Friday, June 30, 2006

It Begins

This is what we're up against (those dark blotches are about the size of an adult hand). Something cute for little girls. Maybe. But not for two nineteen-year-olds. My daughter's room has this stuff all over the walls. Her friend who lives with us has it on half of her walls. The people I bought the house from must have grown sick of doing this and given up in disgust halfway through the second room.

Work was slow today, so we got to go home early. Not the go-home-on-time-but-it-feels-early kind of early, but the real, live, genuine early. The 2:30-in-the-afternoon early. It was great.

I got to listen to Hugh Hewitt's radio show in the car instead of punching buttons trying to find something palatable because I can't stand listening to Michael Savage, who comes on after Hugh. I got to take my car to the tire shop and have them fix the slow leak in both front tires (with a prayer that I wouldn't need new tires). It turned out I had picked up a nail in each of the front tires, and they were able to fix and rotate them for free.

My last assignment was a trip to Home Depot to buy all new paint supplies (below), because I had nothing. Plus, I got a six-foot ladder so we can paint the wall behind the top of the closets, which don't go all the way to the ceiling (I'm afraid to find out how much dust is up there).

We got two gallons of Kilz (a heavy-duty primer) plus the paint. My daughter picked out a pale blue, and her friend chose pale green. I like both colors.

Tomorrow we start. We've all got other plans for the morning, so we'll get busy around lunchtime. The girls are even more excited than I am.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Motoring With Mom

Janice at You Heard It Here... is planning a vacation to Hatteras Island in North Carolina (here, here, here). It sounds wonderful (except for needing some kind of foot protection for her dog on the beach's hot sand). I'd love to see it and the rest of the Outer Banks.

Earlier this month I had a couple posts about possibly touring the country with my mom, and I asked for recommendations of what to see in your state. I got some great recommendations, but there was this comment from Skye (no relation) that got me to reevaluate my mom's idea:

My vote is for you to go on the trip with your mom. How often does a person get an opportunity like that?

She's right. How many times do we wish for "if only"? How many people don't have that option anymore because their parents are too old or too feeble or no longer with us? How many times do we let our dreams wither and grow weeds from neglect or the feeling that we just can't do something so foolish? Dreams have a way of turning into regrets while we're not looking.

When I was young and married (before kids), my husband and I fulfilled a dream I'd had since Junior High: to see the châteaux of the Loire in France. We spent four months on bicycles in six countries in Western Europe. And I doubt if we would have gone, if it weren't for the goal-setting class my job made everyone take. It hadn't occurred to me to do something about that dream before then.

But that trip is one of the biggest highlights of my life.

So now I've gone from about 20% - 30% decided to 99% decided (that 1% is in case God intervenes and says it's not the right thing or the right time) in favor of the trip with my mom. So that means we've got decisions to make. The first decision has already been made: When do we leave?

My daughter plans to go to her Christian ministry program in Texas this coming January, so that would be good timing for me, but I got to thinking about my sister. She just got my mom's company, after so many years living on opposite edges of the country. Our family has been about as spread out as you can get in the continental US. I'm in California, my sister is in Texas, my brother is in Massachusetts, and my parents were in Montana. For me to swoop into town and head off with my mom for a year, after so short a time of her being with my sister seems wrong.

This school year my sister's youngest will be a senior in High School, and I know my mom will enjoy the time hanging out with one of her grandkids. So we've decided to wait until after the granddaughter graduates next June.

A year. We have a year to get ourselves ready, for my mom to find the right RV (used), for me to talk with my ex-husband's dad and stepmom about the practical side of living in an RV (they did that for a couple years after he retired), and all the rest of the readying that I'm not yet aware that I need to do.

And a big part of that is: What do you recommend that my mom and I should see in your state?

I still need to know about New Jersey, because what I know is what my sister-in-law told me years ago when we went there to visit. She said that Mahwah is New Jersey's equivalent to Deliverance-style inbreeding. I was never sure if she was serious, or if she had a deadpan delivery of some New Jersey inside joke. But I don't think it would be wise to go to Mahwah and start staring at people to see if I can spot signs of inbreeding in their faces. I really would like someplace better to visit.

The other big question is: Should we get a motorhome and tow a little car, or should we get a pickup truck with a fifth-wheel? Which setup will be easier for us to maneuver? Rumor has it the gas mileage is about the same. If you've got experience with both, that would be especially helpful, but one or the other is good too.

Please leave the state attractions at the link above (it keeps them all in one place), and leave the RV recommendations on this post.

My mind is still reeling from this decision. It's far enough away that it feels academic, but I have a lot of work ahead of me between now and then. Not the least of which is to try to get some sleep before I have to get up for work tomorrow.

Criticism of President Bush

J. Peter Mulhern's column in yesterday's American Thinker (HT: WorldNetDaily) is a criticism of President Bush's approach to the war. It's excellent. Read the whole thing, because these excerpts don't do it justice.

A conservative, Mulhern gets to the heart of some of the frustration I've felt with President Bush's rhetoric--and lack of fire--about how he sees this war that was declared and re-declared by the Islamofascists. His bottom line is that President Bush is a conventional thinker, and our war requires someone who isn't stuck in convention.

President Bush isn’t likely to change enough to execute a dramatic turnaround. But Republicans will soon begin in earnest the process of selecting their next leader. They should make a concerted effort to understand and learn from his mistakes. Above all, the Bush experience should teach Republicans and conservatives to shun the conventional.

The conventional understanding of how history unfolds is still fundamentally Marxist. Conventional wisdom views every human conflict as pitting oppressors against the oppressed. The oppressed struggle to throw off the oppressor’s yoke; the oppressors fight to keep that yoke firmly in place. Cultural factors such as religion are invisible.... International law and the institutions that administer it are vital because they provide principled restraints on the oppressors.

The day Islamic terrorism finally came home we needed a leader to tell us that we were at war and to lay out a clear strategy for victory. The President’s job was to identify our enemies and inspire us to defeat them and eliminate their threat to our homeland.

President Bush never managed to do that job because conventional wisdom made him incapable of understanding what happened on September 11. He has never grasped the ugly truth that we are fighting a religious war with roots in the Dark Ages. That war is entirely outside his conventional frame of reference. He doesn’t have the vocabulary for defining and defending it.

So the President talks about Islam being a "religion of peace," about bringing democracy to the formerly oppressed people of Iraq, about our war not being a war against a particular religion. He understands the importance of fighting but can't quite seem to grasp exactly what it is that needs to be fought.

The scum that turned passenger jets into cruise missiles and screamed about Allah as they crashed into their targets weren’t poor or oppressed. They weren’t protesting against neo-colonial exploitation of Middle Eastern oil wealth or globalization or anything else the conventional mind might understand.

They were self-consciously opening a new offensive in the 1370 year old war between Islam and the unbelievers, those in the dar al harb (house of war). They didn’t do this out of desperation. They did it because they believed, with considerable justification, that the West is no longer Christian enough or tough enough to resist Islamic competition.

A president who understood what happened on September 11 would have been addressing the nation on September 12 to say that we can no longer tolerate the Islamic status quo, particularly in Arabia and Persia. We can’t tolerate Saudi wealth promoting the poisonous Wahabbi sect. We can’t tolerate Arab and Persian support for Islamic terrorism. Above all we can’t tolerate any Muslim enemies with access to the resources of an oil producing state.

This is not a conventional war. It's a fight for our very survival, but the President is again showing his lack of that understanding by taking concerns about Iran's nuclear program to the EU and the UN and any other set of ineffective, corrupt initials he can find. Let's hope we have the time it's taking for the Administration to deal conventionally with conventional bureaucrats about a screaming, antisocial fanatic who happens to be running a country.

It's two more years until our next Presidential election, and Mulhern has this advice for those who take the Islamofascist-jihadist threat seriously:

The next Republican presidential nominee will probably have to craft our response to the next major Muslim strike on our homeland. For better or worse, Republicans are stuck with the burdens of power because the Democrats are stuck on stupid trying to win American elections as the anti-American party. This leaves Republican primary voters with a grave responsibility.

We should all pray that they choose wisely and well.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Weekend Planning

It feels like Friday.

Boy, am I going to be disappointed tomorrow when I have to get up before the crack of dawn to get ready for work. The only reason I can come up with for my internal calendar's disorientation is that I've decided what to do over the upcoming 4-day weekend, and I'm ready to start NOW:

We're going to paint. The girls have been complaining about the walls in their bedrooms for a long time. But now I have recent experience with wall scrubbing, blue taping, Kilz applying, and painting. What can go wrong?

