28 February 2009

Awesome Video Saturday LXXIX

I know this is the 2nd consecutive week of Conan videos, but this one is really good. Watch as he visits the purveyors of Olde Tyme Baseball:

27 February 2009

SPOTD #148

I hope you enjoy today's edition.

Today's phrase:
From author Paulo Coelho:

La posibilidad de realizar un sueño es lo que hace que la vida sea interesante.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Lah po-say-bee-lee-dahd day ray-ah-lee-sar oon swayn-yo ess low kay ah-say lah vee-dah say-ah een-tare-ay-sahn-tay.

It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

I thought this was a very interesting article. It may only be available to WSJ subscribers, but if it isn't it is worth a look.
The family profiled was prominent during the Cuban Revolution. The patriarch was the personal physician of Fidel Castro. Castro was often a guest of the family after the change in government. Despite the auspicious beginning, they fell out of favor. It's an interesting look at life in a totalitarian state.

Lead into Gold
I must have been living under a rock because everyone I know seems to have read The Alchemist. I had never read it before, actually I still haven't because I listened to the audio book, but I thought it was fantastic. I thought it was full of important truths about dreams and the presence of God in all creation. The fable was a good one, and engaging as well. The book was read by Jeremy Irons, and the performance was certainly of benefit too.

Great Movie Idea
My wife is a huge fan of Jane Austen. There is starting production that has the potential to invite a whole new group of fans to Edwardian fiction:

Will Clark is set to direct "Pride and Predator," which veers from the traditional period costume drama when an alien crash lands and begins to butcher the mannered protags, who suddenly have more than marriage and inheritance to worry about.

Pleasure Cruiser
I know we're in a tough economic environment, but this boat may be just what you need, if radar invisibility is the solution to your problems. The best news? It's free!

Cave House for Sale

The bidding starts at $300k. I think this is a really cool idea. You have to check out the pictures. A family of 5 actually lived there for 5 years.

Link of the Day
A look at the ancient sport of camel racing in the United Arab Emirates. PETA beware. Instead of jockeys they use robots!

25 February 2009

¿Obamenomics? No me gusta.

Aside from this post, which questioned how Obama would handle terrorism, I haven't written a single negative thing about our new president. That post wasn't even very critical.

This one will be.

I watched the speech last night. When it was over I was in a bad mood. Initially it wasn't anything Obama was saying. It was the reaction of the ridiculous Nancy Pelosi and the other smug Democrats, so pleased with the spoils of victory. Coming off the passage of the so-called stimulus package, this seemed like a party for them. I remain convinced that the liberal prescription for present economic troubles is far inferior to a low-tax scenario that promotes permanent private sector investment and growth. I don't want this package to fail. As big as it is I think it will have the effect of a shotgun blast- enough may hit the target to get the job done.

Of course, the substance of Obama's words was a problem for me. I really appreciated this Fact Check piece from the Associated Press. A summation:

  • The mortgage rescue plan will not be able to discriminate between people who were honest in their mortgage applications but got into a tough spot and people who lied to get more house. It is impractical.
  • We're not actually importing more oil than ever.
  • Both parties are responsible for looser mortgage regulations.
  • The Obama budget proposal doesn't do as much to trim waste as he claimed, and is still at the mercy of congress.
  • Governmental job creation projections are prone to error and it is impossible to know which jobs are created by governmental action and which would have occurred anyway.

Where Obama infuriates me is with programs and policies that are so meaningless or even dangerous in our current environment. Holman Jenkins nails it in this Wall Street Journal column.

This is not a time to impose higher taxes, on anyone. This is not a time to reform health care AND create a punitive system of taxation on carbon emissions. I'm not a fan of governing by opinion poll, but this is not a concept welcomed by Americans.

I'm just too ideologically distant from Obama, and even if I liked his policy prescriptions the actions of his party of the last month have exhibited the worst kind of partisan politics. I don't trust them, or most Republicans, to do what's right for the country at large.

I also realized last night that the last time I had cause to be very happy about anything political was probably George Bush's reelection in 2004. Pretty sad when you think about it. Maybe one of these days I search through my posts and see if I'm wrong, but I don't think I'll find anything.

23 February 2009

One for us? Or them?

Mary Anastasia O'Grady has another great column, this one looking at the potential fate of El Salvador. In the upcoming presidential election the choices would seem to be either a continuation of the multi-term rule of the center-right party OR the rise of leftist control. The leftist solution is the Venezuela route, and you don't have to look for to know what I think about that, possibility.

21 February 2009

Awesome Video Saturday LXXVIII

Conan O'Brien is taking over Leno's old time slot. Here is a funny moment from his old show.

16 February 2009

And now what?

Iraq and Afghanistan are often referred to alternatives. The common line during the campaign was how success in Iraq had come at the expense of our efforts in Afghanistan. Now that the conflict in Iraq is quite different and our presence there may soon be diminished the focus will shift back to Afghanistan.

This article looks at some recommendations for what may be the most effective course of action for defeating a dangerous enemy. This is an excerpt from the excellent article, published on stratfor.com:

The United States has two strategic goals in Afghanistan. The first is to destroy the remnants of al Qaeda prime — the central command of al Qaeda — in Afghanistan. The second is to use Afghanistan as a base for destroying al Qaeda in Pakistan and to prevent the return of al Qaeda to Afghanistan.
To achieve these goals, Washington has sought to make Afghanistan inhospitable to al Qaeda. The United States forced the Taliban from Afghanistan’s main cities and into the countryside, and established a new, anti-Taliban government in Kabul under President Hamid Karzai. Washington intended to deny al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan by unseating the Taliban government, creating a new pro-American government and then using Afghanistan as a base against al Qaeda in Pakistan.
The United States succeeded in forcing the Taliban from power in the sense that in giving up the cities, the Taliban lost formal control of the country. To be more precise, early in the U.S. attack in 2001, the Taliban realized that the massed defense of Afghan cities was impossible in the face of American air power. The ability of U.S. B-52s to devastate any concentration of forces meant that the Taliban could not defend the cities, but had to withdraw, disperse and reform its units for combat on more favorable terms.
At this point, we must separate the fates of al Qaeda and the Taliban. During the Taliban retreat, al Qaeda had to retreat as well. Since the United States lacked sufficient force to destroy al Qaeda at Tora Bora, al Qaeda was able to retreat into northwestern Pakistan. There, it enjoys the advantages of terrain, superior tactical intelligence and support networks.
Even so, in nearly eight years of war, U.S. intelligence and special operations forces have maintained pressure on al Qaeda in Pakistan. The
United States has imposed attrition on al Qaeda, disrupting its command, control and communications and isolating it. In the process, the United States used one of al Qaeda’s operational principles against it. To avoid penetration by hostile intelligence services, al Qaeda has not recruited new cadres for its primary unit. This makes it very difficult to develop intelligence on al Qaeda, but it also makes it impossible for al Qaeda to replace its losses. Thus, in a long war of attrition, every loss imposed on al Qaeda has been irreplaceable, and over time, al Qaeda prime declined dramatically in effectiveness — meaning it has been years since it has carried out an effective operation.
The situation was very different with the Taliban. The Taliban, it is essential to recall, won the Afghan civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal despite Russian and Iranian support for its opponents. That means the Taliban have a great deal of support and a strong infrastructure, and, above all, they are resilient. After the group withdrew from Afghanistan’s cities and lost formal power post-9/11, it still retained a great deal of informal influence — if not control — over large regions of Afghanistan and in areas
across the border in Pakistan. Over the years since the U.S. invasion, the Taliban have regrouped, rearmed and increased their operations in Afghanistan. And the conflict with the Taliban has now become a conventional guerrilla war.
It is an objective look at a very important conflict.

15 February 2009

Bustin' a cap

I had a great Valentine's Day. Lacy and I went shooting with some friends. I purchased my pistol months ago but hadn't fired it yet. I am very pleased with it. It is smooth as silk and did the job just fine. My shooting was decent, but I'll need a lot more practice before I can call myself a good shot.

It was Lacy's first time shooting any kind of firearm. She doesn't like it as much as me, but we had a good time.

14 February 2009

Awesome Video Saturday LXXVII

Happy Valentine's Day. Here's two videos to love:

This is a great recreation of the events leading up to the crash of US Airways flight 1549.

Sully is ice cold. Here is on Letterman with the rest of the flight crew:

13 February 2009

Changes to SPOTD.net

I've decided to stop using my old webpages on spotd.net. All traffic will now be directed to the blog, here, at blog.spotd.net. The truth is that many months have passed since I've updated Spanish Phrase of the Day and I don't see myself going back to it anytime soon.

Also, today is the birthday of my beautiful and kind wife Lacy. I am as lucky to have found her as any man has ever been.
I have uploaded a few different pages to the blog for your edification:

Origins of the SPOTD

The First SPOTD Blog

Joseph's Birth

My kids (August 2005 - March 2007)

My kids (April 2007 - October 2007)

The only one that is of general interest may be the Origins of the SPOTD.

12 February 2009

Fighting with a Smile

Visit Don Surber's blog to see some great pictures made and sent by our military. There are some really good ones.

11 February 2009

Life, Liberty, Property

There is currently a lawsuit in Federal Court against an Arizona rancher. He allegedly held 16 people found on his property at gunpoint. They were all illegal immigrants, using his ranch to cross the border, and now they are suing him for $32 million because they claim he violated their civil rights.

A judge could have tossed this case, but he didn't, ruling that there was enough evidence to allow it to go to a jury trial.

It is extraordinary to me that a lawsuit by illegal entrants to our country, alleging that a citizen and lawful property owner infringed upon the rights of people who had no right to be there in the first place. Hopefully the jury is sensible enough to recognize that it was the rancher whose rights were violated.

10 February 2009

Count me Out

I know I said I would give Obama the benefit of the doubt, but there are limits. More and more signs are appearing that give me pause about his leadership and choices. Among them is this, his plan to shift oversight of the Census to the White House.

Read the article for the implications.

RIP Lappy

So after almost 4 good years my old Toshiba has gone the way of all the earth. It actually happened last Monday. Fortunately I was able to save most of what mattered on there, including all of the SPOTD's ever sent (except for #15, lost forever).

I actually had more trouble with this laptop than any other I've owned, which is why I did not buy another Toshiba.

Her replacement is due to arrive today, and it will make it easier to blog, so I shall do so more often. Farewell my friend. Your battery life was awesome...

08 February 2009

Born to Run

This was an interesting take by ESPN's Rick Reilly on what is involved in being an on-field fan for a Super Bowl halftime show. It involves running, not watching the game, and not hearing the music.

