“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hockey News

I was able to watch the Stars and Blackhawks game last night. To be honest, I was a lot more impressed with the Hawks game than I expected to be. I’m kind of excited to see if this is what things will really be like under Savard. Of course, Dallas helped them a lot. From Modano going down due to a puck in the skates in warm up to the horrendous number of give-aways Dallas made, it’s a wonder the score wasn’t a lot worse. You can read the take from Sports Illustrated. Over all, I didn’t see the game that way. On the down side, I saw a lot of individual effort by various hawks, which is probably what saved Dallas from a really disgraceful night. On the upside, I saw more spectacular moments of brilliance from the Hawks than I did from Dallas—especially from Hamilton’s line. The question really boils down to is this coaching change enough to bring the team together?

Meanwhile, the league has announced New Uniforms beginning next season. How exciting! Attendance is down across the league. Even Canada has suffered a drop in audience. And, the best they can do is show off new uniforms? They even scheduled the All Star Game for a Wednesday!?! I’m not seeing much to encourage me about the league. My real hope remains in the fact that hockey is THE MOST awesome game.
(…if they play…the people will come…Hey! I can dream can’t I?...)

And, as I’ve said before, the league would be really strange without the Penguins in Pittsburgh. And, it all comes down to a gambling license. It’s a heck of a deal if it goes through:

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. has promised to build a $290 million arena to replace 45-year-old Mellon Arena, at no cost to taxpayers or the team, if awarded the license. The other two applicants are expected to provide money toward an arena, but neither would fully fund a new building.
I bet the city of Pittsburgh is thrilled with the idea of no money needed for a new facility. The city is putting together an alternate plan for a new arena. So, I guess we’re really going to see just how bad they want to keep the Pens in town.

11/30 Morning Report

I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things. First it was the holidays. Now, I’m starting back into school to finish a degree. And, I work weekend nights. Makes it tough to keep up. So…

I actually found this right before I went off for Thanksgiving—and lost the link. The standard argument is that religion has been the cause of much of the world’s war and death. Right? Well, while religion has been involved in many conflicts, consider this:

In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.
(…amazing the stuff we get handed in school…in the name of separation of church and state…)

Then there was yesterday’s activity over at Snoop’s place. This first note springs off a post by LaShawn. But, the real meat is the link and quote from the NY Times. In another post, on where the Democrats will take the economy, Snoop really let’s you see some truth. Be sure to follow out the links on this one.
(…imagine the NY Times letting such a secret out…)

Meanwhile, over at the Captain’s Comments there is a great series going on Islamic culture, and the situation in the Middle East. If there are things you haven’t been able to understand, this should help.
(…H/T to Sabot Loaded…)

By the way, another good supplement to your Middle East news is The Lone Voice.
(…H/T to Savannah Daydreamin’…)

I’m still wondering why Democrats say the Bush policies have failed…economically that is. This Reuters report says income has been rising, and spending is up.
Overall consumer prices rose 1.5 percent on a year-over-year basis, the smallest rise since a 1.4 percent gain in August 2002.
There have also been reports lately on the shrinking federal budget deficit. The Republicans may use scare tactics to get people to support the war. But, Democrats absolutely use economic scare scare tactics to convince people they are worse off and things are not improving. Admittedly, they are not doing so for everyone. But, legalized re-distribution of wealth?
(…before you accuse me of condemning those on welfare, I’ve been there, and did what it takes to get out, too…my wife and children are Native American, too…)

Speaking of minorities, the media is still playing the racial lines for all it’s worth. This report talks about people in a mostly minority neighborhood being singled out by police when trouble occurs. The police and the people admit it’s because the gangs are there—nd the majority of the culprits are young and black. That is not racially oriented police behavior. That would be real crime fighting—you know, going after what causes the problem. Sure mistakes will be made. The big news case of late? Over fifty bullets fired at the guy on his wedding night. Is fifty excessive? Probably. But, so is running over a cop and crashing—twice—into a police van.
(…I feel for the guy and his family…but other than maybe too many bullets, I don’t think the cops did anything wrong…)

Lastly, from Texas Cable News comes some sad news. An Austin, TX, native, Marine Sergeant Michael Craig Ledsome, died Saturday while on a combat mission in the Al Anbar province. Sgt. Ledsome was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune. He leaves behind a wife and young son.

So, once again, at our house, we remember the cry of the warriors:
"Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow, we gave our today."
--The Kohima Epitaph--
Sergeant Ledsome, we remember what you have given. And we say thank you for the tomorrows you gave others. May God give back to your family more than they have sacrificed and lost.

And, now, we dance In Memoriam.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Ranting Kossacks!

THIS was a rather unsettling claim. Someone did a study that supposedly proves that there is a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush. The link to the original article is HERE. I have no reason to dispute the actual data. However, given that the only people studied were mental patients, I think the conclusion is a bit out there. The Kos writer seems to think that makes all Bush supporters psychotic.
(…so now we are going to make personal and mental judgements official, based on politics…I wonder what a study would show of those who believe people who make up stories like…military members are dumb…or incompetent…hhhmmm…)

Another Kossack posted a list, copied from Think Progress, about how bad Congress has been. It’s amazing how anit-Conservatives blame the Republicans. The list is…well, maybe not…it is The Daily Kos. I’ll do just a couple of rebuttals from the ones at the top of the list, you can do your own from there:

2. The Senate voted down a measure that urged the administration to start a phased redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2006. Link. Let’s look at the article in the Link…hhhmmm…If the vote hadn’t been 60-39, I might believe it was an all Republican affair. Of course, given the left wing bent of the authors, I can believe they didn’t like the outcome of the vote.
3. Congress failed to raise the minimum wage, leaving it at its lowest inflation-adjusted level since 1955. Link Well, it’s a great link to a statistical analysis of showing a need for raising the minimum wage. That I will not doubt. There were actually two bills that came for vote in the Senate. And, a look at the votes shows that neither party really had backing for their proposals. With a required vote of 60 to pass, the Democratic one failed 51-47, probably along party lines, and the Republican one failed 57-42, indicating it had at least some Democratic support. Sounds like both sides are in the soup on this one.
4. Congress gave itself a two percent pay raise. Link. Quoting from the article here,
But by a 249-167 vote, the House rejected Matheson’s procedural attempt to get a direct vote on the pay raise.
Yep. Sounds like it was only the Republicans who did this, alright.
5. There were 15,832 earmarks totaling $71 billion in 2006. (In 1994, there were 4,155 earmarks totaling $29 billion.) Link. There have been a number of articles that have exposing the flagrancy of both sides to abuse the earmark system. The top two recipients are a Democrat and a Republican. See this NY Times article on the subject.
6. Congress turned the tragic Terri Schiavo affair into a national spectacle because, according to one memo, it was “a great political issue” that got “the pro-life base…excited.” Link. If I wasn’t so pro-life, I probably wouldn’t be too upset about this particular item on the list. We have people spending millions to save a single whale, but we will not put the same effort forth to save a human individual? In spite of the legal shenanigans that went on allowing the “husband” to get this judgment? And these people call themselves Liberals?
OK. That’s as far as I’m going to take the list here. You can follow it out for yourself.

Sen. Leahy is leading an investigation to stop illegal military surveillance of counter recruitment and anti-war groups. In searching the links, I found a coupe of claims that don’t wash out. For instance the link for ”over 180 violations” doesn’t even mention the number of violations. It also doesn’t mention the time frame of operations. 180 over the course of 2 months might be a lot. 180 over the course of a couple of years would not be that many. The link to a Military.com article mentions 260 instances of improper collection OR retention of data. However, it shows that the review began before the “media outbreak” of this event. For all the “illegal” and “unrighteous” claims of the left, it would seem that the established oversight is working properly. It also looks like Leahy is doing nothing more than simple political grandstanding, using peoples fears to advance his own career.
(…using the standards of the left…that would mean he qualifies as a Republican!...)

