Restoring the Sacred

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obama and the Bad Villagers

Obama and the Bad Villagers

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SCOTUS v. Discrimination



The following editorial was published in the Wall Street Journal today, June 30, 2009. For those who would defend Judge Sotomayor's mishandling of the case brought by the New Haven firefighters by reminding us that she was only one of three judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals involved in the mishandling, it should be pointed out that she is the only one of the three who has been nominated to serve on the Supreme Court.

Here's the editorial:

Firefighter Justice
The Supremes, Sotomayor, and racial jurisprudence.


The Supreme Court closed an otherwise unremarkable term on a high note yesterday, rejecting the notion that one kind of racial bias can be remedied by another. On the last day of opinions before the Court is potentially joined by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Justices overturned one of her most closely scrutinized cases on workplace discrimination. The effect was to take an important step away from the practice of divvying up jobs by race.
Writing for a 5-4 majority in Ricci v. deStefano, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the city of New Haven violated civil-rights law when it threw out firefighter promotional exams because more whites than blacks or Hispanics had passed the tests. New Haven claimed it had to junk the tests because certifying the results would lead to an avalanche of lawsuits by black candidates who hadn't passed. In other words, the city claimed it had to intentionally discriminate against white candidates out of fear that the tests unintentionally had a "disparate impact" against minorities.
But the Court found no evidence that the tests were flawed or that better alternatives for promotion existed. On the contrary, employment tests are an important tool against the very kind of racial discrimination that civil-rights laws were designed to prevent. "Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions," Justice Kennedy wrote. The Supremes created this "disparate impact" reverse discrimination incentive with its 1971 Griggs decision, since codified into law, but at least five Justices are still able to object to this kind of blatant racial injustice.
In the opening of her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes that "the white firefighters who scored high on New Haven's promotional exams understandably attract this Court's sympathy." To which Justice Samuel Alito replied in a majority concurring opinion that "'Sympathy' is not what petitioners have a right to demand. What they have a right to demand is evenhanded enforcement of the law -- of Title VII's [of the 1964 Civil Rights Act] prohibition against discrimination based on race. And that is what, until today's decision, has been denied them."
Justice Alito underscores how little attention the firefighters' claim was given by lower courts. In 2006 a federal district court dismissed the case before it went to trial. A three judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that included Judge Sotomayor then upheld the lower court's judgment in a one-paragraph statement, and later a terse opinion parroting the district court.
The dismissive treatment of the firefighters' claim drew the censure of fellow Second Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes. A former mentor of Ms. Sotomayor, Mr. Cabranes said the court had "failed to grapple with issues of exceptional importance."
On this question of the Second Circuit's mishandling, the Justices agreed unanimously yesterday. In footnote 10 of her dissent, Justice Ginsburg wrote that while she disagreed with the decision to reverse the lower court ruling, there were questions about how it was decided. Based on the lower court's mistaken focus on intent, she wrote, "ordinarily a remand for fresh consideration would be in order."
Judge Sotomayor's handling of the case deserves to be thoroughly aired during her confirmation hearings, insofar as it reinforces concerns that she is prone to race-conscious jurisprudence. The issue originally came to the fore over the judge's remarks that a "wise Latina" would come to a better conclusion than a white male judge who would lack the proper empathy for certain kinds of defendants.
Ms. Sotomayor's supporters have been at pains to argue that she has ended up on both sides of racial discrimination complaints while on the Second Circuit. But those examining her record can reasonably ask if the disregard she exhibited for a Title VII claim by white firefighters falls into the category of neutrality or its own kind of bias.
Because the Court's ruling was narrowly made on statutory grounds, it dodged the larger claim brought by the firefighters that New Haven violated their constitutional right to equal protection. Yet as Justice Antonin Scalia notes in his concurrence, the disparate impact standards "place a racial thumb on the scales, often requiring employers to evaluate the racial outcomes of their policies, and to make decisions based on (because of) those racial outcomes." Someone should ask Judge Sotomayor if that's her idea of equal protection under the law.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Obama, the African Colonial



Obama, the African Colonial

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My friend John Askins in Tallahassee sent this article this morning. L.E. Ikenga's insightful analysis of our commander-in-chief appeared on the website of "American Thinker," on June 25, 2009. It's a must read.

Please note the addition of a link to the American Thinker Blog on the right side of this Blog.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sundays are for Beauty - Rachmaninoff



Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii has been blind from birth, but that did not stop him from competing in, and winning, the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The Van Cliburn competition has been held every four years since 1962 in Ft. Worth, Texas. It was created by Fort Worth area teachers in honor of Van Cliburn, who had won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition four years prior with Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. In the above two videos, Nobuyuki is performing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor.

Nobuyuki Tsujii was born in Tokyo, in 1988. He has won numerous honors and awards. In October, 2005, he received the Critics’ Award at the 15th International Frederik Chopin Piano Competition held in Warsaw, Poland. The 2009 Van Cliburn was only his second international competition. He is believed to be the first blind contestant in the history of the Van Cliburn.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Patriot Post 06/26/2009


Following are excerpts from The Patriot Post of June 26, 2009.
Re: Obamacare

One of Obama's key claims is that "you can keep your plan if you want to." What he means is that the government won't specifically mandate that anyone lose coverage, but the effect of his policies would be to cause many individuals to lose their benefits. America's Health Insurance Plans, the nation's largest trade group for health insurers, warned of "devastating consequences" from a government plan. In a letter to Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the lead author of the health care bill, the group said that a public health insurance option "would dismantle employer-based coverage, significantly increase costs for those who remain in private coverage, and add additional liabilities to the federal budget." This is painfully obvious to us, but the power brokers in DC aren't interested in a market-based approach.

