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April 27, 2007

Coretta Scott King Memorialized in Israel

Now here's a very fitting memorial to Coretta Scott King.

Israel will name a forest in northern Galilee after Coretta Scott King as the country replants thousands of trees destroyed during last year's war with Hezbollah.

The Coretta Scott King Forest, which will contain at least 10,000 trees, will be a living memorial to King's legacy of peace and justice, Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor said Thursday at a Washington ceremony launching the initiative.

I may not agree with points in her politics, but she and Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly deserve to be honored, and this forest--one that is being reborn after a war--seems to me to be appropriate.

Posted by Doug at 01:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 25, 2007

Check Your Religious Beliefs at the Door

Left-wing activists are trying to keep religious ideas from informing anyone's opinion or public behavior.

A coalition of religious leaders took on the Catholic Church, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Bush administration on Tuesday with a plea to take religion out of health care in the United States.

They said last week's Supreme Court decision outlawing a certain type of abortion demonstrated that religious belief was interfering with personal rights and the U.S. health care system in general.

The group, calling itself the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, said it planned to submit its proposals to other church groups and lobby Congress and state legislators.

I think these folks would be really surprised to learn how the religious beliefs of our Founding Fathers informed their lawmaking.

And it's not just judicial opinions they're trying to censor.

The group also complained about Catholic-owned hospitals that refuse to sterilize women who ask for it, refuse to let doctors perform abortions and do not provide contraception.

"Doctors, pharmacists and nurses are also increasingly exercising a so-called 'religious or moral objection,' refusing to provide essential services and often leaving patients without other options," the group said in a statement.

They don't want religious organizations to be able to practice their religious beliefs, at least (for now) where those beliefs contact the public. Keep 'em in the closet.

As usual, a history lesson would go a long way.

"And now, to make it worse, the government is codifying these refusals, first through legislation and now with the recent Supreme Court decision, where five Catholic men decided that they could better determine what was moral and good than the physicians, women and families facing difficult, personal choices in problem pregnancies," it added.

What lovely anti-Catholic bias and sexism going on from these "tolerant" Leftists. But let's not forget that the 281 House members and 64 Senators were a combination of religions and genders, and that they were democratically elected by the people. Doesn't matter to these folks; any vote for a law that can be traced back to the beliefs of Catholic men should not be counted.

For the two-fer, we have some media bias at work here as well. As noted above, this group is initially characterized as "a coalition of religious leaders", giving it the appearance of broad support in the religious community. Not until the 11th paragraph do we get a hint of the size and makeup of the group. "The group includes ordained Protestant ministers [how many?], a Jewish activist [one], an expert on women's reproductive rights [one, and religious leader?] and several physicians [how many? religious leaders?]." The initial description of the group is charitable in the extreme, but something we've come to expect from our ever-vigilant, left-wing media.

(Hat tip: James Taranto.)

Posted by Doug at 03:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Religious Freedom, Canadian Style

If you are requested to do something that goes against your religious beliefs, and you refuse, but you refer those who asked to someone who will, are you guilty of anything? Perhaps not here in the US, but in Canada, the same-sex marriage legislation's draconian measures consider you so.

A Canadian Christian civil marriage commissioner in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Orville Nichols, could face up to $5000 in fines for having referred a homosexual couple to a different commissioner.

Human Rights Commission lawyer Janice Gingell asked the tribunal to find that Nichols contravened the code and order him to pay $5,000 in compensation to the complainant.

The 70 year-old Mr. Nichols used a clearly religious-based conscience argument for his refusal, saying his faith guides his daily life, that he prays and reads the Bible every day. He told the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal that his faith “takes first place” in his life. He said, “I couldn't sleep or live with myself if I were to perform same-sex marriages.”

The other commissioner to whom the two men were referred performed the ceremony on the same date they requested of Mr. Nichols.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms lists as its first "fundamental freedom" the freedom of conscience and religion". But for those pushing this agenda, the plain language of a Charter or a Constitution is not worth the paper it's written on, and your "fundamental rights" are not recognized. Americans should take note.

Posted by Doug at 01:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 24, 2007

Gideons Cleared, then Re-Charged

In February, a couple of folks from the Gideons were arrested for trespassing while on a public sidewalk in front of a school handing out Bibles. A comment on my personal blog to that story noted that the trespass charges were related to the two men staying in their cars on school property after being asked to leave. Well, regardless of the actual act that was the cause of the charges, they have been dismissed by the state.

