Thought for the Day

It is a beautiful Southern California morning (sorry everyone else). I thank God that I can go to church this morning without fear of persecution or prosecution. I thank God that people of all faiths can do likewise and that people who's only spiritual affiliation and membership is ESPN can also worship at the altar of athletics. I may not agree with the ways people choose to worship today, or what rituals they observed last night, but I am thankful for the freedom we all have as citizens.

I thank God that for all the debate we have about everything from the war in Iraq to stem cell research, and for all the eccentric--and even hateful--personalities who weigh in on all the issues, we remain (as Michael Medved would say) the greatest nation on God's green earth. (Isn't that his phrase?). That freedom to express our views, however wacky they may be, is part of what makes us great.

We have a tough road ahead as we fight the war on terror and delve into the definition and value of human life. Peter Marshall, chaplain to the Senate in the 1940s, once prayed that God would teach us that liberty is not the freedom to do what we please but the opportunity to do what is right. That's my prayer for our nation today.

God bless!


Flip-Flopping Frist?

"I am pro-life. I believe human life begins at conception."
--Senator Bill Frist

I know that it's the weekend. And, we should probably be talking about lighter issues. I simply cannot bring myself to do it. I can promise this much, though, today's post is just an introduction to what I expect to be much more discussion about the value and sanctity of life in our culture.

Yesterday, Senator Bill Frist, staunchly pro-life Senate majority leader, said the following: "I believe embryonic stem-cell research should be encouraged and supported."

There are several issues at stake here:
1. The apparent contradiction between his conviction that life begins at birth and his support of using that life for research.
2. Both the research that exists (supporting the use of adult stem cell research) and that which does not exist (that is, the lack of evidence for embryonic stem cells).
3. Most important, the implications of classifying, qualifying human life and thereby justifying the experimentation and exploitation of life in the name of science and medicine. This is the dangerous slippery slope.

These are the issues I'll take on in the week(s) ahead. For now, I can only express grief at the Senator's statement. I have to admit that I wondered, as did my friend Michael, about whether this was a political move. As call for gentler, kinder, more "moderate" candidates pervades the land, there is obviously political pressure on Hillary to move to the right, and she has followed suit. Is Senator Frist, who is likely considering a bid for 2008, feeling the same pressure to move to the left?

Today, I simply express my disappointment and sadness over Senator Frist turning his back on the pro life cause. I believe that he is sincere in his apparent change of mind. I believe that he, like the rest of us, really wants to find a way to alleviate the suffering of those tormented by incurable diseases. But, I also believe that sometimes what appears good, right and even helpful (although embryonic stem cells have yet to be any of those things) can also be the most devastating for the life of a nation and a people for generations to come.

I fear for our nation's conscience. God forbid that we begin justifying the means by the hopeful end. I cannot help but recall Nazi Germany. Friends, you may consider this an extreme analogy. It's not. Once life--at any stage--is qualified, we open the door to sacrificing one form of it for the good of the rest of humanity. Who decides then? Under what conditions? At what point does a life cease to be qualified to exist and begin to be useful for "the common good"?

Well, I didn't want to get into all that today. I promise to write more this week.

We must pray and work, above all things, to preserve human life, at every stage. If we do not, I believe that history will judge us the way we now rightly judge Nazi Germany. God help us.

P.S. I do recommend some interesting and entertaining weekend reading over at my friend, Mark's blog. He takes a look at what he's identified as "Celiberals" (celebrity liberals). Check it out.


Once Upon A Time...Reinventing Hillary

Once upon a time, there was a woman named Hillary. She was a very shrewd, articulate president, oh sorry, I mean First Lady. Anyway, this woman discerned that she was in a war, one that pitted her against a vicious and insidious enemy: the "vast right-wing conspiracy."

Hillary was so concerned about what this enemy would do to her political aspirations, oh sorry, I mean to try to hurt her husband and the American people, that she moved into an offensive posture. This meant that she, in the best interest of the people, of course, would lash out at the bad guys--Newt Gingrich, Kenneth Starr and the gang. She was simply trying to protect the American people. She hated having to do it, but it was really to protect the little people from the bad guys.

She traveled the world, speaking even in China, about the values she believed were so important. Abortion was a right for all women. Health care was a right for all people. The federal government could take the best care of the people. Based on the way she and her husband, the President, treated the military, it was obvious that defense and the men and women of the armed forces just weren't priority for them, oh I mean, for the nation. It was a time of peace after all, right? Republicans were always so uptight about all that stuff. Worried for no reason at all. Osama who?

After she and her husband trashed the office, oh I mean, left the Office, she ran for an elected position in New York, because she had always felt a strong connection to the people of New York. Why else would you run for office in a place where you've never lived? Silly to question any other reason to want to be Senator in one of the most powerful states in the Union. Of course she cared about New York.

She'd been very busy doing the work of the people, with her only desire being to serve the wonderful people of New York. She was so busy that after 9/11, she could only made it to one or two of the memorial services for those who fell on that tragic day. She was a very busy woman, you know.

After the presidential election of 2004, Hillary began changing. The election made it clear that the vast majority (80%) of those who voted for President Bush did so with morals and values on the top of their list of priorities. Well, since Hillary cares so much about the people, she too began to care about values and morals. How do we know? Suddenly, that's what she talked about.

Hillary began seeing things differently, perhaps from the eyes of the people she loved so dearly. She now talked about the Bible and said that the Democratic Party had more in common with Jesus than did the Republicans, because Jesus helped the poor. She discovered a newfound compassion and conviction about abortion, calling it "tragic" every time it takes place. She even chastised her own party for being weak on defense. Hillary was seeing a new way.

As part of her progressively changing views, Hillary began sharing the stage with some of her husband's greatest political enemies. She seems to have found harmony with people like Newt Gingrich and Bill Frist. She has even parted from leaders of her own party in saying that she would vote to confirm Judge John Roberts, the president's nominee to the Court. It's truly miraculous.

Now, there's talk about her running for president in a few years. Hillary really doesn't want to be at the forefront of attention. She and her husband have always hated getting so much attention. She doesn't want that kind of power, even though something deep down inside her feels like she already knows what it's like to be a president.

But, she would only consider the bid if she's forced to, effectively sacrificing her own desire for a quiet and peaceful life for the good of the country.

Her story continues to unfold. And, we'll be watching it here at Just A Woman. So, stay tuned.

Okay, I hope you don't mind a little sarcasm once in a while. I'm sure there will be more to see and more to talk about as we watch this Extreme Political Makeover. I believe that people can genuinely change. Unfortunately, we have many post-election-2004 examples of people of a more liberal persuasion suddenly finding a more conservative-looking moral and religious concern.

