No Other America

"There's no America out there except America to respond to it. We've got to do it ourselves."
--Col. Austen Bay (on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Tuesday, August 30)

I was struck as I listened to Hugh Hewitt's interview with Col. Austen Bay. The words he ended the interview with reminded me of the strength of our nation, even in times like these.

When other nations are hit with calamity, whether it be terrorism or a natural disaster, it is the United States that comes to the rescue.

The United States gave more than all other nations combined to the Tsunami relief efforts in Southeast Asia last December. As my friend,
Layman, wrote recently, we sent 20,000 soldiers and sailors, over 24 million pounds of relief supplies, thousands of tons of food, thousands of gallons of drinking water. That is what we do.

It's who we are. It's what we do. It's part of our history. Think back to the Marshall Plan. We helped our enemies after the war. How many other nations can be counted in the same category?!

After the September 11 attacks, the Red Cross alone received over one billion dollars worth of contributions. The vast majority of funds came from individual Americans committed to helping our own. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that "America is great because America is good." This generosity is a reflection of that goodness.

That time has come yet again. It's time for us to rise to the strength and the goodness of America. There's no other nation or people waiting in the wings to help us the way we do others.

There are many good organizations and churches who are organizing relief efforts. My recommendations are Feed the Children and Samaritan's Purse.

It's time to be our own America.



"We're going to need some serious help to start over. Everything is ruined."

While I thank God that the fury of hurricane Katrina was overestimated by forecasters, it, nevertheless, left devastation in its path. Homes were washed off their foundations, highways flooded and people killed. I don't quite understand the people who, despite mandatory evacuation, hung out at home on the roof. Not too smart when you know that a level 5 hurricane is coming your way!

In any case, it is time to lend a hand to our fellow Americans who now need, to quote one Gulfport's Forest Heights resident, "to start over" because "everything is ruined."

Samaritan's Purse is bringing immediate relief to residents in the area. I encourage you to do something, whether through Samaritan's Purse or another organization that's helping the victims of Katrina.

The other thing I encourage you to do is to pray for all those affected, either by loss of property or of a loved one.


People With Tie to Iraq War Back It

A recent poll shows the story that the majority of the mainstream media is not telling. People who know someone fighting the war in Iraq are more likely to support the war. Hmmmm. You mean Cindy Sheehan doesn't really speak for military families? She's actually does not represent a majority of families? Wow. The way she's become the darling of the mainstream media, you would never know.

"He talked about all the good things that are going on," said Chittum, a school superintendent and a political independent who supports the war effort. "Schools are opening up. The people are friendly, wanting our help. You get a whole different spin from what you get on television."

The poll reveals that those who know someone serving in Iraq were more likely to approve of the Bush administration's conduct of the war -- 44 percent, compared to 37 percent overall. That is, more people believe what their husbands, brothers and sons tell them than believe the "quagmire" spin on the evening news. More people are also reading alternative sources, like Michael Yon's excellent reporting of the play-by-play of the war we get nowhere else.

With re-enlistment rates higher than they've been, it appears to me that those most closely entrenched in this war continue to stand behind the president and believe in the cause. I wish we would trust their judgment in the way we count on them to fight for and defend our right to speak freely for or against the war, or any other issue.

It's been said that there are two sides (at least) to every story. If those who give Cindy Sheehan the media attention she has received in the last few weeks gave even a fraction of that time to families who've lost loved ones and remain steadfast in their support of the war and the president, I believe that the general population might not be as agitated.

I don't really expect everyone to chant the "fair and balanced" mantra. I just would love a telling of both sides, simply and truthfully.


Monkeying Around

"As a man thinks, so he is." (Proverb)

It may funny and amusing but it is a sad reflection of what we think about ourselves. What is "it?" It's a display of human beings at the London Zoo. No joke. It's real!

It's too pathetic to say very much about it. Read the article and weep.

For those of you who say it's an appropriate placement, since we are just animals, I'll tell you what I learned long ago from a teacher. The one capability that sets humans apart from animals scientifically is what is called "metacognition." That is, the ability to think about what we're thinking about. That one area of cognitive development is the very thing that allows us to have self-control and make moral and ethical judgments on our own behavior. We are not simply animals without any ability to control our desires, emotions and actions.

In a strange way, this story makes for an interesting wrap up for the week. Think about it. Our selfish motives would naturally lead us to creating our own little kingdoms, feeding our egos whatever the cost ("Celebrity vs. Integrity"). Our "animalistic" nature means we can't and shouldn't control our sexual appetite whenever and however we deem appropriate, even as high school students ("How did it happen?!). And finally, our lack of self-control and personal responsibility open the door to blame our doctor when he tells us the very thing we need to hear ("Political Correctness Can Kill You").

That "animal mentality" feeds our desire to be unaccountable and irresponsible. It also robs us of the joy and prosperity we're designed to enjoy as human beings.

Perhaps we ought to think a bit more highly of ourselves.


Political Correctness Can Kill You

We've often heard it said that "the truth hurts." It doesn't take a whole lotta living to experience that reality.

