Saturday, May 28, 2005

Everything Changed

I spent the day at the zoo with three friends, taking pictures and trying not to spend too much money. We looked at the reptiles on the way to the sea lion show, then saw monkeys, gorillas, pandas, and the underwater bellies of ducks in the hippo exhibit. Polar bears, gazelles, boars, and sleeping wallabies. It was a fabulous day, not too hot for walking in the sun.

As we waited in line for the sky ride to take us back to the zoo exit, I got a phone call from my sister. My mom had come home from her volunteer time at the thrift shop and found my dad in the driveway, dead. He hadn't even been sick.

It's all different now. My mom has always been the communication link in the family, but my dad was the strength and wisdom. I counted on him to help me with the hard questions in life: What to do when my income was chopped in half and I was losing sleep over my finances. What kind of career change to make and what the timing should be. And now, should I fly up for the funeral, or drive? He would know--or rather, he would help me to realize that I knew.

Suddenly, judicial nominations and politics and a culture going astray have all jumped into the back seat. In my life, they pale in comparison. My Daddy is gone, and my mom is hurting, and nothing else really matters to me right now.

Posting will be very light for the next couple weeks.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Judge Priscilla Owen Followup

OK, so it's more of a prequel than a followup.

In May of 2001, I went to Washington DC to the National Day of Prayer event being held there at the Cannon House Office Building. The National Day of Prayer Task Force is headed up by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson (who is, himself, probably more hated by the Hard Left than all of the world's evil dictators combined).

It was a wonderful morning, filled with strong Christian speakers and inspiring music. The keynote speaker was Chuck Colson, first of Watergate infamy, now head of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Following his talk and some words by Shirley Dobson and Dr. Dobson, the event moved into the heart of why we were there: Prayer.

Each branch of the government was given time. The government branch had a representative speak on what it's like to be part of that branch and what the needs (especially prayer needs) are for the people who work there. Then a member of the clergy came up and led prayer for that branch of the government.

Mel Martinez, then Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, spoke for the Executive Branch. I don't remember who spoke for the Legislative branch. An Admiral was supposed to speak for the military, but wasn't able to make it, so he sent the Navy's Chaplain Barry Black. Chaplain Black didn't speak so much as he preached! But that's another story (and he is now out of the military and serves as the Chaplain of the Senate).

Speaking for the Judicial branch was a judge from Texas that I'd never heard of before, but I remembered her name after that day. Priscilla Owen.

I don't remember the exact things she said (it's been four years), but I remember how impressed I was with her. She was articulate, confident in the things she said, and seemed to be a strong, godly woman. The prayers she desired for the judiciary were for wisdom and for faithfulness to the law and to the work of the courts. No requests for specific decisions or directions for the courts to take. Just that they would do their jobs well.

I was so thrilled, shortly after the National Day of Prayer, when I heard that she had been nominated by President Bush to one of the Circuit Courts. And it's been so disheartening to hear the way this faithful judge has been dragged through the mud by agenda-driven Democrats in the Senate. She did not deserve what the obstructionist have done to her. No doubt (to me) her faith is what has given her the strength to hang on through all of it.

I salute her steadfastness and look forward to the way her presence on the federal bench will be felt.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Judge Priscilla Owen Confirmed

The Senate confirmed Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on a vote of 56-43 (full story here on Republican Lincoln Chaffee voted against her, Democrats Robert Byrd and Mary Landriew voted for her, and Democrat Daniel Inouye didn't vote (HT: Fox News). All four of these Senators were involved in The Deal.

The Bloomberg story quotes Sen. Frist, "I am now hopeful but wary,'' said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican. "Standing firm for the principle of fair up or down votes, we have made real progress.''

I don't know if I completely agree with Frist. I am wary and not very hopeful. It's one thing to get a vote on one of the three that The Deal promised a vote for. It's quite another to see what comes after the three have had their votes.

Frist says they've "made real progress." Pardon my pessimism, but the "progress" has only brought us forward to four years ago, when Owen was nominated and should have received a vote. I'll wait a while before I'm ready to declare real progress.

Meanwhile, congratulations to the 5th Circuit Court, for finally gaining this strong, fair, non-activist judge.

