Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

There's no comparing minors and adults

That the gist of Kathryn Jean Lopez's column in today's NRO, regarding Supreme Court arguments in the parental-notification case Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood.

Lopez quotes generously from an amicus brief (PDF in link) written by a pair of law professors, Notre Dame's Gerard V. Bradley and Princeton's Robert P. George. Here's just one small part, using a hypothetical minor named "Jane" to highlight the plethora of laws recognizing a minor's challenges with making healthy decisions:
Jane’s reduced ability to assess probability is one factor in her poor decision-making. Her lack of life experience is another. She habitually fails to see the consequences of a particular course of action. The ill-effects of her shortsightedness are aggravated by Jane’s typically high sensitivity to peer influences. State parental notification laws, then, just make compulsory what science and common experience already tell us: the best interests of Jane lie in having her parents involved in her decision-making process.
Can I hear a "duh"?

There's so much more than this excerpt, so be sure to read the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Quote of the Day: Sanity among Dems

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), one of the few sane voices of his party, wrote a stirring defense of America's involvement in Iraq for today's Wall Street Journal. In stark contrast to the cut-and-run forces in control of the Democratic party, he believes that America has a "good plan for . . . victory in Iraq," a plan that has evolved as we learn from our victories and mistakes.

Here's a snippet of Lieberman's prose:
[The Iraqi] people are working their way toward a functioning society and economy in the midst of a very brutal, inhumane, sustained terrorist war against the civilian population and the Iraqi and American military there to protect it.

It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.
Lieberman also noted that polls of Iraqis say that "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."

Isn't that worth our involvement?

By the way, let's do a little math. Lieberman said the Iraqi army is roughly 100,000 strong, and I think we have 130,000 US troops, the latter obviously better trained than the former. According to Lieberman, they are fighting 10,000 terrorists (not to mention the supporting governments of Syria and Iran, among others). Sure, it seems like lopsided odds, but remember that these terrorists are willing to ignore any semblance of humanity in this fight (strapping explosives to a disabled child, blowing up innocents in mosques, driving a car bomb into a crowd of kids receiving toys from American troops) and think it glorious to die in the struggle.

If we pull out tomorrow, what happens? We leave the same 10,000 terrorists and their supporters to fight against the inexperienced Iraqi army. Without the US, the Iraqis have 57 percent fewer boots on the ground to take on the terrorists, and an even smaller army if you consider experience. If the terrorists have been able to kill 2,000 US troops in three years, how many innocent Iraqis will they be able to blow up, dismember and behead without the pesky Americans in the way?

Yes, we get our boys and girls out of harm's way, which is a good thing if viewed in a vacuum; I have a friend in Afghanistan, and I dread the news that some Taliban wacko might ensure my friend will never see his wife and kids again.

But if we pull out, the terrorists' path to chaos just got a whole lot easier, and the world knows the US — again — will not keep its word to the oppressed.

If you still think this is a good idea, read this last quote from Lieberman regarding his recent trip to the Middle East:
After a Thanksgiving meal with a great group of Marines at Camp Fallujah in western Iraq, I asked their commander whether the morale of his troops had been hurt by the growing public dissent in America over the war in Iraq. His answer was insightful, instructive and inspirational: "I would guess that if the opposition and division at home go on a lot longer and get a lot deeper it might have some effect, but, Senator, my Marines are motivated by their devotion to each other and the cause, not by political debates."
Now if we could just get Joe Lieberman's colleagues to understand this.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Who sets the standards?

Dear Sam,

Here's part II of my response. Sorry it's so long, but you raise several important issues.

You address viability outside the womb. Babies born as much as four months premature are able to survive outside the mother's womb. But viability outside the womb is irrelevant if the "peanut" embedded in a woman's uterine wall is human. Remember the STR quote I keep coming back to? You don't ever answer the question:
If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate.
Also, a few other questions:
  • As technology progresses, the point of viability gets earlier; does this mean that the start of human life evolves with technology?
  • Viability is an abitrary concept. Why not when the heart beats, or the brain functions? How about when the lungs function? Did you know a baby starts breathing in small amounts of amniotic fluid before the end of the first trimester?
  • What about infants? They're not viable without assistance. Does that mean we can end an infant's life? A handicapped person? Someone with Down Syndrome?
I hope you'll agree that these questions establish too much grey area to support viability, brainwaves or anything else — other than conception — as the standard.

I also want to note your comment about the "mother's life support system," because another favorite argument of the pro-choice crowd is that a woman shouldn't be forced to donate her body as a life-support system. This suggests that the woman wasn't a willing participant in the sex that brought about the pregnancy, which is true in less than 1 percent of all pregnancies.

Also, this is not a fair comparison. What is at stake here is the temporary lifestyle changes of the mother vs. the permanent end of the child's life. It should be a clear standard that life and death outweighs a temporary inconvenience every time.

Coming back to the issue of aborting a Down Syndrome child, you write:
It's not as cut and dry as you're trying to make it sound. Of course the mother will wonder what the child could become, and grieve the potential loss. but the flip side of that coin is the benefit of not bringing a being into this world that can't support itself.
Why do you think "the mother will wonder what the child could become, and grieve the potential loss"? If it's just a peanut, why grieve for it?

Also, since when is the standard for life defined by the ability to support oneself? Who sets that standard? Government? The state? Each family? Why have laws regarding murder if quality of life is an abitrary standard?

Where is the standard set? Does that mean that welfare is a death sentence? Or is it only those people who are completely dependent on others for their survival? Does that include infants? The handicapped? The elderly?

What about those who require medical treatments such as kidney dialysis? How about those being treated for HIV and AIDS? After all, someone needing kidney dialysis or an HIV cocktail would die without treatment.

And how do you know the child won't be able to support itself? In my first post, I quoted a letter that noted an actor with Down Syndrome. Is he unable to support himself? I don't know, because I don't know him. But I suspect your fear about raising a child who will be forever dependent on society is, as you wrote, not as cut and dry and you're trying to make it sound.

The standard has to be set clearly, and the benefit of the doubt must fall in favor of life. As Randy Alcorn wrote:
If a hunter is uncertain whether a movement in the brush is caused by a person, does his uncertainty lead him to fire or not to fire? If you're driving at night and you think the dark figure ahead on the road may be a child, but it may just be the shadow of a tree, do you drive into it, or do you put on the brakes? If we find someone who may be dead or alive, but we're not sure, what is the best policy? To assume he is alive and try to save him, or to assume he is dead and walk away? Shouldn't we give the benefit of the doubt to life? Otherwise we are saying, "This may or may not be a child, therefore it's all right to destroy it."
Death is the only thing you can't get out of.

Sources for the last two posts:
Centers for Disease Control
Guttmacher Institute
Randy Alcorn

When does life begin?

After I wrote my post about abortion and Down Syndrome, I got a response from someone named Sam Canfield. He and I traded comments, but I wanted to respond again and write a bit more to make several points. Thus, this post.