11/29 Morning Report

Ever wonder what they teach at some of the nicer colleges? Here is a New York Daily News article to give you some ideas.
(…so much for our universities being bastions of social order…)

On the subject of social order, this post at A Keyboard And A .45 was pretty informative. Follow the links on it. It’s a pretty good picture of the bias in the media and government. Personally, I think the Commissioner absolutely did the right thing. Now, I don’t support everything the pro-gun groups advocate. But, I do support the right to bear arms. And, I think the anti-gun lobby goes way overboard in some areas. JR also gives out this really good breakdown of how the public presentation by the anti-gun lobby does not match their real agenda.
(…sounds like the same guys who are reporting on the Middle East…hhhmmm…)

Doing some random surfing off of various blogs, I found another report on the subject of media nonsense. The Raw Story had a really interesting read. Is it hard to believe that Al-Qaeda-Iraq says they are an active force? Apparently it is for Pelosi. Not to mention the media’s inability to define what really is a civil war.
(…h/t to Ali Bubba…)

Chickenhawk added another breakdown of the AP’s stinger situation. It’s a follow-up to her post yesterday. There are plenty of links to follow out. What I find all too common these days is the media and the Democrats keep making these non-apologies and excuses rather than giving full explanations. I wonder if they take lessons from each other?
(…It probably wouldn’t bother me so much if they didn’t require those full explanations of everyone else…)

Following up on the international trend to use the laws of other countries to hold others accountable (…see notes here and here…)…The Italians are still trying to decide what to do about their intelligence agent shot last year while escorting a freed hostage to the airport. I still haven’t seen anything that says our soldiers did anything wrong. But, with anti-Bush government now in control of Italy…

I have a follow up on another post, this time regarding NATO. This morning, NATO announced they have invited the Balkan Nations to join up. With all the Muslim problems going on already, NATO wants to open the doors for more for Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzogovina? El Capitan’s thoughts are looking scarier and scarier.

And, in a move that was bound to happen sooner or later, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a case on global warming. Well, more accurately, the case is on the greenhouse gasses. It involves a suit placed by 13 states and several environmental groups against the Environmental Protection Agency. The crux of the argument boils down to:

The plaintiffs argue that the greenhouse gas emissions from cars, trucks and factories should be regulated by the U.S. government.

The EPA, along with 10 states, four motor vehicle trade associations and two coalitions of utility companies and other industries, maintain the agency lacks the authority to limit emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
Having to have the courts decided who is responsible, and how responsible they are for it, is making legislation—not interpreting it. This is a job for Congress. Why don’t we band together and make our Congressmen do their jobs—so the courts can do what they are supposed to be doing, instead of Congress’s job?
(…oh…but then politicians might have to really do something…wouldn’t that qualify as a miracle…aaahhh!!!...that explains it…separation of church and state…can’t have God work a miracle in the halls of government, now can we…)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

News, And A Quote For The Day

The NY Times is not happy. It seems the Supreme Court won’t let the Times have it’s way. The thing I like most about this story is the way it shows how the Times turns on those who choose not to help their agenda. I suspect that Fitzgerald, the hero of Plame-gate, is now persona non grata at the Times.
(…anyone want to bet the Times tries some other scheme to keep from being held accountable?...)

Pelosi did something of a surprise move today, rejecting Hastings as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee due his prior corruption charges while a judge.
(…it does leave you wondering who she’s going to pick, though…who could be worse for the spot than Hastings…)

However, in more normal behavior, the Washing Times reports that Democrats are protecting illegal aliens. According to this report, employers will soon not be allowed to take action to make sure records are correct and employees really are legal workers.
(…I think Michelle had the best take on it today…)

And, I’m probably going to anger a few people with my next statements. But, not having read the entire 45-page decision, and based on this Reuters report, I think this is a pretty reasonable ruling. I recognize this judge did their own editorializing from the bench, and attempted to create law by doing so. This is a continuing problem from judicial seats all across the country. But, I also recognize the problem of unrestricted power and its execution.
(…by the way, anyone who gets a deeper read from other news or the judges decision, feel free to shoot me down here…)

Back at the NY Times, there was a report that Hezbollah is arming Shiites in Iraq. Shiite militia members have been trained in Lebanon, and there are advisors in Iraq. And, of course, Iran and Syria are facilitating it all.

“There seems to have been a strategic decision taken sometime over late winter or early spring by Damascus, Tehran, along with their partners in Lebanese Hezbollah, to provide more support to Sadr to increase pressure on the U.S.,” the American intelligence official said.
WOW! This was printed in the Times? Oh, wait…Is anyone surprised by this “revelation”? This has been a claim of the right nearly from the beginning. Isn’t this one of the main causes of the expansion of sectarian violence—currently being called a civil war?
(…let’s see…up to now foreign jihadists have been the biggest players…we now have foreign nations being the organizers and facilitators of violence and social instability…nope…doesn’t sound like a civil war to me…)

And, closing out with subjects military, I found two commentary posts this evening. The first was from El Capitan on the performance of NATO in Afghanistan, and it’s future as an organization. I hate to admit he may be right. Given the spread of Muslim violence in European nations, that would be a very bad thing.

The second was a discussion over at Op-For on women in combat arms. Now, having served around and known some very competent female warriors and soldiers (see Blackfive’s thoughts on the difference), I’m kind of on the fence in this one. And, although this discussion really only rehashes the same talking points, it is a good read.

And, I will leave you with the following as a Quote For The Day:
"Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media for they will steal your honor." - Bobby McBride, Crew Chief, 128th Assault Helicopter Company, RVN 1969-1970
(H/T to Blackfive)

11/28 Morning Report

I thought I would point out some good commentary today. I spent a good deal of my overnight surfing around various blogs. I found a lot of good stuff to ponder, too.

There are a lot of people worthy of remembrance…some even from other countries. All warriors deserve honor. Especially those who can be humble about it.
(Thanks to John for the link…)

On the subject of warriors, Blackfive had some great thoughts on what it means to be a warrior, as opposed to just a soldier.
It is much more thoughtful than just a rant about Charlie Rangel’s latest verbal gaff. Of course, in opposition to Rangel’s comments, there was also this article in the Dallas Morning news about Immigrant soldiers who serve just to give something back.
(…they couldn’t possibly have any better opportunities…could they?...)

Returning to a hot topic, Greyhawk reposted an article on how Islam is set to take advantage of America via the media. If you doubt, take note of the things that have been said at MSM outlets that have since been changed or removed from view.
(…make sure you follow out the links…)

A little while ago, my thoughts on the Israel-Palestinian situation. Here is another look, from different angle. The question I like here was, how come the Muslims don’t hate the Russians?

Another way to see how our anxious apologies and intolerance of suffering encourages the terrorist is to consider the case of Russia. For over a century Russia and then the USSR dominated and oppressed Central Asian Muslims. The Soviets then brutalized Afghanistan in an attempt to retain control over its government, and failed only because of the support of the West for the jihadists battling the Soviet army. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the attempt by Muslims in Chechnya to gain their independence has been brutally suppressed at the cost of perhaps 50,000 dead and the near destruction of it major city Grozny.

So is Russia, its hands red with Muslim blood, the “Great Satan” of the jihadists and their state sponsor, Iran? Of course not. The United States is: a country that never colonized or ruled a Muslim nation, a country that helped Muslims in Afghanistan, a country that liberated Muslim Kuwait, a country that bombed and killed Christian Serbs to protect Balkan Muslims, a country that has spent its blood and treasure getting rid of Iran’s most bitter enemy and the Shia Muslims’ worst oppressor, Saddam Hussein, a country that even now is fighting to empower Iran’s fellow Shiites. We are the Great Satan, while the Iranian mullocracy happily does business with the Russians and seldom says a word of condemnation against them.