New Airline

Too bad I'm not rich. This new airline looks really cool!

According to the London Telegraph, Fly First is aiming for the Concorde niche in the airline market. The airline would have two Boeing 757-200 planes that would have four cabins of twelve seats each. That's 48 passengers on a plane normally configured for 228 passengers.

The seats would be capable of becoming flat beds. There would be changing rooms, phones, fax machines, and maybe internet access.

The price tag? A mere £3,360 ($6,142), if I'm reading the article correctly. It says, "Passengers, having paid £3,360 for the return flight, will be chauffeur-driven to Luton airport, will arrive 45 minutes before take off at 6.45am. They will land at Newark airport, a short distance from Manhattan, at 9am - ahead of other European flights." So it's possible the round-trip cost is double that. Oh well, if you're rich, I guess it doesn't matter.

This is all academic at this point, because the head of the new company, Hamish Taylor, still needs to raise the capital (£25 million by June 10) to get the airline in business. Once that happens, they only need to average 25% capacity on their flights to break even.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Still a Lousy Deal

I came into work, booted up (which automatically logs me onto AOL Instant Messenger, which automatically pops up the day's news headlines), and saw this article by Jim Abrams of the AP.

Headline: "Senate Averts Fight Over Filibusters." Unfortunately, I wanted that fight. I wanted the Senate to settle, once and for all, that legislation gets filibustered and nominees don't. Simple.

But not for Senator McCain (RINO-AZ), who held the secret meeting in his office to hammer out "The Deal."

The AP story opens with, "Judicial nominee Priscilla Owen gets the vote she's been awaiting for more than four years, the most immediate beneficiary of a deal worked out by Senate moderates to avoid a debilitating fight over filibusters."

Check out that last part of the quote again. Media bias is showing. This was not a "debilitating fight." The rules reinterpretation was poised to go through today, and when it did, the change would have been debilitating to the obstructionist Democrats.

Later in the article, Abrams says, "But of greater import, the deal on the rights of the minority party to filibuster judicial nominees avoids a showdown that could have shaken the traditions of the Senate, weakened the powers of the minority and threatened the comity the Senate needs to function."

This sentence is chock-full of Democrat Talking Points. The traditions of the Senate have never, before President GW Bush took office, included filibustering majority-supported judicial nominees. Supreme Court nominees, even the embattled ones like Clarence Thomas, have never been filibustered.

As for weakening the powers of the minority, that's just plain stupid. Our nation believes in majority rule, not minority rule. But the Dems, through the use of the filibuster against nominees, have sought to thwart the will of the majority and instead institute minority rule in the Senate.

And "the comity the Senate needs to function"? Please. The Democrats have shown that they don't give a rip about comity, friendliness, congeniality, or just plain being nice. "Comity" is a sharp stick to poke at the Republicans when it suits the Democrats' purpose, but it is not something the Dems have been interested in actually having themselves.

But larger questions and issues remain.

Why did the the squishy Republicans do this? Considering that the negotiations took place in McCain's office, it would appear he was the ringleader. My guess is that McCain has a Savior Complex. He wants to be the one to bring salvation to the Senate, to get the glory for resolving the bitter divisiveness over the filibuster. Because, if McCain gets the glory, then Frist doesn't, and that could mean something in the 2008 presidential election, when both of them will likely be seeking the the Republican nomination.

What does this mean to the Republican caucus in the Senate? Trouble. With a capital "T." McCain and his groupies have just declared that they refuse to recognize their own elected Senate leadership. They have rejected Senate Majority Leader Frist as their leader, and have implicitly named McCain as the Senate Squishy Leader. Frist remains the nominal leader of the Senate Republicans, but he no longer commands the majority of the Senators.

McCain, Snowe, Chaffee, DeWine, Collins, Graham, and Warner have thwarted the will of the people in a huge way. This abandonment of the Senate leadership will have repercussions far beyond just the judicial filibuster issue. Just wait and see.

Update: I just contacted the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the organization that helps Republican Senators get re-elected. I told them I'm not going to contribute anything to them (I contributed in 2004), because I won't take the chance that some of my money could go to any of the Senators who signed The Deal. I'll be contributing to individual campaigns in an attempt to unseat these Senators.