Sam wrote:
I would like to see evidence that the child could live outside the womb without the mothers life support system. if it could, well i apologize. i'm no apologist for those who support late-term abortions. i don't believe life begins at conception though. i don't care if a peanut has a heartbeat.
Sam, I appreciate your comments about refusing to be an apologist for late-term abortion advocates. That, at least, tells me you're willing to discuss and contemplate the issue without the blinders of the radical pro-abortion forces.

However, your comment demands a multi-faceted response, the most important of which addresses those last two sentences. It's really interesting that you "don't believe" life begins at conception. But frankly, what you "believe" in this case is irrelevant to the discussion. I could say I don't believe in the laws of gravity, but I'd still break my head open if I tried to jump off the roof.

My question to you is: at what point do you believe it's a human life? Let's make a quick run through the first three months of a typical pregnancy, shall we?
  • At the moment of conception, your parents contribute 300,000 genes to determine your unique physical characteristics, intelligence and personality. You have your own set of DNA from the first minute, a DNA that tells any scientist that you are a human being. Do you believe it's a human being yet?
  • Within three weeks, your heart has begun pushing your blood — often a different blood type from your mother — around your body. Do you believe it's a human being yet?
  • Within four weeks, your eyes, ears, arms and respiratory system have begun to form. Do you believe it's a human being yet?
  • Between day 31 and 33, the brain becomes 25 percent larger. Brain waves, as measured on an EEG, are present 40 days (less than six weeks) after conception. Your fingers start forming at six weeks. Do you believe it's a human being yet?
Out of the 1.37 million annual abortions in the United States, 300,000 are done by this point in the pregnancy.
  • Before seven weeks, your jaw has formed and includes 20 "pre-teeth." Your tiny mouth has lips and the beginnings of a tongue. Tear ducts are forming in your eyes. Your completed skeleton begins to harden with its many complex links and joints. Your reflexes are present. Do you believe it's a human being yet?
Another 240,000 annual abortions are done by this point in the pregnancy. That's more than half a million total.
  • By eight weeks (pictured below), all your bodily organs are present and functioning. Do you believe it's a human being yet?
Another 250,000 annual abortions are done by this point in the pregnancy, bringing the total to almost 800,000.
  • Before 10 weeks, if the sole of your foot was touched, you would curl your toes and bend your hips and knees to move away from the object. You squint, swallow, move your tongue and make a fist. Your fingerprints and footprints are evident. Do you believe it's a human being yet? At what point are you finally convinced? How do you establish an arbitrary cutoff where it's OK to abort before the date, but not after?
With another 275,000 annual abortions by this point in the pregnancy, the total pushes past 1 million children.

I could go on into the fetal development calendar, but I'm not trying to belabor the point. I'm trying to get you to think about a statement that is made by millions of pro-choice folks every year without thinking about what it really means. You don't believe life begins at conception? On what do you base that belief?

It all comes back to the question I keep asking: Is it a human life or not? If not, no justification is needed. If so, no justification is adequate.

In my next post, I'll deal with a couple of other issues you raise.

"I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and any interruption at any point constitutes a termination of a human life."
- Dr. Jerome LeJeune, genetics professor at the University of Descartes in Paris and the discoverer of the Down Syndrome chromosome

"The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter — the beginning is conception."
- Dr. Landrum Shettles, discoverer of male and female producing sperm

"By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."
- Dr. Hymie Gordon, chairman of the department of genetics at the Mayo Clinic

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Syncing house christmas lights to music

If you have a Windows Media Player, turn up the sound and enjoy. Either these people have a lot of people inside the house who are quick on the switch, or they've got some serious time lapse skills.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Quote of the Day

From the inestimable Victor Davis Hanson, writing about Iraq in today's National Review Online:
Yet as [the Democrats] hedge — on television praising Congressmen Murtha who advocates withdrawal, but making sure they vote overwhelmingly on the record to reject his advice — they should consider some critical questions.

First, are the metrics of this war in the terrorists’ or our favor? Are the Iraqi security forces growing or shrinking? Are elections postponed or on schedule? Are Europe, Jordan, Lebanon, and others more or less sympathetic to a war against Islamic terrorism in Iraq? Are bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Zarqawi more or less popular or secure after we removed Saddam? Is al Qaeda in a strengthened or weakened position? Is the Arab world more or less receptive to democracy in the Gulf, Egypt, Lebanon, and the West Bank? And is the United States more or less vulnerable to a terrorist attack as we go into our fifth year since September 11?

I ask those questions in all sincerity since the conventional wisdom — compared to the true wisdom and compassion of those valiantly fighting the terrorists under the most impossible of conditions — is that we are losing in Iraq, our enemies are emboldened, and the Arab world has turned against us. But if we forget the banality of New York Times columnists, the admonitions of NPR experts, and the daily rants of a Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, or Al Gore, more sober and street-smart Democrats are in fact not so sure of these answers.

So these wiser ones wait and hedge their wagers. They give full rein to the usefully idiotic and irresponsible in their midst, but make no move yet to undo what thousands of brave American soldiers have accomplished in Iraq.

What exactly is that? Despite acrimony at home, the politics of two national elections and a third on the horizon, and the slander of war crimes and incompetence, those on the battlefield of Iraq have almost pulled off the unthinkable — the restructuring of the politics of the Middle East in less than three years.

And for now that is still a strong hand to bet against.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Quote of the Day

From Vice President Dick Cheney's Monday speech before the American Enterprise Institute (emphasis mine):
In August of 1998, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution urging President Clinton take "appropriate action" to compel Saddam to come into compliance with his obligations to the Security Council. Not a single senator voted no. Two months later, in October of '98 — again, without a single dissenting vote in the United States Senate — the Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act. It explicitly adopted as American policy supporting efforts to remove Saddam Hussein's regime from power and promoting an Iraqi democracy in its place. And just two months after signing the Iraq Liberation law, President Clinton ordered that Iraq be bombed in an effort to destroy facilities that he believed were connected to Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs.
But Saddam isn't a threat.
And the president misled us.
And there was no connection between Al-Queda and Saddam.
And . . .

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bowl Championship Series

If I haven't mentioned it, I detest (I first wrote "spit in the general direction of") the Bowl Championship Series. No matter how much they tweak it, it won't be a playoff, so it will be illegitimate.

That said, here are the standings for this week:
  1. Southern California, .9807
  2. Texas, .9791
  3. Penn State, .8900
  4. Louisiana State, .8372
  5. Virginia Tech, .8294
  6. Ohio State, .7841
  7. Oregon, .7340
  8. Notre Dame, .6908
  9. Miami, .6718
  10. Auburn, .6333
Now if I could just figure out what that means. I think what it means is that the Ducks will be going to the Holiday Bowl, while the Irish (with their national following) will take the Ducks' rightful spot in the Fiesta Bowl. (That assumes that USC beats UCLA on Dec. 3.)