The walls in the girls' rooms are ugly (I'll try to post "before" pictures when the time is closer). They were painted for little girls by the previous owner, with an off-white base coat. On top of that, somebody (who probably asked said little girls for their (non-) taste in colors) sponged lavendar, taupe, and deep purple blotches all over the walls. Both bedrooms have the same diseased look.

We can start on the smaller room first and get a feel for it. There isn't as much furniture to move in that room. And while we're covering the bruises with Kilz, the girls can choose their new paint colors. I think it can work.

But that leaves me wondering what I'm doing here at work, when I should be at Home Depot buying painting supplies.


I got the colors wrong. I checked when I got home, and it's light blue, not taupe. It's still ugly, and when I told the girls I wanted us to paint this weekend, they were thrilled. My only excuse for not knowing the right colors is that I rarely go in the girls' rooms.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Saddam's Treblinka

In 1997 I visited Poland, and our group went to Treblinka. It operated for less than a year and a half, and killed at least 700,000 people--mostly Jews--during that time.

In order to keep the arriving prisoners under control, the Nazis told them they were being relocated and to bring their belongings with them on the trains. When the Jews arrived at Treblinka, they saw what looked like a train station. But when they went through the station doors, the Nazis were there to separate the men from the women and children, force the prisoners to leave all their belongings, strip, and be led to the "infirmary" to be gassed to death.

The hearts of evil men are often the same.

The AP reported yesterday that a mass grave had been found in Iraq, dating from the 1980s, when Saddam ruled. The unusual find in this grave was identification hidden in some of the victims' clothing.

David Hines, who compiles reports on the mass graves, noted that there is a site in southern Iraq where 114 people _ mostly women and children _ were found shot to death. Their remains, he said, make them posthumous witnesses.

"We take great pains not to lose sight that these are all people, these all have a story," Hines said. "What we have is 114 cases of murder."

The site, dubbed Muthanna 2, is at the center of the Anfal case, in which Kurds were told they were being relocated to the south but then were gathered into ravines and raked with gunfire.

Several of the women were pregnant and others collapsed while holding children. The skeletal hand of one woman was found in a baby blanket that also contained the remains of a baby. (emphasis added)

The Anfal case is scheduled to be Saddam's second trial.

"When we first started, we didn't think we'd find any IDs," said Michael "Sonny" Trimble, a 53-year-old forensic archaeologist from Missouri who is the director of the Iraqi Mass Graves Team.

Trimble said about 12 percent of the individuals found so far had IDs, despite witness claims that Saddam's forces had demanded the documents. He said some women hid them in secret pockets or sewed them inside several layers of clothing.

"So from a criminal case standpoint i think we have a lot of very good data that the Iraq criminal justice system will use later on to present in court," he said.

The chief investigative judge in Saddam Hussein's trial, Raid Juhi, said the IDs were key to allowing investigators to go to the area where they were issued and collect witness accounts. "It gave us more evidence," he said.

Like Treblinka, Anfal reveals the extent to which genocidal dictators will go. To ship the Kurds all the way to the south of Iraq before killing them... well, "premeditated" isn't a severe enough description.

Saddam should die--horribly--for what he did to the Iraqi people. But even a horrible death wouldn't be as much as he deserves.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ward Churchill to be Fired

The Denver Post reported today that the interim chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder intends to fire Ward Churchill.

"Today I issued to Professor Churchill a notice of intent to dismiss him from his faculty position here at the University of Colorado," said Phil DiStefano at a press conference.

Churchill has 10 days to appeal.

"A university is a marketplace of ideas, a place where controversy is no stranger...indeed one of our most cherished principals is academic freedom, the right to pursue and disseminate knowledge without threat of sanction," said DiStefano. "But with freedom comes responsibility."

A university committee that investigates academic misconduct recommended two weeks ago that Churchill be fired for a "pattern of repeated, intentional misrepresentation."

The recommendation only came two weeks ago? Ward Churchill's lunacy hit the news over a year ago (here's WorldNetDaily's first article on Churchill, from February 1, 2005). And I thought Washington was slow.... The Denver Post article continued:

In a 20-page report, the committee agreed with a May investigative committee report that Churchill intentionally falsified his research, plagiarized other people's work and ghostwrote articles and then cited them to buttress his work.

Churchill and his attorney have threatened to sue CU if he is fired. They accuse the university of retaliating against the tenured professor because of his essay saying some World Trade Center terrorism victims were not innocent and comparing them to a Nazi bureaucrat.

If all Churchill did was falsify, plagiarize, and quote his own ghost-written work, what's the big deal? He's still a scholar, right? Right???

And then Churchill says his 9/11 essay said, "some World Trade Center terrorism victims were not innocent." Is that all? "Some"? Here's how the WND article described this essay:

The controversy stems from an essay Churchill wrote titled "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," written shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. In it, he describes the thousands of American victims who died in the World Trade Center inferno as "little Eichmanns" (a reference to notorious Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann) who were perpetuating America's "mighty engine of profit." They were destroyed, he added, thanks to the "gallant sacrifices" of "combat teams" that successfully targeted the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

"Some," indeed. Let's hope Churchill loses his appeal (which he undoubtedly will file).

An aside:

If it's the University of Colorado, why do they always call it "CU"? Are they paranoid that if they say "UC Boulder," people will ask them where Boulder is in California? If so, then what does Connecticutt call its universities?

I went to the University of Montana for a little over a year, and when I mentioned the "U of M" to people, sometimes they'd ask, "Michigan?" and I'd say "Montana." No big deal. No need to pretend it was really Montana University when it was time to use initials. What's up with those CU people?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Weather Report

I was awakened early this morning by a sound I almost didn't recognize. This is California, where we normally don't get the kind of weather patterns that make the sky rip itself apart. The thunder wasn't a distant rumble, but a violent tearing of the fabric of the air around my house.

I remembered my mom telling me that my sister's computer was damaged during a thunderstorm, so I got up and made sure the computers were off and not just on standby.

As I crawled back in bed, the rain came in loud, spattering drops, then settled into a soft patter, and the thunder moved away into the distance and made me feel safe about getting in the shower.

The weather reports had said today would be the hottest day of the week, but nobody said anything about storms. We need the rain.

But when I took Abby outside, the patches of dirt were still dry and only polka-dotted by damp spots left by rain that had made a strafing run past my house.

I'm disappointed by the broken promise of rain, but not so much that I won't enjoy the warm day with blue skies. Have a great weekend.

Friday, June 23, 2006

New York Times Hurts America

I don't have the right words. I'm beyond rage and in a detached calm as I think about it.

The New York Times will get us killed.

The New York Times has chosen sides in this war, and it isn't America's side.

The New York Times has finally gone beyond the bounds of...of what? They passed the bounds of decency long ago. They passed the bounds of news reporting, civic duty, and all the other virtues that should belong to a news agency, long ago. When the news media accuse Ann Coulter of having "gone too far" by making personal jabs at the Jersey Girls, and then they release national secrets of this magnitude NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME, that's an irony way too rich for me to handle. That's "too far" on a galactic scale.

What they did was publish an article, by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, in today's issue of the Times, exposing an effective, legal, secret program that has been helping the US catch terrorists. And there was no understandable reason for them to have published it. By publishing the story--after the Bush Administration as well as many Democratic leaders requested them not to publish it--they have told the enemy the details of how we go after them, essentially destroying our ability to continue this program. A program that has worked. A program that has resulted in terrorists being discovered and captured.

First, the New York Times exposed the NSA wiretapping. Now this.

Michelle Malkin has lots of great reaction to what the New York Times (and its poodle, the Los Angeles Times, who also published the story) did. She published the contact information for the NY Times, but because she expected the Times to ignore the letters of protest, she asked her readers to copy her on their emails to the Times. Here's my favorite quote from one of the email senders, Steve:

"Do your kickbacks from al-Qaeda make up for your losses in subscriptions?"


Hugh Hewitt has more reactions as well. He offers this quote from the Times article:

Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said: "We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration. We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest."

Mm-hmm. They gave "the most serious and respectful consideration" to how the article would hurt the Bush Administration and possibly win them another Pulitzer prize. There's no other reason they'd buck both the President and the majority of Democrats--reportedly even John Murtha--by publishing this story.

For me, the New York Times no longer exists.

I refuse to link to their stories. I refuse to quote their articles. Even if it's an article as helpful as how to extricate yourself from quicksand (which was not the NY Times, by the way), I won't do it. Unless it is to disparage their name, I refuse to give them one more piece of my share of the blogosphere.


Powerline posted a chart of the New York Times stock prices over the past five years. Take a look. It's stunning. They're on a fast track from being the one-time "paper of record" to being a paper of ruin.

