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Drew eating his oatmeal just like his daddy used to do every morning.
It's real simple. Everything else is trivial when compared to the threshold question of how the two presidential candidates will protect America. In his acceptance speech, Democrat Party nominee John Kerry stated his position: "Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." The problem is that the precondition before action is an "attack." In other words, only after it's too late does Kerry promise action.
Senator Kerry provided further clarification of his position in his preceding sentence: "Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required." The problem is that "required" smacks of too little too late. If "required" is the standard then, let's try one more attempt at a group hug, will always win out.
What about using force before an "attack" and before we're left with the only option of it being "required"? Such as, pre-emptive strikes against developing threats or because we think it will prevent the loss of American lives even though Sen. Kerry's Euro-weenie friends are against it?
So there it is. Do you want a president who promises to be reactive? Or, one who has proven himself to be proactive...taking the fight to the terrorists, wherever they are? Come November, the choice is simple.
Drew's first swim at his grandparents, second swim ever, with a little assistance from his aunt.
I can't decide. Is Kerry more of a Woody Allen playing a sperm in the 1972 movie Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex?
Or, is Kerry more of a 1988 Michael Dukakis riding a tank?
Lance Armstrong today became not only cycling's greatest rider ever but one of the greatest athletes of all time. He is the first to win six grueling Tour de France races, cycling's equivalent of the World Series, the Super Bowl and the Indy 500 all wrapped up into one. And, this after having been given less than a 50% chance of living in 1996 when he was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer which had spread to his lungs and brain.
In the 101 year history of the Tour de France (but only 91 races due to war), four other riders have won five times: Belgian Eddy "the Cannibal" Merckx, Spaniard Miguel Indurain and Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil.
The 2004 Tour de France covered more than 2100 miles comprised of 20 stages including 11 flat stages, 6 mountain stages, 2 individual time-trial stages, and 1 team time-trial stage. The layout of the race this year was admittedly designed to make it as difficult as possible for Lance to win. However, the race officials couldn't overcome the fact that Lance has no weaknesses as he can hold his own against anyone in the flats, he can out climb everyone in the mountains and he can blow everyone away in the time trials.
Lance's victories are in no small part due to his tremendous teammates who ride for the U.S. Postal team known as the Blue Train which this year included: Portuguese Jos頁zevedo, Spaniard Manuel Beltran, Russian Viatceslav Ekimov, American George Hincapie, American Floyd Landis, Spaniard Gonzalez Noval Benjamin, Czechoslovakian Pavel Padrnos and Spaniard Jos頌uis Rubiera.
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) arrived at its homeport in San Diego Bay for the first time Friday, July 23, 2004. The ninth Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is the most modern and sophisticated carrier in the world, 1,092 feet long, towering 20 stories above the waterline, home to 6,000 sailors, carrying more than 80 aircraft, with a 4.5 acre flight deck and a cruising speed in excess of 30 knots (34.5 mph). (Detailed cutaway diagram.)
The next and last Nimitz-class aircraft carrier will be the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77). After that, a new carrier class will start (CVNX-1). I wonder who it will be named after?
To me it's mind-boggling. In one self-contained vessel, you have a full self-contained small city, a cruise liner, a military base, an airport, and a nuclear power plant.
In the fall of 2002, I had the good fortune of visiting Newport News, Virginia, where I
took found some photos of the USS Ronald Reagan under construction. For those who haven't been to Newport News, it is nothing like Norfolk. It is not a tourist destination and you are most certainly not allowed to wander around and photograph naval ships under construction, especially just a year after 9/11. But it was the freaking USS Ronald Reagan, so what could I do? The photos are poor but the experience was awesome.
So, I'm on my way to work on the morning of July 20th and I was having a problem with the AM band on my radio and so I switched over to FM and...*shudder*...NPR (National Public Radio). I figured I could stand a few minutes of opposition research without becoming sick to my stomach or my temper boiling over...I was wrong.
The show was Morning Edition hosted by Steve Inskeep featuring Mario Cuomo, the former New York governor and very liberal democrat, discussing his new book, Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever, which examines the writing and speeches of Abraham Lincoln. Since, Cuomo claims to have written a book on President Lincoln's speeches, grossly inaccurate statements about Lincoln and one of Lincoln's most famous speeches cannot properly be called mere errors as much as a flat out disgusting lies made for the worst possible motive for someone writing a historical text, that of revising history to fit their own current day political agenda.