With Kellen Clemens sidelined well beyond the bowl season, the Ducks will be lucky to beat whomever they meet, but I still wish the National Championship question could be decided in a playoff (like divisions I-AA, II & III), instead of by a series of computer rankings.

This section from the BCS website (near the bottom of the page) makes me grind my teeth:
Why doesn't the BCS employ a national playoff for Division I-A football?
There has been no directive from college presidents and chancellors to ask the BCS commissioners to research or create a playoff structure. BCS leaders haven't spent any time looking at playoff models or adding games to the postseason in a way to make it look like a playoff structure. College football comprises nearly 120 teams. It's not a 32-team, NFL-type structure.

One of the most difficult problems and challenges would be to decide where and when playoff games would occur. Would the regular season be shortened in order to play games leading into final exams, take a break and then come back and finish it afterward? It's a sport where there are 85 scholarship players. The NFL has numerous replacement (free agent) players who can fill out a roster. There are issues relative to the number of games you can play. College presidents in the Big 12, for example, have been consistent in opposing a 15- or 16-game structure. A 12-game regular season with the opportunity for a conference championship game and a single postseason bowl game is where most presidents and chancellors have been at this point. The bowl system rewards 56 of those approximately 120 teams. A playoff structure would erode the base of the bowls. There's a tremendous difference between a playoff structure and a bowl structure.
Where and when? Longer seasons? Smaller (?) rosters? Fewer teams rewarded? None of those things appears to be an issue in any other division of college football! When will these idiots stop making up crappy excuses that have already been solved at the smaller school level?

Oh, that's right. They'll do that when the college presidents aren't raking in the bucks from the current bowl gravy train, er, system.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Does the child have a choice?

Maria Eftimiades, a reporter for People Magazine, wrote in Tuesday's Washington Post about her very personal story of ending her pregnancy after a Down Syndrome diagnosis.

I have never needed to face such difficult circumstances, as God blessed us with two healthy girls. Because of that and what I write here, I'm sure I'll be blasted for my insensitivity, my holier-than-thou attitude, my inability to empathize with a difficult decision that has no easy answers.

I plead guilty to a lack of empathy, and I've certainly had my share of insensitivity. If I come across as arrogant, I apologize. I'm not sorry for having convictions about the value of human life. However difficult Ms. Eftimiades' decision may have been, there were a few things that bothered me. She wrote:
While I have no doubt there can be joys and victories in raising a mentally handicapped child, for me and for Mike, it's a painful journey that we believe is better not taken. To know now that our son would be retarded, perhaps profoundly, gives us the choice of not continuing the pregnancy. We don't want a life like that for our child, and the added worry that we wouldn't be around long enough to care for him throughout his life.

. . . I'm quite certain that I made the right choice for the three of us.
"A painful journey that we believe is better not taken." Better for whom? For the baby? The writer tries to suggest that it's best for the child as well, though she admits that "we don't want a life like that for our child." So it's really "the right choice" for the adults, and the child (which they named John) must bear the brunt of the decision.

I'm also bothered by the fact that this couple was trying to conceive. They were both over 40; they knew the risks. Instead, they were unwilling to accept the cards dealt to them. Like playing blackjack without any face cards, they knew the odds were not very high, but they hoped they could pick up a pair of nines and beat the dealer. When they got a pair of deuces, they folded without seeing what came next off the deck.

She continues:
I'm sure pro-lifers don't give you the right to grieve for the baby you chose not to bring into the world (another euphemism, although avoiding the word "abortion'' doesn't take any sting out of the decision to have one). Only now do I understand how entirely personal the decision to terminate a pregnancy is and how wrong it feels to bring someone else's morality into the discussion.
My responses:
1) Her blanket condemnation of "pro-lifers (who) don't give you the right to grieve" is as misguided and incorrect as me saying that all pro-abortion advocates are radicals who would have no qualms about aborting their baby by cutting off its head two hours before delivery.

In Portland, the local Pregnancy Resource Centers established the HEART program to minister to women struggling with abortions. HEART (an acronym for Healing Encouragement for Abortion-Related Trauma) is "designed to educate and support post-abortive men and women to aid in them in healing from the grief of abortion," according to its website. Another site, Hope After Abortion, states on its home page that "It's normal to grieve a pregnancy loss, including the loss of a child by abortion. It can form a hole in one's heart, a hole so deep that sometimes it seems nothing can fill the emptiness."

Both programs are operated by faith-based organizations, and it would be completely deceptive to claim either forbids the "right" to grieve an aborted child.

2) She writes: "Only now do I understand how entirely personal the decision to terminate a pregnancy is and how wrong it feels to bring someone else's morality into the discussion."

This is a classic ploy to end debate by accusing pro-lifers of shoving their morality down others' throats. The answer is really quite simple, and is summed up by the folks at Stand to Reason:
Abortion involves killing and discarding something that's alive. Whether it's right or not to take the life of any living being depends entirely upon the answer to one question: What kind of being is it? The answer one gives is pivotal, the deciding element that trumps all other considerations.

Let me put the issue plainly. If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate.
3) Ms. Eftimiades attempts (perhaps inadvertently) to make all abortion discussion off-limits with her difficult story, as if suggesting that any abortion must be available because of cases like birth defect or rape. In truth, 95 percent of all abortions are performed as a means of birth control or to end an unplanned pregnancy. Only 1 percent of abortions are performed because of rape or incest, and 3 percent are because of fetal abnormalities.

In addition, those who choose not to end a birth-defected pregnancy have other options. Go to the National Down Syndrome Society website, type "adopt" into the search box, and you'll see stories about parents willing to adopt babies with the defect.

Those parents willing to accept the cards they receive find unexpected joys. A reader of The Corner at National Review Online, a parent of a Down Syndrome child, made this point elegantly:
I am sure that many read Maria Eftimiades article and sympathized with her situation and decision. I do too, but for a different reason than most.

This article is the story of two victims. First, John, a human being that has not been allowed to reach his potential. Second, Maria, a human being that has been victimized by a culture that values choice above life, especially a life that is not considered perfect.

It is clear by the guilt in Maria's own words that she is a victim. Let me give you a few examples:
  1. Considering miscarriage as a way to hide her decision.
  2. Referring to people as "funny" who might question her decision.
  3. Her "knowing" that John is "retarded, perhaps profoundly" and referring to Down Syndrome as a severe disability" when she could not possibly know John's future potential.
  4. Determining that raising a child with a disability is a "painful journey."
  5. Her missing of John.
  6. Her "luck" that no one at the hospital knew what she was doing.
  7. Her choice to write a letter to a sympathetic editorial page.
One of the storylines last week on Nip/Tuck involved a young man that wanted to change his appearance so that he looked more like his family. The actor played his part with skill, vigor and professionalism. This young man happened to have Down Syndrome.

As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome I am often complimented for doing my job as a parent. This is because our culture assumes, like Maria, that it is a painful journey. This conclusion, like so many other things accepted by our culture is dead wrong.

