Thursday, August 31, 2006

Winston Churchill

Hugh Hewitt has long recommended William Manchester's two-volume (intended to be three volumes, but Manchester passed away before writing the third) biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion. Volume I, Visions of Glory, covers the years 1874 - 1932, and Volume II, Alone, covers 1932 - 1940.

In a moment of undue optimism, I bought the two books, but I've had no time to read much of anything, so they've been sitting on the shelf for a very long time, collecting dust. Now that I'm taking the train to work, I finally finished reading Michael Chrichton's State of Fear, which I started months ago, and which was OK but too full of lectures on the falsity of Global Warming that stopped any action. I don't recommend spending any money on it.

Tonight I got out Volume I. I was tempted to go straight to Volume II, because that's the one Hugh talks about the most, but I resisted. I decided it's probably better to start with the one that tells what forces shaped Churchill, the young man, into the lion who would lead the free world alone against Hitler's forces of darkness. The preamble opens at Dunkirk, the amazing (some say miraculous) evacuation of British and French troops who were trapped between the finest of Hitler's army and the English Channel. Manchester describes the kind of leader needed for that time:

England's new leader, were he to prevail, would have to stand for everything England's decent, civilized Establishment had rejected. They viewed Adolph Hitler as the product of complex social and historical forces. Their successor would have to be a passionate Manichaean who saw the world as a medieval struggle to the death between the powers of good and the powers of evil, who held that individuals are responsible for their actions and that the German dictator was therefore wicked.... An embodiment of fading Victorian standards was wanted: a tribune for honor, loyalty, duty, and the supreme virtue of action; one who would never compromise with iniquity, who could create a sublime mood and thus give men heroic visions of what they were and might become. Like Adolph Hitler he would have to be a leader of intuitive genius, a born demagogue in the original sense of the word, a believer in the supremacy of his race and his national destiny, an artist who knew how to gather the blazing light of history into his prism and then distort it to his ends, an embodiment of inflexible resolution who could impose his will and his imagination on his people... who could if necessary be just as cruel, as cunning, and just as ruthless as Hitler but who could win victories without enslaving populations, or preaching supernaturalism, or foisting off myths of his infallibility, or destroying, or even warping, the libertarian institutions he had sworn to preserve. Such a man, if he existed, would be England's last chance.

In London there was such a man.

Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld delivered a speech before the American Legion in Salt Lake City. In it he addressed many of these same points.

Over the next decades, a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be accommodated, then the carnage and the destruction of then-recent memory of World War I could be avoided.

It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis, the rise of fascism and nazism, they were ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else's problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace, even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Winston Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.

I recount that history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. Today -- another enemy, a different kind of enemy -- has made clear its intentions with attacks in places like New York and Washington, D.C., Bali, London, Madrid, Moscow and so many other places. But some seem not to have learned history's lessons.

We still need today that which was needed in 1939. We need a leader who both understands the threat we face and can inspire the American people to face and defeat that threat. President Bush understands, but his ability to inspire leaves something to be desired.

As I look to the 2008 horizon, I don't know if I can see another Churchill waiting to be called into service. I pray that God has prepared just the right man for such a time as this.

Fact Sheet Disputes WTC Conspiracy Theories

WorldNetDaily reported today that the US government has issued a fact sheet, published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, addressing the various parts of the conspiracy theories concerning 9/11.

The government's response comes in response to accusations and suspicions of increasing numbers of Americans that the official explanation of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 – that 19 Muslim terrorists hijacked four U.S. jetliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, with a fourth being downed in rural Pennsylvania – are wrong. In fact, a shocking new Scripps Howard poll shows a third of Americans believe the U.S. government was complicit in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

It's hard to believe there are that many people in our country who believe--now, get this--that the Bush administration had the desire to destroy the World Trade Center AND had the competence (nobody on the Left even believes Bush is competent to tie his shoes or eat a pretzel) to actually pull it off in such a way as to fool the world into blaming al-Qaeda. But 34% of the country believes it.

That means you work with some of these people. You live near them. You attend church or Scouts or VFW meetings with them. You may even be married to one of them.

One of the conspiracies the fact sheet disputes is the one saying it was a controlled demolition. This allegation is a huge part of the DVD making the rounds called, "Loose Change." Here's how the fact sheet summarizes its findings on this issue:

Video evidence also showed unambiguously that the collapse progressed from the top to the bottom, and there was no evidence (collected by NIST, or by the New York Police Department, the Port Authority Police Department or the Fire Department of New York) of any blast or explosions in the region below the impact and fire floors as the top building sections (including and above the 98th floor in WTC 1 and the 82nd floor in WTC 2) began their downward movement upon collapse initiation.

In summary, NIST found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives planted prior to Sept. 11, 2001. NIST also did not find any evidence that missiles were fired at or hit the towers. Instead, photographs and videos from several angles clearly show that the collapse initiated at the fire and impact floors and that the collapse progressed from the initiating floors downward until the dust clouds obscured the view.

Read the full text. It could give you some good ammunition the next time one of the 34% starts talking crazy.

Christians Advised to Pull Kids from Public Schools

Since Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 1441, refusing state funds of any kind to any business or group that refuses to condone homosexuality, a homeschooling activist is advising Christians to remove their children from public schools. WorldNetDaily reported today that Charles B. Lowers, the executive director of the pro-family Considering Homeschool organization, considers the signing of SB 1441 a "wakeup call."

"It is estimated that anywhere from 80-90 percent of Christians are still sending their children off to government schools – it's like the church is behaving like a bunch of lemmings," Lowers said.

"Worldview surveys show that the majority of kids from Christian homes are humanist by graduation," he said. "School-based 'clinics' are expanding … to ensure that your daughters get birth control and abortions without you knowing. Now that the homosexuals are dictating curriculum, 80-90 percent of Christians should be homeschooling, not the other way around," he said.

"Public school is no place for innocent little kids. If they don't get molested by the John Karrs who are in the system, their minds and hearts will be molested by the curriculum," he said.

I'm with him. I wanted to homeschool my kids when they were little. I mentioned it one time to one of the elementary school officials, and he became alarmed and told me how important socialization was and that I wouldn't be able to do that in the isolation of my home. When I pointed out that in the corporate world, people don't work only in groups of 20 or 30 people exactly their own age, he conceded the point but only so far. I was working on paying off our bills so we could afford for me to stay home and homeschool, but then we got divorced, and that put an end to the idea.

It's fascinating to me that the education establishment believes that harm will come to children if they aren't exposed to all the relativist/socialist/sex-obsessed claptrap the Left wants to foist on them. But regular people (particularly parents) see harm coming to their children by being exposed to those very things.

With such diametric opposition between parents and schools, why do parents keep their children in the public school system? More importantly, why do Christian parents keep their kids there? Maybe it's time for another tax cut, so parents can afford to send their kids to Christian schools.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hit-and-Run Spree

That's how one of the local papers described it. I saw the headline on the back of another train-rider's newspaper: "Hit-and-Run Spree." The San Francisco Chronicle reported the story yesterday that Omeed Aziz Popal went on a rampage in his SUV, injuring 14 people and likely killing another.

Notice anything interesting in the name? The Chronicle didn't. The San Francisco police didn't.

San Francisco police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens said the attacks in the city occurred at 12 locations over a 20-minute period.

"The hits were intentional,'' he said, noting that police are treating them as assaults.

Gittens had no information about a possible motive.

How about this for a motive?

The SUV struck two people in front of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on California Street, a few blocks from where the rampage ended.

These people are either stupid or gun-shy of the "T" word. The least they could have done is to say their investigation will include looking at the incident as a possible terrorist act, and then they'd have some credibility. Instead, they give the equivalent of "nothing to see here, move along."

Emanule Gowan, 50, said he had been standing on his Steiner Street doorstep around 1 p.m. when an SUV roared by, driving the wrong way down Bush Street, and hit an elderly man in the crosswalk.

After running a stop sign and hitting another pedestrian in a crosswalk on Sutter Street, the driver headed off down Steiner, Gowan said.

"I looked right at him, and he looked at me as he busted down the street," Gowan said. "He was very calm.''

Other witnesses described the SUV as jumping the sidewalk in apparent pursuit of pedestrians.

This wasn't a case of some confused person hitting the accelerator when he thought it was the brake pedal. It was intentional.

Michelle Malkin has more on this. She has quotes from emails and comments she received after her initial post, that indicate the rampage area in San Francisco has quite a few Jews living there (though it's not considered a "Jewish area") as well as some prominent Jewish landmarks.

I'm not jumping to conclusions. I'm not saying, "This was terrorism." I just want to be sure the police are considering the possibility.

Popal's attorney, Majeed Samara, said his client was "mentally ill" but did not elaborate.

"All I can tell you is he's not all together," Samara said Tuesday.