Cuomo stated, "[Lincoln] doesn't talk about God. He [only] talks about creator." I thought this was odd since, while I was never a history major, I have read many of Lincoln's speeches and I could have sworn Lincoln had specifically discussed God and not in the sense of just some generic creator. So I pop open the internet and instantly, Cuomo's assertion is objectively refuted by Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (quoted in full at the end of this tirade) wherein, by my count, in just the last 10 sentences of his address, Lincoln made 6 references to "God," 6 references to God using "He/His/Him," one reference to the "Almighty," one reference to "Lord," and quoted Psalm 19:9 along with two references to the New Testament, Matthew 7:1 and 18:7. It sure sounds to me like Lincoln specifically talked about "God"!
Cuomo tried to down play Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address admitting Lincoln mentions God, "but he never makes an argument for God." This is absurd. In this post I've mentioned Cuomo about as often as Lincoln mentioned God in his Second Inaugural Address. How can anyone say with a straight face that I don't think Cuomo exists? Or, that Lincoln doesn't think God exists? The fact that I don't additionally make an argument in favor of Cuomo's existence does not in any manner support the notion that I don't think Cuomo exists. Please just read the Address at the end and decide for yourself if Lincoln fervently believed in God or not.
Cuomo concluded the interview with this final nugget of putridness: "Would a politician stoop so low as to use religion to get close to voters? Yeah. I hope I didn't do it too much, because when I drop dead and I find out there is a God and indeed, he has a big book with everything noted--yeah, of course, politicians do it. Did Lincoln do it for that reason? All I know is Lincoln was a master politician."
Isn't that all wonderfully smarmy. Cuomo avoids actually stating his obvious opinion that Lincoln stooped so low as to use religion to get close to voters, but that is exactly what Cuomo wants the listener, and no doubt the reader of his book, to believe since after all "Lincoln was a master politician" and "politicians do it." Disgusting revisionist lies. The particular nature of Lincoln's religion has long been the subject of much historical debate, however, until Cuomo's remarks, I did not think knowledgeable persons debated whether he was religious at all.
Most certainly everyone (in America) has the absolute right to believe or not believe in the God of their choosing, but no one should be allowed to get away with revising history and recharacterizing a man of faith as a cynical manipulator of a gullible public. Shame on you NPR. Shame on you Steve Inskeep. And, shame on you Mario Cuomo. Finally, Mr. Cuomo, without discussing the likelihood of such a scenario, if we both get past the pearly gates, I would very much like to be there when you meet up with President Abraham Lincoln. Do they allow ass-kickings in heaven?
[The following is a partial transcript of the July 20, 2004, Morning Edition program:]
INSKEEP: President Lincoln never professed to belong to an organized church...
INSKEEP: ...of any kind.
CUOMO: Yeah, well, that's absolutely accurate, and if he was anything, he was a rationalist.
INSKEEP: And yet, even though he did not belong to an organized religion, Lincoln often did invoke God in his speeches and used the language of the Bible in his speeches...
CUOMO: Oh, he used the lang...
INSKEEP: ...which is a way that he's like modern politicians, isn't he?
CUOMO: He used the language of the Bible over and over. In his second inaugural, how religious his references are, and that's absolutely true. But he never talks about Jesus as God, and he doesn't talk about God. He talks about creator. He was clearly not a person who accepted any specific religious faith.
INSKEEP: In the second inaugural, there's the line about "as God gives us to see the right." I mean, there are references to God.
CUOMO: Yeah. Well, yes, but he never makes an argument for God.
INSKEEP: I just wonder if it says something about the electorate that politicians were addressing then and now...
CUOMO: Oh, I...
INSKEEP: ...something practical.
Mr. CUOMO: Well, yeah. Let me ask a really grubby political question. I'm better at this than you are. I lived that life for a long time. Would a politician stoop so low as to use religion to get close to voters? Yeah. I hope I didn't do it too much, because when I drop dead and I find out there is a God and indeed, he has a big book with everything noted--yeah, of course, politicians do it. Did Lincoln do it for that reason? All I know is Lincoln was a master politician.
[On March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office for President of the United States for the second time. On that occasion, with the end of the Civil War in sight, he gave one of the most famous speeches in American presidential history, his Second Inaugural Address:]
At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
[Abraham Lincoln was assassinated just one month and 10 days after he delivered this speech.]
The National Review Online solved the identity of the 14 Syrian men aboard the chilling flight Annie Jacobsen described in Womens Wallstreet (Terror in the Skies). This is now my third post on the topic (Post I, Post II). It seems the Syrians were musicians who performed with an artist named Nour Mehana and were flying to Sycuan Casino & Resort, near San Diego for a gig on July 1, 2004. Whew! I for one am relieved, since we all know musician can't be terrorists. The smart-alecky NRO article mocks the fact that no one else could identify the "musicians," but somehow fails to explain why these 14 individuals behaved like idiots ignoring FAA mandated rules and making inappropriate throat-slitting jesters.