I believe that raising a child with a disability is very similar to raising any child, only the highs are higher and the lows are lower. There are few greater joys in life than watching your disabled child accomplish things no one expected. There are few greater sadnesses than dealing with health issues that are often associated with a disabled child. But aren't the highs and lows, the intense emotional experiences what makes life worth living? Unfortunately for Maria she will never know how John would have enriched her life.

As I watched the news last night I learned that the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear may come off the endangered species list and listened to the outrage from people afraid that we may lose this species. In todays America, we are aborting most fetuses with Down Syndrome. We are effectively eliminating human beings with Down Syndrome from our population. Where is the outrage?

Quote of the Day

From the lead editorial in today's Wall Street Journal, about Monday's Senate vote regarding our country's involvement in Iraq:
. . . it turns the sound strategy of Iraqification into a suggestion that the U.S. might cut and run if the terrorists can prevent things from moving forward exactly as planned.

That was the barely veiled threat from GOP Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, who drafted the resolution. He said he wanted to send a "strong message to Iraqi people and the Iraqi government that you have got to come to grip with your internal problems. . . . It's a signal to the Iraqis that we mean business."

Thousands of Iraqis have already died in our joint war against terrorism and thousands more risk their lives every day. And now they get accused of not understanding that this is all serious "business" by a Senator eight time zones from the front lines.
The editorial also includes a quote from a North Vietnamese general that his country's aim wasn't to drive American troops out of Vietnam, but "to break the will of the American government to continue the war." Bringing the topic back to Monday's vote, the editorial concludes:
We are told that among the papers discovered along with Saddam two years ago was one saying that the Baathists-turned-terrorists will know they are winning when a candidate for President of the United States calls for withdrawal from Iraq. Saddam and Zarqawi know the real lessons of Vietnam, even if too many Members of Congress do not.
Many members of the Democratic Party, including 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry, understand that lesson all too well. They led the charge against Vietnam, and they're using the same tactics today. The question is: when will the Republicans figure it out?

Gordon Smith joins the insurgency

This week, I am deeply disappointed in Sen. Gordon Smith. He, along with 40 other Republicans, voted to transfer control of the U.S. Senate to the Democratic Party. Thirty-eight Democrats were only too happy to play along, knowing that this was a huge victory for them.

Oh, that’s not really what the vote was about. The 79-19 vote was a “compromise” on the Democrats’ attempts to put a timeline on withdrawal from Iraq. But this was no compromise — it was capitulation to the far-left, anti-war, MoveOn.org, Cindy Sheehan crowd.

Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s some key text:
Calendar year 2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq.
Does that sound so bad? Not in a perfect world. But in essence, the Senate told President Bush that he better whip them Iraqi whippersnappers into shape in the next year so our troops can come home. It's kind of like me telling my 3-year-old that she needs to start using the potty instead of a diaper, and it has to happen by her fourth birthday or I'll just stop changing diapers. Eventually she will grow out of diapers, but not by virtue of any outside pressure or incentives. Withdrawing as the diaper changer, just like withdrawing from Iraq, might eventually have the desired effect, but in the meantime things are going to be even messier. And the long-term effects could be troubling.

Eventually, the Iraqi Army will be able to "[take] the lead for the security" of its country. But pushing, prodding, wishing and hoping by the United States Senate will not make it come more quickly, and telling the president that it has to happen in 2006 is the best news the terrorists have had in months. We might as well send them an engraved invitation to the demise of the Iraq's democracy, dated Dec. 31, 2006.

The "sense of the senate" (which has no sense, apparently) also states that U.S. forces should not stay in Iraq "any longer than required and the people of Iraq should be so advised." (The Democratic version said forces should not stay "indefinitely," and no one, including the Iraqi people, said they should stay "indefinitely" or "longer than required"; staying until the job is done is an entirely different thing.) But really, "required" is a silly term, because Democrats increasingly are already saying forces are not required and should come home today.

It goes on:
the Administration should tell the leaders of all groups and political parties in Iraq that they need to make the compromises necessary to achieve the broad-based and sustainable political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency in Iraq, within the schedule they set for themselves.
Oh, that's rich. Dear members of your fledgling democracy — hurry up and agree.

Then there are the "reports," coming every three months until all troops are home. These are unclassified reports which, again, are like me writing a report to my wife to tell her what I've done to get my child potty-trained. Even more maddening, however, is that my spousal report has to say when I estimate we'll be free of diaper bills, with an explanation of any delays.

The reports are requested to include:
A schedule for meeting such conditions [for withdrawal], an assessment of the extent to which such conditions have been met, information regarding variables that could alter that schedule, and the reasons for any subsequent changes to that schedule.
Democrats included this requirement for the reports, which would have been even more disastrous:
A campaign plan with estimated dates for the phased redeployment of the United States Armed Forces from Iraq as each condition is met, with the understanding that unexpected contingencies may arise.
A schedule for meeting conditions of withdrawal? Dear Mr. Zarqawi, if you could just slow down the bombing for the next year or so, we promise we'll run away and you can have the country all to yourself.

Even more maddening is Majority Leader Bill Frist's comments yesterday about the subject:
The Republicans in this body are 100% behind the President as Commander in Chief. We will not cut and run. The amendments were crafted as a cut and run, and it sends the wrong signal to our troops, to Al Qaeda. The letter we crafted was intended to address the cut and run approach generated by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). The Administration reports to us on a regular basis about the progress of the war and their plans. Our amendment was crafted to thwart the cut and run strategy of the Democrats.
Bull. I'm not surprised that Sen. Ron Wyden would join this vote, but Sen. Smith should know better. This vote is a slap in the face of the Iraqi people, our nation's troops, and the American people who put a Republican majority in congress.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The skinny on drilling in ANWR

There's some good information at Northwest Republican today about drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Of note is the size of the refuge vs. the size of the actual drilling area.

Dare!PDX notes that ANWR is 19 million acres, which he says is about one-third the size of Oregon. More specifically, check out this map of Oregon's counties, and include every county west of the Cascades, plus Hood River and Wasco counties, and you have the equivalent of ANWR.

Now, narrow the focus to the Coastal Plain of ANWR, which is where the drilling would occur. This is 2,300 square miles, or less than 1.5 million acres. This is the equivalent of Clackamas and Multnomah Counties.

Portland International Airport is 458 acres, which Dare!PDX claims is more than the size of the "low footprint oil rig" that would be built. That's three one-hundredths of one percent of the size of the coastal plain! (I've seen other sources that say a drilling operation would use closer to 2,000 acres, but that's still only one-tenth of one percent.)

So why all the fuss about an operation the size of PDX in an area the size of Western Oregon? Oh, that's right, it would "only" produce somewhere between 4 and 12 billion barrels of oil (I've seen bigger numbers, but we'll stick with those for argument's sake). At our current consumption, that's well under a decade of oil use.

So what? If it helps us use less Saudi and Venezuelan oil, and gives us a window to explore other energy sources, why the debate? Because some oil company might make some money? God forbid.