This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award

"Why would [a government plan] drive private insurance out of business? If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they're offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That's not logical." --President Barack Obama

On Cap and Trade:

On the cost of energy, The Wall Street Journal writes, "The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment." Even billionaire Democrat donor Warren Buffet acknowledged that cap and tax is a "huge tax ... and a fairly regressive tax." And the Journal concludes, "Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history. Even Democrats can't repeal that reality."

GOP Affairs Are a Mess

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a likely GOP presidential contender in 2012 who waged a well publicized battle with the Obama administration over stimulus cash, likely put himself out of the running after a bizarre absence from his state last week led to his disclosure of an extramarital affair. While staffers claimed the governor was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, Sanford had traveled to Argentina to see his mistress and break off the affair. In an emotional news conference Wednesday he explained that the relationship had gone on for eight years but became romantic in the last year. His wife discovered it five months ago. Sanford resigned his post as head of the Republican Governors' Association and Mississippi's Haley Barbour replaced him.

So to recap, Sanford lied about his whereabouts on Father's Day weekend while he met his mistress in Argentina and his family sat at home. Sanford's penance isn't enough -- he should resign as governor immediately. As Founding Father Samuel Adams said, "Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters." John Adams also wrote, "How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers?"

Hope 'n' Change: Welfare Roles Grow Despite 'Stimulus'

For the first time since President Bill Clinton signed the Republican-propelled welfare reform legislation in 1994, welfare numbers are rising in more than half of states nationwide, with increases climbing as high as 27 percent in Oregon, 23 percent in South Carolina, 14 percent in Florida and 10 percent in California.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kayaking at Sanibel June 2009



Surf at Sanibel is about as common as snow in Miami, but we got lucky on June 25, 2009. That's my son Steve in the first video getting some decent rides on the Sanibel surf (imagine that: Sanibel surf), and that's my grandson Tully getting run over by Steve in the second video. No injuries, but one expensive pair of sunglasses are now in the possession of Poseidon.

WSJ's Strassel on Climate Change


Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, who would have been my choice for moderator of the Obama Health Care Infomercial the other night (it would have been fun to watch the squirming), wrote an interesting piece on Climate Change today. Health Care and Climate Change are two of the things Rahm Emanuel had in mind when he proclaimed, upon the coronation: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." He saw "crisis" as opportunity - opportunity for government to grow exponentially and take his political party along for the ride. The disingenuousness of almost every answer given by Obama during his ABC tribute Wednesday evening must have set a record for such dissembling.

The soon-to-be-voted-on Cap and Trade (Tax) legislation designed to solve the Global Warming "crisis" is every bit as contrived as the yet to be proposed health care legislation. Strassel's piece is entitled: "The Climate Change Climate Change." Here's a link.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124597505076157449.html#mod=rss_opinion_main

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An Inadequate Response to an Illegitimate Regime - Victor Davis Hanson - The Corner on National Review Online

An Inadequate Response to an Illegitimate Regime - Victor Davis Hanson - The Corner on National Review Online

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"What took you so long?"


Finally, a journalist with courage has shown up at the White House to ask a question on the minds of people who have been paying attention to the situation in Iran. That's Major Garrett of Fox News (surprise!) asking two tough questions of the previously protected president (protected by the media representatives whose job, prior to January 20, 2009, was to get answers to tough questions from the president and his representatives about issues of concern to the populace). Let's hope this is the beginning of a trend leading to a return to responsible journalism.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sundays are for Beauty - Water Music



George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) is famous for his operas, oratorios, and concerti grossi. By the age of seven, Handel was giving performances on the harpsichord and pipe organ. His "Water Music" (which you're hearing now) was first performed in July of 1717 for a water party on the Thames.

The Messiah oratorio, his most famous work, with its "Hallelujah" chorus, is among the most popular works in choral music. It is performed by symphony orchestras around the world during the Christmas season.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Letters from Iran


This is a special edition of letters to the editor of the Wall Street Journal. These all appeared in the Journal, on Friday, June 19, 2009.

'The Fear Is Gone'

Editor's note: The following are firsthand accounts that were solicited by Journal assistant editorial features editor Bari Weiss. Some were translated from Farsi. Surnames have been omitted to protect the writers.

Don't Accept This Coup
By Kaveh from Tabriz
Ahmadinejad has taken revenge on the students of Iran during these violent days. The regime's aim is to damage universities, since they are the first base of change, movement and protest.
I live in the dorms at Tehran University. I was asleep when Basij militiamen entered my room early Monday morning, demolished everything and started beating us. A man with a long beard broke my notebook and said: "It is destroyed, this book that you were using against Islam and Ahmadinejad."
They beat students more when they saw posters of Mousavi in their rooms. And they carried big knives and guns.
They also attacked the women's dormitory next door. The Supreme Leader calls us rioters, but I want to ask him: How can sleeping women in their beds be rioters? Is this the Islamic justice he believes in?
President Obama's speech was good; he says that he will support us. He also said that nations must decide the fate of their countries by themselves. I agree with him, but now we don't have any power to change the situation, so we need help and attention.
We ask the president not to accept this coup d'etat.