I'm disgusted by any sort of manipulation. But, it really gets under my skin when there's an appearance of using faith to justify political views, as opposed to what I believe our President has done--base his politics on a moral, religious foundation.

I don't claim to be able see into anyone's heart and true motives. All I can do is judge the actions based on the patterns. As of now, the patterns don't look good to me. I have questions about her integrity, her vision for our nation's future as well as the implications a Hillary presidency would have on the military and on the international scene.

There will be much more to say about Hillary in the coming days. But, for now, this is just one woman's perspective on this particular issue of the day.


It Should Have Been A Woman

I just watched a very interesting interview on Hannity and Colmes tonight. Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, and Ann Coulter, conservative best selling author. It was, for the most part, a very interesting discussion. Ann (as I've mentioned before on this site) disagrees with the President's nominee, John Roberts. Michael Reagan, however, expressed his trust in President Bush's pick for the Supreme Court.

What struck me in this debate, however, was something Michael said in passing. He said that he'd hoped that the president would have chosen a woman to replace Justice O'Connor.

I am the biggest advocate for women being recognized and given equal opportunities in every sphere of society. I think it's not only good for women but necessary for society to flourish. I think it's just as important for culture today as it is for future generations of Americans. However, I think that we make some dangerous assumptions when we make statements like the one Michael Reagan (and others) have made regarding the selection of a female nominee.

Assumption #1: A woman can't qualify on her merit alone. If our disappointment is in his not choosing a woman, are we claiming that he should have gone against his better judgment in the interest of political correctness and diversity on the Court? Was he supposed to do a woman a favor? Could it be that the best person for the job was not a woman? The issue before the president was not to select the best woman or minority for the Court. It was to select the most qualified candidate, male or female, Caucasian, Latino, African American or other.

If Michael Reagan had argued that the president really did miss it by not appointing the woman because he thought a woman was actually the most qualified candidate, that would be different. But, that is not what he said. It was pretty clear that he wanted a woman to replace the outgoing O'Connor. No thanks, Michael. So glad Bush was, at least in this case, above political correctness.

Assumption #2: A woman will be able to represent and protect women's best interests. I'm not going to delve back into the abortion issue. I wrote several posts about women and abortion in this last week. I know that I am much happier about having Justice Thomas on the Court than I am Justice Ginsberg. Would you believe that there are women are not happy with many of the decisions of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor? Some would argue an appointment like that could make matter worse. A woman is not always the best person for the health and prosperity of women in any given situation.

I'm disappointed that in 2005 we're still talking about gender rather than ability, skill and qualifications. If the women's movement achieved so much in making women equal, then why must we continue to bring gender to the forefront of the discussion. If it had succeeded, wouldn't it mean that the opposite would take place? And that we could reserve all the discussions on gender differences for the less emotional, less complicated, less intense issues in life...like relationships :)

I am just one woman. And, this is just my perspective of this particular issue of the day.


"Can They Focus on Arab Muslim Men?"

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I am a woman. A Christian. A graduate of UCLA. I bleed red, white and blue. Am a mostly faithful 3-hour/day listener to Sean Hannity. I am, uh, thirty-something. And, one more thing, I am Egyptian.

Why does any of this matter? Because some of the above characteristics have come to the forefront of conversation since September 11, 2001.

Not all those defining characteristics show up on paper. For example, I sometimes get junk mail for "Mr. Lores Rizkalla." Since the junk mailers don't have the benefit of seeing my Just A Woman website, they don't always know what to make of my name. Also, I have had many a puzzled acquaintance at the discovery that my Egyptian family has given me a protestant Christian heritage. (Protestant Christians are the minority of the approximately 5% of Christians in Egypt). Again, something not readily available on paper.

I believe it was July 2002 when I was taking a little trip to Nashville. (I know, I know. Who would voluntarily go to Nashville? Only the dearest of friends would make Nashville an option.) In any case, I began socializing with the gentlemen behind the counter at my LAX departure gate. Very nice people, harassing me for having talked on my cell phone the entire time I was in line. We continued to chat when there was a sudden look of confusion on this man's face. He didn't do anything unusual but seemed to be pressing more keys on the key board with a bit of frustration.

I didn't think anything of it. "Old computer," I thought. "Poor guy must have to deal with the problems of a dinosaur computer all day!" As his tapping turned into pounding, I realized there was a problem. The gathering of two others who joined him now also gave me a hint that perhaps it wasn't a computer problem afterall. When my gift of observing the obvious kicked in, I asked them if there was a problem.

"It doesn't make sense. But, there's some kind of security check on your name," he said. They looked at each other, looked at me and then looked at each other with that same I-don't-get-it look. Long story short, about 40 minutes later, they circumvented the system in order to clear me to get on the plane.

While I'd started to get nervous about making my flight, I breathed a sigh of relief. It may not have made sense to them but it did to me. On paper, I was a 30-something Egyptian who may have been male trying to get on a non-stop cross-country flight.

I wasn't just relieved to get on my flight to see my friends. I knew that they would eventually figure out that I was safe. I was thrilled and thanked them for having stopped someone with my profile. I know we've heard this before. But, it is worth repeating that not every Middle Easterner is a terrorist. But on September 11, every one of those terrorists was male, Muslim and Middle Eastern.

So the drama that has ensued over racial profiling is absolutely ridiculous to me. If there's nothing to hide, then aren't you happy to get on a plane or a train knowing they've checked anyone fitting the profile? Sure, there may be others who don't fit the profile. But, does that excuse us from checking those who do?

The debate now surrounds New York subways. Police are taking measures to make sure that here is no profiling. Are you kidding? I find it absolutely irresponsible to not profile. In a
recent MSNBC report, David Aarsonson of American University's Washington College of Law said this: "Can they focus on Arab Muslim men? Probably not."

Aarsonson went on to explain the reasoning. "They have to have procedures for who gets selected, whether it's every fifth or tenth person, which involve neutral criteria." It appears that political correctness has replaced common sense. I'm sure Osama bin Laden is loving this! Is this the best way to ensure the safety of the American people? I highly doubt it.

While I think it is critically important to protect our individual liberties from further and future government involvement in our lives, we must grapple with the reality of our post-9/11 world. I'm not advocating a limitation of our individual rights. What I am proposing is a little wisdom, common sense and strategy in the war on terror, the greatest threat not only to liberties but to our very lives.


France Raises Terror Alert!

A good friend just emailed this to me. I could not resist posting it! :)

France Raises Terror Alert!

In the wake of the bombings in London, Prime Minister Chirac has officially raised the French terror alert from "Run" to "Hide."

There are only two higher alert levels in France, which are "Surrender" and "Collaborate."

The rise was in part precipitated by a recent fire which destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively crippling its military.