Only to be replaced with new charges.

"Following the initial motion to dismiss filed by [Alliance Defense Fund] attorneys, the state dismissed the charges but then filed new ones under a different statute," the ADF said.

"The distribution of Bibles on a public sidewalk is not a criminal offense," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. "The attempts by Florida officials to continue pressing for the prosecution of Mr. Mirto and Mr. Simpson is not only blatantly unconstitutional, it borders on religious persecution."

The incident developed Jan. 19, when the two men were distributing Bibles on a public sidewalk outside Key Largo School but did not step onto school grounds, the ADF said. Both men were arrested, booked, and charged with trespassing after the school's principal called police. On March 8, ADF attorneys filed a motion to dismiss and the state did dismiss those counts.

However, it filed new charges under a different law that prohibits anyone from being within 500 feet of any school property, including on public sidewalks and streets, without having either "legitimate business" or permission, the ADF said.

"The facts are clear: Mr. Mirto and Mr. Simpson are guilty of nothing more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights," Cortman said. "For whatever reason, the state is grasping at straws in order to justify the punishment of these men."

The state of Florida is now in the "untenable position of trying to justify the punishment of fundamental First Amendment activities in a quintessential traditional public forum," the law firm said. Under U.S. Supreme Court precedents over the last century, that is a "blatant violation of their constitutional rights."

The school disputes that they were on a public sidewalk, saying that they were in fact on school property, but one imagines that if that were so then the initial charges would have stuck.

Posted by Doug at 05:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2007

From the Heart

Our pastor's sermon this week, as I imagine for many pastors, was regarding the Virginia Tech massacre. A one-sentence summary I'd use to describe it (that doesn't do it justice) is "The problem with evil in the world is that it exists and is active, and this is a wake-up call to the church." I want to touch on these two points, and riff off Mark's earlier post. (UPDATE: Audio for the message can be downloaded here.)

What I read Mark as saying is that society wasn't asking the right questions about what really is affecting our youth. There are surface issues that, I believe, are just symptoms, not the causes, that Mark touched on; video games, movies, meds, etc. But in his post was an assumption he makes that I don't think society accepts, at least not like it used to. And without that assumption, even his list of real issues can't be addressed until this one is.

Chuck Colson, in a recent Breakpoint podcast, noted that in at least one society, we can't even agree on this base assumption.

I witnessed an extreme example of this therapeutic thinking during a visit to a Norwegian prison years ago. Throughout the tour, officials bragged about employing the most humane and progressive treatment methods anywhere in the world. I met several doctors in white coats.

That prompted me to ask how many of the inmates, who were all there for serious crimes, were mentally ill. The warden replied, "Oh, all of them." I must have looked surprised, because she said, "Well, of course, anyone who commits a crime this serious is obviously mentally unbalanced."

Stated differently, there is no such thing as sin and evil, and the only reason why people might commit serious crimes is that they are mentally ill. Thus, the best-and perhaps, only-response to crime is behavior modification and all of those other up-to-date psychological techniques.

The assumption I refer to is the existence of evil, and of man's predisposition to it. I know how some folks avoid church because they don't want to hear that, but without understanding the very nature of our being, how can we ever hope to properly deal with it. Here's how Jesus put it in Mark chapter 7.
He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

Jesus tells us that evil is primarily a spiritual issue, not primarily a psychological one. This is not to say that there are no psychological results of evil-there certainly are--and this does not absolve society, video game makers or Hollywood writers of their role in creating an environment where we marinate in and, in many cases, uphold that which is evil.

While we in American generally allow this idea to have some effect on our thinking, it has been less so during this generation. Colson notes that we're not that much different from Norway, and we, like them and anyone else, have one real way out.

While the Norwegian approach would strike most Americans as very naïve, the difference between them and us is one of degree not kind. We also blame crime on external factors, like mental illness, culture, dysfunctional childhood, and the like.

We are uncomfortable attributing events like this to human evil, much less to a kind of evil that seeks to undo God's creation-what Christians call the demonic.