Marching to Freedom Square
By Alireza in Tehran
There is something in the air in Tehran these days. We remain afraid, but we also dare to speak.
I left my home in Tajrish along with my family at 3 p.m. to head to the protest on Monday. We knew that people were supposed to gather in Enghelab [Revolution] Square at 4 p.m. and march toward Azadi [Freedom] Square. From Gisha Bridge onwards, we saw people walking. Cars were blowing their horns and people were flashing the victory sign. I also saw a group of about 20 militiamen with long beards and batons on motorbikes.
My hand was hanging out of the taxi window with a little green ribbon -- the color of the reformists -- tied around my finger. One of the militiamen told me to "throw that ribbon away!" When I refused, 15 people attacked me inside the car. They beat me with their batons and tried to pull me out.
My wife and my daughter who were sitting in the back seat cried and held me tight. I also held myself tight to the chair. As they tried to shatter the car windows the driver went out and explained that he is just a taxi driver, we are just his passengers, and he hadn't done anything wrong. After about five minutes they left us alone.
Soon we joined the crowd at Enghelab Street. What I saw there was the most magnificent scene I have ever witnessed in my life. The huge numbers of people were marching hand-in-hand peacefully. There were no slogans being shouted. Hands were held up in victory signs with green ribbons. People carried placards which read: silence. Young and old, men and women, rich and poor were marching cheerfully. It was an amazing show of solidarity. I was so proud.
Enghelab Street, the widest avenue in Tehran, was full of people. Some estimated that there were one to two million people there. As we marched, we passed a police department and a Basij base. In both places, we could see fully-armed riot police and militiamen watching us from behind fences. Near Sharif University of Technology, where the students had chased away Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a few days before, Mir Hossein Mousavi (the reformist president-elect) and Mehdi Karrubi, the other reformist candidate, spoke to the people and were received with cries of praise and applause.
My family and I had put stickers on our mouths to represent the suppression of the regime. Other people carried signs. One quoted the national poet Ahmad Shamlu: "To slaughter us/why did you need to invite us/to such an elegant party." Another made fun of the government's claim that Ahmadinejad won 24 million votes: "The Miracle of the Third Millennium: 2 x 2 = 24 million." Others just read: "Where is my vote?"
When we finally arrived at Azadi Square, which can accommodate around 500,000 people, it was full. We saw smoke coming from Jenah Freeway and heard the gunshots. People were scared but continued walking forward.
Later, my sister told me that she saw four militiamen come out from a house and shoot a girl. Then they shot a young boy in his eye and the bullet came out of his ear. She said that four people were shot.
On my way home at around 2 a.m. I saw about 10 buses full of armed riot police parked on the side of the road. There were scattered militiamen in civilian clothes carrying clubs patrolling the empty streets. And in Tajrish Square I saw a boy around 16 holding a club, looking for something to attack.
At Ahmadinejad's "victory" ceremony, government buses transported all his supporters from nearby cities. There was full TV coverage of that ceremony, where fruit juice and cake were plentiful. At most, 100,000 gathered to hear his speech, including all the militiamen and soldiers.
We reformists have no radio, no newspaper, and no television. All our Internet sites are filtered, as well as social networks such as Facebook. Text messaging and mobile communication were also cut off during the demonstrations. And yet we had hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
The state-run TV station has announced that riot police will severely punish anybody that demonstrates. Ahmadinejad called the opposition a bunch of insignificant dirt who try to make the taste of victory bitter to the nation. But his remark was answered by the largest demonstrations ever.
Older people compared Monday's gathering to the demonstrations of 1979 which marked the downfall of the Shah's regime. They even said that this event was larger.
Democracy is a long way ahead. I may not be alive to see that day. With eyes full of tears in these early hours of June 16, I glorify the courage of those who have already been killed. I hope that the blood of these martyrs will make every one of us more committed to freedom, to democracy and to human rights.

Women on the Front Lines
By Negin in Tehran
Friends from all over the world call my cellphone nonstop to make sure we're safe. The connection is either cut or so bad that we have to guess what the other person is saying. But the other day one call was very clear: My mother was wondering if I could help her with her computer. She recently joined Facebook and can't stand the fact that her favorite site is filtered.
She's stopped complaining that my father follows the news day and night. If they're not outside in the middle of the city, my parents are both glued to the television.
Until a few days ago most people believed that this protest was just the voice of suppressed students and youngsters. But now we know this isn't true. "No fear, no fear: We are together." This is what we heard today from millions of people from different generations in Tehran.
The number of people that participated in the demonstration surprised everyone, but what has fascinated me is their variety. At the beginning I thought this was going to be a fight between the lower class and the middle class. What I saw on Monday changed my mind completely. I saw many women, young and old, covered head-to-toe in black chadors shouting and chanting among the demonstrators and joining the young girls who were sitting on the ground in the middle of the street to stop the Basij militia from walking inside the crowd.
That image will never be wiped away from my mind. The women on the front line with their loose colorful scarves had opened their arms, ready to be killed, while others were beaten by the Basij on the side of the road.
People want to be heard and supported by the rest of the world. They were sending messages to the West with their cameras. They were calling on Obama and Sarkozy to demand that the Free World not recognize this government. I saw a few women shouting: "Now it's your turn to support democracy and human rights."
"The fear is gone. Nothing seems to be an obstacle anymore. They can filter all the Web sites and shut down the Internet, SMS service, and mobile phones, but they cannot shut our mouths." This is what I hear all the time.
Late at night everyone wants to share their experience with others. Telephones don't stop ringing. Sara, my girlfriend, called me half an hour ago. She had heard gunfire near her house and had seen bloodied people. Although she was panicked and needed to talk to someone, she hung up the phone to go onto her roof and shout. Within a few minutes I heard my neighbors shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) from their balconies as well.
I remember how sometimes I used to be irritated by the loud prayer call which starts with the same phrase, Allahu Akbar. Now this phrase has turned out to be the most beautiful one.
After a while I called back my mother to help her with her computer problem. She didn't answer. Perhaps she is on the roof too.