Abortion, Politics and Service

In my last post, I discussed the unnaturalness of abortion, of a woman getting to the place of making a "choice" to terminate the life of her child. It is important to remember, in the context of this debate, that victims of rape and incest comprise less than 1% of all abortions in any given year. My previous remarks about the lies and the deception of a woman's soul and identity were not directed to victims of such an abhorrent violation.

I believe that one of our greatest weaknesses in Christian and conservative circles has been our relative absence in the area of serving and meeting the needs of victims of rape, incest and domestic violence (among other social ills). Honestly, it's a significant part of the reason I left my career as a teacher to work in the non-profit world.

I think it was Tip O'Neil who said that "All politics is local." That is a true statement. However, I also believe that at its core all politics is service. As we debate these critically important issues of the day, let us strive towards greater measures of serving and extending love and life to the hurting who surround every one of us.

God bless!


Abortion and A Woman's Soul

My thoughts today have nothing to do with the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court or with how he might affect the Roe v. Wade decision. I’m not writing about what I believe to be the very sad, fragile and even political state of human life in our nation. Neither will I discuss the act of abortion as murder. Instead, I want to take a moment to consider abortion as a reflection of the deception and destruction that have invaded woman’s soul.

Every woman, whether or not she ever becomes a mother, is born with the emotional and physical capacity necessary to become one. Every woman has the capability to be a mother. She may be one to her neighbors, to her colleagues or to her friends. I’m not talking about controlling or smothering, although those can be the negative characteristics that accompany the “gift” of motherhood. There is a birthing and a nurturing that, like it or not, comes with the package of being a woman. It may not be obvious in all women. It is sometimes injured because of damaging relationships. But, it’s there.

Once a woman actually gives birth to a child, even the least “nurturing” women find a new, or deeper, maternal side to themselves. I have never had a child. But, I have watched many of my independent, driven and seemingly non-maternal friends be transformed after 9 months of carrying a child in their bodies. It’s miraculous. Nothing becomes more important, more treasured or more loved than this helpless, self-absorbed, non-productive baby. None of that registers compared to the desire to love and care for the child.

"Can a woman forget her nursing child, And have no compassion on the son of her womb?" Isaiah 49:15 (The Bible)

The question above in its context is a rhetorical one. That is, it is a virtual impossibility for a woman to forget her nursing child or, God forbid, lack compassion for the son (or daughter) of her womb. Impossible. Of course she can't.

It breaks my heart that what is meant as a rhetorical, no-brainer question has become so common that Los Angeles car chases get more air time on the nightly news than the millions of unborn children whose lives are terminated every year in our country. The unnatural has become commonplace.

What’s worse is that it is women, not men, who are the most vocal proponents of abortion. We are appalled by the barbarity of ancient societies leaving their young on a wall, so as to ensure their death and of the Chinese government’s control of the number of children a family is allowed. But, our streets are full of women’s rallies and protests for the “right” to destroy the children.

What has become so injured, so distorted in a woman’s soul as to deceive her to destroy her own child?

I believe there’s much more to be said about this than I can write in one post. However, I believe that there are two primary factors that have contributed to this devastation.

One factor in the deception and destruction of a woman’s soul is the marriage of value and identity to work, specifically work outside the home. This was a failed attempt by feminists to affirm women. The reasoning was that if a woman can do anything a man can, then she should. While I agree that women are more than capable of doing what men can do, and often better, it’s silly to think that it’s what would be most fulfilling.

Check out the women’s section in your local bookstore. You’ll see titles like, When Work Doesn’t Work Anymore and And What Do You Do? as evidence of the failure of the workplace to satisfy the longings of a woman’s soul. But, as she has felt the burden to be someone valuable and important, the vision of changing diapers at home is relegated to slavery. The slave master, then, is the demanding child. How, then, could having a baby compare with the corner office? Placing more value on corporate position than in life-giving power is indicative of the emptiness produced by that feminist lie.

The other is the divorce of sex and commitment. The sexual revolution and the feminist movement may have convinced the world that women are just like men in every way. It is simply not true. That hurt and rejection accompany sex without marriage is hardly worth debating. Ask someone who has experienced it, or simply watch re-runs of Friends if you’re not convinced. I believe that the separation of sex and commitment has had harmful effects on both men and women. But, we’re talking about women today. Suffice it to say that having the most intimate and vulnerable of relationship without the stability, protection and provision of commitment places women in a very unnatural state. So unnatural as to lead a woman to do the unthinkable.

So, how can a woman forget, lack compassion or even terminate the life of her child? Only the wounded state of a woman’s soul could explain such barbarity.


Deserving Better

I can’t help but recall not long ago the president having to answer questions about whether he had a “litmus test” for appointees to the Supreme Court. He was asked specifically whether a candidate’s view on abortion would determine his or her qualification. The message was clear: Mr. President, you better not make this about abortion.

The president followed through on his word. He appointed an accomplished judge who is a man of integrity. He chose a man hailed on both sides of the aisle. Even former Al Gore Campaign attorney, David Boies, had only complimentary things to say about Judge Roberts (on Hannity and Colmes, Thursday, July 21, 2005)

Judge Roberts' credentials make it obvious that the president did not make his choice based merely on ideology. There’s even some debate among conservatives as to whether he is conservative enough and whether he personally holds pro-life views.

Yet, despite all of Judge Roberts’ outstanding qualifications, the media and the extreme wing of the Democratic Party are making this about abortion. These are the same people wagging their fingers at the president, warning him to not turn this into an abortion battle. Now that the candidate is selected, it appears that the media and a few Senators have a litmus test of their own. The LA Times even questioned
Roberts’ wife’s views on the subject. (Since when do judges’ spouses have to go through a confirmation process?! Do we even know the names of the spouses of the men and women on the bench?!) In any case, they’re all talking about abortion.

So, let’s talk about it. In reality, there is a large segment of the nation that does hope that the Roe v. Wade decision will get overturned. Not because anyone wants to see the return of back alley abortions. Not because of any bent towards theocracy. But, because something is wrong when the most developed and free nation in the world has taken the lives of over 40 million children since 1973.

Something is very wrong. It’s wrong because there is no real constitutional basis for it. It’s wrong that women feel so desperate or so deceived that they see ending a pregnancy as an option. It’s wrong that we would deprive children in the womb the life, liberty and pursuit happiness we hold so dear.

Feminists for Life (the group John Roberts’ wife has supported) said this: “Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion.” (italics mine)

Mother Theresa warned, “The greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion, which is war against the child. The mother doesn't learn to love, but kills to solve her own problems. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”

The battle in our country has nothing to do with Judge John Roberts. If he sat on the court and overruled Roe v. Wade, our problem would remain: will we extend the blessings of freedom, the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the most defenseless among us?

