Thursday, December 29, 2005

End of Year Recap

It's that time of year again, when everyone from the Mainstream Media down to individuals look back over the past year and look forward to the coming year. Bread Baker, Bill, calls this time between Christmas and New Year's the "Eye of the Hurricane."

Joe's Dartblog has a post with lots of links to year-in-review stories, so I won't bother to rehash all of those here (HT: Hugh Hewitt). Michelle Malkin has a couple options for the Story of the Year. Plus, she links to the Little Green Footballs post on getting the nominees narrowed down to only 20 for the Idiotarian of the Year Award (the Fiskie).

On a personal level, 2005 was the year my dad passed away and I had to learn to live without him. And I had to learn to see my mom on her own, without him.

It was the year I started blogging (January 4). The year my minivan blew its engine after nine years and 248,000 miles of faithful service and I found another one just like it with only 64,000 miles. The year I worked more overtime (unpaid) than I've probably worked in my entire career put together. The year I sold my first travel article with photos (unpaid, except for publication credits).

2005 has been a year of transition, both personally and in the larger arena. We have changes on the Supreme Court, a new Pope, and a new government (almost) in Iraq. 2006 will show us how these changes play out.

I don't mind putting this year behind me. And I haven't really given much thought to 2006--I'm too busy hanging out with my mom, who came here from Montana for the holidays.

Posting will be light for the next several days. Have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Western Muslims' Rape Spree

This article, by Sharon Lapkin, is from yesterday's Front Page Magazine (HT: WorldNetDaily). In it she looks at the recent (within the last 5 - 8 years) surge in rapes commited by Muslims living in Western countries.

In Australia, Norway, Sweden and other Western nations, there is a distinct race-based crime in motion being ignored by the diversity police: Islamic men are raping Western women for ethnic reasons. We know this because the rapists have openly declared their sectarian motivations.

In Australia's New South Wales Supreme Court in December 2005, a visiting Pakistani rapist testified that his victims had no right to say no, because they were not wearing a headscarf.

And earlier this year Australians were outraged when Lebanese Sheik Faiz Mohammed gave a lecture in Sydney where he informed his audience that rape victims had no one to blame but themselves. Women, he said, who wore skimpy clothing, invited men to rape them.

According to Lapkin, in France's banlieus (the suburbs that produced November's riots), Muslim women who wear Western clothes and have Western habits are being raped. In Indonesia, Chinese women are the ones being raped. In Pakistan, it's the Christians. In Sudan, where blacks are being slaughtered, the Christian women are gang-raped before being mutilated and killed.

This phenomenon of Islamic sexual violence against women should be treated as the urgent, violent, repressive epidemic it is. Instead, journalists, academics, and politicians ignore it, rationalize it, or ostracize those who dare discuss it.

Heaven forbid that we should offend racist Muslim rapists by appearing racist.

The glaring omission in this article is the mention of the US. It's not there. Is this because, as in Australia, the origins and racist statements of the rapists aren't reported? Or is it because this phenomenon has yet to hit our shores?

I did a google search on "detroit muslim rape" because of the high Muslim population in the Detroit area. I looked through ten pages of results, but there wasn't any indication of increased rape in that area. The closest issue I found was a January 2002 commentary about Arab gas-station owners assaulting their black customers.

And that leads me to the question: What's different between America, the symbol of The West, and Europe? Why is there a problem with Muslim-perpetrated rape against Westerners in Europe and Australia, but there isn't a similar problem here?

It's tempting to think that we're superior in some way--we treat people better, we handle immigration oh so much better than the Europeans, we assimilate rather than isolate new people. But I'm not sure that's enough of the explanation.

Distance may play a significant role.

In general, the poorest of the poor in any given place can't afford to go anywhere. They're stuck where they live, with no hope of improving their lot in life. Those who have a little money can afford to go someplace nearby in the hope of finding work that will support their family. Those who have plenty of money can afford to go wherever they want to go.

So it is the middle class and the moneyed class that can afford to come to America and establish a life here. And it is the ones who want what we offer--freedom from oppression, the opportunity to prosper--who settle here and not somewhere else. Maybe among Muslim immigrants, we attract the moderates, the educated, the self-reliant.

And maybe, because of the shorter distance, Europe gets the less-educated poor who are content to remain isolated from a society that is content to leave them isolated.

I don't know. I'm only speculating. I'm simply trying to understand if we're at risk for the problems the Europeans are experiencing. Is the push toward tolerant, hyphenated-American multiculturalism also pushing us toward the kind of isolation that breeds violence? Or will distance save us from the worst?

It's hard to say. Distance hasn't saved Australia.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Iraq Election Protests

It was both disappointing and frustrating to read the news last week about the protests in Iraq claiming election fraud. Disappointing because the Iraqis' excitement over voting offered hope that the results would be accepted. Frustrating because it's hard to know if the accusations of fraud were warranted or not. And the protests continue (HT: WorldNetDaily).

But then I remembered the various elections over the past half-dozen years here in the US, where results that were close prompted cries of misconduct and demands for recounts in attempts to overturn reported results. Looks like we've given Iraq a concrete example of "democratic elections," and they're following it well.

My gut tells me that the MSM is reporting the Iraqi protests with glee. They must love the accusations of fraud, the chanting against what they see as Bush's puppet government, the sense that this could erupt in civil war in Iraq and give the Left/MSM the upper hand in their fight against Bush.

But the MSM is not Iraqi (and neither am I), so they (and I) can't be counted on to interpret these post-election events correctly. That's why I've been turning again and again to Iraq The Model to interpret the protests for me.

This is from Mohammed's post on Monday:

It’s become clear from the active shuttle-like movement of the rival parties and mediators that the intensity of the political crisis began to subside compared to how things looked like a week ago.

In spite of the violence that disturbed Baghdad this morning, the rival parties resumed their meetings and talks with some politicians playing the role of mediators; the most prominent of whom is President Talabani and even in the two main competing camps we’re hearing moderate voices emerge to propose solutions like the Virtue Party from the UIA and al-Mutlaq from Maram.

And from today's post by Omar:

The past and current meetings are all in preparation for an expected summit in Sulaymaniya where the leaders of the four major lists (Allawi, Adnan al-Dulaimi, al-Hakeem and Barzani as well as president Talabani) are expected to discuss and work out a solution of the dispute over election results and the shape of the new government.

I think the Kurdish politicians will ask for something in return for the great efforts they’re doing and when an agreement is reached among the UIA and Maram, I expect the Kurdish alliance to come up with new demands.

Anyway, if they really help the country pass the crisis, they will have earned a nice reward.

From Mohammed and Omar I get the sense that things are fine in Iraq. The protests have, for the most part, been peaceful. All parties are talking and seem dedicated to working out a solution that will be satisfactory (not necessarily ideal) to them all.

Iraq still wants to be Iraq. The people want a government of their own and of their own making. And they are using lawful means to achieve it. We can't ask for more. All we can do is wait.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

In the town of Drammen, west of Oslo, Norway, a living Nativity scene went awry, according to Friday's Aftenposten (HT: WorldNetDaily).

It all started when the urban mission group Kirkens Bymisjon tried to set up a special, living Nativity scene at the main town square in Drammen. The exhibit included a cow from a nearby farm, but just before the rather large animal was about to be tied up inside the stall, she spotted a chance to simply take off.

What ensued was a near comical chase through the town streets, up towards Drammen's venerable Bragernes Church, with the head of Bymisjon chasing after the cow. Morten Eriksson of the Søndre Buskerud Police District said his colleagues quickly responded to calls for help, but not even the police patrol managed to catch the runaway cow.

They finally solved the problem by calling the farmer who owned the cow, and he rounded her up about a kilometer away and got her back to the Nativity scene.

May you have the peace that comes from knowing the Child of the Nativity and the Savior that He became.

Merry Christmas.

Distorted Iraq Numbers

I keep a list of stories that catch my eye but that I don't have time to get to right away. This one has been in my list for way too long. It's from Mudville Gazette back on Veteran's Day.

Greyhawk's post is about the Big Lie that the MSM likes to repeat. He quotes the London Telegraph:

Two and a half years after the fall of Saddam Hussein the Iraq war is proving no exception. While much was made of the US death toll recently reaching 2,000, little has been said of the 15,000 who have returned home mutilated.

And then Greyhawk refutes the two lies: 1) that there have been 15,000 mutilated soldiers, and 2) that they have been ignored.

Over half of the 15,000 wounded in Iraq (8,227 to be exact) returned to duty within 72 hours. That hardly qualifies as "mutilated." Or "returned home."

Greyhawk states:

Since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2,791 soldiers have been wounded in action seriously enough to require evac to Army medical facilities. (Note: this figure does not include other branches of service.)