They said the guy who shot up the Jewish center in Seattle committed a "hate crime," and the guy who drove his SUV (is this a pattern?) into a pedestrian area at the University of North Carolina committed "assaults." When do we start using the "T" word again?

Nope. Nothing to see here. Just some kook. Move along...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Making Him Lame Duck

Arnold Schwarzenegger will not get my vote in November.

I don't know if I can bring myself to vote for Democrat Phil Angelides, but I won't be voting for Arnold.

WorldNetDaily reported this morning that Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a bill that came out of the Democrat-dominated legislature, and by doing that, he wrote off any chance of support from the Christian community.

The governor yesterday signed a bill that would require all businesses and groups receiving state funding -- even if it's a state grant for a student -- to condone homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality.

There is no exception for faith-based organizations or business owners with sincerely held religious convictions, critics note.

I knew Arnold's heart was in Hollywood, where the definition of "tolerance" is "unquestioned acceptance and approval," but where there's no real tolerance for anyone who disagrees with them.

But Californians elected him to be not Gray Davis. We elected Arnold to fight for us against all the garbage coming out of a legislature that's in the iron grip of far-left special interest groups. We elected him to cut the out-of-control spending and taxing, release the teachers' union stranglehold on our public schools, and make our state more welcoming to businesses.

He tried to go after the unions by holding a special election, and when all his bills were defeated after heavy union-funded attacks, Arnold gave up. He rolled over and played dead, allowing the Democrats to have the state back. This is just the latest piece of evidence that all the fight is out of him.

Meanwhile, the rest of us have to live with the consequences (makes me glad I'll be driving around the country in a motorhome next year, but my kids will still be in California).

The Christian college where I got my Bachelor's degree will be affected. All Christian colleges will be, because Cal-Grants are one of the most ubiquitous forms of financial aid in the state.

"This isn't even a veiled attempt at subtly advancing the radical homosexual agenda," said Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute. "SB1441 is an outright, blatant assault on religious freedom in California."

Her group's analysis of the legislation concluded it will prevent parochial schools such as private, Christian, Catholic, Mormon and other religious institutions from getting financial assistance for students if they maintain a code of conduct that does not endorse such behavior.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger has two faces," said [Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families]. "He speaks at churches and says he believes in religious freedom and family values, yet he's stabbing pro-family Californians in the back."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Stem Cell Concerns

The London Times Online reported Sunday that some "footballers," or "soccer players" as we say in the States, are saving stem cells. The headline reads, "Footballers use babies for 'repair kits.'" Put this way, it sounds insidious. The truth is much more benign.

PREMIERSHIP footballers are storing stem cells from their newborn babies as a potential future treatment for their own career-threatening sports injuries.

They are freezing the cells taken from the umbilical cord blood of their babies as a possible future cure for cartilage and ligament problems. Stem cells can be used to regenerate damaged organs and tissue because they are the earliest form of cells. (emphasis added)

I'm having trouble understanding the slant of this story, especially the headline. To say these players are "using babies" makes it sound like an invasive procedure to remove stem cells from their newborn babies' little bodies, and this is untrue.

I'll say it simply, so everyone can understand: Umbilical cords are not part of the baby. The blood that's inside the umbilical cords is also not part of the baby. The blood that's inside the umbilical cords is full of stem cells. Stem cells from the blood that's inside the umbilical cords have been used successfully to treat lots of diseases. Here is a link to a list of diseases currently being treated with umbilical-cord-blood stem cells. Umbilical cords are usually discarded. Preserving umbilical cords for the use of their stem cells in treating disease is a good thing.

I don't understand the MSM's apparent split personality over stem cells. While I'm not sure how the London Times itself views embryonic stem cell research, the overall left-leaning MSM supports it. The have absolutely no qualms about destroying the life of a human embryo for its stem cells. In fact they embrace and encourage the practice for the hope of some future cure. But to use stem cells from sources that don't end in the destruction of life, is distasteful at best to them and is expressed in ghoulish terms.

Again I say, I don't understand.

If you're having a baby soon, make plans to save the umbilical cord (the website with the list of treated disease has more info on this). It may save a life.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

San Diego and Marines

I spent Saturday afternoon with a friend of mine in San Diego. We tried to get up to Mt. Soledad to see the newly saved cross and war memorial, but it was closed for the afternoon for a special event honoring 21 Marines who had been killed recently. So we had to head back down the hill.

For the rest of the afternoon, we took the two-hour harbor cruise, which I had never done before. One hour covers the south part of San Diego Bay, with all the Navy ships on one side and Coronado Island on the other, although Coronado isn't really an island. It's a penninsula. The other hour covers the north part of the bay, with Point Loma and Ballast Point (where my dad's submarine used to be docked when he was stationed there) and the "islands" made when the harbor was dredged.

I took the picture above as one of many pictures of this seagull, who followed the boat hoping for someone to throw it some food. The Coronado Bay Bridge is in the background.

It was relaxing listening to the guide tell us about the matching aircraft carriers docked next to each other, the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan. They're the same class of carrier built 28 years apart. My pictures of them didn't come out well, because I had to shoot into the sun. There were other carriers and destroyers and ship types whose names I don't remember, but what stuck in my mind was the way the capacity was described on some of them. The guide listed the crew contingent, and then said how many Marines they carry. For some of those carriers, their purpose is to take our Marines into harm's way.

Today at church, one of our Marines and his wife came forward for prayer, and another Marine and his chaplain did the same. Their unit (the chaplain included) is deploying to Iraq tomorrow night. We prayed for their safety in Iraq and for the peace of mind of their families here at home. I don't know which of the carriers we saw yesterday will be the one to take our men to Iraq.

After church, a couple friends and I saw World Trade Center. We had waited until we heard enough good reviews about the movie to overcome our reluctance to see anything Oliver Stone makes. It was worth the wait.

In the scene where the two former Marines are searching the WTC rubble at night and they find the trapped policemen, Sgt. Dave Karnes says, "We're not leaving, we're the Marines. You are our mission." A strong round of applause broke out in the theater at that.

San Diego is a Navy town, but North San Diego County and the very south end of Orange County are Marine areas. We love and support our military here, and we support their mission. We don't relish the thought of our men and women being in danger, but as the tagline at Mudville Gazette says, "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." That about says it all.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

USS Cole Skipper Won't Be Promoted

I suppose it's a little better than being demoted, but Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, skipper of the USS Cole when it was bombed by terrorists, has been removed from the Navy's promotion list. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported Tuesday about the decision.

It's a hard thing to understand, the way the Navy makes decisions about ship captains, and I talked to my dad (20 years in the Navy) about this after I read In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors. Even though it's nobody's fault, if we lose a Navy ship, the skipper is responsible. Period.

Cmdr. Lippold appears to understand this.

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen said in 2001 that blame extended throughout the Pentagon and Navy leadership. The chief of naval operations, the Navy's top uniformed officer, and the Atlantic Fleet commander agreed that even with security measures in place as prescribed, the attack would not have been prevented. They praised Lippold and his crew for "heroic action" in saving the vessel and ordered that no disciplinary action be taken or placed in their files.

"If you want accountability, there was one accountable officer on that ship, and that was me," Lippold said. "If you want someone to blame, blame Osama Bin Laden. He financed this, planned it and executed it."

"There is a collective responsibility," [then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern]Clark said on Jan. 19, 2001. "We all in the chain of command share responsibility for what happened on board USS Cole.

"The investigation clearly shows the commanding officer of the Cole did not have the specific intelligence, the focused training, the appropriate equipment and on-scene security support to effectively prevent or deter such a determined, such a pre-planned assault on this ship."

It's a shame to see a good skipper and a good Navy officer, which Lippold appears to be, being forced to accept responsibility for something out of his control. But sometimes life stinks, and you just have to accept it.

In a 2002 speech in Carson City, Lippold tried to put the attack in context, citing unheeded warnings.

"You have to remember that we had gone almost eight years of being sensitized to being hit by terrorists and really taking no affirmative action other than putting a couple of Tomahawks (missiles) downrange," Lippold told the Rotary Club. "In '93 there was the World Trade Center (bombing), in '96 there was (the bombing of) the Khobar towers. In '98, there was (the bombing of) the embassy in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and the Cole in 2000 before the (Sept. 11 attack on) the World Trade Center hit us."

"I think that was a failing and that was one of the things that came out of the investigation when I was hit," he said. "It wasn't just one person who failed. It was failure up and down the chain of command and it continued on a very large scale even after my ship got hit. We ended up jeopardizing our nation in so many ways. It was just inconceivable that that depth of hatred existed and that people would go to those levels to attack us."

Let's see, that's 1993, 1996, 1998, and 2000. Remind me, who was President then?

I won't be holding my breath waiting for him to face the music for his failures that led to the bombing of the USS Cole. Cmdr. Lippold will have to face the music for him.