Sounds awesome! Even if Springsteen wasn't such a lefty this would be a tough sell for me.

07 February 2009

Awesome Video Saturday LXXVI

This is Letterman at his finest, savaging the former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The first few minutes are the best.

02 February 2009

Super Bowl Ads

You can scroll across the widget to watch all the ads. Let me know which one is your favorite. I think Pepsi won the night.

01 February 2009

The Origins of the Spanish Phrase...

Some of these links may not work as the page was created a long time ago.

It was March 2002, and some of my friends had a hankering to learn some ess-pan-yole. I decided to send them some funny Spanish phrases every couple of days to help them learn the language. It seemed like a natural thing, being half-Cuban and a big fan of the language. The first Spanish Phrase was this:
Mi mono no sabe conducir el auto (My monkey does not know how to drive the car)
Real genius, eh? The acronym SPOTD was born in the second edition, and soon there were other things creeping their way into the e-mails, from random quotes to various thoughts to movie reviews. My political views didn't manifest themselves in the e-mails for some time, but I am too much of a political junkie to have avoided it for too long. These days I try to keep the politics to the weblog and save the light stuff for the e-mails. I have a particular interest in issues involving Cuba and other Latin American states.
The following is a poem by a Cuban patriot, José Martí. My decision to start the SPOTD is reflective of my love of the language, and Cuban culture in particular. Martí died while trying to make Cuba free. Sadly, his vision has not yet been realized. Perhaps someday it will.

Cultivo una rosa blanca En julio como en enero, Para el amigo sincero Que me da su mano franca.
Y para el cruel que me arranca El corazón con que vivo, Cardo ni ortiga cultivo, Cultivo una rosa blanca.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Cool-tee-voe oo-nah row-sah blahn-kah
Enn hoon-yo co-mow enn ay-nair-oh,
Par-ah ell ah-me-go seen-sair-oh
Kay may dah sue mah-no frahn-kah
Ee pah-rah ell crew-ell kay may a-rran-kah
Ell core-ah-zone cone kay vee-voe,
Car-doe nee or-tee-gah cool-tee-voe,
Cool-tee-voe oo-nah row-sah blahn-kah.

I cultivate a white rose In July as in January For the sincere friend Who gives me his hand frankly.
And for the cruel person who tears out the heart with which I live, I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns: I cultivate a white rose.
So why do I write the SPOTD? There are a few reasons, but I think one of the most important is that I love to learn new things and share those with others, whether that means something funny, interesting, or inspirational. It allows me to keep some kind of contact with people that I know and like, even if I don't have the time to send individual e-mails with the same frequency.

The First SPOTD Blog (February - December 2005)

The Truth Page

Before I knew what a blog was I set up this page as a place where I could write about current events and the political issues that were of interest to me. Eventually I discovered that there were easier ways to track and create my posts, so I abandoned this page in favor of the SPOTD blog. For a time I also blogged at Right Wing Pundit with some friends from BYU, but it seemed simpler in the end to use one place for all of my "stuff." Visit the blog for more.
In order to bring in this "archive" I had to lose the formatting, and in turn, the accompanying links. As the newest link is now over a year old it may not even matter.


I have been reading an excellent book called Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield. It describes the efforts of a small number of Greek soldiers, led by 300 Spartans, at Thermopylae. There they battled the enormous army of the Persion king Xerxes.It is a fictional account, but written with such authority that I can't help but take it as a true reckoning of Spartan and Greek life. There is content that may be offensive to some, but to lovers of war literature it is a must-read.I first learned of this book by reading Michael Yon's blog. Gates of Fire is standard reading for one of the units he was with in Iraq, and it is easy to see why. Some other books about war that I have enjoyed (all non-Fiction):Band of BrothersWe Were Soldiers Once...and Young, Black Hawk Down. The first is my favorite, but each has power.

Abortion may be the most divisive and ugly debate in American politics. I can't think of any topic that brings tears and anger to the surface more rapidly across a broad cross-section of the populace.Last Tuesday, the L.A. Times published an article about an Arkansas abortion doctor. I found it stunning in many ways. My friend J-Red at Right Wing Pundit has already done an excellent job of pointing out some of the more unnerving sections. I thought the topic deserved a little more comment.Here are some facts on abortion (from the article):The U.S. abortion rate has been dropping since 1990, but abortion remains one of the most common surgical procedures for women. A quarter of all pregnancies end in abortion. A third of all American women will have had an abortion by the age of 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.Just some thoughts:1. It seems shameful that abortion would arise for a matter like this one:His first patient of the day, Sarah, 23, says it never occurred to her to use birth control, though she has been sexually active for six years. When she became pregnant this fall, Sarah, who works in real estate, was in the midst of planning her wedding. "I don't think my dress would have fit with a baby in there," she says.So she was too lazy to use birth control? Where is the sense of responsibility? I guess it is her body and none of my business.2. Do men have any rights at all with regard to the children they conceive? Amanda, a 20-year-old administrative assistant, says it's not the obstacles that surprise her — it's how normal and unashamed she feels as she prepares to end her first pregnancy."It's an everyday occurrence," she says as she waits for her 2:30 p.m. abortion. "It's not like this is a rare thing."Amanda hasn't told her ex-boyfriend that she's 15 weeks pregnant with his child. She hasn't told her parents, either, though she lives with them."I figured it was my responsibility," she says.She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. "It's not like it's illegal. It's not like I'm doing anything wrong," she says.She never told her ex-boyfriend? It is definitely her choice whether or not to do so. It just doesn't sit right. Had she decided to keep the baby, it is likely that he would have to pay child support. There is a disconnect here.Going back to the statistics I quoted above, the biggest problem I have as I write this is that abortion has become the way to compensate for a lack of personal responsibility. I found this article highly disturbing. Perhaps you will, perhaps you won't.On Tuesday The Wall Street Journal published a piece by Joe Lieberman entitled "Our Troops Must Stay." He writies convincingly of the progress being made by U.S. forces in Iraq as part of the broader War on Terror. He correctly describes the conflict there as a war of 27 million versus 10 thousand, the former being the Iraqi citizenry and the latter the terrorists. Iraqi leaders are conscious of their current situation:None of these remarkable changes would have happened without the coalition forces led by the U.S. And, I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country.The leaders of Iraq's duly elected government understand this, and they asked me for reassurance about America's commitment. The question is whether the American people and enough of their representatives in Congress from both parties understand this. I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November's elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead.Lieberman also notes the effect of the Iraq situation on its neighbors, including Lebanon. How sad that Iraq's leaders cannot be sure of our commitment. We are making progress and adapting as necessary. The Democratic party does a disservice to our country when they demand immediate troop withdrawl. Lieberman may be the only one in his party that understands this fully. Read the whole article.


I'm not sure that I will have a chance to write anything before Lacy and I go to San Diego for Thanksgiving, so I wanted to link to this handy summary of the Bush administration's efforts to defend their handling of the decision to go to war, courtesy of Instapundit. I hope everyone has a great holiday. I know I will.


The war in Iraq continues to be a contentious issue. Yesterday, a well-known Democratic Congressman urged the administration to pull the troops out of Iraq soon. His comments have been countered by Administration officials, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and some politicians. The reason his comments have received so much attention is because he is a decorated combat veteran. I respect his service to the country, but disagree with his remarks and think his reasoning for a pullout is flawed. Here is a letter written by U.S. Soldiers that deserves a reading alongside his comments.


Christopher Hitchens, a well-known writer for online Slate Magazine is not a Bush apologist. He is, at least in this instance, a fair-minded person examining the futility of the 'Bush Lied' rhetoric. Check out today's piece and understand the inanity of this far-left conspiracy talk.


The following is an unedited excerpt from last Sunday's Meet the Press with Tim Russert (transcript here):

DR. DEAN: We have an alternative agenda. We made it very clear. We want a strong national security based on telling the truth to our people at home, our soldiers and our allies. We want jobs in America that'll stay in America, and we believe that renewable energy is one of the areas where we can do that. We want a health-care system that covers everybody, just like 36 other countries in the world. We want a strong public education system. And most of all, we want honesty back in government. I think that's a pretty good agenda.

MR. RUSSERT: But those are words that will appeal to people. But when you go behind them, for example, what is the Democratic position on Iraq? Should we withdraw troops now? What do the Democrats stand for?

DR. DEAN: Tim, first of all, we don't control the House, the Senate or the White House. We have plenty of time to show Americans what our agenda is and we will long before the '06 elections.

MR. RUSSERT: But there's no Democratic plan on Social Security. There's no Democratic plan on the deficit problem. There's no specifics. They say, "Well, we want a strong Social Security. We want to reduce the deficit. We want health care for everyone," but there's no plan how to pay for it.DR. DEAN: Right now it's not our job to give out specifics. We have no control in the House. We have no control in the Senate. It's our job is to stop this administration, this corrupt and incompetent administration, from doing more damage to America. And that's what we're going to do. We're doing our best. Look at the trouble they're having putting together a budget. Why is that? Because there's still a few moderate Republicans left who don't think it's OK to cut school lunch programs, who don't think it's OK to do some of the appalling things that they're doing in their budget. I saw a show last night which showed a young African-American man in California at the UC of Davis who hoped to go to law school. The Republicans want to cut $14 billion out of higher education so this kid can't go to law school. We're going to do better than that, and together, America can do better than that.

MR. RUSSERT: But is it enough for you to say to the country, "Trust us, the other guy's no good. We'll do better, but we're not going to tell you specifically how we're going to deal with Iraq."

DR. DEAN: We will. When the time comes, we will do that.

MR. RUSSERT: When's the time going to come?

DR. DEAN: The time is fast-approaching. And I outlined the broad outlines of our agenda. We're going to have specific plans in all of these areas.

MR. RUSSERT: This year?

DR. DEAN: In 2006.

Of course there was more to the interview than this, but read it. What is your impression? Mine is of a party that has no ideas, or at least ideas so poorly developed that they are unable to provide any specifics. Check especially the bold portion of Dean's remarks. Dean is saying that his job is to be obstructionist without offering alternatives. I don't mind different ideas. The problem is that the Democrats are all criticism and no ideas.


As if to punctuate yesterday's post, the Republican Party has produced an advertisement that effectively demonstrates the weakness of the Democrats on the issue of pre-War intelligence. See it here.