Yet without this idea, events like this massacre can never be understood. We might learn that the killer was "mentally unbalanced" or on anti-depressants. But, absent evidence that he was clinically delusional, this knowledge will not explain why he walked onto a college campus, locked people in a lecture hall, and killed them

Events like this not only horrify us-they unsettle us. We think of sin and the demonic as not-so-quaint relics from a superstitious age. And even more destructive, random events like this remind us how little we know about ourselves and what we are capable of, as well. But failing to call evil evil misleads us about the world we live in and our need for God's grace, the only real answer and hope for any of us.

We cannot save the house until we save the foundation, and only God, the Master Builder, who drew up the blueprints, knows what can be done.

The families and friends of the victims of the VT shootings, and even the family and friends of the shooter, deserve the most love and grace we can give them. Our desire to help them, grieve with them, and comfort them must come from the heart. But going forward, if we ever hope to rescue our society from further events such as this, we must remember what else Jesus said comes from the heart. It is the hearts of people that need God. The psychological, emotional and physiological will follow, but not until the hearts are changed. That's the church's mission; to bring the God that can change the heart to society.

(One thing I would want to note, lest an incorrect assumption be made; I don't dismiss out of hand the science of psychology; not by any means. I believe it has an important contribution to make in understanding the human mind and how it can be helped. But, using my earlier analogy, modifying the house without understanding the foundation may, in some cases, give us relief from problems without dealing with the underlying flaws, keeping us from seeking the One who can truly help.)

Our pastor asked and answered the burning question: "How long will events like this continue to happen? As long as the church lets them." The "salt of the earth" must not hunker down in its salt shaker. As it was used in the first century, it must be rubbed, not on, but into the meat before it rots any further.

Posted by Doug at 08:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 19, 2007

Eight Years Later, We're No Closer

Before the era of the Blog, my friends and family were the unfortunate recipients of many a mass email from me on my oh-so-important thoughts on the happenings of the day. Eight years ago was one such occurrence.

Following the Columbine mass killing, as I watched and read the media and analyst coverage, I became convinced that there was absolutely nothing being said about the true societal issues that were at the heart of that dark day. There were superficial attempts, to be sure--video games (which pale in comparison to today's much more realistic games) and guns were bandied about. The angst of being a disaffected and unpopular student in a modern, large high school was also covered. But, in my (then and now) opinion, nothing was really being discussed about how our modern society, with its so many dehumanizing aspects, could have been at the heart of actions of Harris and Klebold.

Did I know the right question or the right answer at the time or now? No. I only knew the markers that I thought then (and now) were (and are) important: Our society's dehumanizing aspects across a wide range of issues, our society's elevation of the material over the flesh and blood and spiritual, and our society's almost manic attempts to elevate the individualized (not just the individual but all things individualized) over all. The intersections of these issues, I thought (and think) must be the point at which we begin to think about such horror (to the extent we feel the ability to think about it at all).

To be sure, some of the issues that were being discussed then (and now) were indicators or evidence of the larger issues (why is it that we seem to "need" so many guns in this country; why is a goodly portion of our youth disaffected; what do these video games say about us as a society???). However, that the essence of our society (that more and more goods and services need to be produced and consumed on an always increasing basis and that the individual self is to be exalted above all others) may play a part was not (and is not now) discussed.

Pause, fast forward eight years (almost) to the day, and we have the same situation, with the facts altered to make it interesting (for the moment anyway, no doubt some aspect of Anna Nicole's death is out there waiting to grab the headlines again).

Once again, the same old debates are trotted out and the same old lines, sides, issues, etc. are drawn. Will we really have a discussion about what this is really all about or will we continue the "less filling" "tastes great" debate of eight years ago?

There is little hope for that, in my mind. However, this article by Sacha Zimmerman in the online edition of The New Republic, at least gives me a glimmer, as Ms. Zimmerman is asking the more transcendent questions.

Read the article, and then ponder for yourself, what do you want to be thinking about eight years from now?

Big Caveat: One thing I want to make clear is that the above should not be taken in any way as an attempt to excuse, justify or otherwise let Cho, Harris or Klebold off the hook. They were evil, very evil. They each are 100% responsible for their actions--Not society, not guns, not video games, not Ritalin, not mean rich kids. My only point is that we, as a society, need to understand the deeper undercurrents that are affecting our youth (and quite frankly our adults) and determine how we can change. But to be clear, there are no doubt thousands of disaffected kids out there who are subject to the same societal undercurrents and who do not wake up one day and shoot their classmates. They may bury themselves in drugs, booze, etc., but they don't kill others. Cho, Harris and Klebold don't get to hide behind these societal issues--they are responsible for their murders.