I pray that history will tell the story of a nation that didn’t simply choose the right justice in a critical time but one that began the process to meet the needs of women, children and generations to come who really do deserve better than abortion.


Insightful Interview

My friend, Chris (aka Layman), just sent me this hilarious transcript from Jon Stewart's Daily Show. Enjoy! ;)

JON STEWART: What has been the reaction in Washington?

ED HELMS: Liberals are outraged by Bush's choice. They have been for weeks.

JON STEWART: Ed, they just found out about Roberts last night.

ED HELMS: That's not the point. The Left wishes the president picked someone they wanted, not someone he wanted. I mean who gave him the authority? It's abuse of power.

JON STEWART: I think it's in the Constitution.

ED HELMS: What the Democrats are saying is they wish they had won the last election.


My Problem with Ann Coulter

Disclaimer: This is not a Republican, party-line propaganda site. Far from it. I'm happy to hold conservatives' feet to the fire as much as I'll call the liberal media out for the liberal propaganda machine that they are. My hope is that if you are a party-line conservative or a liberal, you will be encouraged to assess the issues according to principle, not party.

I present that disclaimer because I find that I often have as much of an issue with extremist Leftist groups like the National Organization of Women as with conservatives like Ann Coulter.

Ann is a brilliant woman, a lawyer, who has done her homework. But, she also represents the most inflammatory segment of the conservative movement. There are many times that I completely agree with her ideas while, at the same time, being completely turned off because of her caustic, cutting tone. I realize that the sarcasm is part of the sell; she does it well. And, it can be hilarious, so long as it doesn't represent others who call themselves Christian or conservative.

I say all that to say that John Roberts appears to be passing every test from conservatives, moderates and most liberals. I wrote yesterday that I take comfort when groups like NOW and Planned Parenthood come out swinging. While I'm not necessarily taking comfort in Ann's disapproval of Judge Roberts, it doesn't make me nervous.

Today, all the players piped in on the Roberts nomination. Everyone lined up in their places. Democratic Chairman Howard Dean, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Chuck Schumer, NOW President Kim Gandy, just to name a few, weighed in with their utter disgust of the president's pick. Hmmm...it's more comforting than I can express here. Knowing that those people hate Roberts brings such confidence in this man's values and character. By the same token, I find courage in everyone from Vice President Dick Cheney to Sean Hannity, Sen. John McCain and other more moderate Republicans and Democrats speaking on behalf of the nominee. Then, of course, our very own Layman made an excellent case for Roberts earlier on this blog.

If NOW and Ann Coulter are both unhappy about John Roberts, we can probably rest easy that the President chose wisely.

The President's Nominee: John Roberts

You can learn as much about someone by what their friends say about them as by what their opponents do. While I never want to pre-judge or misjudge someone based on their associations, knowing who vouches for them and who does not can be very telling. Such is the case with the president's nominee for the Supreme Court, John Roberts.

Tonight, as I watched some of the coverage of the president's nominee to the Supreme Court, I got a pretty good idea about this man. Not because he gave such a riveting speech. Not because I could hear confidence and character in his tone. Not even because of the gratitude and honor he shared with his family (although I really did like that).

Why I believe that this man is the right man for the job is because of what I read and heard from Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign and NARAL. They hate him.

A representative from Planned Parenthood appeared on Scarborough Country tonight. She was concerned that Judge Roberts, in his role of "crafting" the law, would overturn Roe v. Wade. "Crafting" the law? She could not substantiate any of her allegations, which were disguised as concerns.

I confess I did a little talking back to my television set when she made that claim. My suggestion to Ms. Planned Parenthood: READ THE CONSTITUTION! The role of the Judicial branch of our government is not to write, change or craft any law. The role of the Judiciary is to simply interpret or apply the law to the case before them. There is to be no crafting of any kind in the courts. That's the problem we have now. It's what we call Judicial Activism in a court that ignores the constitution and cites international law as a basis for its decisions. That is crafting, Ms. Planned Parenthood!

The fact that the nominee argued in his role in the Solicitor General's office to overturn Roe v. Wade is absolutely irrelevant. An attorney's role is to argue their case, to convince the court. A judge simply applies the law. If they were so upset about the causes he represented as a lawyer, why was Howard Fineman (Newsweek Editor) the only one I heard say that Roberts actually represented the Playboy Channel in a First Amendment case? Why aren't conservatives in an uproar about that? Answer: because he was serving as a lawyer, not a judge, in that case. I don't mean for this to come off in any way pedantic. I am just amazed at the commentary I heard tonight.

In any case, I then perused NARAL (Pro-Abortion advocates) and the Human Rights Campaign (Gay, Lesbian, Transgender advocates) websites and found more hostility towards Roberts. They are on a mission: do whatever it takes to keep Roberts from being confirmed. The one attack they launch is that this man will overturn Roe v. Wade. They say virtually nothing else. It's an unfounded, fear-based, sensational campaign reflecting the typical irrational, knee-jerk reaction we've seen from extremist groups.

And, honestly, that reaction gives me the idea that I'm really gonna like this guy.


On Bush's Pick

I've been emailing a lawyer friend of mine, Chris, regarding Bush's pick for the Court. I thought I'd share some of his insights with you. Read more from Chris (Layman, in the blog world) at Christian Cadre.

Frankly, I doubt he's changed his mind since he learned O'Connor was leaving. But that does not mean he did not go over everything again. Or, it could be that Bush had picks for different scenarios (O'Connor retires but Rehnquist stays; Rehnquist retires but O'Connor stays, Rehnquist and O'Connor retire), and was waiting to see how this scenario was going to play out as far as Rehnquist is concerned (I met him too four years ago, frankly though his mind was fine his body seemed frail).

One thing to keep in mind about leaks is that often there are factions within the administration or interest groups who intentionally leak names to try and sway public/base opinion in their favor. The hope is that momentum will build behind the "leaked" name and add further pressure to the administration to pick that person. Or, some leaks may be designed to damage competing candidates. For example, there was a leak that Garza had something bad in his paper trail and was therefore off the table. Then there were more leaks saying Garza was not off the table but the leak about his paper trail was made by those (within the admin) trying to prevent his nomination.

Flip Flops in the White House

If you were invited to the White House for a dinner or a photo op or anything at all, what would you wear?

Most of us would probably take a fair amount of time to choose the perfect outfit, because that’s what we do when the event, the people and the moment matter. We dress up at weddings and funerals. We take great care on a first date and on an interview. It’s a reflection of the importance of the event and of the people with whom we’re meeting.

Today, we see a picture headlining on Drudge about the national championship Northwestern University Women’s Lacrosse team visiting the White House with most of them wearing flip flops. No, they weren’t making a statement about any political flip-flopping. The flip flops were merely part of the outfit they so carefully--or not so carefully--picked out.