Pluto Gets Demoted

There are too many things I was taught as "fact" when I was a kid that have changed since I've been out of school. That enormous plant-eating dinosaur with the really long neck and a really small brain isn't a brontosaurus anymore, it's an apatosaurus. And what's up with the velociraptor? I saw the movie, Jurassic Park, and wondered where the velociraptors came from. We must keep finding new dead things all the time.

Now that they've messed with all the dinosaur stuff they taught me, they're moving on to the Solar System.

The AP reported today that there's been a big astronomy confab going on in Prague, Czech Republic, and they're demoting the planet Pluto.

Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is - and isn't - a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one.

That's really a startling (to me) admission that astronomers never really knew what a planet is. But now they do.

Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

Instead, it will be reclassified in a new category of "dwarf planets," similar to what long have been termed "minor planets." The definition also lays out a third class of lesser objects that orbit the sun - "small solar system bodies," a term that will apply to numerous asteroids, comets and other natural satellites.

Is somebody going to object to the term "dwarf planets" because it's size-ist?

Another surprise (to me) was that astronomers can be hot-headed. There was another plan offered at the conference that would have broadened the definition of a planet, thus adding a couple planets to the Solar System, rather than removing one.

That [broadened definition] plan proved highly unpopular, splitting astronomers into factions and triggering days of sometimes combative debate that led to Pluto's undoing. (emphasis added)

Fascinating. But the ramifications are enormous. All those models of the Solar System--the kind with the nine little balls on heavy wire circling around the Sun's big yellow ball--and all the maps and charts and textbooks will have to be redone. Even those pictures that make you realize how small you are should probably remove Pluto.

Maybe the astronomers are in the pay of textbook publishers, who haven't had a major update in a while...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hugh Hewitt's Five Points

It's time to remind everyone, myself especially, of the five points Hugh Hewitt developed. He needed concise points as a way of clarifying for Republican candidates for office just what it is the American public expects from their leaders. Here is his list:

Win the War.

Confirm the Judges.

Cut the Taxes.

Control the Spending.

Secure the Border.

That's it. Five easy-to-remember points that together will go a long way toward enhancing our country's security and prosperity.

Send them to your Senators and Congressmen. Send them to gubernatorial candidates and presidential candidates. Make sure your politicians know what you expect. And then vote.

Catch and Release is Over

It's about stinkin' time!

WorldNetDaily reported today that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has announced the end of the "Catch and Release" program, where "other than Mexican" illegal immigrants were released into the US.

Law enforcement authorities are holding nearly all non-Mexican illegal immigrants caught in the U.S. until they can be deported to their home countries, Chertoff declared.

The new "catch and detain" policy, he noted, does not apply to Mexicans, who are to be sent back immediately after being stopped by Border Patrol agents.

The news isn't all rosy, however.

As WorldNetDaily reported today, the White House plans tomorrow to make a show of support for Rep. Mike Pence's proposed immigration compromise, which has been criticized by some conservatives as another form of amnesty.

The White House intends to make a push to get some form of immigration reform passed by the Senate and House so President Bush can sign the legislation before the November elections, the sources tell WND.

When you push for "some form of immigration reform," you get garbage that isn't worth the reams of paper it's printed on. Much better to push for real immigration enforcement.

Knowing Who Is In Charge

You can look at people out in public--a couple or a family--and determine with from few telltale signals, exactly who is in charge of the relationship. At the grocery store when the kid screams for candy, the mother's response is one of those signals. If she stands her ground and keeps going, she is in charge. If she tries to placate the kid with obsequious noises and the candy in question, the kid is in charge. Mere embarrassment means the jury is still out on the matter.

We've been getting signals on the world stage, and they're not encouraging. The most obvious was in Lebanon after the latest cease fire (UN Resolution 1701) went into place. Lebanon agreed to disarm Hezbollah, but when Hezbollah told the Lebanese government where to stick disarmament, Lebanon backed down. Hezbollah is now in charge of Lebanon.

Yesterday, YNet News reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad has rejected Israel's call for international troops on the Lebanese-Syrian border. These would be UN troops, not Israeli troops.

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday rejected Israeli demands for the deployment of international troops on the Lebanese-Syrian border to stop what Israel says is the smuggling of arms to Hizbullah.

"This would be a withdrawal of Lebanese sovereignty and a hostile position," Assad said, according to advance excerpts of an interview to be aired by Dubai Television on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said stationing some of the international force at border crossings and Beirut airport would enable Israel to lift its air and sea blockade of Lebanon.

Of course Syria wants an open border with Lebanon. It would enable the flow of weapons to Hezbollah from Syria's puppet-master Iran. The signal to watch for is how the UN reacts to Syria's demands. If they ignore Assad and prevent the shipment of weapons across the border, then there could still be hope on the international scene. But if they give in to Syria, then it screams the fact that the UN has been taken over in a silent coup by terrorist states. And if that happens, the White House had better wake up and smell the rotten Kofi.


Hedgehog Blog's Kosher Hedgehog had this post yesterday, outlining what he would do if he were Israel's Prime Minister. Read it. It's excellent.

Centanni and Wiig on Display

Al Jazeera released a video today of kidnapped Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig. WorldNetDaily reported today that the al Qaeda affiliated group, Holy Jihad, has claimed credit.

Fox News is controlled by Jews and Zionists, files "lying reports" from the Middle East and treats all Muslims as terrorists, the leader of a terror group that claims it represents the interests of al-Qaida in Gaza told WorldNetDaily in an interview today.

"Fox News is one more proof that all the media organizations in America are controlled by the Zionist lobby and the Jews. The journalistic policy of Fox is too pro-Israel. We are all terrorists in the eyes of Fox. It never tries to give an accurate image of what is happening on the ground. They show what is the opposite when it comes to Muslims," said Abu Mohammed, leader of the Palestine Army of Islam.

Now, I can't speak for the accuracy of the Fox News reports from the Middle East, because I'm not there to verify them. But I suspect Abu Mohammed would consider it to be "lying" if the reports cast any doubts on all the Fauxtography being orchestrated by terrorist sympathizers.

And Fox News doesn't treat all Muslims as terrorists. They treat all Muslim terrorists as terrorists. It's a subtle distinction, I know, but a crucial one.

The Holy Jihad released a statement to news agencies in which they demanded Muslim prisoners in U.S. jails be freed within three days in exchange for Centanni and Wiig. The group did not say what would happen if the deadline passed unanswered.

"We are going to exchange the Muslim female and male prisoners in American jails in return for the prisoners that we have. We are going to give you 72 hours beginning midnight tonight to take your decision," said the statement. "If you implement and meet our condition, we will fulfil our promise. If not, wait, and we are going to wait," the statement said.

We can't negotiate with terrorists. We can't do a prisoner exchange. Israel did that once, many years ago, and the terrorists learned that Israel will negotiate and exchange prisoners. That's why the Israeli soldiers were kidnapped last month, precipitating the war in Southern Lebanon.

What will be interesting for me to see is how the left-leaning, Fox-News-hating press handles this. On the one hand, the kidnapped people are journalists. On the other hand, they're (shudder!) Fox News. Such a difficult test of loyalty.

If, as we should, America refuses to agree to a prisoner exchange, who will the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times blame if the terrorists kill Centanni and Wiig? I've lost all hope for decency in MSM circles, so I believe they'll exonerate the kidnappers and blame President Bush instead. It's what they do best.

Michelle Malkin has more.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Train Man

People wave at trains in the afternoon. A little girl in her daddy's arms, a mother on a bicycle with her little boy perched in the seat over the rear wheel, teaching the next generation that trains are friendlier vehicles than buses.

A decade ago, when I had a brief contract job, I took the train to work. Every day, just north of the Santa Ana station, an old man whose house faced the tracks would come bounding out his front door, waving his arm in one big arc at the train. My train buddies and I called him the Train Man. We found out over time that he had retired from the railroads and had bought his house because it was by the trains.

I'd watch for him, mentally checking off the landmarks before we got to his house. The Sizzler at the main intersection, the residential side streets, the house with the white wrought-iron fence in a scallop shape, and then the Train Man. I'd wave my hand in one arc at him, but I never knew if he saw me.

We got worried for his health when he didn't appear for two weeks around Thanksgiving, but then he came back, so he must have been on vacation.

One time I noticed his street number painted on the curb, and another day I looked for the street sign. We had his address, and I looked up his zipcode online. One of my train buddies, who took the train all the way to L.A.'s Union Station every day, said he'd pick up a postcard with a picture of a train on it at the station if I'd write the message.

We said something like this: "Dear Train Man, We see you every day waving at the trains, and you brighten our ride to work." I may have said a little more, then I signed our first names and wrote which train we were on in the morning. On the shuttle bus to work, I told everyone about the postcard.

A couple days later, the Train Man came bounding out of his house, holding a postcard-sized paper and waving it at the train. And on the shuttle, I was greeted by the clamor of, "Did you see him?"

Such a little thing, a postcard with a brief message. But such a thrill for the Train Man, and his thrill was a thrill for the two of us who sent it and for the people on the shuttle.