Update II:

Michelle Malkin reports that the New York Times is publishing another article leaking classified information in the Sunday edition.

Check out the Anti-Blabbermouth posters right below the text. My favorite is the one at the top (as of the time of this update), from Slublog.

A Synagogue Comes to Arkansas

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Wal-Mart's hometown has a synagogue.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Residents of Benton County, in the northwest corner of Arkansas, are proud citizens of the Bible Belt. At last count, they filled 39 Baptist, 27 United Methodist and 20 Assembl[ies] of God churches. For decades, a local hospital has begun meetings with a reading from the New Testament and the library has featured an elaborate Christmas display.

Then the Wal-Mart Jews arrived.

Recruited from around the country as workers for Wal-Mart or one of its suppliers, hundreds of which have opened offices near the retailer's headquarters here, a growing number of Jewish families have become increasingly vocal proponents of religious neutrality in the county. They have asked school principals to rename Christmas vacation as winter break (many have) and lobbied the mayor's office to put a menorah on the town square (it did).

The article goes on to describe the way Wal-Mart's Jewish employees banded together two years ago to convert a former Assembly of God church into a synagogue named Congregation Etz Chaim, or Tree of Life. The congregation does face some challenges, one of which is that some of Wal-Mart's suppliers have a policy of rotating their Wal-Mart teams, which can cause turnover in the leadership at the synagogue. Another is the mix of traditions:

The members of the congregation come from observant religious families in Connecticut, reform synagogues in Kansas City, Mo., and everything in between. Though they agreed to share one roof, they are struggling to reconcile varied backgrounds and traditions, which has made for hours-long debates over, among other things, whether congregants can take photos inside the synagogue on the Sabbath. (The answer is yes, but only with the flash turned off.)

But what impressed me most, as a Christian, is the tone of the article. It's written from the perspective of the Jewish community in Bentonville, and it's positive. The article ends this way:

With its purple carpet and orange pews, both vestiges of the Assembly of God church it once was, Etz Chaim is not the synagogue that all of its members envisioned growing old in. But in a short time it has become the center of the Jewish community here — and has begun to weave its way into this overwhelmingly Christian community.

This year a prominent local faith-based charity, consisting exclusively of churches, invited Etz Chaim to join. The charity promptly reworded it mission statement, replacing "churches" with "congregations."

The Bentonville community, in the heart of the Bible Belt, has taken such steps as renaming "Winter Break," placing a menorah on the town square, and inviting the synagogue to join the faith-based charity. Talk-show host and religious Jew, Dennis Prager has dedicated hordes of column-inches to explaining to American Christians why Jews (especially secular Jews) mistrust them, and explaining to Jews why American Christians are the Jews' best friends. And this article captures what American Christianity is about.

The willingness of Bentonville's churches to include this new synagogue in the life of the town, and the town's willingness to make the Jewish congregation feel welcome reveal the best of who we as Americans and we as Christians are. I am so pleased--and so proud--over what the New York Times article said, as well as what they didn't say.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What a Woman Wants

Besides a man to look at her the way Mr. Darcy looks at Miss Elizabeth...

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach--a man--has the answer to the ultimate question in his column in today's WorldNetDaily.

Freud was not the only man who failed to understand women. There seems to be a unique male blindness wherein even husbands who have lived with their wives all their lives still cannot answer the question of what it is that their wives most want.

But surrounded as I am by a wife and five daughters, and having been raised by a single mother, and having spent thousands of hours counseling women in difficult marriages (not to mention being a male who humors himself that he is deeply in touch with his feminine side), I feel competent to answer this, the mother of all questions.

What a woman wants is to be chosen.

A woman wishes to be the center of her husband's universe, primary in his life and competing with none for his attention.

He is absolutely right.

Why would a woman leave the parents who love her unconditionally for a man whose love is so inconsistent? As Helen Rowland famously said, "Marriage is where a woman exchanges the attention of many men for the inattention of one." Why would any sane person agree to so rotten a deal?

Because a man can give a woman the one thing her parents cannot. Her parents can love her. But only he can choose her. He can make her feel special and unique. He can place her at the center of his universe, basking in her light like the earth brightened by the luminescence of the sun. A man is a dark planet, and a woman brightens and warms his cold world.

To be sure, men too desire to be special. But they make the mistake of establishing their uniqueness through vocation rather than relationships, through career rather than kin. And this is why so many men are so deeply insecure – because the locus of their self-esteem is the fluctuations of the marketplace rather than the constancy of the family. Women, however, with a deeper and wiser approach to life, have always understood that to be loved for what you are is always superior than to be loved for what you do.

And there you have it. Smart man, that Rabbi Shmuley. Men, take it to heart.

The Hard Left On Barbarism

Normally I enjoy reading commentaries in Common Dreams, a left-leaning publication, because they're so fun to pull apart. But not today. Today I read Norman Solomon's column in yesterday's Common Dreams, and I'm not sure where to start. It's so discouraging.

Solomon starts out well:

The Baghdad bureau chief of the New York Times could not have been any clearer.

"The story really takes us back into the 8th century, a truly barbaric world," John Burns said. He was speaking Tuesday night on the PBS "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," describing what happened to two U.S. soldiers whose bodies had just been found. Evidently they were victims of atrocities, and no one should doubt in the slightest that the words of horror used by Burns to describe the "barbaric murders" were totally appropriate.

But then he makes his Left turn:

The problem is that Burns and his mass-media colleagues don't talk that way when the cruelties are inflicted by the U.S. military -- as if dropping bombs on civilians from thousands of feet in the air is a civilized way to terrorize and kill.

When journalists maintain a flagrant double standard in their language -- allowing themselves appropriate moral outrage when Americans suffer but tiptoeing around what is suffered by victims of the U.S. military -- the media window on the world is tinted a dark red-white-and-blue, and the overall result is more flackery than journalism.

It's refreshing to find a publication that faults the mainstream media--especially the New York Times--for being too pro-American military. But I wonder if Common Dreams had this same kind of editorial when President Clinton dropped bombs on civilians in Kosovo from thousands of feet in the air. I don't remember hearing any outrage, but I didn't read anything in Common Dreams back then.

I'm not really sure what Solomon would prefer that we do to deal with Islamofascist terrorists. Would targeted assassinations be acceptable? Obviously, we can't do anything the would result in non-combatants getting injured, because that would make us torturers just like the terrorists:

Based on the available evidence from Abu Ghraib to Afghanistan to Guantanamo, anyone who claims that U.S. foreign policy does not include torture is disingenuous or deluded.

Reporters for the New York Times and other big U.S. media outlets would not dream of publicly describing what American firepower does to Iraqi civilians as "barbaric."

An eyewitness account from American author Rahul Mahajan, during the U.S. attack on Fallujah in April 2004, said: "During the course of roughly four hours at a small clinic in Fallujah, I saw perhaps a dozen wounded brought in. Among them was a young woman, 18 years old, shot in the head. She was having a seizure and foaming at the mouth when they brought her in; doctors did not expect her to survive the night."

Rahul Mahajan is described as, "a leader of Peace Action and the National Network to End the War Against Iraq," by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting.

We hear that of course the U.S. tries to avoid killing civilians -- as if that makes killing them okay. But the slaughter from the air and from other U.S. military actions is a certain result of the occupiers' war.

Fine. I won't argue that we try to avoid killing civilians, though nobody says that makes killing them okay. I will argue that our soldiers often put themselves in harm's way in order to avoid civilian casualties--something that military forces from other countries in other wars have not done.

But if you want to talk about "slaughter from the air," let's talk about 9/11. And if you want to talk about "barbaric," and killing being okay, then let's go into a little more detail about just what happened to our two kidnapped soldiers. Malott's Blog describes it this way:

Yesterday afternoon I was listening to The Peter Heck Show as Mr Heck described how those two young soldiers were tortured and killed in Iraq... How their arms were twisted from their sockets and their eyes were gouged out... How they were emasculated... And had their hearts cut from their bodies. I stopped what I was doing and sat down.

Here's the difference between us and them. Here's what makes what they do "barbarism:" The animals who tortured our soldiers enjoyed it. They took pleasure in the screams and the pain of our soldiers. They relished the horror we would feel when we found out what they did. And they would do it again and again and again.

Yes, civilians die during war. It's the nature of war. We don't like the deaths. We try not to do it. But if we were to follow Solomon's approach and give peace a chance, we would be handing Iraq--and eventually the world--over to the true barbarian monsters who wantonly torture and kill. And the civilian death toll would make the numbers from our War in Iraq pale into insignificance.