Why is this so? Obviously, Russia serves Iran’s interests by helping with their nuclear development and protecting its interests on the Security Council. But there’s another important reason Russia’s much more extensive crimes against Islam are given a pass: the jihadists know the Russians are not susceptible to the therapeutic blackmail used against a self-loathing West. Russia uses brutal force to promote and defend its interests and doesn’t give a damn what the rest of the world thinks. Indeed, according to the latest report on the May 2005 Beslan massacre of school children by Chechnyan terrorists, the Russians initiated the fire-fight, callously sacrificing their own citizens in order to destroy the terrorists and perhaps send a message that hostage-taking isn’t going to work.
Interesting thoughts.
(…H/T to Enlisted Swine for the link…almost sorry I missed it back when it was first posted…)

Monday, November 27, 2006

11/27 Morning Report

Right after I found out JR had honored me at A Keyboard and a .45, I found an article I really enjoyed. It seems an anti-gun Mayor was arrested on weapons charges! Now, the gun was probably legal, registered, and so on. So, technically his membership in Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) wasn’t violated. But, in principle, it really was a hypocritical thing to do. I also discovered that, while I was away for the holiday, I missed JR’s post about a school in Alaska giving firearms training. That sounds like a valuable education to me!
(…I bet JR and company really enjoyed these reports…they really should have, if they didn’t…by the way, JR is a pretty good read…you should check it out…)

In other news, I spent some time checking out the NY Times and the BBC. Yeah, I hear all the cat calls and booing even over the internet. I know how biased they are. In fact, I know how biased they say they are (see my BBC thoughts here). Having spent my time lately pretty much focused on things here in the states, I thought I would check out other parts of the world.

The NY Times reports that, here in the states, timely detection of Bird Flu cases may not be possible. Given the similarities between the Bird Flu and the flu pandemic of the early 1900s, that is not comforting news. On the other hand, the BBC is reporting that UK banks could withstand an outbreak without major disruption of business.
(…well!...I feel much better…don't you?...)

The Times also reported on the Terror Trial of militant Islam. The article is traces the path of Islamists currently on trial in Britain. There is a lot of good info on how these groups operate—and how they go about their denials. Well worth reading through.

The Italians are investigating possible election fraud issues. It seems Left Wing groups are claiming Right Wing groups tried to rig the election with blank ballots. Assuming it’s true, how dumb does the system have to be for blank ballots to even be available to count? Alternatively, assuming it’s false, how dumb do you have to be to claim something involved blank ballots?
(…and the video being given out to “prove” the fraud is entitled Kill Democracy…sound like something the left would do here, too…)

Reuters reports that thousands protested the Pope’s coming visit to Turkey. Among other things, protesters are blaming Christians in general for the situations in Palestine, Iraq and Chechnya. I find it interesting that much of the current suffering is being caused by Islamic instigated violence, yet they blame others. And, of course, politics come into play as well:

Turkey's ruling AK Party government has kept a low profile in preparations for this visit, with talks still in progress as to whether Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, a pious Muslim, will meet him before leaving for a NATO summit in Riga. With a general election due next year the AK Party, which has roots in political Islam, must balance a rise in nationalism as well as their support base among conservative Muslims.
(…violent protests…intolerance of others…unforgiveness…whatever happened to the Religion of Peace…)

Jordan’s King Abdullah believes there are three civil wars looming in the Middle East: Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel. I can see the possibility of Lebanon and Iraq. Given the recent assassinations in Lebanon, and the cabinet boycotts by Hezbollah, it would not be a surprise. And, like many commentators, I actually see the increasing probability of one in Iraq. I’m at a loss to see how Israel could drop into a civil war. I could see an international conflict with the various Islamic groups that surround her. But, that is not the same as civil war.
(…of course, there’s no bias involved…nnnaaahhh…course not...)

And, I was going to write something on the Israeli-Palestinian cease fire. Unfortunately, Yid With Lid beat me to it. Fortunately, he did a much better job than I would have.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Veteran's Day Surprise

On Monday November 13, a Marine (…ok…former Marine…if there is such a thing…) friend of ours from our homeschool co-op, told us about Golden Corral’s “Veterans Appreciation Day”. According to the corporate website, Veterans eat dinner for free on the first Monday after Veterans Day. As it turned out, we also had some coupons for our kids, due to some academic achievements, from the same chain. So we all loaded up and went out to dinner.

We arrived some 20 minutes after the event began. There was already a line out the door and down the front of the building. An Air Force Lt. Colonel and Senior Master Sergeant were there opening the doors for people. An Air Force Jr. ROTC group helped wait tables, along with the Lions Club and the restaurant staff.

To be honest, I knew there were a lot of military people in our area. But, seeing the age range was surprising. There were single men. There were families. Some wore fatigues with their old uniform patches. Some wore ball caps with unit or vessel designations on them. Some wore their everyday clothes.

The thing that surprised me the most, was feeling like I belonged. I wasn’t alone. I have done many things over the years. I’ve been somewhat successful at most of it. I can truly say I have not done something catastrophic in any of my endeavors. But, no matter where I have gone, I have always felt like the odd man out. In general, those who have not served do not know what it means to be that committed. And, in our increasingly liberal, anti-military culture, well…But, that night, I belonged. I was in a place where we all understood the distant looks that went with the laughter. I was home.

My kids asked me why I kept getting this funny look on my face. I told them I was adjusting to being around family again. The Valour-IT competition, and this restaurant event, brought that home to me in a new way. No matter what branch of service we were in, we are all family.

This Veteran’s Day I did something new. I went to a family reunion of all the generations. I think it’s the first family reunion I was sincerely happy to attend.

11/26 Morning Report

The Lebanese cabinet has approved an international court to try suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Given the boycott by Hezbollah cabinet members, and the assassination of another, by law there is an insufficient attendance to vote on such measures. This leaves it questionable whether the trials can, or will, actually take place. But, here’s my question, given that the pro-Syrian members are boycotting and the anti-Syrian members are being assassinated, why doesn’t the media and EU governments give Syria and Iran more pressure?
(…oh, yeah…I forgot…it’s all because of Bush…and the Israelis…)

Speaking of Israel, the Israeli/Palestinian announcement of a cease-fire caught everyone off guard. Here is the BBC report. As upbeat as this report is, it’s obvious the BBC does not believe it will hold.

Officials have indicated in the past that they do not believe Mr Abbas has the power to enforce a ceasefire among Palestinian groups, he says.
Personally, I always hate it when they say “officials” without giving names. It’s kind of like “anonymous sources”…how do we know for sure? According to a later report Israel actually managed to get their troops withdrawn by the ceasefire start time.
(…it’s nice to be surprised sometimes…)

I found the goofiest article today in The NY Times. The headline reads “U.S. Finds Iraq Insurgency Has Funds to Sustain Itself”. So, can anyone tell me what is surprising about this announcement? Let me ask this differently. With the media, even some governments, and families paying extortion money for the release of hostages, is anyone really surprised, yet? According to the 7-page classified report:
As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments — previously identified by American officials as including France and Italy — paid $30 million in ransom last year.
In the name of love and compassion towards those held captive, we finance further bloodshed and violence. Given the trouble with tracking Mafia money, not to mention EU information privacy conflicts, I seriously doubt there has even been a dent in tracking or grabbing terrorist funds.
(…and we wonder what’s wrong with this picture…)

On the subject of money and government, here in the US, the Democrats have been calling for legislation to control earmarks. Their principle effort seems to be making disclosure requirements (i.e. ending anonymity). In another article, the NY Times reveals how Congress as a whole, and Democrats in particular, are balking at that idea. Unfortunately, the most revealing comment on Congress actually came from a Republican:
“Transparency would be enough if we had any shame, if you were embarrassed to get an earmark for the National Wild Turkey Federation,” said Representative Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, referring to a $234,000 earmark in a recent agricultural bill. “But Republicans and Democrats have shown that is no longer any embarrassment.”
Since there is no more real embarrassment about the issue, and with Inouye being number two at getting “earmark” money, I doubt anything much will come out of this.
(…another case of election rhetoric about to be lost and forgotten in the DC-shuffle…)

Stepping back to things military and Middle East, Blackfive had a link to an awesome breakdown of the MSM and their reporting on Iraq violence. Curt put in a lot of time and research the MSM coverage of recent mosque burnings and immolations of citizens. You should also go visit Poterico's Pontifications. He looks into the media reports of US air strikes killing 30+ civilians. I’ll give the punch line away: the MSM is getting their information from the enemy. Don’t believe me? Read them through for yourself.
(...and, be sure to follow their links and research trails...)