We can reprimand these women all day long. However, they are simply a product of our culture. While I agree that it is not only disrespectful but also embarrassingly naïve, I believe that we are simply reaping the consequence of demeaning authority and leadership that permeates the culture.

It was a few short years ago that the man who held the highest most respected office in the land participated in illicit and shameful behavior in that very same building. Not very far from there, elected officials refer to the president as a “moron,” and “idiot” and a “liar.” Nationally and internationally, the airwaves are simultaneously filled with condescension towards the president and compassion for the 9/11 killers.

It seems silly to wonder why this team of 20 and 30-something women might think it appropriate to wear flip flops to the White House. The problem stems from a much larger disease. Is the media upset at this blatant display of disrespect? How hypocritical of the media to tell anyone to do what they themselves neither say nor do.

Correction: Different Numbers, Same Argument

I have a correction to the previous post. (Thank you to those who brought this to my attention.) The one-third was actually in reference to the portion of recruitment that comes from re-enlistment. The rate of increase, over and above the Army's target, is actually 6%.

I'm happy to say that the same principles holds true. We will likely not hear about this in the NY Times, CNN or CBS. If what they are feeding us about the war and about the way our men and women on the field feel held any validity, then we would see a dramatic decrease in re-enlistment. That would be a story that would, undeniably and justifiably, fill the airwaves. Their refusal to return to battle would be the one argument that no one could debate.

Instead, the increase (even a 6% increase) symbolizes a military salute to the Commander in Chief in his vision and his strategy for fighting the war on terror. For as much as both sides claim to 'support the troops,' we ought to listen to the very loud and very clear message our troops are sending as they volunteer to return to the battlefield. That's an argument no one can debate.


Actions Speak Much Louder than Words

With all the commentary, protests and Monday morning quarter-backing taking place on a daily basis regarding the Iraq war, I was struck by a USA Today report about the Army's re-enlistment rates.

It turns out that soldier re-enlistment rates are one-third higher than the Army's target. The report attributes the increased numbers to better monetary bonuses and to "a renewed sense of purpose in fighting terrorism."

I'm curious how much air time this particular report will receive in the mainstream media today and this week. "The biggest thing is that soldiers believe in what they are doing," said. Col. Debbra Head, who monitors Army retention at the Pentagon. Perhaps there will be some discussion of the distinction between terrorism and Iraq. Or, maybe they'll be some debate over military funding. How many media outlets, besides Fox News Channel, will actually discuss the man-on-the-ground's perspective of this sense of purpose.

We, myself included, can analyze strategy, motivation and consequences of the war in Iraq and the larger war on terror. But, none of our comfortable commentary says more than a man or woman coming back from the battlefield to re-enlist.

If there's any picture of actions speaking louder than words, that is it.


The Hope for Our Nation

I just spent a week as one of the speakers/trainers at a seminar for young up-and-coming leaders so impassioned to change their world that they're devoting their lives to Christian ministry on the college campus.

I was so impressed by the enthusiasm and the character of these men and women. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that there are many things about our culture and our current leadership that frustrate me. However, every time I get around the future leaders, whether they are going into ministry, the marketplace or (what excites me most) media and public service, I can't help but take courage.

All is not lost on the next generation. They have grown up with such mixed messages from people in authority and watched them (from the home to the church to the White House) smear the very integrity and values they were to have represented. These men and women are hungry for what is good. They are dedicated to making things right. And, they are aware that they can't do it alone. That people with greater ability and intentions have failed in the attempt to do great things alone. (It's that whole "pride comes before a fall" principle.)

I firmly believe that our hope for real change lies in their hearts and hands. In them, I see Gideons and Deborahs, men and women not afraid to go against all odds, put their lives on the line and turn the course of the nation they love.

As for me, while I'm thrilled to play my part in the game, I'm honored and so very blessed to have even the smallest investment into these precious people. They truly are the hope for the nation.


In God We Trust

The recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll revealed that 63% of Americans believe that the President would be making a “positive step” by appointing a justice who “allows references to God in public life.”

While I’m glad to know that a strong majority recognize that it is healthy and positive to include God in public life, I’m a bit bothered by the nature of the question. While it's nice to know that the majority of Americans feel this way, I can’t help but remember what our Founders have said.

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”—James Madison

I hope we’re not expecting polls and popularity to dictate the way we ought to conduct ourselves as a nation and a people. Did our founders not already do this for us? The same people who literally gave their lives for this nation made it very clear how they felt about “allowing references to God.” They did just that. Today, feathers get ruffled at President Bush making reference to the difficulty of his job, and adding that he couldn’t imagine how it could be done without a faith in God. But, our very first president said the following:

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”—George Washington

It’s not simply a “positive step” to make reference to God. It is absolutely imperative that we do and foolish to think we can govern rightly otherwise.


Preparing for 2008: Hillary Clinton

She's a smart politician. There's no way she would hold the position or lay claim to the popularity she has if she weren't. You may not agree with her politics, rhetoric or her husband. I don't. Yet she stands as a very real force to be reckoned with in the next presidential election.

If you're like me, you support candidates who respect the constitution (as it was written, not the 'living,' changing version), who work to protect the dwindling individual and states' rights, who believe in the sanctity of human life and of marriage between a man and a woman and who affirm America's right to defend itself against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Up until this point, Senator Clinton has not fallen into the category of candidates my values allow me to support. And, apparently, I am one of millions of Red County Americans who feel the same way. (Incidentally, if you didn't get a chance to see the USA Today County-by-County breakdown from the last election, you must.) The vast majority of counties in these United States, even out here on the Left Coast, are Red (i.e. Bush supporters).

While I anticipate many a discussion about the viability of a Hillary Clinton candidacy, we must speak very honestly and openly about whatever transformation is taking place in the Clinton camp. The Hillary who has taken such a vehement stand for "abortion rights" has begun singing a slightly different tune. On Wednesday, former President Clinton defended her recent statements.

I don't begrudge any politician the right to change their views on any subject, so long as it is a genuine change of mind and heart. My concern is over the possibility of mere political machinations, maneuvering and manipulation of the American people. What exactly did she mean when she said that abortion was a "sad, even tragic choice”? Is tragic that any circumstances would lead a woman to the place of having to make choice? Is it tragic that any woman would feel like her only viable option is to terminate the life of her unborn child? Or, is it tragic that millions of babies are being killed every year?

This is a very smart woman in action. I don't believe that she lied or even contradicted herself. Technically, she didn't say anything that either offended her base or supported a pro-life stance. However, her language and her tone created the very impression she wanted her audience, in that moment, to get. That's what a shrewd politician does.