Continuing last week's campaign to out the real Iraq War liars, the following articles make a good case for why President Bush's critics are guilty of much more than partisan politics as usual. I make the assertion that their lies and distortions ARE a disservice to the men and women in the Armed Forces and do undermine our mission there.Michael Barone pulls together some quotes from President Bush's speech, as well as a defense of the President by John McCain. I don't understand how a fair-minded person can read this and maintain that President Bush lied. It is an untenable position to take in an age where a Google search exposes their fraud. More effectively even, Norman Podhoretz, editor-at-large of Commentary, provides an absolutely comprehensive dismantling of Bush Lied! crowd. If you can read this, and still maintain that the President lied, there is no hope for you. I don't expect people to agree with the war. I don't expect people to agree with the war's execution. I DO expect people to learn the facts and be reasonable. I DO expect elected officials to tell the TRUTH! In other news, I am linking to the text of an excellent speech given to the Federalist Society by Karl Rove . It is on judicial activism and worth a look, even if Karl Rove is the devil (because he is...oooooo).


I am writing from a Starbucks in Jacksonville, FL where I am on business. As such I was unable to listen to President Bush's speech, having to resort to reading the transcript. I think it is a very good speech, and he clearly calls out the liars in Congress for making false and misleading statements. We needed a speech like this. We need more motivation and clear declarations of fact. Iraq is important! That is a fact, and we can win.The recent bombings in Amman, Jordan occurred a world away. Andrew Breitbart, who runs an excellent news site, lost a friend in the attacks, and didn't even realize it at first. The point is that terror is a danger to all of us and must be stopped. This is a tragic story of lives cut short. Terrorism is not cancer. It is preventable. We have to fight if it takes decades or longer.


More on France...or is it Moron France? Well, the French have problems. They are systemic and have nothing to do with whether French people are nice to Americans. I know more nice French people than not-nice ones (I don't know many in absolute terms) and I don't feel like blaming all French people for these riots. Nevertheless, these are systemic problems. John Vinocur, a writer for the International Herald Tribune, writes a scalding critique of the embedded hypocrisy of French society. Based on what has happened there, our political divides seem relatively minor by comparison. It can't help but bolster my already high degree of American superiority vis-a-vis the failure of the European Welfare state.


The riots in France are unfortunate, but not surprising. Europe has failed to assimilate its immigrants. Unemployment in France is more than twice that of the U.S. and for the young men composing most of the rioting groups, it is more than 20%. In today's Wall Street Journal, a man named Joel Kotkin writes about the European welfare state. I think his statements are valid, and his ability to prognosticate strengthened by correctly predicting the eventual triumph of U.S.adaptability over the Japanese in this book (via Instapundit).


A hero of the anti-war left has been exposed as a fraud. He looks pretty dweeby. Probably thought that becoming a famous protester might get him some female attention. It has if you count Cindy Sheehan (No thanks!). This article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a rundown of Massey's lies and distortions. Who are the liars?


I think this is a disgrace. I don't care if I am white, criticizing some African-Americans, you have to read the article to get a sense of corruption of thought present among Steele's critics. It's wrong.

More on Harry Reid's efforts to marginalize the Democratic Party from Glenn Reynolds. You should read the whole post, but I liked this part:

The anti-war fundraising base of the Democrats -- as exemplified by organizations like MoveOn.org -- is powerful enough to require Democratic politicians like Harry Reid to pretend that all the WMD stuff began with President Bush. That is, not to put too fine a point on it, a gross and partisan lie.There is no other way to characterize it- Democratic leaders are lying on a regular basis and the Media is broadcasting it for free.

And Joe Wilson is a liar. If you don't know who he is, read this editorial from the L.A. Times. Either that or pretend you never heard of him. Either is fine with me.


Harry Reid is a member of my Church and as such, I felt inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. In the time since he has become Senate Majority Leader he has blown any consideration I might have shown him, revealing himself to be inarticulate and foolish. His latest stunt, to close the Senate and debate the merits of Pre-Iraq War intelligence, smacks of political opportunism. He is using the recent indictment of Vice-Presidential aide Libby as justification, but Michael Barone explains why this is not really pertinent to the debate. If the law regarding the disclosure of identities was not violated, then Reid's use of the indictment to call for the session is weak.I think this is a development that is under most people's radar right now. This is major news, and will require a major fight to bring about. Unfortunately, precious few lawmakers are that interested in seeing real reform as this will mean key interest groups may lose clout. More on the Alito nomination...From this morning's New York Times comes this editorial from law professor Ann Althouse. I particularly like her ending:In a more general sense, President Bush should be commended for nominating someone with so substantial a judicial record. In the decades since the defeat of Robert Bork's nomination, presidents have unfortunately tended toward "stealth" nominees out of fear that actual evidence of the person's jurisprudence would only give ammunition to his opponents. Mr. Bush had followed that pattern: his thwarted nominee Harriet Miers had no serious constitutional law writings, and even Chief Justice John Roberts had only a handful of constitutional law cases from his two years on the bench. Those Democrats who are already insisting that Judge Alito's record on the bench makes him unacceptable should keep in mind that someday they, too, will have a president with a Supreme Court seat to fill, and it would serve the country well if that president wasn't forced to choose only among candidates with no paper trail. To oppose Judge Alito because his record is conservative is to condemn us to a succession of bland nominees and to deprive future presidents of the opportunity to choose from the men and women who have dedicated long years to judicial work.I find it frustrating that Democrats get so much airplay while complaining about "changing the course of the court." We live in a spoils system, where the winner gets the spoils, in this case, the right to choose judges. Those who think the Democrats have a point with the argument that the Court's constitution must remain the same have little understanding of history.


Today's Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito made my morning! I was driving home from the gym and happened to turn on NPR. They carried the nomination live, and I was very impressed with Alito's statement. He showed a nice touch, aluding to his first experience on the Court opposite Sandra Day-O'Conner, the very justice he would replace. Here are some first Reactions from various prominent people. Their responses are fairly predictable, and the detractors don't concern me a great deal.Much will be made of Alito's dissent from a 1991 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Slate has a clearly biased article that still provides some important facts and allows me to make a point. The author of the article makes the issue of abuse a main point, and it should be a consideration (rape was a justifiable exception to the spousal notification law). The left makes a big stink about the woman's right to choose, but this quote from Glenn Reynolds nice sums up the other side of the argument.I am a big fan of Antonin Scalia. I like his judicial philosophy and think that if Alito is anything like him, the President made an excellent choice. If you want to know why I like Scalia's philosphy, e-mail me (joe@spotd.net) and I will send you an excellent speech where he gives a brief look. More than anything, I am glad that Democrats do not like him. I want a fight. I want to force the Democrats to show their hands. I want to win what we fought for when we reelected this president. Barone writes that opposing him may be difficult for some Democrats, either based on previous support or voting bloc issues. The Italian-American angle is particularly interesting. He also looks at the Casey case.On another note,when it comes to Nuclear Terrorism, don't believe the hype. Richard Miniter has written several well-received books on the War on Terror. I encourage you to read this article. There are things that I believed that he debunks quite effectively.Also, we now have over 2000 dead in the Iraq War. What does this really mean? Victor Davis Hanson examines this is an NYT Op-Ed piece, 2,000 dead, In Context (registration required). The death of U.S. soldiers is tragic, but the ignorance of history by the media even more so.


The President has nominated Ben Bernanke to succeed Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. It seems a good choice, greeted warmly on all sides, and this favorable look at his life indicates smooth sailing through the confirmation process. He also is a bit of a maverick in other ways (registration required for both links).More on the Plame issue and her weasel husband, Joseph Wilson. He is being portrayed in the media as some kind of courageous truth-teller, but he has serious credibility issues. Read this and feel the sweetness of clarification. This transcript of a radio interview with Michael Barone also gives some background into the issue and Wilson's character.More Hollywood hypocrisy, courtesy of Opinionjournal.com. I am not in favor of quotas, but I do question those who are, but don't do anything to change the industry they work in.


When I heard that Harriet Miers was a candidate for Supreme Court Justice, I was underwhelmed based on my limited knowledge of her. When I heard that she was the likely pick, I hope the rumor was wrong. When Bush introduced her, I felt no excitement. I still feel none. Why? Lets go down the list:1. The resounding victory of George Bush in 2004 prepared many conservatives to enjoy the spoils of that victory. With a Congressional Majority and popular majority, was there anything to prevent the appointment of conservative judges to the Court? I didn't think so, and I was hoping to see the kind of people that I felt we had EARNED.2. Miers' track record is one of distinction. But none of her experience provides insight into what kind of justice she would be. President Bush's assurances are insufficient. When he says that she will be the same person twenty years from now that she is today and will vote accordingly, I think 'I hope not.' It is unrealistic to believe that she will not change at all. 3. Although a conservative woman on the bench would be welcome, why was it necessary to nominate a woman? Coming to that decision at the start of the process seemed premature and limited the President's options.4. Conservatives are tired of being bitten. We've been bitten by a high-spending Congress and an increasingly liberal judiciary. Once bitten, twice shy.I should make it clear that I don't have a problem with her close relationship to the president. So much of life is WHO we know. She should not be faulted for knowing the president. I think that many human relationships have a purpose, so that is not a concern to me. Do I see anything in Miers' favor?1. A knowledge of business law. I think views of business that demonize it work counter to the interests of our country. Someone sympthetic to that is a welcome choice, though I can't help but ask if there is anyone better.2. I keep waiting for more....In the coming weeks we will see the resolution, for better or worse. Until then, I am neutral on the Miers nomination. The following are a few articles that I saw last week, but didn't have a chance to place on the website. It is far from politically correct, but is racial profiling in the case of Islamic terrorism really immoral? This man argues that whatever issues it may involve, the facts do not justify its wholesale exclusion from our arsenal of anti-terror techniques. I think there are ways of accomplishing this that don't involve humiliating someone or acting in a way that demeans another. Something to think about.The start of Saddam's legal proceedings allowed normal Iraqis the chance to see his new situation, and their responses are telling. Democrats are often saying that Republicans are out of step, or in the extreme. Saddam's Sunni followers would have to fall in that category, being a minority of the populace, and disconnected from Saddam's (and their) new reality.The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) tackled this today, and The Weekly Standard last week: The criminalization of conservatism. Do the issues being investigated by Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald merit federal charges? Or was the "outing" of Valerie Plame the result of hardball politics? By all accounts, Fitzgerald has been ethical, responsible, and methodical in his approach. I have no fault with him. My concern is whether the American public understands exactly what went on here. I don't think they do, and I don't think they care. Maybe they should.I like guns, but am far from an expert on issues related to gun control. I found this piece by John Stossel very informative and recommend it to you.10/18/05Heaven forbid that large numbers of Iraqis in some areas are in favor of a constitution! That might not be transparent! This piece from this morning's NYT is not much a news story- Shiites & Kurds vote 'yes' in high numbers, Sunnis 'no' in high numbers. Why not check the results of union voters here in the states? I am concerned about a lack of transparency in the education process that leads some places to vote so heavily Democratic.