These would be the "returned home" figures.

The military casualty reports for amputees include this figure: "Total of 280 service member amputees treated in Army hospitals." This count is for all branches of the military treated at Army hospitals.

As for the implication that we have forgotten the wounded, Greyhawk includes a link to the Valor It project at SoldiersAngels, which is helping to get modified computers for the amputees who can't use a normal keyboard anymore. Our soldiers are not forgotten. Feel free to contribute.

The local papers here in Southern California have just reported that Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Expeditionary Force will be deployed in two 7-month stretches soon, replacing Camp Lejeune's 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in the al-Anbar province. Al-Anbar is one of the provinces where most of the hostile action is happening.

As our military forces head over to Iraq, and as other forces return home, they all deserve accuracy in the reporting of what they do. They deserve not to have casualty counts distorted and used as attacks against their mission in Iraq.

The next time people quote casualty figures to you as justification for pulling out of Iraq, ask them for their sources, and if it's the MSM, ask them for the details. Don't expect the MSM to get it right. On Iraq, they rarely do.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

Saturday, I took my daughter to see Pride and Prejudice. It was a much better choice for us than King Kong, both because of the movie length (2 hours v. 3 hours) and because of the chick flick v. guy movie thing. I took my mom to see it yesterday.

It turns out I have never seen any version of this movie before. And I've never read the book. No, wait. To be more accurate, I can't remember having read the book. But when my daughter read it last year for her high school English class's British Author assignment, my copy of the book was marked up with underlines and circles around all the Regency-period terminology. So I must have read it during my romance-writer days, when I was thinking about writing a Regency romance. But I didn't remember the story.

So for me, the movie was brand new.

(Possible spoilers ahead, if you don't know the story)

The scenery was beautiful. It wasn't breathtaking in a Lord of the Rings/Narnia way. It had soft tree-edged meadows graced in mist, and hillsides curtained by rain. It was all that the English countryside of Jane Austen's time should be.

And the characters who filled the screen were all that Jane Austen's contemporaries should be. The men revealed their personalities from within their gentlemanly reserve--the delighted Mr. Bingley, the aloof Mr. Darcy, and the loving Mr. Bennet.

The ladies as well suited their time. Jane's quiet shyness when she was around Mr. Bingley, and the way she later said she was "quite over him" while the truth shone in her eyes, rang true. Elizabeth's outspokenness and strength of will were within the bounds of all that was proper for a young lady of good breeding.

Before I saw the movie, my office-mate told me that when she watched other versions, she found the romance between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy unbelievable, because he was rude for most of the movie and then all of a sudden she loved him. What was there to love? So I watched for that, and I didn't find it.

Instead, Mr. Darcy appeared at the first ball with his mouth set in the hard line of polite ill-mood. Over the course of the film, the line of his mouth softened. He spoke to Elizabeth. He watched her. He struggled within himself in a way that was subtle, barely perceptible to the viewer.

And Elizabeth began their acquaintance with tart questions and rather stinging comments that provoked him. Her eyes, too, revealed the change of her feelings. She cast questioning glances at him after a time, and shook them off. Her expression showed that she began to believe in his good character, until she was diasbused of that notion by Mr. Wickham. And on the rainy evening when Mr. Darcy dared to say how he felt, she let him know her disapproval of his past actions, while her eyes betrayed not dislike, not disgust, but the hurt she felt. In the end, when she told her father she loved Mr. Darcy, I believed her completely, because I saw it coming.

(End spoiler warning)

Pride and Prejudice is a beautifully made, wonderfully acted film. The Academy Awards never seem to reward subtlety--especially not for a romance--but they should. Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen both should be nominated (I'm not sure they should win), because their performances helped make this film into a true glimpse at a time in England's history when propriety was everything and love had to work at finding its way.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Just In Time For Christmas

On my drive to work this morning, I passed a FedEx truck with enough dirt on the back that someone had written on it with a finger. It said, "I work for Santa." I'll bet he does. And UPS and the Postal Service and all the rest of them do too.

Then when I logged on at work, this Anchorage Daily News article popped up in AOL News. Some neighbors in Anchorage, AK, built a 16-foot snowman. Even for Anchorage, that made the news. The article's writer, Debra McKinney seems to have had a fabulous time investigating and reporting the story.

A lot of people in California don't understand basic snowman physics. Snowman body parts get heavy, and if you make the bottom too big, then you'll never be able to lift the middle on top of it. Outside of mutants, like the one in Anchorage, snowmen usually don't exceed about five or six feet in height.

The article is well worth a full reading. It covers the construction phase, with great quotes from the two main neighbor-builders, and continues with the snowman's post-construction adventures.

"It just turned into a monster," said [one] neighbor, Darrell Estes.

Monstrous fun.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Christmas Carol

The radio news guy said this morning that on this date in 1843, "A Christmas Carol" was first published. That's 162 glorious years of Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and the cantankerous but reformable Ebenezer Scrooge.

I did an IMDB search on "Christmas Carol" and got 46 matches, from the classic 1938 movie to more recent gems like the Muppets' Christmas Carol. Naturally, there are oodles of TV versions.

Bugs Bunny, the Flintstones, and even the Jetsons have performed this story, but my favorite version of all--TV or movie--is Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. I have it on DVD.

The songs (yes, Mr. Magoo is in a musical) are wonderful. The early scene with Bob Cratchit asking Mr. Scrooge for one more piece of coal ends with the two of them singing at the same time. Mr. Scrooge is singing, "...coins when they mingle make such a lovely sound...," and Bob Cratchit is singing, "Please, Mr. Scrooge, it's cold, it's cold, it's cold." Perfect.

But my favorite song from this show is sung by little Ebenezer in Christmas Past. He's all alone in the schoolroom, and he sings,

A hand for each hand was planned for the world,
So why don't my fingers reach?
Millions of grains of sand in the world,
Why such a lonely beach?
Where is a voice to answer mine back?
Where are two shoes that click to my clack?
I'm all alone in the world.

I cry every time. Always have. Always will.

If Charles Dickens had not written another word besides this short story, he would still deserve endless thanks and admiration. "A Christmas Carol" is a treasure that shines bright year after year.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Movie Choices

My daughter and I might be going to the movies this afternoon, if she doesn't have to work, but I'm not sure what I want to see. Yesterday on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, Emmett of the Unblinking Eye, Hugh's resident movie reviewer, said, "King Kong is what a movie is supposed to be." But I still don't care if I see it.

I've seen the Fay Wray version from 1933 and also the Jessica Lange version (on TV, not in the theater), and it wasn't enough of a thrill to make me want to plunk down seven bucks plus drink and Raisinettes to see it all over again. For three hours. Even after what Emmett says.

Is King Kong a guy movie?

I'll let my daughter decide, if we go, but my druthers are Pride and Prejudice, which still has one showing left at the local theater, or Narnia again.

One little note: Brokeback Mountain is already gone from the local theater. It only lasted a week. The talking lion and the giant gorilla shoved the gay cowboy movie aside. Good.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Environmentalists Criticize Christmas

Reuters had a story out of Australia yesterday about an environmental group complaining that Christmas gifts could harm the environment.

The Australian Conservation Foundation released a report titled, “The Hidden Cost of Christmas,” which "calculated the environmental impact of spending on books, clothes, alcohol, electrical appliances and candy during the festive season."

This is disturbing, since I already asked for a new toaster (the one we have mangles bagels), and DVDs, books and candy are always winners with me. So my Christmas list is sure to destroy a small land mass, if the following is any indication:

Every dollar Australians spend on new clothes as gifts consumes four gallons of water and requires 37 sq. feet of land in the manufacturing process, it said.

Last Christmas, Australians spent $1.1 billion on clothes, which required more than 1.2 million acres of land to produce, it said.

How many acres is the entire country of Australia? And do they take the reusability of land into account when the clothing is made of wool or cotton?

Then the report got even closer to home:

Even a small box of chocolates will consume 44 pounds of natural materials and 207 gallons of water.

Chocolate is one of the four basic food groups (the others being salty snacks, ice cream, and everything else), so they're really making me mad. "Forty-four pounds of natural materials." Would they prefer that I use unnatural materials?

Their solution to the Christmas gift dilemma?

“We can all tread more lightly on the earth this Christmas by eating, drinking and giving gifts in moderation, and by giving gifts with a low environmental cost, such as vouchers for services, tickets to entertainment, memberships to gyms, museums or sports clubs, and donations to charities,” said [foundation executive director Don] Henry.

And do they forget that the people at the movie theaters and the gyms, museums, or sports clubs also happen to wear clothes and use small appliances and sell food--even candy?