The only problem is that what we are desperate for in our leaders is not political savvy as much as public service. Why should we play this kind of game? We should not have to attempt to decipher the values and intentions of a candidate this way. Candidates shouldn't be about camouflaging what they believe about the issues Americans care about. I may not agree with a politician who claims the gruesome practice of partial birth abortion as a 'right.' But, I can respect the integrity of one who remains true to their core values.

What seems to be taking place in the metamorphosis of Senator Hillary Clinton is not just bad for her. It's bad for politics, bad for the country and bad for women.


Naming A Woman to the High Court

I guess we're going to have to talk about whether the President needs to name a woman to the Supreme Court. Apparently, the First Lady has recommended he do just that. Since I have just a minute at this time, I'm going to keep this brief right now.

For as much as women talk about not wanting to be evaluated on the basis of our gender, we sure do ask for quite a bit on the mere basis of our gender.

More later...

Another "Important" Study...Maybe Not

When I was a student at UCLA, I contemplated Psychology as a major. I enjoyed the subject matter. I found the professors interesting and the studies fascinating. But, I will never forget the day I decided Psychology was not for me. I was part of a study group, preparing for an exam. We were testing each other on the key figures in Psychology, their names and their contribution to the field.

It was George Mueller, I think, that put me over the top. Whether it was George or someone else, the textbook informed us that the significant idea he brought to advance this vital study was: "No two people are alike." Brilliant! How long did it take him to discern this complicated facet of humanity? What kind of in-depth, long-term experiment did he conduct to come to such a conclusion? And, what would Psychology look like today without such a foundational theory?

Please forgive my sarcasm. But, that's really what I thought and some of what I shared aloud as a part of that study group. It was also the beginning of the end of my consideration of Psychology as a major.

Today, we're hearing claims about cell phones and car accidents. Brace yourselves for this!
A study released Tuesday reveals that drivers using cell phones are four times as likely to get into a car accident. Maybe you didn't know that cell phones make us four times as likely to get in trouble on the road. But, I'd have to wonder whether you suspected this might be true. My guess is that whatever money and time was invested in the study was money that was wasted. Ask anyone who...hmmmm...drives. Yeh, that's it. Anyone who drives, would be the target group. What is the point of a study like that, really? It is, like Mueller, stating the obvious.

We all know that whether it be talking on a cell phone, drinking coffee or applying make up, anything that distracts us from the road makes us vulnerable to getting into an accident. Now I'm sounding like George Meuller.

It's early in the week and, as you can tell, I'm already burned out. Maybe I'll get more serious tomorrow :) Have a great day!


Terrorists and the BBC: What's in a Name?

It turns out that the BBC has joined the New York Times in its sensitivity and understanding towards terrorists.

If I wrote for the BBC, the above sentence would have been slashed...for many reasons, I'm sure. However, what might surprise you is that what violates current BBC standards is the word "terrorist."

According to the Telegraph, "The BBC's guidelines state that its credibility is undermined by the 'careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments.' Consequently, 'the word terrorist itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding' and its use should be avoided, the guidelines say."
What an absolute joke! We're debating the way prisoners are being treated at Guantanamo Bay and now what we call people who consider it a duty and honor to kill innocent civilians? My guess is that they, the terrorists (or, whatever you choose to call them) are entertained by our tolerance. Because the silliness of political correctness keeps us focused on our disagreements, not on them. It fosters infighting, not unity and strength against a very real and evil enemy. (Hmmm...I wonder if calling the vicious murderers "evil" is acceptable.)

Here's my little bit of advice to the New York Times and the BBC. Before you come up with your terrorist-sensitive policies and reports, take a moment to replay a video on a nearby television or simply a memory in your mind. Take your pick: 9/11 or 7/7. Consider the damage, consider the victims and consider the families. Then, begin writing.


"Bush did it": Dr. E on the London Attack

He is reasonable, intelligent and clear-minded. He’s also charming, wonderfully witty and refreshingly disarming. He’s humble, honorable and compassionate. He has always considered my interests above his own and has gone out of his way to take care of me. He is my optometrist.

We’ll just call him “Dr. E.” Dr. E has become quite a friend. Just a friend, really. And, we have talked about quite a number of things. It wasn’t, however, until my last visit to his office, just a couple of days ago, that I ventured into the realm of the forbidden: religion and politics.

I’ll save our religion discussion for another more relevant time. Suffice it to say that we don’t see eye to eye (ha ha). When I realized that was the case and didn’t see any need to argue about what would be pointless at the moment, I thought I’d attempt a “safer” route. “How about what happened in London this week?!” I asked. This very reasonable man responded, “I think Bush did it!” He was not joking. I could hardly believe it. How could this intelligent man say that…and believe it? I laughed, “You’ve got to be kidding me! You don’t really believe that, do you?!” Oh yes he did!

The discussion continued as he questioned why terrorists would settle for killing less than a hundred people and why they would attack in England, where the population wants its government out of Iraq. After virtually picking myself up from the floor, I responded with the simple observation that England’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has been the one European leader who has stood with President Bush in the war against terror and in the fight in Iraq. That’s why. Though he credited me with the point, we had stumbled onto yet another disagreement. It seems as though our views do not fall in the same vicinity, to say the least, on the political spectrum.

As the conversation progressed, it became painfully apparent that Dr. E's ideas had nothing to do with the events of the week, or terrorism or even war. Instead, his issues were all focused on his disagreement, disapproval and possible disdain for President Bush. That was the crux of the matter.

And, because it was, I had a choice to make. Would I proceed to tear apart what was, in my view, an emotional and irrational perspective? Would I enter into debate mode? I was tempted. I considered it. But I didn't.

While our conversation remained interesting, I found myself much more concerned about maintaining civility and respect than proving a point. Not because I’m in anyway inherently above the debate and argument that naturally ensue over these issues. Actually, as you'll find on this site, I am very prone :)

This was different. I could tell that Dr. E may have had prior run-ins with people who believed what I believed but whose tone was different. I have every intention of talking further about these kinds of issues. Because they matter and because he’s a friend. But, that's not the point.

Instead, the exchange reminded me of the priority in times like this, when our nation is so torn, so divided on such major issues of the day, for consideration and respect for others. So many times, as I watch cable news and listen to talk radio, I hear people whose ideas I share but whose attitude turns so many people-- including some who agree--off. Being right never justifies being self-righteous, obnoxious or disrespectful.

Being right has as much to do with having right answers as it does having the right attitude towards others. In the book of Corinthians, the apostle Paul declared that “the love of God compels us.” The Bible also says that it is both lovingkindness and truth that go before God. There are times to set agendas aside, however true we think they may be, as an extension of love, respect and consideration.