More from Michael Barone, this time on the malaise afflicting the Democratic party. The most critical part of this post is the idea that there are liberals who are more loyal to certain ideas than to their own country. You really need to read the whole thing. And if you now agree with me that this guy is an excellent commentator, check out his blog for more entries on topics like the economy, perceptions of the Iraq issue, and lying in higher education.Charles Krauthammer writes for the Washington Post, and he brings up some important questions related to the decoding of the Spanish Flu of 1918. I am a strong believer in the important of science. I don't see pharmaceutical companies as evil. Just the same, scientists should ask themselves "Should we?" just as often as they ask "Can we?" That is not censorship or the squelching of ideas. It is moral inquiry and is essential. One of my favorite authors, Orson Scott Card, makes this a centerpiece of his books.


Michael Barone wrote an extended commentary on the speech that President Bush gave last week regarding the War on Terror. I think he makes some excellent points and I hope each of you will take a look at it. I could quote this guy every day. This speech by the president was one of the better ones on this topic in his presidency.I don't know very much about Harriet Miers, the president's choice to succeed Sandra Day O'Conner. I don't have anything against her. I also don't have anything for her. I think many pundits may have jumped the gun with their criticism/support of Miers for the post. John Fund provides some reasons why we (conservatives) should be a little concerned.


It's hard not to like John Bolton. This article from the Yale Daily News reports on his visit to his Alma Mater.


The SPOTD is all about truth. I think Michael Barone does a great job of clarifying some issues related to race and the political parties, all in the interest of providing a truer perspective.I didn't check until today, but a letter I wrote to the BYU paper, The Daily Universe was actually published yesterday (see it here). I was responding to an editorial that I felt was ambiguous and poorly-written (here it is). If the editorial board thinks we should leave Iraq, I would rather see them say it than use a trite and inaccurate story to hint at it. I often wrote letters to the editor while a student there, and only had one published (a fairly poor one) so this was fun for me. Why am I still reading the BYU paper, 2+ years after graduating? So I can point out lame articles and write mean letters, of course. Something that I didn't address in the letter, but later researched, was this post by Michael Barone that provides more insight into casualty figures and how they compare to this time last year.


This is the article of the day, a harsh indictment of some of the problems at American universities. I personally have problems with rising tuition rates being accepted as necessary. There is too little accountability on such issues. Read it.For more proof on the media as a major Public Enemy, check out this story. Reporting rumor as fact has become quite popular these days. Politicians use it to spread rumor, saying this like, "I don't know if it is true or not, but I heard..." or "Some have said..." thus absolving themselves from blame because they themselves never said they were facts. These are the most pernicious kinds of lies and good reporters should be more careful. Like Wyclef Jean says, "Don't believe the hype."Christopher Hitchens is no conservative, but he writes an excellent piece in Slate dissecting the groups responsible for last weekend's antiwar rally in Washington.


I'm not a huge John McCain fan. I think he is a little pleased with the way that the press is enamored with him. Just the same, he is a smart man, and one who sees many issues in a practical light. This post by Michael Barone looks at spending and immigration. McCain speaks frankly about both.Spending is one issue that distresses me most about the Bush administration. Lacy and I take great pains to avoid debt, but our legislators are blind to it. Fortunately, the recent hurricanes and subsequent relief efforts have brought the issue of spending to the public eye like never before. Some websites, like Instapundit are leading the way toward offsetting the costs of relief. If this concerns you it is worth a look.The issue of rebuilding New Orleans is also at the forefront. Americans have opened their wallets and extended their hands to help, but now that the initial efforts have begun, it is time for the nation to demand accountability for the disbursement of these monies. John Fund takes a moment to look at the serious issues that have plagued Louisiana politics for decades. Katrina and Rita may not be all bad if they allow things to be put on a better footing in that troubled state. We also have to ask the tough question- How much should even be rebuilt?


This comment from Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrates why I like the guy:"I have a daughter," Schwarzenegger said in an interview with The [Sacramento] Bee. "I wouldn't want to have someone take my daughter to a hospital for an abortion or something and not tell me. I would kill him if they do that." I don't condone the killing part, though I sympathize with it. I just like that it reflects a normal, human response and one that he probably didn't go through his advisors to concoct


Yesterday, James Taranto closely scrutinized a New York Times editorial that questioned John Roberts as a nominee for Chief Justice. Read the first piece of his daily compilation to witness the contradiction that is the NYT editorial page.


I have been following the Roberts hearings a bit and found David Brooks' New York Times column very, very funny. It is worth a read.

Glenn Reynolds has an interesting idea- why not make senators ineligible to run for President? I love it, and it might keep pontificating down a bit.


Michael Barone makes a statement about the broader issues related to liberalism and the poor. It is true that the Left has a poor record of providing sustainable help to the poor. New Orleans is a prime example.


From Judge John Roberts' opening statement: "I come before the committee with no agenda. I have no platform. Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes. I have no agenda, but I do have a commitment: If I am confirmed, I will confront every case with an open mind. I will fully and fairly analyze the legal arguments that are presented. I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench. And I will decide every case based on the record according to the rule of law without fear or favor to the best of my ability. And I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat."I like it...I like it a lot. As I have reviewed a little bit of today's questioning, I think Roberts is extraordinarily well-prepared, and handily outclassing the senators.From the Washington Post on yesterday's opening hearing:Yesterday's opening of the John Roberts confirmation hearings was a time for historic firsts. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) made 49 first-person references in a 10-minute statement that was, ostensibly, not about himself. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) showed exceptional emotional versatility, working a crossword puzzle during the hearing and then choking back a sob while making a prosaic statement about partisanship.What a joke! Some Senators also used the opportunity to play on feelings related to Hurricane Katrina: "Today, the devastation, despair facing millions of our fellow Americans in the Gulf region is a tragic reminder of why we have a federal government, why it's critical that our government be responsive," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and ranking minority member of the panel. "We need the federal government for our protection and security, to cast a lifeline to those in distress, to mobilize better resources beyond the ability of any state and local government -- all of this for the common good." Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, said lessons should be learned from the hurricane. "The powerful winds and flood waters of Katrina tore away the mask that has hidden from public view the many Americans who are left out and left behind," he said. "As one nation under God, we cannot continue to ignore the injustice, the inequality and the gross disparities that exist in our society." As reported by the Washington Times, Senator John Cornyn said something worth reading and repeating:Within moments, the office of Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and member of the committee, issued a statement accusing Mr. Leahy and Mr. Kennedy of using the victims of the hurricane "in an attempt to score political points." "I believe the American people will see this for what it is," said Mr. Cornyn, according to the statement. "We ought not to appropriate a national tragedy in a misguided effort to further a political interest of any sort." The Cornyn statement went on to predict: "Others likely will make similar attempts in a bizarre effort to link Judge Roberts to the tragedies in the Gulf of Mexico. But Katrina victims should not be used to score political points."Thank you Senator! Too bad so many of your colleagues on both sides of the aisle are self-serving sycophants.Good news from Iraq. A group of Iraqi soldiers made a small contribution to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It is a wonderful gesture.From Michael Barone, the Dutch demonstrate effective coexistence with nature amid the threat of surging seas. This article by Bruce Babbit, former Secretary of the Interior, suggests radical change for the "City Beneath the Sea."President Bush has accepted responsibility for the failures of the Federal Government with regard to Hurricane Katrina. It seems an appropriate response for a Chief Executive. Just how badly did the Feds fail? In some respects they did not, at least not compared with past performances, according to Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Will the President catch more flack based on his admission of responsibility? Possibly, but it shows leadership in a time where blame and finger-pointing have become its replacement.


I have made no effort to hide my support for the President. I like that his response to 9/11 was to reject business-as-usual with regard to terror. Nevertheless, I have to admit that there are things about the war in Iraq and the administration in general that are troublesome. Unfortunately, these are not the kinds of things that can be removed simply by changing the Commander-in-Chief. As a nation, our defense problems are systemic. Mark Helprin writes this painful and scathing piece that I highly recommend. I don't agree with it point-by-point and I emphasize that I think Bush has done well, certainly better than any Gore or Kerry would have. I just know we can do better. We have to encourage these kinds of thoughtful critiques if we are going to improve. It is not about assigning blame- that is costly in time and energy, but about doing a better job.The director of FEMA was relieved of his duties related to the Katrina effort, though not fired as the head of the agency. It seems like a wise decision by Director Chertoff of Homeland Security. I think that Michael Brown, the departing director, has handled it quite gracefully.


Go here to find a highly informative and comprehensive timeline of the government response to Hurricane Katrina.I love Ben Stein. He is the guy from countless movies and the ClearEyes commercials. You know, "Bueller...Bueller...Bueller." He writes a truly excellent rebuttal of many of the President's critics. I'd like to see the Democrats offer point by point responses using FACTS. I don't think they can or will. It is an issue of inclination & capability.Finally, this is less suitable for inclusion on the truth page than in the SPOTD e-mail, but I thought it was clever enough that it merited placement in a timely fashion. Greg Gutfield writes for the pretentious Huffington Post, and today's entry is a winner! He's one of the few independent voices there.