We must continue to fight, and we must win. And Norman Solomon will eventually reap the benefits of the fight for his freedom and safety that he refuses even to acknowledge.

The Secret Service vs the Gospel

I've been following this story for a while but haven't posted on it yet. Today's WorldNetDaily reported that a Christian group has been dealt a legal blow in their fight to be able to distribute fake million-dollar bills as gospel tracts.

A federal judge in Dallas yesterday ruled against a Christian group whose "million-dollar" gospel tracts were seized by the U.S. Secret Service as "counterfeit money," and a wheelchair-bound man in Las Vegas claims a Secret Service agent threatened him with arrest for passing out the same tracts.

Brian Fahling of the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy, which is representing the Denton, Texas-based Great News Network, had asked the judge to order immediately the return of 8,300 tracts seized by the Secret Service and to prevent the government agency's local field office from arresting anyone who distributes them.

The front of the bills look like this:

The tract includes this message: "The million-dollar question: Will you go to Heaven? Here's a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God's name in vain? Jesus said, "Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart." Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell. That's not God's will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. Jesus took your punishment upon Himself – 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.' Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please, repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it."

The message is on the back of the bill in fine print all around the outside edge in the white margin.

The problems for the group, the Great News Network, started when somebody in North Carolina attempted to deposit one of the tracts in the bank. The address of GNN was on the back, so apparently the bank called the Secret Service, who went to GNN's offices in Dallas and seized the tracts. Here is part of GNN's statement from their website:

According to the Secret Service, the Million Dollar gospel tract produced by Ray Comfort ( and distributed by The Great News Network and thousands of other Christians all around the World is counterfeit. However, according to the US Treasury’s own policy it is illegal to duplicate and make copies that are comparable to existing currency with the intent to commit fraud. Since there is no such thing as a Million Dollar bill in circulation, it is obviously not illegal to create, print and or distribute one. In other words, how do you counterfeit something that doesn’t exist? In fact, you can purchase all the million dollar bills you want from various novelty retailers throughout the US and most of them look far more authentic than the ones, the USSS seized from our Christian ministry. In fact, if you Google the term, “Million Dollar Bill” you we get over 43-million results!

There's also supposed to be a "reasonableness" test when evaluating counterfeiting cases. If a reasonable person would believe the bill is a genuine one, there could be a case. But the Secret Service seems to have used one silly person in North Carolina as their basis for who is "reasonable." Sounds unreasonable to me.

The group will be filing an appeal in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but it's expected to take several months before a decision is made.

Still, it makes a person wonder why the Secret Service is going so hard after this one group with its million-dollar gospel tracts and is ignoring the novelty companies selling better imitations of the same non-existent bills. Could it be that the agents (and this federal judge) have something against the gospel? I certainly hope not. We'll just have to wait and see what the 5th Circuit Court decides.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pulling Troops from Iraq

Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, wrote a column in yesterday's Washington Post about the pullout of American troops from Iraq (HT: Michelle Malkin).

There has been much talk about a withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops from Iraq, but no defined timeline has yet been set. There is, however, an unofficial "road map" to foreign troop reductions that will eventually lead to total withdrawal of U.S. troops. This road map is based not just on a series of dates but, more important, on the achievement of set objectives for restoring security in Iraq.

Nobody believes this is going to be an easy task, but there is Iraqi and coalition resolve to start taking the final steps to have a fully responsible Iraqi government accountable to its people for their governance and security. Thus far four of the 18 provinces are ready for the transfer of power -- two in the north (Irbil and Sulaymaniyah) and two in the south (Maysan and Muthanna). Nine more provinces are nearly ready.

He details the objectives for the provinces, and he estimates that Iraq will have full control by the end of 2008, that coalition troops will be under 100,000 by the end of this year, and that most of the coalition troops will be withdrawn by the end of 2007.

Rubaie also describes the psychological issues involved in having our troops in Iraq and gives the benefits that will come to his country when we're able to withdraw. They're considerable. The biggest seems to be this one:

[T]he removal of foreign troops will legitimize Iraq's government in the eyes of its people.

This is a great goal, and it shows that the Iraqis are just as eager for us to leave as we are. But they are realistic enough to know that now is not the time. As long as they need us to help them build stability, we need to stay. The posturing, the polemics, and the pompous attacks on our policies in Iraq by Democrats looking to score political points aren't doing us one bit of good.

In the end, Rubaie and the Iraqi government know what's needed.

Iraq has to grow out of the shadow of the United States and the coalition, take responsibility for its own decisions, learn from its own mistakes, and find Iraqi solutions to Iraqi problems, with the knowledge that our friends and allies are standing by with support and help should we need it.

Let's give them that chance. We need to stay until the job is done.

Eco-Scientists Want Humanity Eliminated

What do you recommend that my mom and I should see in your state?


I posted on this back in April, and Deroy Murdock's column in yesterday's Human Events looks at even more scientists who see humanity as problematic for the earth. Their solution: Eliminate 90% (or more) of the people on the planet.

“We’re no better than bacteria!” University of Texas biologist Eric Pianka recently announced. “Things are gonna get better after the collapse because we won’t be able to decimate the Earth so much,” he added. “And, I actually think the world will be much better when there’s only 10 or 20% of us left.”

Pianka dreamed that disease “will control the scourge of humanity.” He celebrated the potential of Ebola Reston, an airborne strain of the killer virus, to make Earth nearly human-free. “We’ve got airborne 90% mortality in humans. Killing humans. Think about that.”

I'm not sure what "collapse" he means.

As U. Texas Arlington’s Rebecca Calisi observed April 4 on “There is no denying the natural world would be a better place without people. ALL people!”

For his part, William Burger, Ph.D. [Curator Emeritus for botany at Chicago’s Field Museum of Science], decried “the devastation humans are currently imposing upon our planet.” ...Burger continued, “Still, adding over seventy million new humans to the planet each year, the future looks pretty bleak to me. Surely, the Black Death was one of the best things that ever happened to Europe: elevating the worth of human labor, reducing environmental degradation, and, rather promptly, producing the Renaissance. From where I sit, Planet Earth could use another major human pandemic, and pronto!”

"Reducing environmental degradation"? Didn't all those decaying dead bodies from the Black Death degrade the environment for a while? And how did the Black Death produce the Renaissance? I think I missed that one in World History class.

Murdock asks the obvious question that the eco-extremists don't ever seem to answer: Which nine of each ten of their family and friends would they kill to save the planet? Or would they save their families and just kill the families of the rest of us?

These people worship at the altar of an idealized Planet Earth (see Ann Coulter's book, Godless, for more details). The only thing that has degraded is the value they place on human life: It's lower than the value they place on flowers, bugs, and bacteria.

God help us if one of these eco-gurus or their disciples decides to act on their goals.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fun With Global Warming

What do you recommend that my mom and I should see in your state?


Like candy to a little kid, like heroin to an addict, like a microphone to Ted Kennedy, Global Warming articles are irresistible to me. And today I have three.

Yesterday, Rusty Humphries, in his WorldNetDaily commentary, pointed out that global warming is going on in other parts of the Solar System.

Earth's scientists have determined that every globe, I mean, every planet, in the solar system is currently experiencing a warming trend – including Earth. I was surfing the Internet recently and came across two fascinating articles from The first headline reads, ''New Storm on Jupiter Hints at Climate Change.''

The other article was written several years ago. The thrust of this scientific writing was Mars' ice caps have been observed to be shrinking.

We have discovered one of God's great creations, the Sun, is throwing off a little more energy these days and warming all the planets in our solar system. That's worthy of a global celebration, right?

And, with the information we now have, can we get rid of the phrase, ''global warming,'' and start using the more appropriate, ''solar warming''?

So if Jupiter and Mars are warming too, maybe the coming catastrophe isn't really our fault?

Second, Tom Harris in the June 12, 2006, Canada Free Press (HT: ShopFloor), debunked Al Gore's claims in his recent movie, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

But surely Carter is merely part of what most people regard as a tiny cadre of "climate change skeptics" who disagree with the "vast majority of scientists" Gore cites?

No; Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change. "Climate experts" is the operative term here. Why? Because what Gore's "majority of scientists" think is immaterial when only a very small fraction of them actually work in the climate field. (emphasis added)

Harris points out that, among that fraction of scientists who are in the climate field, most are studying the effects of climate change, not the causes. And many of those studying the "causes" are really working on computer models for predicting the future.

We should listen most to scientists who use real data to try to understand what nature is actually telling us about the causes and extent of global climate change. In this relatively small community, there is no consensus, despite what Gore and others would suggest.

Right. Let's not get hasty with a "cure."

