Ayotte v Planned Parenthood

Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in the highly-anticipated abortion case Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood. This is the first abortion case of any significance to be heard in five years. (Which begs a pretty serious question for those who see abortion as the only issue to care about in judicial appointments.)

If the President had appointed a serious, proven conservative like Sam Alito back in October, he would be on the court today (well, see the next point for a caveat) rather than the anything but pro-life Sandra Day O'Connor. This failure on his part may well come back to haunt the pro-life position Bush claims to share.

If the Republican majority in the Senate would act like a majority, Alito would at least have already begun his hearings, if not have been confirmed, rather than having them still be some six weeks away. The truth is that I have no confidence in these 55 men and women to somehow confirm this outstandingly qualified man to the Court.

Those of us who are conservatives have much to regret...and I'm afraid so will millions more unborn children who could have been protected...if only.

The Factor O'Reilly Overlooks

This morning on the Today Show, Bill O'Reilly launched an assualt on President Bush and the war effort in Iraq. After announcing his intention not to listen to the President's speech on the war, he went into a diatribe regarding troop training. (Loose transcript from memory) "We put our guys through basic training for six weeks, give them a little more specialized training, and they're ready to be sent to Iraq. How come we have to train Iraqis for two years and spend billions of dollars?"

That sounds impressive, as long as you accept his spin. But the reality is that the American military has two assets that cannot be replicated in six weeks--or even two years. We have a competent, professional, well-educated, dedicated officer corps. These men are leaders par excellence. Anyone in Iraq under Saddam who showed the kind of initiative and creativity that our officers do every day would have been drug off and shot as a threat to the regime. Further, we've got the sergeants. Our NCOs are the backbone of the force--the ones who pass on knowledge and wisdom to the new recruits, keeping them alive until they learn enough to do the job on their own. (Can you tell my dad was an Army sergeant?)

That is what we need to duplicate for the Iraqi Army to succeed. And that is what we're doing. We're teaching and developing a generation of leaders (and trying to cram that process into a very short time frame by historical standards) who will be able to develop and train their own troops in the future. The only hope for Iraq (and for victory in the war on terror) is for us to succeed in this effort. For bloviators like O'Reilly to carp and cavil at the time and cost involved puts all of us at risk.



On Hannity and Colmes tonight, Congressman Steve King of Iowa said that 58% of the Mexican population believes they have a RIGHT to come to the United States. He didn't cite the source for the statistic, but that is truly remarkable. Based on the current population of Mexico, that represents about 60,000,000 people who believe they should be allowed to migrate north!

I am firmly in favor of legal immigration. The "tired and poor, [the] huddled masses" are the foundation of our country. We need to keep the doors open. I have a Mexican brother-in-law, who is a great guy. But he didn't swim the river to get here. He went through the red tape, the hassle of incompetent bureaucracy, and reams of paperwork--and that was before he married my sister! There needs to be a way for people to get here by the rules, and I believe we should stringently enforce the rules against all those who take advantage of our generosity and benefits.

Today the President bragged on reducing the time to deport non-Mexican illegals to 32 days. That's 31 days too long! If we do not get serious about our border, we are putting our kids and our future at risk. Knowing there may be 60 million people planning to exercise their "right" to move in any day should heighten our attention and get busy fixing the problem.

Home Is the Place

I don't know if this is a correction or a corollary, but...

In "The Death of the Hired Hand", Robert Frost wrote: “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.”

I think it's more like the place where, when you get to go there (at least when you come home from college), they let you eat pumpkin pie for breakfast!


From This Morning's Church Service

(Posted without comment)

The number one cause of stress is reality!


A Thanksgiving Meditation

Several times over the past few days, I heard Thanksgiving described as a uniquely American holiday. That is in keeping with our self-centered view of the world, but it's not very accurate. God's people have always been encouraged (and commanded) to be thankful...and it would be a shame to limit that to one day a year. Still, this has been a wonderful holiday for our family. And I am thankful.

1) I have a wife who puts up with the vagaries of a writer's schedule (and cash flow!), the demands of crazy deadlines, the days when I claim to be working while sitting and staring out the window (or reading blogs on the Internet), the rough drafts she gets stuck reading (and invariably makes better), and still loves me anyway.

2) Our daughter came home from college for the weekend and filled the house with laughter and music just like she never left. As we crammed all of our traditional activities into three days, her presence was a grace. And she has her mom's way of interacting with everyone she meets in such a way as to make them feel the world is lovely (not to mention the smile).

