Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another (Strange) Year Over

Where do we begin with this one? I think the year began with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi posing with children around the House rostrum. Trouble is, after the little ones left, Congress continued to be run by children all year.

The bloody war in Iraq was the dominant concern for much of the year, which began with President Bush's announcement of the 'surge' and new military leadership to execute it. Meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress began a year long campaign to thwart W's policy. As the tide began to turn for the better over the summer and especially after General Petraeus persuasively reported to the Congress in September, the political Iraq battles subsided, as did media coverage of the war.

Immigration was the other hot issue, where an outpouring of public opinion turned the tide against what seemed a 'shoe-in' behind closed doors for a complicated immigration bill.

By year's end, one contentious issue seemed to converge on a positive resolution. The discovery of a method of converting human skin cells into a form having the properties of embryonic stem cells without exploiting human embryos shows that real progress can be realized without compromising human dignity.

Human progress toward the stars continued forward with fits and starts. The International Space Station (ISS) really flowered this year with several assembly flights, while year-end problems with Shuttle and ISS hardware present a continuing challenge. Japan and China launched robotic lunar orbiters while the US launched another Mars lander. The private sector continued its steady progress toward opening wide the frontier. Bigelow's Genesis 2 launch was a highlight, while the tragic explosion at Mojave killing three is another reminder that progress does not come easily. Many commercial space developments were under the radar and will take flight in the next few years.

This year seemed like an endless presidential campaign with candidates' fortunes rising and falling and sometimes rising again. After all this, the new year will actually bring the caucuses, primaries and election that will decide the next US President. Whoever that is will need all our prayers as the terrible news from Pakistan this week of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto reminds us that it's still a very dangerous world.

I'm sure 2008 will have more dangers, advances and surprises than I'll have time to blog about, but let's hang in there for another wild ride.
Looking Forward

The former Blogs for Bush has been recently renamed Blogs for Victory and is focused on the 2008 elections and the continuing War on Terror. I've now updated my sidebar with the new name and link.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto, RIP

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who stood for moderation and against the extreme force of Islamofascism, was assassinated today in Pakistan. This terrible event and the unrest that is following in that country, which possesses nuclear weapons, is a reminder that the world is still a dangerous place. John Podhoretz notes that any wished for 'holiday from history' is over.
American politics would dearly love to take a holiday from history, just as it did in the 1990s. But our enemies are not going to allow us to do so. The murder of Bhutto moves foreign policy, the war on terror, and the threat of Islamofascism back into the center of the 2008 campaign.

UPDATE Dec. 28: You probably haven't heard this part of Benazir Bhutto's story from the conventional media, but she was outspokenly opposed to abortion as being destructive to children and harmful to women.
When Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan, she helped lead a delegation to the 1994 Cairo population conference that confronted abortion advocates looking to make abortion an international right.

"I dream ...of a world where we can commit our social resources to the development of human life and not to its destruction," she told the United Nations panel at the time.

Bhutto was one of only two women to address the conference.

Instead of telling women in nations where population growth is an issue that they should kill their offspring, Bhutto told world leaders that the best solutions is "tackling infant mortality, by providing villages with electrification, by raising an army of women."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Have a Holy and Merry Christmas!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Luke 2:1-14

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Catholic Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Calendar

Here's a calendar that takes us through each day of this Holy Season including scripture readings and other inspiring information and suggested activities. It's good to be reminded amidst the rush of activities of the real meaning of the Christmas season.
Not This Year

The launch of Shuttle Atlantis to deliver the European Columbus module to the International Space Station has now been delayed until January 2 at the earliest in order to resolve a recurring fuel tank sensor problem.

UPDATE Dec. 13: The STS-122 launch has now been scheduled for January 10, pending the outcome of some testing next week.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hanukkah and Our Attitude about the Future

(This is a post I originally made in 2003 and feel is worth repeating each year, especially in light of ongoing and emerging developments that can provide resources for future generations.)

Rabbi Daniel Lapin has a provocative column in WorldNetDaily on a message of Hanukkah that is relevant to people of all faiths. He shows examples, ancient and modern, of how a pessimistic Malthusian worldview have been repeatedly disproved by the Creator's providence of material resources and the ingenuity to utilize them to provide for the future. Rabbi Lapin says:
It only seemed that we lacked sufficient copper, whale oil or wood. In reality, our God-given ingenuity developed exciting new technology that eliminated our need for each commodity just as it was becoming scarce.

Hanukkah's miracle was that, day after day, the Temple's menorah just kept on burning in spite of an apparent shortage of fuel - a metaphor, surely, for all apparent shortages that can be overcome with faith. Hanukkah invites us all to express gratitude to the Creator whose beneficence is boundless. It stimulates discussions that can spur our spiritual growth. It reminds us that with His gift of creativity, challenges become optimistic opportunities to partner with God in creatively solving all material shortage.
Henry Hyde, RIP

One of the great champions of life passed away last week. Henry Hyde was a powerful leading voice in Congress for the fight to protect the unborn over the last few decades. I was in the House gallery one evening in March 1996, witnessing one of the debates on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban bill, when his distinguished eloquence in closing the debate made me feel like it must have been similar to witnessing the eloquent words used over a century earlier during the efforts to end slavery in America.
Catching Up

The last three weeks have been quite busy. Along with travel to visit family at Thanksgiving (at least that's in easy driving distance) and to Houston for a meeting earlier this week and other activities, I bought a powerful new HP computer system. That was the easy part. After hours on the phone with Geek Squad, HP tech support and Verizon tech support, I've got the computer on the Internet, the computer and printer talking to each other and my e-mail files transferred to the new system.