Lastly, on the subject of my article yesterday on Honor, another missing man has come home. The Ft. Worth Star Telegram reports that Charles H. Long, a casualty of the Korean War, was laid to rest where his headstone has stood as a memorial for over 50 years, in Durband, IL.

Meanwhile, I’ve been delinquent to comment on another loss. Any Soldier reported that on November 14, LCpl Mike Scholl died of wounds sustained in operations in Al-Anbar Province. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

So, once again, at our house, we remember the cry of the warriors:
"Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow, we gave our today."
--The Kohima Epitaph--
LCpl. Scholl and Charles Long, we remember what you have given. And we say thank you for the tomorrows you gave others. May God give back to your family more than they have sacrificed and lost. For Charles Long, we add, “Welcome home, soldier. May you rest in peace.”

And, now, we dance In Memoriam.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Lessons In Honor

On October 22, 2006, I posted a message on the passing of Marine LCpl Manoukian. Rest assured, the prayer in that post (and every other In Memorium I write) is one we pray regularly for the families of the fallen. Just some simple words I wrote once—and could not think of a better way to write. Quite honestly, I copy and paste those words to each fallen soldier I mention on my blog.

Frankly, I’ve been struggling with posting things on fallen soldiers. I started doing it because of notes I read at Blackfive and Castle Argghhh. Mostly, I struggle with only being able to mention some of them. I began feeling it was wrong to mention some and not others. Another struggle is: how do I decide who to post on and who do I not. There are the soldiers I read about in the local paper. And, there are those I hear about on the national news, or read about on other blogs. How and where do you draw the line? Generally, I have no problem with posting on those listed at Any Soldier. I’ve spent two years sending packages and letters. In many ways, the troops who are signed up on that program are family. I don’t catch them all. But, I try.

I was particularly wrestling with this issue on Sunday and Monday, prior to leaving for Oklahoma over Thanksgiving. In fact, it grabbed so much of my attention, I forgot to check e-mail before I left. Wednesday, while visiting family, I had an opportunity to check mail. I was riveted to my seat by the first message. Then, I cried.

The e-mail was from LCpl. Manoukian’s mother, saying “Thank you” for what I had written. I had no idea that some simple words could have such an effect. I could never have imagined I would receive an e-mail from the family of a fallen warrior. I never dreamed I could touch them directly, let alone that they would contact me about it. I was humbled.

I called my children in and read them what I wrote, and what this wonderful, hurting woman had written back. I got choked up trying to read it back to them. They were speechless.
(…you will find her e-mail (edited) and my response in the comments to this post, and in the comments to the original post…)

Two days later, while driving home, I had the opportunity to teach one more lesson.

We stopped for a bathroom break in McKinney, Texas. The bathrooms only held one person at a time. There was myself, my wife, our two sons, and our two daughters. Needless to say, we were in line for a while.

While standing there, a motorcycle rider joined the line. He was by himself. On his leather vest were a bunch of patches: Air Force Staff Sergeant’s stripes, a flag, an MIA patch, and a few others. One, in particular, caught my attention. It said “Patriot Guard Rider.”

I asked if he had been on a ride. He nodded his head, looking down. He didn’t look down out of shame. It was out of regret. I simply leaned over, stuck out my hand, and said, “Thank you.” Suddenly, it was my turn in the bathroom. When I came out, he rushed in. There was no other exchange between us. My family was already at the car. I climbed in, and looked over my shoulder to watch the Rider start his bike and ride off.

My kids saw this man waiting in line. I wanted very much introduce my children to him, and explain to them what his group does. The chance did not materialize. Instead, I spent a few miles telling my children about the Patriot Guard Riders. All the while, I was looking at the horizon wondering where he had gone.

This Thanksgiving, I have a little more to be thankful for. My children learned the power of simple words and deeds. And, they’ve learned a lessons about honor in a way I doubt they’ll forget.

And, I have a reason to carry on the honor of remembrance. So, for all those who have fallen, we at our house remember your cry:

"Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow, we gave our today."
--The Kohima Epitaph--
We remember what you have given. And we say thank you for the tomorrows you have given others. May God give back to your families more than they have sacrificed and lost.

And, now, we dance In Memoriam.

(...and people wonder why we home school...tell me my kids would learn this in a classroom...)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hockey News

Well, it’s still a three way race for the basement between the Coyotes, the Blue Jackets, and, of course, the Flyers--with the Blues just barely ahead of them. And, while the Yotes have risen from the floor of the basement, they are still pretty firmly down there. Personally, I still expecting some major player moves in Philly. Though, I suspect the Flyers are pretty happy to be totally rid of Hitchcock.
(…I do wonder how the Blue Jackets are feeling about that deal right about now…)

Thursday’s brouhaha between the Thrashers and the Capitals was interesting. Here is the SI report on all the follow up. What do you think? Were the suspensions enough? I kind of don’t think so. I have never really had a problem with two guys losing their tempers, throwing a couple punches, and sitting in the Box for five minutes. I understand that. But, going out on the ice with the intent to pick/start a fight…that’s out of line. That kind of fighting is an unnecessary element to the game.
(…one thing I have always liked about the NHL is using player suspension money for an emergency assistance fund…)

There are some pretty important people sitting on the injured lists these days. Crosby sat out his second game. Stillman won’t be back until mid-December. Even Forsberg says he’s still hurting. There’s nothing new about players getting hurt—even long term. The key is what their teams will do about it. Philly needs Forsberg. They need him at 100%. And, they need it now. Crosby, on the other hand, isn’t the only linchpin in Pittsburgh. So, while his absence is not good, the Pens can survive it short term. You can check out a list of injuries in The East and the West by conference and team.

And, since I’m in the Dallas area, I’ll close with a short item on Marty Turco. Turco has head problems. They affect him most in the playoffs. I don’t know why…and apparently no one else has figured it out either. A friend at work thinks it stems from that overtime loss with the Ducks in the playoffs a couple years ago. I’ll grant the possibility. But…Anyway, SI had this report on the Stars back-up, Mike Smith. They may be right. It’s not just tough competition for the starter’s job.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Notes From Today

The French are going after Rwanda’s President. Don’t get me wrong, he deserves to be punished for what he did. However, read closer, and you’ll see the French are trying to get the UN to prosecute, because French law doesn’t allow it. Don’t be surprised if they go after Rummy using this method if it works.

Hispanics are being urged to use their wallets against businesses that support local illegal immigration ordinances in Farmers Branch, Texas. So much for the “we are law abiding citizens who support the government” argument. The law is designed to keep ILLEGAL immigrants from getting economic support after breaking the laws. So, what is the focus of the “campaign?” The dollars ILLEGAL immigrants bring to business. It probably won’t matter. The ACLU is filing to get injunctions against anit-ILLEGAL-imigration laws across the country—specifically in Hazleton, Pa, and Escandido, Ca. The argument brought by the ACLU? The laws could bring irreparable harm—specifically financial harm—to the community or various people groups. I guess the lesson we are to take from this as a culture is that money makes everything all right in the end.

In a related issue, activists are claiming racial impropriety (…I’m being nice…) against Gov. Rick Perry in Texas. And, once again, the ACLU seems to be leading the charge. Their reason: beefed up border patrols are catching illegal immigrants instead of suspected terrorist. Their conclusion, of course, is the federal anti-terrorism money is being mis-used.