Now we learn through MSNBC's Scarborough Country, July 22, 2004, that all of the 14
terrorists' musicians' visas had expired! We're not talking about their credit cards here. These guys were officially in this country illegally! Why is this stuff not checked post-9/11? Our boarders are non-existent and our immigration policies and procedures are a joke--I'm beginning to think we deserve whatever consequences come our way from decimation of California schools, hospitals and social services to planes being hijacked. Here's some straight talking common sense from the show (individuals who put political correctness above the security of our country may not want to read further):
"If 14 Anglo-Saxon high school students from Kansas who were on a band trip to Los Angeles did the same thing, the flight attendants would go back and tell them to sit down and put their seat belts on. Do you think political correctness played into the fact that they let these 14 Syrians run around the plane and break all the rules?"
"Absolutely. Absolutely, Joe. It is a no-brainer. And it is symptomatic of what's going on with regard to airline security. The fact of the matter is, we are in a war against Arab religious extremists. And nobody wants to face that fact."
"[C]ommon sense dictates that if a group of 14 Arab males in that age group are flying together, before they get on that plane in Detroit headed for L.A., they are the ones who need to be subject to secondary screening."
Finally, the Washington Times reports: "Flight crews and air marshals say Middle Eastern men are staking out airports, probing security measures and conducting test runs aboard airplanes for a terrorist attack."
"'No doubt these are dry runs for a terrorist attack,' an air marshal said. Pilots and air marshals who asked to remain anonymous told The Washington Times that surveillance by terrorists is rampant, using different probing methods."
Drew on our couch striking some poses...the little ham.
My sister reminded me that I have not been keeping up with my "weekly" flower posts. So, here is a photo of one of our Zuni Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica). It's incredibly common in Oklahoma as it very heat and disease tolerant and blooms throughout the summer.
This is a follow up to my prior post about a terrifying first hand account of Syrian terrorists conducting a dry-run for more 9/11 style attacks (Terror in the Skies). These are must read articles for anyone who considers themselves even marginally informed about our current war against terrorism.
This follow up article (Part II: Terror in the Skies, Again?), provides evidence of how common these dry-runs are and what little is being done about them.
"Gary Boettcher, Member, Board of Directors, Allied Pilots Association, said, 'Folks, I am a Captain with a major airline.' [Your incident] is not a singular nor isolated experience. The terrorists are probing us all the time."
"Boettcher told me that based on his experience, it was his opinion that I was likely on a dry run. He said he's had many of these experiences and so have many of his fellow captains. They've been trying to speak out about this but so far their words have been falling on deaf ears."
And what are authorities doing about this threat? Rand K. Peck, captain for a major U.S. airline provides the following common experience of any repeat traveler: "I've observed matronly looking grandmothers practically disrobed at security check points and five-year-old blond boys turned inside out, while Middle Eastern males sail through undetained."
"We have little to fear from grandmothers and little boys. But Middle Eastern males are protected, not by our Constitution, but from our current popular policy of political correctness and a desire to offend no one at any cost, regardless of how many airplanes and bodies litter the landscape."
A good friend and avid fan of the classic rock group Rush has written an incredible review of Rush's now ongoing 30th Anniversary Tour. While there may be a greater Rush fan, although it's hard to imagine, there probably is not one who is as intelligent and articulate. Reading his review brought back memories of my own Rush experiences as he recounts the band's history through the songs they play, and don't play, during the concert. Below is JR's review:
I have been a fan of the band for most of their 30 years. The first time I saw them was on the Moving Pictures tour. It was Independence Day at Alpine Valley ("acoustically designed by Mother Nature" - ask if you want to know) and the Joe Perry Project was the opener. I remember enjoying the show immensely, even though (or maybe because) I had some drinks thanks to my older cousin who wasn't drinking age himself.
I have seen the band at least once on every tour since then. The band could do no wrong for a while. They always seemed to play the favorites and most of the new album when they came to town. And they'd usually bring along a good opening act (Gary Moore, Marillion, Primus, Mr. Big), so I could act cool (just an act, though) because I knew and/or liked the opener. Hey, it was the '80s.
During the mid to late '80s, the band made good music even though it didn't do as much for me as other stuff (Power Windows & Hold Your Fire are good records - I just preferred their bookends much more). They seemed to want to experiment more and, I feel, they lost touch a little bit with their essence as a rock band. I liked Presto and Roll the Bones (hell, I like all of the records - even the one with John Rutsey). When Counterparts came out, it was a revelation for me. They ROCKED again. The only problem with them as a touring act was that their back catalogue was becoming too large for a normal set and they were going to be leaving out more and more as they continued forward.