As I sit on the train in the afternoon today, looking back out over the beach, I see families and friends gathered in large and small groups, many around concrete rings stenciled with the words, "Caution Hot Coals." From the midst of most of the groups, one or two people wave at the train as it goes by.

And I wave back.

Train Ride

I love taking the train. I used to take it to work sometimes before they moved our department to this building, because the station was close to work and there was a shuttle bus that dropped us off right across the street.

When we moved here, I checked the closest train station for a shuttle, but there weren't any, so I've been driving ever since. But last week somebody told me there's a shuttle that picks people up from the next station beyond work and brings them to the front of our building. So I tried it this morning.

For half of the trip, the train goes close to the ocean, so I sit on the top level on the west side by a window. As we head out of town, a Jeep on the freeway next to us pulls ahead, but by the time the freeway and the tracks diverge, we've caught up to the Jeep and are passing it. The Jeep is probably doing at least 80.

We reach the coast, low cliffs on one side of the train and sand on the other. The sun still hasn't cleared the cliffs, so the low, breaking waves are still in shadow. Behind them, a couple white buoys catch sunlight, and here and there the sun peeks over the cliffs, highlighting the breaking foam for just a moment before the wave slides up the sand.

A flock of sooty seagulls--immatures--hang out together as teenagers tend to do. Tiny sanderlings chase the edge of the water up and down the slope of the wet beach. A whimbrel pokes its long beak deep into the sand, while two wetsuit-clad surfers float on their boards waiting for the bigger waves that give no sign of coming. A couple strolls down the beach. A jogger passes them from the other direction, keeping to the harder damp sand.

The images are visual, the ocean stretching smoothly out to the horizon, the sand showing that high tide passed not too long before. But there's no sound that carries into the train. I hear the blowing of air conditioning, the metallic bounce of the train's suspension as we pass over uneven parts of the rails, the rustle of newspapers, and the muffled voice of the conductor announcing the next station.

Two worlds separated by glass. And by the demands of life.

But without the train, I never know the other world is even there.

Hurricane Season Becoming a Dismal Failure

Get out the anti-anxiety medications. The Global Warming alarmists are going to need them. And last year everything was going so well for them: Twenty-seven named storms, destruction on a huge scale, and all of the blame to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the hated Mr (never "President") Bush.

Not so this year. Weather Street reports that so far this year there have been only three named storms, none of them developing into hurricanes. That compares to nine named storms by this time last year. But that's not all the bad news.

Part of the reason for the slow season is that tropical western Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are running about normal, if not slightly below normal (see graphic below, which shows SST departures from normal).

In contrast, at the same time last year SSTs in the same region were running well above normal.

The cooler SSTs in the Atlantic are not an isolated anomaly. In a research paper being published next month in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists will show that between 2003 and 2005, globally averaged temperatures in the upper ocean cooled rather dramatically, effectively erasing 20% of the warming that occurred over the previous 48 years.

Now, that's gotta hurt!

The most recent prediction from the National Weather Service (see first graphic, above) is for there to be 12 to 15 named storms by December -- only half of last year's total. It now looks like that prediction might be too generous.

While it is still possible for this hurricane season to end up above normal in activity and reach that forecast, each day that passes without so much as a tropical 'depression' makes that target less and less likely.

Just what are the Global Warming alarmists going to do now?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pope Benedict Knows

The pope has obviously been to my work, and now he's speaking out, as reported in USA Today yesterday.

Working too hard, even for those leading the Catholic Church, is bad for the spirit, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday as he greeted tourists at his summer residence outside Rome.

During his traditional weekly appearance to bless the faithful, Benedict quoted from writings of St. Bernard in the 12th century meant for the popes of his time on the subject of overwork.

Benedict quoted the saint as advising pontiffs to "watch out for the dangers of an excessive activity, whatever ... the job that you hold, because many jobs often lead to the 'hardening of the heart,' as well as 'suffering of the spirit, loss of intelligence.'"

My job has caused me suffering of the spirit. It's a little consolation that I'm not alone, and my group is not alone in this either. My heart has hardened too, toward the work itself and even toward the recipents of what I do.

Loss of intelligence? I wouldn't go that far, but when I'm overworked and underslept, I lose the mental acuity that I need to do my best work.

Pope Benedict is right, but what can be done?

I'll try to start taking the train to work tomorrow and see if that helps me feel more rested or calm or something to ease the suffering of spirit. It means I'll have to get up even earlier, though. Sigh!

Hezbollah is Rearming

WorldNetDaily reported today that Hezbollah is rearming and taking up their positions again. Anybody with half a brain had to see this coming.

Hezbollah has returned to many of its strongholds in south Lebanon and is capable of launching another round of attacks against the Jewish state, Israeli and Lebanese officials tell WorldNetDaily.

The statements follow scores of reports Iran and Syria are attempting to rearm Hezbollah one week after a cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon went into effect following 34 days of confrontations that began when Lebanese militia ambushed an Israeli patrol unit, kidnapping two soldiers and killing eight others.

The official said some Hezbollah members returned south in full view of the Israeli army, which has ceased most operations in Lebanon.

That's the key. Israel "has ceased most operations in Lebanon." Israel is abiding by their agreement in the cease fire. Lebanon and France are not.

The closest Lebanon has come in living up to its part of the bargain is to warn its people not to fire rockets on Israel, as reported today in The Scotsman. But that part about Lebanon disarming Hezbollah? Forget about it. Nope. They won't do it.

But this is rich (from the Scotsman article):

Standing amid the rubble of Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold, [Lebanese prime minister, Fuad] Siniora, who was touring the area with parliamentary speaker and Hezbollah backer, Nabih Berri, said: "What we see today is an image of the crimes Israel has committed."

But the Lebanese defence minister, Elias Murr, said: "Any rocket that would give Israel a justification [to attack Lebanon] will be treated harshly.

"It will be considered direct collaboration with the Israeli enemy." He said those responsible would be tried and referred to a military tribunal.

Mr Murr made clear his warning was not directed at Hezbollah, which he said "is totally committed" to the ceasefire.

Right. Hezbollah is totally committed to the ceasefire. And Israel just decided out of the blue to start bombing Southern Lebanon last month for absolutely no reason.

[The Lebanese] government stressed it would not tolerate any aggressive action which might threaten the ceasefire, despite an Israeli commando foray near Bodai, about 15 miles from the Lebanese-Syrian border on Saturday.

Israel's tourism minister, Isaac Herzog, said that as UN Security Council resolution 1701, which is the basis for the ceasefire, called for an embargo on arms to Hezbollah, "we have the right to act as long as the embargo is being violated".

The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, has said the Bodai commando raid was a violation of the ceasefire.

Kofi Annan's statement is one more piece of evidence that the UN has become nothing more than a tool for the tyrannical dictators and terrorist leaders of the world. Another piece of evidence is his lack of disapproval over Lebanon's refusal to disarm Hezbollah.

With the UN in charge, terrorists keep their weapons and democracies are emasculated. And the worst part of this, as an American, is that US leadership is in collusion with the terror supporters at a time when we're supposed to be at war against "terror."

Wandering Mind

For a long time, I noticed tour buses. I'd see them go by on the road, full of travelers, and I'd try to see the tour director with just the glance that's safe while I'm driving, but I never saw one standing up and giving narration. It didn't matter, though. It was a tour bus, and someday I could be on it in the front seat right behind the driver.

But since my mom and I started making our plans for our big road trip in her RV next year, I notice the RVs on the road. I look at them to figure out how big they are. My mom just got a used 30-foot motorhome, so I wonder as I look if the one going by would be about the right size or the right age. And I look at the way the towed vehicle is hooked up and wonder how I'll get my Toyota set up for towing.

One of the couples at church has a motorhome, and they brought me an issue of Motorhome magazine. I looked through it, and tucked in between the ads and articles for bus-style luxury motorhomes that cost nearly $200,000, they had practical tips for normal RVers.

One of the tips that caught my eye was a letter to the editor from a man extolling the virtures of his Brake Buddy. I looked it up on the internet, and it's a product that you put on the floor of the car being towed, and it gets signals (the newer model uses wireless signals) from the motorhome when the brakes are applied. Brake Buddy then pushes on the towed car's brake pedal to help with braking and ultimately save the brakes of the motorhome. Sounds like a great gizmo to me.

A couple weeks ago, I got out my map of the US--the one I got at Costco about five years ago that unrolls to cover up most of the bed--and I started thinking. Just a bit...

My mind is wandering, but the way I look at big vehicles has changed. Tour buses have taken the back seat to RVs. They're no longer in the front seat behind the driver. Now the front seat is Class A 30-foot motorhomes towing a car. I like it that way.

Friday, August 18, 2006

CAIR Gets VIP Tour of O'Hare's Security Measures

This story really torques my jaws. WorldNetDaily reported today about the latest Department of Homeland Security blunder.