Third, ShopFloor also had a link to a two-year-old Common Dreams article explaining how Global Warming will cause an Ice Age. I already posted on something similar, with ocean currents, but I still don't see any real answers. From Common Dreams:

While global warming is being officially ignored by the political arm of the Bush administration, and Al Gore's recent conference on the topic during one of the coldest days of recent years provided joke fodder for conservative talk show hosts, the citizens of Europe and the Pentagon are taking a new look at the greatest danger such climate change could produce for the northern hemisphere - a sudden shift into a new ice age. What they're finding is not at all comforting.

In quick summary, if enough cold, fresh water coming from the melting polar ice caps and the melting glaciers of Greenland flows into the northern Atlantic, it will shut down the Gulf Stream, which keeps Europe and northeastern North America warm. The worst-case scenario would be a full-blown return of the last ice age - in a period as short as 2 to 3 years from its onset - and the mid-case scenario would be a period like the "little ice age" of a few centuries ago that disrupted worldwide weather patterns leading to extremely harsh winters, droughts, worldwide desertification, crop failures, and wars around the world. (emphasis added)

OK. Look at the map at the top. Look at all the warm currents--most of the Pacific, most of the Atlantic. The cold currents are around Antarctica and up in the Arctic. Take a look at how the coming "freeze" would get here (the Great Conveyor Belt is cold, salty water that circulates below the surface currents from Greenland, down and around the southern tip of Africa, and into the Pacific--taking as much as a thousand years to get there):

If the Great Conveyor Belt, which includes the Gulf Stream, were to stop flowing today, the result would be sudden and dramatic. Winter would set in for the eastern half of North America and all of Europe and Siberia, and never go away. Within three years, those regions would become uninhabitable and nearly two billion humans would starve, freeze to death, or have to relocate. Civilization as we know it probably couldn't withstand the impact of such a crushing blow.

"Never go away"? It went away before, or we wouldn't get oppressive summers on the East Coast. Once upon a time, the last Ice Age cleared up (I think they just had a movie out about that).

But--and here's the thing they haven't answered so I can understand--if the earth is warming, won't the warm water in the Atlantic and Pacific get warmer? Isn't that why Greenland will melt and put all that melted ice in the North Atlantic?

And when warm water and cold water get together, don't they reach an equilibrium? Won't the water get tepid? And if we have tepid water, how will winter come to stay?

And if the warm and cold water don't get together (because the Conveyor Belt stopped), what will be keeping them apart? Won't there come a time, if it's always winter, that the cold water in the north will freeze again because it's always winter?

And do these leftists even care what happens outside of Western Europe and the American Northeast? They make relocation sound like a fate worse than starving or freezing to death. Aren't they worried about California's endless summer? Don't they care what happens to all the people in Asia, where there's no Greenland to melt and give them winter? If Global Warming is global, then how can only part of the globe freeze?

I don't get how the global warming alarmists can be so narrow, so preoccupied with their own little tiny piece of the world. Frankly, I think global warming will kill these guys sooner than the climate does. All their panic has to have elevated their blood pressure, which will lead to heart disease. I think they should be more alarmed about that.

Monday, June 19, 2006

What's In Your State?

I'm still toying with the idea of seeing the country with my mom. It's still at the stage where I'm just entertaining the notion, playing with the sound of it, imagining it as a wistful "what if...." On a seriousness scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably at about a 2 or a 3. Not even halfway there.

But I'm far enough to start asking a question: Let's pretend that I were to actually do this. If I did, what do you recommend that my mom and I should see in your state? This would include the must-see attractions as well as the quirky things that never quite make it to the AAA Tour Book.

At lunch Sunday, before the movie, I asked one of my friends--who had just returned from visiting family in Nebraska--what there is to see in Nebraska. She gave me a dirty look, because she thought I was being unkind about her home state, so I had to convince her I was serious. Here's what she recommended in Nebraska:

The Black Hills spill into the western part of the state from South Dakota and are very nice.

In March, there's a migration of Sandhill Cranes that descend on the Platte River (a name I recognize from playing Oregon Trail on the computer with my kids when they were younger).

In Omaha, the Zoo has built ingenious indoor habitats for the various animals, since so many wouldn't be able to take the cold winters. She mentioned one building that has a desert habitat on the main floor, and the level below-ground has a dim, swampy habitat.

And of course, there's corn.

So, just in case you missed the question, what do you recommend that my mom and I should see in your state? And that includes you, if your state is California. I don't get out much.

Please post a comment. If we really end up doing this, we're going to need to know more than, "Kansas is a big rectangle."

Invasion in Australia

Breitbart reported yesterday that the Australian Army has been called out to fight an invasion. The invaders were invited to Australia in the 1930's, but they've more than overstayed their welcome.

Battalions of imported cane toads are marching relentlessly across northern Australia and the West Australian government wants soldiers to intercept the environmental barbarians.

State Environment Minister Mark McGowan has written to Defence Minister Brendan Nelson asking permission to use soldiers based in the neighbouring Northern Territory to kill the toads.

The toads, Bufo Marinus, were introduced from South America into northeast Queensland state in the 1930s to control another pest -- beetles that were ravaging the sugar cane fields of the tropical northern coasts.

But the toads now number in the millions and are spreading westward through the Northern Territory, upsetting the country's ecosystem in their wake.

This should be a lesson to always know who your houseguests are before you invite them to stay. But there's more. The cane toads' numbers aren't the worst of it.

Cane toads have poisonous sacs on the back of their heads full of a venom so powerful it can kill crocodiles, snakes or other predators in minutes.

I'm not quite sure I understand how the cane toads use their venom. Do they wait until the crocodile walks above them, and then the toad jumps up and hits its head against the underside of the croc? Or do the toads just rub their heads against their attackers? Or do the toads only apply their venom to whatever predator happens to eat them, leaving the predator dead for having the nerve to eat the toad?

Let's hope the Australians are better at stopping amphibian invasions than the French are.

Seeing The Lake House

My friends and I went to see The Lake House after church yesterday. The theater was packed, about 90% women and the tiny minority of men whose reason for coming was to carry the drinks and snacks into the theater for their wives. Definitely a chick flick.

But this movie took the story into territory that chick flicks normally don't go. This one played with time. And playing with time presents a challenge to storytellers that can never quite be resolved.

Whether or not the viewer cares about the lack of total resolution is the mark of a good storyteller (or a good movie). The movies, Timecop and Back to the Future had an identical ending (the hero returns to a better "present" time), but I never noticed the glaring question in Back to the Future until after I saw Timecop and that same glaring question jumped out at me: What happened to the hero who lived and remembered all the events in the new, better "present"?

Back to the Future is the better movie, because I didn't care about the details.

Which brings me back to The Lake House.

As soon as the end credits came up, an older woman in the row behind us said, "That's the dumbest movie I've ever seen."

I replied, "No, it's not."

There were five women in our group, and we were split 3 - 2 in favor of it, and I had just as much fun after the movie debating it as I did watching it.

You know how it's going to end, just by watching the commercials for it on TV. What you don't know is how they'll manage to get there. Still, one friend (who didn't like it--this is the same friend who loves Frequency--go figure) said, "But they didn't tell you at the end what happened!"

I replied, "They lived happily ever after. That's all that matters!"

Here's my recommendation:

If you're the type of person who watches movies by letting them just happen, without trying really hard to figure things out, and you like chick flicks, by all means go see this movie. I loved it.

If you're not much for the whole "rifts in the space-time continuum" concept, or if you're disappointed when you can figure things out before the end, go see something else.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

My dad liked ducks. He liked them for their waddle, and he liked them for their quack.

Last year, when my friends and I were at the zoo's hippopotamus exhibit, I took several pictures of the bellies of the ducks swimming on the surface, because I knew my dad would love them. I planned to send the pictures to him. But that was the same day he died.

I realize last year was my first Father's Day without him, but things were still such a blur, that I hardly noticed. This year is the first Father's Day I'm aware of being without him, and I expecteded to treat the day as the same as any other, but I couldn't.

On Thursday or Friday I was walking over to Quizno's to grab some lunch, and I started thinking about my dad. I miss him. What I miss about him the most is being able to talk things through with him to help me figure out what I should do--whether my ideas are good ones or foolish ones. I need that right now, and I haven't found anyone yet who can fill that void.

But that's not my favorite quality of his. What I loved best about him was his delight in life (especially about ducks). But I don't miss that very much, because I carry that with me. It's probably the best gift he gave me, besides life itself and the knowledge of his love for me.