Growing up, if our parents did a decent job, we learned about boundaries and felt consequences if we disrespected or disregarded those boundaries. Going to school we learned that if we didn't do our homework, our grades suffered. In the workplace, it is unacceptable to show up whenever we please or fail to meet deadlines. While there may be some exceptions for the homeschooled or the self-employed, the same principles apply. If we fail to meet the expectations, there is some consequence. Not merely for punishment sake but in the hope for future change, for everyone's good...if it's done right.

You might think that I'm merely stating the obvious. One woman in New Hampshire, however, does not agree. You see, this woman's doctor told her that she needed to lose weight. Dr. Terry Bennett said it this way: “I told a fat woman she was obese...I tried to get her attention. I told her, 'You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you.'"

The woman filed a complaint with the state claiming that his advice proved more hurtful than helpful. Now, I can completely understand how horrible it is to see an insensitive doctor. I've seen one or two in my day. It's terrible. However, at the end of the day, if I had to choose between a doctor sugar-coating health issues and one with no sensitivity, no "bedside manner," I want the truth whatever form it comes in. My health is my responsibility, not any doctor's. His job is to diagnose, prescribe and/or treat medical issues.

As much as we hear "the truth hurts," we also hear "the truth will set you free." What we don't hear very often is that the truth can't set you free until it first hurts you. We creatures of habit and lovers of comfort often need to feel truth's pain to move us to change. Perhaps that's something Dr. Bennett understands.

If there were ever a story about missing the point, this is it. And, as such, it's a sad story, for everyone involved. I hope the doctor doesn't stop telling the truth. I hope that the patient begins to take action to improve her health, including forgiving the doctor for his choice of words and thanking him for relaying a painful truth.

I also hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Don't eat too much! :)


The Honor of a Woman

The legislators of the United States, who have mitigated almost all the penalties of criminal law, still make rape a capital offense, and no crime is visited with more inexorable severity by public opinion. This may be accounted for; as the Americans can conceive nothing more precious than a woman's honor and nothing which ought so much to be respected as her independence, they hold that no punishment is too severe for the man who deprives her of them against her will. In France, where the same offense is visited with far milder penalties, it is frequently difficult to get a verdict from a jury against the prisoner. Is this a consequence of contempt of decency or contempt of women? I cannot but believe that it is a contempt of both.
--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

In writing about the Timken High School pregnancy epidemic yesterday, I got to thinking about issues related specifically to what we teach and impart to young women in our society.

When Alexis de Tocqueville examined our democracy in the 1880s, he paid special attention to the way women were treated and the way they behaved as an indicator of the success of our democracy.

Conflicting Messages
Here's what women hear from people in authority, from the media and in the schools:
  • There is no difference between you and men.
  • Men are dogs.
  • Don't repress your sexuality. Be free to experiment. (Planned Parenthood)
  • Do whatever feels good now.
  • Whatever you do, make sure that you are independent. That way, in case your man leaves you, you don't need him.
  • It doesn't matter what you look like; it's what's inside that matters.
  • If you want to be popular and successful, this is what you need to look like: an airbrushed model.
  • Your role models: anyone besides women who choose to stay home with their children.
  • Songs that empower you: "Independent Woman," "Payback," "Since You've
    Been Gone" and "Complicated."

I could go on. But, I'll spare you...for now. One thing is clear about the message preached to women today: it's mixed and not clear at all. Add to that the crisis in the modern day family, and it's actually a miracle that more teenage girls are not addicted to drugs, attempting suicide and getting pregnant. The concept of honor, noted by de Tocqueville, has vanished.

I believe that as women are valued and taught to appreciate their own worth in the eyes of God, teen pregnancy wouldn't be an issue because teen sexuality wouldn't be one. Regardless of how boys behaved, girls would have the final say. As 'bad' as boys may be, there would be no epidemic of teen pregnancy if girls simply told the boys that their bodies were reserved for their husbands. There would be no need for teaching parenting to teens if girls had such a sense of purpose for their lives that they didn't give the little hormonal boys the time of day.

Honor would be restored to women, to men and to the nation.

De Tocqueville was the same man who said that "America is great because America is good. And, if America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great." I wonder what he'd say today, both about our 'goodness' and about our women.


How did it happen?!

Listening to one of my favorite talk show hosts, Hugh Hewitt, yesterday, I was fascinated by a story he covered.

The story is about Timken High School in a little town in Canton, Ohio. The school made the headlines because of its number of pregnant students. Out of the 490 female students, sixty-five (65) are pregnant. School officials say that they don't know how it happened. Hmmm. If you're doing the math, that means about one in every seven girls and just under 15%! For perspective, a recent Washington Times report noted that the teen pregnancy rate in DC was the highest in the nation. That rate: 12%! What the heck is going on at Timken?!

I taught at an LA Unified high school for seven years. I taught at two different schools. Each school had a very different culture and set of expectations and, consequently, a difference in overall student behavior. If there's one thing I know, it is this: students will rise or sink to the level of expectation presented to them.

