Archive for January, 2009

Plan B

January 24, 2009

I had plans today to hike the east 11 miles of the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains.  I was going out with several other geocachers.  However, that didn’t quite work out.  The last several days, I have been trying to find off a cold.  I think the cold has won.  I woke up early, looked at the rain outside, and decided to forget about the hike.  It was a good decision.   I’m feeling lousy enough just sitting at home; I’m sure that I would have had a terrible time hiking today.


March for Life

January 22, 2009

Today, the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, there will be a March for Life in Washington, D. C.   More than 100,000 are expected to attend.  If it is anything like past years, there will be little press coverage of the event.

Under the “Change Has Come to America” banner at, President Obama’s agenda includes this:

Supports a Woman’s Right to Choose: President Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Administration. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in that case.

The President is expected to make an Executive Order that will reverse the Mexico City Policy that has required all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services in other countries.  This policy was originally adopted by President Reagan and has been followed by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic administrations.

We now have a president that thinks the question of when life begins is “above my pay grade” and if his daughters make a mistake, wouldn’t want them “punished with a baby.”  More than 48 million abortions have been performed in the United States in the past 36 years.  Some studies suggest that 1 in 3 pregnancies in the United States now end in abortion and that more than 90% of these are for the convenience of the mother.

For years, the phrase “woman’s right to choose” has attempted to reduce the decision to have an abortion to the same level has having a tooth extracted–“it’s in my body and I should be able to do anything with my body that I choose.”  Nevermind that the whole idea is based on a lie.  While a fetus may be in a woman’s body, it is certainly not part of her body.  It’s a separate individual, with its own DNA.  It relies on its mother for care and for nourishment, not a “choice.”

We are now in the era of “Hope and Change.”  Unfortunately, I think there won’t be much Hope for many of America’s unborn for the next few years.   I suspect we will see changes in the laws allowing for partial-birth abortions and the possible passage of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would codify women’s right under Roe v. Wade to terminate their pregnancy and would forbid any interference with that right.  The “Conscience Rule,” signed by President Bush last month, is also in jeopardy.  It  allows anyone in the health system — from a surgeon to a pharmacy cashier — to decline to offer a service or treatment that violates their personal conscience.

The changes we will probably see won’t be towards the position of “Choose Life.”

The Civility Project

January 21, 2009

I learned of The Civility Project the other day.  It is something that makes a lot of sense to me.

Here are its core values:

  • Civility in all situations
  • Courage to do what’s right
  • Graciousness in conduct and speech
  • Honesty in all communications
  • Integrity of heart
  • Respect for the right of others to hold and express views different from my own

What it is:

  • A call for civility
  • A voluntary effort
  • A grassroots movement
  • A collection of conservatives and liberals, religious and secular, et al, who possibly only agree on the importance of civility in society

What it isn’t:

  • A surrender of personal beliefs, convictions or ideology
  • A call to limit or police free speech
  • A “tolerance” campaign (we can be civil even about things we don’t tolerate or accept)
  • A campaign to define or legislate “hate speech” or to seek government involvement in any way
  • A call for unity
  • A call for an end to partisanship
  • A call to reinstate the “Fairness Doctrine” regulating broadcast media
  • A fundraising effort: we will not solicit funds, sell advertising, etc.
  • Affiliated with any political party, religious denomination or any other group or organization (except as such groups and their respective members may choose to align with the messages and objectives of this Project)
  • An organization (we will not even maintain a mailing list)
  • Liberal or conservative
  • A real or veiled endorsement or defense of any candidate—now or ever
  • An exercise in political correctness
  • An attempt to stifle preachers, priests, rabbis, et al, who seek to interpret Scripture and speak from personal and doctrinal conviction and belief

What I specifically like about this is its focus on good behavior, without stiffling free speech or thought.  It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.  It is possible to have opposite points of view without calling the other side haters, liars, or worse.

The beauty of the American ideal is that we have honored diverse thought and opinion.  This Project calls on all of us to be courteous in all our interactions.

If you would like to know more about the Civility Project, check out

Our New President

January 20, 2009

Barrack Obama is our new president.  I tried listening to his inaugural address, but the feed kept cutting out on me.  I’ll will need to listen to it again.  I heard things that I like and I heard things that concerned me.  I am sure that is how things will be for the next 4 years.

To President Obama, I give my best wishes.  I hope that he will have the wisdom and the understanding to “preserve, protect and defend” our Constitution and our nation in these difficult times.

President Obama begins his administration in difficult times.  We are at war and our economy is challenged.  He has campaigned on the ideas of Hope and Change.  I hope he will understand that the strength of our nation is in our people, not in our government.

A Special Day

January 20, 2009

Today is a special day.  Barack Obama will be inaugurated the 44th President of the United States.  For me, what makes this a special day has nothing to do with President Obama.  What is special for me is that our nation is having another peaceful and orderly transfer of power–an unbroken tradition since March 4, 1797 when John Adams became the 2nd President of the United States.

As of today, 43 men have served as President.  Grover Cleveland got a two-fer.  He was the 22nd and the 24th President.  Usually we have elected our presidents.  Sometimes they become president at the death of the president, as was the case with John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson.  Gerald Ford became president after Richard Nixon’s resignation.  Sometimes the new president defeated the sitting president.  Sometimes the party in power was voted out, sometimes the new president was of the same party of the departing president.  However, every change has been peaceful and orderly.  So much so that we just expect that will always be the case.