Demon Tobacco

Whatever happened to Demon Rum?

I saw this (HT: WorldNetDaily) from the Texarkana Gazette (by Jim Williamson, slightly edited, link here) and couldn't believe the conclusion:

FOREMAN, ARK.--A 38-year-old Winthrop, Ark. man was hospitalized after jumping out the passenger window of a vehicle traveling an estimated 55 to 60 mph to retrieve his cigarette late Saturday, an official said.

Jeff Foran was riding in his friend's 2000 Dodge Stratus about 10 p.m. Saturday near the Arkansas-Oklahoma border when the cigarette he was smoking blew out the vehicle's front passenger window, said Arkansas State Police Trooper First Class Jamie Gravier.

Foran jumped out of the vehicle to retrieve the cigarette and hit the pavement, causing facial trauma.

The driver of the car, Jerry Glenn Nelson, 44, of Haworth, Okla., was asked by Foran earlier in the evening to be Foran's designated driver, Gravier said.

Foran was to drive Nelson to his residence in Winthrop.

"Foran did the right thing and asked his buddy to drive him home. Foran showed up at Nelson's home about 45 minutes earlier saying he (Foran) was too intoxicated to drive home, Gravier said.

"Nelson said Foran was smoking a cigarette when it blew out the window and Foran jumped out the window to retrieve the cigarette. Nelson said he was driving between 55 and 60 mph when Foran jumped out," said Gravier.

Foran was lying on the pavement bleeding profusely from the nose, eyes and chin.

"He also had a substantial case of road rash (abrasions from sliding on the pavement)," said Gravier. "It was obvious he was extremely intoxicated and this man was hurt."

No charges were filed and Gravier had no information Sunday afternoon on Foran's condition.

"If anything could make him stop smoking, this should be it. The man is lucky to be alive," said Gravier.

"If anything could make him stop SMOKING?" Since when did smoking cause anybody to jump out the window of a car at 55 mph?

No, the problem is Foran's heavy drinking. It gets to me how much we've demonized smoking, to the point that otherwise intelligent people mistake it for the cause of other problems. If Foran wasn't a smoker, but was holding a pencil in his hand and dropped it out the window, it'd be a fair bet that he'd have jumped right out after it and wound up in the same condition.

Naturally State Trooper Gravier would have said, "If anything could make him stop holding pencils, this should be it."

Come on! Foran was extremely drunk, which made him Extremely Stupid.

I hope Foran gives up drinking. I don't care if he gives up smoking--chances are it won't be what kills him.

By the way: No, I don't smoke, never have, don't have anybody in my family who does, and I think it's a disgusting habit.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Senate Makes a Lousy Deal

This is the end of too much!

The Senate moderates have made a deal over judicial nominations, and it is fit for words I do not use. Hugh Hewitt has the essential text (here). A pdf, with signatures, of the full text is here.

The signatories, as well as I can tell (some are illegible) are: Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mike DeWine (R-OH), J [illegible], Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Lindsay Graham ? (R-SC), Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI), John McCain (R-AZ), John Warner (R-VA), Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Olympia Snowe ? (R-ME), Ken Salazar (D-CO), completely illegible.

Here's what the Republicans (and the President and his judicial nominees) get: "Votes for certain nominees." Three of them. Janice Rogers Brown, Pricilla Owen, William Pryor.

Here's what the Democrats get:

(1) Henry Saad and William Myers get thrown over a cliff--make that, they get left hanging with no guarantee of ever getting an up-or-down vote.

(2) Future nominees will be subject to filibuster, if the Democrats consider that there are "extraordinary circumstances," with each Senator using his or her discretion to decide when things are extraordinary.

(3) "[W]e commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII." The "we" at the beginning of this point are the signatories, above. In other words, for the entirety of 2005 and 2006, none of these Senators who signed this deal will vote to prevent the minority party from holding judicial nominees' up-or-down votes hostage.