They read my mind and starting with the Test for Echo tour, they played 2 sets and, in a sense, opened for themselves (and it's cheaper that way, I'd imagine). Now. if they'd just kill off some of the big radio hits and open up the set for the freaks like me, I'd achieve nirvana (or Xanadu)...
The band is celebrating 30 years as a touring act and they refer to this as their birthday party. A few days before the show, I looked at the songs in iTunes and picked out material they haven't played forever or for a while and left out the hits. I gave up at Hold Your Fire because I had about 40 songs...
I saw them in Chicago with a long-time friend and in Milwaukee with another group of people while some long-time friends were in the audience.
Show time was 7:30 and they started just about on time (better than many airlines, I might add). There was a video montage which featured all of their album artwork morphing into one another and was very cool. Then we discover a short film featuring the world's oldest RUSH fan, Jerry Stiller. As he does a skit and as implores the guys to get on stage, Alex Lifeson rushes on to the stage and the band launch into a medley of snippets which has the crowd in a tizzy. We go from Finding My Way to Anthem to Bastille Day to Passage to Bangkok (yes, that song) to Cygnus X-1 to Hemishperes/Prelude. As the crowd (and Jerry Stiller) roar their approval, Alex Lifeson starts playing the famous intro to Spirit of Radio and off we go again. As the band and crowd catch their collective breaths, the taped intro to Force Ten breaks the chronological order of the set and hurtles us into a later phase of the band's career. Next up was Animate, a personal favorite of mine and one I was happy they wheeled out (it was not played on VT tour). Old studio/live favorite, Subdivisions, gets the crowd excited. A VT song, Earthshine is up next and features some excellent video work as stars appear to be shooting from the guitar during the solo. (Cynical comment alert) The crowd, weaned on today's Classic Rock stations which ignore bands current material and, thus ensures an aging and potentially dwindling listener base, heads for the bathrooms. I hope they washed their hands before they ran back to hear Red Barchetta (for the first time since Power Windows tour, I think). After Bravado, they play YYZ (sans drum solo) and The Trees. They have a new CD, Feedback, out now which features RUSH covering some '60s & '70s tunes and we get their take on The Seeker (The Who) before One Little Victory heats things up again and the band head off and take a well-earned break.
After 15 minutes or so, another funny video montage starts and leads us into Tom Sawyer. Secret Touch (VT) is an impressive live song and is noticeably heavier live. My other favorite for the evening was Between the Wheels which I may have never seen live (can't remember them playing it on GUP tour). My only real complaint about the show was that they played Mystic Rhythms and followed it up with Red Sector A. I really like these songs - I just felt they stunted the momentum that was building. After Neil Peart's drum solo on his wicked looking new kit, we get Resist and Heart Full of Soul (cover #2) acoustically with Geddy Lee playing a Taylor (a man after my heart!). In the band's defense, they may have slowed down the pace because they increased the energy at the end as they ripped through Overture/Temples/Finale, La Villa Strangiato, By-Tor and the Snow Dog, Xanadu (ALL of it), and Working Man. Whew. Did I mention they weren't done? Sorry 'bout that.
For an encore they played a couple of covers and another song you might know. We heard Summertime Blues, Crossroads and Limelight before Jerry Stiller and the band's light set said "Bye bye."
A tremendous evening of awesome music played by people passionate and talented for a very partisan crowd. Besides Camera Eye, what else could I ask for...
For anybody that was wondering, we heard something from every album except Presto.
If you made it this far, thanks.
Any complaints, you've got the e-mail address. Just remember, this is one-take with no overdubs or tapes used. Just spell check.
Special thanks to Murph Dog (for asking me to do this) and to Randy and Dave for always being there as 2 shining examples of what friendship is truly about as well as tremendous RUSH fans.
Gridlock, by Corwin Derkatch, is a donationware puzzle game with 40 addictive levels where all you have to do is slide the blue block out the right hand side exit. It's a very elegant game which is simple to play but yet has a difficulty to solve akin to Solitaire or FreeCell which is perfect for playing during a conference call or short break. If you don't delete your cookies, you can come back another day and continue on at the level where you left off.
I am convinced that my better half and I must be the worst parents in the world. This is because I firmly believe that God only gives you challenges that you are capable of handling. Accordingly, since my little mini-me has been such an incredible blessing, has yet to be sick, laughs all the time, sleeps through the night, and millions of other wondrous things, I can only conclude that God saw fit to give us the perfect baby because we obviously couldn't handle anything else.
If the liberals had their way, they'd eliminate the middleman and have us slit our own throats. This article from Womens Wall Street (Terror in the Skies, Again?) by Annie Jacobsen is an incredibly disturbing must-read for anyone who flies often or who simply cares about our country and the war against terrorism we are fighting.
