Sunday, October 23, 2005

Freedom costs two more lives

Those who would continue the exchange of freedom for security could well use this as exhibit 'N for Nazi' in arguing their case.
Known as "Prussian Blue" — a nod to their German heritage and bright blue eyes — the girls from Bakersfield, Calif., have been performing songs about white nationalism before all-white crowds since they were nine.

"We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," said Lynx. "We want our people to stay white … we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."

Shockinly enough, the MSM didn't include this damning tidbit until the sixth paragraph. Unbelievable restraint.
April home-schools the girls, teaching them her own unique perspective on everything from current to historical events.
It is a shame that these girls are having such warped teaching injected into their vulnerable minds, but at the same time, it is the apex of moral hypocracy to say that the State should prevent teaching children anything that could be construed as intolerant. That dog don't hunt, for obvious reasons. It is just an ugly world out there, boys and girls. Your moral compass is only as good as the lodestone from which it is carved...

Friday, October 21, 2005

PA: We know better than parents

"Hard cases make bad law", and this seems to me to be just such a situation. Though not perfect parents, it seems the state should have a much, much stronger case before proceeding in this way. Yes, there may be more to this than Fox and Cnn report, and the ACLU is supporting the parents, which is a bad sign. However, the due process issues and prospect of ex post facto judgments scare me.

"Schuylkill County Children and Youth Services believes this child's physical and emotional health is in danger because of the abuse perpetrated by the natural father against other minor children," wrote agency attorney Karen E. Rismiller.
Of course, that was over twenty years ago, and he served his time. If, as part of his conviction he was sentenced to never being a father, so be it. But I doubt that it was. And then there is the problem of allegations:

Roper said the child services agency also raised concerns about the mother's alleged history of drug abuse. A closed hearing on the petition was set for Friday in Pottsville, 75 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

So, why do I find myself in the position of defending (on my blog, anyway) lowlife rapists and whores who are no doubt druggies and wholly incompetent to be parents? Because the contention behind the state's case here seems to be that the parents are bad parents before they have even had a chance to prove they are not. The implication is that children are all wards of the state, loaned to competent parents for a while. Aldus Huxley, anyone? And if this is allowed unchecked, the allegation of abuse or moral failing of any sort will soon be enough to remove any child from any parent until the case can be "worked out".

Once upon a time, in a future not too far away in time or imagination: a police officer pulls up beside a hybrid-electric minivan at a stoplight. After the light turns green, the officer pulls in behind and puts on his lights:

Ma'am, do you know why I pulled you over? I noticed that one of your kids did not seem to be in an approved child restraint seat. I know that that model was on the approved list two years ago, but it is your job as a parent to make sure you check the recall notices. I also see that there is a pen within reach of the infant. That presents a choking hazard. I also notice evidence on the floor of McDonalds fries, a known cause of childhood obesity. Child protective services is on the way. They will take your children into protective custody for a day or two while you work with them to fix these discrepancies. Oh, I see you have an NRA sticker on your car window. Before the children are returned to you, your house will also have to be inspected to ensure all firearms are locked, and any other safety hazards are removed. Remember, these are your children! You have to treasure them and protect them. We are just trying to help you do that. No, you are not being charged with anything at this time, and I am sure there will be no other issues. I'd say you can expect to have them back by the weekend.

Have a nice day!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Oh, and one other thing

Despite the fact that the bum didn't bother to call and tell me, I guess I'll mention that Eli did OK in his latest competition.

Basic Melomel Recipe

Due to popular interest (Jonah), here is my basic recipe for Melomel:

Start heating a couple of cups of water until it can dissolve about 3 Tbsp sugar. Allow it to cool to about 100F (warm but comfortable to the touch). Add 1 packet dry yeast and stir well. Set aside.

In a big pot, boil water and 5 lbs of fruit, or a few quarts of berries...or a decent amount of whatever you are meading. With juicy, sugary fruits you don't need as much. With drier, tarter fruits, you need more. Boil, boil. Take a potato masher and mash while boiling. Sometimes I freeze the fruit in lieu of boiling. Both methods seem to work well.

Anyway, once the kitchen smells good, it is time to turn the burner off and begin mixing the honey. As a general rule, the more honey, the more sweetness and alcohol. If you use 10-15 lbs, you'll get a dry mead with little residual sweetness, and an alcohol of about 12%, depending on the yeast. If you use 15-20 lbs and a good yeast, you'll get closer to 16-17% and a sweeter mead. The best I have made so far topped out at 19% and was still pretty sweet. So if you like sweet, don't skimp on the honey. I tend to prefer too much honey over too little.

With the heat off, stir in about 5 lbs of honey. Then another 5. Then, if it is still not too thick, another and another, keeping it warm enough to keep the mixture very fluid. As I said, you need a big pot. If you don't have one big enough, mix what you can in the biggest pot you have and then dump the whole mess into a 5 gallon bucket. Add the rest of the honey and stir well.

Add a couple of gallons of water, and check the temperature. If it is still too hot to be comfortable to your hand (above about 103) it will be uncomfortable to the yeast, add more water. If it gets too cool (close to body temperature) add warm water instead of cold. Once you have gotten the temp down to a nice level and filled it to the 5 gal level, add the yeasted water.

Stir, stir, stir.

Make sure there is plenty of air in there. If you have a big straw, blow some bubbles. Or use an egg beater. Then put the lid on and put the air lock in. In about 3-6 hours that sucker should be bubbling like mad. If not, wait about 12 and add more pre-mixed yeast. Let it go for at least 3 weeks, then rack it to the carboy, straining out the fruit goo that has settled to the bottom.

Let it sit in the carboy for about 3 months. When the bubbling has slowed to almost nothing, carefully rack to another carboy, throwing away the sediment (or lees). Let it sit a couple more months. By this time it should be clear (not foggy) but if there are still some suspended particles, sprinkle some gelatin in and let it sit for about a week.

Rack, bottle and enjoy!

File this under "Really Strange"

Computer chips that store music could soon be built into a woman's breast implants...

There are so many ways to go with this...

No, they don't have an agenda!

The MSM has done it again, and once again it is the blogosphere which has come to the rescue. Making every attempt to detract and distract from the ideas that the President wants to discuss, they do their best to put forth fables and images. Check out SGT Ron Long's account of this so-called staged event: They Call Us Doc

Thursday, October 13, 2005

And now for something completely different

Mead. Nectar of the Gods. I make Mead, but I also make Melomel, Metheglin, Cyser and Pyment, but no one know what they are, I get enough curious looks when I say "mead" that I stick with that. I had nothing else to post tonight, and my brain is fried from class all day, so it is time for a post with links to mead making.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Google has a sense of humor

So, I was helping Tams with her newest blog and this was the result of the "Check Spelling" button in Blogger. I fell out of the chair laughing...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

WSJ Shocker!!! Girlish Boys!!!

From the WSJ front page today, a long article, which begins:

In the 12th week of a human pregrancy, the momentous event of gender formation begins, as X and Y chromosomes trigger biochemical reactions that shape male or female organs. Estrogens carry the process forward in girls, while in boys, male hormones called androgens do.

Now scientists have indications the process may be influenced from beyond the womb, raising a fresh debate over industrial chemicals and safety. In rodent experiments, common chemicals called phthalates, used in a wide variety of products from toys to cosmetics to pills, can block the action of fetal androgens. The result is what scientists call demasculinized effects in male offspring, ranging from undescended testes at birth to low sperm counts and benign testicular tumors later in life. "Phthalate syndrome," researchers call it.

Whether phthalates -- pronounced "thallets" -- might affect sexual development in humans, too, is now a matter of hot dispute. Doses in the rodent experiments were hundreds of times as high as the minute levels to which people are exposed. However, last year, federal scientists found gene alterations in the fetuses of pregnant rats that had been exposed to extremely low levels of phthalates, levels no higher than the trace amounts detected in some humans.

I won't repost the whole article, but for those who like big and scary words, the link above should be good for a week. For the simple and direct among us, I will summarize it: boys exposed to make-up, hair sprays, mousse, nail polish and perfume end up being more effeminate and less 'manly'.