This Government Is a Lie
By Soudeh in Tehran
I have never seen such a huge number of diverse people protesting in Iran. People are really angry and refuse to be patient. Ahmadinejad's government challenged our honor. How can we trust anything when the government perpetrates such a big lie?
They don't have pity on anyone. Some of the police cannot speak Farsi. I saw one of them beating a man as he cursed in Arabic. People say they are from Hezbollah.
These men barge into homes and threaten people by calling their families. And they are savage against peaceful demonstrators.
Hospitals are full of people injured by the Military Guard, yet the Supreme Leader of Iran called us seditious. We just want the right to a real vote.
This is the first time an American president did not interfere with Iran's situation -- and it's a good thing. In the past, U.S. support for the protestors led the Iranian government to punish the people more, accusing them of being spies for or taking money from the U.S.
But I think Obama must hear the message of the protests: Ahmadinejad's government is a lie.

A Grenade Exploded At Our Door
By Shahin in Tehran
It was about 1:30 a.m. when I heard windows and doors on our street being smashed one after another. My parents had gone to sleep an hour earlier and I was surfing the Internet to see the latest reactions to Monday's demonstration of Mousavi supporters.
The people from our neighborhood who protested in the streets had already gone back home, so I was scared for them.
The smashing sound came closer and I could hear that my family's apartment door was being attacked. I was really frightened because I had heard that the people who were breaking into houses at night were the plainclothes police who support Ahmadinejad.
I was pacing around my apartment when I heard a massive explosion that woke up everybody in our apartment complex.
I rushed downstairs in the dark with my neighbors as our complex was being attacked. One of them said "Man! They exploded a grenade just few feet from me. Can you see the blood dropping from my fingers? I can barely hear anything." An old woman on the first floor said the plainclothes forces broke the front porch, knocked on some doors and left.
We learned that the sounds of windows being broken were coming from three neighboring apartment complexes and garages. My injured neighbor had gone to check the source of the sound just when the grenade exploded.
In the morning, I checked out the damage myself and took pictures of smashed cars, windows and doors. I also found some bullet casings left in front of our house. I quickly posted them on Facebook where I received lots of comments from others who had the same experience. One of them commented "Yours was just 23 cars. How about our four-story parking garage that now looks like a junkyard?!"
Mousavi's supporters wanted the crowd to stay calm and stage a peaceful demonstration, so as not to give Ahmadinejad's supporters a reason to resort to violence.
State-run TV asked everybody to gather in Vali-asr Square to protest against Mousavi's supporters who the government accused of rioting late into the night. Mousavi's supporters planned on having their second peaceful demonstration in Vali-asr square on Tuesday but cancelled it right after this TV announcement. But despite the announcement, I saw a huge crowd protesting either on foot or in their cars all the way up Vali-asr Street, Tehran's longest street. People are enraged by the lies.
As an optimistic young Iranian who voted in all the presidential elections since 1997, I feel strongly that all those who voted for anyone but Ahmadinejad were insulted badly. I believe some in the ruling elite have come to realize that supporting Ahmadinejad was not worth an uprising in every city.
I hope that the Guardian Council can fix this through a recount or void the whole rigged election.

It's Like an Invasion
By Setareh in Tehran
In the past few days, I've participated in several rallies. During all of the protests, plainclothes militiamen would enter the crowds and manipulate people into dispersing by telling them that if they stayed the security forces would shoot them.
All satellite signals have been jammed, SMS texting has been cut off since election day, and land lines have been disrupted. Though it takes about 20 minutes to download Yahoo's Web site in Tehran, in other cities the Internet has been completely shut down.
The regime is also using psychological warfare to keep people in their homes, calling protestors "hooligans" and constantly warning parents to keep their sons and daughters inside so they don't get killed.
But we are nonviolent. It is the Basij who attack protestors and set cars on fire. They do this so that the security forces have a pretext for using harsher tactics on the demonstrators. The security forces have knives, body armor, tasers and mace. It's as though Iran is under invasion by a foreign government. They have killed many university students in the past few days.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Archimedes' Wandering Mind


Archimedes (c. 287 BC - c. 212 BC) obviously had a wondering mind, but it was his wandering mind, while he was taking a bath, that allowed him to discover a way to calculate density and volume. It was for him an "aha" moment. Those kinds of moments that pop into one's wandering minds are the subject of an article in today's Wall Street Journal, by Robert Lee Hotz. In his tribute to the payoff of daydreaming, Hotz cites similar "aha" moments that led to great epiphanies by four other prominent men of their times.

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was not working late in his laboratory when he came upon his greatest discovery: the law of universal gravitation. He was relaxing in an apple orchard.

Rene Descartes (1596-1650) was lying in bed watching flies when he realized he could describe a fly's position by what is now known as coordinate geometry.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was not laboring late at night in his laboratory when he was struck with the idea of special relativity; he was, according to legend, relaxing while imagining trains and lightning.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was not up all night struggling in his electrical shop when he came upon his theory of alternating current. He was taking a walk, and used his walking stick to illustrate his idea.
________________________________
There is an important lesson in all this. People who are always chasing their tails, trying to get too much done too quickly, seldom accomplish great things. There is, sadly, one among us who needs to learn that lesson:

It's time for him to take a break and stop trying to fix things that are not broken, but the chance of that happening does not seem likely. We can at least hope for no more change - or would that be too audacious?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sleep Well, America.



That's a recent North Korean missile launch on top. You remember North Korea; its that patch of land on the Korean peninsula north of the 38th parallel, ruled by a deranged despotic dictator who was, in 2000, the recipient of a Michael Jordan autographed basketball - a gift from our former secretary of state Madeline Albright. That's him under the missile.

The soft diplomacy of the past several years, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, did not stop the madman from pursuing his nuclear weapons, and the missiles with which to deliver them. He gets closer each day to having the capability of taking out a piece of the United States, and, according to intelligence sources, has been proliferating nuclear technology to other rogue nations - pleasant thought, there.