I've had quite enough of the Hurricane blame-game. It's time to set the record straight on what went wrong in terms of government involvement, and what continues to go wrong. I will try to add some perspective:New Orleans, as a city, was sick long before Hurricane Katrina hit. This story from the New York Daily News sheds light on the problems that the city government created for itself. You have to read the article to understand the systemic issues at play. From OpinionJournal.com, this article breaks down the Mayor and Governor's failings:It must be made clear that the governor and locally elected officials are in charge of the "first response." I am not attempting to excuse some of the delays in FEMA's response. Congress and the president need to take corrective action there, also. However, if citizens expect FEMA to be a first responder to terrorist attacks or other local emergencies (earthquakes, forest fires, volcanoes), they will be disappointed. The federal government's role is to offer aid upon request.Furthermore, the governor elected to wait before formally requesting the Federal Government's help. For more on New Orleans' systemic issues, check out this post from U.S. News & World Report's Michael Barone. We have to ask why New Orleans did not keep pace with its peers. His conclusions are reasonable.Also at issue is the amount of preparation for disaster. Many people blame the Federal Government, and the Bush Administration in particular for cutting this budget, or that item. Michael Barone looks at the facts behind the levees in New Orleans. This is an issue that should have been settled decades before Bush took office. I have trouble condemning him for this particular disaster's damage. The efforts of celebrities to aid storm victims is good. John Grisham and his wife pledged $5 million to Mississippi relief efforts. Many others are giving of time and means. Unfortunately, politically minded celebrities take the focus off the relief and onto themselves. Witness Sean Penn, whose hubris has distinguished him on past trips to Iraq and Iran:Movie star and political activist Penn, 45, was in the collapsing city to aid stranded victims of flooding sparked by Hurricane Katrina, but the small boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak. The outspoken actor had planned to rescue children waylaid by the deadly waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch. When the boat's motor failed to start, those aboard were forced to use paddles to propel themselves down the flooded New Orleans street. Asked what he had hoped to achieve in the waterlogged city, the actor replied: "Whatever I can do to help." But with the boat loaded with members of the Oscar-winner's entourage, including his personal photographer, one bystander taunted: "How are you going to get any people in that thing?"Penn's idiocy was preceded several days before by Kanye West, a hip hop star whose skills as a producer do not extend to the political arena:Appearing two-thirds through the program, he claimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible." "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food." While allowing that "the Red Cross is doing everything they can," West — who delivered an emotional outburst at the American Music Awards after he was snubbed for an award — declared that government authorities are intentionally dragging their feet on aid to the Gulf Coast. Without getting specific, he added, "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us."West's rant is particularly unfortunate (see it here). It reveals an ignorance that stems from decades of Democratic dogma. More to come later.


More on the Hurricane...What else is there to talk about? Here are some interesting articles:Will New Orleans ever Recover?The Moral Depravity Unleashed by KatrinaThe New Orleans Times-Picayune has one of the most complete collections of hurricane photos. I think we need to see these images, and learn the lessons they teach.The tenuous oil situation gives me cause to welcome this bit of news. We need all the energy sources we can get. Diversification is strength.


The situation in the Gulf Coast almost defies description. I was in southwest Florida last year after one of the hurricanes and was amazed by the destruction. I cannot imagine that kind of result coupled with tremendous flooding, something that the area I was in was spared. This is a very comprehensive look at New Orleans on the day after the storm. Their troubles are just beginning. I hope we can all be sensitive to their need.


More views from Mark Steyn on the reasons for Israel's withdrawl from Gaza. I agree with him, and see the rationale for a pullout as clear: We will give them Gaza in exchange for nothing. When they continue their terror attacks, we now have the high ground to crush them. Gloria Salt agrees and fleshes it out here.It is time for significant change in the American tax system. I am in favor of the abolition of the sales tax in favor of a national sales tax, but I would settle for a flat tax. John Fund points out how America is lagging behind its peers in this regard- and the reason is the influence of special interest groups.


How will today's oil prices affect the energy prices of tomorrow? According to Larry Kudlow, these high prices are setting off a "tectonic shift" for the better. Read it and have hope.


Senator Chuck Hagel is a Republican senator from the state of Nebraska. He has done no great good for his party or his President recently, and this is icing on the cake. Breaking ranks with the party is not his big sin in this case- it is his seemingly total ignorance. I challenge any of the people who compare Iraq to Vietnam to defend the comparison with facts. The insurgency in Iraq is not nationalistic, is not supported and armed by a rival superpower, and holds no territory. For someone like Hagel, who fought in Vietnam, to make these characterizations is irresponsible and intellectually lazy.Furthermore, the make-up of our military is substantially different than it was during Vietnam. Mark Steyn offers this spot-on diagnosis of the flaws in modern media analysis of the soldier's plight.


With Joseph's recovery continuing I am back in action. Some people think that vaccines are dangerous. I think not vaccinating your child is much more dangerous. A lot of vaccinationphobes point to a substance called thimerosal as the reason for their fear. This excellent article from Slate does a good job of debunking thimerosal's alleged link to autism in children. Needless to say, Joseph will have ALL his shots.


Needless to say, the Truth page is on hiatus, as is the regular SPOTD e-mail. I hope to return soon.


More news and views of the impact that nominee Roberts may have if confirmed to the Supreme Court. It seems useless to speculate too much, but this review seems very comprehensive.Ted Kennedy has distinguished himself as a first-rate bozo for the last several decades. His continual involvement in national politics reflects very poorly on the voters in Massachusetts. On a visit to Guantanamo Bay recently, he was taken to task for his idiocy in a much deserved and underreported exchange.


Grand Theft Auto is not a good game. It cannot have a good effect on someone. In addition to the game's violent theme, there is a modification available that turns an implied sexual encounter- Hot Coffee- into an explicit and viewable event. Obviously the sex and nudity in the game are an issue, but the violence can be just as bad. As this New York Times editorial states, "It's proper to worry about what young gamers will see when they stop for hot coffee. But what's more worrying still is what they see on the way."


Busy day in the news:The terror attack today in London prompted further recriminations by leftist journalists regarding the impact of British involvement in Iraq. The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, provided a scathing rebuke to one of those journalists. His answer is very statesmanlike. Tony Blair provides succinct affirmation.More on the nomination of John Roberts: He may not be a radical constitutionalist in the mold of Scalia, but incremental moves to the right may be just what conservatives need.This article from several years ago highlights a refreshing bit of candor from Orrin Hatch to Charles Schumer- "Dumbass Questions." Unfortunately, Schumer seems to think himself the people's inquisitor, so he is up to his old tricks again. He's just a special interest puppet, and if he thinks he is representing me, he presumes too much.Finally, Charles Krauthammer offers an analysis of neo-conservatism, the ideology vilified by opponents of the Iraq war, which now finds some support in the uneasy equilibrium that country has achieved. It is a helpful look at how this ideology compares to that of earlier Republican and Democratic administrations.


The nomination of John Roberts has returned abortion to the forefront, and with it, wild assertions as to the eventual danger to women of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Factcheck.org debunks one argument by Barbara "Bonehead" Boxer.


President Bush has made his nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts, Jr. He seems like a good choice. You can find information about him here and here. The latter link has illuminating commentary. He may have problems with the abortion issue, based on some prior statements. Notwithstanding the possible issues surrounding his confirmation, he has received widespread support in the past and is regarded as a conservative that will interpret the Constitution based on original intent and not judicial activism.I am very pleased with the pick. O'Conner was seen as a swing vote. Roberts is a conservative. President Bush won the election outright, and he has a Congressional Majority. For too long he has been overly accommodating to the Democrats. To me, this pick is a bit of muscle flexing we who voted for him deserve. If the Republicans don't support the pick and get this guy confirmed, I am going to be royally upset. We don't have to make the Dems feel good. We won, and to the victors go the spoils. These days the Supreme Court is as important a spoil as it gets.


I try to separate politics and entertainment. I think Spielberg's politics stink, but I enjoy his movies. Unfortunately, the screenwriter for War of the Worlds has gone too far, and I feel like warning people away from the movie. He actually said that "the Martian attackers in the film represent the American military, while the Americans being slaughtered at random represent Iraqi civilians." The linked column by John Leo has a nice turn on that. That guy Koepp is a real burro.


You have to check out this story of the U.S. Army medic that was shot in the chest, saved by his body armor, and then participated in the capture, arrest, and medical treatment of the man who shot him! This is a great story that, like many others, saw no coverage in the media.


To continue my criticism of Live8, here is an excellent article by a Cameroonian (that's an African nation) columnist, reprinted in today's New York Times. He says it better and more succinctly than I could ever hope to.


This excellent article by David Brooks of the New York Times, urges President Bush to pick the justice with "the biggest brain." He makes a persuasive argument on an issue that is critical to our future. Liberals claim to want someone who is not controversial (to them) or that would unify (the left), but someone like McConnell is precisely what we need to protect our liberties and to protect our freedoms. They are two different things.*** This just in- an excellent response to Brooks' article that brings up some important points. I think I liked the McConnell idea so much that I didn't catch onto the "Big Brain" problem.I am hopeful that President Bush will do as Brooks suggests. I am distressed that the President has not flexed his muscles more, to the Democrats and even his own party. Its time to act like he won the election, and picking a justice that will help the country stay true to the intent of the Constitution would be one way to do that.


I have always believed in our efforts to explore space. It gives us something to dream about, and the by-products of the space program have blessed our society tremendously. This excellent editorial by Richard Blomberg in today's New York Times, does a great job of explaining that effort and its perils. There is danger to every endeavor that is worthwhile. The space program is no different. Hopefully, the cancellation of today's shuttle launch is a temporary setback, and no more.


As I read this article, I was reminded why I like the British. As different cultural currents serve to distance us from our past, our kinship with the British is really something to be proud of. This little island sprouted an empire, from which this great country sprang. Although we fought them to do it, our common heritage has united us in ways that (I hope) will never be erased.


One of the most interesting possible outcomes of Roe v. Wade- the abortion of the Left. James Taranto, the author of this article and an editor for the Wall Street Journal, has argued his Roe Effect theory for some time, and it is a fascinating and coherent idea. Admittedly, it has not gone through the rigmarole of full statistical testing, but it is still an idea that merits full consideration. I'd be interested to know what you think.