3) Our son has grown into a (very, very tall) fine young man. It's hard to remember the crisis of his birth and the emergency C-section without immense gratitude and a sense that God has a special plan for his life...and it's hard to believe he was ever little! From some source that I can't quite figure out, he also has a rather twisted and snarky sense of humor.

As some of you know, we are facing several major crossroads and life is more uncertain than usual right now. Yet amid all of that, the goodness of God to us is unmistakable. We have been so richly blessed, and I am thankful. And as Dickens said of Ebenezer Scrooge regarding Christmas, I hope to keep Thanksgiving all year long.


One Man Can Make a Difference

Arizona Congressman J. D. Hayworth refused to take it anymore. Tired of the dissembling and defeatism of the Democrats, he bullied his colleagues in the Republican caucus into forcing them to put or shut up on Iraq. From the howls of outrage that arose from the left side of the aisle, it was clear that they knew how dangerous this resolution was to their political aspirations.

Let me be clear. There is much to criticize about the way the administration has prosecuted the war. There have been false starts and failures along the way. But this claim that we are "losing the war" is both wrong and dangerous. By making such statements, Democrats are failing in the responsibility members of both parties have to put the country's interests first, especially in time of war.

There is something fundamentally un-serious about suggesting an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. And despite all the protests to the contrary, that does seem to be the only proposal being put forward by the Democrats. They have no alternative real plan to offer. So congratulations to J. D. Hayworth for forcing them to go on the record. Today he made a difference.


Dissent Is Patriotic; Dissembling Is Not

The Democrats are in an uproar over the (very belated) efforts of the Bush Administration to answer the false and scurrilous charges lobbed by the media and leading Democrats against the war--specifically regarding what we knew before we went to war. The President has (finally) clearly laid out the facts that the Democrats were singing off the same page in the hymnal--all the way back to the Clinton Administration--regarding the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Now that the war has proven more difficult than expected (which is a legitimate criticism of Bush, Rumsfeld, et al) the Dems want to take it all back and pretend like it never happened.

They are especially outraged (shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment, etc.) that Bush is "trying to shut off criticism of the war." Of course that's specifically what the President is not doing. He exempted honest critics, instead attacking those who are attempting to rewrite history, pretending they didn't know and say and write what they knew and said and wrote. Most of the Democrats in the Senate voted to authorize the Iraq War. And they explained, in no uncertain terms why Hussein was a threat.

It is not unpatriotic to oppose a war...stupid perhaps, but not unpatriotic. I respect Lincoln Chafee's consistency, though not his intellect. He was against the war before, and he's against it now. But Kerry, Edwards, Reid, Rockefeller and host of other Senators who denounced Hussein then are now claiming they were "mislead" and "manipulated." How despicable. Weathervanes make poor leaders. In hopes of short term political gain, these men (and women) are willing to risk the long term safety and security of our country. They are lying through their teeth, and refusing to accept responsibility for what they did. That is anything but patriotic. They should be ashamed...but of course they are not. Therefore it is up to those of us who love our country and are paying attention to see to it that they are punished at the ballot box.

If we allow the dissembling Democrats to win with this abominable tactic, we have placed our lives and our country in grave danger. The threat from our enemies is real, and sticking our heads in the sand and pretending it's all made up in an effort to manipulate us into "war for oil" only gives them more time to plan and execute attacks against us. When a once great political party is taken over by lying, unprincipled hacks, they deserve to be utterly rejected by the populace.


We Got "That" Phone Call Today

It's the phone call every parent (from Arizona) knows, at least subconsciously, they're going to receive when a daughter goes away to college (in the Midwest). You're not sure exactly when it's going to come, but it's a virtual certainty. No matter how well you've tried to teach your kids, no matter how much you try to protect them, this day will still come.

And today, the phone rang...and our daughter indeed was on the other end to deliver the news.



Bush Brought This On Himself

Today the President received what is widely (though not universally) perceived as a rebuke from the Republicans in the Senate in the form of an amendment to the military funding bill requiring reports on the status of events in Iraq. Frankly, Mr. Bush brought this on himself by his failure to express repeatedly and with emphasis the reasons for our presence and the results of our progress.

By saying that I do not in any way mean to say that I do not understand those reasons or that I am ignorant of those results. But the reality is that most of the country has not heard an answer to the drumbeat of criticism from the Democrats in the Congress and the media. And the President has let this happen, relaxing supinely in the face of these attacks rather than responding with vigor. (To be fair, he has given two speeches in the last three days, but that hardly matches the months of constant criticism.)