Flushing a generation of education

From today's Oregonian comes a story that the Portland School Board rejected proposals for four new charter schools Monday night.

Two of the charter schools were rejected unanimously (including one developed by families from the recently closed Smith Elementary School), while two others failed because the votes were 3-3 with one member missing. This strikes me as an unconscionable action. The tie-breaking vote was missing, so it fails? Why not take the vote at another meeting? Could the board have known the vote would fail for the lack of a seventh member?

And even more unconscionable was the explanation for the rejections:
. . . board members voting against the proposals expressed two concerns: the impact on the district’s efforts to improve its existing schools if the charters siphon children away from them; and the potentially destabilizing effect on school enrollment if the district opens charters in areas where it just closed schools last year due to declining student populations.
. . .
“There are virtues to choice in our society,” [Board Chairman David] Wynde said. “But I believe we have an obligation” to see the larger impact on the district.
So let me get this straight. The public schools are failing, and parents are looking for other options. The school board refuses to approve them, in essence saying, "We refuse to let you do what's best for your children, because your flight from public schools might make us look bad."

Chairman Wynde, your obligation is not to your ego or your district's PR department. Your obligation is to the kids, and to the adults who pay the education bills for those kids.

Your schools are failing in a multitude of ways, and you cannot blame it solely on budgetary issues. The more you try to squeeze parents out of alternatives to the education-union-approved machinery, the more you'll find them taking their kids to other districts, other schools, other alternatives. The only kids you'll be educating are the ones whose parents can't afford those alternatives, the ones who come from homes where the parents don't give a rat's patootie about education, the ones whose test scores result in year after year of school probation. And then, those kids with parents who do care will be able to pursue other options because it will be clear their school is failing.

You can do what's right for the kids now. Or you can flush a generation of education down the toilet, until finally the kids' environment is so putrid that it allows the families to do what you should have done years ago.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I am an Ent


Friday, November 11, 2005

Quote of the Day

From Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia on the subject of a pliable Constitution, as quoted in a speech by Karl Rove to the Federalist Society yesterday:
Panta rei ["everything is constantly changing"] is not a sufficiently informative principle of constitutional interpretation. What is it that the judge must consult to determine when, and in what direction, evolution has occurred? Is it the will of the majority, discerned from newspapers, radio talk shows, public opinion polls and chats at the country club? Is it the philosophy of Hume, or of John Rawls, or of John Stuart Mill, or of Aristotle?

As soon as the discussion goes beyond the issue of whether the Constitution is static, the evolutionists divide into as many camps as there are individual views of the good, the true and the beautiful. I think that is inevitably so, which means that evolutionism is simply not a practical constitutional philosophy.
I know he can come across as a firebrand at times, but I want more justices like him.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Jason Atkinson meeting that wasn't

I was invited to meet Republican gubernatorial candidate Jason Atkinson at a Newberg coffee house this afternoon. And I did meet him. But it wasn't exactly a memorable experience.

Before I relate the story, go and read this write-up from Gully from his meeting with Atkinson this morning.

When I heard the meeting was to be held in Newberg, I considered not going, but I really wanted to meet the man and talk to him. So, I left my office in Beaverton at 4:30 for the 5:15 appointment. I knew that might be cutting it close, but there's a road from southern Beaverton to Sherwood called Roy Rogers Road; it bypasses Tigard, so it's a great way to avoid the ugliness of Highway 99 at rush hour.

Unfortunately, a heartbreaking fatal accident on Roy Rogers earlier in the day left the road closed, and we were re-routed back to 99 for the long slog through Tigard. My 45-minute trip turned into a 90-minute poke, and I got to the coffee house with just 15 minutes remaining of the allotted time.

By the time I stumbled in the door, I was cranky. If I had any wits about me at all, I should have just turned around and gone home. (Actually, if I had any wits about me at all, I should have turned around at the Roy Rogers detour.) Jason Atkinson, chatting with Cheeser and his wife (and someone else I never learned about), gave me a "I'm not sure who you are or why you're crashing our party" look, so I sputtered out an introduction and had a seat.

Jason had to leave 15 minutes later for another commitment in McMinnville, so I got to say maybe two things to him. Alas, it was just not meant to be, I guess.

So what did I get out my 15 minutes? Just a few tidbits:
  • Jason is very nice, and seems very down to earth — not full of himself. He noted that there are times he chooses to return donations because he wants to make it clear he's not beholden to special interests. He was asked if he'd be willing to list the returns as a way of documenting his integrity, and I liked Jason's answer: the concern he has is that he doesn't want to be perceived as "holier than thou," because that's not who he is.
  • He talked about campaign donations, and estimated he will need nearly $1 million for the primary campaign. But he noted that the average donation to his campaign is $25, so at that rate he will need 40,000 individual contributors. That's why he said he needs help from bloggers to generate the grassroots support and the fundraising. Both will be hugely important in the next six months.
  • Speaking of bloggers, he said his blog-roots support is drawing the attention of people like Grover Norquist and Bob Novak, and mentioned that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is throwing in a helping hand.
  • He also said he is excited about where the campaign is today, and that he has already made significant inroads on the other Republican candidates, which is especially notable considering they've had a three-year head start.
By the way, Mr. and Mrs. Cheeser are extremely nice, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting them. Considering my mood, they probably can't say the same, so sorry to them.

Please don't assume from this whine-session that I hold Jason in any way responsible for any of this — it was just a bad traffic day. I hope to have another opportunity to meet him in the future, and to meet more of the bloggers on the list at right under Jason's picture. I encourage you to become part of the Class of 40K — to write a check for $25 and send it to the Atkinson for Governor campaign. I think there will be some pleasant surprises coming.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Random thoughts on elections & media

On yesterday's elections scattered around the country, I'm disappointed that parental notification did not pass in California, but c'mon, this is California we're talking about! And really, did Republicans really think they had a good shot at changing the parties in the Virginia and New Jersey governor's mansions? Virginia might be a disappointment, but Jersey's about as reliably liberal as California.

As John Podhoretz wrote in this morning's New York Post, the results are way too scattered and status-quo to mean anything:
Incumbent party victories in two states and one city. A Republican state [Ohio] rejected Democratic initiatives. A Democratic state [California] rejected Republican initiatives. Don't let the Democratic spin doctors fool you. Election Day 2005 has nothing to tell us about where the electorate is going in the wake of Bush's terrible year.
(I disagree with Larry Kudlow, but he thinks otherwise:
Last night’s election results were a stinging blow to the Republican party . . . This off-year election raises the question about a Democratic sweep in next year’s mid-term elections.

. . . While Democrats still have to craft a coherent message, and while their glee may yet be premature, the 2005 election message is clear: It’s time to get serious. This is a Republican problem. GOP pundits who try to downplay these election results are just plain wrong.)
Hugh Hewitt writes specifically about the failure of Gov. Schwarzenegger's ballot measures, addressing them as a letter to the governator. He has several suggestions for Arnold, including this one:
Finally, don't blow the California Supreme Court appointment or the rest of your judicial appointments. I sighed when I saw the latest round of your court picks in southern California. Look. If you are going to appoint Democrats to the bench -- even one -- don't ask me to get excited about your re-election. I know you can't do much with a legislature that makes the Swedish parliament look conservative, but you own your judicial picks. Ask around. There are great Republican lawyers who would make great Republican judges.