The reports show Operation Linebacker, the program one state security official called the "cornerstone" of Texas border safety efforts, caught suspected undocumented immigrants seven times more often than it apprehended violent criminals and drug traffickers.
Let’s see if I understand this correctly. The number of people watching the border goes up, and more illegal immigrants are caught. Sounds logical to me. No smugglers and terrorists caught? Well, they only have to be right once. Maybe if we can cut the funding because they haven’t been using that route lately? Think they will if we quit watching?

Well, I am off—at least until Friday. I won’t really have internet access to blog between now and then. Everyone enjoy the time.

Middle East News

A US District Court judge has refused to allow the release of secret wire-tapping records. The very liberal People for the American Way Foundation sued to obtain records who approved the program, and how much tapping was going on. One interesting fact is the judge was appointed to the District Bench in 1999—you know, the Clinton years.
(…think this may be the end of it?...any one?...)

Democrats are divided about the draft? Really? Imagine that. Charlie Rangel is trying to push his long sought after goal. He is getting support from Jesse Jackson, who seems to think that military service gives college access to a privileged group. Their prime opponent? Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, who is to chair the Senate Armed Services Committee. And, Republicans don’t support it either. But, make sure you read between the lines of what’s being said. I recommend reading John’s breakdown. for the serious hearted among us. For pure laughs, read this.

On the subject of the military, a secret study group has released it’s recommendations—or at least the existence of them. As everyone knows, there seem to be only three possibilities: put up more troops, prepare to stay a lot longer, or go home. The usual players are to be found in the usual corners. Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter wants more troops and finish the fight. McCain says more troops now, then get out. Obama and Levin say start leaving and get out in 4-6 months. And so on…and so on…

With Iran and Syria trying to get involved, the Iraq situation is becoming more and more problematic. The Bush administration is wary of the overtures. Of course, the Islamists are for the involvement. So is the American Left. It doesn’t matter that despite all the rhetoric, neither of these countries has done anything to stop the violence—and have even encouraged its spread tacitly or implicitly. For example, as one commenter on this article says, Iran at some point offered to reign in Hezbollah. Why haven’t they done it anyway? More importantly, why isn’t there more media pressure for such a thing.
(…as if I need to ask…)

Lastly, BIG HAT TIP to Op-For for sharing this. I’ve often felt unsettled as I have blogged the names of some of the fallen. They were not service members I knew. Just the ones I could find to honor. My unsettledness came from not being able to honor them all. But, at our house, unlike the media, we know they have names. Go visit”They Have Names” to find their stories.

On May 29th, two journalists were killed and one severely injured by an IED in Iraq. Every media outlet in the country seemed to trip all over themselves trying to tell the American people about these "brave journalists". There were specials aired during prime time, full front page articles on almost every national newspaper and most local papers. And in every single article was this vague and nonspecific notation: "A U.S. soldier and an Iraqi translator also died in the blast."

Who was this "U.S. soldier"? For days, he endured anonymity for his sacrifice while these journalists whom he'd given his life to protect were paraded throughout the media as martyrs. I made it my goal in life to find out who he was and tell his story. He was not just "a U.S. soldier" to me. He was a brother. He was father. He was a son. And he had a name.
They have names was created to in order to pay proper respects for our fallen heroes. All too often, these Troops are relegated to mere numbers by the press. Their stories are unknown. Their lives are unkown. And their names are unknown. Their sacrifice is impersonal and taken for granted. To many Americans, they are faceless figures. They are not enigmas - They Have Names.
At the time of this writing, over 3000 troops have been killed in Iraq alone. Each and every one of them has unique talents, hobbies, families, and histories. Each of them had a reason that led them to serve in one of our nation's armed forces. These people are not mere numbers - They Have Names.
This site is dedicated to the memory of CPT James "Alex" Funkhouser, who gave me the motivation to share the stories of our fallen heroes.
At our house, we remember the cry of the warriors:
"Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow, we gave our today."
--The Kohima Epitaph--

We remember what you have given. And we say thank you for the tomorrows you have given others. May God give back to your families more than they have sacrificed and lost.

And, now, we dance In Memoriam.

Monday, November 20, 2006

On Walmart

If you ask me whether I agree with Walmart’s health insurance and pay practices, I would say no. Does that mean I think it is their responsibility to make health insurance available to their employees? I would say maybe—it would depend on the plan and what it means Walmart will have to pay for it.

(…WOW!!!...I can hear the collective gasp of air preparatory to vilifying such a remark. Let the air back out…slowly…and I’ll explain…)

We live in a nation driven by the stock markets. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you know of where planning was carried out to five years—and accomplished? I think the truth is more like this: our market driven economy has us focused no further out than the next quarter. Corporately, that translates to the next earnings report. And, that relates back to productivity, and cost.

Wages and benefits are generally the highest costs of any business. Limiting those costs is the easiest way for business to drive the profit margins. If costs go up, generally profits go down. If profits go down, the stock value goes down. And, when stock price begins to suffer, there is actually an trend among Americans to assume there is something wrong with the company, and we go somewhere else.

So, back to Walmart. Everyone knows Walmart is the leading retailer, at low costs. Because of their ruthless marketing efforts, prices have been driven down annually among their competitors—creating similar wage and benefit issues there. You see, along with their low prices come other related issues: underpaid workers who have no health insurance. To solve those issues, prices would have to go up—in order to avoid the possible outcomes of suffering stock, and maintaining the next quarter’s earnings.

The goal of every company is to make a profit. The goods or service involved is only the means of obtaining said profits. The more regulations limit the ability of companies to make profits, the more those jobs will go somewhere else. (…can everyone say “India”…)

The real issue is not what Walmart will or won’t provide for the company employees. It is important. But, it is not the real issue. The real issue goes back to our focus on life. We Americans view life with only a short-term focus. A great example is the situation in Iraq. At the start, President Bush warned it would take years, and cost a lot. But, before the end of the first year, the American media, politicians, and people were already saying it had taken too long and cost too much. American politics is another great example. We really only think in terms of the next two years politically. Why do you think Americans only remember the latest scandal? And not those 3-4 years before in the other party?

Our selfish, microwave society tends not to think beyond personal comfort. Personal comfort is always short-term in focus. It deal with “NOW.” As individuals and a society, we don’t really know how to deal with long term problems. For most of us, the longest term plan we ever had to create was getting through college (…well…those of us who thought our way through it anyway…) Some of us may have thought out our mortgage. But, given our highly mobile corporate world and the creative mortgages available to get a low payment, probably not. Those low payments are coming back to haunt a lot of homeowners because they didn’t think about possible long term consequences of a low up-front payment.

Those low payment options came about when lenders found ways they could make more money—driving up the corporate profits. The mounting unpayable debt, however, will bite consumers and providers alike. For example, what will happen now that the real estate bubble seems to be collapsing? And, it was all created for the sake of the next quarter’s earnings…

So, I see the Walmart situation as merely a symptom of a larger problem. Legislatively, the Walmart problem can be fixed in the short term. But, we would only be treating a symptom. What are we going to do about the real, larger, problem?

Until we the people learn to think long term, and consider the long term consequences of our actions, nothing will change. It won’t change in our homes. It won’t change in Washington. And it won’t change in corporate America.

Food For Thought

There was an interesting comparison from Jules on Iraq and Vietnam. The long term consequences part was rather chilling.

On that subject, Henry Kissinger says Iraq is not winnable militarily.

"I think we have to redefine the course, but I don't think that the alternative is between military victory, as defined previously, or total withdrawal," he said.
He believes the only way to stabilize the country is to involve the neighboring nations.