Posted by Mark at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Guns By The Numbers

Year Kennesaw, GA passed a law requiring every head of household in the town to own a handgun: 1982
Kennesaw crime rate prior to enactment: 4,332 per 100,000
National average: 3,899 per 100,000
Kennesaw crime rate today: 2,027 per 100,000
Number of residents involved in fatal shootings since enactment, as either victim, attacker or defender: 0
Population growth, 1980 to 2000: 425% (5.095 to 21,675)

Click here for more information and dire predictions about Kennesaw that never came true. More stats here, and a NY Times editorial by the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds here.

Posted by Doug at 05:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

Supreme Court Upholds Partial Birth Abortion Ban

Justice Anthony Kennedy voted with the majority on this one, and wrote the opinion.

The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long- awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.

The opponents of the act "have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The administration defended the law as drawing a bright line between abortion and infanticide.

Finally, there is some pushback to those who love to keep blurring the line. I believe that this will help hold back those who intend to blur the line even further, beyond birth. This is a good ruling.

Posted by Doug at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 16, 2007

Another Sad Tragedy

Words seem to fail on a day like this. There is little for me to offer other than that our collective prayers and thoughts go out to the injured, and the families and friends of those killed, today at Virginia Tech. The Wikipedia entry seems to have the most information at the moment and the Roanoke Times is keeping a running timeline of events.

No doubt this will be politicized every which way, but now is the time for prayer and reflection.

Posted by Mark at 11:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Podcasting Again on Shire Network News

It's been over a year since I hosted the last Homespun Bloggers Radio, a podcast of the late, lamented blogging group Homespun Bloggers. I was also a sometimes-contributor to the show, and I'd been looking for a opportunity to do that. Hosting took some time, but I figure I could handle a weekly short commentary.

Well, turns out I'm getting the chance. One of the podcasts I listen to, Shire Network News, recently advertised for more contributors since some of theirs were having scheduling issues. I gave it a shot and sent in an audition that fit their style; right-of-center politically with humor rather than anger. Turns out they liked it and actually used it in this week's podcast, and now I'm officially an SNN contributor, joining Meryl Yourish and another new contributor, Tomer Israeli. I'm honored to have been added and I hope to hold up their standards. (Though if they'll accept me, how high can those standards be, really?)

Click here for the latest show's notes and links.

Posted by Doug at 02:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 13, 2007

Apologies for "Gay Marriage"

The group "Restore Marriage, Canada" is giving Canadians an opportunity to apologize for their country's legalization of "gay marriage". It starts:

To the world's leaders and people,

We, the people of Canada who support marriage solely as the union of a man and a woman, apologize to the people of the world for harm done through Canada's legalization of homosexual marriage.

We are grieved and troubled as we consider the impact this is having in weakening the fundamental institution of marriage in countries and cultures around the world. We understand that because Canada does not impose citizenship or residency requirements in order for same-sex individuals to be "married" here, couples are coming to Canada to seek legal sanction for their homosexual relationships with the intent of returning to their own countries to challenge those countries' legal definition of marriage.

Posted by Doug at 01:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2007

Time For The Media To Do Some Self-Examination

Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post rightly points out that the media should take a good hard look at how they handled their reporting of the Duke lacrosse scandal and learn a few things from the whole sordid episode:

There's a lot going on the last couple of days--MSNBC booting Imus, McCain's big speech on the war, Fred Thompson's cancer, Larry Birkhead prancing before the cameras, and, oh yeah, the Duke sexual assault charges were dropped.

I hope that last one gets plenty of coverage, even though it's been clear for some time that the case had fallen apart. As long as we're talking about how the Rutgers women were unfairly disparaged as "ho's," consider the nightmare that the three Duke lacrosse players have lived through.

But in all the coverage you read and see about the clearing of these young men, very little of it will be devoted to the media's role in ruining their lives. I didn't hear a single television analyst mention it yesterday, even though two of the players' lawyers took shots at the press.

It was an awful performance, no question about it. News organizations took one woman's shaky allegations and turned them into a national soap opera, pillorying the reputations of the players. Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty and David Evans were presumed innocent in a legal sense, but not in the court of media opinion.