My dad was a good man, faithful to my mom, devoted to the Lord, and ready to help anyone who needed it. He spent twenty years in the Navy, most of that on submarines, and ended his worklife as a substance-abuse-rehab counselor. In retirement, he was active with Point Man Ministries (website plays music) helping Korean War veterans, and then he worked with The Gideons.

His quiet peace is something I hope to achieve someday, but that day may not come until I meet him again. Until then, I hold his memory close in my heart.

May you have a happy Father's Day, either as dads with your children, or with your dad, or with the memory of the best of who your father was.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Episcopal Church Condemns the Bible

Hans Zeiger, of VirtueOnline, published an article Thursday (HT: WorldNetDaily) on a resolution passed by the Episcopal Church.

The 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church today passed a resolution essentially condemning the Bible as an "anti-Jewish" document. Not only does the resolution aim to address perceptions of anti-Jewish prejudice in the Bible and Episcopal liturgy, but it suggests that such prejudice is actually "expressed in...Christian Scriptures and liturgical texts."

Both houses of the Episcopal Church Convention passed the resolution, including a 68 percent approval in the House of Deputies on Thursday.

I'm not an Episcopalian. I've never considered becoming an Episcopalian, and this seals the deal for good.

The mainline denominations have been shrinking as they've moved more and more into theologically liberal territory. When there's no difference between the church and the world, then the people of the world have no reason to want to become part of the church.

Condemning the Bible as "anti-Jewish" is counter-productive, and it's flat-out wrong. The Bible is the story of God's love for the world, expressed through His special relationship with the Jewish people. In both the Old and the New Testaments, He makes His love for the Jewish people clear.

The Rev. Ruth A Meyers of the Diocese of Chicago, Secretary of the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, explained to the House of Deputies why her committee had expanded the wording in the language to include not only prejudice in "liturgical texts," but also in "Christian scriptures."

"We did have a question about whether Scripture itself uses anti-Jewish prejudice," Meyers said. Referring specifically to the Gospel account of the crucifixion, she added, "That scriptural text...has in fact stirred anti-Jewish prejudice and resulted in significant violence toward Jewish people."

To blame the Bible because in the past people have used the crucifixion story as an excuse for their anti-Semitism, is foolhardy at best. At worst, it displays a willful ignorance of Scripture, coupled with an arrogance at presuming to know best what should and shouldn't be accepted as canon.

The crucifixion story places the blame on Jews and Gentiles alike. The Jews asked for the death of Jesus, and the Romans provided it without any legal reason to do so.

But more than blaming everyone, the Gospels clearly state that nobody took Jesus' life from Him. He gave it freely.

The doubts about what has traditionally been accepted as Christian doctrine have been growing in the more liberal denominations. By passing this resolution, the Episcopal church has placed itself squarely outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy.

Let the worshiper beware.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Florida's Snakes in the Grass

It's another short lunch hour, and that means another animal story.

Lee Dye at ABC News reported Wednesday on Florida's problems with Burmese Pythons, a non-native species.

Although elusive by nature, these giant snakes have been seen doing battle with alligators, climbing trees fast enough to catch nesting chicks and swallowing animals as large as wood storks.

And they can be particularly hazardous on the highways. Any motorist could lose control when suddenly confronted by a reptile that can grow to 20 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds.

Wildlife ecologist Frank Mazzotti of the University of Florida in Gainesville estimates there could be thousands of them in Florida, and he's leading an effort to bring the population under control.

"Burmese pythons are right in the heart of Everglades National Park," Mazzotti says. And they are wreaking havoc on the system, eating everything from gray squirrels to bobcats and threatening efforts to restore native species to the park.

Unfortunately, it's an ideal home for pythons. They are "habitat generalists," meaning they like to live between wet and dry areas, and they like to climb trees, and they are good swimmers, and there's lots of animals for them to eat. That's also just the kind of environment that appeals to alligators. "

So here they are, hanging out in the same places, doing the same things," Mazzotti says. "And on more than one occasion, several of which were witnessed by the public, they have gotten in fights."

Last fall one python tried to swallow an alligator. The alligator ended up swallowing the python, but the snake was too big to go down all at once. So for a couple of days the alligator wandered around with the tip of the python hanging out of its mouth until the rest could be digested.

Now, that's appetizing!

I've never been to Florida. And this article makes me a little glad I've never been to Florida. But someday I might want to see Walt Disney World (so I can say that Disneyland is way better), so I hope Mazzotti and his colleagues are successful in at least keeping the pythons out of Orlando.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mark Steyn on War

As always, Mark Steyn's column in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times is right on the money.

Here are four news stories from the last week:

Baghdad: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi found himself on the receiving end of 500 pounds of U.S. ordnance.

London: Scotland Yard arrested a cell of East End Muslims allegedly plotting a sarin attack in Britain.

Toronto: The Mounties busted a cell of Ontario Muslims planning a bombing three times more powerful than Oklahoma City.

Mogadishu: An al-Qaida affiliate, the "Joint Islamic Courts," took control of the Somali capital, displacing "U.S.-backed warlords."

The world divides into those who think the above are all part of the same story and those who figure they're strictly local items of no wider significance deriving from various regional factors[.]

That "same story" is a war. A global war. Not a war on terror, but a war on Islamofascist jihadists who would plunge the world into the Dark Ages, or into the Dark Pit from which they sprang.

Five years after 9/11, some strategists say we can't win this thing "militarily," which is true in the sense that you can't send the Third Infantry Division to Brampton, Ontario. But nor is it something we can win through "law enforcement" -- by letting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the FBI and MI5 and every gendarmerie on the planet deal with every little plot on the map as a self-contained criminal investigation. We need to throttle the ideology and roll up the networks.

What's nutty is that, half a decade on from Sept. 11, the Saudis are still allowed to bankroll schools and mosques and think tanks and fast-track imam chaplaincy programs in prisons and armed forces around the world. Oil isn't the principal Saudi export, ideology is; petroleum merely bankrolls it. (all emphasis added)

I don't understand how the Bush Administration can continually fail to understand the Saudi role in this war. President Bush and his advisors seem to wear Saudi-selective blinders.

In Britain, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and elsewhere, second- and third-generation Muslims recognize the vapidity of the modern multicultural state for what it is -- a nullity, a national non-identity -- and so, for their own identity, they look elsewhere. To carry on letting Islamism fill it is to invite the re-primitivization of the world.

President Bush needs a new National Security Advisor. The right man for the job is Mark Steyn.

Crows Ravaging Japan's Internet

In the olden days of the computer world, it was bugs in the system. Now it's crows.

The Times of London reported today that Japan is being besieged by nesting jungle crows.

Their destructive and unpredictable behaviour during the annual May to June mating season is always highly problematic for the Japanese capital. But this year the aggressive ink-black birds have created a new headache by developing a seemingly insatiable taste for fibre-optic internet cable.

In the past six weeks, hundreds of homes and offices have reportedly been left without high-speed internet service after the crows discovered that broadband cable can be pecked into usable strips more easily than power cables or telephone copper wire ever could. Crows have discovered that the broadband cables, which are strung from telegraph poles across Tokyo, are the perfect consistency for building nests.

The destruction of the fibre-optic cable highlights the abject failure of a “war on crows” declared five years ago by Tokyo’s Metropolitan Governor, Shintaro Ishihara. Fifteen years ago Tokyo had a crow population of around 7,000; today it is estimated at around 33,000.

Let's hope that our internet providers are better at protecting their optic fibers than Japan's are.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Quote of the Day

This is from an interview of Ann Coulter conducted by John Hawkins of RightWingNews via email:

John Hawkins: Why do you think the President and Senate are so hellbent on pushing an immigration bill that has their base up in arms and is obviously bad for America?

Ann Coulter: I honestly don't know, but I have a nagging suspicion that it has something to do with Ricky Martin.

Mourning or Celebrating Zarqawi

I hate it when work gets so busy, I don't have time to blog at lunchtime.

Yesterday's OpinionJournal published a column by Mohammed Fadhil, one of the bloggers at Iraq the Model (HT: The Hedgehog Blog). He rightly drew a dividing line between Arabs who mourn the death of Zarqawi and those who celebrate.

Hamas's reaction to the death of Zarqawi caused the contempt of so many Iraqis. The printed and watched Iraqi media lashed out vigorously on Hamas, politicians and ordinary people on the streets are just equally angered by some Arabic official and media reactions which spoke of the criminal as if he were a hero.

It is totally unimaginable why someone would describe the head chopping, children murdering terrorist as a hero. It's disgusting and infuriating beyond words.

To say I was angry is the least I can say to describe how I felt reading the comments from Arabs (in Arabic) on a BBC forum. There was no surprise that all Iraqi commentators were pleased that we got rid of that vicious terrorists but on the other hand there was probably 90% of non-Iraqi Arab commentators who mourned him as a martyr.