On the California Supreme Court vacancy, understand that this is the biggest decision you will make between now and next November. If you blow it, it will be a sure fire message to the base that the candle isn't worth the fight. If Lockyer is against a nominee, that's a great sign of that nominee's qualifications.
I find it interesting that Hugh makes a point of warning Arnold against a bad Supreme Court pick by saying "it will be a sure fire message to the base that the candle isn't worth the fight." Yet, when we were in the midst of the Harriet Miers debacle, Hugh was taking conservatives to task when we expressed our dislike of the pick and threatened to pull our support of the president and other Republicans.

On the issue of patriotism in the media, NRO's Jonah Goldberg writes about a journalism seminar featuring (among others) Mike Wallace and the late Peter Jennings:
. . . the moderator imagined a hypothetical in which [Jennings] was imbedded with enemy troops in a Vietnam-like war. He then asked whether, if given the opportunity, he’d warn American troops they were about to be ambushed or whether he’d hang back and simply “roll tape” on the slaughter.

Jennings agonized. “I think,” he said after a long pause, “that I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans.”

Mike Wallace was appalled. “I am astonished” that you would interfere, he said to Jennings. “You’re a reporter!” When asked if American reporters have a higher duty to their country or fellow Americans, Wallace replied, “No, you don’t have a higher duty. No. No. You’re a reporter.”

This browbeating was enough to get Jennings to change his mind.
My takes: 1) It's interesting that Jennings, who held dual citizenship in Canada and the U.S., was described as agonizing over the answer, while the American Wallace had no such qualms about saving American lives. 2) If reporters insist that their job precludes them from the common decency of saving lives of the soldiers who are simultaneously trying to fight a war and keep those reporters safe, I vote for the end of imbedded troops. If I can't trust you to watch my back when the bad guys are salivating at the thought of cutting off my head, I don't want you anywhere near me or the war I'm fighting. The government is not forthcoming with information? Tough patooties. Your attitude toward your country — a country that affords you such incredible freedoms in your job and your life — earns you no favors.

In a related issue, Bill Roggio was one of four bloggers who presented a different perspective on war at the U.S. Capitol this morning. In today's NRO, he writes about the purpose (highlighting mine):
We will be offering an alternative view of the war. The point is to bring the character and context of the underreported story to the forefront, to highlight the men and women in service to our nation's defense, and to broaden awareness of the larger, more vital, reality in this war: U.S. and Coalition forces are defeating the insurgency.

The non-lethal weapons of our enemy, no matter their political or religious affiliation, include our own apathy and acceptance of the media's presentation of the war. In their efforts to be objective citizens of the world, the media's oftentimes morally neutral reporting on the terrorist insurgency — in all its horror — paints an incomplete picture of what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It isn't my place to predict tipping points in the political arena or the social impact of blog going mainstream, nor would I offer advice to the mainstream media. Yet I do see in the words of the families left behind, and the soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine on distant shores that the media must be more aware of its perhaps unintended consequences in striving for ultimate objectivity. Reporting is more than stating a run of details, numbers, and facts. To convey as accurate a portrait of our efforts in Iraq as possible, the media must be willing to develop context, present the situation rather than the result of an action, and be clear that the scattered success of a car bomb or IED is far from the steady progress of coalition forces throughout Iraq, or political progress by the Iraqi people.
Until the media is willing to look beyond its nose and understand the objections of the non-MoveOn.org crowd, it will continue to bleed advertisers, subscribers and viewers in favor of new media like, well, Bill Roggio. (The other bloggers are Michael Yon, Steve Schippert and Andi Carol.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Before lunch or after?

Set to be completed early next year, this bridge will stick out 70 feet from the base, and will be suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. It's been tested to hold more than 35,000 tons, withstand 100 mph winds from eight different directions, and handle a magnitude 8 earthquake within 50 miles of its location.

Oh, I guess I didn't mention one other key point: the bottom and sides are made of 4-inch-thick glass. Would you walk on it?

Here are a few links on the bridge.

One Christian's view of immigration

Tony Woodlief is one of those people who writes like I wish I could, with phrases that evoke just the exact emotion he intends without being syrupy and annoying; as such, he's one of my favorite online writers and I was thrilled when he returned recently from a two-plus-month hiatus brought on by his move to the nation's heartland.

Over the weekend, Woodlief penned (keyboarded?) a very provocative piece on immigration from a Christian perspective, basically arguing that Christian arguments against immigration take a believer's focus away from the critical (The Great Commission) to the insignificant.

After hearing a news report on immigration on his local Christian radio station, he was clearly annoyed at the suggestion that the Christian perspective should be against "people who sneak into the country." He writes (italics in original):
Good Christians, apparently, are glad that someone is stopping these grubby people from coming to our shores; it's a news item Christians care about. It's more likely the case that many wealthy white financial supporters of [American Family Radio] are pleased with such a news item, and well, we've got to pay the bills to keep bringing you the modern music version of Air Supply meets Muzak.

Now, there are economic and policy arguments worth considering on both sides of the immigration issue. But here's the dangerous pressing matter, the thing that if you plan to sit your behind in a church pew today or tomorrow you really just cannot avoid: economics and politics don't matter to God.

Christians have a fundamental calling, and that is to find our lost brothers and sisters. We will not conquer this world for Jesus, and frankly, he doesn't need our help. We will not stop gay marriage and institute a God-approved (the Republican version, of course) tax rate. We will not keep people from philandering, gambling, masturbating, and wearing clothes that fit too tight, and if you think Christ wants you to fix these problems, then you are dreadfully, soul-shakingly mistaken.

"Tend my lambs." Not "stop people from being naughty." No "get the government off the back of the small businessman." Not a hint of "protect gun rights and the death penalty."

And certainly not "keep out the immigrants."
He adds:
. . . here we have this wonderful blessing of living in a country so prosperous that millions of people, many of them with no understanding of Christ, desperately want to come to us, and what is the response of the largest Christian radio network in America? Keep 'em out.
It's clear to me that Woodlief prefers to look at immigration as an opportunity to share the love of Christ. And as someone who is still finding his preferred perspective on the immigration issue, I found this idea to be worth consideration. As a Christian, I should first seek to be "a light for the Gentiles, that [I] may bring [God's] salvation to the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 49:6).

No one is more guilty than me of sometimes focusing too heavily on the politics of the day, to the detriment of God's will for my day. And when it comes to immigration, I want to find a happy medium between letting immigrants run roughshod over the country's laws, and letting the anti-immigration folks treat these immigrants as second-rate garbage. The goal should be to treat immigrants as human beings created in God's image, while holding them to the laws of man with equal accountability.

