miers nomination. He played the President's nomination speech, and one of the ministries the President mentioned that Miers had contributed to stuck out for me.

He said "Exodus Ministries," and my thought was that the left-wing groups would go ballistic over that one. If Harriet Miers contributed to a ministry that helps gay people leave the gay lifestyle, that would be absolutely unacceptable to the gay absolutists.

As soon as I started typing this post, Brit Hume on Fox News mentioned that a liberal organization (I didn't catch the name) did that very thing, condemning Miers for opposition to gays.

Unfortunately, both this organization and I confused Exodus Ministries (which ministers to ex-offenders and their families) with Exodus International (which ministers to homosexuals). The organization that complained has apologized, according to Brit Hume's report.

I've looked onFoxNews, Google, and some of the SCOTUS-interested blogs, but haven't found a corroborating source for Brit Hume's story.

Meanwhile, here's an article (HT: ConfirmThem) about Harriet Miers' visit to a gay organization back in 1989, when she was running for a Dallas city council seat. Apparently she was mostly non-committal on the issue back then:

"Usually, if you bothered to come, you wanted our endorsement," [Louise] Young [of the Lesbian/Gay Coalition of Dallas] said. "She came to talk to us anyway. I thought that was very odd."

Young added, "She didn't seem like a right-wing nut or anything like that."

Miers checked off a box on the survey saying she was not seeing the group's endorsement. Young said she did not recall Miers taking anti-gay or pro-gay positions during her 1989-91 term.

Newest Supreme Court Nominee

President Bush nominated Harriet Miers today to fill Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the US Supreme Court. She has never been a judge, so there's no record of how she handles cases from the bench. Reaction to her nomination is mixed.

AP reported Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had urged the administration to consider her, two congressional officials said. There was a long list of staunchly conservative judges that Democrats were poised to fight, Miers not among them.

If Harry Reid approves of her, then I'm less than thrilled. She may be everything conservatives hope for, but she may not, and we don't have any way of knowing. President Bush likes her, but he also likes his Guest Worker immigration program, so that's not necessarily saying much.

The Miers choice will likely be a disappointment to conservatives who hoped Bush would choose someone with a stronger "originalist" record.

"It looks like he flinched," commented Fox News analyst Bill Kristol. "It looks like a capitulation."

Indeed it does. I'm one of those disappointed conservatives.

If Bush had nominated a jurist with a long "paper trail" of decisions and conservative writing, he would have faced a much tougher confirmation fight in the U.S. Senate.

My question is, why is a tough confirmation fight in the Senate so bad? After other recent capitulations by Republican leadership and now this Democrat-approved nomination, I've started to think that the "R" after all the Republicans' names means something else:

Run away from a fight

Roll over and play dead

Retreat in the face of Democrat threats

Now is definitely time for a fight over judicial nominations, and unlike the President I welcome it. When Clinton got a nomination, he chose Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose way-left viewpoint was front-and-center. So now it's President Bush's turn, but he didn't choose a front-and-center conservative. Instead he chose somebody whose record is invisible at best.

I listened to Laura Ingraham's radio show this morning, and there were a lot of conservatives who called in to express their disappointment over the nomination of Miers to the Court. Many of them said they'll probably be staying home when the next election comes around, and that doesn't bode well for Republican chances at another Supreme Court nominee. Their feeling is: If the Republicans can't stand up and fight, what's the point of electing them?

Ever the optomist, Hugh Hewitt has this to say about the nomination:

Harriet Miers isn't a Justice Souter pick, so don't be silly. It is a solid, B+ pick. The first President Bush didn't know David Souter, but trusted Chief of Staff Sunnunu and Senator Rudman. The first President Bush got burned badly because he trusted the enthusiams of others.

The second President Bush knows Harriet Miers, and knows her well. The White House Counsel is an unknown to most SCOTUS observors, but not to the president, who has seen her at work for great lengths of years and in very different situations, including as an advisor in wartime. Leonard Leo is very happy with the choice, which ought to be enough for most conservatices.

Let's hope Hugh is right.