According to the NY Times, don’t expect a lot of campaign finance reform from the Democrats any time soon—if at all.
(…imagine this from THE TIMES…pretty tame, actually…probably too much too hope for more of the same…)

In that vein of thought, The WashPo had an article on the Dems upcoming agenda. The summary: quick legislative victories before things get crazy. The one hopeful statement in the article was:
Their success is not assured. Democrats will hold a tenuous 51 to 49 majority in the Senate, where Republicans and the Bush administration will be well-positioned to thwart their legislation, and Democrats in the House already are showing signs of division.
However, past some hints at funding and taxation wrangling, the article doesn’t address a thing. (…no surprise there, of course…) For some well thought out and expressed (and emotional) thoughts on the subject, go visit Savannah Daydreamin'. I missed this wonderful post the other day (...probably while sleeping so I could work that night...stinks...)

Meanwhile, Wild Bill sounds off on the re-emergence of “Foley-gate.” At least Foley had enough guts to make a real, public apology. Where’s the screaming for apologies, accompanied by media crucifixion, for Democratic offenders?
(…is it, perhaps, no room left on the pages after writing all the excuses for them?…by the way, go HERE and see how Ft. Worth sliced and diced the original article…)

I’ve commented before that the real danger to Republicans will be in not dealing with party issues and participation in finger pointing. Chickehawk has a great post on the goings on. It’s sadly true, but worth the read.

Mac has another series going over at Beast Media: The Second Civil War. I expect it to be as deep and researched as his eight part series on the Yugoslavian Civil War.

And, while you’re thinking about creating mutually opposing new political parties, check out Jarhead John’s comparison between modern and original liberals.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Assorted News And Amusements

To start the newsday, I offer some humor. If you haven’t done it, do a google search for “French military victories”. Follow the link under “did you mean…” It’s hysterical!

And now, for the news…

Israel calls off air strike to protect civilians. Think the news media will applaud them for it? WRONG! Instead, they crow about how the terrorists are going to use it as a method to avoid strikes.

In the past Gaza occupants have promptly evacuated their homes after receiving an Israeli bomb warning, and air strikes have often followed within the hour. But after the protest at Jabalya, militant leaders broadcast calls urging Gazans to resist future Israeli bomb threats in similar fashion.
Great. There was also this from the BBC which reminds
Two weeks ago, Palestinian women went to a mosque in the nearby town of Beit Hanoun in response to a request from Hamas commanders. Up to 15 Palestinian militants were hiding inside the mosque and a tense stand-off had developed between them and the Israeli forces surrounding the building. The Israeli army said the crowd of women acted as "human shields". The men were able mingle with them and escape, despite two of the women being killed when Israeli troops opened fire on the group
As usual, terrorists grow in their ability to take advantage of those who value human life. I shudder to think what this may mean for US, NATO and Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the Sudan, Government army and army backed militias are terrorizing civilians. Some estimates say it’s worse than 2003 when the fighting began. The government and one rebel group have “agreed to a peacekeeper force. But;
But analysts were more skeptical. "Not very much has been actually agreed as yet -- all the key questions in terms of forces, mandate and participation of U.N. troops remain unclear," said Dave Mozersky of the think tank International Crisis Group. "It doesn't sound like the major breakthrough everyone was hoping for."

And, to no one’s great surprise, Islamists don't like the new Pakistani rape law. Imagine! Under the new law, you would need four witnesses to prove rape. (…you only need the husband’s word to prove adultery…) And this “change” was sparked by the 2002 order to gang rape a woman for the sexual indiscretions of her 13-year old brother.
(…In a society that blames women for everything men do wrong, why would anyone think this was extreme? Hhhmmmm…)

Meanwhile, President Bush is trying to get the Chinese to open their doors to consumer product imports. Reuters reports
Bush is under pressure from American manufacturers to increase exports to China. The United States' year-to-date trade deficit with China reached $166.3 billion in September and was likely to easily outrun last year's record of $202 billion.
I think the scariest statement I read was:
Bush applauded Hu for trying to move China's economy toward a "nation of consumers and not savers, which will inure to the benefit of our manufacturers, both large and small, and our farmers as well."
No wonder we can’t increase the savings rate in our own country! The way to prosper is to increase debt!
(…this from a conservative?…I don’t think so…)

I know we Americans complain about extravagant and useless spending by our politicians. But, what about this AP report of an erotic theme park in Peru. The public got a windfall from mineral profits. So, the mayor...well…went wild. The people don’t thinks its all that strange for politicians to do things of this nature. So, what’s the big concern? More radical elements may move in to take power.

I enjoyed this breakdown on the left’s "embracing of Murtha”. It dove tails nicely with this report from the NYT. bAsically
Don’t expect a lot of campaign finance reform from the Democrats any time soon—if at all.

Now, there is the issue of stem cell research. Conservatives have taken a beating on this issue. Liberals are screaming that embryonic stem cells are the way to cure all kinds of terrible diseases. Right? After all, stem cells have been used to create cures for some pretty bad things. But, let’s remember to ask the question: Is it ADULT stem cell research, or EMBRYONIC, that has been creating the cures? An important thing to remember is that, to date, embryonic stem cells have produced no cures.

Some one has asked the question: What if Architects had to work like web designers? Of course, this begs the question: What if it was politicians? Oh…wait…we already do that…It’s called opinion polls.
(…it’s a cross post from somewhere else…but it’s worth the read for a the giggles…)

What happens when criminals in Mexico get convicted? They hold lawyers hostage!

Remember Walter Reed

El Capitan had an important post.

For Those of you who can, Remember Walter Reed Medical Center when you're shopping for Christmas.

Because of the expedient method to get them from the battlefield to WRAMC, the wounded arrive with nothing. Their personal items are in Iraq or Afghanistan to be shipped to them later. Therefore, the wounded men and women need many critical items to sustain them. If you would like to contribute items, the address to mail the items to (or drop off items) is:


LINK to the Hospital Site.

WISH LIST FOLLOWS (Please, no used items or money.):

1. Prepackaged candy, cookies, and crackers (no homemade)
2. Weight lifting gloves (for wheelchair patients - and there are many of them)
3. Pillows stuffed with polystyrene beads (very soft)
4. Postage Stamps
5. Pre-Paid Phone Cards
6. Flannel Pajamas
7. Shoes (size 9-12)
8. Sweatshirts / Jackets (zipped & hooded)
9. Break-away trousers (snaps or zips along legs)
10. Coats & Jackets (cold weather)
11. Gloves (cold weather)
12. Scarves (cold weather)
13. Backpacks (all black with single strap across the chest)
14. Carry-on size luggage (with wheels if possible)
15. Electric Razors
16. Umbrellas
17. Credit Cards, Prepaid (Gas, Gift cards & Food for Giant & Safeway nearby)
18. Portable DVD Players
19. DVDs -Action to Comedy (use common sense as far as content and subject)
20. iPODs
21. The wounded are normally very young and a nice stuffed animal cheers them up.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Lawyer Goes To Heaven

A lawyer died and went to meet God in heaven. On top that seeming impossibility, this man did something else unbelievable. He managed to take a bar of gold with him!

Standing in line, waiting his turn to be examined, he starts to get nervous. He noticed a man off to one side. Looking around nervously, he shuffles over to the man.

“Can I help you,” the man asked helpfully.

“Um…uummm” he says uncertainly. “I-I’ve got a problem. I need to talk with some one in authority.”

The other man’s eyebrows rose. “My name is Peter,” he replied seriously. “I’ve got a little clout around here. I have to admit, this is pretty unusual. What kind of problem are we talking about?”

The lawyer looked around again. With a shaky hand he reaches into his coat.

“I-I-I managed to bring something with me.”

“Really!” Peter’s eyebrows rose up even higher. “That’s quite an accomplishment. What did you bring?”

“Well…This,” the lawyer said, and pulled out the gold bar.

“What? Just pavement?”


We have a skewed view of what really matters—Christians and non-Christians alike.

Sure, the Bible says the streets of heaven will be paved with gold. I’ve even heard it said that statement is the psychological expression of poor Christians’ wish for a better after life.