Let's see how this balances out: The Republicans, whom the majority of American voters put into power so the President's policies and judicial nominations can get acted on, get three judicial nominees voted on. The Democrats, whose obstructionist tactics were soundly defeated at the polls this past November, get darn near everything they want, including the right to filibuster whomever they want to, and the Republicans agree to roll over and play dead.

The Republicans who signed this "deal" have, in so doing, signed their own political doom. I know I'm not alone in determining to oppose all of these Republicans in their next bid for re-election. They have screwed over the people who elected them for the last time.

Update: The corrected list of signatories to The Deal includes Joe Lieberman (D-CT) as "J (illegible) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) as "completely illegible." (HT: Andrew at ConfirmThem)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pepsi Implosion

Let me start by saying that I don't understand the appeal of Mountain Dew. This whole Pepsi thing is bringing out the closet and not-so-closet Dew addicts. Irish Pennants, Write Wing Conspiracy, and one of the callers to Hugh Hewitt's show have confessed their addictions--and I've only scratched the surface of bloggers blogging on the subject.

And the subject is: Pepsico. Or rather, the commencement speech that Indra K. Nooyi, President and Chief Financial Officer, gave at Columbia University Business School (full text here). In this speech, she compared the five major continents (Australia & Antarctica were the ignored continents) to the fingers of the hand.

First, let’s consider our little finger. Think of this finger as Africa. Africa is the little finger not because of Africa’s size, but because of its place on the world’s stage. From an economic standpoint, Africa has yet to catch up with her sister continents. And yet, when our little finger hurts, it affects the whole hand.

Our thumb is Asia: strong, powerful, and ready to assert herself as a major player on the world’s economic stage.

Our index, or pointer finger, is Europe. Europe is the cradle of democracy and pointed the way for western civilization and the laws we use in conducting global business.

The ring finger is South America, including Latin America. Is this appropriate, or what? The ring finger symbolizes love and commitment to another person. Both Latin and South America are hot, passionate, and filled with the sensuous beats of the mambo, samba, and tango: three dances that – if done right – can almost guarantee you and your partner will be buying furniture together.

This analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents leaves the long, middle finger for North America, and, in particular, The United States. As the longest of the fingers, it really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is a really good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg-up in global business since the end of World War I.

However, if used inappropriately – just like the U.S. itself - the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I’m talking about. In fact, I suspect you’re hoping that I’ll demonstrate what I mean. And trust me, I’m not looking for volunteers to model.

Discretion being the better part of valor...I think I’ll pass.

What is most crucial to my analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents, is that each of us in the U.S. – the long middle finger – must be careful that when we extend our arm in either a business or political sense, we take pains to assure we are giving a hand...not the finger. Sometimes this is very difficult. Because the U.S. – the middle finger – sticks out so much, we can send the wrong message unintentionally.

Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the U.S. right now. Not as part of the hand – giving strength and purpose to the rest of the fingers – but, instead, scratching our nose and sending a far different signal.

That's the crux of her speech, the part that has caused the uproar. America is the middle finger of the world. In both the good and the bad way.

In writing, the strength and lasting impression of a sentence or a paragraph is what is presented last. Nooyi left her listeners with the emphasis on America as "The Bird" not America as the leader.

People are livid. They should be.

Ms. Nooyi has apologized. Twice. Unfortunately, her apologies ring of the "gee, I'm sorry you had to go and get your feelings hurt by what I said" variety. Pepsi's VP of Consumer Relations, Christine Jones, said in the second apology (an email), Indira Nooyi "clearly regrets the reaction that this unfortunate episode has caused."

Yeah, I'll bet. But does she regret what she said? Does she regret slamming the country that has treated her so well? Does she regret not mentioning the good that America does in the world? So far, there's no sign of any appropriate regret.

I went to the Pepsi website, and did a search on "nooyi" and didn't get any matches. On the parent company (Pepsico) website, their Latest News and Press Releases only showed a Mountain Dew promo dated 05/17/05 and a Response to Shareholder Question dated 05/05/05.

To quote Hugh Hewitt, "Where is the CEO?"

Pepsi is going without an official response to this slap in the face of America, but the issue isn't going away. The blogs are posting like crazy, and then some.