The Department of Homeland Security took a Muslim group with known past ties to terror organizations on a VIP tour of security operations at the nation's busiest airport at the same time British authorities were working to break up a plot to blow up U.S. airlines.

On June 21, a senior DHS official from Washington personally guided Muslim officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations on a behind-the-scenes tour of Customs screening operations at O'Hare International Airport in response to CAIR complaints that Muslim travelers were being unfairly delayed as they entered the U.S. from abroad.

Muslim travellers should be delayed as they enter the US from abroad. Muslims are the only ones who have blown people up since the IRA cut a deal with the British. While not all Muslims blow people up, all of the ones that do have vowed to blow up Israelis and Americans. Hello? Is anybody listening???

Janice at You Heard It Here... keeps tabs on CAIR's activities. She's on the email distribution list of what she calls CAIR's daily "Whine-o-gram." She reads it so we don't have to. It's a good idea to check her blog regularly to keep up on what this underhanded group is up to. Here's how WorldNetDaily describes CAIR:

CAIR is a spin-off of the Islamic Association for Palestine, identified by two former FBI counterterrorism chiefs as a "front group" for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Several CAIR leaders have been convicted on terror-related charges.


In a meeting, Brian Humphrey, Customs and Border Patrol's executive director of field operations, assured CAIR officials that agents do not single out Muslim passengers for special screening and that they must undergo a mandatory course in Muslim sensitivity training. The course teaches agents that Muslims believe jihad is an "internal struggle against sin" and not holy warfare.

"Isn't that nice of CBP," one agent said, to provide a "group like CAIR with a guided, behind-the-scenes tour of our customs facilities, explaining how programs designed to catch Muslim terrorists work."

Washington-based CAIR also has regular meetings with the FBI and Justice Department. In fact, FBI case agents complain the bureau rarely can make a move in the Muslim community without first consulting with CAIR, which sits on its advisory board. CAIR in the past has cried racism and bigotry when the bureau has moved unilaterally with investigations and raids in the community.

What is our government thinking??? They get some things right and other things--like this--horribly wrong. I am not optimistic.

Scrappy the Dolphin Rescued from Speedo

The Sun-Sentinel carried this Chicago Tribune story yesterday.

A lucky adolescent male bottlenose dolphin is back to living nude and free in Gulf Coast Florida's Sarasota Bay after making a potentially fatal wardrobe choice early this summer.

The 10-year-old dolphin, known as Scrappy, probably owes its life to a Brookfield Zoo marine mammal research team that works year round in the bay.

The drama began July 6, when a member of the team working in the bay spotted Scrappy unaccountably and uncomfortably swimming around while wearing a black, Speedo-brand man's bikini swimsuit.

"He must have found the swimsuit floating in the water," said Randall Wells, a population biologist who runs the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program for the Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo's parent organization.

Once Scrappy was discovered in his fashion faux pas, a rescue became necessary to prevent Speedo-caused injury.

Scrappy's capture turned into an all-day ordeal for the depantsing team Wells organized Aug. 3. Five fast boats carrying 31 people raced across the bay after the animal, trying to surround it with a net.

The suit had made cuts a half-inch deep and three-quarters of an inch long in front of each fin. Scrappy was visibly underweight and also had a fresh, visible but non-serious shark bite, both conditions probably caused by a hampered ability to swim because of the suit.

Scrappy's wounds were tended, a radio-tag attached, and he was released.

No word on the naked man whose Speedo is missing.

Chocolate Virgin Mary and Other Surprises

The Virgin Mary sure gets around! She's been seen on walls and in trees. In 2004, she was on a grilled cheese sandwich, which sold in November of that year for $28,000. I looked at the picture of the sandwich, though, and it looked more like Mae West with curly hair to me, but who am I to say? I'm not Catholic.

Now, she's in a two-inch tall blob of chocolate drippings. The AP reported yesterday that workers at a gourmet chocolate factory discovered her.

Kitchen worker Cruz Jacinto was the first to spot the lump of melted chocolate when she began her shift Monday cleaning up drippings that had accumulated under a large vat of dark chocolate.

Chocolate drippings usually harden in thin, flat strips on wax paper, but Jacinto said she froze when she noticed the unusual shape of this cast-off: It looked just like the Virgin Mary on the prayer card she always carries in her right pocket.

The chocolate, on display for most of the week in the front of the company gift shop, now rests in a plastic case in a back room and is brought out only for curious visitors.

I'm not sure what to make of this. You can see almost anything if you try hard enough, or if you stare, unfocused, long enough.

One time I grew a carrot in my garden that looked like an anatomically correct man from the waist down. Except for the feet. He didn't have any feet. His legs tapered down to carrot-like points. But it was definitely a man, and I brought him to work and showed him around.

I don't have pictures, though. That was before I got my good camera. And besides, I wouldn't post the pictures if I had them. This is a family-friendly blog, mostly.

People make a big deal about foods that look like things, especially Jesus or the Virgin Mary, when it's easy for food to look like people who dressed in loose clothing with shawls over their heads. If people found chocolate drippings shaped like Madonna from her cone-bra and hotpants days, or shaped like Donald Duck in his sailor suit, now that would be something.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Aftermath of a Cease Fire

Bryan Alexander at Right Thinking had a great post Tuesday on the results of the cease fire between Israel and Hezbollah. In it he quoted some of the players on Hezbollah's side, who claimed victory. He concluded this way:

I sincerely hope I'm wrong; however, I can't help but feeling that because Hezbollah was not destroyed, Ahmadinejad, Assad, and Nasrallah are right. While Israelis died in vain, Hezbollah terrorists and their backers have been emboldened and will attack again.

He's absolutely right. As I scroll down the headlines on WorldNetDaily today, here's what I see:

Syria to form its own Hezbollah: Baath party official: Lebanon war proves 'resistance' against Israel works

Lebanese troops will not disarm Hizbollah

Carter: Hezbollah kidnap no excuse for Israel violence

Lebanese general held over Israeli video: Commander filmed drinking tea with IDF after barracks occupied

Iran military to launch war-games: 'We must show the enemies the Islamic Republic's military capability'

The headlines say it clearly enough. You can't negotiate with terrorists. You can't win when you agree to a cease fire with terrorists. If you leave the terrorists alive, their like-minded compatriots will be emboldened to emulate the terrorists' tactics, and your overt, active enemies will multiply.

Malott's Blog has a wonderful post on Jimmy Carter's latest anti-American diatribe.

The article on the Lebanese general being arrested told me something I hadn't realized before.

Lebanon is in a state of war with Israel, although it signed an armistice in 1949. To this day, Lebanon does not recognize the State of Israel.

Lebanese law forbids any dealings with Israel. A Lebanese citizen faces arrest and prosecution for having such dealings. In 2000, after Israel withdrew its army from southern Lebanon, those who worked for the Israelis were arrested tried and given jail terms ranging from a few months to several years. Those civilians who fled to Israel and later returned were also arrested and given prison terms.

To this day, Lebanon refuses entry to any foreigner who has an Israeli entry or exit stamp on his passport.

No wonder Lebanon won't disarm Hezbollah. And how long will it be before the UN tries to do something about Lebanon's refusal to disarm Hezbollah the way they agreed to in the cease fire? Forever is my guess.

Forget drafting Condi to run for President. Her efforts in pushing the cease fire shows that she's been body-snatched by the State Department and is no longer good for much on the global scene.

I'm so fed up with the Europeasement coming out of the UN, the State Department, and so many "leaders" in foreign policy circles. It will get Israel destroyed. And after that, it will get us destroyed too.

Israel might still have a chance if they throw Olmert out and get a Prime Minister who understands the stakes and who doesn't cave in to world pressure, which will always be against Israel's best interest. Short of that, I don't have a lot of hope right now.


Thomas Sowell's column today in TownHall has an excellent assessment of what the cease fire means. A brief excerpt:

Why do these phony cease-fire scenarios keep getting repeated? Because there are too many people, including many in the media, who take the corrupt windbags at the U.N. seriously -- so our political leaders have to act as if they take the U.N. seriously as well.

This is a costly charade. Among its costs are human lives. U.N. cease-fires are the ultimate in feel-good decisions made by people who pay no price for the repercussions.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dennis Prager on CBS and Ahmadinejad

Dennis Prager's column in WorldNetDaily today hits CBS for Mike Wallace's fluff interview with Iran's nutcase-in-chief, President Ahmadinejad.

A little over three years ago, CBS sent Dan Rather to Baghdad to ask meaningless questions to, and provide a propaganda vehicle for, Saddam Hussein. Sunday night, Communication for Barbarians Service broadcast Mike Wallace's equally meaningless interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran's fanatical leader.

Interviews with evil leaders are meaningless at best and destructive at worst. Few reporters will ask real questions or challenge the propaganda responses of these leaders. These interviews merely offer them invaluable "humanizing" time and ask questions that reconfirm the low state of television news.