I'm...shocked?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Wichita Mountains

Yesterday we went to the mountains...or at least what they call mountains here. More like bumps in the prarie. But beautiful none the less.

In addition to the usual wildlife, we found a place where a tornado had come through the night before. There was a path about 100 yards wide where everything had been torn up and thrashed, and on either side of it no sign of violence except for the leg-sized tree trunks tossed there like matchsticks.

And although the buffalo we saw seemed docile enough, a picture of two stranded pioneer kids in the midst of a stampeed reminded us that our little Toyota Camry was no match for these beasts. Good thing it has a V-6. Run Away!!!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

New House!

We have signed a contract on a house in Derby, KS! It is an older house, and it has a huge back yard (for the kids) and a well (so the kids can play in the water all summer) and a huge garage (f0r Max's toys) and a huge back yard (for Tamsey's sanity...or did I already mention that?). And it has a LOT of bedrooms. So come and visit! We'll be heading up for the home inspection next weekend, but until then, here is a picture, compliments of Google Earth. Note how close we are to the base, a bit different than our situation in Virginia.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Differences in Worldview

I guess their point is that this is a bad thing? According to Sarah Brady's Bunch:

The new Florida Shoot First law eliminates the duty to retreat and allows a person not engaged in unlawful activity who is attacked in a public place to "stand his or her ground" and use deadly force if "he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." Thus, even if the shooter could have safely avoided the threat by walking away or seeking refuge elsewhere, the Shoot First law permits him to shoot the assailant and gives him immunity from criminal prosecution and civil suit if he does so.

So, the standard liberal answer: Run Away! Cave in! Don't stand up to "evil"! It is just a difference of opinions, anyway, not worth fighting for, killing for, or dying for. It figures that they don't understand Iraq, Afghanistan...and are working to blow it in Iran. No wonder they look with shame on our actions in WW2, Vietnam and Korea. Either honor is worth more than life, or life than honor. How you answer that dilemma grows directly from your worldview.

Lesson over. Any questions?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

More humor

Heh. The best take on the Flight 93 memorial fiasco and the BK jihad fiasco: BK's new ice cream.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Humor of the day

Watching C-Span today, I laughed until I almost pulled a "JB": soon-to-be Chief Justice Roberts had to explain to Sen. Feinstein a lawyer joke (scroll to the end, and then continue here). She did look a bit confused when he mentioned Shakespeare. I wonder what they are teaching in schools in California these days... Obviously not Henry VI, and probably not Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet or King Lear.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Spot the idiot 3

This one has too be seen to be believed. The First Amendment, cherished window to the moron, strikes again. Fox News made the mistake of asking one well-dressed fellow what he "wanted to have happen", what he thought the government should be doing. Not much thought seems to have gone into the reply:

What I would like to happen? I would like for them to give us at least $20,000 apiece so we can, you know, get our life together. You know, we didn't ask to come on that bus, slave. It's like a slave ship. It's just like, you know, back in history, you know, they put us on a slave ship. They separated us from our family. They did it--you know, just modern-day slavery, you know? Just give us what the f--- we deserve.

And thus he earns my STI award. We, by the way, seems to include his companion, of obvious female persuasion and melaninaly challenged, who said not a word. Maybe she was his lawyer? The way she smiled when he said "at least $20,000 apiece" makes me wonder...

So, Mr. For The People, congratulations.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gun Safety

Note the proper safety gear. However, we are still working on not flinching and smooth follow through.

Hunting

JB and Gloria are good little troopers. JB is an active participant in our dove hunts. Gloria usually has other things on her mind.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Spot the idiot II

Wow. This storm has really brought them out. Check out the comments on Michael Hyatt's blog. The main criticism of Thomas Nelson Publishers seems to be that Bibles are not as much help to those in need as food. However, his point is that people hunger for both spiritual and physical food in this world. Jesus understood the same thing, and fed the 4000. But He did not stop there... He gave them (and us) Himself, saying, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

John 6:53-56

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Spot the idiot

Bill O'Reilly has joined the idiot chorus. A basic understanding of 1) the Constitution, 2) economics and 3) disaster planning he sadly lacks.

On the first point, he seems to believe that whenever the mainstream media gets a good video of something tragic or sad, the Constitution and the Law should simply be ignored. His understanding of marshal law--non-existent. His comprehension of the legal powers of the police, the national guard and the military is abysmal.

On the second point, tonight he espoused the absolutely brilliant idea of encouraging people to not buy gas on Sunday, to penalize the eeeevil oil companies who are (gasp) making money. Ok, folks! Make sure you fill your tanks on Saturday, so you don't have to buy on Sunday. Yeah, that'll teach them a lesson. And later, he said that companies should immediately renounce 20% of their profits. And that is supposed to do...? If the problem, as he seems to believe, is too much demand, a decrease in price (reduced profits) will cause consumption (demand) to do what? Yes Johnny, go to the head of the class... Demand will increase! The guy is a genius!

On the third point, he seems to believe that the most important place/person for 'officials' to deal with is whoever he has on the phone or on the camera right now. Bill, it is called 'triage'. It is in the dictionary. Look it up. You want a military operation? You will get a ruthlessly effecient plan to take back the city from looters block by block. Some sections and neighborhoods will be sacrificed for others. The decisions on life and death will be made, not on the basis of tear-jerking camera shorts, but on cold calculations and a commander's best training; if you ask for it, be prepared for the consequences.

Which brings me back to the first point. He asked why the 'authorities' were not more prepared. Well, the evac order was given. He seems to think that every time there is the threat of a major storm, the Marines should go in and remove, by force, people from their homes and places of business. Think about it Bill...this disaster is an act of God. The response, the 'failure' of the government, is the price of freedom. Cuba, China, Iran, even England have the authority to take citizens from their homes, or take the homes from their citizens (yes, I know about Kelo), but look at the costs...

Monday, August 29, 2005

In other (good) news...

Freepers have come through again, giving some of the Code Pinkies as taste of their own medicine.

I love to see this...

And this...

And this...

And, of course, this!

AP insanity conflux

The AP, which has assiduously ignored Cindy "my son was killed by Jews" Sheehan's anti-semitic comments and hero status in certain realms, now discovers the cause of such anti-semitism: the Air Force Academy.
The guidelines, which apply to the entire Air Force, were drawn up after allegations that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

Ah, note the implication, not so subtle, that "evangelical influence" inevitably leads to anti-Semitism. Which, of course, explains why the "neo-con" cabal has so much influence with the current "evangelical" President.

But there is more:

Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate who says his sons have been the target of anti-Semitic slurs at the school, said the new guidelines fail to control evangelical zealots.
Now, I wonder if the person who wrote this had any sense of irony, given that the original 'zealots' were Jews, resisting the oppressive Roman government...

But there is more (italics mine):

The guidelines do not ban public prayer outright and say short, nonsectarian prayers may be included in special ceremonies or events, but only to lend a sense of solemnity and not to promote specific beliefs. Nor do they bar personal discussions of religion, including discussions between commanders and subordinates. They caution Air Force members "to be sensitive to the potential that personal expressions may appear to be official expressions."
Now, remember that this is an article implying that the Air Force did not go far enough (all the quotes are from people who so believe). Is the AP, that staunch defender of the First Amendment (for elites) advocating restrictions on freedom of speech? Evidently they are, if you are of the wrong religious persuasion.

Kool-aid, anyone?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Thursday in Altus

Yes, Tamsey, JB and Gloria made it down. Just in time for the rodeo. Here, JB is practicing ordering calves around and modeling the latest western fashions for toddlers.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday Afternoon in Altus

Ever wonder what there is to do in Altus, OK?

There are lots of things...like watching airplanes!

Monday, August 08, 2005

What else?

Oh, and I have been working to clear some land here in Colorado...

With a little help from JB.

And yes, I still have my hand...

though this guy is not really amused. He was watching us closely.