Jacobsen recounts a white-knuckle flight from Detroit to Los Angeles, that she and her husband shared with a group of about 15 Middle Eastern men (turned out to be Syrians) who were almost certainly (judging from her vivid description) conducting a dry run for a repeat of September 11, with teams of hijackers prepared for passenger resistance.
Conventional wisdom post-9/11 says that airline passengers will fight back and overcome any hijack attempt. But what if passengers are faced with a highly organized team of 15-20 hijackers, with unconventional and undetectable weapons, conditioned by a lifetime of indoctrination to commit mind-wrenchingly savage acts of violence? And what if our government is still too hobbled by political correctness to recognize threats in time to deal with them--before the hijackers board the plane?
But you already knew this because the national media reported the story so heavily. Unfortunately, the national media will not report anything negative about Arabs out of fear of stereotyping regardless of how important the story. Like reporting black hate crimes or homosexual rape or pedophilia, you will not hear it in the national news (unless it involves a priest since the media's desire to attack churches and religion trumps their protection of homosexuals).
So, lest we forget--we are not being terrorized by elderly blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Christian women from Iceland. We know the enemy, but we're too damn smug in our moral superiority and to willing to kowtow to special interest groups to use the information in a rational intelligent manner to our advantage.
World66 lets you create maps of places you have visited (or any other listing such as places to which you ship products). Below is a map of the countries I have visited. You can also create maps for US States, Canadian Provinces and European Countries.
If you can't tell, the countries highlighted in red are: Australia (visited), Denmark (visited), France (visited), Iran (visited), Mexico (visited), Mozambique (lived), Netherlands (lived), Norway (lived), Pakistan (visited), South Africa (visited), Sweden (visited), Thailand (lived), the United Kingdom (visited) and the United States (lived).
The only other country I've technically been to is Kenya on a flight stop over which I don't count as having visited since I never left the plane. My sister however, then still a child, ran off the plane into the airport--the little cheat--so I suppose she gets to count Kenya on her list.
While I'm on the topic, Lizard Point, has a nice geography quiz for identifying states and countries. (Europe is tough since the break up of the Soviet Union.)
Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song will never be the same for me. I have to admit that I didn't know all the words until now...except now the song is about Viking kittens, which I'm not sure is what Zoso had in mind. (click the pic)
Here is a Ruby Star Coneflower (Echinacea Rubinstern) from our garden:
On Friday, my work sponsored a night out at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks for all employees and their families.
Be sure to "continue reading" for more photos and a shark video!
Just click on the shark below to see the video:
The International Court of Justice, otherwise known as the World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, yesterday condemned the Israeli anti-terrorist fence (which has already resulted in a significant measurable decrease in terrorist attacks) concluding that it should be torn down and Palestinians compensated for any and all harm caused by the construction of the fence.
I've searched the World Court's site and I can't seem to find any rulings condemning Palestinian suicide-murders who admittedly and intentionally target innocent civilian women and children--let alone anything calling for the compensation of Israeli victims. As a non-Jew, non-Arab, it's so hard for me to pick a side...fence builders or child murderers--it's a close call, but I'll go with the fence builders.
An astute reader might have noticed my use of the word "fence" instead of the liberal media's constant use of the word "wall." Why? After all, every single photo and video clip I've ever seen on abccbsnbcpbscnnmsnbc clearly shows an incredibly tall concrete wall. The World Court's own description explains:
"The approximately 180 kilometres of the complex completed or under construction--some 8.5 kilometres of concrete wall. These are generally found where Palestinian population centres are close to or abut Israel"."
The 180 kilometer long barrier has a mere 8.5 kilometers of concrete wall--less than 5%! Only somebody with an agenda or someone ignorant of the facts would call a glass over 95% full, an empty glass. Before I researched this, I ignorantly thought the entire barrier was composed of the tall concrete sections; a conclusion the mainstream liberal media no doubt wants to cultivate. Now, I realize whenever I see such pictures that the purveyors of such a distorted view have an obvious anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian bias.
The World Court's account of the fence was a little less than accurate in one respect. The concrete wall portion of the barrier does not so much coincide with population centers as it does with areas in which Palestinians have historically chosen to murder innocent civilian women and children by sniper fire. It is the Palestinians, not the Israelis, that have caused the barrier to be built and that require a portion of it to be a towering cement wall.