Live8 continues to be a topic of interest. I receive a weekly e-mail from a guy named Kevin Hogan (his website). He's an expert in persuasion, influence, and other areas. This week's edition included some excellent points on the issue. It is kind may seem long, but it is right on: Uganda, like all Africa needs free trade. But it's not going to happen. Besides, Bono and Geldof would never go for that. And before going further it's always worth considering that debt relief to Uganda meant/means that President Musevni will likely be able to win the next election...for which by law he is not allowed to run because of constitutional term limits he is fighting to stay in power. But back to the core issue. What Bono and Geldof won't tell their followers.... is that debt relief is NOT the answer. It's not even a little answer. The answer Africa is literally dying for is a lift of import taxes INTO the US, the UK, Japan, etc....from other countries and fully stopping protectionism. That means, letting your kids buy shoes that are made in Uganda that won't be made by American workers...or Chinese workers... That is the reality in Africa today. Because there is no real money coming IN to these countries, *in a transparent fashion that gets to the people*.....to create jobs there is poverty. What's maddening is if these coordinators of Live 8 go on TV and say the truth, "hey, come on UK, Japan, USA, let free trade be cool so the African countries can make shoes and shirts for 5 cents per hour to compete with the CHINESE out who supposedly "stole" the jobs from the US and UK," ...well you see where I'm going.... But don't worry.... the people (voters) of wealthier nations would freak out about what African's so desparately need...jobs to earn money to buy food...that the voters would vote the rascals out who would allow such a thing to happen. Africa will get "debt relief" because it sounds cool, is taxpayer paid and APPEARS to solve a problem...when in fact it does next to nothing. Almost nothing. Let's look at this debt relief scheme and compare it to what would make a real difference. If a country has 20 million people and the the government has accrued a billion in debt, you're looking at $50 per person. (This is nothing. In the USA, each person has a debt to the US Government of approximately $50,000.00, due on demand at any time...really) If the country had free trade with every country on earth but especially the G8 countries, that would create enough jobs and income to give those starving people food, a hut and clean water. About $2000 per annually person. But there is a belief in the citizenship of G8 countries that if someone in an impoverished country starts making shoes...they (our friends in manufacturing in the USA or UK) could "lose" their job. And "government" debt relief sounds so much easier than losing UK manufacturing jobs or a US autoworker job to someone in Rwanda. So instead, the Live 8 slogan is "debt relief." And of course politicians couldn't be happier. The rock stars look good, the politicians look good and the people in Africa get zero change. They starve. Literally. Some of these countries are "run" by wacko war lords that make Saddam Hussein look like a nice guy. In one sense, they'd be getting the debt relief (historically that doesn't mean food or anything good in most situations like this) and like all these kinds of countries where the horrifying leadership or anarchists are running the show, the benefit is for the politicians and often armies in power and not the people. The G8 has tried to work out a way to make debt relief to countries happen so that history doesn't repeat itself. One UK leader (Gordon Brown) noted months ago, that IF the money relieved the various countries (not all in Africa by the way...another important point) would help health, teachers and infrastructure then it would likely be a go. This of course is wonderful (in theory again). In THIS hypothetical world...the relief WOULD matter...a little... Unfortunately with an event of Live 8 magnitude....what could have been done would be to actually *raise* money AND bypass the bad guys in power (something like we did in Indonesia, for example, after the Tsunamia at Christmas) and get real food and medicine to real people who need it. But that extra step doesn't make for good TV and the blind sense is that it will happen anyway, especially to today's young viewer who doesn't know better. And the young viewer will never know the difference... believing that their spokespeople like Geldof and Bono have done something that means something... (and we haven't said that it means *nothing.* It's only naive...I hope.) The request and action from the G8 for debt relief HAS ALREADY HAPPENED for many African nations, and is something they were going to talk about for others (in and out of Africa) long before Live 8 came along. The G8 WANTS debt relief for these poor people. It's a cheap way to make it look like current administrations are doing something that makes a difference. But that too is an illusion. Nothing new is happening here. For example, Somalia (currently not qualifying for debt relief but in need of LOTS OF HELP) owes a lot of money. Now, if the G8 forgives their debt? Big deal. Geldof and Bono can say they have done something cool. Right? Not necessarily. Why? THERE IS NO GOVERNMENT IN SOMALIA to pay or renege on debt. Answer to the Problem? If we REALLY want to feed the starving, we can open up completely free trade with these countries. That is the ONLY long term solution because without jobs there is no money and without money there is no food. Pretty simple math we all get. Finally, there is nothing wrong with 200,000 people squeezing into Hyde Park to see McCartney and Bono, Sir Elton and the rest for a good time....I wish I would have been able to attend. You just hope people don't go home thinking, "I did my part." Because it's like an affirmation: They "thought" something "positive," but nothing tangible for the starving child on the street in Africa will "happen" because of this series of rock concerts and the well intended and very good hearted crowds that went to see their mostly well intended heroes. A few years ago, Coffe with Kevin Hogan did it's annual fundraiser for children in Rwanda. We helped a little, but it was the least "successful" of all of our fundraisers (Afghanistan and Iraq twice, the other years.). The need is unfathomable in Rwanda. But it's so ugly that no one wants to report it. Maybe someday we'll all figure out that borders don't divide the affection of the human heart and that the man in Africa has the same right as the woman in China as the teenager in the USA to live on a planet where they are free to work and feed their family. That's the America, the UK, the Japan, that I want to see emerge. Fearless that we will evolve while we let innocent people who are dying play the game of life on a level playing field.In the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, Mark Steyn makes some interesting points on the topic of celebrity giving vis-a-vis celebrity earnings. Besides making some good points, his bio page is a pretty funny read.


I have always admired the ability of the private sector to mobilize and do good and worthy things to alleviate the suffering of others. Normally, something like the recent Live8 concerts around the world would fall into that category. However, I read a quote yesterday by Chris Martin of Coldplay (one of my favorite bands) and it says something about the elevated sense of importance that seems to be a part of the whole event. My issue with Live8 was its stated purpose to encourage governments around the world, particularly those in the G8, to forgive African debt and do other things of that nature. To grossly oversimplify, the problems with Africa are endemic and are based on issues of bad government, more than the burden of foreign debt. Live8 is a missed opportunity to mobilize private citizens to give of their money, rather than put pressure on governments to do it.Glenn Reynolds, quoted below in another post, provides some other, possibly more meaningful, issues related to Africa's future.6/30/05The new president of Iran may be a terrorist. Why is this surprising? The international community treated Yasser Arafat like a hero for years, despite his past wrongs. I can't imagine that they will treat this guy any differently. This does bring to mind an interesting question- to what extent are people allowed to change? Is a terrorist always a terrorist? I don't have a problem making that statement regarding this man, or anyone else that considers civilians in a diplomatically shielded embassy to be fair game. In fact, no terrorists of note have ever shown themselves to be anything different. Please correct me if I am wrong.This is a good interview with President Bush by The Times (UK) on some of the issues related to the upcoming G8 summit. As I read the introduction, I can't help but think that the picture liberals paint of him is so totally wrong. Whether you agree with his views is your choice, but the personal attacks are so persistent and prone to hyperbole that they lose all effect. By all means Liberals, keep it up.


Bill Simmons has more about the useless blather that passes for sports commentary these days. What does tremendous upside potential mean? If someone didn't have potential, why would they be drafted? And doesn't it follow that with upside comes downside? It's all a gamble.


The Supreme Court came out with a ruling that is a complete and total disaster. See this post by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds. This is an affront to property rights and is government intervention at its most extreme, and Justice Thomas' dissent highlighted this perfectly (Here and Here). He, Rhenquist, O'Conner, and Scalia were the dissenters. This is shockingly bad law.


The outcome of the Terri Schiavo ordeal has some finality with the release of her autopsy. This case was so muddled for me. I think the one lesson that each and every one of us can draw is that we should have our legal documents in order. I'm not all that comfortable with what was done, or what was attempted. Everyone was a loser here.Is PBS worth saving? Peggy Noonan thinks so, and I am inclined to agree. That is, if PBS would provide the kind of programming she describes. There should be a place for educational programming that is just not profitable in the arithmetic of commercial television.


I for one don't plan to retire young. I think there is something wrong with our culture. Do we really deserve all that time? We certainly can't afford it anymore.


I thought this was an interesting piece, though incomplete in its analysis of the Madrassa threat. Madrassas are the Saudi Arabian schools known to be breeding grounds for Fundamentalist Islam. This article dismisses their danger because, of the persons known to be involved in terrorist acts on U.S. soil, none of them attended a Madrassa. We should know by now that terrorism off of U.S. soil is just as detrimental to our interests.


This excellent article, by the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger, demonstrates how the Supreme Court decision allowing federal prosecution of medicinal marijuana users wounds conservatism. I never thought of this, and especially enjoyed reading the excerpt of Clarence Thomas' dissent. Draw your own conclusions.


How diligent and intellectual was John Kerry during his college years? Not very different from, and perhaps inferior to, the President. Interesting.


Happy Anniversary to Lacy & I! 2 years come and gone, and Big 'J' 6 weeks away!Mitt Romney ran the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic games, and now he is the governor of Massachusetts. He is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How is a Mormon doing as chief executive of one the country's most liberal states? What does this, and his faith. say about a run for the U.S. Presidency? The Weekly Standard has some answers (Thanks to Right Wing Pundit). It is a very well-rounded article.In the same site, find this positive portrayal of the French. I don't know many people who have as negative an opinion of the French system as I do. Over the past several years, I have been particularly tough on them. Where I have been unfair, is in my mental lumping of the French people with the system. While you can't disconnect them completely from the problems of that system, you must read the article to find the commonality of thought that made them our allies for so many years. Sovereignty matters.


Additional perspective on the identity of "Deep Throat" by Peggy Noonan. As always, she looks at things on a deeper level. This article from the New York Times provides background on the story, and how the revelation was even more unexpected for some.


Some of you may have heard that there was a deal to end the impasse over President Bush's judical nominees. As a conservative, I think this is a disaster. Senator George Allen stated (quoted by the Washington Post):Overall this is a major disappointment on principle...This so-called deal is disappointing for all of us who believe in the principle that persons should be accorded the fairness and due process of an up or down vote. Everyone should also clearly see that ultimately, nothing has been settled when a vacancy arises on the U.S. Supreme Court.I thought we won this election. I thought that meant that we would not only nominate conservative judges, but use our newfound might to get them confirmed. The Democrats have been dishonest about this issue, and McCain and his six Republican allies have let down their party, as well as those who elected them. I hope Bill Frist ignores the deal, and forces them to take sides and be counted.


Back from vacation, so here goes:This article is by Daniel Okrent, the departing Public Editor of the New York Times. He writes an excellent column that sums up many of the problems with journalism, and the NYT in particular. It is worth the time of the free registration.


Anybody who doesn't think there are serious problems with our educational system needs to read this article in the New York Times. All that money parents spend on preparation, all the tips and tricks for a higher score come down to this simple plan: write longer. (free registration required).I read Peggy Noonan every Thursday on www.opinionjournal.com. Her insights are excellent. This week's column is apolitical, and touches on some very interesting points on privacy and the sharing of personal information. I guess there is some kind of talent, if that's the right word, that allows people to share such things with class and dignity, while others often fail so miserably.Link of the Day: Another great column by Bill Simmons on Steroids and the loss of baseball's innocence. I don't share his lackadaisical reaction to steroid use, but I do agree 100% with his criticism of the whiners (I said as much in my entry from March 22).


Check out this page for some really specific criticism of American Idol. ABC is planning a major piece that is highly critical of the show for different reasons, among them a rumor that Paula Abdul had a relationship with a contestant. It will air on Primetime Live sometime soon.