Helpful links: Pepsi's products, if you're boycott-minded. Pepsi's officers and directors.

I need a Coke.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

MSM Bias Again

The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Shailagh Murray made the following charge in the opening paragraph of their article today (HT: Hugh Hewitt):

"With the Senate poised to open debate on President Bush's appellate court nominees, a bipartisan group of senators carried on furious negotiations yesterday aimed at heading off a constitutional showdown that threatens to poison relations between the two parties and disrupt normal business in Congress."

Where have these journalists been? Buried in a cave trying to get an exclusive interview with Osama bin Laden? Because, certainly, they haven't been following events in the Senate.

There is nothing that threatens to poison relations between the two parties. It's already been poisoned by the minority Democrats, as they obstruct the duty of the Senate to "advise and consent" on the President's judicial nominations.

As far as disrupting normal business in Congress, that would be the Democrats also. They have threatened to bring Senate business to a halt if the Republicans force the elimination of the use of a filibuster for judicial nominations.

The power to head off a constitutional showdown lies entirely with the Democrats. The power to eliminate the poison from the Senate floor lies entirely with the Democrats. The power to allow the normal flow of Senate business lies entirely with the Democrats.

Too bad the Washington Post and its writers don't get it. They continue, "At issue is the extent to which Bush and the Republican majority in the Senate can reshape the federal judiciary and, most important, the Supreme Court, if vacancies occur there."

They say this as though there's something unusual about a majority party (especially one that was largely elected over the issue of the judicial nominations) shaping the federal judiciary. What do the writers think happened while Clinton was in office?

The American electorate put President Bush back in office and gave more of a majority to both the House and the Senate, so that President Bush's policies could be implemented and his judicial nominees could actually be seated on the bench. They did not put the Republicans in power so that the Democrats could control the course of our judiciary and our nation.

The Mainstream Media's bias is showing. Again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I've Officially Started

Recently I stopped in at Barnes & Noble, and there was a couple finishing up a book-signing. Phil Shrout's book, America at Twelve Miles an Hour: A View from the Edge of the Road, was the story of the summer bicycle trip that he and his wife took a couple years ago. They left the Oregon Coast and bicycled to the Georgia Coast when they were in their early fifties.

I chatted with them, asking how long their trip took, because back when I was in my twenties (Before Children) my then-husband and I rode our bicycles in Western Europe for four months. I was curious to find out how far we might have ridden. Instead, though, they inspired me.

As we talked and I told them a couple stories about what it's like to be on bicycles in France or Switzerland, they were impressed at how much I still remembered from a trip that was over 20 years ago. And I got to thinking...

I could write a book, just as they had.

The idea has been kicking around in my head for the past month. Today, at Quizno's, as I ate my lunch, I opened a Quizno's napkin and jotted down a few notes. These are the first words to hit paper about this book.

It's now official. I've started writing my book.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Buchanan and WWII

This is a mine field. I understand that. But I'm walking there anyway.

Disclaimer: I see Pat Buchanan's commentaries in WorldNetDaily, and much of what he has to say about US foreign policy--particularly Iraq--I disagree with. He strikes me as an isolationist, something I am not. That said...

On May 11, 2005, Pat Buchanan wrote a commentary entitled, "Was World War II worth it?" The focus of the column was on Eastern Europe and what they suffered under Soviet rule after WWII. Was World War II worth it for them? Probably not. These nations were free before the war, and afterward they wore the iron yoke of Soviet dominance and oppression.

Buchanan quoted a speech President Bush gave in Riga, Latvia, as he marked the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe: "For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire. V-E day marked the end of fascism, but it did not end the oppression. The agreement in Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. ... The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs in history."

President Bush was right, and Buchanan was right to quote him. But the accepted lessons of history as it relates to WWII have become sacred, and God help the man who challenges them.

On May 12, 2005, Andrew Metz of Newsday challenged Buchanan's commentary. Metz opens his column this way: "Was World War II worth it?In the inflammatory world view of Pat Buchanan, the short answer is no. The war that stopped the Nazis' global campaign and the mechanistic extermination of European Jewry was actually not worth the effort."