Why did Israel build a fence? In just the past three years, over 900 Israelis have been murdered in terrorist attacks all of which originated from the West Bank. Given an Israeli population of 6.2 million and a United States population of 293 million, 900 Israeli deaths, on a percentage basis, would be equivalent to more than 42,000 deaths in the United States which is more than fourteen 9/11 attacks. The Palestinian leadership is not only unwilling and/or unable to stop the attacks, it actively encourages the attacks. Prior to fence construction there was no physical barrier to prevent terrorists from entering Israel. The Gaza Strip, however, has had no terrorist attacks in recent years because of the success of a security fence already in place there which has stopped scores of murders attempting to kill Jews and get a little virgin nookie in the afterlife (reading interviews with terrorists who have been caught prior to exploding themselves, it's hard tell which is the greater motivating factor).
The absolute absurdity of the World Court's analysis of Israel's right to erect the barrier is self-evident upon reading the opinion.
"139. Under the terms of Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations:
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.
Article 51 of the Charter thus recognizes the existence of an inherent right of self defence in the case of armed attack by one State against another State. However, Israel does not claim that the attacks against it are imputable to a foreign State."
So, the World Court believes that because Israel won't recognize a State of Palestine, Israel isn't allowed to defend itself against the attacks. The Court's true motives come out. Obviously, the necessity of the barrier and the right of self-defense is not determined by whether or not Israel recognizes Palestine. The Court is simply more concerned about a Palestinian state than with the slaughter of innocent civilian women and children in Israel.
Also, criticism of the fence is made further absurd by the fact that, by its very nature, it is an inherently non-violent solution to the suicide-murderers. Even Hillary Clinton recognized this fact when she commented: "It makes no sense for the United Nations to vehemently oppose a fence which is a non-violent response to terrorism rather than opposing terrorism itself."
Finally, you may have grown tired of my repeated use of "innocent civilian women and children." This was by design. Now imagine how tired the Israelis have grown of reading the same phrase in morning papers about innocent civilian women and children being murdered by terrorists. Perhaps with the completion of the security fence, we all can hear the phrase less often.
Call me a proud friend of Israel!
From one of the greatest comic strips ever, Calvin and Hobbes, I fear Drew will pose this question some day:
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University basketball coach in Durham, North Carolina, today turned down a contract to coach the Los Angeles Lakers for $40 million over five years in order to stay with the school he loves and which loves him.
In twenty-four years of coaching at Duke, Krzyzewski has a 621-181 record, leading the Blue Devils to championships in 1991, 1992 and 2001, with 10 Final Four appearances, eight Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships, 10 conference regular-season titles and No. 1 ranking in 12 seasons, including each of the last seven. Perhaps more importantly, during Krzyzewskis time with the Blue Devils, all but two Duke players that played four seasons have graduated.
Coach K is a classy guy who has consistently produced quality players with character. Just a dozen miles down the road in Chapel Hill, there is another school and coach with equal class.
The University of North Carolina Tar Heels are now coached Roy Williams formerly coach of the Kansas Jayhawks. (Dean Smith was coach of North Carolina for 36 years from 1961-97.) Earlier this year, former Tar Heel coach, Matt Doherty, had signed the all-time leading points scorer in North Carolina high school history, JamesOn Curry, to join the team in the fall of 2004.
But, in April of 2004, Curry pleaded guilty to six felony drug charges for possession, intent to sell, and distribution of marijuana to an undercover officer at his high school resulting in 36 months of probation, 200 hours of community service and various fines. In other words, Curry was dealing drugs to children. North Carolina coach Roy Williams immediately rescinded Curry's scholarship.
Curry's attorney, Dawn Allen, said "He never had problems before at school." Which to be true, you would have to believe a perfectly normal well-behaved law-abiding high school student suddenly, out of nowhere, starts selling marijuana one day to other children. No, the truth of the matter is obviously that this was merely the first time that Curry was caught.
The story should continue on with Curry going in shame to some unknown junior college desperate for a talented player regardless of his background where, if he kept his nose clean, might be allowed a chance to play in Division I again in two years. The message would be sent to hopeful players everywhere, stay away from drugs or else there will be consequences and Curry would still have the opportunity to play ball and show that his felony drug convictions were an anomaly.
Unfortunately, life doesn't always make that much sense. Instead, after North Carolina yanked Curry's scholarship, the ever opportunistic Oklahoma State coached by Eddie Sutton jumped on Curry's availability and signed him up to play for the OSU Cowboys. While Sutton, of course, spun the signing of Curry as an opportunity to provide Curry with a more nurturing environment far away from his troubles in North Carolina, blah, blah, blah. In reality, it was a clear grab of a talented player without regard to the impact on that player or the message it sends to kids in similar situations around the country. It was also consistent with Sutton's own checkered past in which he previously coached at Kentucky, but was forced to resign after being placed on probation for recruiting violations, and was then offered the coaching position at OSU.