I believe that as we extend more respect, we will find more open hearts and minds. The purpose is not to manipulate people but to embody the very truth we claim to represent. If being right means being mean, intolerant and arrogant, then it's no wonder people aren't interested. Neither am I.


Remembering September 11: Tragedy in London

I have a confession to make. Just yesterday I had decided that since I’ve been writing about such intense political issues lately, it was time to blog about something on the “lighter” side. When I woke up this morning, I realized that today would not be the day to go "light."

I found two text messages on my phone when I got up. One was sent at 5:30am by a friend in Virginia, who incidentally absolutely hates sending text messages. Just the day before, he told me that he was through sending text messages. I say all that to say that seeing that he'd sent a text and that it came as early as it did got my attention. His message read, "T attacks in London." While I had no idea what the heck that meant, the word "attacks" gave me all the clue I needed to know something was really wrong. I immediately jumped online to find out.

Reading and watching the reports took me back to that terrible Tuesday in 2001. I remember feeling numb, terrified, sad and angry all at the same time. It was surreal to hear newscasters report that the United States hadn’t been attacked on such a massive scale on its own territory since Pearl Harbor, the bombing that catapulted us into a world war. What we saw that day, and so many days thereafter, was the kind of thing that seemed reserved for history books…and movies.

This morning, the scenes of the tragic events in London took me back to that dark day in September. The announcement that Britain hadn’t suffered such an attack since World War II sent chills through my body. My eyes were instantly filled with tears as I remembered the devastation of 9/11. Innocent men and women simply on their way to work, having just said goodbye to loved ones at home, whose lives were so violently and so insidiously ripped away.

Tony Blair’s speech was heart wrenching. While I was so thankful and so impressed by President Bush’s post-9/11 leadership, I took note of a difference in Blair’s tone and demeanor today. Tony Blair has served his nation as Prime Minister for eight years now. When he spoke, he did so with restrained emotion. He spoke as a leader who felt more like a husband and father who’d just watched his family tortured and killed. He spoke as a man grieving personally over this very public outrage. He spoke as a man who would make them pay.

I pray that God would give these leaders the wisdom, insight and strength to bring the vicious attackers to justice. I pray that God would comfort those precious families and loved ones of those who fell today. And, I pray that every person who reads these words would do likewise.


For Such a Time As This

It was called the most critical election of our time. It was of the most vicious political battles in recent history. Both parties acted like everything was at stake. Why?

Was it the different viewpoints of the war in Iraq? We were inundated by commentary and analysis from military generals and political pundits. For most people, the more they talked, the more confusing it became. The confusion was so great that John Kerry voted for and against the same bill ("I voted for the $87 billion…before I voted against it.") Poor guy.

Seriously, though, as much air time as the war on terror rightly received, what we all know what motivated the base on both sides was one issue: Who would appoint the next Supreme Court Justices, and thereby determine the course of the nation?

That, my friends, is why many of us voted for President Bush. Just as I was comforted that it was Bush who was in office on September 11, I am so thankful for this moment.

The Constitution gives the President the right and the responsibility of appointing Supreme Court Justices. The Senate has the job of giving advise and consent. If you read closely, you'll find that the Senate is actually not obligated to threaten, harass, manipulate the President. Believe it or not, Senator Ted Kennedy actually does not have the right to dictate who he deems to be an appropriate nominee. The President's job is to nominate a qualified candidate of his choice, not one who will "bring the country together." Justices are appointed and not elected in order to be unaffected by public opinion. Their job is to simply apply the constitution to the cases before the Court, not to appease or bring people together.

If the President had been elected by a very slim margin, there would remain no question about his authority to select the person of his choice to sit on the Court. This President received more votes than any other in our history. He has the mandate from the people to do this job. Honestly, if I represent any of his base at all, I am watching to make sure he doesn't cave in to the tactics of the Left. I voted to President Bush so that he would appoint men and women to restore order in this runaway Court. I want Justices who will quote the constitution, not international law. I want Justices who will apply the constitution, not redefine it.

The President stands in a critical moment. I believe this moment is as important for him as was September 11. He was born for such a time as this.

Join me in contacting the White House to encourage President Bush to nominate a Supreme Court justice who will uphold the Constitution, not legislate from the bench.

White House comment line: (202) 456-1111. E-Mail: president@whitehouse.gov


Far Reaching and Dangerous: The Supreme Court

A friend of mine is the wife of a pastor of what was a thriving, growing church in Southern California. The city approached the church about buying their property in order to build a road through their land. The church had to move, now meets in an elementary school about 20 miles away from their original location and continue to search for property. They didn’t have a choice but they understood the reasonability of the city’s request.

They continue to pay the price, now years later. Their membership dropped (because of the location). That means that their revenue dropped significantly. The funds they need to buy property (keep in mind that this is Southern California…not the easiest or least expensive place to buy land) are now being used to rent office, storage and service facilities. As difficult as it is, the request and purchase of their land went without dispute because of the legitimacy of the need.

According to the Constitution, my friend's story falls completely within the realm of the Fifth Amendment, and the government's right to seize property for the common good."Nor shall any person be…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. " (Amendment V, The Constitution)

The government had the right to take their property (with ‘just compensation,’ of course) because of the above-quoted clause in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. But, it has the right to do so based on this whole notion of “public use.”

"Public Use" defined: The government's condemnation of private property for public use such as schools, streets, highways, hospitals, government buildings, parks, water reservoirs, flood control, slum clearance and redevelopment, public housing, public theaters and stadiums, safety facilities, harbors, bridges, railroads, airports, terminals, prisons, jails, public utilities, canals, and numerous other purposes designated as beneficial to the public.

The framers did not intend that the city leaders in Los Angeles, for example, would show up at my door one day telling me that they need to buy my house from me because McDonald’s thought it would be a great spot for business. While that transaction might in time actually create a legitimate public need for a hospital in the same area, the Fifth Amendment would not protect the proposition. It's an outrageous prospect to anyone respecting private property and the Constitution. Surely, the Supreme Court knows better. Right? Wrong!

Apparently, what's cut and dry to anyone reading the Fifth Amendment was not so cut-and-dry to the Court, as last week's ruling gave a private company the right to buy an individual's property and, as such, redefined 'public use' to include bringing in revenue to the state. It is outrageous.

The job of the Supreme Court is to interpret and to apply the constitution to specific cases. They are to interpret the Constitution, not enforce or legislate, not to rewrite and definitely not to ignore it. I’m tempted to mail each of the Justices a copy of the Constitution. I say that because I cannot see how they came to their decision to allow a private company to take an individual’s property where there was no public use issue. The state would simply stand to gain more revenue from the company’s presence.