It should be obvious to any observer of the political scene that we will not be playing offense for at least the next four years, which makes the honing of our defense more important than ever, right?
Would that it were so, but it apparently is not, given what happened yesterday in the House Armed Services Committee. While marking up the FY 2010 budget for the Defense Department, the committee voted down an amendment to re-insert $120 million to fund the remaining 14 ground-based interceptors for our missile defense program. The additional 14 ground-based interceptors would have brought the total to 44 such interceptors - something requested by Defense Secretary Gates a year ago. Now Gates has acquiesced in the diminution of this defense capability.

According to The Heritage Foundation: The US has already spent $235 million on these remaining 14 interceptors. It would take another $120 million to finish the deployment of these 14 interceptors. In addition, if DOD does not deploy the 14 interceptors, they will be charged a $75 million cancellation fee. So in reality, the DOD and Congress is gambling American security to save $55 million.

Of course there will always be defenders of our previous and ongoing soft diplomacy in dealing with North Korea, and maybe they're right. Were it not for that Michael Jordan autographed basketball, we might now all be charcoal.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Andy McCarthy's Case Against Miranda


Andy McCarthy, the brilliant former federal prosecutor who successfully prosecuted Omar Abdel-Rahman, the Blind Sheikh, for the 1993 bombing of the (now gone) World Trade Center, has published a three part article in National Review Online (NRO) in which he makes his case for treating terrorists as enemy combatants bent on destroying America rather than as criminals who have violated our criminal statutes. The following Note is from the NRO website:

(Note: In Part I of this article, Andrew C. McCarthy showed how Miranda warnings grew from a procedural safeguard into an inviolable constitutional right. In Part II, he explained how judges and the Justice Department expanded this right to the point where it applied to terrorists captured abroad. ...In the final part, he describes how the odd couple of John McCain and Barack Obama have put the nation in great danger by turning the War on Terror into something resembling a police investigation.)

Here are the links to the three parts of the article:

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MDNiNDVhMmRkY2Y3MzBkYTJhZTVjMGM5ZTYwNTAxMGU=

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NGU3ODQ4Y2U3NzczY2FiNTQzMWU1YmI5NjhiMGJlMmM=

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YjJmNjlmNjYxNWYyZDIyMWZjMTgyOTE0ZDIyZTg4MjA=

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Independent No More


That's the former inspector general of The Corporation for National and Community Service, Gerald Walpin. He was fired (apparently illegally) last Wednesday night after receiving a telephone call from the office of White House Counsel. It seems Mr. Walpin's investigators uncovered misuse of funds by the now mayor of Sacramento (and former point guard of the Phoenix Suns), Kevin Johnson, who happens to be a friend of President Obama. By now everyone knows those facts, but absent from most of the media coverage is the fact that the U. S. Attorney's office, to which Walpin had referred the results of his investigation for criminal prosecution, entered into settlement talks with Kevin Johnson and his former community organization, St. Hope. Walpin was not included in those settlement negotiations, which ended in an agreement whereby Johnson and St. Hope will repay half of the $850,000 in grant money received from Americorps. The money has yet to be repaid. The suspension of Johnson ordered as a result of the Walpin investigation was lifted as part of the settlement. That means that Sacramento can now receive millions in stimulus funds (money it could not have received had the Mayor remained ineligible).

Byron York has a more detailed account of this apparently illegal termination of an inspector general in The Washington Examiner. Here's a link:
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Whats-behind-Obamas-sudden-firing-of-the-AmeriCorps-inspector-general-47877797.html

If the above facts do not constitute enough of a scandal, it should also be pointed out that the independence of inspectors general was, on October 14, 2008, made even more sacrosanct by the signing into law of HR 928 (S. 2324). Pertinent sections of that ACT are reproduced below, and it is important to note that one of the co-sponsors was then Senator Barrack Obama.

S. 2324:
110th Congress

2007-2008
Inspector General Reform Act of 2008

Sponsor:
Sen. Claire McCaskill [D-MO]hide cosponsors
Cosponsors [as of 2009-01-09]
Sen. Ted Stevens [R-AK]
Sen. Susan Collins [R-ME]
Sen. Norm Coleman [R-MN]
Sen. Carl Levin [D-MI]
Sen. Thomas Carper [D-DE]
Sen. Thomas Coburn [R-OK] (withdrawn)
Sen. Hillary Clinton [D-NY]
Sen. Charles Grassley [R-IA]
Sen. Daniel Akaka [D-HI]
Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I-CT]
Sen. Barack Obama [D-IL]

An Act
To amend the Inspector General Act of 1978 to enhance the independence of the Inspectors General, to create a Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
[*1] SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the "Inspector General Reform Act of 2008".

[*3] SEC. 3. REMOVAL OF INSPECTORS GENERAL.
(a) Establishments.--Section 3(b) of the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.) is amended by striking the second sentence and inserting "If an Inspector General is removed from office or is transferred to another position or location within an establishment, the President shall communicate in writing the reasons for any such removal or transfer to both Houses of Congress, not later than 30 days before the removal or transfer. Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a personnel action otherwise authorized by law, other than transfer or removal.".
(b) Designated Federal Entities.--Section 8G(e) of the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.) is amended by striking "shall promptly communicate in writing the reasons for any such removal or transfer to both Houses of the Congress." and inserting "shall communicate in writing the reasons for any such removal or transfer to both Houses of Congress, not later than 30 days before the removal or transfer. Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a personnel action otherwise authorized by law.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Scandalous Tripe


"I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue. It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that's dangerous politics."