All the victories in the world will never put Oklahoma State and Eddie Sutton in the same ranks as Duke and North Carolina. I hope Curry turns his life around, but I also hope OSU and Sutton are not rewarded for their classless actions.
I was given an invitation to create a Gmail account by a friend. I've only used it a little bit as I am in the process of transitioning from my Hotmail account that I use for everything that is non-business and non-personal such as registering products and communicating with miscellaneous companies.
Already, I can tell you that Gmail is faster and easier to use than Hotmail which sometime ago apparently adopted the theory that its service would be better if you were forced to wait 5-10 seconds in between every action you want to take. Yahoo! mail isn't nearly as bad as Hotmail, but it still has its faults. I highly suggest that when Gmail finishes with its viral marketing beta program and goes fully public that you give it a try.
My father's memorial tree was planted in a park near his and my mom's home. It is a single specimen River Birch (Betula Nigra) with a plaque embedded in cement.
Thank you very much to everyone who made donations to help pay for the tree, plaque and planting.
Last week I went to Chicago on business and got to spend a day with my mom and Donelda. The three of us, along with Sue and Harry, went downtown to Geja's Cafe for some fondue. The meal started out with a cheese board of Aged Wisconsin Swiss, Aged Wisconsin Cheddar, French Brie, Swiss Gruyère, Italian Bel Paese and Dutch Edam along with rye bread, apple slices, grapes and the house merlot. Next came salad and cheese-fondue. Then the main course of chicken breast, beef tenderloin, jumbo Gulf shrimp, lobster tail and fresh vegetables all cooked in hot oil and dipped in a variety of sauces. Finally, flaming chocolate fondue for roasting a few marshmallows before dipping pound cake, apples, bananas, cherries, melons, pineapples and strawberries. After all that we just rolled ourselves home.
The only thing that could have made the evening better was that it happened to be Geja's 39th Anniversary and the bill was 39% off the regular prices!
The Civil Rights Act was signed into law on July 2, 1964. Technically, I'm a day late but for me, that's pretty darn close. I just wanted to take this opportunity to inform those that misguidedly get their information from the freakishly biased media (abc/cbs/nbc/cnn/pbs) that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had far greater support among Republicans than Democrats!
In the House of Representatives:
Democrats voted: 152 (61%) in favor and 96 (39%) against.
Republicans voted: 138 (80%) in favor and 34 (20%) against.
In the Senate:
Democrats voted: 46 (69%) in favor and 21 (31%) against.
Republicans voted: 27 (82%) in favor and 6 (18%) against.
Among those voting against the Civil Rights Act was Al Gore's father, Democrat Senator Al Gore, Sr. But, you already knew this because the media publicized this fact so much during the 2000 election, or was it that they completely swept it under the rug? The media made a bigger deal during the California gubernatorial election about Arnold Schwarzenegger's father, Gustav, who was a police officer and postal inspector in the tiny Austrian village of Thal and who joined the Nazi party three years after Germany annexed Austria in 1938. The media also made a bigger deal when The Passion of the Christ came out about Mel Gibson's father, Hutton, who is holocaust denier. Perhaps, it was just a coincidence that I happened to miss all the stories about Al Gore's racist father but didn't miss the stories about Gustav and Hutton.
Also, voting against the Civil Rights Act was the still current Democrat Senator Robert Byrd. As we all know, since the media constantly reminds us, Byrd was a pointy-white-hood-wearing-cross-burning member of the Ku Klux Klan. Oh, that's right--the media actually never mentions this. I imagine it would be the same case if Byrd was a Republican--yeah, right! We all remember the uproar over Byrd's comments on Fox News Sunday, March 4, 2001: "There are white ni**ers. I've seen a lot of white ni**ers in my time; I'm going to use that word." Hadn't heard about that one? Only because Byrd is a Democrat and reporting such a comment doesn't comport with the liberal media's bias agenda. Finally, the long time Democrat Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neil's nickname for Sen. Byrd: "Sheets."
Marlon Brando passed away yesterday. Some call him the Greatest Actor of All Time (I respectfully disagree). While his influence and impact on Hollywood cannot be disputed, I would classify the three-hundred plus pound thespian as a tragic slave to his desires. He was married three times--all pregnant at the time--father of seven, nine or more than eleven children (depending on the source) both in and out of wedlock and may have been $20 million dollars in debt at the time of his death. His son Christian shot and killed the boyfriend of daughter Cheyenne who, in turn, later hanged herself. Finally, in an April 1996 appearance on Larry King's cable interview show, Brando proclaimed this nugget of wisdom:
"Hollywood is run by Jews; it is owned by Jews, and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of--of people who are suffering. Because they've exploited--we have seen the--we have seen the Nigger and Greaseball, we've seen the Chink, we've seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap, we have seen the wily Filipino, we've seen everything but we never saw the Kike. Because they knew perfectly well, that that is where you draw the wagons around."