It's bad enough that Christmas is beset by people who want to turn it into an inclusive, generic, meaningless "holiday." Now we have the environmentalists after Christmas as well.

I say, "Bah, humbug!" to the environmentalists. Let them live their lives in sour-tempered moderation.

But as for me, I plan to celebrate Christmas and enjoy it--candy, small appliances and all. The earth will survive as it has every other year.

God bless us every one!

Iraq's Election

The results are in: Iraq wins! The details will follow later.

Fox News reported today that the polling hours were extended by an hour, due to the long lines of voters.

And to the surprise of coalition forces, violence in Iraq was much lighter than expected and the smattering of attacks didn't appear to discourage Iraqis, some of whom turned out wrapped in their country's flag on a bright, sunny day and afterward displayed a purple ink-stained index finger — a mark to guard against multiple voting.

An imam in Ramadi was heard over a mosque loudspeaker saying: "God will bless you with a great life if you go out and vote. This is your last chance to vote."

There is something stirring in watching the emergence of a new free nation, in watching a once-oppressed people declare by their voting that the nation is their own. Take a look at the photos and the photo essay on the right side of the Fox News article. Those pictures capture the joy, pride, and vigilance of the Iraqis and their military.

"The Iraqi people are showing the world that all people — of all backgrounds — want to be able to choose their own leaders and live in freedom. And we're encouraged by what appears to be a large turnout throughout Iraq," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

The reasons for voting varied among the different groups.

"This is the day to get our revenge on Saddam," said Kurdish voter Chiman Saleh, a Kirkuk housewife who said two of her brothers were killed by the ousted regime.

"I came here and voted in order to prove that Sunnis are not a minority in this country," said lawyer Yahya Abdul-Jalil in Ramadi. "We lost a lot during the last elections, but this time we will take our normal and key role in leading this country."

Teacher Khalid Fawaz in Fallujah said he also participated "so that the Sunnis are no longer marginalized."

Given the resentments, especially between the Sunnis and the Shiities, there's still a rocky road for Iraq to walk in the coming year(s), as they look at the election results and form a government.

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, highlighted a key looming fight — possible amendments to the constitution — as he voted in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah.

"I hope that the Iraqi people will stay united. We hope that the people will vote to keep the constitution that was approved by the Iraqi people," he said.

Whatever comes in Iraq, whatever the Iraqis decide to do, we can be proud that we gave the people of that nation the chance to choose a new life of freedom for themselves.


IraqTheModel has eyewitness election coverage, with pictures. Take the time to read it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mark Steyn on Iran

Mark Steyn wields a mean hammer. He has kegs full of nails, and he manages to hit each one squarely on the head. His column Sunday in the Chicago Sun-Times is a perfect example.

On the surface, his column appears to be about Iran's new president and his call for the elimination of Israel (the Jewish nation--not the land itself) from the face of the earth, or as a Plan B, the elimination of Israel from the Middle East in favor of a new location around Germany and Austria.

But the Iranian president's apocalyptic comments serve only as context for Steyn's real targets: diplomats.

It's the perfect solution to the "Middle East peace process": out of sight, out of mind. And given that Ahmadinejad's out of his mind, we're already halfway there.

So let's see: We have a Holocaust denier who wants to relocate an entire nation to another continent, and he happens to be head of the world's newest nuclear state.

So how does the United States react? Well, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the comments of Ahmadinejad "further underscore our concerns about the regime."

"Diplomatic" language is one of the last holdovers of the pre-democratic age. It belongs to a time when international relations were conducted exclusively between a handful of eminent representatives of European dynasties.

Diplomacy is for decent, civilized nations. It's for countries that actually want to come to an agreement that's based on what's good for the world. It doesn't work when one of the nations seeks the anihilation of another. It doesn't work when one nation uses it merely to buy time until it has the strength or weapons that allow it to boldly break diplomatic agreements, with deadly results.

We assume, as Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax and other civilized men did 70 years ago, that these chaps may be a little excitable, but come on, old boy, they can't possibly mean it, can they? Wrong. They mean it but they can't quite do it yet. Like Hitler, when they can do it, they will -- or at the very least the weedy diplo-speak tells them they can force the world into big concessions on the fear that they can.

If a genocidal fantasist is acceptable in polite society, we'll soon find ourselves dealing with a genocidal realist.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I'm taking today and tomorrow off from work as much-needed sanity days. Saturday a friend and I went down to San Diego with our cameras and visited a couple places I haven't seen since I was little.

With the help of Sally Ann, my friend's GPS system, we found Cabrillo National Monument at Pt. Loma and spent most of the day there. The monument has a tidepool area, a visitor center with views overlooking San Diego Bay and the city itself, and the original lighthouse, which hasn't been used for a long time. It was built too high on the hill, and when the fog would come in, the light wasn't strong enough to be visible.

After Cabrillo, we headed over to Presidio Park, where my brother, sister, and I used to roll down the hill whenever our family went there (though my rolling took the shape of a 'J' and I had to re-orient myself over and over). My friend and I didn't do any rolling this time.

Presidio Park is a monument to Father Serra, who founded the mission system in California, and the cross in my picture above is from there. As far as I know, the ACLU hasn't gone after this cross yet to have it removed.

Dinner was at Anthony's, on the Embarcadero, and we got a table by the window overlooking the cruise ship dock. Two cruise ships were in port, and we could see a crowd on deck wearing orange life vests for the emergency drill. In time the crowd disappeared, and after dark the ships left port. We tried out the nighttime setting on my camera and got bouncy images of the cruise ship lights, one of which I like as an off-beat kind of picture.

It was a glorious day, with photogenic skies. I took pictures with travel articles in mind, and my friend took pictures with scrapbooking in mind. We're both thrilled with our results.

But the best part of the day was spending time with a friend. No itinerary. No demands. No stress. There have been too few days like this, and I needed it.

Chronicles of Narnia Review

Whoever says "The Chronicles of Narnia" has nothing to do with Christianity knows nothing about Christianity.

The movie is a beautifully filmed look at betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption. There were times during the movie when I found myself seeing bloodless images of The Passion of the Christ superimposed over Narnia. The message was hard to miss.

The movie opens during the London Blitz of World War II, moves to the countryside, to a wardrobe, and into Narnia. In this land there is only oppression and despair. It is always winter and never Christmas. Until Lucy and her siblings come, bringing with them the glimmer of hope.

The children chosen to play Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy looked and behaved as though they had been plucked from 1940 for the film, revealing no hints of today's attitudes--Peter's first-born arrogance, Susan's peacemaking, Edmund's selfish petulance, and Lucy's innocent "I told you so." The movie stands well on their performances.

And Tilda Swinton, the White Witch, had the same kind of pale, cold beauty as the devil in the Passion or the Borg queen in Star Trek: First Contact. Her character's iciness, however, didn't leave much room for a wide range of emotions.

As for Aslan, the lion they found to play him was spectacular.

Given the Academy's propensity for hard-edged films, I hold no hope for this movie taking Best Picture. But the cinematography and the special effects deserve Oscars. Narnia's endless winter under the White Witch's rule and the thawed-out mountain landscapes seemed to belong to an enchanted land. The creatures, too, fit seamlessly in Narnia--centaurs and fauns. And the wolves.

Ultimately, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is a story of good and evil, of human failings and divine love. It is a film everyone can enjoy, except for young children. And people who can't abide the triumph of good over evil.

Friday, December 09, 2005

UK Dispute Over Religious Jewelry

LifeSiteNews reported yesterday about a 16-year-old girl who was suspended from school for wearing a cross necklace and refusing to remove it.

I used to work at a place, and my boss was Jewish. She had married a non-Jewish man and they had a daughter, but just before she came to work there, her marriage ended in divorce. As she recovered from the divorce, she turned to her faith, returned to the synagogue, and eventually met a faithful Jewish man. They were later married in a beautiful ceremony that I was privileged to attend.

At this same company, another one of the managers was Catholic. He went to mass every week and sent his daughters to the main Catholic high school in his area. One day, while I was doing my Bible study homework at my desk at lunchtime, this manager stopped and asked what I was reading. When he saw the open Bible, he said, "Oh!" as though I were handling toxic material, and he backed away and left without another word.

Although by official reckoning, I should have more in common with the Catholic man, since he and I both claim Christ as our Savior. But I felt more in tune with my boss, because she and I had hearts for God, even though we disagreed about who Jesus is.

This article about the girl who was suspended for wearing her cross to school reminds me of my old boss and the manager.

The UK is officially Christian, with Anglicanism as the official religion. And yet the Christian girl's staunchest supporter appears to be a Sikh minister. Sikhs are permitted to wear a kara (a religious steel bracelet) to school because their religion requires the wearing of it. But Deputy head teacher Howard Jones of Sinfin Community School in Derby spent three hours trying to convince the girl to remove her cross before he suspended her.