But I also believe that as Christians, we're too quick to listen to the far-left screams — led by the ACLU and People for the American Way — that believers have no right to use their faith to influence their politics.

And I suspect Tony Woodlief would agree, based on what I see on his website. He links (under the heading of "It's good to be open-minded. It's better to be right") to National Review and the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com, both of which deal almost exclusively with the country's leading political issues from a conservative perspective.

He advocates donations to:
  • The Libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice, which describes its mission as litigating "to secure economic liberty, school choice, private property rights, freedom of speech and other vital individual liberties and to restore constitutional limits on the power of government."
  • The Home School Legal Defense Association, which labels itself "a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms."
Our foremost priority should be the souls of our fellow men, but if we ignore the efforts to delegitimize faith & family, if we pretend we don't see the efforts to take away man's right to self-determination (which is a primary focus of the two organizations listed above), we won't even have the right to go after souls, much less unjust laws. If Woodlief disagreed, I think his links would not reflect a mix of the spiritual and the political.

(If you think I'm exaggerating about losing the right to address injustice, read this story from yesterday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune about the disappearance of free speech rights in Canada when they conflict with the "progressive" homosexual agenda.)

I think it's too simplistic to suggest that "economics and politics don't matter to God." When economic or political issues stake out a position that is clearly against God's law, I think it matters very much to God. When Christians ignore those issues by saying God doesn't want us to "fix those problems," they are technically correct; God doesn't want us to "fix" those problems, as only He can fix them. God doesn't need our prayers to do anything, but he asks us to participate as a way of recognizing our reliance on Him. In this way, we can learn "to act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God" (Micah 6:8). The hard part is balancing justice, mercy and humility in a way that God desires.

Immigration may not be listed in the Bible, but that does not mean we should ignore it. The issue touches on such facets as law enforcement, public finances and homeland security, and those are issues important to Christians and non-Christians alike. To think otherwise, and to fault believers for such concern, is to be sadly misguided about a Christian's place in the United States of America, 2005.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Quote of the Day (before)

In Saturday's Opinion Journal was a column discussing the country's abortion landscape if Roe v. Wade was overturned. It was interesting, but what really caught my attention was this post-Roe comparison between America and the "progressive" European countries:
One of Roe's many paradoxes is that it instantly gave the U.S. one of the most permissive abortion laws in the Western world. Many European countries require counseling and/or waiting periods and most--including Germany, France and Sweden--forbid it after the first trimester or early into the second. Britain and Japan allow it only when the physical or mental health of the woman is at stake, and in Japan the husband's permission is required. By contrast, U.S. law falls into the same no-questions-asked category as China and the former countries of the Soviet Union.
Tell me again how we're so progressive, if the only countries we can emulate are the communists, which feature such enlightened policies as forced abortions and sterilizations?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Jokes of the Day

From my uncle, the family jokester, comes these statements that supposedly were made in actual court proceedings (but not by him, that I know of):

Judge: I know you, don't I?
Defendant: Uh, yes.
Judge: All right, tell me, how do I know you?
Defendant: Judge, do I have to tell you?
Judge: Of course, you might be obstructing justice not to tell me.
Defendant: Okay. I was your bookie.

From a defendant representing himself . . .
Defendant: Did you get a good look at me when I allegedly stole your purse?
Victim: Yes, I saw you clearly. You are the one who stole my purse.
Defendant: I should have shot you while I had the chance.

Judge: The charge here is theft of frozen chickens. Are you the defendant?
Defendant: No, sir, I'm the guy who stole the chickens.

Lawyer: How do you feel about defense attorneys?
Juror: I think they should all be drowned at birth.
Lawyer: Well, then, you are obviously biased for the prosecution.
Juror: That's not true. I think prosecutors should be drowned at birth, too.

Lawyer questioning his client on the witness stand:
Plaintiff's Lawyer: What doctor treated you for the injuries you sustained while at work?
Plaintiff: Dr. J.
Plaintiff's Lawyer: And what kind of physician is Dr. J?
Plaintiff: Well, I'm not sure, but I remember that you said he was a good plaintiff's doctor.

Judge: Is there any reason you could not serve as a juror in this case?
Juror: I don't want to be away from my job that long.
Judge: Can't they do without you at work?
Juror: Yes, but I don't want them to know it.

Lawyer: Tell us about the fight.
Witness: I didn't see no fight.
Lawyer: Well, tell us what you did see.
Witness: I went to a dance at the Turner house, and as the men swung around and changed partners, they would slap each other, and one fellow hit harder than the other one liked, and so the other one hit back and somebody pulled a knife and a rifle that had been hidden under a bed, and the air was filled with yelling and smoke and bullets.
Lawyer: You, too, were shot in the fracas?
Witness: No sir, I was shot midway between the fracas and the navel.

Defendant: Judge, I want you to appoint me another lawyer.
Judge: And why is that?
Defendant: Because the Public Defender isn't interested in my case.
Judge (to Public Defender): Do you have a comment on the defendant's motion?
Public Defender: I'm sorry, Your Honor. I wasn't listening.

Judge: Please identify yourself for the record.
Defendant: Colonel Ebenezer Jackson.
Judge: What does the 'Colonel' stand for?
Defendant: Well, it's kinda like the 'Honorable' in front of your name — not a damn thing.

Quote of the Day

Robert Bork, writing in today's National Review Online, has made no bones about his disagreement with Roe v. Wade and would consider it a fitting judicial decision to overturn the abortion case. Despite Samuel Alito's pronouncements on the limited role of judges, Bork acknowledges that we won't find Alito's perspective on Roe in existing information, and "if he is the superb lawyer he is reputed to be, we will not learn that at his hearings either."

However, to those who fret over the unknowns of Alito's perspective on Roe, he writes:
Still, we do not know how the new chief justice and Justice-to-be Alito will rule on Roe and other liberal constitutional travesties of the past. Why, then, should conservatives support them? Because we can at least be sure that they will not start inventing yet new and previously unheard of constitutional rights. That would in itself be a vast improvement over the imperialistic Court majority’s drive to remake American culture and morality. That it will take at least one more justice of the Roberts-Scalia-Thomas-Alito stripe to return the Court to jurisprudential respectability is no reason not to support Judge Alito to the full. Let us rejoice in what we have gained.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Quote of the Day

From Harry Reid, Senate minority leader, as quoted by Fox News:
We know that there were no [weapons of mass destruction] now in Iraq. We didn't know it at the time. We know now that we didn't know at the time that there was no Al Qaeda connection. We know now that we didn't know then that there was no 9/11 connection. We know now that they had no plan for winning the peace. We didn't know that at the time.
Huh? Harry Reid is saying we thought there were WMDs and we thought there was an Al Queda connection to Iraq before the war. Now, however, we apparently know these things weren't true, and based on that, he's calling the Bush administration a bunch of liars? How can you lie about something of which you supposedly weren't aware? If he's claiming the administration withheld that information from the Senate, then lay it on the table; however, when he says, "If the administration had all the information that they have now back then, they wouldn't even have brought it to the Congress for a vote," it doesn't seem he holds that position.