Sentinal Point

Vacation means taking it easy...and doing things like climbing this:

Of course, anyone can take a picture like that, so here it is from the top, looking down:

Note the pond. It is the small speck in the middle...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Guest post

Ok, so I don't have much time to write original material, but I got this via e-mail today, and figured that it was worth posting...

-------------------

5/30/2005

By Col. Brett W USAF

Col. Brett W is serving as a surgeon in Balad with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group. This column is part of a series of email reports from Iraq that he has been sending to his father, a Vietnam-era fighter pilot, who in turn distributes them to a circle of friends and acquaintances.

BALAD, Iraq - The first rule of war is that young men and women die. The second rule of war is that surgeons cannot change the first rule.

We had already done around a dozen surgical cases in the morning and the early afternoon. The entire medical staff had a professional meeting to discuss the business of the hospital and the care and treatment of burns.

It is not boastful or arrogant when I tell you that some of the best surgeons in the world were present - I have been to many institutions, and I have been all around the world, and at this point in time, with this level of experience, the best in the world are assembled here at Balad.

LTC Dave S., the Trauma Czar, and a real American hero is present. He has saved more people out here than anyone can imagine. The cast of characters includes two Air Force Academy graduates, Col (s) Joe W. and Maj. Max L. When you watch ER on television, the guys on the show are trying to be like Max - cool, methodical and professional. Max never misses anything on a trauma case because he sees everything on a patient and notes it the same way the great NFL running backs see the entire playing field when they are carrying the ball.

Joe is an ENT surgeon who is tenacious, bright, and technically correct every single time - I mean every single time. The guy has a lower tolerance for variance than NASA. LTC (s) Chris C. was the Surgeon of the Day (SOD), and I was the back-up SOD. Everyone else was there and available - as I said the best in the world.

As the meeting was breaking up, the call came in.

An American soldier had been injured in an IED blast north of here, and he was in a bad way with head trauma. The specifics were fuzzy, but after three months here, what would need to be done was perfectly clear - the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group readied for battle. All the surgeons started to gravitate toward the PLX which is the surgeons' ready room and centrally located midway to the ER, OR and radiology.

The lab personnel checked precious units of blood, and the pharmacy made ready all the medications and drugs we would need for the upcoming fight. An operating room was cleared, and surgical instruments were laid out, the anesthesia circuits were switched over, and the gasses were checked and rechecked. An anesthesiologist and two nurse anesthetists went over the plan of action as the OR supervisor made the personnel assignments.

In the ER, bags of IV fluids were carefully hung, battery packs were checked, and the ER nursing supervisor looked over the equipment to make sure all was in working order and the back-ups were ready just in case the primaries failed. The radiology techs moved forward in their lead gowns bringing their portable machines like artillery men of old wheeling their cannon into place. Respiratory therapy set the mechanical ventilator, and double-checked the oxygen. Gowns, gloves, boots, and masks were donned by those who would be directly in the battle.

All of the resources - medical, mechanical and technological that America can bring to the war - were in place and ready along with the best skill and talent from techs to surgeons. The two neurosurgeons gathered by themselves to plan. LTC A. is a neurosurgeon who still wears his pilot wings proudly. He used to be a T-38 instructor pilot, and some of the guys he trained to fly are now flying F-16s right here at Balad. He is good with his hands and calm under pressure. The other neurosurgeon is Maj. W., a gem of a surgeon who could play the guitar professionally if he was not dedicated to saving lives. A long time ago, at a place on the other side of the world called Oklahoma, I operated on his little brother after a car accident and helped to save his life. The two neurosurgeons, Chris, and I joined for the briefing. Although I was the ranking officer of the group, Chris was the SOD and would be the flight lead. If this was a fighter ! sweep, all three of those guys would be Weapons School Patch wearers.

The plan was for me and the ER folks to assess, treat and stabilize the patient as rapidly as possible to get the guy into the hands of the neurosurgeons. The intel was that this was an IED blast, and those rarely come with a single, isolated injury. It makes no sense to save the guy's brain if you have not saved the heart pump that brings the oxygenated blood to the brain. With this kind of trauma, you must be deliberate and methodical, and you must be deliberate and methodical in a pretty damn big hurry.

All was ready, and we did not have to wait very long. The approaching rotors of a Blackhawk were heard, and Chris and I moved forward to the ER followed by several sets of surgeons' eyes as we went. We have also learned not to clog up the ER with surgeons giving orders. One guy runs the code, and the rest follow his instructions or stay out the way until they are needed. They wheeled the soldier into the ER on a NATO gurney shortly after the chopper touched down. One look at the PJs' faces told me that the situation was grim. Their young faces were drawn and tight, and they moved with a sense of directed urgency. They did not even need to speak because the look in their eyes was pleading with us - hurry. And hurry we did.

In a flurry of activity that would seem like chaos to the uninitiated, many things happened simultaneously. Max and I received the patient as Chris watched over the shoulder to pick out anything that might be missed. An initial survey indicated a young soldier with a wound to the head, and several other obvious lacerations on the extremities. Max called out the injuries as they were found, and one of the techs wrote them down. The C-collar was checked, the chest was auscultated as the ET tube was switched to the ventilator. Chris took the history from the PJs because the patient was not conscious. All the wounds were examined and the dressings were removed except for the one on the head.

The patient was rolled on to his side while his neck was stabilized by my hands, and Max examined the backside from the toes to the head. When we rolled the patient back over, it was onto an X-ray plate that would allow us to take the chest X-Ray immediately. The first set of vitals revealed a low blood pressure; fluid would need to be given, and it appeared as though the peripheral vascular system was on the verge of collapse. I called the move as experienced hands rolled him again for the final survey of the back and flanks and the X-Ray plate was removed and sent for development. As we positioned him for the next part of the trauma examination, I noted that the hands that were laid on this young man were Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Australian, Army, Air Force, Marine, Man, Woman, Young and Older: a true cross-section of our effort here in Iraq, but there was not much time to reflect.

The patient needed fluid resuscitation fast, and there were other things yet to be done. Chris watched the initial survey and the secondary survey with a situational awareness that comes from competence and experience. Chris is never flustered, never out of ideas, and his pulse is never above fifty. With a steady, calm, and re-assuring voice, he directed the next steps to be taken. I moved down to the chest to start a central line, Max began an ultrasonic evaluation of the abdomen and pelvis. The X-rays and ultrasound examination were reviewed as I sewed the line in place, and it was clear to Chris that the young soldier's head was the only apparent life-threatening injury.

The two neurosurgeons came forward, and removed the gauze covering the soldier's wounded head, and everyone's heart sank as we saw the blossom of red blood spreading out from shredded white and grey matter of the brain. Experience told all the surgeons present that there was no way to survive the injury, and this was one battle the Medical Group was going to lose. But he was American, and it was not time to quit, yet. Gentle pressure was applied over the wound, and the patient went directly to the CT scanner as drugs and fluids were pumped into the line to keep his heart and lungs functioning in a fading hope to restore the brain. The time elapsed from his arrival in the ER to the time he was in the CT scanner was five minutes.

The CT scan confirmed what we had feared. The wounds to the brain were horrific and mortal, and there was no way on earth to replace the volume of tissue that had been blasted away by the explosion. The neurosurgeons looked at the scan, they looked at the scan a second time, and then they re-examined the patient to confirm once again. The OR crew waited anxiously outside the doors of radiology in the hope they would be utilized, but Chris, LTCs A and S., and Maj W. all agreed. There was no brain activity whatsoever. The chaplain came to pray, and reluctantly, the vent was turned from full mechanical ventilation to flow by. He had no hint of respiratory activity, his heart that had beat so strongly early in the day ceased to beat forever, and he was pronounced dead.

The pumps were turned off; the machines were stopped, and the IVs were discontinued. Respectful quiet remained, and it was time to get ready for the next round of casualties. The techs and nurses gently moved the body over to the back of the ER to await mortuary services. And everyone agreed there was nothing more we could have done. When it was quiet, there was time to really look at the young soldier and see him as he was. Young, probably in his late teens, with not an ounce of fat anywhere. His muscles were powerful and well defined, and in death, his face was pleasant and calm.