This is what Leon Panetta said yesterday about former Vice-President Dick Cheney. What is one to think about a public official who makes such an outlandish statement about a former vice-president? Panetta, who now (for no legitimate reason) is the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, recently had to respond to the estimable Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after she excoriated the professionals in the agency he heads by calling them liars, should know better. His response to Pelosi's charges (in a memo not addressed to Pelosi) was extremely meek, and morale at the CIA is said to be as low as it was during the Church Committee Hearings in the 70's. Since that meek response, Panetta has declined to speak again about the accusations of Pelosi which, if true, would constitute a felony. In fact, no one in the media seems to be interested in pushing Pelosi to turn over evidence to support her charges to the DOJ either. If Panetta had anything to him, he would not let such heinous charges simply fade away, leaving his agency's reputation tarnished in the eyes of some forever. It might appear to a skeptic that Panetta has backed off for political reasons (no need to challenge false charges by a member of his own party), but shouldn't the director of the CIA be above politics - or at least apolitical? It would seem to bolster the skeptic's theory that Panetta (no doubt frustrated by his inability to do the right hing about Pelosi's charges) has decided to take on the man most feared by his own party's leadership. After all, who in his party would object to his making such a wild charge of his own against the Democrats' favorite target? And so, Panetta has done it: he has made a wild, unfair, and totally ludicrous accusation against a true American Patriot, and exposed himself to be nothing but a partisan political hack. My condolences to the professionals at the CIA.

Here is the response of a true professional to such scandalous tripe.

"I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted," Cheney said, in a written statement to FOX News. "The important thing is whether the Obama administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the past eight years."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sundays are for Beauty - Vivo Per Lei


Jamie Salé and David Pelletier were co-gold medalists at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. They shared their gold medal with Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze after a bizarre unravelling of a judging scandal. The Russians were initially declared the winners, but, after an investigation of an allegation of cheating on the part of one of the judges, the Canadians and Russians were declared co-champions. Sale and Pelletier are now married and skating professionally.

Andrea Bocelli and Hayley Westenra have both appeared in this Blog before: Bocelli on March 23, 2009, and Westenra, on April 26, 2009. She was only 18 years old at the time this video was made.

Vivo per lei (English: I live for her) was released in December 1997. It was a smash hit in Belgium and France and reached #1 on the charts in both countries.

RESPECT LIFE


The following is from the Sunday Bulletin of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, June 14, 2009.

What constitutes "torture?"

There has been enormous debate in our media recently as to what constitutes "torture." This has been generated because of the waterboarding treatment of three known mass murderers.

The following is a description of abortion by Justice Breyer in the Supreme Court decision of Carhart v. Stenberg (2000):

"During...the most common abortion procedure...dilation and evacuation (D&E)...the doctor pulls a portion of the fetus through the cervix into the birth canal...removes at least some fetal tissue using non-vacuum surgical instruments, and...there is a potential need for instrumental dismemberment of the fetus with non-vacuum surgical instruments..."

A little translation is necessary: "at least some fetal tissue" translates to the unborn child's arm, a leg, or maybe her head. "Dismemberment of the fetus with non-vacuum surgical instruments" means cutting off her arms or legs with razor-sharp implements. It is a scientific fact that the child, still alive, is capable of feeling excruciating pain.

Rest assured this is not torture!!! It does not meet the legal definition of torture because under the rule of Roe v Wade, the unborn child does not meet the legal definition of "a person." May God forgive us!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lou Pritchett's Open Letter to President Obama



Lou Pritchett is the foremost leader in Change Management. He is a living legend in corporate America. He changed the way Americans do business by creating the concept that came to be called “partnering.” He started with Proctor and Gamble as a soap salesman, and, when he retired 36 years later, in 1989, he was Vice-President for Sales and Customer Development of the corporation. His highly acclaimed book: Stop Paddling and Start Rocking the Boat was published in 1999.

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

Dear President Obama:

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.

You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.

You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.

You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don't understand it at its core.

You scare me because you lack humility and 'class', always blaming others.

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the 'blame America' crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.

You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.

You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.

You scare me because you have begun to use 'extortion' tactics against certain banks and corporations.

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.

You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaugh’s, Hannitys, O'Reilly's and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

Lou Pritchett
________________________________
For more information on Lou Pritchett, here’s a link to his website:
http://www.loupritchett.com/index.htm

And here's a link to Snopes that authenticates the Open Letter and adds a note from Lou Pritchett about it.
http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/youscareme.asp

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lizzie Palmer's Video


Didn't want anyone to miss this. Lizzie Palmer is a 15 year old girl, who just finished her sophomore year in high school in Ohio. She plays the flute and the piccolo, and intends to join the Army when she graduates.

A New York Times Epiphany


John Askins, my good friend (and faithful follower of this Blog), sent this piece from the New York Times, saying: "I think even the New York Times is starting to detect some self absorption." I think John is right.

The piece is by Stanley Fish, currently a Professor of Law at Florida International University in Miami. More information on Dr. Fish is included with his Opinion piece, entitled "Think Again." Here's a link:
http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/07/yes-i-can/

Monday, June 8, 2009

As Europe goes...


The elections over the weekend in Europe left the Left in this country shaking their heads, I'm sure. No sooner did we follow the Europeans' lead toward socialism, than they turn around and head back toward conservatism. Will we follow? Not likely - at least not yet.

According to CBS, on April 15, 2009:

An astonishing 43.4 percent of Americans now pay zero or negative federal income taxes. The number of single or jointly-filing "taxpayers"... who pay no taxes or receive government handouts has reached 65.6 million, out of a total of 151 million.
Those numbers come from an analysis published yesterday by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. Neither is a low-tax or conservative advocacy group...

People not liable for income taxes are not likely to vote against a party that sees them as "victims," and is more interested in playing Robin Hood than in helping them achieve the American Dream. The "victims" will usually go with the Party that offers them a hand out rather than a hand up.