This is a great article about a man named Ted Hayes. Hayes is a resident of Los Angeles, is a social Activist, and a black Republican. It is worth checking out. Here is a photo: . He has had an interesting life.I am pretty pumped about some of the summer movies, but in particular this one. I have always been a Superhero fan, but if I had to choose a favorite, Batman edges Superman and Spiderman. As a kid I did my share of "flying" and "webslinging," but for some reason the Dark Knight is the fave.


The Wall Street Journal has an excellent commentary piece by Thomas Sowell. It takes a look at the effect of culture vs. race, and its conclusion is one that Bill Cosby would probably agree with.And this is a pretty interesting article about a Utah billionaire. Its worth taking a look at (links good for 7 days).


I find Russia's Putin a bit disconcerting. Bush is friendly with him, which seems smart, but he is definitely someone to watch. Check out this article for more. I think Reagan would not be a big fan.


From John Fund of the Wall Street Journal's Political Diary:With a Supreme Court vacancy likely to open up in June with the expected retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Republicans are dithering on whether or not to end filibusters of judicial nominations. They should know that if they fail to use parliamentary procedure to restrict future filibusters only to actual legislation, they are inviting months of Senate gridlock this summer over any Bush Supreme Court nominee."There's nothing in the Constitution that says that there has to be 51 votes for that judge," claims New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the mastermind behind the Democratic filibuster strategy that has so far blocked 10 of Mr. Bush's appellate court nominees. He sang a different tune back in 2000, when he wanted to dislodge some Clinton nominees from the Judiciary Committee before the November election. "I also plead with my colleagues to move judges with alacrity -- vote them up or down," Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor. "But this delay makes a mockery of the Constitution, makes a mockery of the fact that we are here working, and makes a mockery of the lives of very sincere people who have put themselves forward to be judges and then they hang out there in limbo." Mr. Schumer had a legitimate point back then about Republican obstructionism, which makes his current turnaround on the issue shamelessly opportunistic. He should know that the Constitution's Advice and Consent clause clearly states that a simple majority of Senators can confirm nominees, and a Supreme Court decision in 1892 upheld that interpretation. That standard is well known and is the only logical answer to why Democrats did not filibuster Justice Clarence Thomas' nomination in 1991. Back then, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, now the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, flatly rejected calls by outside liberal groups for a filibuster of the Thomas nomination. "The president and the nominee and all Americans deserve an up or down vote" on the nomination, Leahy said. "I am totally opposed to a filibuster."Mr. Leahy was joined in his opposition by Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen, who had been the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1988. In decrying a possible filibuster of Mr. Thomas, he wrote: "As a matter of high priority, the Senate should change its rules so that we can act responsibly, more rapidly and with more certainty on the major issues our nation faces."Today, rather than face down the more extreme interest groups urging filibusters of judicial nominations, Senate Democrats seem to have abdicated their responsibilities to them. On the Hugh Hewitt radio program both Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, and Ralph Neas, executive director of People for the American Way, pledged this week to filibuster any conservative Bush nominee to the high court. When asked if he would oppose Mike McConnell, a widely respected judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals who has criticized the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision in 2000, Mr. Neas noted: "Mike was a colleague of mine at the University of Chicago Law School. Lovely individual, but truly extreme on a wide range of issues." Former Democratic Senator Zell Miller of Georgia told me last year that his former colleagues are incapable of saying no to the liberal groups that want to block any Bush court nominee. But he also said that Republicans are foolish if they believe Democrats will shut down the Senate if filibusters on judicial nominations are ruled out of order. "Senators need to get business done and folks back home will demand they do," he said. "A work stoppage wouldn't last long."


Recently, the U.S. congress held hearings regarding the issue of steroids in baseball. This was really irritating to me. I don't think Congress has any business getting involved in this issue. Wouldn't our money be better spent by working on some of the truly substantive issues that we face.All the business about the "sanctity of the game" is a crock. Baseball is a business. Congress needs to get a sense of perspective about this. Moreover, the issue of teens and steroids will not go away because of federal or state hearings. This is a cultural problem. I don't want kids using steroids, but Congress' involvement does nothing more than provide pre-election photo-ops


What to make of all the turmoil in the Middle East? What has emboldened the Lebanese to stand up to their Syrian occupiers? You have to credit the Palestinian and Iraqi elections. You have to attribute at least part of it to the presence of American troops in the region. The everyday Lebanese likes America, just as the everyday Iranian does. They like our culture and want to emulate it, and now we are there, nearby. I don't think democracy in the Middle East is as far away as people think.Liberals everywhere are forced to face the prospect that this may be Bush's doing. They have to face the prospect that using force to punish bad people leads to positive shockwaves around the world. This is hard for some who, having deep dislike for Bush, would see our failure in the Mid East as a sort of blessing.The truth is that people want freedom. The gift of agency, to make decisions about your own life is a gift from God. Each of us is born with a desire to choose for ourselves, and given the opportunity, we will take it.


Some of you may be aware of the recent scuffle up at Harvard University over remarks made by the current president, Larry Summers. He made some comments to the effect that women are underrepresented in careers in Math and Science because of hard-wired genetic differences. Basically, women are genetically less capable than men.My purpose here is not to debate the validity of his opinion. I am shocked that the left, the self-proclaimed champions of tolerance and openness, are skewering one of their own because he said something contrary to liberal orthodoxy. This is just evidence that some liberals welcome only opinions that they agree with. This is blatantly hypocritical. Just something to think about.

Joseph's Story (July - August 2005)

Joseph's Story
As written by me in July & August of 2005

This page is dedicated to my son, Joseph Edward Lowry III. It was always my intention to make a page where I could keep track of his growth. I never anticipated that he would have such an exciting beginning. Some people might look at what I've written and wonder how I could have written so much. To be honest, I didn't do it for you. I wanted to have a record of everything that had happened to Joseph, for his benefit and mine. I do hope that it is of interest and provides perspective on what has been a very tumultuous little life.