I am always surprised that anyone still has tears to shed here at Balad, but thank God they still do. The nurses and techs continued to care for him and do what they could. Not all the tubes and catheters can be removed because there is always a forensic investigation to be done at Dover AFB, but the nurses took out the lines they could. Fresh bandages were placed over the wounds, and the blood clots were washed from his hair as his wound was covered once more. His hands and feet were washed with care. A broken toenail was trimmed, and he was silently placed in the body bag when mortuary services arrived as gently as if they were tucking him into bed.

Later that night was Patriot Detail - our last goodbye for an American hero. All the volunteers gathered at Base Ops after midnight under a three-quarter moon that was partially hidden by high, thin clouds. There was only silence as the chief master sergeant gave the Detail its instructions. Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines, colonels, privates and sergeants, pilots, gunners, mechanics, surgeons and clerks all marched out side-by-side to the back of the waiting transport, and presently, the flag-draped coffin was carried through the cordon as military salutes were rendered. The Detail marched back from the flight line, and slowly the doors of the big transport were secured. The chaplain offered prayers for anyone who wanted to participate, and then the group broke up as the people started to move away into the darkness. The big engines on the transport fired up, and the ground rumbled for miles as they took the runway. His duty was done -! he had given the last full measure, and he was on his way home.

The first rule of war is that young men and women die. The second rule of war is that surgeons cannot change the first rule. I think the third rule of war should be that those who have given their all for our freedom are never forgotten, and they are always honored. I wish there was not a war, and I wish our young people did not have to fight and die. But I cannot wish away evil men like Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi. These men are not wayward children who have gone astray; they are not great men who are simply misunderstood. These are cold-blooded killers and they will kill you, me, and everyone we love and hold dear if we do not kill them first. You cannot reason with these people, you cannot negotiate with these people, and this war will not be over until they are dead. That is the ugly, awful, and brutal truth.

I wish the situation was different, but it is not. Americans have two choices. They can run from the threat, deny it exists, candy-coat it, debate it, and hope it goes away. And then, Americans will be fair game around the world and slaughtered by the thousands for the sheep they have become.

Our second choice is to crush these evil men where they live and for us to have the political will and courage to finish what we came over here to do. The last thing we need here in Iraq is an exit strategy or some damn timetable for withdrawal. Thank God there was no timetable for withdrawal after the Battle of the Bulge or Iwo Jima. Thank God there was no exit strategy at Valley Forge. Freedom is not easy, and it comes with a terrible price - I saw the bill here yesterday.

The third rule of war should be that we never forget the sacrifices made by our young men and women, and we always honor them. We honor them by finishing what they came to accomplish. We remember them by never quitting and having the backbone and the guts to never bend to the yoke of oppression.

We honor them and remember them by having the courage to live free.

-------------------------

Monday, July 18, 2005

Munday nite funnies

Sometimes there is no way to explain. Just read it and laugh...

We are in the middle of moving, so posts will be sparse for a while. Don't give up, though.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Last day of protests

I will miss the protesters who greet me every Monday outside the Pentagon. I walked by them for the last time (this tour anyway) yesterday, and it made me kind of sad. I haven't seen the bald, buddist drumbeater in a while, and there were only 4 protesters there to see me off. All had their standard signs…nothing interesting.

In other news, a great embarrassment for the Air Force, and for the US: Military wildly overreacts, bans personnel from London.

I think the Daily Mail said it best:

It was business as usual in brave and resilient London yesterday - though not if you were a member of the world's most powerful military machine.

The 12,000 US airmen based in Britain have been ordered not to go anywhere near the capital on security grounds.

So much for Mr Bush's encomium yesterday when he said that the 'city that survived the Nazi blitz will not yield in the face of thugs and assassins'. And what a contrast with the defiant way the British continued to flock to New York after 9/11.

We trust the four million Americans who come to London each year are made of sterner stuff than the US Air Force.

OUCH! There are some great comments at the bottom of this story.

I see that this order has now been rescinded...Still...sigh

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Difficile est satiram non scribere

IowaHawk gave the DailyKoz Inmates a real hotfoot with his last Al-Zarqawi piece, and the reaction was hilarious. This one is even better!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

LA Times: Iraq has an air pollution problem

The people may be free, they may have hope and a future. They may be fighting a battle for their lives and their families, much like this country fought two centuries ago. They may be holding elections and holding back Islamic thugs and Ba'athst goons, but, as the LA Times helpfully points out, they are damaging the environment!!!! (login required...use bugmenot)
A massive generator outside the Ministry of the Environment belches smoke, drips oil and roars above the noise of traffic, glaring testimony to the low priority given to protecting air quality in the warravaged Iraqi capital.

Gas flare-offs from oil fields, smoldering fires along sabotaged pipelines, groaning generators on every street corner have spread a gray haze over much of Iraq, aggravating respiratory problems and threatening caustic inversions as people brace for the dreaded heat of summer when temperatures climb past the 120-degree mark.

...

Adding to the noxious cloud hovering over Baghdad is the swelling fleet of aging vehicles and their emissions. More than 1 million cars have been imported in the last two years, many of them older models that fail to meet current licensing standards in Europe.

These horrors are obviously the fault of the President of the United States. If he hadn't ordered the invasion, Saddam would surely have cleaned up these problems. He would have let only approved Ba'athists have cars, he would have kept the sale of generators to a minimum so that he would be able to keep whole regions in check by cutting off electricity, and he certainly wouldn't have let his cronies blow up oil wells and gas lines!

Oh, and this is a picture of the al Dura power plant. The request for routine maintenance was considered tantamount to disloyalty, punishable by loss of your job, the rape of your daughter, or the loss of your life. So now engineers face bombs and terrorists trying to fix thirty years of Saddam's neglect and his manifest concern for the environment. Here is a picture of one of the turbines. Note the broken and cut vanes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Interesting reading

For future reference, a story about smoking and one about sex.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Michael Yon again

Yeah. I know, everyone is already reading it. But for my own future refernce, plus the few people who may not have heard of him, here is a link to his blog. Well worth the read.

NPR watch

It has been almost 6 months since the 'impossible' elections and a year since the 'doomed' turn-over of power in Iraq. So NPR, naturally, had a series of stories on how bad things are in Iraq. They never mentioned their dire and inaccurate predictions of disaster last year this time. They didn't talk about their failure to predict the 8 million Iraqis voting with their lives. They did talk about the failure of the US to halt all suicide attackers. In the most telling part, they twisted the news more than I ever remember them doing in the past. Starting with a discussion of suicide attackers, they moved, without transition, to a discussion of the Sunni dissatisfaction and loss of power. Then they outright stated that this was what was causing so many suicide attackers. However, this fails to explain why the vast, vast majority of suicide attackers we have caught or identified are foreign, not Iraqi. They also neglected to talk about the lack of Shiite retaliation against their oppressors of over 3 decades. Their perpetual hope for Iraqi societal collapse unfulfilled, they then had a commentary about how dangerous the "President's plan for unfettered democracy" was, not just in Iraq, but in the whole region and even the world.

It is interesting how much play they gave the sham Iranian elections, especially compared with the real Afghani elections. No wonder trust in the media is down…

Monday, June 27, 2005

Counter to the Protesters

There is a lot in the news about Iraq. For some reason, most of the stories are bylined either Baghdad (reporters refuse to leave the comfort of their hotel) or Washington DC (brutal combat in Congress! Kennedy and Hunter Clash over Rusmfeld!). Here are a couple of great reads, that show the glory of war, along with its terror, for war is truly terrible, but the most terrible of times present unequaled opportunity to rise above our usual selfish and ordinary selves. A hero needs a menace, and without a chance to die, it is impossible to truly love life. Never have I felt such vitality as when death has passed close by, but passed: A plane crash, a helo crash, a massive car bomb in Baghdad at the Assasin's Gate, a close miss with a missile over Afghanistan, my car t-boned by a guy doing 80, the crack of a large caliber bullet passing by my ear all served to remind me that live is short, but it is also sweet. The Lord of All gives life, and takes it when He desires, and He preserves it unto that day.