Jones explained that the Sikh religious articles are permitted because Sikh faith requires them. "We are very comfortable with our policy and believe we are being even-handed and fair. Christianity does not require followers to wear a specific symbol."

However, the Minister of Divinity of Sikh Dharma who contacted explained that the action of the school against Morris was the "height of wrongful discrimination" since "I hold her commitment to wear her crucifix sacred in the same way that I choose to uphold my commitment to wear my kara each day." Minister Khala continued, "Ultimately, these kinds of outward reminders are symbols of our constant striving to remember God in all that we do. I ardently pray that this school may learn to appreciate and give encouragement to students who have learned the value of commitment in their lives."

This Sikh minister is a man of faith who, as a non-Judeo-Christian, understands more about faithful Christians than does an officially Anglican teacher. It is his heart for God that I admire, as well as his willingness to speak out on behalf of someone of another faith.

Our Military In Iraq

I listened to Laura Ingraham today on my way to work. The guest she had on while I was driving was Sgt. Josh Hauser (not sure if I'm spelling his last name right) of the Marines, currently in Iraq at a base between Fallujah and Ramadi.

I keep leftover fast-food napkins in my car, and whenever Laura has one of our deployed military on her show, I inevitably have to reach for a napkin to dab away some tears of pride so I can see to drive. Today I used up the last napkin.

Sgt. Hauser talked about his job as a correspondent (his work appears at among other places). This is his first tour in Iraq, and he said he has interviewed Marines on their first, second, and third tours. The ones who are back have spoken of how much Iraq has changed for the better since their first time there. When asked about the critics who say the Iraqis don't want us there, he replied that just having an Iraqi kid run up and give him a hug puts that notion to rest.

It turns out that Sgt. Hauser's hometown is the same as Congressman Murtha, who has called for the troops to be quickly withdrawn from Iraq. In response to Murtha's recent statements, Sgt. Hauser said that pulling out now would be like a farmer who plants seeds and then salts the field.

At the end of her talk with Sgt. Hauser, Laura asked him if he wanted to say anything to his family at home. He said the expected "I love you" and said he realized he wouldn't be home at Christmas. Then he said, "This year Santa Claus is wearing desert camouflage, and he's bringing freedom to Iraq."

God bless our troops, at home and on the front in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Early Review of Narnia

My daughter (almost 19) went with her friends last night to the midnight show of "The Chronicles of Narnia." Since she used to work at the theater, she called them to find out how sold out the show was.

The biggest theater, which has 440 seats, was sold out except for about 25 seats. The next-biggest theater was about half-sold at 6:30pm.

Her review:

"It was SO GOOD!!! The only thing that could have made it a better experience was that there was this person behind us with this awful, disgusting smell."

Hugh Hewitt, on his radio show yesterday, went out on a limb with a prediction about this movie. He mentioned a newspaper guy (I didn't catch the name) who expected "Narnia" to take the top box office this weekend and "King Kong" to take it next weekend when it opens.

Hugh disagrees. He predicts that "Narnia" will beat "King Kong" next weekend. Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

UN Erases Israel From The Map

Israel National News reported today on a commemoration ceremony held at the UN.

The United Nations held a "Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" last week. A large map of “Palestine,” with Israel literally wiped off the map, featured prominently in the festivities.

During the festivities, a map labeled a "map of Palestine” was displayed prominently between UN and PLO flags. The map, with “Palestine” written in Arabic atop it, does not include Israel, a member of the UN for 56 years. The map does not even demarcate the partition lines of November 29, 1947, marking a Jewish state alongside an Arab state. The partition was dictated by the UN General Assembly itself.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan attended, along with the Security Council and General Assembly Presidents. By their presence and lack of comment about the map with Israel missing, these UN leaders condoned this map.

At the start of the ceremony, the dignitaries present asked attendees to observe a moment of silence. “I invite everyone present to rise and observe a minute of silence in memory of all those who have given their lives for the cause of the Palestinian people,” the master of ceremonies said, “and the return of peace between Israel and Palestine.“

Anne Bayefsky, who reported on the event for the Eye on the UN organization, said that the ceremony's wording was aimed at giving honor to the worst of Palestinian terrorists. "It was a moment ... crafted to include the commemoration of suicide-bombers,” she wrote.

I'm apalled but not realy surprised. Has the UN celebrated a "Day of Solidarity with the Israeli People?" Have they stood for a moment of silence for the innocent Isrealis who have died at the hands of the many suicide bombers? Have they ever condemned nations, like Iran, who call for the destruction of Israel?

Until the UN begins to stand up for all of its member nations evenly, and until the UN begins applying pressure to the nations that harm their own and neighboring people, then the UN doesn't deserve to be hosted on American soil. The US needs to kick the whole lot of them out of our country.

Let the UN show their solidarity for the Palestinians by moving the UN Headquarters to Gaza.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rumsfeld On Iraq

Big potluck at work today. Not much energy left for mental function. Must...digest....

Monday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. His speech is reprinted in today's Wall Street Journal Opinion page. Some key points:

Here were some of the results: 63% of people in the news media thought the enterprise would fail. So did 71% of people in the foreign affairs establishment and 71% in academic settings or think tanks. Interestingly, opinion leaders from the U.S. military are optimistic about Iraq by a margin of 64% to 32%. And so is the American public, by a margin of 56% to 37%.

And the Iraqi people are also optimistic. I've seen this demonstrated repeatedly--in public opinion polls, in the turnout for the elections, and that tips to authorities from ordinary Iraqis have grown from 483 to 4,700 tips in a month.

Quitting is not a strategy. Quitting is an invitation to more attacks and more terrorist violence here at home. This is not just an hypothesis. The U.S. withdrawal from Somalia emboldened Osama bin Laden in the 1990s. We know this. He has said so.

The message retreat in Iraq would send to the free people of Iraq and to moderate Muslim reformers throughout the region would be that they can't count on America. The message it would send to our enemies would be: that if America will not defend itself against terrorists in Iraq, it will not defend itself against terrorists anywhere.

What is needed is resolve, not retreat; courage, not concession. Rather than thinking in terms of an exit strategy, we should be focused on a strategy for success.

Our country is waging a battle unlike any other in history. We are waging it in a media age unlike any that war fighters have ever known. In this new century, we all need to make adjustments--in government and in the media. And change is hard.

But to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, we are all Republicans. We are all Democrats. We are all Americans. We are all in this together. And what we do today will not only impact us, but our children and our grandchildren, and the kind of world they will live in.

I encourage you to read the whole thing, because I left out a lot of good points.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Kerry and Dean on Iraq

Senator John Kerry and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean are drinking the Kool-Aid again over the war in Iraq.

Kerry appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer, and Kerry's key quote that's getting all the press is this one, from today's WorldNetDaily:

"And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the – of – the historical customs, religious customs," Kerry said Sunday. "Whether you like it or not ... Iraqis should be doing that."

Senator Kerry has a history of hyperbole when it comes to discussing the actions of our troops. Back in 1971, when he said that we had "created a monster" of the US military, he no doubt meant every word. His accusations then were prepared and rehearsed.

This time, I'm sure Kerry will protest that he made a poor word choice in saying our troops are "terrorizing kids" and didn't mean his statement in the way it sounds. I certainly hope he doesn't mean that our troops commit terrorist acts against Iraqi women and children and that the Iraqis should be terrorizing their people instead.

But if Kerry is going to overstate his criticisms of our military's conduct, then perhaps he shouldn't accuse the President of overstating things earlier:

"What I'm saying today is that this administration hyped the evidence, took every opportunity to go down a course that they wanted to go down, and that they did not judiciously parse or share with the Congress doubts that their own intelligence agencies had which they saw and we did not, and that means they misled us and misled the nation," he said.

Kerry is trying to mislead the American people into believing that the war in Iraq is being badly led and badly executed. Now that we're in Iraq, Kerry's misleading statements are over the top.

And so are those of Howard Dean. WorldNetDaily reported today about Dean's interview at WOIA radio station in San Antonio, Texas.

The "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Dean predicted on WOIA.

"I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam," said Dean.

We can't seem to hear from the Democrats (with the exception of Joe Lieberman) without hearing the "V" word. And Howard Dean kept with that pattern. His solution to the "Vietnam" problem in Iraq is this:

"I think we need a strategic redeployment over a period of two years," Dean said. "Bring the 80,000 National Guard and reserve troops home immediately. They don't belong in a conflict like this anyway. We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don't have enough troops to do the job there and it's a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Abu Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We've got to get the target off the backs of American troops."