Joseph was born on July 27, 2005 at North Florida Regional Medical Center. He weighed 9 lbs and was 22 inches long. Lacy was incredible during the labor and delivery, and we were overcome when our son finally arrived. The photo above was taken by my mom just seconds after Little Joey was born.
Unfortunately, it became apparent that his color was not right. Most babies have a bluish appearance when they are born. This rapidly changes when the lungs inflate and oxygen-rich blood goes through the body giving it a nice pink color. J-III did not turn that pink color so they took him to test his lungs. After a moment of examination at Lacy's bedside they decided to take him to the nursery to examine him more closely. I followed him there as they looked him over. After a moment they asked me to leave so that they could intubate him, or put a tube down his throat to help him get more oxygen. I left the room as they started not really knowing what it all meant.
We waited for a few minutes, expecting that all would surely be well and they would bring him back to our room. After a time our nurse midwife Ann Marie Fenn, OB-GYN Anthony Agrios, and pediatrician Marci Slayton walked in to discuss what was going on with Joey. At that point we were told that the level of oxygen that he was receiving was not sufficient and that our sick little boy would need to be transported to Shands Hospital at the University of Florida very soon. Needless to say, we were both shocked. Thus continued a very long day.
We were told that there were at least two possible causes for his condition- a diaphragmatic hernia or a heart defect. I think we were both still in shock, and it took some time for me to understand what all of that meant. I should take the time to point out that everything in this pregnancy had been wonderful, from Lacy's health to the entire labor and delivery up to that point. The occurrence of his condition only further highlighted some of the other things that went right.
That day a neonatologist from Shands was on his normal visit to North Florida and he was able to see Joseph right away. He prescribed a drug that improved Joey's oxygen levels, so that he was a pale white color, rather than the unusual blue. Dr. Morse (the neonatologist) referred him to Shands very soon, and the helicopter was able to take him there within 1 1/2 hours after birth. All of these things were a blessing for us, in the midst of a very scary time. All of the staff at North Florida were fantastic, and attended to Lacy and me with so much compassion and concern. Additionally, two of Lacy's friends from her time working as a diabetes research assistant, Jen and Liz, were there to care for her when I went to Shands to see to Joseph. There were so many people there who had a part in her recovery. Our hearts are full of gratitude for them.
As much as any of these occurrences, faith played a major role in our ability to cope with what was going on. Before he was taken to Shands from North Florida, my father and I had time to give him a priesthood blessing. It was difficult for me to put my hands on his little head and then focus on what Heavenly Father had in mind for this little guy. I felt very peaceful and knew that Heavenly Father would watch over him and those taking care of him. That peaceful feeling has been with me since that time, and I know that he is being watched over by Heavenly Father.
Joseph arrived at Shands that morning and was immediately subjected to a whole series of tests. They diagnosed him with a defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries. This page from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital explains the nature of this defect. If left uncorrected, it is usually a fatal defect. Fortunately, the doctors at Shands Hospital, specifically Dr. Paolillo with the help of others, performed a heart catheterization procedure called a septostomy. This procedure widens an existing space between the left and right ventricles of the heart to allow mixing of oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood. This allowed his oxygen saturation levels to improve so that the major surgery is no longer considered an emergency. Now it was time to determine where it should be performed.
Surgery on congenital heart defects is a highly specialized field. After consulting with one of the cardiologists at Shands we agreed that Miami Children's Hospital provided the best mix of expert surgeons and convenience for us, owing to my family presence there. After they contacted the hospital in Miami, they were told that they would come pick him up by jet that day (Thursday, July 28th). We waited at Shands until they took him, planning to follow him the next day. We arrived in Miami in time to visit Joey before going to my Uncle & Aunt's house, Ari & Kelly Sastre for some much needed rest after a long day. Joseph was stable, and we felt good about the people caring for him.
Today is Sunday, July 31st. Joseph continues to be stable, and we await his surgery, scheduled for Tuesday, August 2nd. The surgery is called an arterial switch. The surgeon will take the aorta and the pulmonary artery and switch them. This is the easy part of the procedure. The more delicate part of the surgery is moving the coronary arteries to the right place. All of Joseph's blood vessels are small, but the coronary arteries are very small. We feel very fortunate that our surgeon is highly skilled and very experienced. Additionally, Transposition is a common defect, and he has a lot of experience repairing this kind of condition. I will update this page with news on his condition as I can.
Monday passed without incident. Sunday night was especially nice, because the nurse asked us if we wanted to give Joseph a bath. I changed his diaper for the first time. We went home tired, happy to have been able to participate in his care in a more meaningful way. Monday we met with Cristi, a nurse practitioner in the practice of Dr. Redmond Burke, the surgeon who would be performing the procedure. She explained what we should expect to occur. I'll provide a run-down of the procedure as I understand it:
Joseph is taken from the ICU by several nurses and the anesthesiologist to the operating room, where he will be connected to all the necessary machines. He is sedated and prepared for the surgery to begin.
A person known as the profusionist prepares the heart-lung bypass machine. In order for this to work properly, they have to reroute the blood away from the heart and lungs. Because blood wants to clot when it leaves the body, they must use blood thinners to keep it flowing. This allows the doctor to stop the heart so that the procedure can be performed.
The doctor can now begin the surgery, severing the aorta and pulmonary artery above the heart valves. The arteries are then switched, reattached with hundreds of tiny stitches.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the surgery comes next, where the coronary arteries are moved. The coronary arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. These too must be reattached to insure that the heart gets nourishment. These are very small in an adult, and tiny in a child. Once again, much precision and many, many stitches are required.
Some time after the above procedure, he is removed from the bypass machine (hopefully) so that normal blood flow can be restored to the heart. This will allow the doctor to see that the heart is pumping normally and that there are no leaks in any of the valves.
At this point, his chest may or may not be closed, and the amount of time on the ventilator will vary. We are hopeful that he will be able to go home in about 2 weeks. During that 2 weeks many things will occur, and I will keep a record of that here.
The highlight of Monday occurred about 6:30pm. Our nurse at the time, Luisa, told Lacy that she should go to the bathroom because if she was going to hold the baby, she wouldn't be able to get up. Needless to say, this overjoyed her as she has been unable to hold him since the birth. When he was placed on her after being born, there was so much commotion that this constituted the first real time she has had to hold him in her arms. It was very emotional for both of us (I was fairly jealous) and he was calm and seemed so happy to be in his mom's arms. I gave him a father's blessing while he was there. She held him for almost an hour before it was time for us to go back to Ari & Kelly's house for dinner and sleep. Tuesday would be a long day.
We got to the hospital this morning (Tuesday, August 2nd) at about 6:45am. Joseph looked very peaceful, and had a good night's rest according to Susie, his nurse. We had a few moments with him, snapped a few photos, and waited for Dr. Burke. He arrived and had a very reassuring manner. He explained a few things, and assured us that he would be gentle and do his best for Joey. We asked him if we could have a prayer with him, and he agreed. We accompanied Joseph to the opening of the operating room and returned to wait. At 9:30 we got an update that he was on the bypass machine and that we would hear from them again at 11am. We are calmer than expected, and have faith that Heavenly Father will hear our prayers and watch over our son.
As we sat talking at about 12:30, Linda (another Nurse Practitioner from Dr. Burke's practice) came in to tell us that the surgery was completed and that they were able to seal his chest. This was great news, and seemed earlier than expected. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Burke came in to discuss the surgery, showed us some pictures of his tiny heart, and told us that Joseph would be out shortly. He came out and the change in his color was astounding. He almost looked like a different baby. We are so grateful, and know that the fasting and many prayers on his behalf were instrumental during this time.
We just went in to see him (2pm). The past six days made us accustomed to the sight of his little body and all the different tubes that helped him gain strength. As you can imagine, the number of tubes in his body post-operation seem to have multiplied. It still fills us with some apprehension to see him like that, but the peace that I've felt since shortly after we learned of his condition continues. We sat in his room for a while and watch him enjoy heavily sedated slumber. Very tired, we returned to the house to get some rest.
We went to the hospital today and were excited to hear that they were going to extubate him. We did not expect this for at least another day, so it was a real relief to be able to look at his face. His swelling improved as well. The most difficult part of the post-surgery period is the waiting. It may yet be several weeks before we can take him home, so in the mean time we wait as various tubes are removed day by day. We see more and more of his personality (he has blue eyes) and feel a little bit more like real parents. He is a beautiful little boy, and I feel so grateful for his good recovery. Even Dr. Burke, the surgeon, mentioned today that he is a strong baby and having a very fast recovery. I just need to be patient and trust that all will continue to go well. Once again, Lacy and I discuss how blessed we are.
Two days have passed since the surgery and Joseph's progress is exceptional. I came to the hospital this morning to see how he was doing and Dr. Bolivar, one of the cardiologists, mentioned that Joseph's progress was "amazing." He also added that he was on pace for one of the fastest recoveries they have ever had. The only concern was a collapsed lung that they optimistic about. It seems to be normal for someone who has been on a heart-lung machine and who has all of the accompanying secretions. This will probably take some time to pass.
Today was markedly better than yesterday. It is hard to watch him there, and today was so much more interactive. I got to hold him for the first time, and Lacy was able to feed him some breastmilk. His stomach was able to keep it all down without a problem, and so we are hopeful that they will be able to shift him to 100% breastmilk within a short period of time.
We also continue to be impressed with the breadth and quantity of prayers offered for Joseph. We received a nice teddy bear and some ballons from Investacorp, the Broker-Dealer with whom I am a registered securities representative. My father spoke with the CEO Bruce Swiegart, a very nice man, and he mentioned that some individuals confessed that while not normally inclined to pray, they felt impressed to pray for Joseph. He has been prayed for by Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, and Jews in Churches, Chapels, and Temples. His welfare has been the source of fasting and pleading. All of this for one small child, my child. It overcomes me to think of it, and fills me with gratitude. My own life has been so free of trials. The outpouring of love on his behalf is a source of strength and promotes my own faith.
All of this makes me think of the man who pleaded for healing from the Savior. He said, "I believe...Help thou mine unbelief." This was my prayer for my son, and the Lord has answered it and continues to answer it. This great blessing is not without price, for the responsibility it places on Lacy and me is to teach him to love and serve God and his fellow man. This means that our own lives must be consistent with that goal. Sometimes these kinds of prayers are not answered the way that we want them to be. Lacy and I feel very fortunate that ours was answered in the desired way, and we feel like something is expected of us as a result.
August 5th- my birthday. I have everything that I could want- a loving wife and a healthy (and improving) son. I have seen the power of faith manifest in the life of my son, and that gift will last much longer than the other things I might hope for. I am also impressed by how blessed we are with regard to Joseph's heart condition being limited in scope. Many of the infants here in the Cardiac ICU are very small or have multiple significant defects. We can anticipate no further surgeries and a normal life for Joey. That is another gift.
I ran to the hospital to deliver some breastmilk and then Lacy's mom, my mom, Lacy and I went to the Gables Diner for a big birthday breakfast. Since then we've spent a great day with Joseph ( I fed him for the first time). Soon we will be heading back to Ari & Kelly's for some birthday pizza, and then perhaps back to the hospital tonight. Lacy's mom heads back to California tomorrow, and it has been wonderful having both of our moms here to see us and the baby. We will miss her when she leaves.
I had a great little birthday party, a surprise by Kelly & Ari, and we had a nice night with everyone, which included missing our little guy. August 6th was a nice day as well, as Joseph's condition continued to improve. He had been eating expressed breastmilk from the bottle for the past two days, and they told us that Lacy could try to breastfeed him directly. Immediately he latched on to Lacy, and although the duration of the feeding was not all that long, it was promising. By the end of the day she had nursed several times and he seemed to be a natural. We went home pretty happy, but it gets harder to leave him each day.
I spoke to a father whose daughter has the same condition. She has not yet received the arterial switch operation, and I could see on the father's face the same look that I must have had. Even having passed through the same situation, I find it hard to put myself back in his shoes, so different do I feel today. Additionally, the complexity of these procedures is such that I could hardly promise him anything based on our experience. I do have great confidence in the Dr. Burke, and I told him as much. Even giving all due credit to Dr. Burke's prowess, I have to attribute a lot of Joey's success to Heavenly Father.
As if to further punctuate this, J-III was moved out of the ICU to what they call "The Floor." We share a room with a young kid named Joe (so at one point there were 4 Joe's in one room) and he is nice and keeps the volume down. We were surprised to be moving from the ICU so soon. They told us that Joe was just too healthy for the ICU. One step closer to going home. This also means that we are responsible for more of his care, and that Lacy can stay here overnight to nurse him. We are not happy about the separation and are even more eager to get home. Of course our concern from Joseph outweighs this desire, but I do think that we will be home by next Friday at the latest. That would be fantastic.
Some of you may noticed that I refer to Joseph by several different names (Joseph, Joey, J-III). The reason is that we still haven't figured out what to call him. I like J-III for fun. Its like his street name, or rap name. I know that some in the family like Lacy's sister Lillie like Joey for him. Lacy has yet to weigh in with her firm choice. Maybe when we get home this decision will fall into place for us.
Sunday was our first night in a regular room and it was a long, tiring night. We quickly realized how pampered we were in the ICU with regard to the amount of nursing care that he received. We are grateful to have him close to us though, and look forward to having him home for good. Monday was a lot of sitting, with some errands thrown in, as we waited for Joseph's progress. By Monday night he was free of any oxygen tubes of any kind and had a much better night (or at least, I had a much better night). Monday morning the doctor mentioned that he would like for us to be able to leave in a few days. We didn't know exactly what that meant.
When the doctors came by for rounds Tuesday morning, we were so close to being discharged. They elected to keep him in the hospital for one more day, just to check on his chest congestion. The day has passed without incident, and as I type this at 10:49 on Tuesday August 9th, it is with confidence that Wednesday is a day of liberation for all of us, and only 8 days after surgery. I keep looking around for Joseph's gold medal, but I guess they don't actually have anything like that. We are so glad to be going home. We have developed a pattern here that is workable, but the idea of going home is the utopian ideal.
I feel like I should reiterate how fortunate we have been at every step of the way. Everyone we have interacted with has been wonderful, within the hospitals and without. Things like this bring out the goodness in all of us. I can honestly say I am grateful for trials.
It is now the evening of August 14th and we have been home for several days. The routine of being a "normal" parent is decidedly lacking in routine. There have been a few sleepless nights, for Lacy mostly, and a few days where it seemed like all the little guy wanted to do was eat (another thing that has affected Lacy primarily). Still, for all these minor inconveniences, we are so glad to be home. After all, it will take some time for Joey to establish the behaviors that he was unable to learn over the time that he was in the hospital.
I went to Church today and I felt overwhelming gratitude, for God, family, and friends. My heart was full, and it was hard to keep all my feelings in check. I don't think I could describe them in a way that makes any sense, but they were there and in full effect. I know that the trials of parenthood will be many and varied, but Lacy and I have established the foundation upon which to build our future. We're so fortunate that Joseph will be a part of that.