We cannot pretend that a sex-crazed media doesn't affect all students (and adults). In addition, there is no replacing the responsibility of the family. But, these factors play a part in every other high school.

The mystery in the Timken epidemic is the unique culture that is fostered on campus. School officials are required to act "en loco parentis" (in place of the parent) when those students are under school care. What kind of sex education program exists? How involved is Planned Parenthood? Is there any abstinence teaching?

I think the answer to the Timken High may very well be found in the following questions.
- How do school officials communicate about the pregnant students?
- What roles to they allow the pregnant teens to take? That is, has there been a pregnant student body president? Or cheerleader? Maybe Homecoming Queen?
- Could it be that in their attempts to praise a student for keeping a child have turned into a way for students to gain attention?
Whether it was an inadvertent glorification of pregnancy or a complete abdication of responsibilities, school officials must be held accountable.


Celebrity vs. Integrity

Just thinking today...

I have often been very disturbed by what I see as a mix of human nature and a culture of celebrity that has become so pervasive in our world. It's usually discussed in the context of athletics and sometimes in the context of Hollywood. But, it's everywhere.

While we may mentally acknowledge that a man or woman's gifting is no measure of their character, we--as a culture--don't act like we believe that. We esteem charisma, talent, gifting far above integrity in almost every arena of our society. Think about it: what kind of people are the ones who 'get away with' things like immorality, financial corruption and abuse for years before confronted, if they're ever confronted? It's the charismatic, gifted and successful. Not that it isn't possible to be those things and walk in integrity and be a person of character. However, the ones who are consistently given a pass are the ones by whom we are enamored.

Why does a murderer like Scott Peterson continue to be flooded with letters from women who want to be with him? On the one hand, it is quite a sad statement about the women writing to him. On the other, human nature is easily deceived and enamored by charm.

OJ Simpson

Kenneth Lay
Ted Kennedy
Michael Jackson

Newt Gingrich
Bill Clinton
Jimmy Swaggart
Kofi Anan

I don't mean to pick on men. I'm just writing off the top of my head and can't think of women right now. But, these men are a testimony to the pathetic love affair we have with celebrity from the halls of Congress to the film screen to the church pulpit. I believe every one of those men was destined to shape our world in a positive way. I believe that every one of them may have truly been motivated to do good and make a difference. But there were other motives mixed in. And, I believe that they were done a disservice by being left alone and being, in some cases, idolized in their spheres of influence and in the culture at large.

It sad and sobering at the same time because the very people who set them on a pedestal end up being destroyed by their influence and deception.

I guess the moral of the story today is found in getting back to the basics. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are: 1) love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and 2) love your neighbor as yourself. If we love God with the entirety of our being, perhaps we will be less prone to deifying any human being because "all fall short of the glory of God." And, if we love our neighbors as ourselves, then we will both comfort and treasure them as well as confront, challenge and pray for them regardless of their personality, their career, their socio-economic status or their charisma.

We can't make anyone do anything they aren't willing to. However, if we love them as ourselves, we will do what we can to protect them from themselves when necessary. Something I think we all need at some point in our lives.


Chemicals, Dirty Bombs and Sarin Gas

I found an interesting piece of news tucked away, probably for its lack of sensationalism. It's a report that the police in the UK thwarted an Al-Qaeda attack (about a year ago). The plan was directed at ministers and MPs in Parliament. And, they would be using chemicals, a "dirty bomb" and sarin gas.

I'm writing about this today because in the midst of Cindy Sheehan, peace vigil and protest-mania, we could lose sight of the real enemy. As much as perhaps well-meaning protesters, like Sheehan, have deemed the President the "biggest terrorist in the world," we would be foolish to forget our very real enemy. An enemy that plotted well before our troops showed up in Afghanistan or Iraq, an enemy that has for decades called the United States the "great Satan" and an enemy that must be loving the infighting in our country today.

My father will sometimes watch Al-Jazeera and tell me about how that relish in "reporting" about the protests against the president as well as the statements from leaders and politicians who question and criticize our nation in any way. My dad often shakes his head in disgust as he observes, "Al-Jazeera doesn't have to come up with news that makes this country look bad. The American people are doing it on their own." We are dishing it out.

We cannot forget that the enemy cannot plan to use chemicals, dirty bombs and sarin gas unless they have this stuff. And, while I thank God for all our First Amendment liberties, I pray that we don't use them to do more harm than good. If the terrorists have their way, our way of life, our freedom of speech and the entire constitution will be non-existent.

Peter Marshall once said, "Liberty is not the freedom to do as we please, but the opportunity to do what is right." I wish more people would keep that definition of liberty in mind before speaking up in this critical hour in our nation.

p.s. thanks for the kind words, everyone. i'm feeling better. my computer still isn't back. but, it should be ready to go in a couple of days. :)


Back in a few days

Hello friends,
I wanted to let you know that as addicted as I am to the blogosphere, in the last week my computer has been down. I've been posting from various locations such as friends' computers and even Kinkos. In addition, I have also been under the weather. That's what accounts for the shorter posts. I didn't want to break the daily momentum. However, I have resolved to take just a few days off...unless some huge story breaks between now and the weekend.