Metz continues, "He did not mention Jews or the Holocaust - the most outrageous omission for Yaffa Eliach, a Holocaust expert and survivor. 'For me it is very important to present the truth, to show the murder,' Eliach said. 'The idea was to kill Jews.'"

This is the sacred history of World War II.

Metz and Eliach are right to criticize Buchanan for omitting the Holocaust from his commentary. But they are wrong to limit the Holocaust to Jews.

The accepted number of dead from the Holocaust is ten million people. The accepted number of Jews killed in the Holocaust is six million. What about the other four million people? Don't Metz and Eliach care about them? Hitler's idea was to kill all undesirables, especially the Jews. But he also killed millions of Poles, Gypsies, handicapped people, and people in the Resistance. Sacred history dismisses these other victims.

Sacred history also ends the analysis of WWII on V-E Day. It ignores the aftermath in Soviet-dominated Europe. According to Anne Applebaum's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Gulag, at least 4.5 million people were killed in the Soviet gulag system. I don't have a count of how many people were victims of non-gulag Soviet oppression in the Iron Curtain countries, but these were also victims of the agreement at Yalta, an agreement that handed free countries to a man that both Churchill and Roosevelt knew to be a killer

Buchanan needs to quit forgetting the Holocaust when he analyzes the value of World War II. And Metz and people like him need to quit having their knee-jerk response of "they killed the Jews" and quit forgetting the other victims.

And all of us need to quit forgetting the past and present victims of genocide and mass bloodlust: The Armenians killed by the Ottoman Turks. The Holocaust victims of Hitler. The victims of the Soviet empire. The victims of Chairman Mao's revolution. The Vietnamese at the hands of the communists. The Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge. The Tutsis in Rwanda. The victims of government-imposed famine in Ethiopia, Chad, Zimbabwe. And the Christians and animists dying in Sudan in what the UN refuses to call a genocide.

We need to quit forgetting, because forgetting allows more murder and more genocide.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Harry Reid's Smear Campaign

Laura Ingraham is incensed. This morning on her radio show, she played Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's speech before the Senate in which he impugned the character of judicial nominee, Henry Saad. Laura's website links to a Washington Times article by Charles Hurt (here), which spells out the offensive part of Sen. Reid's speech.

Hurt quotes Reid, "'Henry Saad would have been filibustered anyway,' Mr. Reid said on the floor yesterday, about the Michigan Appeals Court judge who is nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. 'All you need to do is have a member go upstairs and look at his confidential report from the FBI, and I think we would all agree that there is a problem there,' Mr. Reid continued."

The problem is not what's in Henry Saad's confidential FBI file, but the fact that Senator Reid even knows about it, let alone that he's talking about it on the Senate floor.

As Hurt (and Laura on her show) explains, "Furthermore, a "Memorandum of Understanding" covering the use of FBI background reports limits access to committee members and the nominee's home-state senators. Mr. Reid would fall into neither category."

So Harry Reid has absolutely no business knowing what's in the confidential FBI file on judicial nominees, but he claims to know what's in the FBI file of a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee. And in spite of the fact that Senate rules call for expulsion of senators who "disclose the secret or confidential business or proceedings of the Senate, including the business and proceedings of the committees, subcommittees, and offices of the Senate," Harry Reid has come right up to the line this rule has drawn (Standing Rule of the Senate 29, Section 5), and he may have crossed it.

If Reid has crossed that line, he needs to be expelled from the Senate, or at the very least stripped of his leadership post. And whoever gave Reid access to the FBI file(s) of nominees should be fired. If Reid has not actually seen the FBI file (which he shouldn't have but is implying that he has), then he's a liar intent on slandering and smearing a judicial nominee, and he should be censured and stripped of his leadership post.

The issue here is that Reid has raised accusations against one of President Bush's nominees in a forum and manner that leaves the accused (Henry Saad) completely without recourse. There are no charges that Saad can refute, because Reid didn't spell out anything specific. And because Saad has never seen, and is not permitted to see, the FBI files on him, he has no idea what charges might be in it that he could attempt to refute on his own.

This is an ugly, vicious, mean-spirited, political attack on the part of the Democratic leadership. Where is the outcry from the Republicans? Where is the call for Reid's removal from leadership and the Senate?