The terrorists and their apologists love to claim that people like Zarqawi do what they do because of American attacks on Arabs. It's a solidarity issue. "You attack my Arab brothers, and I'll make you sorry you did."

But most of Zarqawi's attacks were against Arabs--Iraqis.

What happened to Arabs defending other Arabs? Since when did the Iraqi people stop mattering? Why would Hamas mourn the man who has probably killed more Arabs lately than anyone else?

There's no making sense of it. The jihadis are indiscriminate killers, and the people in the Middle East must choose sides. They can choose sanity and life, or they can choose the insanity of a death culture. According to Mohammed, the Iraqis have chosen life:

[S]o if you are sane, come celebrate the moment with us, but if not, get prepared to mourn more demons.

May it be so.

Happy Flag Day

This is the flag that flies from the Star of India, a tall ship that's part of the San Diego Maritime Museum along the Embarcadero.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lead Me (Not?) Into Temptation

Events around me lately have been conspiring to lead me into temptation, and I'm not sure whether I should fight it.

It started when I went to Texas to visit my mom and my sister. My mom said that she'd love to get a full-size pickup and a fifth-wheel, and she and I could drive all around the country. My heart tugged a little, and then I decided her comment was of the devil, tempting me to give up all my responsibilities and just go have fun. I declined her invitation.

And then Saturday, my daughter decided that she's too directionless right now, and she wants to go to a Christian program in Texas (not near my mom) that she's been thinking about for a few years. The program lasts a year and helps college-age kids develop their character and faith, and it helps them find direction and purpose and ministry. The program starts mid-August.

Oy! Suddenly my at-home responsibilties look like they're diminishing. Quickly.

Then on Sunday, I watched the movie Bounce with a friend who has Netflix. (Spoiler warning!) At the end of the movie, after Ben Affleck does the right thing and because of that he loses his job and because of that he loses his nice beach house (end spoiler), it got me thinking again about being jobless and touring the country with my mom in her fifth-wheel. I mean, it wouldn't have to be forever. I could just do it for a year.

Last night another friend called, and while we talked, I mentioned my mom's idea. After her initial reaction ("Are you sure you and your mom wouldn't kill each other after being together that long?"), she assured me this is just what I need. I could treat it like a sabbatical--take a year off to clear my head, get caught up on my sleep, and re-evaluate what I'm supposed to do with the rest of my life. As she talked, I remembered how completely relaxed, how peaceful I felt on my trip to Texas, and the idea of holding onto that feeling for longer than just over a week was enticing.

Then today my daughter told me that she decided to start her Texas program in January rather than August, so she'd have more time to work and save up some money. And that would give me more time to think about my mom's proposal and work and save up some money.

So now I'm getting practical. I'd have to pack all my stuff in storage, except for the essentials--my laptop, my camera, my DVDs, and that skinny little dog who may or may not be Abby.

Maybe my mom's idea wasn't demonic after all.

Health Research

Hugh Hewitt found some really old news that was new news to me (and apparently to Hugh, too, who called it, "The. Best. News. Ever."). The BBC reported back in July of 2003 that research indicated pizza may prevent several types of cancer.

Researchers claim eating pizza regularly reduced the risk of developing oesophageal cancer by 59%.

The risk of developing colon cancer also fell by 26% and mouth cancer by 34%, they claimed.

The secret could be lycopene, an antioxidant chemical in tomatoes, which is thought to offer some protection against cancer, and which gives the fruit its traditional red colour.

The researchers speculate that pizza's protective ingredient may be the lycopene in tomatoes. But I'd be willing to venture that it could also be the olive oil. Or maybe even the combination of tomatoes with olive oil.

Of course, this research was done in Italy by Italian researchers studying Italian pizza-eaters eating Italian pizza. Their pizza is likely not the same as New York pizza or Chicago pizza or Pizza Hut or any of the other Americanized pizza.

I used to work with an Italian guy. It was either his parents or his grandparents who were born in Italy, and he said that to them, pizza was a way of stretching leftovers. You took the little bits of what you had in the fridge or the cupboard, smeared tomato paste on the pizza dough, added olive oil, and then topped it with the leftovers--usually not cheese. That was Italian pizza.

So it may be true that Italian pizza helps prevent cancer, but the news may not be quite as good for us Americans.

But then again, you never know...

Ann Coulter: Lightning Rod

Some people avoid controversy. Some people, especially politicians, find polite (though not necessarily sincere) ways of criticizing the postions of their opponents.

Not Ann Coulter. She invites controversy by choosing words that are sure to inflame, and even enrage, her opponents. One of my favorite Ann Coulterisms was during the 2004 Democratic Convention, when she said you could tell who were the few conservative women there: They were "the pretty ones." Later, when the camera panned the crowd on the convention floor, I saw no pretty women. I wouldn't have noticed if it weren't for Coulter's comment.

Her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, continues that approach, and her opponents have reacted as planned.

Apoplexy. Convulsions. Explosions. Like fireworks, the people who are attacking Ann Coulter are fun to watch from a distance.

WorldNetDaily reported yesterday that Advertising Age columnist Simon Dumenco has called for Coulter to kill herself.

In a column taking on several media entities and individuals who bug him, Ad Age's "media guy" asks: "Would it kill you, 'Godless' author Ann Coulter, to do us all a favor and kill yourself? (Oh, well, yeah, I guess it would kill you." (sic)

"After her recent rabidly hateful, foaming-at-the-mouth, sub-human 'Today' show appearance – in which she reiterated her assertion that 9-11 widows are 'enjoying their husband's (sic) deaths' – even her former supporters began to fantasize about how much nicer the world would be if it were Coulterless," wrote Dumenco.

Last night on Hannity and Colmes, Alan Colmes seemed to be in relentless-attack mode with her (though I found her responses to him annoying, because she didn't come close to answering most of his questions).

Malott's Blog documents another attack, this one from the New York Times. Really, the list of her attackers is endless.

Here's what most of the uproar is about:

"These broads [The Jersey Girls] are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much," Coulter writes in "Godless."

Even some Republicans have said she went too far with this statement. Others agree with her, and I am one of them.

Four women from New Jersey, including Kristen Breitweiser, capitalized on their status as 9/11 widows to make political statements supporting John Kerry and attacking President Bush. They were willingly made into media darlings by the anti-Bush MSM, who couldn't seem to find any pro-Bush widows to put on the air to balance Breitweiser and company's political spin, despite there being about (a guess) 2,000 widows to choose from.

I would never claim that the Jersey Girls enjoyed watching their husbands die in the collapse of the Twin Towers or enjoyed hearing the news of their deaths (and I believe I heard Coulter say as much, too). But I agree with Ann Coulter that they've enjoyed the fame their widowhood has provided them.

The visceral reaction of the Coulter-haters has only confirmed her premise that the Church of Liberalism uses as spokesmen only those people whose personal tragedies make them untouchable ("Her husband died! You can't attack what she said!"). I think I'm going to have to buy the book.

Rove Won't Be Charged

MSNBC reported today that prosecutors will not be charging Karl Rove with a crime.

Top White House aide Karl Rove has been told by prosecutors he won’t be charged with any crimes in the investigation into leak of a CIA officer's identity, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Attorney Robert Luskin said that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald informed him of the decision on Monday, ending months of speculation about the fate of one of President Bush’s closest advisers. Rove testified five times before a grand jury.

Fitzgerald has been investigating whether senior administration officials intentionally leaked the identity of CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame in retribution because her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, sharply criticized the administration’s pursuit of war in Iraq.

Naturally, the Democrats are despondent.

“Good news for the White House, not so good news for America,” [Howard]Dean, the Democratic Party chairman, said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show.

So, according to Howard Dean, the political enemies of the White House constitute "America." The Democrats are America, and Republicans aren't.

I'm surprised this news didn't plunge our economy--nay, our entire society--into a tailspin. After all, Karl Rove is the personification of evil in our world today, and the world will not be right again until Rove is behind bars for the rest of his life paying for his numerous, nefarious crimes. At least, that's how "America" sees it.

My advice to anyone with hard-core left-winger friends is to be available to console them. Let them cry. Let them talk it through. They'll need somebody to listen, to understand.

Have pity. The Left is in mourning today.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sweet, Sweet Justice

The Tribune, out of San Luis Obispo (that would be the Nancy Pelosi / Barbara Boxer mindset section of California), reported today that the presence of our National Guard troops along the southern border has slowed down illegal border crossings.