I don't know of another instance of someone so famous using so many racial slurs to insult so many proving themselves so ignorant and so bigoted and which will, no doubt, go so unreported during the next few days. Or, more accurately, continue to go so unreported since this occurred in 1996. John Rocker is a cultural sensitivity training instructor compared to Brando.
228 Years Ago Today...
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted 12-0 -- New York abstained -- in favor of Richard Henry Lee's resolution "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."
On July 4, the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson -- heavily edited by Congress -- was adopted without dissent. On July 8, the Declaration was publicly proclaimed in Philadelphia. On July 15, Congress learned that the New York Legislature had decided to endorse the Declaration. On Aug. 2, a parchment copy was presented to the Congress for signature. Most of the 56 men who put their name to the document did so that day.
We tend to forget that to sign the Declaration of Independence was to commit an act of treason -- and the punishment for treason was death. To publicly accuse George III of "repeated injuries and usurpations," to announce that Americans were therefore "Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown," was a move fraught with danger -- so much so that the names of the signers were kept secret for six months.
They were risking everything, and they knew it. That is the meaning of the Declaration's soaring last sentence:
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
Most of the signers survived the war; several went on to illustrious careers.
Two of them became presidents of the United States, and among the others were future vice presidents, senators, and governors. But not all were so fortunate.
Nine of the 56 died during the Revolution, and never tasted American independence.
Five were captured by the British.
Eighteen had their homes -- great estates, some of them - looted or burnt by the enemy.
Some lost everything they owned.
Two were wounded in battle.
Two others were the fathers of sons killed or captured during the war.
"Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." It was not just a rhetorical flourish.
We all recognize John Hancock's signature, but who ever notices the names beneath his? William Ellery, Thomas Nelson, Richard Stockton, Button Gwinnett, Francis Lewis -- to most of us, these are names without meaning.
But each represents a real human being, some of whom paid dearly "for the support of this Declaration" and American independence.
Lewis Morris of New York, for example, must have known when he signed the Declaration that he was signing away his fortune. Within weeks, the British ravaged his estate, destroyed his vast woodlands, butchered his cattle, and sent his family fleeing for their lives.
Another New Yorker, William Floyd, was also forced to flee when the British plundered his property. He and his family lived as refugees for seven years without income. The strain told on his wife; she died two years before the war ended.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, an aristocratic planter who had invested heavily in shipping, saw most of his vessels captured by the British navy. His estates were largely ruined, and by the end of his life he was a pauper.
The home of William Ellery, a Rhode Island delegate, was burned to the ground during the occupation of Newport.
Thomas Heyward Jr., Edward Rutledge, and Arthur Middleton, three members of the South Carolina delegation, all suffered the destruction or vandalizing of their homes at the hands of enemy troops. All three were captured when Charleston fell in 1780, and spent a year in a British prison.
"Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
Thomas Nelson Jr. of Virginia raised $2 million for the patriots' cause on his own personal credit. The government never reimbursed him, and repaying the loans wiped out his entire estate. During the battle of Yorktown, his house, which had been seized by the British, was occupied by General Cornwallis. Nelson quietly urged the gunners to fire on his own home. They did so, destroying it. He was never again a man of wealth. He died bankrupt and was buried in an unmarked grave.
Richard Stockton, a judge on New Jersey's supreme court, was betrayed by loyalist neighbors. He was dragged from his bed and thrown in prison, where he was brutally beaten and starved. His lands were devastated, his horses stolen, his library burnt. He was freed in 1777, but his health had so deteriorated that he died within five years. His family lived on charity for the rest of their lives.
In the British assault on New York, Francis Lewis's home and property were pillaged. His wife was captured and imprisoned; so harshly was she treated that she died soon after her release. Lewis spent the remainder of his days in relative poverty.
And then there was John Hart. The speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, he was forced to flee in the winter of 1776, at the age of 65, from his dying wife's bedside. While he hid in forests and caves, his home was demolished, his fields and mill laid waste, and his 13 children put to flight. When it was finally safe for him to return, he found his wife dead, his children missing, and his property decimated. He never saw any of his family again and died, a shattered man, in 1779.
The men who signed that piece of parchment in 1776 were the elite of their colonies. They were men of means and social standing, but for the sake of liberty, they pledged it all -- their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
"Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor"
Our Founding Fathers paid the price for the United States of America.
By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Columnist