Here’s Justice Steven’s justification:
“Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government…Clearly, there is no basis for exempting economic development from our traditionally broad understanding of public purpose.”

He also said that the plan "unquestionably serves a public purpose," even though it was intended to increase jobs and tax revenue rather than remove blight.

Justice Thomas called the decision “far reaching and dangerous,” as it would hurt the less powerful. Justice O’Conner regretted the decision, “The government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more…The founders cannot have intended this perverse result.”

It’s not over. I believe that it’s only a matter of time before the issue shows up a the foot of the Court again. There is no way that freedom-loving, constitution-reading citizens of this country will tolerate this kind of depsotism. There is no way that the Supreme Court can continue to disregard the constitution altogether and not expect a challenge.

I also believe that it’s incumbent upon us to let our Senators know exactly how what we think about the Constitution being stepped on yet again by the men and women in black robes. Let’s see to it that the next appointees to the Court read and honor the document to which they’re bound.

"The Court is most vulnerable and comes nearest to illegitimacy when it deals with judge-made constitutional law having little or no cognizable roots in the language or design of the Constitution." Byron White


A Fourth of July Prayer

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year, I'd like to pray a prayer and issue a charge to all who love liberty in this nation.

Lord Jesus, You who are the way, the truth, and the life; hear us as we pray for the truth that will make all free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to do what is right.

I thought it would be appropriate to open with a prayer for liberty. But, that prayer was not my own. It was not prayed in a church, or a Christian conference or at the recent Billy Graham Crusade.

That prayer was prayed in the halls of Congress to open a session of the Senate. It was Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall who uttered those words, not in 1807, but in 1947. Not long ago.

On this 4th of July, I thought this prayer would be appropriate because this prayer, which exhorts us to live and not just love freedom; this prayer, which defines liberty as the opportunity to do what is right; and, this prayer, which names Jesus as Lord, the way the truth and the life, is more of a reflection of our history and identity as a nation than what we see and hear from the media--and even from Congress!--today.

On this 4th of July, we celebrate: the birth of the United States, freedom from tyranny, freedom to worship without government constraint and freedom to speak and express ourselves, even if that expression means criticizing our government and its leaders, without fear of persecution.

Unfortunately, we can't say the same about most places around the world. In the Middle East and Asia, in particular, people are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed if they speak against the government.

A recent example of the oppression in China has to do with blogs. In the US, there are blogs which support the President and others that call for his impeachment, and everything in between! In China, as of last week, any one who didn’t register their blog with the government could face criminal sanctions. And, because that kind of threat is exactly what the Chinese are accustomed to, over 75% of bloggers had already registered their sites as commanded.

But, the reason we can celebrate such freedom is not because we, as Americans, are in any way geographically, biologically or spiritually predisposed to loving and living in liberty. Ultimately, regardless of where we live or what nation lays claim to our loyalty, true freedom for every individual is found in Jesus. The Bible says that "he whom the Son sets free is free indeed." And, even nations find freedom in their submission to God and His principles. The Bible says "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

That is what our founders understood. They were not perfect men. Far from it. They failed along the way in some very big ways. The stain of slavery will forever mark the pages of our history as proof of their fallibility. But what they did right was infuse biblical principles into the foundations of this republic.

Commenting on the fight for Independence, John Quincy Adams (6th President and son of President John Adams) made this statement: "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: that it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

Here’s Thomas Jefferson, defining the separation of church and state: "The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall; it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government." (Speaking to Danbury Baptists January 1, 1802)

By modern standards, John Quincy Adams and Thomas Jefferson would be labeled out-of-the-mainstream, extremists espousing radical activism.

This week a couple of foundations of our nation suffered a crippling blow at the hands of the Supreme Court. The Court handed down one ruling that essentially calls into question the entire concept of private property. The other ruling stated that the Ten Commandments can’t be posted in a courthouse unless it’s obviously not religious. (I'll be discuss these further in an upcoming blog.)

Keep this in mind as you read one more quote: "We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

Today, the author of that statement would have probably been kicked out of the Supreme Court and accused of being a religious fanatic with no respect for the constitution. That quote didn't come from Jerry Falwell or James Dobson. It wasn't Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity. It was James Madison, the man who wrote so much of the constitution that he's called "the architect" of the constitution.

"Posterity, you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it." (John Quincy Adams)

Freedom always comes with a price. Today, we don’t have a physical battle, as did the founders. But, we do have a very real cultural and spiritual battle. As Americans, with the right to meet in our churches and Bible studies so openly and publicly every week, we must be active in contacting our representatives about these issues and in voting for the right candidates. Not just in presidential elections! Every justice sitting on the Supreme Court, handing us these decisions that undermine the very principles on which our republic was founded, started years ago on a local ballot somewhere, running for some “lesser” position.

Those men and women who got elected to "lesser" positions, decades later, now charter the course of our nation's destiny. Let’s make good use of our freedom. The Bible says that when the righteous rule, the people rejoice. There is rejoicing yet to be had for our nation.

Lord Jesus, teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to do what is right.

May we make good use of our liberty by doing what is right.


For the Record...On Hannity and Bush

Because of comments I have made in recent blogs, I received some questions about where I stand politically.

I've been asked specifically about my references to President Bush and to Sean Hannity. I am an avid supporter of the President. As a matter of fact, I'm happy to say that I was part of the 96-Hour Task Force in Colorado for the last election. There is no question he is the man for the job right now. I agree with David Frum (author of The Right Man) that George W Bush is the man of the hour for our nation and for the world. I shudder at the thought of Al Gore or John Kerry at the helm in this critical time in our country. I thank God for George W Bush.

I am also a big fan of Sean Hannity. Actually, I am a regular caller to his radio show. I agree with Sean probably 95% of the time. He is a delight to listen to and to talk with. I love his passion, his patriotism, his love for God, for his family and for people in general. A man's gifting and talent is no measure of his character. In this case, though, Sean continually proves himself to be a man of honesty, integrity and compassion. He may not be right all the time--in my humble opinion :)-- but he's a good man.

I say all that to say that I am absolutely a supporter of these men. However, above any identification or loyalty to them, I am a Christian and a conservative. My conservatism, however, finds its basis in Christian principles of government, not necessarily in the views of today's icons of conservatism and not in the Republican party.

I, therefore, will not hesitate to address issues with people I generally support. In fact, I believe that if we're truly supportive of the people and the ideas we believe in, we must be the first offer solutions to problems in our camp. That is why I have written about the potentially compromising photo ops and the misjudgment of the Aruba case.

In the same way I appreciate and welcome a friend notifying me of a piece of spinach between my teeth, I love it when people confidently raise questions with much bigger issues with my ideology or my lifestyle. I welcome it. We all should.

If we don't, we're doomed to remain the same. God forbid!