Unfortunately, Howard Dean and others of his ilk don't understand the basic facts about the terrorists. We can't get the target off the backs of American troops, no matter where they are. And we can't get the target off the backs of all of the rest of the Americans and all the rest of the world's "infidels." We need to leave our troops where they are and let them kill Zarqawi and his thugs right there in Iraq.

Finally, I find this set of polling results interesting. While most of the questions have results that are opposed to President Bush and his handling of the war, when it comes down to brass tacks, people know what's best (emphasis added).

"If you had to choose, which do you think is the better approach for deciding when the U.S. should withdraw its troops from Iraq: to withdraw U.S. troops only when certain goals are met, or to withdraw U.S. troops by a specific date and stick to that time-table, regardless of conditions in Iraq at that time?" When goals are met: 59% By a specific date: 35% Unsure: 6%

"Do you think the world would be better off or worse off if the U.S. military had not taken action in Iraq and Saddam Hussein were still in power?" Better: 27% Worse: 52% Same: 8% Unsure: 13%

"Do you think Iraq would be better off or worse off if the U.S. military had not taken action in Iraq and Saddam Hussein were still in power?" Better: 20% Worse: 50% Same: 7% Unsure: 14%

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mark Steyn On The Democrats On Iraq

Oh the joy of finding another great Mark Steyn column (HT: WorldNetDaily). This one appeared in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, came out with a big statement on Iraq last week. Did you hear about it? Probably not. Everyone was still raving about his Democrat colleague, Rep. Jack Murtha, whose carefully nuanced position on Iraq is: We're all doomed unless we pull out by next Tuesday! (I quote from memory.)

Also, the United States Army is "broken," "worn out" and "living hand to mouth." If the reaction to Murtha's remarks by my military readers is anything to go by, he ought to be grateful they're still bogged down in Iraq and not in the congressional parking lot.

It's just about acceptable in polite society to disagree with Murtha, but only if you do it after a big 20-minute tongue bath about what "a fine man" he is (as Rumsfeld said) or what "a good man" he is (as Cheney called him) or what "a fine man, a good man" he is (as Bush phrased it).

Ann Coulter recently devoted an entire column to the "fine man" talk coming out of the Republican Party. Sadly, both Coulter and Steyn are accurate on that point. But that's another topic.

On the Democrats' view of Iraq, Steyn has this to say:

Peter Worthington, the Canadian columnist and veteran of World War II and Korea, likes to say that there's no such thing as an unpopular won war. The Democrat-media alliance are determined to make Iraq an exception to that rule.

There are so many ways of viewing the success or failure of our efforts in Iraq, and darn-near all of them point to success or the promise of soon-to-be-success. On the political side, we have Autonomy, Preliminary Elections, Constitutional Draft, Constitutional Approval, and the coming Elections next week. On the military side, Steyn sums it up this way:

In three-quarters of the country, life has never been better. There's an economic boom in the Shia south and a tourist boom in the Kurdish north, and, while the only thing going boom in the Sunni Triangle are the suicide bombers, there were fewer of those in November than in the previous seven months.

Then there's the spill-over effect on Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, and even the people in Syria.

But the Democrats can't see victory even if it grabs them by the lapels and shouts in their faces. Instead they want to declare that we've lost ("It's Vietnam all over again!"), take their little green plastic army men, and go home.

The Defeaticrats' loss of proportion is unworthy of a serious political party in the world's only superpower. In next week's election, the Iraqi people will shame them yet again.

I can't wait.


Wonderful post over at Malott's Blog on this topic. He opens with a line from the movie "Patton:"

"Thirty years from now, when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks you, "What did you do in the great World War II," you won't have to say, "Well... I shoveled sh__ in Louisiana."

And then he closes this way:

And when we are asked what role the Democrats, mainstream media, and other members of the anti-war movement played in the struggle, we will recount the attacks on the Commander-in-Chief in a time of war for political gain... the questioning of our morality that saddened the families of soldiers while their loved ones fought so far from home... the way they encouraged our enemies by dividing our country, weakening the resolve of so many... or maybe we will just smile and say, "They shoveled sh__ in Washington."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq

About a month ago I went to a friend's party and got into extended debate with two of her left-leaning friends. One of them, LF, had said that if I was so sure the Iraqis really wanted us there, I should find a survey of Iraqis conducted by Iraqis to support my contention.

Last week, Senator Joe Lieberman wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he mentioned just such a survey, saying, "[P]olls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today." I sent Lieberman's column to LF, and another lengthy debate followed, in which LF finally said that he believed the US, Iraq, and the world would have been better off if we had left Saddam in charge in Iraq. At that point I called off the debate, because we could never come to an agreement, being such polar opposites about so fundamental an issue.

In yesterday's National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson's column on Iraq answered so many of LF's arguments, that I almost wonder if Hanson read LF's emails over my shoulder. This paragraph of Hanson's takes many of LF's points head-on:

We took no oil — the price in fact skyrocketed after we invaded Iraq. We did not do Israel’s bidding; in fact, it left Gaza after we went into Iraq and elections followed on the West Bank. We did not want perpetual hegemony — in fact, we got out of Saudi Arabia, used the minimum amount of troops possible, and will leave Iraq anytime its consensual government so decrees. And we did not expropriate Arab resources, but, in fact, poured billions of dollars into Iraq to jumpstart its new consensual government in the greatest foreign aid infusion of the age.

LF prides himself on being an objective, independent thinker, neither left- nor right-leaning, and on making his own assessments without mindlessly spouting anybody else's slogans. But his arguments seem to come right out of's talking (screaming?) points.

While those on the left bemoan the Iraq war as an evil perpetrated by an avaricious United States, Hanson's assessment puts Iraq in its proper context:

Instead, what Iraq did is ensure that al Qaeda’s Sunni support is being coopted by democracy. Jordan, the terrorists’ old ace in the hole that could always put a cosmetic face on its stealthy support for radicals, has essentially turned on Zarqawi and with him al Qaeda. Syria is under virtual siege and its border sanctuary now a killing zone. Bin Laden can offer very little solace from his cave. And somehow Islamists have alienated the United States, Europe, Russia, China, Australia, Japan, and increasingly Middle East democracies like those in Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iraq, and reform movements in Lebanon and Jordan.

Decision day is coming when Zarqawi’s bombers will have to choose either to die, or, like a Nathan Bedford Forrest (“I’m a goin’ home”), quit to join the reform-seeking majority. That progress was accomplished only by the war in Iraq, and without it we would be back to playing a waiting game for another 9/11, while an autocratic Middle East went on quietly helping terrorists without consequences, either afraid of Saddam or secretly enjoying his chauvinist defiance

Hanson's overall message to the Bush Administration is that they need to get the message out about the importance of and the progress in Iraq as often and as visibly as possible, and they can't rely on the MSM to hand that message to the American people on a silver platter.

Too many people have been listening to the poison of the left, because that's all they ever get to hear from the MSM. It's up to people who want the truth to actively seek it out. Read the text of the President's speeches by chekcing in now and then at the White House website, where there are links to his recent speeches. Don't trust the New York Times, the Washington Post, The LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, or any of the other Bush-hating newspapers to present the Iraq War fairly. They won't, because they are at war. With the President.

Watching Penguins

I just finished watching March of the Penguins, which I bought Tuesday on DVD. Watching it stirs a longing in me that I don't know what to do with. I watched it with a photographer's eye--the vast landscapes, the rosy glow of sunset coloring walls of ice, the closeup patterns of penguin markings--and it has left me wanting to take my camera and...what? Go to Antarctica? No, not for the winter anyway.

I'm ready for an adventure. I want to escape to someplace photogenic. I want to capture something beautiful, something stunning, and get it on glossy paper, matted and framed. I want to take a road trip--in the car or on a bicycle--and find out-of-the-way places with out-of-the-ordinary people.

But I know the place to start is local. Find the local landmarks and photograph them. Find the local out-of-the-way places and explore them. Find the local out-of-the-ordinary people and write about them. Sell the stories and the photos to the local paper and work up to the big magazines. Do it in my spare time.

Writers write. Photographers take photographs. Travelers travel. I am all of these three.

My blogging takes care of my need to write and to keep up on what's happening in the world. But the rest of it falls by the wayside in favor of working late, trying to catch up on my sleep, and going to the movies after church on Sundays.

I'm not sure where I would go. I'm not sure what I would photograph. I'm not sure what I would write about, but I'd better get off my butt, figure it out, and get started.

Friday, December 02, 2005

David Limbaugh on the Democrats

Every day that I'm not swamped by work, I scan through the headlines on WorldNetDaily (they don't mess up their website with big pictures that get in the way of seeing what's going on in the world and hide all the weird-animal-news stories) and read the ones that catch my eye. Then I read through their commentaries. Then I pop over to Hugh Hewitt and then to whatever other blogs I have time for, which I usually don't.