Further, he has failed to prosecute the war with the full force and fervor that wartime demands. This half-hearted approach to terrorist thugs and killers has resulted in the death and wounding of many of our brave soldiers. (Lt. Col. Kurilla, made famous by Michael Yon in Gates of Fire was shot by a man who had been captured and released--and he is far from alone.) For those reasons, I say that he has brought this action on himself.

In the minority who are not outraged is the very conservative and level-headed Captain Ed, who described the vote as "smart tactics." Representing the majority, Hugh Hewitt is blasting away at the leaders of the party in the Senate. (It's more than a little ironic for the leader of those who put party above principle when it came to Harriet Miers to be going the other direction now, but that's the topic for another post.)

If indeed today's action represents a rebuke of the President, it is one he deserves. I voted for him twice, and I want to support him. But his refusal to go to war with the fervor of Sherman has disappointed me. His refusal to take border security seriously is terrifying. And his refusal to stand up for the truth in the face of near-constant lying slanders is hurting him badly. Hopefully he will take the necessary action to correct these problems, and the vote will be a wake up call. If it is not--if he continues blithely along--he'll have to worry about a Democratic majority rather than a Republican one after 2006.

Our Courageous Foes

My friend Jeff at Peace Like a River came across this report from the battlefields of Iraq:

"Intelligence reports indicate that the strong resistance to the Iraqi and coalition push into the city is due in large part to the fact that insurgents believe they are trapped and have nowhere else to go," the military said. "Several detainees were captured trying to sneak out of the area by crawling among a flock of sheep." (emphasis added)

So many jokes, so little time!


Catch Twenty (Aught) Six

The Democrats are in the process of putting themselves into a nearly impossible position for next year's elections. Like Heller's famous "Catch Twenty-Two" (in which a soldier could get out of combat by claiming he was crazy; yet expressing a desire to get out of combat was considered prima facie evidence of sanity) they are placing themselves into a box with both ends closed electorally for Twenty Aught-Six. Their near-obsessive focus on pre-war intelligence and their near obsessive hatred of George Bush (BDS, or Bush Derangement Syndrome as it's known) have joined with the insistence of the moonbat wing of the party to lead them to this self-destructive positioning.

In the first place, focusing on what happened three years ago gives zero answers about what to do now. And so far the Democrats have no plan for what happens next...at least none that they're willing to admit to in public. On NBC's Meet the Conflict-of-Interest-Challenged Libby Trial Witness this morning, DNC Chairman Howard Dean said they'd lay out specifics next year...and does anybody want to buy a really nice bridge? It's real cheap!

Second, this focus on the past ignores the reality that things are going to be very different in Iraq by election day 2006 than they are now. Next month's Iraqi elections will finally give Iraq a permanent government, and whatever that government looks like, the current incentive for all Iraqi parties to sit back and let the Americans do the work is going to diminish. I suspect the message is already being delivered to the leaders of all parties that the free ride is just about over. If a significant number of troops have come home and the drumbeat of negative news stories declines, the Democrat's focus loses a lot of its electoral punch.

Third, the argument that the "administration mislead us into voting for the war" is an incredibly weak position to take. The statements of prominent Democrats, dating all the way back to the Clinton Administration, seriously undercut the effort to place all the blame on Bush's shoulders. It's hard to see how Bush was manipulating intelligence in 1998 when he was governor of Texas and the Democrats were in charge of the White House and the CIA (well, they're apparently still in charge of the CIA, but you take my point). We're too dumb to see through George Bush, who we've been deriding as stupid for years is hardly a winning campaign slogan.

Finally, taking the position that Saddam Hussein wasn't a serious threat, and therefore wasn't really all that bad may not be that great an idea either. His trial is slated to resume next month (assuming all the lawyers haven't been killed off first), and the details that come of out that trial on a daily basis will be undercutting the Democrat's main talking points. And while the mainstream media will probably downplay them, the development of the Internet as a news source ensures that those details will be placed into the public consciousness.

However, the race isn't run in a vacuum. And if the Republicans in Congress and in the White House continue their stupid, spineless, spendthrift, short-sighted and self-destructive ways...well, somebody has to win, and it doesn't have to be them.


The Tide Rolls Out

The perfect season ended this afternoon in a tense, defensive struggle as LSU beat the Tide in overtime. I'm not shocked that we lost the game, given the way the offense has been playing, but the way we lost was pretty discouraging. Just a few observations:

1) We have the best defense in the country hands down. Without a really squirrely pass interference call, LSU probably never scores a touchdown.