Thanks for understanding.

God bless.


A Kinder, Gentler NCAA

Political Correctness strikes again. The New NCAA policy has now forbidden the use of Native American mascots.

I believe important and necessary to respect all ethnicities and people groups in every arena, whether it be the office, the stage or the playing field. However, the NCAA is presuming a few things in its broad sweeping policy.

1. Pride. There is a great amount of pride surrounding these Native American/Warrior mascots. Those wearing the symbols and making the gestures are not making a statement about the people of the tribe; they are cheering on their teams...with pride. That's a good thing.

2. Local identity. There are schools, like the University of Utah, who have received permission from the tribe to use its name for the school. In this case, the NCAA overrules the Utes in the name of respecting the Utes!

3. Hypocrisy. If the policy is designed to respect all people groups, then let's take another look at the list of mascots. What about Notre Dame? Does the NCAA not care about the Irish reputation? Or, do the Irish simply not have enough special interest groups working on their behalf? If they aim to be consistent, we'll not have any safe names. I suppose even a name like "Patriots" could be problematic.

What are the kinder, gentler mascots for a game which involves a couple dozen men chasing a piece of leather and tackling each other, shedding blood and breaking bones, in order to get their hands on it?


Border Politics

Democrats and Republicans, Californians and New Yorkers, men and women and Caucasians as well as Latinos all agree that our wide open border and its accompanying illegal immigration is one of our greatest, if not the greatest, area of weakness in the war on terror.

I am, very honestly, mystified by the silence on the issue--from both sides of the aisle. It's one of my biggest frustrations with the Bush administration. I've heard both Bush and Cheney asked point blank about the border and watched as they spun and dodged the question altogether. Democrats aren't much better.

Apparently, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico has begun taking a proactive stance. This Washington Times editorial ties the issue to the coming 2008 election. It angers me that national politics would be a greater motivator than national security.

I understand that there is no simple answer to the border question. We never want to fence ourselves off from the world. Our Statue of Liberty expresses our heart to welcome men and women from all nations. Furthermore, the sheer vastness of the border makes the challenge a seeming impossibility. But, we are the United States, with the access to the greatest minds and technology available. And, we are at war. How is it possible that four years after 9/11 there is no plan to secure our borders?

I know that there are many frustrated conservatives who are waiting for an answer whether it comes from a Republican from Texas or a Democrat from New Mexico.


Why He Can't Meet Her

Kathleen Parker wrote a piece regarding the Cindy Sheehan situation. I appreciate her global perspective on this issue. All eyes are on the President. Americans, Europeans, Al-Jazeera and the terrorists. Please forgive my brief analysis today. But, I trust you will find her take on this very insightful.

Click here for Parker's analysis.


Dear Mrs. Sheehan

Dear Mrs. Sheehan,

I’d like to offer my condolences for the loss of your son, Casey. I cannot imagine the pain you must feel. A heart attack took my mother's life several years ago and it was the most difficult time of my life. How much more heart-wrenching for a parent to lose a child for any reason, much less in a war. I thank you for raising a young man with the courage, the compassion and the conviction to fight for his nation.

I understand that you had disagreements with President Bush long before your son left for the battlefield. I have also read the statement released by your family recently, denouncing your behavior as you call for another meeting with the president. I hear that you simply want to ask the president why he killed your son. I understand that while grieving, sometimes time only introduces more questions and frustration. But, is that really why you want to see the president? To ask him why he killed your son? Is that really your question? Your one question?

Maybe it might be more helpful to talk with other mothers and fathers who lost their sons in the same field. I am sure you are aware of the many others who have lost sons to the same cause and who continue to support the war effort.

I don’t mean to paint an idealistic picture of this situation. Nobody wants war. Nobody. War is ugly. When nations war, men and women die. That’s just the way it works. However, I have to wonder what these other parents might say.

Perhaps they would have different questions. One mother might want to ask the president, “How many women were saved from torture and rape at the hands of the Saddam Hussein regime because my son gave his life?” Another may want to know, “How many people participated in the first democratic election in Iraq’s history because of my son?” Yet another may say, “I’ve never seen children look as happy and grateful as the pictures my son e-mailed me before he was shot. Those children have hope for a better future because of my son.”

Why do I think they may say such things? Because I have heard them express these exact sentiments. This is not about one set of parents being right. This is about the honor of the men and women who have fallen as well as those who continue to stand in the battle.

Again, I am so sorry for the loss of your son. May you and your family be strengthened and comforted during this time.

Sometimes what we feel like doing most would not be the thing that our loved ones would want us to do. I remember how unnatural it felt to move forward in my life after my mother's death. Yet, as abnormal as it felt, it was what she would have wanted and what was right. With that in mind, Mrs. Sheehan, I have question. Would the patriotic young man who volunteered for this fight be honored to know that his mother is demanding--in such a manner--to interrogate and criticize his Commander-in-Chief? That is my question for you.