It's lunchtime, and I'm at the WND commentaries (medium-busy workday), and David Limbaugh's column on the President's speech at the US Naval Academy is encouraging on the political front.

The administration, it could be argued, has had a blind spot, even a learning disability, concerning the opposition party's ill will and ruthlessness. When accused of lying about WMD, for example, President Bush barely registered indignation. When Scooter Libby was indicted for misleading the FBI and grand jury, but specifically not for violating either underlying criminal statute for the alleged "outing" of the non-covert Valerie Plame, he ordered ethics training for White House staff rather than proclaiming vindication.

By contrast, the Democrats twisted Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's failure to indict on the underlying crimes as proof that Libby, Cheney and Rove had intentionally "outed" Plame to exact revenge on her husband, Joe Wilson, for attempting to undermine the president's case on Iraqi WMD. It is simply hard to overestimate the opposition's capacity for political chicanery.

The president apparently believed that as long as he was doing the right thing, Democrat leaders would come around, at least on the war for the survival of Western Civilization. But his reliance on their presumed good faith was woefully misplaced, and it has cost him.

OK, that wasn't the encouraging part, but it was necessary (and accurate) background.

At the end of the day, the Democrats are exposed as having no substantive alternative ideas to supplement their brutal assaults against this wartime president. They've even gone so far as to admit, on occasion, that they don't have a plan, much less a superior one, because, in the damning words of Democrat Party leader Howard Dean, it is not their responsibility to have a plan. You just can't make this stuff up.

Limbaugh goes on to describe more of the effects on President Bush's speech. It's worth the time to read it. He ends this way:

Between now and 2006 it will be interesting to see how they scramble and sputter, searching in vain for a coherent war policy. Pay particular attention to the ever-tortured positions John Kerry will adopt and the delightfully painful contortions and fence-straddling Hillary will inevitably engage in between now and 2008.

And all this time you thought Republicans were the ones imploding.

Frankly, the Republicans have been imploding, but I'm hoping that President Bush's speech marks the turnaround for the GOP. While we wait, it'll be fun to watch the left wing of the Democrats go apoplectic.

Another Abortion Link

Yesterday I posted on the link that's been found between abortions and breast cancer.

Today I saw this article in yesterday's LifeSiteNews (HT: WorldNetDaily), which reports on a study from Finland showing a link between abortion and suicide.

The epidemiological study, published in the European Journal of Public Health, was conducted by Finland's National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health (STAKES). The researchers looked at data between 1987 and 2000 on all deaths among women of reproductive age (15 to 49).

While the risk of death from suicide, accidents, and homicide was highest among women who had abortions within the prior year, the risk of death was lowest among women who gave birth within the prior year, who had less than half the death rate of women who had not been pregnant. The risk of death following a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, however, did not significantly differ from the risk of death among non-pregnant women.

There were similar findings in earlier studies in Finland and the United States.

In addition, researchers examining death records linked to medical payments for birth and abortion for 173,000 California women found that aborting women were 62 percent more likely to die than delivering women over the eight year period examined. That study also found that the increase risk of death was most prominent from suicides and accidents, with a 154 percent higher risk of death from suicide and an 82 percent higher risk of death from accidental injuries.

Let me emphasize that these deaths are not just directly from abortions gone bad. They are all deaths--suicide, accident, etc.

Previous studies have also linked abortion to higher rates of substance abuse, anxiety, sleep disorders, suicidal thoughts, psychiatric illness, relationship problems, and risk-taking behavior, any of which may increase a women's risk of death by suicide or accident.

The women I know who have had abortions didn't die in the year after that. But from the things they've told me and the way they lead (or used to lead) their lives, I know that their first abortion marked a drastic change in their heart, self-respect, and lifestyle. Some went wild and others withdrew into abusive relationships. Both reactions are risky.

Granted, anecdotes are not empirical research, but my friends put a face to the statistics, because they are (or were--some found Christ, who changed their lives around) living out the reality of this research.

Bottom line (again): Don't have abortions (and don't encourage the women in your life to have them), because the risks after the fact are too high.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

War On Christmas

Hugh Hewitt has this on his website, and it's great.

My friend Kevin McCullough has launched the send-a-Christmas-card-to-the-ACLU drive. He provides the adress. You provide the card and the Merry Christmas greeting.

I love this idea. Combine that with the plan to shop for Christmas presents only at stores that are celebrating Christmas (not just generic holidays), and we've got a winner.

Merry Christmas, ACLU!

Merry Christmas, everybody!


Here is Kevin McCullough's commentary in today's WorldNetDaily on his "Merry Christmas, ACLU" suggestion.

Abortion-Breast Cancer Link

Today's WorldNetDaily reports that Joel Brind, Ph.D., president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and a professor at Baruch College of the City University of New York analyzed ten different studies on the possible link between abortions and breast cancer. The findings of his analysis were published in the winter edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. This was an update of similar work he did in 1996.

In his essay, Brind addresses 10 separate studies conducted between 1996 and 2005 – studies used by those who deny a link between induced abortion and cancer – pointing out problems with the each study's methodology. He asserts those problems skew the results toward the denial of a causal connection between abortion and breast cancer, also known as the ABC link, making them thoroughly unreliable.

Some of the problems Brind encountered included a study in Denmark, where abortion has been legal since 1939. Although the research for this study included records for thousands of women whose abortions were performed before 1973, the study only based its conclusions on the women who had abortions from 1973 and later.

Another study, in Seattle, only looked at 138 women, which is too small a sample to make accurate conclusions (the smaller the sample, the more likely that the results could be way off the norm). And yet this Seattle study's authors, according to Brind, "were nevertheless unjustifiably unequivocal in their conclusion that their 'results do not support a relation between induced abortion and breast cancer incidence.'"

Brind concludes, from looking at these and other studies that actually do find a link, "that induced abortion is indeed a risk factor for breast cancer." Here's the medical explanation for how abortions create that risk:

The basic biology underlying the ABC link boils down to the fact that breast cancer is linked to reproductive hormones, particularly estrogen. At conception, a woman's estrogen levels increase hundreds of times above normal – 2,000 percent by the end of the first trimester. That hormone surge leads to the growth of "undifferentiated" cells in the breast as the body prepares to produce milk for the coming baby.

Undifferentiated cells are vulnerable to the effects of carcinogens, which can give rise to cancerous tumors later in life. In the final weeks of a full-term pregnancy, those cells are "terminally differentiated" through a still largely unknown process and are ready to produce milk. Differentiated cells are not as vulnerable to carcinogens.

However, should a pregnancy be terminated prior to cell differentiation, the woman is left with abnormally high numbers of undifferentiated cells, therefore increasing her risk of developing breast cancer.

Spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, are not generally associated with increased risk, since they generally occur due to insufficient estrogen hormones to begin with.

In spite of research showing the risk, abortion proponents prefer to claim there's no increased risk of breast cancer, and they quote the faulty studies. This is disingenuous at best.

Meanwhile, I have already warned my friends who have had abortions that they are at risk. Some advice: Breast Self-Exam. Regular mammograms. Above all, don't have abortions.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

President Bush on Iraq

It's about time!

President Bush gave a speech this morning at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Although he spoke directly to the midshipmen at the Academy, his speech was for us. Here's some of what he had to say to the underclassmen there:

Your service is needed, because our nation is engaged in a war that is being fought on many fronts -- from the streets of Western cities, to the mountains of Afghanistan, the islands of Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. This war is going to take many turns, and the enemy must be defeated on every battlefield. Yet the terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in their war against humanity, and so we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror.

Our country needs to hear this. The war will eventually stretch from Indonesia, across Africa, to Western Europe and America, because this is where our enemy will strike. The media and the opponents of the President want to believe that pulling our troops out of Iraq will mark the end of the war, but these people are deluded at best. The war will end when the last of the Islamofascists is dead or otherwise unable to fight.

This is an enemy without conscience -- and they cannot be appeased. If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people. Against this adversary, there is only one effective response: We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory.

[T]oday, we're releasing a document called the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." This is an unclassified version of the strategy we've been pursuing in Iraq, and it is posted on the White House website -- I urge all Americans to read it.

The President gave many examples of the progress in Iraq in just the last year. Here is only one of them:

The progress of the Iraqi forces is especially clear when the recent anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar are compared with last year's assault in Fallujah. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army -- with six Iraqi battalions supporting them. The Iraqis fought and sustained casualties. Yet in most situations, the Iraqi role was limited to protecting the flanks of coalition forces, and securing ground that had already been cleared by our troops. This year in TAL Afar, it was a very different story.