Does this mean that I love war, or think it is a good thing? No, rather, war is something that can cause us to consider that there is something more important than life, comfort and safety. That something, greater that ourselves, worth fighting for, worth living for, and worth dying for, is freedom. In this life, that freedom is the freedom from tyranny and oppression. Freedom to live and dream and hope and try and fail, and try again. In this life, regardless of physical freedom, we have a chance to choose eternal freedom, the freedom from fear of death, the freedom to live.

Anyway, here are some stories about those who have come through the fire (much, much more than I) and will have ghosts and fears, but also a new appreciation for life. First, a Sniper:

Boyish-looking and Midwestern to the core, John Ethan Place loves football games in the fall and traipsing through the woods hunting quail and deer with his dad, a retired school administrator.

Back home in Lake St. Louis, Mo., he's a regular at the nearby Baptist church.

He's also an expert at one of the most difficult aspects of warfare. He's a sniper, able to kill an enemy at 1,000 yards or more with a single shot.

On Friday, the 22-year-old sergeant received the Silver Star, the military's third-highest honor for bravery in combat.

In the battle for Fallouja, Iraq, in April 2004, Place had 32 confirmed kills, from April 11 to April 24, of insurgents who were trying to sneak into position to attack Marines from Echo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment.

And then, a fight in the trenches:
The two soldiers crept along the trench line, bullets thumping into the dirt around them. One was a lanky family man, 36, with two young sons and a 15-year career at International Paper Co. The other was a petite, single woman, 23, the floor manager at a Nashville shoe store.

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester handed Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein a grenade. He had the better arm. Nein hurled it at the insurgents, who were crouched in the same trench, firing their AK-47 rifles at the Americans in the early afternoon.

Hester and Nein inched forward, the two recalled, Hester firing her black M-4 assault rifle next to Nein's ear. By the time the soldiers climbed out of the trench, their lips were chapped from the heat, their faces smeared with dirt, and four insurgents lay dead or dying nearby.

Protest of the Day

It's Monday! And that means it is time for the tin foil hatted protesters to come out and play. The group of about 10 this morning had the usual signs, plus one. Standing next to the four letter word I wrote about last week, a guy had labored long and hard to add another four letter word to a 8.5 by 11 inch piece of paper. The result? A pair of signs that read:

FOUL LOVE

I could say something about unwashed hippies...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Is that how it works?

It seems researchers in Israel have made a startling discovery: more sex = more chance of conception:
And those who think men should abstain from sex so they can store up more or better sperm to coincide with their partner's ovulation might like to think again.

Dr Elyaho Levitas of the University of the Negev, Israel, analysed sperm samples collected for fertility treatments and found that abstinence in donors for more than three days "is doing some harm to the semen".

"People sometimes abstain from sex for weeks, thinking they are doing good, but I think probably they would be better to have sex every two days, rather than every two weeks," he said.

Other startling news in the article include the finding that older men and older women have a harder time conceiving children. However, the article does have some interesting "new" information: soy products also may reduce chances of conception.

But that is not the only interesting nugget about sex today. Thanks to NPR, I found this little tidbit:

Women living with a male partner are more likely to give birth to boys than women who live alone, suggests a study of 86,000 US births. The finding hints that higher numbers of single mothers could explain a recent drop in the birth rate of boys in some developed countries.
Hmmmm. Roe effect, plus soya effect, plus partner effect…pretty soon you have some drastic red-state blue-state differences! It won't be long until someone notices...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Gratuitous Kofi Propaganda

UN Grafter-in-Chief Annan was burnishing public opinion on PBS this morning. I'll let an e-mail from Tams tell the story:
Kofi Annan is on Sesame Street this morning. He’s singing the ABC’s with a group of fuzzy monsters. They all want to give him a big hug and kiss, so they are fighting amongst themselves. Then they say “wait a minute, why don’t we solve this the United Nations way and all hug together?” Not exactly the way it works…
Interestingly, it is either a re-run or Kofi really likes hanging out with puppets. I wonder if it has anything to do with the infamous Sesame Street Memo?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

She also gets it!

Seventy-two years after prohibition was repealed, one lawmaker member suggested Tuesday that alcohol once again be off limits in the bars and restaurants of the nation's capital.

Councilwoman Carol Schwartz, R-At Large, introduced her bill in response to a proposed ban on smoking in those same establishments. Her proposal imitates the arguments for a smoking ban, citing health concerns, worker safety and the nuisance of drinkers. "I never thought I could ban drinking just because I didn't like it, but now I know I can," Schwartz said. "The impending smoking ban has empowered me."

Several hours later, Schwartz pulled the bill, saying she had made her point. She hoped the incident would serve as a "wake-up call that once you start toying with people's liberties, you never know where it might end."

...

Schwartz said she wouldn't allow the smoking legislation out of her committee unless there's a compromise. She argued that "if government is going to start banning legal substances" there's a whole list of things to ban -- starting with alcohol. "Let's be honest, people are dying," Schwartz said, mocking arguments from other council members on the smoking ban. "Pure and simple, drinking kills."

...

"People are still free to drink at home -- for now," Schwartz said. But she said beverages at bars and restaurants should be limited to "tea, sodas and milk.

Once again, though I have not met her, I like her...

It continues

Howard Dean can call Republicans evil, liars, corrupt and brain dead, and it is just politics. He manages to insinuate that all Christians are racist, and so are Republicans, and that any person of color associated with them is stupid, and it is "taken out of context." Sen. Durbin can liken the military to Nazis, Pol Pot, Soviets and others, and it is "misinterpreted", since he really meant to compare the US to those regimes. Democratic leaders say "questions remain" about US soldiers actions, and accuse Rove of somehow causing the resulting kerfluffle. But when a Republican says something similar about Democrats, the resulting noise forces him to retract the comment within half an hour.
The rhetorical warfare came as the House considered a proposal by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., to put Congress on record against "coercive and abusive religious proselytizing" at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., criticized Obey and Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who offered a similar condemnation of academy officials earlier this year on another bill.

"Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians," Hostettler said.

Democrats leapt to their feet and demanded Hostettler be censured for his remarks. After a half-hour's worth of wrangling, Hostettler retracted his comments.

Democrats criticized Hostettler's remarks, which began, "The long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the United States House of Representatives."

Obey said Hostettler's "outburst ... is perhaps the perfect example of why we need to pass the language in my amendment."

Once again, I wonder who is more dangerous to have running around in the military, much less in society: followers of a man who said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" or one who said of the Jews and other non-believers, " seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper".

Something is upside-down here...

The Enemy is...

A well-written piece this weekend in the WSJ, by Vincent Carroll:
The U.S. Air Force, which prides itself on its ability to strike with quick and devastating effect, intends to root out religious intolerance at its academy in Colorado Springs -- "if everything goes well," the superintendent says -- in six years. Or eight, if the enemy proves stubborn.

The enemy, in this case, is Christian evangelicals who, it is alleged, proselytize Air Force cadets and bully those who do not share their faith. Why such a long timetable? According to superintendent Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, a poisonous, self-centered atmosphere pervades the place. Thus he has embraced a policy of therapeutic "culture change." Today's young people, he says -- even academy cadets, who are willing to die for their country -- "don't respect themselves. They don't respect others."

What is surprising about this assessment is that the academy's religion problem, such as it exists, seems to derive mostly from staff and staff-instigated conduct. Unless Gen. Rosa is beset by insubordination, it is hard to see why his mission cannot be accomplished a lot faster.

Even so, some critics seem to possess a larger agenda that involves stifling innocuous expressions of faith, too. Gen. Weida, for example, has come under attack for an email in which he said, "Remember, you are accountable first to your God, this great nation, our great Air Force," even though he never stipulated who or what "your God" might be. Americans United makes much of the fact that some faculty members used to buy a Christmastime ad in the school newspaper proclaiming their belief in Jesus and offering to discuss Jesus with interested readers -- "directed cadets to contact them" is how Americans United misleadingly puts it. Such an indirect appeal is not remotely comparable to proselytizing in a classroom.