We will now read 100 stories about how an obsessive prosecutor overreached in bringing the indictments in the first place, and that's fine. But keep in mind that the Duke case was all over the network newscasts, the morning shows, the cable channels and the front pages. Newsweek put two of the defendants' mug shots on the cover. "I'm so glad they didn't miss a lacrosse game over a little thing like gang rape," Nancy Grace said on Headline News.

The North Carolina AG spoke of "a tragic rush to accuse," and he just as easily could have been talking about journalists as Mike Nifong. Commentators have been chattering about whether Nifong will be disbarred, but no one gets to disbar the media.

What made this a case of aggravated media assault is that news outlets weren't content to focus on the three defendants. Attorney General Roy Cooper said there was a "rush to condemn a community and a state." Remember all the "trend" stories about "pampered" and "privileged" student athletes being "out of control"? Remember how the lacrosse players' homes were shown on TV? How the coach lost his job? How this case was depicted as being about the contrast between a white elite institution and a poor black community? All of that was built on what turned out to be lies.

Once discrepancies surfaced in the account of the accuser--who has still not been identified by the MSM, even though she's now been exposed as a liar--some news organizations did a good job of pursuing them. But just about everyone joined in the original frenzy over race and sports. And given the media's track record going back to Richard Jewell, I have zero confidence that this won't happen again.

I'd have to agree with Howard. I doubt that the media will change its ways.

However, http://hotair.com/archives/2007/04/11/breaking-nc-attorney-general-dismisses-charges-in-duke-lax-case/>here's one journalist who gets it (click on the second video clip).

Posted by Tom at 06:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 11, 2007

Diabetics Cured with Stem Cells. But What Kind?

An amazing medical breakthrough reported in the London Times today. In a small trial of patients, 13 of 15 diabetics given injections of stem cells did not need daily insulin injection 3 years after the treatment. Truly remarkable.

Now, there are 2 types of stem cells; adult and embryonic. What kind were these. The articles doesn't say specifically, but it leaves it to the reader to deduce that.

In a breakthrough trial, 15 young patients with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes were given drugs to suppress their immune systems followed by transfusions of stem cells drawn from their own blood.

Unless we're talking about fetal diabetics, the stem cells must be adult ones. Chalk up another win for stem cells that lack any ethical issues.

But note that the writer is more than happy to bring up the other type of stem cells specifically.

Previous studies have suggested that stem-cell therapies offer huge potential to treat a variety of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neuron disease. A study by British scientists in November also reported that stem-cell injections could repair organ damage in heart attack victims.

But research using the most versatile kind of stem cells — those acquired from human embryos — is currently opposed by powerful critics, including President Bush.

By positioning these two paragraphs this way, the writer begs the reader to make the connection between this breakthrough and Bush's refusal to have the feds fund embryonic stem cell research. Even the linked article about heart attack victims won't use the word "adult" when talking about the stem cells.

What's worse, blatant media bias like this really works. Just read the comment section at the end (which I believe is in reverse chronological order) to find those who are against Bush's position but fail to realize the distinction.

Interesting that a major medical breakthrough, promising hope to millions of Type 1 diabetics and their families gets overshadowed by a debate on morality....


If you've had to stick a needle into your 11 year old twice/thrice daily would you object to stem cell research?
Get real this is the 21C. Blair n' Bush should spend the war money on this research!

Kids want fun/childhood, not adult ethics.


How sanctimonius some of the opinions on this discussion are. My brother and I have type 1 diabetes. I really don't care what type of stem cells are used if it finds a cure for this disease. Do you really equate a bunch of cells with an actual child or adult life? Is that serious? You would condemn people like me & my brother and countless others to living with this disease for ever because you believe that embryos are so important. That isn't moraility, its drivel.

And one fellow seems to think that if the government doesn't pay for it, it doesn't get anything.
You use your religious beliefs to prevent my tax dollars from funding embryonic stem cell research. Only adult stem cell research is funded, so only adult stem cell cures are produced. Then, you use the success of some adult stem cell research to deny the value of embryonic stem cells? What kind of twisted circular logic is that? Of course there aren't embryonic stem cell treatments if the research isn't funded.

All victims of media reporting.

Finally, one commenter makes a great point. Follow the money.