Just an American

(PS: Check out this interesting account of one of Cindy Sheehan's interviews.)


Beware of the Jerk-O-Meter

I thought we'd kick off the weekend on a lighter note. It turns out that some researchers at MIT are developing a tool to help make cell phone users more socially aware. The Jerk-O-Meter would rate how engaged a caller is in the conversation.

It's funny and sad at the same time. I love technology. I can't leave my house without my cell phone. I use it as much for calls as for text messages. But, do we really need a device to let us know if people are engaged. I know when it's happening and I know when I'm doing it.

No technological device can replace the understanding that comes from basic human interaction.

Have a great weekend!

Hillary's Battle, And Ours

She is a strong, independent woman. Though her husband has held a prominent position, she has managed to establish herself very successfully on her own. Her husband, as a matter of fact, would actually more of a liability than an asset in her bid for office. She's a feminist and she strongly pro-abortion. And, she is running for Senate in New York. "She" is not Hillary Clinton; she's Jeanine Pirro.

Don't get me wrong. Hillary Clinton is absolutely running for re-election in New York. But, she has some competition. Pirro has a 30-year career in law enforcement in New York. She appears to be genuinely motivated to continue in her service to her state in the capacity of a senator of New York.

Pirro is not as popular as Clinton right now. And, it's too early to say whether she'll be able to give Hillary a run for her money. Some of that will depend on how much money she'll be able to raise very quickly.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I'm thrilled to see a strong woman candidate who will challenge Clinton on her real motivation for re-election. Does she intend to finish out her term? Or, is this a mere stepping stone to the White House? As long as Pirro gains enough popularity to make it even a slight challenge, she will have served both New York and the nation. For that reason alone, I can see reason for some hope in the conservative camp.

However, Pirro is really very similar to Rudy Giuliani in her conservatism. She is a strong advocate of law enforcement, defense and a conservative fiscal policy but is more moderate on social issues.

Sometimes the goal is to simply move the ball down the field. And, that means that there are times and places for this type of "conservative." I live in California. I am not ashamed of having cast my vote for Arnold. But, I did so because I realized that he had little to no authority over the issues with which I differ with him the most. We elected him to clean up our fiscal mess. Perhaps this is another one of those times.

I hope her role is just that. To move the ball down the field in our direction. Let's just be a little more cautious about how excited we get about someone who simply has an "(R)" behind their name on a screen.


By Any Means Necessary?

I'd like to believe that people who are impassioned by what they believe is a right and true cause, would use every legal, honest, legitimate means to advocate their cause. Not because they are such righteous people but because they wouldn't want their cause unduly smeared by their own actions. Right? Wrong.

I never cease to be amazed by the audacity of extremist abortion rights advocates in this manner. This time NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) has paid to run an add on the air on some cable news channels. (There are unconfirmed reports that Fox News will run the ads. I will not address that report now. If they are, that will be a completely separate post. )

CNN is airing an add that claims that Judge John Roberts defended a man who bombed an abortion clinic. Check out the facts, everyone. He did no such thing. What he did was make an argument about the laws regarding blocking the clinic. That neither women nor men should be blocked from getting into a clinic. THAT was the role he played in the case.

I hope that NARAL has just overplayed its hand. May this outrageous and reprehensible ad discredit them (as they ought to be) for discrediting Judge Roberts and for misrepresenting their own.

Deep Thoughts…by Howard Dean

I’m continually amazed at the words that fall from the lips of the Democratic National Committee Chairman, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

By way of review, I’d like to remind you of some of his more recent attacks, oh I mean quotes, about conservatives and Republicans.

“I hate Republicans and everything they stand for.”

“The issue is not abortion. The issue is whether women can make up their own mind instead of some right-wing pastor, some right-wing politician telling them what to do.”

“This country was the moral leader of the world until George Bush became president.”

“Well Republicans…a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."

He’s also called Republicans “evil,” and described the party as one that is “pretty much a white, Christian party.”

I need not comment on those quotes. They speak for themselves.

I’ve come to expect those kinds of irrational, demeaning statements coming from him. It has, to be very honest, made me happy when I think of elections but sad for the sake of the state of the national debate. It’s a ridiculous commentary on our society and our political system when a man who thinks and talks like Howard Dean is the best that one of the two major parties can do.

I was pleased to hear that Dean took on a slightly different tone this last Monday. It turns out that Dean channeled his passion towards his own party. Please allow me to share my favorite Howard Dean ‘deep thought’ first.

When he addressed his Vermont audience, he informed them of his revelation that “There are Democrats everywhere.” I, too, sometimes manifest a similar gift of stating the obvious. Perhaps it was one of those you-had-to-be-there moments. However, I cannot imagine what response that insightful statement received from the Democrats (or any other party members) in the room. Should he get out more?

He made several other statements that would take too much time to cover and would, honestly, be difficult for me to write about without cracking up. Suffice it to say that there was more of the same.

However, he went on to make some interesting, seriously, remarks about the Democratic Party. He said, “We need to position ourselves as the party of change. I think we have learned that when big changes happen in the House and Senate, they happen because one party nationalizes the race and becomes the change agent.”