Also possibly overdrawn is Americans United's description of how cadets who "declined to attend chapel after dinner" in basic training "were made to suffer humiliation by being placed by upper-class cadet staff into a 'Heathen Flight' and marched back to their dormitories." Cadets are, in fact, marched all over the academy and would have been marched back to their dorms no matter what the formation was called. An academy spokesman says that the unauthorized moniker was a joke.

How many Americans have these evil 'evangelical Christians' killed? And how many Americans have fundamentalist Muslims killed? Who is the enemy here? How far we have moved from Sept 11! In some ways, this is a good sign.

We have returned to our usual bickering and squabbling. Like children in a besieged town, we rest in our trust of the violent watchkeepers, content to play our silly games and mock the seriousness of those who stand guard at night against the terrors too scary for us to contemplate. But when that mocking becomes stones, and when those children begin to question the need for a watch, when the terrors of the night are forgotten because they have been kept at bay so long, that is the time for the village to fear.

Too funny!

Sometimes the news makes you laugh. Like the NYT correcting a correction, incorrectly. This week, my MSM chuckle comes to me via the WaPost. It seems that the police chief had his car stolen. That is funny. But it gets better…
"There is not a whole lot to add to it," Ramsey said. "The car was taken, and there was nothing of real value in it. Cars are getting stolen every day." … Ramsey and other police officials said the theft of the car is not indicative of crime trends, which show auto theft dropping substantially in the city. Through mid-June, police recorded 2,759 auto thefts, down 29 percent from the 3,880 tallied during the same period last year. In all of last year, 8,136 cars were stolen in the District -- a decrease of almost 15 percent from the 9,549 car thefts recorded in 2003, according to FBI statistics. Ramsey is not the area's only top law enforcement official to have a car stolen in recent years. The van of Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey was stolen from in front of his house in 2002. The county's auto theft rate has almost doubled in the past five years, with 18,485 cars reported stolen in 2004
If 'cars are getting stolen every day', that seems to me to be a trend. Especially when it is averaging about 16 per day, in the nation's capitol. And that doesn't include the area around DC!

Protest of the week

The protesters have grown! This week there were about 8 standing along the protest fence. They had a new kid with them, a girl who looked to be about 11, holding a sign that said

Love.

The sign was almost as tall as she was. As I walked by, I heard them talking about the high Salvadoran population in DC, due to the secret government programs in the 80's aimed at overthrowing the progressive government there. Time to bring out the tinfoil hats, I guess.

I didn't get around to writing about last week, but there was one amusing part of the protest. The Stand up for peace sign was back, and sure enough, one of the protesters was sitting down next to it. I actually laughed out loud…

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More adventures in slugging

Last week was a bang-up week for slug adventures. For the first time, I ended up riding home with the same person I rode in with. And to make things more interesting, I rode with him the day before. Naturally, he had no really nice car, just a 4-Runner. But he kept the windows down, and I liked that. He drove the speed limit, in the left lane, and I completely disapprove of that. One biker that passed us was pretty peeved. Understandably...

Then there was the limo. It was hot, hot day, and the guy next to me in line was griping about the heat, the long line, the lack of cars, the sun, everything. We waited a little longer than usual, about 10 minutes, before a car showed up. The Indian driver was quite nice, had great AC blasting and gosh! I had no idea a Lincoln was such a smooth ride! As we got out, the grumbler, with a smile, admitted that it was worth the wait.

Jamie Lee Curtis also gave me a ride. Well, not her, but a lady that talked just like her. And I mean talked. I am working my way though Chesterton's Eternal Man, and I got about 2 sentences read on the whole trip home. But, since I was paying nothing for the gas, I guess it was the least I could do to nod occasionally and grunt affirmation about whatever interesting sports events she was excited about.

This morning it was a woman who wanted advice. She was driving a newish Mercedes SUV, but had not really figured out the radio. I helped with that, but when she asked if she should get off early to avoid the accident the radio said was near Exit 4, I was stumped. We stayed on the HOV (my best guess) and it took about an hour and a half to get to the Pentagon. Oh well.

Then this afternoon, I got a ride home in a Lexus. Oh am I fond of Lexus! Not much reading got done, since sleep called. Leather seats, AC and a smooth ride make for quite a nap!

My final slug adventure had nothing to do with transportation. I finally got tired of goo in my sandals and took the box of salt out front to deal with the pests in the flowers as they came out for their evening romp. (Do slugs romp?) After a half box of salt and three score of kills to my tally, I called it a day. Ugh! I'll have to hose off the flower patch tomorrow, and wash their shriveled little corpses away. Yech!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


You can't see me 4

WSJ.com - You Don't Bother Me, Black Fly, Say Fans Of 'Jaws on Wings'

WSJ.com - You Don't Bother Me, Black Fly, Say Fans Of 'Jaws on Wings':
"Of the 255 types of black flies in North America, most are only a few millimeters in length, smaller than the common house fly. Five or six biting varieties are virulent in northern New England, upstate New York and eastern Canada, which abound in the clean, running water that the flies need for food and egg-laying. This year's black-fly season came late because of cold weather, but it is shaping up as an unusually bad one, insect experts say, because of big runoffs from heavy snowfall and recent rains.

Naturalists suspect the black-fly problem is growing because the water is getting cleaner."

I don't even know what to say...late because of global warming, but bad because of the cleaner environment. Hmmm...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

This woman gets it...

I have never met Pam Hearne, but I like her a lot already. Her reaction to parts of a body falling in her yard and damaging her house was not to call her lawyer to see whom she could sue. Instead:
Hearne, a special education teacher, said that when she first saw the leg in the grass, "it didn't look real." "But I am very glad that I live where I do," she said, "so I don't have to run for my life like this man probably was doing."
Amen. Pam, you are a great American.

UPDATE

Another quote:

Pam Hearne: "The thought that keeps on running through my head 'but by the grace of God go I' - this someone from another country who wanted to find his or her freedom and he or she didn't make it."
and another:
"The saying that keeps going over and over again in my head is, but by the grace of God go I," she said, adding that the man who sought a free ride was likely desperate. "Some poor soul decided to look for his freedom and it didn't work out for him," she said, standing in front of her home as investigators surveyed the area.
Interesting accuracy in reporting, btw...

Like this:

''The saying that keeps going over and over again in my head is, [There] but by the grace of God go I,'' she said, adding that the man who sought a free ride was likely desperate. ''Some poor soul decided to look for his freedom, and it didn't work out for him,'' she said, standing in front of her home as investigators surveyed the area.
and this:
"I guess it was some poor soul who dreamed to look for his freedom," Hearne said. "I'm hoping he wasn't in much pain."

details, details

No point to this, but amusing none the less:

New York Times June 8, 2005 Corrections: For The Record An article on Sunday about training exercises at Fort Lewis, Wash., that help troops confront situations they might encounter while guarding detainees in places like Abu Ghraib gave incorrect dimensions in some copies for an outdoor compound used at the base. Because of an editing error, a correction in this space yesterday also misstated the size. The compound is 200 feet square - not 200 square feet or 200 yards square.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Early to bed...early to rise...

It is always the fault of the school...
The early start to classes causes American teenagers to lose much needed sleep that puts them at risk of becoming moody and performing poorly in school, researchers said on Monday.

A survey of students aged 12 to 15 years old found they lost an average of two hours of sleep on the nights before a school day, affecting their work and alertness in class.

So, what happened to 'going to bed earlier'?

Social Security Solution

You just know there is talking point in here somewhere:
Authorities arrested [80 year old] Vera Tursi last month during a sting operation to crack down on prostitution rings posing as legal escort services. Police say Tursi ran the business from her two-bedroom apartment, taking $60 of every $160 she charged clients for one hour with a call girl.

Law enforcement officials say Tursi admitted her role in the business, saying she took it over a few years ago from her daughter, who had died. Police say Tursi told them she needed money to subsidize her Social Security checks.