Let's not forget one of the biggest reasons that pharmas want to use embryonic stem cells. Money. If they use stem cells that come from a source other than a bonafide "Person", they can patent it and make lots of money from the treatment. You cannot patent adult stem cells as they come from and belong to a particular individual.

Posted by Doug at 01:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2007

Washington, DC

Our Spring Break jaunt this year was to the nation's capitol. I hadn't toured there since I was around 10, so it was high time I went back, this time with my own kiddos. I'm not going to give a full travelogue here (that tome will go out to family), but here are some thoughts.

Point #1: Bring a bike. DC is rather bike-friendly, and the National Mall is a longer walk than it looks. There is a place right downtown to rent some, but bring what you can. You can cover a lot of ground that way.

The first thing we did was a bike tour (free, as are many things in DC) run by the National Parks Service. It hit many spots in DC but I had no idea how much into DC we'd be. I have pictures of us biking down the middle of Pennsylvania Ave. with the Rangers leading the way. Not down the sidewalk; down the center lane. That by itself was cool (though I kept a good eye on the kiddos with me). There were enough stops along the way to rest my 40-something legs, so it wasn't a killer. They like to theme the tour with a "This Week in History" feel, and the week we went was the week World War 1 started, so at each stop there were talks about how this monument or that feature related back to the war, the run-up to it, the culture of the time and/or how events of the period affected the DC landscape. It went from the Jefferson Memorial, down and back up that peninsula, to the Capitol, to the Pershing Memorial (directly related to WW1 of course) and over to the White House, where we broke away from it to rejoin those of the family doing their own thing on foot. (With 6 in the family, you can only carry so many bikes.) A good learning experience and a good workout.

We hit all the usual spots during the week; the monuments along the Mall, the Smithsonian museums, Ford's Theater, the National Archives, Arlington National Cemetery. The Cherry Blossom Festival had just started, and the trees bloomed on cue. Unfortunately, this brings crowds, and while the National Parks Service has a nice Tourmobile bus service for a reasonable price, our use of it was marred by long lines and slow traffic. Again, bikes are your friend.

Point #2: Staying in a hotel close to DC can be worth the money. I was looking at some hotel web sites for places under $100, but everything was way outside the beltway. The Metro Rail is nice, but we'd have had to drive to the farthest out station first, taking lots of time out of our day. Hotwire.com saved the day, and I've become a big fan. For the same price as the Super 8, we stayed near the Reagan National Airport for a couple of days, and then splurged to stay downtown for a couple more. (Nice to just walk 4 block to the Mall.) Now, I said it can be worth the money because there are some things you'd probably get at the Super 8 for free that you either can't get or cost extra at the nicer hotels. Like Internet access ($10 per day), free simple breakfast, microwave ($25), fridge ($25), coffee maker in the room (1 of our hotels didn't have that) and even park (around $25 per day). Now, this may not been news to those who've stayed at these spots before, but this was my first real experience with it, so it was news to me. Fortunately, we brought a cooler with lots of food, and Pizza Hut delivers to the lobby. (Where else in DC can you feed 6 for $20?) A pool the size of my office cubicle was OK...once enough people left to allow us to go in. I understand that we're probably not the target market, but they could do just a bit more to fill those empty rooms and do just a little more to make it family friendly. So yes, it can be worth the money for the location, if you understand the amenity situation.

Point #3: Spend the time. There were a number of things we'd hoped to do but just didn't have time to do after doing the things we did do. DC is big in the two senses that there's so much to do, and that everything is so...big. The monuments are, of course, generally done on a grand scale, but when you go to the Smithsonian museums, there's so much in there. We spend Sunday afternoon through Wednesday, and really just hit the highlights. Maybe this point is better expressed "Spend the time well". Don't try to do a little bit of everything; do some things well and leave the rest for perhaps another visit.

We had a great time. Learned some history, some science, and got to see those things you see only on TV or the back of your money. I highly recommend a visit there some day if you've never gone.

Posted by Doug at 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 09, 2007

Should Newt Run?