Prager offers the kind of questions that should have been asked of the evil dictator of Iran, each one ending the same way. Here are just a couple:

In countries with a free press and where history is understood as consisting of verifiable facts, anyone who denies the Holocaust, the systematic murder of approximately 6 million Jews by the Nazis, is regarded as either an anti-Semite or a kook or both. You have repeatedly denied the Holocaust. Why should the world not regard you as either a kook or an anti-Semite? And do you understand why most free societies wish to prevent you from acquiring nuclear weapons?

Why do you believe that millions of Iranians chant "death to America" and "death to Israel" but no Americans or Israelis chant "death to Iran"? Are people more bored in an Islamic republic than in a free society? Does your brand of Islam promote preoccupation with death rather than life? Or is there simply a lot more hatred in your country than in free societies? And do you understand why all this hatred helps explain why societies in which people do not chant death wishes would like to prevent your society from acquiring nuclear weapons?

Dennis Prager is a man who understands the difference between good and evil and is able to articulate that difference clearly. This understanding seems to be beyond the grasp of the far-Left, dictator-hugging MSM and Hollywood types, who see America as the true evil and Bush as its terrorist dictator.

Sunday night, Mike Wallace erased any trace of lingering doubt over where he--and CBS--stands in the battle before us.

Who Do You Know?

Reuters reported the results of a Zogby poll yesterday on pop culture.

Three quarters of Americans can correctly identify two of Show White's seven dwarfs while only a quarter can name two Supreme Court Justices, according to a poll on pop culture released on Monday.

Laura Ingraham mentioned this on her radio show this morning and asked people to call in if they thought they knew all of the Supreme Court Justices. The one caller she had time for only knew five. Laura either didn't know or pretended not to know all of the Seven Dwarfs. So, from memory, here are the Seven Dwarfs (I promise I didn't look them up).

(long pause)

Also from memory, here are the Supreme Court Justices.



This morning in my car, I was sure there were only eight justices, because I couldn't think of Stephens. I'm not sure I could pick them out of a line-up, though.

Here are a couple more of the pop culture poll questions:

Asked what planet Superman was from, 60 percent named the fictional planet Krypton, while only 37 percent knew that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun.

Respondents were far more familiar with the Three Stooges -- Larry, Curly and Moe -- than the three branches of the U.S. government -- judicial, executive and legislative. Seventy-four percent identified the former, 42 percent the latter.

How'd you do?

Travel Needs

I had an epiphany this morning about travel.

My ex-husband and I have been apart since the middle of 1995, so all the traveling I've done since then has been because it was my idea.

In November of 1995, I took the kids (ages 8 & 10) on a nine-day driving vacation to the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks. (Thank God for the audio cassettes of the old-time radio shows, "Suspense!" and "The Shadow.")

In June of 1997, I went with church friends on an organized trip to Poland.

In July of 1998, I drove the kids (ages 11 & 13) on the scenic route (Tombstone, AZ, the UFO Museum in Roswell, NM, White Sands, NM, and Carlsbad Caverns, NM) to visit my sister in Texas. (Audio cassettes: "A Prairie Home Companion")

In May of 2001, I flew to Washington, DC, for a couple days for the National Day of Prayer event there.

Then in May of 2004, my friends and I went to Washington, DC, for a week that included the National Day of Prayer event.

Normal vacations like normal people.

But in the last couple years, I've probably done more traveling and travel planning and travel wishing than I did those first nine years. Photography workshops in Washington, DC, and San Antonio, a weekend drive to Albuquerque with a friend, the planned drive with the kids up the Pacific Coast to my parents' place which got canceled when my dad passed away the month before, and upcoming plans to go back to Poland and to go to Indianapolis and, finally, to drive around the country with my mom in her RV. To say nothing of my attempt at becoming a flight attendant, which would have let me travel anywhere a lot of the time.

This morning when I got out of my car in the parking garage, I don't know if it was the cool breeze or the whisper of God in my ear, but I knew that my longing for travel is because I don't like where I'm at.

When I was content, I didn't feel the need to get on a plane or get in the car and just go. I could listen to other people tell me about the places they visited, without wanting to go there myself.

I like having my home, a haven I return to at the end of the day, where my stuff is where I can find it and my bed has the right amount of covers and the right number of pillows and my little dog Abby knows right where to go to get her treat. When I'm content, that suits me just fine.

So all my travel plans have concealed a message that I only discovered this morning in this particular way. I need to work more on contentment, on finding peace in the midst of unpleasant circumstances. I need to learn to not need to travel. Sounds kind of Biblical somehow...

Monday, August 14, 2006

All Eleven Egyptians Caught

The AP reported yesterday that the last of the Eleven Egyptian students who failed to show up for their month-long program at Montana State were caught.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Mohamed Saleh Ahmed Maray, 20, and Mohamed Ibrahim Fouaad El Shenawy, 17, at an apartment building in Richmond on Sunday night. Virginia State Police and the Richmond Police helped locate the students.

Last Wednesday, one of the Egyptian students was arrested in Minneapolis and two were detained in Manville, N.J. On Thursday, two were arrested in Dundalk, Md., and one was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Three more were arrested Friday in Des Moines, Iowa.

I'm not really sure what these guys were thinking, because Bozeman is a beautiful place. Here's a picture of the Montana State University campus:

(photo credit:

Now, I'm sure Richmond is a nice town. Southern capitals are supposed to be beautiful. But Des Moines? Three Egyptian guys went to Des Moines? Here's a picture of Des Moines:

(photo credit:

I'm asking you to decide for yourselves. Look at the pictures. Then read the concluding sentence from this and every other article about the Eleven Egyptians:

None of the students is considered a terrorism risk.

What were they doing in New Jersey and Des Moines and Minneapolis and Maryland and Richmond when they were supposed to be in Big Sky Country? What was the hit-the-ground-and-scatter tactic all about?

What I haven't seen in these reports is the "D" word. Not a peep about whether or not the Eleven are being deported.

Descent From Royalty

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Brooke Shields is descended from royalty, and they're trying to tell me that I am too.

Actress Brooke Shields has a pretty impressive pedigree -- hanging from her family tree are Catherine de Medici and Lucrezia Borgia, Charlemagne and El Cid, William the Conqueror and King Harold II, vanquished by William at the Battle of Hastings.

Shields also descends from five popes, a whole mess of early New England settlers, and the royal houses of virtually every European country. She counts Renaissance pundit Niccolo Machiavelli and conquistador Hernando Cortes as ancestors.

Even without a documented connection to a notable forebear, experts say, the odds are virtually 100 percent that every person on Earth is descended from one royal personage or another.

Pardon my skepticism, but I have seen nary a trace of a royal personage in any of the upward-reaching branches of my family tree.

The traced line that goes back the longest is the Dutch one. They were French Huguenots who escaped Louis the probably XIII to Holland, where they married a lot of Dutch people who were laborers and bakers and other un-noble folks. It's really doubtful that, as Huguenots, there was any interbreeding with French nobility. Unless one of the women was a serving wench who was taken advantage of and then tossed out on her keister when her condition made itself obvious. But there's no hint of that anywhere that we know of.

The closest I can get to royalty is one line on the other side of the family, from the Scottish clan MacDonald of Sleat, which would make me related somehow (though my Grandpa never claimed descent) to Flora MacDonald, the bonnie lass who smuggled Bonny Prince Charlie from Scotland after his defeat at the battle of Culloden.

No, I've got Dutch tailor ancestors and Hungarian peasant ancestors and a drunken, wife-beating, English great-grandfather, and scads of other non-descript Irish, German, and Polish ancestors.

I may turn out to be special by not being related to royalty.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Democrats Don't Get It

I turned on Fox News this morning for about five or ten minutes, while I ate breakfast, to find out if there were any new developments in the Israel/Hezbollah conflict.

What I got was Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) displaying the typical Democrat "brilliance" on the war. He said (direct quote), "We are fighting three wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, and the War on Terror."

I turned off the TV at that point, because I didn't want to go to church with my ire up.

The Democrats don't get it. It's not three wars. It's one war. It's World War III (or WW IV, if you count the Cold War as III, but let's not for simplicity's sake). Each World War has been launched by mad people bent on world (or regional) domination.

World War I had the Kaiser (Germany) trying to conquer Europe. I'm sure there was more to it, but I'm not up on my knowledge of that war except in bits and pieces.

World War II was fought on two fronts by would-be regional conquerors: Hitler over Europe, and Hirohito over Asia.

The Cold War was led by the communists, primarily the Soviet Union and its pals. I'm sure the Left would object to communists being called "mad people," but too bad. It's my blog, and I calls 'em how I sees 'm.

World War III is being fought by Islamic Fascists (or Islamofascists, or Islamic Extremists, or Freedom Fighters--the name you use depends on whether or not you're in the MSM) determined to turn the world into a vast Caliphate.