Daniel Hannan, in his Blog today, offers 10 conclusions on the 2009 European Elections. Here's a link:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2009/06/08/2009_european_elections_ten_conclusions

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sundays are for Beauty - Haydn Trumpet Concerto



Tine Thing Helseth is a 22-year-old Norwegian trumpet soloist who specializes in classical repertoire.

She started playing the trumpet at age 7, and she has performed with such orchestras as the Wiener Symphoniker, Beethoven Academie, Capella Cracowiensis, The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra,[5] Slovenian Radio Symphony Ljubljana, Oslo Camerata, Camerata Nordica, and others.

Tine performed at the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Concert. At least the Norwegians made an intelligent choice of musical entertainers (if not prize recipients) that year.

In the above video she is performing the Third Movement of Franz Josef Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day 65th Anniversary


(click on each photo to enlarge)






WE ARE THE LAND OF THE FREE BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE.

WSJ Letters, 06/06/2009


Here are my favorite letters to the editor of the Wall Street Journal for this week.

A Sad Photo Worth A Thousand Words

Might the photo that accompanies the front-page article on the bankruptcy of General Motors ("GM Collapses Into Government's Arms," June 2) be an allegory for GM's United Auto Workers-induced problems: three men to remove one thin, cardboard sign at Fritz Henderson's meeting site?
George C. Roberts 
Alpharetta, Ga.
________________________________
Do We Want Empathetic Justice or Blind Justice?

Regarding your editorial "The 'Empathy' Nominee" (May 27): Judge Sonia Sotomayor's speech at a La Raza function in Berkeley, Calif. in 2001 has become famous for the candid statement of her belief that "a wise Latina woman" is likely to be a better judge than a white male. But there is much more that is questionable in the speech. She led up to her conclusion by arguing that America is "deeply confused" yet we "insist that we can and must function and live in a race and color-blind way." It is fine that she has, as she says, a "wonderful and magical . . . Latina soul," but that is not the basis for an assumption of superiority. Incredibly, she criticizes another judge who "sees danger in presuming that judging should be gender or anything else biased." She apparently sees no danger in at least some kinds of bias.
She also noted, ". . . no Hispanics, male or female, sit on the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, District of Columbia or Federal Circuits. Sort of shocking, isn't it? This is the year 2002. We have a long way to go." Is it also shocking that there are no Italians, Swedes, Greeks or Poles on several of those courts, or is it only a problem in regard to Hispanics? What racial and ethnic composition of the courts would be unobjectionable in her opinion?
The statue symbolizing justice is always a woman who is blindfolded to make clear that such individual characteristics as race and ethnicity are irrelevant. Judge Sotomayer's conception of justice seems to be different.
Prof. Lino A. Graglia 
University of Texas 
School of Law 
Austin, Texas
________________________________
Gitmo: It Depends On Your Perspective

David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey are right in pointing out the drawbacks in closing Guantanamo ("Why It's So Hard to Close Gitmo," op-ed. May 30). One more comes to my mind: Although the hostile press depicts this detention center as nothing less than an American version of a concentration camp, for at least one woman in Russia it is a place where she is delighted to have her son confined.
A Reuters dispatch from Moscow, dated Aug. 8, 2003, reported that Amina Khasanova, whose son was a detainee there, told a Russian newspaper that she was "terribly scared of a Russian prison or a Russian court" for him and hence presumably was in no hurry to have him released. "At Guantanamo they treat him humanely, the conditions are fine," she said.
Her son, Andrei Bakhitov, one of the eight Russian detainees at Guantanamo, had written her: "I think that there is not even a health resort in Russia on the level of this place."

Richard Pipes 
Cambridge, Mass
__________________________
Obama's Words on Roberts Reveal a Lot About Obama

I found the excerpt from Barack Obama's 2005 Senate speech, "Why Obama Voted Against Roberts" (June 2), fascinating because it shows very well how President Obama operates. He makes fantastic speeches which all praise principle, values and common sense. Many conservatives would not even deliver speeches as deeply conservative as Mr. Obama's. Yet when he casts his vote, he is a super liberal, to the left of the left. The usual liberal "culprits" show their colors at the first word they pronounce. One or two sentences and one knows that a liberal is talking. But not with Mr. Obama. This is what has contributed to his initial successes but will ultimately be his downfall. If you find so many good qualities in Justice Roberts, and find he may be "deficient" in 1% or 2% of his personality, why vote against him?
George Naniche 
Moraga, Calif.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Justice? Progress? Tolerance?


What a nice thought: America and Islam overlap because we share common principles: Justice, Progress, Tolerance, and Dignity for all human beings. Really? Is he speaking of Islam as a religion or a political movement? I'm not sure, but to concede that Islam as either one shares those principles with us is a lot more than a stretch. To say that Islam as a religion or political movement even embraces those principles is a total fiction, and he has to know that. There was a lot written about "The Speech" delivered by President Obama in Egypt yesterday, and I'm linking to three of the very best essays I could find.