However. let’s put that in a different perspective. Is pavement really something to be desired? Sought after? Not really. Pavement is something to be used to get us from here to there in this life. It’s a tool. And, really, money is no different than pavement.

Money is a very useful thing. We may have a lot of money in this life. We may not. Biblically speaking, we must handle it faithfully in this life. But, in the eternal perspective, it isn’t supposed to be the driving desire of our hearts. When it is, money effectively becomes god.

So, is pavement god in your life?

Amazing And Unbelievable--but true...

Hats…uummm…helmets…off to the Armorer for two great links. The first is a NY Post article on the reactions of Islamics to the Democratic victory. The second is a report showing that conservatives are more generous than liberals.
(…like I had to wonder if any of this was true or not…)

Now, I ‘ve read some crazy things liberals have talked about—some they actually did. But, the Global Orgasm Project tops the list! I read about this in a couple of places. But, I like Linda’s breakdown on it best! Cassandra had a pretty good write up, too. And those pictures!
(…oh, the inhumanity of lefty stupidity…I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time…)

I found a wonderful, though quite bitter, breakdown of the relationship of the US, the UN and the rest of the world. Right Wing Guy speaks a lot of truth. Now, all we need to do is find a solution. Personally, I think the US is already tied to so many global agreements it’s too late to back out.
(…kind of parallel to ancient Israel trying to get free from Babylonian control in…the way out was to submit…hopefully, it hasn’t come to that…)
(H/T to BlackSix)

And, the other day I ran across a blog post on New Zealand. It seems NZ students can use internet text speak on exams. Imagine answering an exam in instant-messenger speak!
(…my high school teachers must behaving fits…as if we didn’t have problems enough with communicating in English…)

And how about this statement on the state of our culture: Robbing and Stealing for a Video Game. This took place in Connecticut. The attackers were after money, presumably thinking people would be carrying the $600-700s in cash. There was also a scuffle at a Walmart in California, and a drive-by BB gun shooting in Kentucky. In my neck of the woods (North Texas) things stayed pretty calm. But…come on…I don’t care how good it is…IT’S A GAME!
(…admittedly an expensive one…but still…IT’S A GAME…)

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Evgeni Malkin Decision

Evengi Malkin doesn’t have to go back to Russia according to a federal judge.

Led by Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Russian clubs sued in October claiming that the NHL broke U.S. antitrust law and improperly interfered in their business affairs by signing away players who were still under contract
Preska ruled that the Russians hadn't met the standard for a preliminary injunction. To do so, she said, they would have had to prove that the players' absence from the Russian league was causing their former teams irreparable harm.
Malkin isn’t the only Russian player involved. Minor leaguers Andrei Taratukhin of the Calgary Flames and Alexei Mikhnov of the Edmonton Oilers are also affected by the ruling.

NHL Commissioner Bill Daly issued a statement stating the league is pleased with the ruling.

This whole thing strikes me as the same greedy insanity that drove Alexi Yashin to sit out his contract with the Ottawa Senators. In that case, the courts upheld the validity of Yashin’s contract with the Senators. The basic issue here, once again, is contract validity. Did Malkin have a valid contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, a Russian Super League team? If so, this federal judge has allowed the breaking of basic contract law.

Judge Preska claimed the Russian hockey clubs were only interested in getting more money.
"These cases were always about money," Preska said. "The only issue is how much."
Admittedly, the Russians refused to sign the IIHF agreement specifying $200,000 fee from the NHL for European players. The Russians did not believe that was adequate compensation for their top talent. However, in using that arguement, she sidestepped the issue of whether valid contracts can be avoided by the player who is only interested in more money.

What this decision does is place personal greed over contract law. So, who has to fulfill their contracts anymore? In my opinion, this decision sets a very BAD legal precedent.

(…h/t to Kukla’s Korner for the Daly statement link…)

CNN Gets Some, And Other Commentary

Finally! CNN gets theirs for the sniper videos! According to the AP,

A Midwest hotel chain with several properties in Illinois has pulled CNN and CNN Headline News from its guest rooms and lobbies in response to the cable network's broadcast of an insurgent video showing Iraqi snipers shooting at U.S. troops....Supportive comments from guests have outnumbered complaints by a 3-1 margin, he said.
(...yeah, I know it aint much...just 10 hotels...but, you know what?...it's a great start...)

On the subject of MSM, do Democrats really want our troops brought home? They didn’t in November 2005. A vote of 403-3 defeated a Republican sponsored bill to do just that. It’s interesting that after that Pelosi and company began a media blitz about getting our troops brought home. So, with Murtha and the Democrats bluff called a year ago, why has the media not let us know about this?
(…couldn’t be a bias issue…could it?...)
(Thanks to Greyhawk for the reminder)

I think Michelle Malkin had the best take on the student tasing incident. I especially liked the e-mail from Joel. Yep…the cops screwed up, but not like you think. Check it out.
(...this one will probably get ugly...just like illegal imigration...and, of course, it's always the police who are at fault...right?...)

Meanwhile, the Dept. of Agriculture said that, nationwide, fewer people were hungry in 2005 than in 2004.
The department had waited until after Election Day to issue the annual report, prompting accusations from Democrats that the Bush administration was playing politics with hunger. Despite the positive news, the report is still drawing criticism, this time because analysts decided not to use the word "hunger" to describe how hungry people are.
How come the Democrats are upset about good news? What kind of political gains would maneuvering like this produce? Just strikes me as more pettiness from Democrats.
(…can I be not surprised, yet?...can I also be not surprised when Republicans do it, too?...And, I agree, using PC-friendly verbage “food insecurity” is just stupid…)

Between the sentencing for gang rape and murder, and the turncoat murder testimony off the record, this has been a dark day for military PR. In the first case, Specialist Barker seems to be taking the just punishment for his actions. He told the same basic story he told during inquiry in Iraq, too. One the other hand—the one the media is having such a field day with--PFC John Jodka testified without swearing in, in exchange for reduced sentence.
(…there is an honorable way to do this, and a dishonorable way...personally, I don’t have any sympathy for those who play victim to avoid punishment…any more than I have sympathy for those who play the race card when they break the law and don't want to suffer the consequences...)

Latly, Time is reporting that, despite the efforts of human rights groups, the Germans aren’t likely to try Rumsfeld in court. According to Time, though, it comes down to international politicking. So, they’re still casting blame and accusation.
(…trial by media...or is it "induced popular opinion"...is so wonderful…)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Look At The Hockey World

Who’s headed for the Hall of Fame? SI gives a look at their thoughts over the next couple of years.

Despite his scoring struggle, the Flyer’s new GM (.. permanent…till the end of the season…) says Forsberg is not on the trading block. He also admits getting calls for some of the younger players.

”…but Holmgren said he'd rather keep some of that nucleus and build for the future. Still, he's tried to make the right deal if it will help snap Philadelphia out of its early season funk.

"Really, nothing has made sense," he said. "I think the worst thing we can do right now is make a bad deal."
I’m still expecting some movement. Barring a coaching miracle, it’s their only way out of the basement.

As if in vindication, the Flyers got a win! Let’s see if they can keep it up. It was a great way for Forsberg to return to the line-up. Meanwhile, Hitchcock may be going to Columbus? Well, if nothing else, Philly is a very interesting town. And, who knows? Hitch may be just what the Jackets need to get turned around….