The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces -- 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support. Many Iraqi units conducted their own anti-terrorist operations and controlled their own battle space -- hunting for enemy fighters and securing neighborhoods block-by-block. To consolidate their military success, Iraqi units stayed behind to help maintain law and order -- and reconstruction projects have been started to improve infrastructure and create jobs and provide hope.

And here's how President Bush ended his speech:

We will take the fight to the terrorists. We will help the Iraqi people lay the foundations of a strong democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. And by laying the foundations of freedom in Iraq, we will lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

You all are the ones who will help accomplish all this. Our freedom and our way of life are in your hands -- and they're in the best of hands. I want to thank you for your service in the cause of freedom. I want to thank you for wearing the uniform. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

I encourage you to read the whole speech. I encourage you to encourage your friends to read it. The mainstream media can be counted on to either pick out bits and pieces that suit their agenda, or to ignore the speech completely. It will take a lot to counteract the effect the MSM is having on public opinion. But the truth is worth the effort.


Here is the link to the President's unclassified war strategy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fighting For Christmas

Christmas is NOT a four-letter word.

But in the same way that people find acceptable words to substitute for offensive language, people have been substituting "Holiday" for "Christmas," and it's not right.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who wrote the excellent book, America's Real War, had a column November 23 in WorldNetDaily, entitled, "Merry Christmas is not offensive!"

Rabbi Lapin is Jewish. He is not a Christian. And he is not offended by the existence of Christmas. Here's how he opened his column:

Well, December is nearly here, which means the dreaded "C word" is upon us. Put politely, "the holiday season" is nearly here. We shall all hear those "Happy Hanukkahs" and "Happy holidays," but rarely a "Merry Christmas." Secular fundamentalism has successfully injected into American culture the notion that the word "Christmas" is deeply offensive. I think we Jews may be making a grievous mistake in allowing them to banish Christmas without challenge.

And here's how he ended it:

As an Orthodox rabbi with an unquenchable passion for teaching Torah and devoting myself to the long-term interests of Judaism and America's Jewish community, I believe we Jews must turn our backs on the secularism that will sink us all. An act of friendship would be welcome. Let us all go out of our way to wish our many wonderful Christian friends – a very merry Christmas. Just remember, America's Bible belt is our safety belt.

Don't forget to read the middle.

At work, they're encouraging attendance at the annual "Holiday Party." And the email they sent out asking for support for Toys for Tots started with these statements: "Here's your chance to share the holiday spirit with local children in need by donating unwrapped toys. The Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program has been a holiday tradition since 1947."

And what holiday might that be?

Congress (at least the House of Representatives) is finally coming around. Speaker Dennis Hastert has renamed the Capitol Holiday Tree as the Capitol Christmas Tree. It's been called a Holiday Tree since the late 1990s.

"To rename a Christmas tree as a holiday tree is as offensive as renaming a Jewish menorah a candlestick," [president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel, Mathew] Staver said.

We talked about this, including the various stores that have instructed their employees to say "Happy Holidays," in our Bible Study class on Sunday. Our teacher had a good suggestion.

When you go into a store to do your Christmas shopping, ask to speak to the manager (a checkout clerk can't be counted on to relay the message). Ask the manager if the store's employees are wishing people "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays."

If it's the holiday greeting, then let the manager know how disappointed you are. "Oh, that's too bad. I don't want to buy holiday gifts. I'm doing my Christmas shopping." Then leave the store.

Our teacher expects to do most of his Christmas shopping this year at little boutique shops that wish him "Merry Christmas," rather than at the big stores who are afraid of December's "C word." I may be doing the same.

Monday, November 28, 2005

UN Drops The Ball On Darfur

When I went to GodBlogCon05 back in October (here, here, here, here, here), each attendee was given a bag of gifts, and one of those gifts was a book that I ignored until recently. I should have read it sooner, because I love it. It's called God's Blogs: Life From God's Perspective, by Lanny Donoho.

Donoho writes as though God Himself were blogging (except it's in book form, not on the internet), and it has a very personal feel to it. One "post" that I especially liked was on anger. In it, "God" pointed out that He gave us anger so that we could be angry about the things that angered Him.

This article in Friday's The Daily Star, a Lebanese news source, really angered me. And I have no doubt it's a righteous anger.

The EU introduced a draft resolution in the UN General Assembly "expressing concern at Sudan's human rights record." That's not the part that upset me. In fact, I'm impressed that the Europeans are still capable of denouncing evil acts.

The problem came when the 53-member African Union presented a no-action motion, which was passed (by a vote of 85 in favor, 79 against and 12 abstentions), that shut down debate and any vote on the EU's resolution.

The EU draft expressed concern at "the protracted humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the recent upsurge in violence perpetrated by all parties to the conflict."

It also slammed "the continuing climate of impunity in the Darfur region, particularly in the area of violence against women and girls" and the "forced relocation of displaced people, particularly in the peri-urban settlements around Khartoum."

Introducing the draft on behalf of the EU, Britain's UN envoy Emyr Jones Parry said: "There can hardly be a situation of human rights in more urgent need of the world's attention than the situation in Sudan."

"Despite the efforts of the African Union, civilians are still being killed, rape is still widespread and the situation of hundreds of thousands of displaced people remains dire," he added.

The United Nations was started, in large part, to prevent genocide, but instead it has become the chief enabler of human rights abuses and genocide. I've long ago given up hope that it will step up and fulfill its purpose. Wednesday's vote has only confirmed my lack of hope.

We need to tear down the UN building brick by brick, stone by stone, and send the protectors of evil packing. They don't deserve to set foot on free soil.

Then maybe (very tiny maybe) we can start over with only those nations that have proven their devotion to liberty.

Senator Specter's Broken Promise

In his column in this week's World Magazine, Hugh Hewitt writes about Senator Arlen Specter's performance as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

One year ago Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter was campaigning hard for the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He lobbied fellow Republicans and took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to declare, "I am committed, in word and deed, to prompt action by the Judiciary Committee. Last April, I introduced Senate Resolution 327, a protocol to establish prompt action on all judicial nominees. Specifically, my protocol provides that all nominees will have a Judiciary Committee hearing within 30 days of nomination, a Judiciary Committee vote within 30 days of the hearing, and a floor vote 30 days later." (emphasis added)

This promise convinced Republicans, many of whom were lobbying against Specter's taking the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, to give Specter the go-ahead. But Specter has proven himself faithless.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the deep freeze given the nomination of White House Staff Secretary Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Mr. Kavanaugh, originally nominated in July 2003, was not blackballed by the infamous Gang of 14 deal this past spring, but he still languishes in Mr. Specter's committee, just as nominee Terrence Boyle languishes on the floor of the Senate.

The entire machinery of judicial nominations seems to have ground to a halt under Mr. Specter's leadership. The White House demanded December hearings on Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court but Mr. Specter held back, and we'll now see relentless attacks until the hearings open the second week of January. The chairman has also dithered on the Patriot Act extension that representatives of the House and Senate worked out in a mid-November compromise.

What's the point of having a committee chairman who won't get the job done? What's the point of letting a RINO do a real Republican's job?

Specter has hung Alito out like a piñata, so the Democrats and their MSM mouthpieces can bash him until the nomination falls apart. And Senate Majority Leader Frist hasn't put any teeth into his leadership that would make Specter get back on the straight and narrow.

Donations to the Senate GOP war chest are way down, and that would include from me. I won't take the chance that my money will go toward re-electing RINOs who will betray the Party that returned them to office.

It's way past time for Senator Frist to grow a spine, because he's going to need it. It's time now for Senator Arlen Specter to be removed from the Chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Frist needs to lead the effort.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

More Iraqis Bombed

Yesterday, the London Telegraph reported on more terrorist bombings in Iraq. Here's how they opened the story:

A suicide car bomber killed dozens of people in an Iraqi town yesterday when he rammed his vehicle into American and Iraqi soldiers as they handed out toys and sweets to children outside a hospital.

But instead of inflicting mass casualties among the soldiers, the bomber's victims were mostly children, medics and patients, killed when the brunt of the blast was taken by the hospital's emergency room, which was wrecked by the explosion.

The town was Mahmoudiyah, south of Baghdad, and at least thirty people were killed. That evening, up to eleven more people were killed by another attack in a shopping district in the town of Hilla.

Laith Kubba, an Iraqi government spokesman, predicted that the violence would escalate as the Dec 15 elections approached. He also said that Iraqi troops had discovered a car packed with booby-trapped toys to the west of Baghdad.

With each attack that hits civilians--whether they were the targets or not--public opinion in Iraq and the Middle East will turn one more notch against the terrorists, just as it happened in Lebanon after the suicide bombings of the hotels.