A religious fight

Few things delve as deeply into our souls, our very beings, as religion. If you are an evolutionist, you probably believe that religion evolved over the eons to meet the growing needs of a growing consciousness (after all, we are the only animals that 'worship'). As such, it has become a part of us as much as breathing or eating--it is vital. If you are of a different religious bent, you probably believe that religion answers the questions that God (or whoever, whatever) placed in us at creation, inception, reincarnation or the big bang. Again, it is vital to who we are and how we act. Either way, that belief is held by faith.

When something is taken as a matter of faith, not direct, demonstratable fact, the belief is held more strongly and thus defended more viscously. Seldom will you see someone in a violent confrontation over gravity. I can't remember the last time I heard someone scream obscenities about the flatness of the earth or the origins of a chicken egg. Yet, evolution, Islam, abortion, freedom, and war all bring out deep and strong feelings. These are not Republican or Democrat issues. To those who debate them, on both sides, they are more important than politics. Often, they are more important than life or death. These are the outgrowths of religion.

We in our 'progressive' society, are often far removed from the hard facts of life and death. We translate that distance into a faux dispassion for all things so simplistic. All is a shade of gray. Yet even that we take on faith, while denying the existence of such a motive. "Faith" becomes a pejorative term for religion. Skepticism is the religion of our society, and we defend it as fiercely as a Dervish, Jesuit or Wahabbist. We are certain that there can be no certainty, and are devout in our impiety. It is a trite saying, but our motto is that there are absolutely no absolutes. And yet, we find ourselves involved in a religious clash.

When a fight involves religion, on either side, it is a religious war, even if the other side refuses to admit it. Saying 'it ain't so' doesn't work. Witness the build up to WW2 (nazism) and the Cold War (communism), both religions we refused to acknowledge until the fate of millions hung in the balance. Our current war is the same. Until we are willing to attack not merely the physical enemy but his ideology as well, we will not have the moral foundation for a successful campaign. That ideology, spreading like fascism, nazism, communism and colonialism all have at various times, is a form of Islam, much like 'national socialism' was a form of a bigger ideology, socialism. Just because one form appears benign right now does not mean we should forswear the fight with another.

All this brings me to several articles by Pam Zubeck of the Colorado Springs Gazette. Her articles all have the sound of desperation, fear and loathing in them. But of what? It seems to me she loathes the military most of all. The standing joke when I was at the Academy was that she had been stood up by her date for the Ring Dance, and, as a woman scorned, had sworn her fury on all those associated with that terrible slight. True? I really doubt it. But it was a good story. There is a fair amount of anti-male bias in her reporting, and certainly a lot of anti-established religion. Her reporting, I think, goes beyond the usual reporter's skepticism and into the realm of activism.

So, after reading one of her articles, here was my initial response:

Since when is the MOST IMPORTANT document in the history of the world not a viable source of quotations? There is no other document, no other collection of sayings by any person or leader or group that has had as profound an impact. To disqualify it as quotable on leadership and morality merely because it happens to be considered a holy text by two of the oldest major religions in the world is absolutely absurd. The book that inspired the Magna Carta, much of Shakespeare, the Pilgrims establishment of colonies in the New World, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and has been cited by EVERY President and BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES is not a viable text from which to pull quotes on leadership and morality? ON WHAT PLANET DO YOU LIVE, WOMAN?????

As we move more into the morass of moral fluctuation and situational morality, are we to always be judged by the present and changing FEELINGS evinced by those who have a motive to tear down what our forefathers wrought out of pain, suffering and wilderness? On what basis is leadership promoted, if not a moral claim of knowledge of right? A leader who says "any way is the right way" is, by definition, not leading. If religion has no place in the public square, if debate over right and wrong is to be banished, then what is the point of both the "free exercise" and "establishment" clauses coupled with the "free speech" clause? If a leader is a good leader, don't those who look up to him deserve to hear why he does what he does? Imagine a CEO of a successful company telling his senior managers, "I'd love to tell you how I have made this company successful, but I won't." He'd be considered selfish, secretive and worthless. A good leader grows others to fill his place and lead. A good leader teaches, mentors and prepares others. How can he do that if he is prevented from talking about a part of what drives him to be, know and do right? This is absolutely the most asinine article from Pam that I have seen to date. She has such an obvious contempt for both the military and religion, I wonder that she is allowed to right about either. Further, since she seems to have NO understanding of the discipline and leadership it takes to send men and women into battle, to lead them to kill, and maybe be killed, I suggest she spend a little time with the families of those who have lost their sons and daughters in the cause of freedom.

Pam, go and ask them if religion has no place in leadership. Go to Iraq and ask those who may be dead tomorrow if they are offended today when their commanders, who may die with them, talk about the possibility of "mounting up with wings as eagles". Ask the Marine who just dragged his bleeding and dying bunkmate from the debris-strewn street if he is offended by the concept of "bearing on another's burdens". Stand with the unit who has lost brothers, as they gaze on the empty boots, upturned rifles and bloodied helmets, listening to the comforting words of scripture. I dare to you to challenge them at that moment that these words they hear from their commander are a "misuse of office".

It is only in the safety and comfort of a country whose freedom has been purchased with the blood of patriots, a country that stands safe from attack because of the noble sacrifice of thousands upon hundreds of thousands, that you are able to contend that this is wrong. And it is your right to pen those filthy and degrading words, words that show you to be a craven coward, weak enough in your own beliefs that you can't stand the idea of others having beliefs strong enough to fight and die for. Freedom, love, honor, faith, hope, courage. These are words that drive us on when we have no more strength. They are words of both religion and leadership. They are the words that stirred hearts to make this a country where you can debase the sacrifice made by those who went before. And they are words by which we in the military live, AND DIE.

And that blood, Pam, and those words, give me the right to say that YOU ARE A [deleted] MORON!

More later on the correlation between religion and leadership, and also the current religious climate in the workplace (military) and the weakness of any religion that can't stand to have its views even questioned a little…but for now I have to go for a run and enjoy the hot weather.

************

Update

**************

Michelle Malkin has a link to the WAPO editorial (I missed it) and to a couple of excellent pieces by a former teacher of mine, Ken Masugi. Naturally, he says it a lot better than I do. But I am still working on a letter to the editor...

Protest of the week

OK, so there was a protest last week, and I didn't write about it. Sorry. But to make up for it, I have a couple of new signs from last week and this week. Last week:

Stand up for Peace

Now, I assume that they felt good support from the passing masses, since there was no one (that I saw, anyway) who walked by and sat down. Everyone remained standing or walking, ergo, they are all for peace!

This week, kudos to the most creative sign yet. In big letters, angling from top left to bottom right, with each word clipped by pictures of atomic explosions:

NO

MO'

WO

I just had to smile.

State Extortion

It seems that states, 43 of them, feel they are not taking enough of their our money, and now they want a cut of everything that happens on the internet:

9News has learned that 43 states have joined together in a coalition to collect sales tax on all Internet purchases. You already pay sales tax when you go online to buy from an established business like Eddie Bauer or Wal-Mart. But a lot of small Internet businesses and individual transactions float under the radar. The coalition is seeking expertise from Colorado's high tech industry to get the tax collection done electronically.

Of course the is voluntary. Or is it?

The proposal is for the new system to initially be voluntary. "So (unless) Congress were to act and make this mandatory, there would be no penalties," says Peterson. But there's a plus for businesses who do adopt the software. The states say the electronic system is so good, they'll designate participating businesses "audit proof."

Interesting way to put a positive spin on it. Let me get this straight. You can choose to use the approved software (no kickbacks there, I'm sure), and you will not be audited, or you can go on your merry way and deal with the consequences, which we, the state, have no control over…

Last I checked, protection rackets, although 'voluntary', are illegal.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Art or Abuse

---WARNING----

The links in this post are not for the faint of heart. Seriously.

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Ok, so let me get this straight, this is art and should be awarded taxpayer's hard earned money, but this is abuse? Ummmm...

Just which religion is it that seems to be the peacemaker?

French Fighter Jets Forced To Land In N.J.

In the 'Don't leave home without it' side of things...:
Nine French fighter jets and a radar plane stayed overnight at Atlantic City International Airport after bad weather prevented them from returning to their aircraft carrier off the Virginia coast, authorities said Friday."

There was a further complication, according to a broadcast report. One of the pilots tried to buy fuel Thursday and couldn't because he didn't have the available funds on his credit card, according to Philadelphia television station WPVI-TV.

Ah hah hah hah...Maybe it is just Friday night, but this is funny!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Friday, May 27, 2005

Tear Jerker, or just plain Jerk? Mother of Slain Soldier Denied Gold Star Membership

At first I thought that this was an easy case...let the woman in. Then I got to this part of the story: "Lagman's application was initiated by Ben Spadaro, a veteran from Yonkers, who said he learned about the citizenship rules of the American Gold Star Mothers while working on a national cemetery committee of the Veterans Administration. When he learned of Anthony Lagman's death and saw Lagman was a citizen but his mother was not, he thought, 'He's buried in a military cemetery, with full honors. She should be able to join.'

'We decided to tell the absolute truth on the application,' he said. 'We put down, `I am not an American citizen.' It was a ploy to get them to reject her, and then we said they should change the rules.'"

OK, anyone else have a problem with this? The poor woman lost her son, and now is being used by some shameless activist. If he wanted them to change the rules, the right way to go about it was to go to them and ask them to. Instead, he took the American way: litigation. Grrr.

You have to pee on the grass...


IMG_0065, originally uploaded by bremers.

Potty training is a learning experience for all of us. JB sometimes comprehends better than we think he does. The consequences can be amusing...

Why Terri Matters

Terri Schiavo's situation generated a lot of emotion in this country as the courts wrestled with her difficult situation. In the end, she died of hunger and thirst at the order of courts and recommendation of doctors, but her plight opened the way for a discussion about life: when is it worth living, what is its value, and when "professionals" should be given the authority to make or override decisions that affect this fragile clay jar. In this country, a contention between private citizens ended with appeals to professionals in law and medicine. In the UK, the contention is between the government and the man they are preparing to starve. One unintended consequence of government managed care is the divorce of the payer (the taxpaying citizens) from the recipient of the services. This can produce some significant disconnects between the goals of the two: maximize efficiency of workers (more tax money) vs. live as long and well as possible. And the decision is left, not to an impartial arbitrator, but to one of the interested parties. The consequences, as Leslie Burke now knows, are dire.

B-2 Picture


IMG_0211, originally uploaded by bremers.

Here is another picture from the airshow. Just becuase I feel like posting an airplane picture.

On the invention of forks...

The UK once again leads the way in social protection. The BBC report follows the usual pattern. First, start instilling fear with a scary sounding quote and ugly statistics:
A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing. A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.
Note the detailed descriptors "long" and "pointed". Then the fear words "violent crime...increase". Then, to finish the non-sequitur: kitchen knives are used in half of all stabbings. So, given that there are way more kitchen knives than others (utility, pocket, hunting and other dangerous implements of flesh carving origins), it is surprising that they are only used in half of stabbings. And what relations do stabbings have to do with increasing violent crime? Lets read on...
They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon. ...The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.
Note the specifics: "many", "prompted", "all too available". Then comes their real agenda, the absolute "no reason...at all". No reason? None, not a single one? Wow. Freedom, large turkeys and overbearing government scientists obviously were not considered reasons. So, they must have talked to a lot of experts...right?
They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen. None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.
Oh, well, 10 experts is better than nine. Note that the question has changed, too. These 'experts' say the knives are not "essential", which is different than "no reason". And "little practical value" is not "no practical value", much less "no value". Further down the article, the writer himself gives us a "practical" use:
...a pointed long blade pierces the body like "cutting into a ripe melon".
Got it.

Next, the BBC turns to the time honored tradition of policy promulgation through historical divergence:

The study found links between easy access to domestic knives and violent assault are long established.
Umm..so they must have looked at societies that banished "domestic knives" and seen that "violent assault" drastically dropped, probably right after the society starved to death since they could not cut their chicken cordon bleu. Oh, wait, continuing to read, I see they mean the enlightened French have done something like this so we should emulate:
French laws in the 17th century decreed that the tips of table and street knives be ground smooth. A century later, forks and blunt-ended table knives were introduced in the UK in an effort to reduce injuries during arguments in public eating houses.
Which is, of course, why the French had no violent crime in the 1600's. Also interesting to note is that forks were introduced into the UK to "reduce injuries during arguments". An historical tidbit I never knew. I always thought they were first used by the Greeks to make eating a bit less messy.

Update: It appears I am not the only one who thinks this is stupid...

Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which supports gun control, joked, "Can sharp stick control be far behind?"

Ok, so he gets it. Or not...
He said people in his movement were "envious" of England for having such problems. "In America, we can't even come to an agreement that guns are dangerous and we should make them safer," he said.
According to the NYT (spit), one American Chef (unenlightened, therefore) gets it: "He compared the editorial to efforts to ban unpasteurized cheese. "Where there is no risk," he said, "there is no pleasure."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Global Warming Watch

The headline says it all, without apparent irony:

Antarctica ice cap growing, another sign of warming

The LA Times really needs to get a new headline editor. But it gets better:

The vast East Antarctic Ice Sheet — a 2-mile-thick wasteland of ice larger than Australia, drier than the Sahara and as cold as a Martian spring — increased in mass every year between 1992 and 2003 because of additional annual snowfall, an analysis of satellite radar measurements showed.

Now, last I checked, ice is water in a solid state instead of a liquid, so a sheet of water 2 miles thick isn't exactly dry. And the 'annual snowfall' they are talking about? How much does the Sahara get? But wait! There's more!:

"It is an effect that has been predicted as a likely result of climate change," said David Vaughan, an independent expert on the ice sheets at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England.

"Predicted"? I remember more about ice caps melting than growing. In fact, the BBC reports that the Antarctic caps are melting in a sign of global warming. So, which is it? The only way you can have your cake and eat it too is if global warming immediately leads to an ice age. Perhaps they should change the headline to reflect the current Hollywood gospel: "Antarctica ice cap growing, another sign of warming leading to cooling".

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Airshow ladies


Airshow ladies, originally uploaded by bremers.

It was a beautiful day, in more ways than one...

Even Gloria liked watching the planes.
Air Shows are FUN!!!!
JB is considering a modeling career.
JB liked the planes. He didn't like the noise...
We were delayed a bit when we got there, because the President was leaving. But I got some good pictures...
There was an air show this weekend, so of course we went...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Saddam Exposed!!!

So I guess the furor over the sight of a mass murdering, serial rapist in his tighty-whities means we shouldn't be showing pictures of Osama with Teletubbies...?

The other side

In contrast to Indra Nooyi, Michael Yon understands why we do what we do. If people wonder what the results of Newsweek's anti-American screed are, they need look no further than folks like Yon, who are the future of the New Media. And doing adamn good job...

In an effort to be culturally sensitive and almost compulsively polite, we've mangled the meanings of words like: "martyr," and "suicide" to such a degree that we're using them to label mass murderers. While American and foreign media collectively increase the suffering of babes through their current fashion of cynicism, others seem to have a case of parents' guilt--unable to give the Iraqi suffering the undivided and ameliorative attention it requires. Instead, reporters rush at any sign of distress to hyper-focus on the negative, and thereby create yet more problems than originally existed. They shovel out body counts masquerading them as reports. A major US magazine recently published an unsubstantiated piece about the desecration of the Islamic Holy Book by US Forces. This story led to riots and many deaths. The magazine has apologized, but it’s too late. The people are dead.

...

Yet, against the wishes of the enemy, and even much of the media, somehow the Iraqis continue to progress. I am amazed at the strength of the Iraqi spirit. These people keep trying, and they love their children.

I'd like to buy that guy a beer when he gets back. But I'm afraid I'd have to stand in a very long line...