For all of Dean’s ranting and screaming, I believe he has landed on solid ground here. While I disagree with his perceptions of the two parties and while I don’t believe in his vision or direction for our nation’s future, I can appreciate the notion that both parties take on a proactive stance.

Two parties moving forward with a vision rather than attacking the other party's lack of vision. Two parties on the offense with our nation's security and prosperity in mind and not simply repudiating the other for its apparent 'special interest.' Two parties working together, despite their differences, for the sake of a better tomorrow for the United States and not each pointing the finger about how little the other is doing.

Furthermore, I’d love to see the day that candidates from both parties have such a positive and empowering vision for our nation and its people that it would be a challenge to decide for whom to vote. I’d love to see candidate walking in such integrity, honesty and demonstrating faithfulness and care for their loved ones and their communities on both sides of the aisle. I’d like to see pro-life liberals and conservatives pitted against one another on the ballot and working alongside each other at the capitol. As a Christian, I’d love to see Democrats and Republicans who honor God in their words, their lives and their service to the nation.

It is, I admit, entertaining to poke fun at Dean’s irrationality. But, I realize that this kind of lopsided leadership really is not best for our country. What’s best for our country is quality character and leadership in both parties. Political races may be more difficult to win. But, in the end, they would be victories for the nation and not just a political party.


Diagnosis: Chronic Media Bias

It has happened again. We shouldn't be surprised. Within about one week. Two related stories, featuring one Democrat and one Republican, find very different receptions by the media. Media bias? What else?

Exhibit A
Recently, President Bush's health report card was made public. He is in "superior" condition. To be very honest with you, I am glad that the president is in good health. I'm glad he'll be around to complete his job. I'm glad he will be around well beyond his term. But, that news is normally not what I'm going to be talking about with my family, friends and colleagues on any given day.

Apparently, this was not everyone else's reaction. At least not everyone at the LA Times. In his piece entitled, "The (over) exercise of power,"Jonathan Chait had this to say: "What I mean is the fact that Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy...Given the importance of his job, it is astonishing how much time Bush has to exercise." (italics mine)

This is the Los Angeles Times? Someone in Los Angeles, the Mecca of health and beauty idolatry, has a problem with the president staying healthy?! Is it possible to have such a thought, much less make such an accusation while identifying in any way with Los Angeles?

Chait continued: "Bush's insistence that the entire populace follow his example, and that his staff join him on a Long March - er, Long Run carries about it the faint whiff of a cult of personality. It also shows how out of touch he is. It's nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does."

I was a high school teacher in LAUSD for about six years. And, Jonathan Chait's disrespect towards the president in that statement competes with some of the most insulting things I've heard children say about teachers. And, even the children know that what they are saying is inappropriate when they do say it. My guess is that the average teenager would be quicker to apologize for degrading a teacher. Would Chait do likewise for the President of the United States? On a side note, I can't help but wonder what Chait was saying about the blue dresses and cigars in the Oval Office under the last administration...just out of curiosity.

Exhibit B

We also recently heard that former President Clinton has taken on the cause of childhood obesity. "I was a fat band boy" was the heading of the CNN story. The report paints the picture of a man who has learned from his deadly (literally) eating habits. The scare that led to his recent heart surgery motivated him to make changes and encourage others to change also.

I find this a good story. I'm glad to hear the former president is feeling better and even helping kids who face issues he dealt with as a child. Nice story. Sweet. But, it wouldn't have captured my attention so much had I not read what I had about President Bush's health.

Here are some of the quotes from the CNN story:

"Health scare prompts ex-president to lead childhood obesity fight."

"The brush with death I had maybe had the biggest impact of all," Clinton recalled. "I realized that one more time I've been given another chance, and I wanted to make the most of it."

"Clinton has made changes since his health scare. He has cut down on french fries, eats more fruits and vegetables and incorporates exercise into his mornings. He said he wants to teach that lesson to American children."

Exhibit B/President Clinton is made to be an inspiration, an example and a pioneer in a noble cause while Exhibit A/President Bush is called a cult weirdo. President Clinton is made to sound like a hero for surviving his past and for taking steps to help children change their habits. President Bush is criticized for the time he spends working out and for the audacity he displays in calling others to follow in his example.

Rodney King's overused "Can't we all get along" cry comes to mind right now. What good is done by criticizing anyone, much less the President of the United States, about encouraging people to live healthier lives? What makes one man's work in the same area righteous and another's an abomination? Unless you see something I don't, it's just plain bias. The disease of the media.

I'm thankful for the work both of those men are doing to promote health among young people--and all people--in this country. We sure do need it.

Actually, we need a balanced diet in many ways. Thankfully, we're each responsible for our own diets. No one forces us to eat fast food just as no one forces us to watch or listen to a limited or one-sided network, on either side of the spectrum. I encourage you to choose from the wide variety accessible to you.

The next crusade I'd like to see us take on is making sure that the media gets a balanced diet and delivers likewise.