Here are this week’s Power Rankings from Sports Illustrated. I think Dallas is finally feeling the loss of Steve Ott and the in-and-out Patrik Stefan. I look for their ratings to drop some more—before they get better. The Penguins have flattened out, and, of course, the Flyers are in the basement. Amazingly, the ‘Yotes are just above them—despite having the worst record in the league! (…if they could only learn to defend…)

And, for all the point aficionados and fantasy leaguers out there, here’s a look at The Hockey News’ list of who’s hot…or not.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Iraq Thoughts

And, the big news item: Iraq Ministry Kidnapping. According to the NY Times there was either over 100 kidnap victims or 50. No one officially seems to know. But at least 37 have been released. According to a government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, just 39 people had been kidnapped in all, and that only two were still being held. But, Abed Dhiab al-Ajeeli, the minister of higher education, said that more than 100 hostages were taken in the incident, which took place at one of his ministry’s office buildings, and that 52 were still missing. A Reuters report added a little more detail:

"I have suspended my participation as a minister with the government until those people who have been kidnapped are released," Higher Education Minister Abd Dhiab told Reuters.
the minister also said Sunnis, as well as Shi'ites, were among 68 people so far freed, joining other senior officials in playing down indications that the raid had a sectarian motive.

This incident brings up a vital point. We must remember the Sunnis and the Shiites have death squads and militias. Both groups have to be dealt with. Consider these two facts:
*Sunni areas such as Adhamiya, Amiriya, Ghazaliya and Doura have become all but out of bounds for Shi'ites who fear fake security checkpoints where gunmen may ask for identification that reveals their identity.
*On Tuesday, dozens of gunmen dragged as many as 100 men out of an office run by the Higher Education Ministry. The minister said they were taken to a Shi'ite area where a powerful militia, accused by Sunnis of targeting them, is based.
The media is very quick to bring up Maliki’s political alliances with Shiite militias. And those need to be addressed. But, who is demanding the Sunnis deal with their militias?
(…personally…I see the Sunnis throwing a temper fit because they don’t have the political control they once did…and I see the Shiites throwing a fit over letting the Sunnis have any because of always being “second rate”…while it’s pretty normal, politically and culturally speaking, they all need to grow up before they wipe each other out…)

Which brings me to Gen. John Abizaid testifying before Congress about Iraq. McCain accused him of merely wanting to keep the status quo. Typical of the Left, Senator Clinton “saw no evidence that conditions inside Iraq were improving. "Hope is not a strategy," she said.
In response, Abizaid said he was not arguing for the status quo. He said the key change that is needed now is to place more U.S. troops inside the Iraqi Army and police units to train and advise these forces in planning and executing missions.
This Reuters report further revealed that
“op intelligence officials, speaking to the Senate panel, also pinned responsibility for Iraq's security on Iraq's government.
(…hhhmmm…sounds a little different than the “staus quo” to me…or just blind hope…)

And, for the record my thoughts haven't changed since well before the election. Go back and read them.

A Three Step Plan For Conservatives

We conservatives and Republicans can whine and scream all we want about the election results. We brought it on ourselves.

The Republican Party claimed an agenda and standing for morality. And, yet, when the problems arose, we denied and avoided the issues. Can we really expect people to believe in our claims when we make excuses for things like Abramoff? When it comes to morality, can we really claim the high ground when there are Senators and Congressmen who violate those claims and nothing is done about them?

The Republicans claimed to care about honesty government, but again, we denied and avoided the issues when they arose. What did Republicans actually do about Earmarks? Scandals (i.e. DeLay)? Worthless programs (dare I say the “Bridge to Nowhere” which no one ever stopped)? Once again, we violated the trust of the electorate.

Ladies and gentlemen, we brought this on ourselves. We ruined our own credibility. And, when you ruin your own, you increase the opponent’s credibility. This is why the Democrats got elected. The Republican/Conservative leaders proved to enough people they could not be trusted. It’s the turn around from the Clinton years when enough voters reached the point where they no longer trusted Clinton and the Democrats.

The margin was not really that big. The real difference in the election results were the moderates. Post election polls in 1994 showed the voters going over to the Conservative side because they no longer trusted the Liberals. Polls this time showed people were voting for the Liberals because they didn’t trust the Conservatives anymore. Yes, Iraq was a big issue with voters. But, I think the real issue was trust. The Republican leaders had shown enough untrustworthiness they were voted out of office. Had Repbulicans taken the high road in all the scandals and dealt with them openly and quickly, I think the Democrats would have lost big in this election.

Well, now, we have to live with the results for a few years. It’s possible the White House could go to the Democrats again, too. That will depend entirely on how we Conservatives go forward from here.

So what are we going to do? Point fingers? Cry and scream some more? (…ooohhh!!!...look how ugly/liberal/whatever that Congressman is…) I’m not saying those declarations won’t be true. They probably will be. And, there has been some great commentary written lately. Just going back to the elections, we find, from my list of favorites:

Castle Argghhh weighing in on Michael Moore’s latest missive.
Chickenhawk Express weighs in with this and this.
Neo-Contastic had a rant.
Jarhead’s Firing Range had this missive.
Michelle posted this well written piece.
Does any one else see more than a bunch of people pointing fingers, saying “see I told you so.” That will not be enough to win voters back.

I propose a three step process that could do the job.

Step One. Develop a long range plan, and stick to it. To some degree, the Democrats were able to oust Republicans because they did not complete all the elements of the “Contract With America.” The Republicans got sidetracked by Iraq. Read through the right wing blogosphere. (…go ahead…I’ll wait…) Now, tell me that is not the primary focus of our writing. What is the long-range plan of Republicans? Simply to oust the Democrats? What do we plan to do and how are we going to accomplish it? There needs to be something like a five-year plan, as well as an even longer one. Without a plan, and constant monitoring and re-evaluation, the Party is doomed.

Step Two. Create a unified voice. Did anyone pay attention to how unified voices at the Daily Kos were? Did anyone notice how much effect Kos activists had on Democratic races? Using the internet, the Left outfundraised the Right two or three to one. They were able to unify and through that unity, draw more people into their “cause.” Repbulicans, on the other hand, had no unifying element. Even in the blogosphere, Conservatives are fragmented (…scattered, divided, leaderless--to borrow Elrond’s line from Lord of the Rings…). A unified voice must be created or developed to communicate the plan.

Step Three. Elected officials must be held accountable for their actions—legally as well as electorally. Electorally, the Left is very good at holding their officials accountable to the Agenda. Republicans are not. We must get better. The Left is horrible at holding their officials accountable legally (i.e. President Clinton, Rep. Jefferson and Frank). The Right, by claiming the moral high road, must learn to walk it. And, “We The People” must hold them to it. We made excuses for Conservatives, and wanted Liberals crucified. We must demand the same of both.

The Republicans took control of government by riding a wave of voter discontent towards Democrats for almost 12 years. How long will the Democrats get to ride the wave of discontent towards Republicans?

The question is what will voters perceive of the Republicans? It’s time to get on the High Road.

Read Challenge To The Right Wing from last week.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sodier Angels, And Other Stuff

While poking around this morning, I found out something really cool.

Valour-IT actually brought in more than $184,283.07 due to non-team donations! check out the breakdown here Oh…yeah…The real number?


Thanks to John at Castle Argghhh. He also provided the link for this video:

If that inspires you, check out holiday for Heroes. It's another chance for some of us to help in another way.

Unfortunately, right after that, I found somethings that were not so cool.

With our history of military pullouts, due to Democrats (i.e. Southeast Asia), I’ve had this gnawing worry about Iraq. Then, I visited Chaotic Synoptic Acitvity. I read this post, as well as the follow up, and was further discouraged by what I read. Even so, I recommend them to anyone who needs a history refresher.

And, then, in our local paper, the Ft Worth Star Telegram, I found sad news. Army Sgt William Samuel Jackson, of Michigan, was killed by a roadside bomb near Ramadi on Veterans Day. DoD also reported that Marine Sgt. Bryan Burgess, also from Michigan, had also been killed in a separate action.

At our house, we remember the cry of the warriors:
"Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow, we gave our today."
--The Kohima Epitaph--
Sgt. Jackson and Sgt. Burgess, we remember what you have given. And we say thank you for the tomorrows you have given others. May God give back to your families more than they have sacrificed and lost. And, now, we dance In Memoriam.