It's not always as easy to pinpoint the start of a war as it was for WW I.

When did the Islamic Extremists start wanting to rule the world? I think it was sometime in the late 600's AD.

When did they actively start trying to take over the world (or at least trying to destroy the infidels) in recent history? You could argue for 1948, when five Arab nations attacked the brand-new Israel with the intent of wiping it off the map. But the world pretty-much left Israel to her own devices, and she whupped Arab butt decisively without the rest of us. Not much World-War-ness.

In my mind, WW III started on Jimmy Carter's watch, in 1979. The Iranian Revolution is the major event that showed the Islamic Extremists' intention of taking the battle beyond Israel. That's when it went global.

We've been in World War III ever since, but we didn't recognize the battles for what they were. So victory went to our enemies, and each one emboldened them, and each time we didn't fight back to crush them, our enemies concluded that we were weak and conquerable.

Now we're embroiled in a war, along with the rest of the Free World, and this war has multiple fronts: Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Spain, Great Britain, Indonesia, Chechnya, and anywhere else the Islamofascists think they can strike successfully.

We must win. But in order to do that, we have to understand what this war is. Half of the Republicans in office understand, and the isolationist other half don't. Nearly all of the Democrats don't have a clue.

When I look at our nation's leadership, I have trouble finding any leaders to follow Bush who both understand the war and who have the strength of character that will be needed push on to victory.

The Democrats just don't get it. If they win this November, and especially if they win in 2008, they're going to get a lot of us killed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

On the UK Terror Plot and Related

La Shawn Barber's posted yesterday on President Bush's speech, thanking him for finally saying the words "Islamic fascists." She also addressed the UK terror plot, with plenty of links.

Plot suspects’ names released. Hmmm….what do they have in common?

How the thugs were caught. And yes, it involves spying and sneaking around other people’s stuff without their knowledge or consent. Call the ACLU!

One of her frequent commenters, Heliotrope, in comment #21, has some excellent things to say in response to comment #19 from GawainsGhost, who said, "I believe it is a mistake to label terrorists as Islamofascists or Islamic Fascists."

Here's much of what Heliotrope said:

Fascism: Any program for setting up a centralized autocratic national regime with severely nationalistic policies, exercising regimentation of industry, commerce, and finance, rigid censorship, and forcible suppression of opposition. (Webster’s)

Theocracy: Government of a state by the immediate direction of God; thearchy; hence, government by priests, or ministers as representatives of God. (Webster’s)

When you combine the two they morph into one. Radical Islamists are bent on creating such states. Think Taliban, Iran and the Mullahs of Qom, Somalia, Pakistan and the teachings from the madrases, The Egyptian Brotherhood movement, Wahabbists, the Islamic radicals of Malaysia, etc.

A literal reading of the Koran leads to no other conclusion than a world under the rule of the Islamic theology. Such a world would not need a United Nations, just a ruling Mullah.

The rest of the world does not need to destroy them for their religious beliefs. The rest of the world needs to destroy them because of what they do….the actions they take….as a result of their religious beliefs. (ellipses in original)

And just how do we sit down and “mediate” with someone’s fundamental, fervent religious beliefs? This is where atheists really, really, really don’t get it.

Lest we start believing that people are finally starting to understand the truth, it looks as though the reactions in the Muslim community in the UK are mixed. Sky News reported today with some quotes.

Khalid Mahmood is an MP in Birmingham where several arrests have been made.

He said: "There has to be greater involvement by the community itself. This is not something the Government can do."

He told Sky News there needs to be better communication between Muslim elders and young people.

That'll fix a lot. Aren't the violence-spewing imams "Muslim elders"? And haven't they been doing enough "communication"?

Imtiaz Qadir, a spokesman for the Waltham Forest Islamic Association in Walthamstow, said he expects it to provoke "an uproar" in the community.

He said: "I know five of the men very well and they are really respectable young Muslim men.

"I am totally shocked. I don't believe they've done anything to warrant this."

Of course. And Ted Bundy's neighbors were shocked, too.

However, Fahad Ansari, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said that many Muslims would be sceptical of the police arrests after the Forest Gate fiasco.

"I think you will get cynicism from the community," he said. "Over the last few years we have seen many high-profile raids like this plastered over the press to terrify the public.

"It has been hit and miss on too many occasions. It is causing a lot of mass hysteria."

It's so gratifying to see that Britain has their own version of CAIR, who blame the government and the media in order to avoid admitting that any Muslims could possibly do wrong.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose! (Pardon my French.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Israel

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, in his WorldNetDaily column today, makes an excellent point that the biblical character Jacob is the better standard-bearer for the nation of Israel than Abraham. Israel even bears the name God gave to Jacob.

But the greatness of Jacob, which by far transcended that of Abraham and Isaac, was that he was the first personality in the Bible prepared to resist evil, even if it tarnished him. And by fighting evil, Jacob set a precedent that the righteous, rather than the cold and the heartless, would inherit the earth. Jacob knows that Esau is a bad man, and he will do everything in his power to remove from him the blessings of dominion. Likewise, Jacob will not allow his father-in-law Laban, a psychopathic liar, to take advantage of him, because someone has to stand up to a bully.

Stated in other words, Jacob is the first biblical personality forced to translate a passion for goodness into a world where goodness is seen as weakness. Abraham is the righteous loner who separates himself from the corrupt vices of his neighbors. He will pray for Sodom and Gomorrah, but he will not live among them. Abraham did not seek to salvage a world that was beyond redemption. But Jacob was not prepared to forfeit the earth to criminals. He would stand up for himself, even though doing so made him enter the gray areas that his grandfather avoided like the plague. While Abraham is more angel than man, Jacob is forever and vicariously perched between heaven and earth, struggling to do the right thing in a world of wickedness and evil.

Those who, in the name of their own moral standing, retreat from the fight with evil are guilty of false piety and moral cowardice. Saving your soul while everyone else perishes is the rectitude of scoundrels.

This is the precise principle upon which the US, the UK, and Israel (and a few select others) stand in the Global War on Islamofascism.

The Europeasment crowd is nothing but scoundrels. The UN and the pro-Israel-destruction crowd are worse than scoundrels. We need to continue the Jacobic struggle and ignore the voices that call for Abrahamic inaction. If we don't, we perish.

She's Got the Look

I woke up this morning with "She's Got the Look" running through my head. It always reminds me of something my ex-husband told me back when we were married.

He used to work for a very small manufacturing company that was located near a large office building. My husband's company had about 18 - 20 employees, all men except the secretary.

There was a woman who worked in the big building next door, and sometimes the men would see her walking across the parking lot to work. A day would come for each of the new guys when they'd come into the office and ask, "Did you see that woman...?"

The other guys would answer, "Oh, you mean 'The Walk.'" She was the kind of woman who, with the way she walked, made men's heads swivel and then stare. It happened to all of them. It happened every time.

My husband could never explain to me just what it was about the way she walked. He wasn't a man of words--he lived in the concrete world of machinery and process. I tried asking if it was the way her hips swayed or the way she carried herself or something else, and all he could say was that he didn't know, it was just her walk.

She was one in a million. Maybe one in a billion. She's got the look...

You Heard It Here First

Actually, you heard it there first, but that's beside the point.

In response to All_I_Can_Stands's (AICS) questions, I coined a term that I haven't heard (read) anywhere else, and I really like it. It says so much.


Need I say more?


If you've seen/heard this elsewhere. Please let me know. Gently.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Presidential Campaign

I saw my first Presidential campaign bumper sticker this morning. It had a waving flag and said:

Cheney 2008?

Yes, the question mark was part of the bumper sticker.

The race is on...

Hezbollah Symbolism

Micah Halpern's most recent column (it's dated "Tuesday, August 7, 2006") is on the symbolism that permeates Arab culture. Specifically, it's on the symbolism of the name of Hezbollah's newest Iranian-made missile: the Khaibar. It's a name well-known to Arabs and to Jews.

Khaibar was the name of an ancient town. As the story unfolds in the Koran, it was a town predominantly inhabited by Jews. Mohammed the prophet targeted Jews. He tried to convert them in order to show off the success of his new theophany, his new revelation - that there is but one God and he, Mohammed, is his prophet.

Mohammed gave the Jews of Khaibar the option to leave the town taking with them all their belongings. The Jews declined to leave. Mohammed gave the Jews of Khaibar the option to just leave. Again, the Jews declined. Mohammed massacred the Jews of Khaibar. All of them. The story of Khaibar is the story of Sodom and Gemmorah, only Mohammed style.

The name Khaibar resonates with hatred and the mass murder of Jews.

Every Arab and every Muslim who has read the Koran realizes the true meaning behind this choice of name. Naming a missile Khaibar is a metaphor for the struggle between the Arab world and Israel. It is a metaphor suggesting the ultimate end to this struggle. The Arab world is telling us, the West, that this battle is not about Southern Lebanon, it is about the very destruction of Israel.