Marvin Olasky deals with this question in this week's cover story for WORLD Magazine. Although he doesn't come out and directly answer this question, he does indirectly answer it at the end of the article:

I met Newt Gingrich early in 1995 after I wrote a book, The Tragedy of American Compassion, that he read, liked, and recommended to others. I became an unofficial advisor to him regarding welfare reform that year, and met many of what are now his "former close advisors." I retain a great respect for him but I also wrote a history book in the late 1990s, The American Leadership Tradition, that views unfaithfulness to a wife as often a leading indicator of unfaithfulness to the nation.

This does not mean that a person who has committed adultery will necessarily be a bad president, and it certainly does not mean that someone who is faithful in marriage will be a good president—but, as Gingrich said in 1999, voters "have the right to know everything about a presidential candidate, everything, because they're going to be in an Oval Office with nuclear weapons, and you have the right to know in advance 'Who is this person?'"

It's ironic that Mr. Gingrich points to the very thing that could be the biggest hurdle in a potential presidential campaign. His own past may come back to haunt him and cost him votes, particularly among evangelicals. It's not clear whether his extramarital affair is an insurmountable obstacle to a White House bid. If the recent media attention from his appearance on "Focus on the Family" is any indication, he will likely face intense scrutinity from the mainstream media should he decide to run.

There is no doubt that Newt Gingrich is one of the smartest men in politics today. He has more ideas in a day than many leaders have in an entire career. But perhaps he would be better suited serving within an administration as an adviser rather than as President.

Posted by Tom at 04:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 08, 2007

"B.C." Creator Johnny Hart Has Died

Cartoonist Johnny Hart who was the creator of the comic strip "B.C.", died suddenly yesterday at the age of 76. His strip, which featured dinosaurs and prehistoric cavemen has appeared in newspapers all over the world since 1958. But the most important thing about Hart was that he was a committed Christian and would often incorporate Christian themes into his strips as can be seen in today's strip whch is fitting given that today is Easter Sunday.

He will truly be missed.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a fitting tribute that is worth reading in its entirety.

Posted by Tom at 10:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 06, 2007

IPod a Life Saver?

According to these photos an Ipod that Kevin Garrad had in his coat pocket during a recent mission in Tikrit slowed down a bullet fired at close range just enough to prevent it from piercing his body armor. The photos (particularly the close up of the damaged Ipod) are pretty amazing.

It's story worthy of Mythbusters. In fact, the same person who posted the photos on Flickr has submitted the story to the show. Wouldn't it be great to see this story put to the test?

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

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April 04, 2007

"House" and Abortion

Last night, "House" (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. Eastern on Fox), showed why it is by far one of the best dramas on television in an episode that dealt with abortion in a way unlike any other show on television ever has before.

The episode opens with celebrity photographer Emma Sloan (who happens to be five months pregnant) coming to the hospital after suffering a stroke. After running a series of tests, House comes to the conclusion that it is the baby that is making the mother sick. The mother is dying and if the baby isn't delivered she will die. House is in essence, arguing for aborting the baby to save the mother. But Sloan wants to keep the baby and challenges House to find a way to save them both. The highlight of the episode is a scene involving an operation on the baby that no doubt was inspired by this famous incident that causes House to rethink his position not only on abortion but realize that he was dealing with a real human being and not just a clump of tissues.

This marks the second time this year that the show has tackled the subject of abortion. In another episode, House encounters a rape victim who became pregnant as a result. House argues that the best thing to do is terminate the pregnancy. While the girl resists at first she eventually decides to have the abortion.

The producers of "House" should be commended for tackling such a controversial subject. While the episodes may not necessarily change anyone's mind, they at least provide a good place to start a conversation on this subject.

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April 03, 2007

At Least He Can Poke Fun At Himself....

President Bush has had to deal with more criticism than any president in recent memory. In spite of all the negative press, he still has managed to keep his sense of humor:

Hat tip: Two or Three.net

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April 02, 2007

Wrongfully Accused

Eric Volz is an American reporter who was living in Nicaragua. On November 21, 2006, his girlfriend Doris Jiminez was brutally murdered in San Juan del Sur. At the time of the murder, Volz was two hours away in Managua. Despite a mountain of evidence that should have exonerated him, he was sentenced to thirty years in prison. The video below tells his story in more detail:

His parents have also appeared on NBC's Today Show to draw attention to the story.

The family and friends are asking people to contact their Senators and Representatives. More information about the case can be found at the Friends of Eric Volz website.

Hat tip: Stacy Harp

Posted by Tom at 03:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack