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 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. 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...

Make mine a coke

The mind-numbing (theirs, I mean) anti-American love fest at the top of the corporate ladder and in the MSM is really distressing. The fact that President and CFO of PepsiCo thought the most profound thing she could tell graduates of Columbia was that the US is giving the finger the world is really disturbing.

This analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents leaves the long, middle finger for North America, and, in particular, The United States. As the longest of the fingers, it really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is a really good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg-up in global business since the end of World War I. However, if used inappropriately –just like the U.S. itself -- the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I’m talking about. In fact, I suspect you’re hoping that I’ll demonstrate what I mean.


But to loudly and insultingly verbalize these feelings on site – in front of the employees and guests of the host country is bush league

I avoid Pepsi products already because of their attempts to role back the guarantor of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Already an ardent supporter of the anti-gun HCI and Sara Brady bunch, Indra Nooyi had to go and insult the greatest country in the world, and the country that has allowed her to gain wealth and comfort beyond even the imagination of 90% of the world's population. Yes, there are 'ugly Americans' out there, but guess what? They have been given the right to swagger a bit by the Marines on Iwo Jima, the Rangers on Omaha, the grunts at Da Nang, SFC Smith in Baghdad, Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon in Somalia and the more than 1 million killed in other wars. Wars we often did not have to fight, wars often freeing people who should have fought and freed themselves. We wait, often too long, before we strike, and when we do, we hit as hard and as fast as we can so the suffering and misery of war is not prolonged. And then, when we have vanquished our foe, after we have spent our own precious blood and treasure, we extend the hand of friendship. We sacrifice more of our sons and daughters, more of our gold to rebuild not only what we have of necessity destroyed, but also that which was destroyed by the tyranny of the former government.

How are we repaid? More often than not, our blood and sweat are forgotten and we are treated like the big bully Pepsi seems to think we are. No other country, no other people is more generous. No matter the problem, no matter the region: Aids, malaria, hunger, typhoons, tsunamis, whatever and wherever, you will find Americans, not just sent by the government, but by our churches, our charities and even individual citizens. We are, unfortunately, the example of good "Samaritans".

Samaritans, of course were the 'half-breeds', despised by true Jews and Gentiles alike because they did not fit into either culture. In Jesus' day, all the jokes were about those dumb Samaritans, those uncouth Samaritans. Samaritans even picked on themselves...

And today, there is no people, no nation that is considered as low-class or stupid as Americans. Americans are the butt of jokes the world over, and are maligned by 'holier than thou liberals' here at home. Like the Samaritan, we are despised and shunned. Until, of course, we find someone wounded and beaten beside the road. Until another dictator comes along to oppress his own people and threaten his neighbors.

Maybe, just once, we should look the other way. Maybe we should say, 'solve your own problems' and stay home in our nice suburban communities. But we won't, because to do so wouldn't be AMERICAN.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Worth 1000 tears...

Here is the picture...

More on the picture

Long Island Newsday May 5, 2005

Infantryman's Wife Saw The Photo And Knew

By Andrew Metz, Staff Writer

On a day of carnage, it was an intimate image: a soldier clutching a child in his arms.

When Amy Bieger, mother of three boys, wife of an infantryman in Iraq, saw the picture on the Internet on Tuesday night, she stared at the little feet dangling in the nook of the man's arm, at the soldier's helmeted head pressed to the child's face. She stared and tears welled up.

"I said 'Oh my God, it is one of our soldiers,'" Bieger, 34, said yesterday from her home outside the Fort Lewis, Wash., Army post. "Then I stared at the [name] patch. I made out the rank and then the last four letters of the name and I knew it was my husband."

Amid an ongoing surge in violence in Iraq, Maj. Mark Bieger, the operations officer for the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, emerged Monday from the scene of double bombings in Mosul with a fatally wounded girl in his arms.

Freelance photographer Michael Yon caught the 35-year-old West Point graduate cradling the child, and in short order the anonymous tableau of compassion and violence was touching people around the country.

Read it all...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Worth more than 1000 words...

The story behind the picture on the Washington Times and Washington Post front pages yesterday...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

SHHHH!!! Don't tell the Democrats.

According to this item in the news, stay at home moms are undertaxed. Well, I know it does not say it outright, but think about this: there are about 5.4 million (that is 5,400,000) women who 'stay at home', and they should be making about $132,000 annually, for a total of over $700 BILLION (712,800,000,000, to be inexact). Assuming that they are only in the 15% tax bracket, that means the government is losing $106,920,000,000 (over $100 BILLION a year in income taxes alone. Add to that the 12.9% payroll tax on the first $90,000 (another $62 BILLION) and you are talking some real money. Not to mention that since they are not being paid in real money, there is the negative impact on local sales taxes, state income taxes and luxury taxes that would be paid on the boats, diamonds and BMWs that would be bought with all that extra income. All of society, in fact, is hurt. Oil companies get less, since there are 5.4 million fewer commuters. Car companies, likewise. Restaurants suffer from these same tax-evaders fixing meals at home, so they hire fewer dishwashers, busboys and waiters (a key bottom rung on the corporate ladder). Other service industries suffer as well. Clothing stores, daycare centers, lunchmeat companies--where does it end?

Sigh. It is amazing we ever became a world power with so much inefficiency. With a little work, though, and the right tax policies, I'm sure we can fix this gross inequity.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The more things change…

No protesters today. I am not sure why. Maybe they got stuck in traffic, like I did. The last time I saw the protesters here, they were a different bunch than usual, and no one seemed to have warned them that people would walk right by, paying little-to-no attention to them. This impression I got from the distressed looks they gave and the increasing pitch of their voices as the masses surged by, into that vast killing machine called 'the Pentagon'. The other reason I think they had not been warned was that they were holding 8 ½ by 11 inch sheets of paper with their messages. In about 14 point font. I don't know if it was 'protest creep' or ignorance that made them forget that people with jobs are too busy to stop and read a dissertation on the eeevillls of the SecDef. But for whatever reason, they each had about 15 messages per paper: Killing is Wrong, no blood for oil, save trees not Halliburton, stop the hate, Bush is a Nazi, free Tibet, WTO is killing children, No Bolton at the UN, penguins are people too (ok, I made that one up). I am really disappointed in our protesters here. Especially after seeing the ones the President gets.

Yesterday we got a tour of the West Wing (thanks Annie!) and while waiting for our clearance at the gate, we were entertained by competing protests. Someone dressed up like the infamous Abu Ghraib clansman, another accompanied him with a sign saying 'protect our wounded', while another was dressed as the President being led by someone dressed as a bushman from Africa. There was a woman in DCUs with a target on her back, and another in AF blues, with running shoes, shouting something through a megaphone and leading the group in circular marches. Sandwiched between these street marchers and some more sedentary banner carriers were a group of anti-anti-war protesters with the verbal retort to any chant of the Abu Ghraib folks: '8 million Iraqis gave you guys the finger!' After watching this parade for a while, we were even more entertained to see a gang of tourists show up on Segways, the latest way to see the city (since bike tours are so 1990's).

All of which brings me back to the long and painful ride in this morning. Thanks to multiple accidents, the 30 minute drive was closer to 90, and I got to hear a lot more news, in addition to finishing my book. The most jarring part came during the CBS News roundup at the top of the hour (WTOP was the news of choice for the driver today). "A cascading escalation of insurgent activity has left 5 Iraqis dead and scores injured…" OK, now last I checked, cascading means "To fall or cause to fall in or as if in a cascade" and escalate means "to increase in intensity or extent". So my question is this: does CBS think that the violence is increasingly falling, or falling up, or decreasing more, or what? Throw on top of that that insurgent means someone who is moving or attacking up against an established authority and the statement is really confusing. Not only that, but evil men who were deposed as leaders are not insurgents, they are selfish critters seeking to ruin life for everyone since they can't have their toys and fun anymore. Once again, the news comes through with a reason blogs like the ones linked on the side here are increasingly popular avenues of information.