Peter Jennings Moments

I had begun writing an article entitled, "Diagnosis: Chronic Media Bias" tonight. But, I heard the news of the death of ABC Reporter/News Anchor Peter Jennings. My "media bias" piece will have to wait. (My guess is that there will be many times to revisit that issue.) That time, however, is not now.

I was listening to Matt Drudge on the radio tonight and heard one caller after another bashing Jennings' politics and his bias over the years. You know, we've had plenty of time to talk about his political views and media style. We will have much more time to analyze his political leanings and even his bias. There will be time to evaluate the current role of the "Old Media."

Today, however, none of that matters. Today, I believe that the most appropriate response from liberals and conservatives alike is to honor the man's life, his contribution to the industry to which he devoted his life and to pray for his family and friends.

All life is sacred--liberal and conservative, Christian and atheist, American and Arab. I think of the day that I heard about Former President Bill Clinton's heart surgery. For as much as I disagreed, to say the least, with the man's politics and his legacy, my initial and continued response to that news was to pray for him. Politics fades in the distant background when a man's life is at stake.

Moments like these offer us reminders of the frailty of life. Let's not take for granted the life we have and the ones we love.

God bless Peter Jennings' family and friends in this very difficult time.


Simple Answers

You ever notice that some of the answers to some very important issues in life are very simple? Marriage counselors talk about the simplicity of each spouse making sacrifices for the other. Parenting experts outline the essentials of love and consistent boundaries. Doctors and nutritionists explain that a healthy diet and exercise as critical to a long, quality life.

There are obviously exceptions. We all know people who've done everything right with their children and who now agonize over a child's destructive lifestyle decisions. We know people who have always eaten healthy and exercised regularly and yet suffer massive illness. But, by and large, it's often these types of simple answers to so many apparently complicated issues.

I only say "simple" because it doesn't take rocket science and rarely even takes any expert consultation. However, the effort and the change required is far from simple.

Politics has its own "simple" answers. I was just listening to my very favorite talk radio host, Sean Hannity, responding to a caller who asked about how we can ensure quality picks for the Supreme Court. "The answer is elections," was Sean's response. As we elect good, quality people of character and people who hold a respect for the constitution, they will then appoint like-minded people to appropriate offices. The caller wasn't satisfied with Sean's answer. Yes, there's work to be done now. Yes, we are very far away (in both parties!) from a regard for limited government and respect for the constitution as it is written.

But, in the long run, Sean's answer is exactly right. I welcome conservatives and liberals here. However, I must take a moment to address my fellow conservative and Christian readers. Historically, an average of 60-70% of evangelical Christians do not vote in any given election. I can only surmise that those numbers are worse for mid-term and local elections. Yet, we are often the first and the most vocal of those who grumble and complain about the state of our nation.

At the end of the day, politics really is local. The simple answer for the future of the Supreme Court and future nominees we can trust is getting out and voting good people into local, state and national positions.

This is a simple answer worth working for.

My Thoughts on the Quote of the Day

He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
--Jim Elliott

Jim Elliott was a missionary to tribal peoples in South America. He paid the ultimate price, as he was killed by the very people he went to serve. He knew that his life would be at risk to spend as he served and ministered to people who'd never heard the Message that was so widely heard and even taken for granted in many other lands.

The above quote exemplifies his life. A life that considered what the New Testament of the Bible says are the two greatest commandments: loving God and loving people more than we love ourselves.

I chose it today because while it is important that we debate the issues, whether it's terrorism or the "miracle plane crash" or immigration or Judge Roberts and judicial activism, we need to continually remind ourselves of the bigger picture. We've heard the popular motto, "God, family and country," for example. Find your motto and when you get caught up in the small stuff, take a moment to focus on the big stuff.

One of my other favorite quotes is "The glory of God is man fully alive." (I realize there may be a few reading this who do not believe in God. Please take from this what you will. This is not meant to be a debate about the existence of God.) I have a member of my family who has been very sick for a very long time. Talking to him and seeing him has the effect of the mirror to my own life. Life is too short. I don't want to have achieved everything on my career/professional/activities checklist and miss the most important investments I've been called to. I also don't want to be foolish in giving more credit to being a workaholic and "getting the job done" than in trusting God and other people when I need to lean on them.

I pray that--both in giving and receiving--we would life to its absolute fullest.


Quote of the Day

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
--Jim Elliott
I'd like your feedback today. Your thoughts? I'll give my perspective at the end of the day.


"Miracle Plane Crash"

[Not much time today. But I've got one thing on my mind.]

I just wanted to take a moment and thank God for the miracle that occurred yesterday in Toronto. How does a plane crash and burst into flames without taking even one life? I'm sure there are some of you out there who may be able to give me some scientific answer to this. I believe that the media properly named this story. It's a miracle. Thank God for it.

I wish the media would take time to appropriately name other miracles. How about the possible news headlines:

Some High School Students Actually Say "No" to Drugs
Twenty percent of College Graduates Maintain Their Virginity
Despite Political, Cultural and Economic Pressure, Women Increasingly Stay Home with Family

and my favorite "miracle story": No Terrorist Activity in the US Since 9/11

May God give us eyes to see the miracles that surround us.