And where is the media? The Washington Times covered the story (link above), but CNN is silent, Fox News is silent, CBS News is silent, NBC News is silent, the New York Times is silent, and the Los Angeles Times is silent. ABC News gives it a brief mention at the end of page 2/top of page 3 of their article on the filibuster debates. has links to the Senate's contact information. Be sure to contact your senator about this, including Majority Leader Bill Frist to urge them to take action agaisnt Senator Reid. Plus, ConfirmThem has the latest on judicial nominees and an easy link to email the 5 key senators who are waffling about whether to change the Senate rules so the nominees can be allowed to come to an up-or-down vote.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

President Bush in the Netherlands

President Bush is in the Netherlands to honor the Americans who died during WWII. Naturally, this brings out protesters and activists. As Reuters reports, while most busied themselves actually protesting, one man was hurt on a spiked fence as he tried to photograph the security arrangements.

A group of six activists, however, were busier. They were arrested trying to get into President Bush's hotel to see for themselves the shocking (yes, shocking) fact that President Bush has a "suitcase which allows him to activate nuclear weapons." The activists dressed as "citizen inspectors" in IAEA-like clothing (full story here).

"'We heard Bush carries a nuclear suitcase and can push the red button at any time to set off atomic weapons. We find this extremely shocking,' said Leo de Groot, a spokesman for the activist group."

Where have these activists been? Don't they watch any movies? It's common knowledge that all US Presidents have access to the atomic codes, and Hollywood likes to use this as a plot point in some of their movies.

Weren't these activists upset that President Clinton had access to the codes? Was his access acceptable, but the "Cowboy President" seems like more of a danger to them? Didn't they worry, four years ago, when the codes passed from Clinton to Bush?

You've gotta feel sorry for people who are so out of touch, so out of date, that they're only now figuring out little bits and pieces of reality. Let's just be glad, for their sake, that the activists didn't actually find the suitcase with the codes. The military aides responsible for it might have done worse to them than just arrest them.

State of Affairs

My job has become blog-unfriendly: Too much to do. Lots of pressure. Long hours. Lunch is just enough time to grab something to eat, post the day's Bread, check the news headlines (but not comment on them) and get back to work. Work late. Go home, walk the dog, and crash.

I'm burning out. And the only consolation is that I'm not the only one at work who's burning out. It's pervasive (sigh).

Monday, May 02, 2005

Stem Cell Progress

Another story, this one in The Times of London, about a breakthrough with stem cells. Again, the breakthrough is with adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells.

Sam Lister, Health correspondent for The Times, explains, "A team of British specialists has successfully treated more than a dozen patients with impaired corneas by transplanting human stem cells grown in a laboratory on to their eyes." Out of one group of ten patients, seven had their sight restored, and these were people whose corneas had been damaged by acid or boiling metal in their eyes, or who had congenital defects.

"The process involves taking stem cells, which occur naturally in the eye, and developing them into sheets of cells in the laboratory. These are transplanted on to the surface of the eye where they are held in place by an amniotic membrane, which dissolves away as the sheet fuses to the eye." The really exciting part of this process is that the transplanted stem cells don't appear to stick around. They trigger the eye to repair itself, and then the stem cells are shed from the eye. A year after the process, no trace of the donor's DNA was found on any of the patients' eyes. And this means that the patients would not need the immune-suppressing drugs that are required for standard-transplant patients.

The article concludes, "Nadey Hakim, a consultant surgeon at St Mary’s Hospital, London, said that it was likely that such action could be mimicked in other organs, thus reducing the need for organ transplants. Professor Hakim said: 'The hope is that stem cells will one day be used to generate large quantities of cells and tissues and possibly entire organs damaged by disease and injury. It is a dream.'”

Meanwhile, as a California resident, my frustration mounts. Every step of stem cell progress has been with adult stem cells (including umbilical cord blood). Embryonic stem cells have yet to prove effective in treating patients without causing severe side effects.

And what kind of stem cell research is California going to be asking its taxpayers to spend $6 billion on? The kind that doesn't work, of course.