Never mind the fact that Democrats from Bill Clinton on down were claiming such things, so by Reid's definition the entire Democratic Party was pathological in its deception.

(Newsflash to Harry: there were WMDs — just ask the Kurds — and there were multiple connections. Quit pandering to MoveOn.org and get a spine.)


Jason Atkinson for Governor

Next Monday will begin the one-year countdown to the 2006 elections, and the May primary is just over six months away. Today, I'm joining the Jason Atkinson for Governor Blogging Network, because I believe Jason is the best candidate for governor to turn our state in the right direction.

I must admit it's a little odd to be supporting a man who will turn just 36 the day before the November election, but that's also part of Jason's appeal. He's young, full of energy and ideas, not part of the "establishment." As he said in a recent interview with the University of Oregon's Daily Emerald:
Do you want to believe that I can turn it around, or do you want to do it the way it’s always been done? Cause there’s a bunch of candidates out there that are saying ‘Vote for me, I’ve got lots of gray hair, and I’ll give you the same government you’ve got.’ Our campaign is entirely different from the others, certainly based on age and youth and passion.
In between the job, the family and my other responsibilities, I'm slowly learning about Jason, and I like much of what I'm learning, especially on taxes, jobs and social issues; I appreciate that he seems more moderate on issues such as the environment and education, yet he doesn't seem willing to kiss the patooties of the left-wing environmental and education establishments. It speaks volumes to me that State Sen. Charlie Ringo, a Beaverton Democrat, contributed to Atkinson's campaign because of the latter's environmental positions.

Some of my support, however, is based on this simple fact: no other declared candidate for governor inspires confidence.
  • Kevin Mannix? Yes, he came relatively close in 2002, but that was his third statewide election loss, and it was against Ted "I'm bored" Kulongoski. Also, the issue of Mannix paying off his campaign debt through his state GOP chairmanship will not go away.
  • Ron Saxton? Between his efforts on the Portland School Board (can you say Ben Canada?); his legal efforts at Ater Wynne (Texas Pacific's attempted PGE purchase); his questionable political contributions to people like, oh, Kulongoski, Earl Blumenauer and Ron Wyden; and his variety of "moderate" (read liberal) positions, he will be challenged just to get out of the primary.
I appreciate that Atkinson seems to share my faith, but he doesn't wear it on his sleeve, he lives it. Read his biography and you see a man who serves, not just one who speaks. He's on the boards of the Crater Lake National Park Trust, which provides on-going private philanthropy in support of this magnificent state resource; the Sparrow Clubs, which assists children in medical crisis; and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which emphasizes integrity, service, teamwork and excellence in athletics through a Christian framework. (Can you think of any athletic organizations that could use a little more of those things?)

For another great example, read this blurb from the Daily Emerald story mentioned above:
[Atkinson] said he’s in politics to help people like University student Aaron Mathews, people who have brought him individual senate bills asking for help.

Mathews said he suffers from a rare condition that robs him of his central vision. All he needs is an eye-glass adjustment, like Olympian Marla Runyan, who suffers from the same condition, and many states would allow him to drive. But not Oregon.

For a Grants Pass High School senior class project, Mathews wrote a bill that would allow him to drive. He asked Atkinson to come speak to his class about how a bill becomes a law. On the way out of the classroom, Atkinson remembers saying to Mathews, “Now you’ve got an A for bringing the Senator to your class, but if you really want to change the world, come see me next year and we’ll write this bill.”

Mathews, who excelled in high school sports despite his disability, said he worked with Atkinson, and a bill allowing him to drive passed in the House, but failed in the Senate.

“He got up at 5 a.m. and talked to everyone that voted against it and explained it to them,” Mathews said. The bill passed in a re-vote.

“He made a huge difference in my life,” Mathews said. “He’s truly what a public servant should be.”

Atkinson said his philosophy is based on faith, family and friends. Both of his parents were involved in ministry, and he’s been a part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes since he was a child. He also serves on the board of International United Christian Broadcasters.

“For my own person, it’s a center-core issue,” he said. “It’s who I am.”
Did you catch that? Jason Atkinson helped a high school kid write a bill that made a huge impact on his life, then got up at o'dark-thirty and lobbied those in opposition so they understood the significance of the bill. And it passed.

For another great rundown on Atkinson, read this post at Resistance is Futile. Gully gives a good rundown, and leaves me wanting more. (I was invited to that meeting, but darn it, I couldn't come; I hope we get another shot later.)

There's lots more to cover in the next six months, but count me among the supporters of Jason Atkinson as Oregon's next governor.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Quote of the Day

From today's Best of the Web on OpinionJournal.com, regarding an editorial in the New York Times on the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court (emphasis mine):
The Times actually calls the Alito pick "yet another occasion to bemoan lost opportunities," and opines: "Mr. Bush could have signaled that he was prepared to move on to a more expansive presidency by nominating a qualified moderate who could have garnered a nearly unanimous Senate vote rather than another party-line standoff." In other words, Bush should have betrayed those who voted for him by appointing a justice who would have pleased those who voted against him.
And the more I read about Sandra Day O'Connor, the more I'm convinced she wasn't a "moderate," she was an undisciplined floater whose view of the law depended on her whims.

Let the Democratic smear machine begin

Maybe the Democrats and the United Nations are in cahoots. It seems neither has a clue about the intricacies of Microsoft Word documents. RedState talked last night about a Word document obtained by TownHall.com, which shows the DNC plans to go after any of the President's Supreme Court nominees by showing "how they made their $$, personal holdings, the whole deal."

The funny part is that the electronic fingerprints tell you exactly who wrote it — three staffers with the Democratic National Committee.

The document also highlights Samuel Alito's failure as a federal prosecutor to win a mob conviction. As Chris Matthews said on MSNBC yesterday:
They nail him on not putting italian mobsters in jail. Why would they bring this up? This is either a very bad coincidence or very bad politics. Either way it will hurt them. This document, not abortion rights, not civil rights but that he failed to nail some mobsters in 1988. This is the top of their list. Amazingly bad politics.
Is this the DNC's attempt to smear Alito by insinuating that he, an Italian American, has some sort of ties to the mafia? I'm frankly not sure, but if that's the suggestion, I agree with Matthews: amazingly bad politics.


Another week of deadlines, but I want to say quickly that I'm initially pleased with what I see about Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court.

I'm still learning more about him, but the main source of my pleasure lies in this: there's no question about his qualifications, his intellect or his character — questions that came up so frequently with the Harriet Miers nomination (well, not her character) that there was no hope of debating the bigger picture of the role of a Supreme Court justice. With Alito, we can move past those issues immediately, and get on to discussing his opinions, his "judicial temperament" and his perspective on a Living Constitution.

The side benefit is a front-row seat to watch the meltdowns by Sens. Kennedy, Schumer & Reid.