September 11, July 7 and...uh…oh yeah, July 23

“At least three explosions Saturday ripped through the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, on of Egypt’s most popular tourist destinations, killing at least 88 people and wounding 200 more, police and witnesses said.”
(Washington Post, July 23, 2005)

Vicious terrorists murdered one hundred and injured 200 more people on that sad day.

I was driving to the gym when I first heard the news. I had been listening to Hugh Hewitt. He had regular caller Yoni, his Israeli military expert, call in to assess the situation. He continued covering the story as the new information came in.

I got out my car and was sure I’d be able to follow the story at the gym since they always had three channels going, including CNN, at any given time. I figured there must have been very little information available (which is usually the case when a story first breaks). It struck me, however, how many other “lighter” stories were getting so much time. The Egypt terrorist story got a fraction of the time.

It turns out that the attack on that day were the deadliest in Egypt. Yet, after that weekend, I heard almost nothing. I’ve been baffled.

I know my Egyptian heritage gives me a slightly different perspective. Not because of my last name or my DNA but because I grew up (in Los Angeles) hearing stories from my Christian parents about how the radical Muslims were raping, torturing and slaughtering Christians and burning down their churches.

Those stories left an imprint that surfaced in my soul on 9/11. Those were the same people who flew the planes into the towers and the Pentagon that day. Same people. No regard for life. Motivated by hate for the “infidel,” whether that infidel is American or Egyptian.

My frustration is not because I’m Egyptian, although I was concerned and did call family to make sure that none of my relatives were vacationing in that popular resort area at that time. But, once those fears were alleviated, I had the same concern I had on the morning of July 7, upon hearing about the London attacks.

After London, we saw interviews with those who were injured or those whose loved ones were affected. It is in these moments that every thing else in the world stops so that we can talk about what happened, honor the memory of the dead and seek justice for the culprits. We saw pictures and read biographies of the perpetrators. We heard the stories of so many whose lives were unjustly and cruelly taken on that day. It was good and right and expected to talk about all those things.

But, what about Egypt? I’m not making any kind of conspiracy claim. I’m just observing something that has really left me a bit confused. Terrorism is ugly, wicked and devastating regardless of the people or the places it targets. Most of the victims in the Egypt attack were Egyptians who were on vacation.

It’s disconcerting. Could it be that the mainstream media (and even my beloved Fox News and talk radio addictions) haven’t placed the same value on the lives of men and women living in a Muslim country? The number of the dead was double in Egypt compared to those who were killed in London. Perhaps there’s something I’m simply not aware of.

Lives were brutally ripped away on July 23. Those lives happened to be in a Muslim country. Why aren’t we talking about it?


The Slippery Slope

Finding out the human body’s capacity to endure and survive high altitude
Learning how to treat hypothermia
Investigating immunization for and treatment of malaria
Researching ways to treat soldiers wounded by mustard gas
Treating the soldiers with bone, muscle nerve regeneration and bone transplants

As barbaric and inhumane as we may envision the Nazis, the above are just a few of the reasons for their human experimentation. They wanted to help people. They were at war. They wanted to help the soldiers. They were truly thinking of what was best for all the people and for the future of their nation.

I think it is critical that we remember that as monstrous and evil—in a very non-human, no way we can relate to such heartlessness—actually had good motives. Motives to help alleviate suffering, pain and devastation.

Comparing our current debate over embryonic stem cell research to Nazi experimentation is far from extreme when we consider it all principally.

Last week, Senator Bill Frist declared his support of embryonic stem cell research while simultaneously defining his position on life: "I am pro-life. I believe human life begins at conception." Just to clarify, that statement implies that life at conception, in the form of an embryo is deserving of the same value and protection as a five-year old boy or a 60-year old woman. It’s all life. It’s all a gift. It’s all worthy of living.

Only God Himself can determine its course, its start and its end. Just as we would never tolerate a neighbor or a stranger dictating how we are to raise our own children or coming into our homes to harm those precious lives, it would surely be arrogant, presumptuous and even evil to delineate between those we deem worthy to live and those who we consider better served by sacrificing their lives for the sake of “medical advancement.”

How can anyone hold the position that human life begins at conception and allow ANY form of experimentation that would harm, much less destroy, that life? How do we justify delineating between lives? Can we use embryonic cells from a baby aborted at eight months but not a prematurely born one at seven months? These are the questions we must answer if we are to consider such a crime against humanity if we dare destroy some lives in the name others.

“Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude…that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived…Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted and finally all non-Germans…” (Professor L Alexander, a consultant to the United States chief counsel for war crimes during Nazi doctors’ trial.)

God forbid that be our fate. We say we are enlightened. We are leaders in western civilization. People from around the world want to live like we do. They import everything from our music to our fashion and our movies. What value will we export in regards to life?

I call on all who value life to pray, to speak out and to call your Senator regarding this issue.

God is watching. The world is watching. And, history will judge us.