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Mexico - The arrival of U.S. National Guard troops in Arizona has scared off illegal Mexican migrants along the border, significantly reducing crossings, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.

U.S. authorities said Monday that detentions along the U.S.-Mexico border decreased by 21 percent, to 26,994, in the first 10 days of June, compared with 34,077 for the same period a year ago.

Along the Arizona border, once the busiest crossing spot, detentions have dropped 23 percent, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Although the illegal wannabes are afraid, the troops' activities are limited.

The soldiers aren't allowed to detain migrants and have been limited to projects like extending border fences and repairing roads, but the military's presence is keeping would-be crossers away from the area, migrant rights activists said.

The slowdown in illegal crossings is good news, but it's not the best part (emphasis added):

Francisco Loureiro, who runs a migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico, across the border from Arizona, said migrants are afraid of the U.S. troops after hearing reports of abuse in Iraq.

"Some migrants have told me they heard about the troops on television and, because the U.S. Army doesn't have a very good reputation, they prefer not to cross," Loureiro said. Others have been discouraged by smugglers' fees that have nearly doubled to more than $3,000.

So, the left-leaning mainstream media, which appears to support illegal immigration (presumably so the illegals will--illegally--vote for Democrats), has put the skids on illegal immigration. Their anti-military propaganda is having an effect in places the MSM never anticipated.

Ain't it sweet!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bake Me A Cake

This is what happens when you let your daughter and her friends have free rein with the kitchen.

When they opened the oven at the appointed time and saw what they had wrought, I asked if they made it from a box. They said yes.

When I asked if they noticed that the box said to use two round cake pans, not one, my daughter said, "Oh my gosh! We used two boxes!"

We Have A New Dog

This was my little dog, Abby. Wasn't she cute? She's gone now. At nine years old, she had multiple health problems, the worst of which was an enlarged heart as a result of congestive heart failure that made her lungs fill with fluid and made her cough a lot. We kept her on medication that kept the coughing at bay.

At the same time, she was going blind. You can see that in the picture, where her hair mostly covered her eyes. But we were able to improve her blindness by trimming the hair hanging from the front of her head.

She also had skin allergies that made us need to feed her special low-allergenic dog food and use medicated shampoo on her.

Then last year, I noticed her nose had something wrong with it. When I asked the vet about it, he said she might have lupus. I said, "That's all she needs, another problem!"

But for all her health problems, Abby was a sweetie pie. Most dogs (like my mom's dog, Scooter) think they're the alpha dog wherever they go, which causes problems with the other alpha dogs. But Abby just figured she was the omega dog, even in her own house. When Scooter came to visit, he ruled the house, and Abby went with the flow. It wasn't that Abby was timid, just that she wasn't very forceful.

At only eleven pounds, Abby was the perfect size for being a lapdog, but she didn't like curling up on laps. She was the kind of dog who liked to curl up next to you. Or on the floor at your feet.

And she didn't bark much, even at cats (which she liked to chase silently). This was an excellent quality for a dog in a neighborhood with dense-pack houses. But she did bark when she wanted us to give her grapes. She barked a lot for grapes.

But like I said, Abby is gone now. I took her to the groomer's for her summer hairdo, and when I went to pick her up, they gave me this strange-looking dog instead. They assured me it's the same Abby, but I don't know. She's so skinny. When she curls up in her dogbed, there's way too much space left around her. When I pick her up, there's nothing to her.

I'll have to watch her for a while and see if she's really my Abby.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Murtha Seeks House Leadership

Fox News reported today that Congressman John Murtha will run for House Majority Leader if the Democrats take back the House.

Rep. John Murtha, a 16-term Democrat known for his close ties to the military and his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq, said Friday he will run for House majority leader if Democrats win control in November.

Democrats need to gain 15 seats to recapture the majority they lost to the Republicans in 1994. If that happens, Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to become the speaker and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the current Democratic whip, is in line to become the majority leader, the House's No. 2 post.

Hoyer is not pleased.

"This is a distraction at a time when our focus should be on incumbents and winning back the House," said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif, a Hoyer ally. "This takes away from our ability to focus on those efforts."

This is a great gift to the GOP. Serious people who understand the stakes in Iraq and around the world in our war on Islamofascism need to pay attention. And the Republicans should use it on the campaign trail. "If the Democrats win, Murtha could be in charge of the House." That should get Republicans elected.

Run, Murtha, run!

Music and Emotions

CBS-13 in Davis, California, reported yesterday on a coming study of music and emotion.

UC Davis neuropsychology professor Petr Janata just received a $1 million dollar grant to study how people experience emotions and have spiritual experiences when they're engaged with music.

Over the next three years he'll study several religious groups and compare them to hard-core rock music fans. Believe it or not, there are similarities.

“It all combines to produce these transcendent or deeply emotional or what those people would characterize as spiritual experiences," said Janata.

This isn't really new. Back in the mid-1980s, when I used to listen to NPR, they interviewed a professor who had studied emotion in classical music (minor keys evoke sadness, e.g.). They had him on the air because they always got overwhelming response whenever they played Ray Lynch's "Celestial Soda Pop" as their between-stories music. He said that song evokes joy.

I hope Professor Janata studies the differences between men's and women's emotional responses to music, because I have a theory. I believe women listen to music with their emotions much more than men do, who listen more with their minds.

When I was married, my husband liked to listen to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, but I couldn't listen to the title song. There's something about the swirling music that would grab hold of my emotions and drag me down a vortex into depression. I would have to leave the room and turn on some happy music. My husband never understood the emotional effect music had on me. The music he liked was because he appreciated the skill of the musicians.

Maybe you can't generalize from the two of us, but most of my women friends agreed with me. We preferred the oldies station, while the men in our lives preferred harder rock.

Just a theory. I'm hoping Professor Janata will be able to clear all this up once and for all.

Global Warming is Causing Evolution

Today's Independent (UK) carried an article on Global Warming that was a bit confusing. It seems to be alarmist and reassuring at the same time, but I can't imagine the media ever being reassuring about global warming, so I must have misunderstood something.

Some species of animals are changing genetically in order to adapt to rapid climate change within just a few generations, scientists believe.

Smaller animals in particular that can breed quickly, such as squirrels, some birds and insects, are showing signs of evolving new patterns of behaviour to increase their chances of survival. Scientists say that many of the genetic adaptations are to cope with changes in the length of the seasons rather than the absolute increases in summer temperatures.

Don't squirrels and birds breed once a year? How is that quick? Insects (ugh!), of course, are fast-breeding pestilence.

And what makes behavior (excuse me, "behaviour") changes equivalent to "genetic adaptations"? They may be bird-brains, but they are capable of learning.

"Studies show that over the past several decades, rapid climate change has led to heritable, genetic changes in animal populations," said Christina Holzapfel, from the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Examples included Canadian red squirrels reproducing earlier in the year, German blackcap birds migrating and arriving earlier at their nesting grounds, and northern American mosquitoes living in water-filled leaves of carnivorous plants which can adjust their life cycles to shorter more "southern" day lengths.

According to Holzapfel, doing things earlier in the year is a "heritable, genetic change." It's behavior! Hello! Doesn't she remember her undergraduate education, where she would have learned that Skinner taught pigeons to peck on the lever for food? Was that a heritable, genetic change?

On vacation many years ago, we stopped at a Denny's for lunch. Lots of other people had stopped there too, so all the parking spots along the sidewalk were taken. I noticed a sparrow on a car's bumper eating the bugs that had been caught on the car's front grill. When it finished with that car, it flew over to the next car and started on the bugs in that grill. After lunch, the sparrow was still availing itself of its personal buffet.

Was that a genetic adaptation to an industrialized society, or was it opportunistic behavior on the part of a particularly resourceful (or lazy) sparrow?

William Bradshaw, professor of biology at Oregon, said that global warming is going at a faster rate at more northerly latitudes which is causing longer growing seasons, and less cold stress caused by extreme winter weather.

Didn't he read the reports that said the earth has been cooling slightly since 1998? Oh, he's a biologist. He may not read climate reports.

"However, it is clear that unless the long-term magnitude of rapid change is widely acknowledged and effective steps are taken to mitigate its effects, natural communities that we are familiar with will cease to exist," [Holzapfel] says. (Note: See how she uses "effects" correctly.)

There's that favorite alarmist wording, "cease to exist." It was inevitable that it would be in the article somewhere.

The article ends with this aside:

* Global warming could be returning the world to the way it was four million years ago when sea levels were 80 feet higher than they are today, according to another study in Science.

If global warming is bringing the world back to the condition it was in before mankind got here and messed it up, why are the scientists so alarmed? They should be encouraging it.

I'm confused!