When does the Arab world band together? Never to offer praise and rejoice because of the good that has happened to them, only to rejoice because bad has happened to someone else. The Arab world gathers together in hatred. They gather because of the United States and because of Israel.

The world leaders calling for a cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel are blind. They're culturally ignorant. They fail to understand how deep the hatred goes, and that failure of understanding leads them down a road that would hasten Israel's destruction. Because Iran hasn't finished developing weapons. Khaibar is not the end. Not if Iran and its puppets have anything to say about it.

Three of the Missing Eleven Egyptians Found

MSNBC has the report today. One of the missing Egyptian students who failed to show up for their studies in Bozeman, Montana, was found in Minneapolis. Two more were found in Manville, New Jersey.

This is three elevenths of the good news we need to hear.

The missing students pose no terrorism threat, Kolko said. Minneapolis FBI spokesman Paul McCabe said the FBI remains "extremely interested" in interviewing the other Egyptian students.

And how would they know what kind of threat the missing men pose? Good grief! I wish they'd shut up about "no terrorism threat here" and just do their job.

What's missing from the article is whether or not the three who were caught were deported. There's just this paragraph repeated from the original story of the Eleven being missing:

The government probably will seek to send the students home once they are located because they have violated the terms of their visas, the official said.

The government needs to do more than just "seek" to send the students home.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lieberman Loses to Lamont

Senator Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary election to Ned Lamont today. The Hartford Courant reported today that Lieberman conceded defeat then vowed to continue his campaign as an Independent.

Challenger Ned Lamont appears to have defeated Lieberman by about 10,000 votes, according to unofficial returns. With 98 percent of the precincts reporting, Lamont led Lieberman 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent. The vote tally was 144,005 to 134,026.

But for Lieberman, this is simply a setback.

"Of course I am disappointed by the results, but I am not discouraged," Lieberman said..

"The old politics of partisan polarization won today," Lieberman said. "For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand."

There's been quite a bit of talk about the Republicans coming apart over the Iraq war--the neocons vs the paleocons. But as far as I've noticed, the GOP hasn't destroyed any of its own yet.

That can't be said about the Democrats now. They've begun their Purge. If a Democrat is too serious on matters of national security, his or her career is at risk. It doesn't matter that he votes along the party line 90% of the time. Ninety percent isn't enough anymore.

Let Hillary take note.

Meanwhile, the cliff-jumpers are seeing the election results through distorted lenses.

"People are going to look back and say the Bush years started to end in Connecticut," said Avi Green, a Lamont volunteer from Boston. "The Republicans are going to look at tonight and realize there's blood in the water."

Yes, they will. But I believe Avi Green will be surprised just whose blood that is. November promises to be bleak for the party that eats its own.

Eleven Egyptians on the Loose

CBS News reported yesterday that eleven Egyptian men in the US on student visas failed to show up for their educational program. They were part of a group of 17 Egyptians headed for a program at Montana State University.

The other six have arrived at the Bozeman, Mont., campus for a monthlong program on English language instruction and U.S. history and culture, university spokeswoman Cathy Conover said.

When the 11 didn't turn up by the end of the last week, the FBI issued a lookout to state and local law enforcement, said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.

"At this point all they have done is not show up for a scheduled academic program," Kolko said. "There is no threat associated with these men."

Not a threat? Their first action after hitting the ground here is to skip out on their student visa, and there's not a threat?

Sure, since Bozeman is near the main entrance to Yellowstone National Park, maybe these guys decided to get in a little sightseeing. It could happen (but it won't if they go to the government website I linked to, because that has got the be the crappiest picture of Yellowstone ever. Here's a better one).

Attempts by the University to contact The Eleven proved fruitless, which is when they decided to notify the FBI.

The government probably will seek to send the students home once they are located because they have violated the terms of their visas, the official said.

I would hope "probably" will turn into "definitely" on the deportation question. Unless they're lost in the Yellowstone backcountry and have to be rescued. Then maybe they can stay and finish the program. But then all 17 of them have to go home. Definitely.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cramping My Style

Work is really getting in the way of my blogging lately!

The last two weeks I got home after 10pm most days and then needed a couple hours to unwind before I could get to sleep. Naturally, I had to get to work on time every morning (except for the Monday I really messed up my alarm clock and was two hours late).

We're scrambling at work, overloaded and no relief in sight. Today was only different from last week, because the air conditioning was mostly out on our floor. I had taken a chance and worn a light sweater (the pullover kind, not a cardigan you can take off), expecting it to be cool at work.

Sleep deprivation and hot air are a deadly combination. I wasn't the only one in our staff meeting whose eyes were at half-mast. As soon as I finished everything I needed to do at my desk, I took my work laptop home, where if I was going to sweat, I could do it in clothes that didn't mind. Home, un-air-conditioned as it is, was pleasant, and I worked until 10pm.

Blogging is my escape from the tedium, but between rushed lunch hours and not enough sleep, my mind doesn't feel at full capacity, so I haven't been doing my blogging justice. I hate that.

I really need to start eating more curry.

Eating Curry May Help Brain Performance

New Scientist reported Friday that curry--specifically curcumin--may help old folks think better.

Curcumin, a constituent of turmeric, is an antioxidant, and reports have suggested that it inhibits the build-up of amyloid plaques in people with Alzheimer's.

Now Tze-Pin Ng and colleagues at the National University of Singapore have discovered that curry eating seems to boost brain power in elderly people.

They tested non-Alzheimer's patients "and compared their performance in a standard test of cognitive function." Those who consumed curry occasionally or often performed better than those who ate it rarely or never.

This is good news and bad news. It's good, because I love curry. It's bad, because I haven't had any in a really long time. I'll have to start eating more curry again. For my health, of course.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Four Winds Friday

It's Friday, and as I look at the news and the blogs and my Notepad document with all the great ideas I haven't had time to post yet, I'm too distracted to focus on any one thing.

I tried fighting it. I gave up. My thoughts are scattered to the four winds, and that's what you'll get today.


I've already posted about the cancellation of the conger-eel-flinging contest and given an update, with mention of the Tunarama in Australia.

Now there's a story in today's London Times about a marlin fisherman in the Bahamas who was skewered through the shoulder by his catch and swept overboard by it.

The 800lb (360kg) [14-ft blue marlin] hit Ian Card with such force that its 3ft spear went through his chest just below his collarbone and knocked him into the sea.

As the fish dived, forcing Mr Card under water, he was able to push himself off the razor-sharp bill and swim to the surface.

Mr. Card was hospitalized and will recover.


The Letter of the Week in today's WorldNetDaily commentary page advocates making it harder for married couples with children to divorce. Alan Rusmisel of the Alabama Coalition for Fathers and Children quotes some research about happy and unhappy marriage partners before and after divorce or reconciliation. Here are just a couple:

Divorce did not reduce symptoms of depression for unhappily married adults, or raise their self-esteem, or increase their sense of mastery, on average, compared to unhappy spouses who stayed married. This was true even after controlling for race, age, gender, and income.
Two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later. Just one out of five of unhappy spouses who divorced or separated had happily remarried in the same time period.

Rusmisel also noticed that the states with the longest average waiting time had the lowest divorce rate, while states with the shortest average waiting time had the highest divorce rates.

For the sake of the kids, make divorce harder!

Book Review.

Daniel McCarthy has a book review in the July edition of Reason magazine (a libertarian-ish publication). The review itself is fascinating and makes the book, by virtue of its subject, look fun to read. The book is John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty, by Arthur H. Cash, New Haven: Yale University Press, 482 pages, $37.50

The title McCarthy gives to his review say a lot.

In Praise of John Wilkes:
How a filthy, philandering deadbeat helped secure British—and American—liberty

Read the review, and then decide if you want to read the book.


Malott's Blog appears to be ahead of the White House on an important piece of intelligence (the informational kind) coming out of the Middle East. His latest post today reveals the fact that Hezbollah--in the person of its leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah--has officially declared war on America. He (Malott, not Nasrallah) then offers a multiple choice referendum about how we should respond.

You may feel free to print it, check off your choices, and mail copies of it to your Congressman (no, today I refuse to spell that politically correctly), your Senator, President Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and anyone else you wish actually cared how you feel. Here's a small glimpse at the kind of options he offers:

Check one or more strategies:
1.____ Bomb the living crap out of Iran.
2.____ Bomb the living crap out of Syria.
3.____ Bomb the living crap out of anyone that threatens us.
4.____ Sit on our hands and wait for them to come for us.

I choose option 3, because it includes options 1 and 2 as the volume-discount option.

So that's it. My lunch hour is over. Enjoy your weekend.

One more thing. Joe Smoe is back! He's one of my favorite apoplectic Lefty commenters at Logic Lifeline, and he's been away a couple days. He's right back to his prime form of, "BUSH IS A FAILURE!!! And what do you think about THAT???" Gotta love it...