In the rest of the world, such orderly transfers of power are the exception, not the rule.  Once in power, men like to stay in power, and often stay there until they are forcefully removed.  We should count as one of our great blessings that we live in the world’s oldest democracy and that the people we choose as our leaders respect the Constitutional limits on their length of their terms.

Thank You, President Bush

January 19, 2009

Today is the last full day of George W. Bush’s presidency. Tomorrow at noon Eastern time, his presidency will end and Barack Obama will be sworn in as the country’s 44th president.

While I didn’t agree with some of President Bush’s actions and also wished that he had done some things that he didn’t, I appreciate the honorable service that President Bush gave the country and thank him for it.

From the very beginning of his presidency, George Bush had a difficult row to hoe.  The Florida fiasco and the resulting claims that the presidency had be stolen from Al Gore started the presidency at a difficult place.  Even though independent reviews of the Florida election by pro-Gore newspapers determined that George Bush clearly won Florida, those claiming that he stole the election never backed down.

President Bush honored the office of president and served with dignity.

Early in his presidency, George Bush became a war-time president.  When America was attacked on September 11, 2001, President Bush focused his attention on keeping America safe.  Instead of receiving any credit for the fact that we haven’t been attacked since 9/11, we have continually heard the refrain “Bush Lied; People Died.”  Yes, people have died, but the President didn’t lie.   “Bush Lied; People Died” is the Big Lie that has been repeated so often that some people have accepted it as the truth.

I was impressed and touched when I learned a few weeks ago that President Bush has written personal letters to every family that lost a serviceman or woman in Iraq or Afganistan.  He has also met with many of these families.  All this was done without fanfare, but with private dignity and with gratitude expressed to the families.

Thank you, President Bush.  Thanks for keeping our nation safe.  Thank you for your honorable service to our country.

We Didn’t Know

January 14, 2009

What would you do if you deposited a check for $1,772.50, but the bank credited your account with $177,250.00?

Randy and Melissa Pratt knew what to do.  Withdraw the money, quit their jobs, and move from Pennsylvania to Florida.  According to them, they didn’t realize that an error occurred.

I can understand not keeping your checking account balanced, but I don’t think the jury is going to buy their explanation.


January 13, 2009

Today is Tuesday the Thirteenth.  Friday the Thirteenth gets all the press, possibly because both Fridays and 13 are considered by some as unlucky, but we never hear about Tuesday the Thirteenth.

I’m not one to believe in unlucky days or numbers.  Actually, I don’t even belief in luck.

Thirteen gets a bad rap because of this unlucky business.  Some high rise building claim not to have a 13th floor.  The floors are number 11, 12, 14.  It’s impossible to skip the 13th floor.  Something has to be between the 12th and the 13th floors, but I guess some people just feel better by ignoring the reality that they are actually on the 13th floor.

In the United States, we should be happy with 13.  The original 13 colonies declared to the world that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and that “these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, . . .”  This was not an unlucky number for our beginnings.

13 is the atomic number of aluminum, the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust.  I used aluminum this weekend to painlessly remove silver tarnish from an old pitcher.  That wasn’t an unlucky thing.  It saved me a lot of work.

So, perhaps, 13 needs a better press agent.

Happy Tuesday the Thirteenth.  Enjoy the day.

Christmas–Late Coming, Late Leaving

January 10, 2009

Our Christmas decorating suffered a time shift this year.  Because of a combination of busy schedules, sickness, a sore back, among other things, we didn’t get the tree up and in the house until the week of Christmas.  Most of the decorations got put up on schedule right after Thanksgiving, but they were very slow coming down.  While I unplugged the house lights right after New Years, the lights didn’t come off the house until today.

We had a nice tree this year.  We were disappointed that the tree auction is gone from Los Angeles, but we got a nice one this year at Home Depot.  It just seems like we didn’t get to enjoy it much this year.  Too much flu.  Too much busyness.

I wish I could say that all the decorations have been boxed up and put away, but not yet.  The boxes and decorations fill the living room.  Do you think that there is any chance Santa’s elves will show up tonight and organize everything and put it away for us?    .  .  .  .  Neither do I.

Cause and Effect???

January 9, 2009
From Thomas Hawk

From Thomas Hawk

Early on New Year’s Day, two groups of young men got into a fight on a BART train and then the BART platform.  The police were called in.  For a still unexplained reason, while one of them was been taken into custody, a BART police officer pulled his firearm and shot Oscar Grant in the back.  He died.

The incident was captured on video from several angles by cell phone camera.  It is all over the Internet.  Without knowing any of the details, it appears to have been a serious case of police over reaction.

So what has been the community’s reaction?  A riot in Oakland.

Wednesday night, over 100 people were arrested for looting, vandalism, and arson.  The “No Justice, No Peace” refrain that I remember from the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles were back.

From Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection

More photos of the riots can be found here.

Let’s assume that the BART officer was completely out of line.  Why should that lead to burning cars and to smashing up storefronts at random?  Why even think that there has been “No Justice” when the investigation into the incident has just begun?  Why “No Peace?”  Why use a tragic situation as an excuse to be a criminal?