As each step of the democratic process in Iraq is reached, and as the military and police forces there are better trained, the terrorists will become more and more alienated from the Iraqi people.

Keep checking back at IraqTheModel for their analysis of the election process and the progress of the war. Mohammed and Omar give the Iraqi's perspective without hype and without the MSM's slanted view of events in Iraq. Mohammed ended his Thursday post this way"

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and especially to the soldiers who are fighting to defend freedom.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Movies Again

It started out with sin.

OK, maybe not quite sin, but those of us Girls who go to the movies decided to skip the Thanksgiving Eve service tonight at church and go to the movies instead. One of my friends had a rough day at work today, and she needed to get out for a while.

We were going to see "Syriana," but it wasn't in our theater yet. One friend will be seeing "Pride and Prejudice" tomorrow, so that was out. The other friend will be seeing "Walk the Line" again tomorrow, so that was out too. I suggested "Zathura," because it sounded safe after we walked out of "Derailed" a couple weeks ago. But it sounded too much like a kid movie to my friends, and one of them suggested "The Ice Harvest," which I hadn't heard or seen anything of yet.

My daughter pulled up the movie times online and clicked through to the trailer, and it had an interesting premise: steal two million dollars from the mob and try not to get killed. Billy Bob Thornton was one of the stars, which made me nervous about the potential Disgusting Factor. One of my friends pointed out that John Cusack usually provided a calming influence on a movie, but she hadn't ever seen "The Grifters," which made me feel nervous about Cusack's movies having the potential Disturbing Factor. Against our Derailed-induced decision to wait for other people to see a movie first, we went.

The first half hour of the movie was not rated R for violence. The language was blue from the get-go. And then the action moved into a strip joint, where the language got worse and there was a lot of focus on the strippers doing what I would imagine is realistic stripper stuff. We walked out, and this time we thought to ask for a voucher to another movie. While we were talking to the guest services person, a family joined us, and not long after that another man turned in his two tickets from the same movie. All together, there were nine people who walked out of "The Ice Harvest" before anything relevant to the plot had even happened, and all of us used words like "disgusting, foul, and revolting" to explain why we were dissatisfied.

This experience reinforced our decision to wait until someone else has seen and enjoyed a questionable movie before we take the plunge.

We should have gone to church.

Talking Turkey

The Lucky Turkeys:

It's a tradition that every year the President grants a pardon to a turkey and his backup, so they will not become anyone's Thanksgiving dinner. Yesterday, as Fox News reported, President Bush pardoned two turkeys, named Marshmallow and Yam.

In years past, turkeys spared in presidential ceremonies were sent to live at a local farm.

"Marshmallow and Yam were a little skeptical about going to a place called Frying Pan Park," Bush said to giggling students from Clarksville Elementary School in Clarksville, Md.

This year, the turkeys, raised by James and Vicki Trites of Henning, Minn., will be honorary grand marshals at Disneyland's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The turkeys and a handler will be flown first class to Southern California in time for tomorrow's parade.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which in the past has been critical because presidential turkeys have been sent to a working farm rather than an animal sanctuary, praised the decision to send them to Disneyland.

"I don't suppose we could have asked for better than Disneyland and southern California," said Bruce Friedrich of PETA. "They'll have mental and physical stimulation as well as proper care and a nice climate."

It's definitely a banner year when PETA is pleased by something President Bush does. Here's hoping Marshmallow and Yam perform their duties well.

The Unlucky Turkey:

ABC 7 Chicago reported yesterday about a turkey who was not spared this Thanksgiving season. Nevertheless, that turkey went on to help save two people's lives.

Two Good Samaritans helped police rescue an elderly couple from their burning car over the weekend in the western suburbs. One of the heroes used a frozen turkey to shatter the car's windows.

Mark Copsy, of Louisiana until Hurricane Katrina sent him and his family to Chicago to stay with his in-laws, was the frozen-turkey-wielding rescuer.

Copsy and his son were leaving a Northlake grocery store, food in hand, when they saw a car burning on Wolf Road. An elderly couple was trapped in a Buick.

"I kicked the window, it didn't break, so I took the turkey to smash the window," said Mark Copsy, Good Samaritan.

Another Good Samaritan, Michael Carpanzano, ran back into the store and grabbed a fire extinguisher, which he emptied on the flaming car.

John Brani, 89, was trapped in the driver's seat.

"I put the driver in a bear hug and yanked on him twice and took him out the driver's side window," said Officer Michael Willner, Northlake Police Department.

His 90-year-old wife, Juliana Brani, was in the passenger's seat and another officer helped save her.

The rescued couple is still hospitalized in critical condition from their burns. Saving them was a joint effort: two Good Samaritans, two police officers, and one frozen turkey.

So, is there life after death for turkeys? Sort of.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mark Steyn on Zarqawi

Hugh Hewitt read some of Mark Steyn's latest column on his radio show today, but he didn't read the whole thing (or if he did, I didn't hear it all). And what was most compelling for me was at the end.

Mark Steyn is my favorite columnist, and I've been reading his work since shortly after 9/11. Today, his column for the London Telegraph looked at the word on the "Arab Street" about Lebanon-born, Iraq-based al-Qaeda terrorism leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It's not a good word.

On Friday, 200,000 Jordanians took to the streets to denounce al-Zarqawi as a coward and the enemy of Allah. So Mark Steyn asks:

Did they show that on the BBC? Or are demonstrations only news when they're anti-Bush and anti-Blair? And look at it this way: if the "occupation" is so unpopular in Iraq, where are the mass demonstrations against that? I'm not talking 200,000, or even 100 or 50,000. But, if there were just 1,500 folks shouting "Great Satan, go home!" in Baghdad or Mosul, it would be large enough for the media to do that little trick where they film the demo close up so it looks like the place is packed. Yet no such demonstrations take place.

We have a war going on, one that Zarqawi is pushing outside of Iraq--perhaps because the war inside Iraq is getting tougher for him. And yet the Democrats keep talking "exit strategy."

In war, there are usually only two exit strategies: victory or defeat. The latter's easier. Just say, whoa, we're the world's pre-eminent power but we can't handle an unprecedently low level of casualties, so if you don't mind we'd just as soon get off at the next stop.

Demonstrating the will to lose as clearly as America did in Vietnam wasn't such a smart move, but since the media can't seem to get beyond this ancient jungle war it may be worth underlining the principal difference: Osama is not Ho Chi Minh, and al-Qa'eda are not the Viet Cong. If you exit, they'll follow. And Americans will die - in foreign embassies, barracks, warships, as they did through the Nineties, and eventually on the streets of US cities, too.

Mark Steyn gets it. The media-darling Democrats don't. There's a war on, and the stakes couldn't be higher. We must keep fighting until we win. No. We must keep fighting until we absolutely destroy those who have declared themselves our enemy.

Bob Woodward's Sin

The AP reported yesterday about a statement by the Washington Post's ombudman, Deborah Howell. Howell said that Bob Woodward, the Watergate reporter hero, committed a "deeply serious sin" by not telling his editor at The Washington Post that a top Bush administration official had told him the name of a CIA officer.

Let me get this straight. The Washington Post considers it a "deeply serious sin" when a reporter doesn't tell his editor that he has key information in a Grand Jury investigation. And they consider it a "mistake" that Woodward talked about the Plame investigation on Larry King and NPR without disclosing that he already knew about the CIA leak.

But where's the outrage from the WaPo about Woodward's having withheld his knowledge from the grand jury and the special prosecutor? Where's the outrage at Woodward's silence likely having led to the indictment and resignation of a member of the administration? The crickets are chirping while we wait for the WaPo to be upset at the misdirection of justice.

And what was so important that Bob Woodward needed to keep his mouth shut so tightly for so long? He said he had been working on a book about the administration's decision to go to war in Iraq, and he did not want to be subpoenaed by a special prosecutor investigating the leak of Plame's name.

Oh, of course. Keeping your book a secret trumps justice. He didn't want to be subpoenaed, because then parts of his book might have been leaked to the press. Oh, that's OK, then. I'm sure Scooter Libby understands completely. I'm sure Vice President Cheney doesn't mind losing Libby as his aide at all. I'm sure special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't think it would have made any difference in his investigation.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald portrayed Libby as the first government official to have shared Plame's name and her work at the CIA. But the Post reported that Woodward, who achieved fame for his reporting on the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration, may have been the first reporter to learn about Plame in mid-June of 2003, before the Novak column ran.

The mainstream media is disgusting in its self-centered, ego-centric self-absorption. The Washington Post should fire Woodward, and Patrick Fitzgerald should throw him in the slammer. It would give Woodward more time to work on his book.