2) We really do miss Tyrone Prothro that much. There's just no other conclusion at this point.

3) All the games Brodie missed in high school and college due to the injuries mean he's really about a sophomore in terms of experience, and it shows in crunch time. That said, having 6 or 7 dropped passes doesn't exactly help either.

4) How in the name of all that is right and holy did Tennessee beat LSU in Baton Rouge?

5) The chances of us beating Auburn next week are less than 1 in 10.

6) The coaching staff curled up and died in the second half. The defensive calls were too conservative, and the offense...well, the things that worked in the first half were never used in the second.

And yet with all of that, we still almost won the game.

Human nature being what it is, it's hard not to be disappointed, even though we're now 9-1. Of course if you'd told any of us at the beginning of the year that going in to play Auburn that's where we'd be, we'd have grabbed it in a heartbeat. It's been a good year, but it's the specter of "what might have been" that grips the heart.


Hurricane Katrina Update

I've posted before about the tragedy that the Lakeshore Baptist Church suffered from Hurricane Katrina. Every member of the church except one lost their homes. The church building was completely wiped out. The pastor Don Elbourne posts (incredibly moving) photos from time to time here.

Today I want to make you aware of an effort that's underway to bring Christmas to this devastated church family and their community. Rebuild Lakeshore is the clearinghouse for the coordination of supplies, food, toys, decorations, and the other things that will make Christmas special for some hurting people. As you think about what you're going to do for Christmas for your own family, church and community, why not include these good people on your list?

I can guarantee you that no present you open Christmas morning will even come close to giving you the feeling you'll get from knowing some family in Mississippi that lost everything will at least still have Christmas. Please do whatever you can today.

Pat Robertson -- Again

Pat Robertson is shooting off his mouth again (still). This time he's upset that Dover, Pennsylvania voted to oust school board members who wanted to teach intelligent design in the public schools. He said they "voted God out of your city" and "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."

I believe God created the Earth in seven days. I do not question His intelligence, or His design ability. But teaching intelligent design in the public schools is largely an attempt to sneak in God under cover of darkness. I view it as a poor substitute for arguing the many flaws in the theory of evolution. Why not just stand up and say what we believe rather than trying to sneak it past the censors?

And for what it's worth, Pat Robertson is the best argument I know against the theory of intelligent design!

A Salute to Our Veterans

To my father, and the millions of other men and women who have answered the call, fought, bled, and in some cases died, for the freedom we enjoy but too often take for granted, let me say a big Thank You on this Veteran's Day. We owe each of you a debt that can never be adequately repaid. Thank you for walking in front when there was trouble in the wind. God bless our living heroes, and the families of the fallen on this special day--and all year long. Jeff has a beautiful mediation for Veteran's Day drawn from his visit to Normandy that is well worth reading too.

And to the craven opportunists in the media who see the death of our men and women in the war on terror as an opportunity to rouse opposition to that war, or to claim that our enemies are "winning"...well, Kipling said it far better than I could.


Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

Rudyard Kipling


What's the Point of a Republican Majority?

Via Polipundit come this news story from Capitol Hill today headlined: House Delays Spending Cut Debate. Coming on the heels of the news that they've dropped ANWR drilling (and really, why do we need more oil here when we can always buy it from our good friends in the Middle East?), the Senate's refusal to extend the tax cuts, and the cave-in on the timing of the Alito hearings...all of which followed President Bush's inexcusable nomination of Harriet Miers.

What's the point? Oh I know all the arguments...the Democrats would be worse, they'll get better next year, blah, blah blah. I'm really sick and tired of the whole mess. The Reagan Revolution and the Contract with America are rapidly becoming nothing more than faint shadows of a memory. Unless something changes, 2006 is going to be the worst year for Republicans in memory--and frankly, they deserve it.

If you want to read an inspired and impassioned rant on this topic, go check out The Anchoress. And if you want another conservative critique, read this biting piece by Professor Bainbridge. The drums are starting to beat...and if the Republican leadership doesn't listen, they'd better start planning to move to smaller offices real soon.

Is Scooter Libby Going to Walk?

Credit Check Chuck has been in the news lately for his (totally hypocritical) call on President Bush not to pardon Scooter Libby. Frankly, given what we're seeing come out, the odds are pretty good that there isn't going to be any need for a pardon. It's hard to see how Libby's going to be convicted given the realities of what journalists actually knew about Valerie Plame and her odious husband and their animus toward the President that are starting to come out.

Today, Tom Maguire blew the lid of Mrs. Alan Greenspan's (better known as Andrea Mitchell) backpedalling to try to get away from her statement two years ago that it was "widely known" among reporters where Valerie Plame worked. Check out the whole post, with some beautifully snarky questions for the reporters, but here's the key point:

From "The Capitol Report, Oct 3, 2003, just following the news of the criminal referral which moved this story onto the front pages:
Murray: Do we have any idea how widely known it was in Washington that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA?

Mitchell: It was widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community and who were actively engaged in trying to track down who among the foreign service community was the envoy to Niger. So a number of us began to pick up on that.

She's going to make an awfully interesting witness for the defense when she gets called under oath...and she's going to have lots of company up there...including Tim Russert, who is a walking conflict of interest everytime he opens his mouth on Meet the Press. How can NBC allow him to continue to cover and comment on a story in which he is a key player? What a joke!


A Short Word for Charles Schumer

The camera-loving Senator from New York today called on President Bush not to pardon Scooter Libby.

Hey Credit-Check Chuck, instead of calling on the President not to pardon someone who hasn't been convicted of anything, maybe you should ask him to pardon your DSCC staff members who illegaly used Michael Steele's credit history for opposition research--you know the ones who you finally fired after keeping them on the payroll for two months after you found out about their illegal activity? Just saying...

A Big Thank You to the Texas A&M Aggies

To all those rich A&M backers who raised the money to convince Dennis Franchione to pull up stakes and leave Alabama in the lurch, I'd just like to say a big thank you!

Two weeks ago: Iowa State 42, A&M 14
Last week: Texas Tech 56, A&M 17
Season record: 5 wins, 4 losses

Somehow I'm not sure those good old boys think they got their money's worth...but they sure did Bama a favor. We got rid of an arrogant, disloyal jerk, and it didn't cost us a dime. If you'd like a glimpse of what completely clueless looks like, go check out the blog he "writes" and read the wisdom he dispenses. Frankly, with a rapidly improving Oklahoma team and the Longhorns left on the schedule, there's a good chance he's going to be getting an early start on next year...if he has a next year!

Grandparents' Day

Well I've returned from the big trip (which explains the lack of pontifications and rants over the past few days). The college Rhonda attends held a "Grandparents' Day" and my parents wanted to go. So I flew to Nashville and drove them up to see her...and of course it didn't hurt my feelings to be there either!

We had a lot of fun. Her choir performed (beautifully) in the choral concert, we kicked through the yellow leaves--not many of those in Arizona, picked up a few things she needed at the indispensable Wal-Mart, and just generally hung out and had a good time. Saturday night I took Mom and Dad home, and spent the night in my teenage bedroom...which is cleaner than I remember it for some reason!

As the saying goes, a good time was had by all.


A Memo to the Republican Senators in Congress

Since you guys don't seem to have realized it, please take a brief moment and let this sink in:

You have been the majority party in the Senate since the 2002 mid-term elections. Your majority in the Senate increased in the 2004 elections. Could you please, pretty please, with cream and sugar and a cherry on top, start acting like it?

Allowing the Democrats to delay the hearings for the outstandingly qualified Judge Alito to January is a pathetic, craven surrender to the minority. We could predict today with 95% accuracy how the votes will turn out. Why allow the other side 60 additional days to dig up something that could be twisted for use in their attempt to derail the confirmation? Why not quit giving up before the fight even starts? Why not stand up and run things? You can rest assured that if there were 55 Democrats, they would not be shy about using their majority to cram their liberal agenda through the Senate and down our throats.



Joe Isuzu Wilson

Ambassador Joe Wilson, the proven (according to the Senate Intelligence Committee) liar at the heart of the CIA's attack on the Bush administration has been all over TV for the past few days. You can hardly turn on any "news" program from 60 Minutes to Dateline to The Situation Room without seeing him fielding softball questions from fawning reporters.

And I keep watching in vain for the kind of subtitles that used to appear on the screen whenever David Leisure made his ad pitch as "Joe Isuzu." In a brilliant parody of the general public opinion of car sales tactics, he promoted outrageously exaggerated features, while every lie he told was corrected in the subtitles.

If the "news" media had any interest in the truth, they'd run similar disclaimers, correcting virtually every word Wilson speaks. Or, if the reporters were willing to actually do the jobs they're (over)paid to do, perhaps they could trouble themselves to ask him a few questions about why so many of the things he said turned out not to be true--and why he's still saying them.

UPDATE: For a complete fisking of Joe Isuzu's "Politics of Truth", see this piece by Max Boot today in the LA Times. (Hat tip Instapundit)