The first is by Charles Krauthammer, who is never prone to suffer fools gladly. Here's the link:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/04/AR2009060403811.html

Here is Andy McCarthy, the former federal prosecutor and author of Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad.
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTBkYjRmMzI4MmI3NTRkMzIwYzU0NDhkNzk2NTBlZmU=

The third is by Iranian born conservative journalist Amir Taheri.
http://www.nypost.com/seven/06052009/news/columnists/meek_prez_rolls_over__lets_fanatics_set__172627.htm?page=0

Finally there was this from the Heritage Foundation Morning Bell:

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, The Heritage Foundation’s Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom Nile Gardiner comments:

President Obama’s feel-good Cairo speech will do little to strengthen America’s position in the Middle East. It is a speech that projects weakness and contrition rather than American leadership - at times the president seemed embarrassed about America’s global power and achievements. Many of Obama’s statements were apologetic in tone, and the speech failed to recognize the huge role the United States has played in freeing tens of millions of Muslims from the Baathists and the Taliban. In fact no country in history has done more to defend Muslims from oppression than America, from Afghanistan to Kosovo to Iraq. The president’s address will only deepen the impression among both America’s enemies and allies that Barack Obama does not have the stomach for a long war against Islamist terrorism, nor the will to stand up to the Iranian nuclear threat. The world needs stronger leadership than this.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

No more apologies, please!



What a comforting thought for those of us who thought we were living in a Judeo-Christian nation, to hear our elected president call the United States of America “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world,” and follow that bizarre and inaccurate statement with “I WANTED TO COME TO THE PLACE WHERE ISLAM BEGAN," when asked the next day in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, why he was stopping there on his way to deliver a speech at the University of Cairo, which is 1021.47 miles from Riyadh. By the way, Israel is 251 miles from Cairo, but our president will not be making a visit to the only true democracy, and our most loyal ally, in the Middle East. Surely the fact that it is the place where Judaism and Christianity began had nothing to do with the snub.

We can only hope that he does not make this trip a continuation of his apology tour, but it would be out of character for him to do otherwise. For a listing of Obama’s Top Ten apologies click on this link to the Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell.
http://blog.heritage.org/2009/06/03/morning-bell-president-obamas-top-ten-apologies/

But wait! Here is an excerpt from Obama’s speech in Cairo in which he does not quite praise America, but at least he displays an understanding of that simple concept that defines our greatness: E Pluribus Unum – something that Al Gore totally misinterpreted as “one of many” when he was trying to become our president.

“And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

“But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words - within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one."

________________________________
President Obama is to be congratulated for his clear explanation of our motto to his Muslim audience - or maybe we should thank his teleprompter.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Patriot Post Outtakes: 05/29/2009


The Patriot Post publishes a Friday Digest, which is a compilation of interesting news items of the week. The Digest is available on the Patriot Post website to which there is a link on the right side of this Blog. Here are some outtakes from the most recent Friday Digest.

This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award

"This woman is brilliant! She is qualified! I want her confirmed! I want her walking up those marble steps and starting to provide some justice!" --Barack Obama

In angry street talk, the community organizer in the White House admits that he thinks justice hasn't been done in the Supreme Court. But now a Latina woman will make the "right" decisions.
________________________________
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Sgt. John Marra

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. John Marra was serving in Iraq with the 303rd Military Police Company, 785th MP Battalion, 300th MP Brigade. On 24 October 2007, the unit's task was to train its replacement unit, a job that included traveling to nearly every police station in its operation area. Several of those stations were located in particularly hot locations. Sgt. Marra was traveling in the second of four vehicles in Bayji, Iraq, when an IED exploded under the fourth vehicle, flipping it onto its side and trapping three soldiers inside, one of whom was killed; the gunner was ejected and wounded by shrapnel. Marra left his vehicle in order to provide first aid for his wounded comrades. With enemy fire hitting all around him, Marra jumped on top of the disabled vehicle to extract the men inside.

"We were on a previous mission just 20 days prior when we were ambushed in the same area, same way, by some of the same insurgents," Marra later explained. "During that instance, we lost our medic, Cpl. Rachel Hugo." Hugo had taught the unit several life-saving techniques, however, and Marra gives her credit for helping save the squad leader's life. With the squad leader unresponsive and barely breathing, Marra inserted a nasal pharyngeal airway into his nose to prevent him from choking, carried him to a nearby Iraqi police non-armored pick-up truck and rode with him through a dangerous neighborhood to the nearest police station, performing CPR on the way. For his quick thinking and courage under fire, Marra was awarded the Bronze Star with combat "V" for valor.
________________________________
To Keep and Bear Arms

A group of Georgia college students have an armed friend to thank for saving them from two masked men who invaded an apartment recently. Ten people had gathered for a birthday party when the two men burst through the patio door. "They just came in and separated the men from the women and said, 'Give me your wallets and cell phones,'" said George Williams of the College Park Police Department. The men then proceeded to count bullets. When they decided they had enough, apparently to kill each of the students, one student grabbed a gun out of his backpack and shot the invader guarding the men. The wounded assailant ran from the apartment. The armed student then went to the room where the other assailant was holding the women. "Apparently the [assailant] was getting ready to rape his girlfriend. So [the student] told the girls to get down and he started shooting. The guy jumped out of the window," said one student. That assailant was later found dead near his apartment, which was one building away. It's certainly a good thing the students had gathered in an apartment and not a "gun-free zone."
________________________________
And Last,

In advance of the upcoming Obamafest in Egypt next week, in which The One will read from his teleprompter a much-anticipated (by the Left) speech to our Muslim friends, The New York Times reports, "Right outside [Cairo] university's gates, vendors selling items from small kiosks said they had more pragmatic concerns than international relations. That is often the case in a country where about half the population struggles to survive on less than $2 a day." The Times then quotes Cairo resident Samia Abdel Hafiz: "I am trying to get a birth certificate to get a job. Whenever I apply for a job they ask me for the birth certificate. Maybe Obama can help get my paperwork through." Good thinking, Samia. Barack Obama certainly would be the guy to ask if you're trying to land a job without having to present a valid birth certificate.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Leading by Example




"Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing."
Albert Schweitzer

Back in January, President-elect Obama conceded that, in light of the economic situation which the nation faced, "not everything that we talked about during the campaign are we going to be able do on the pace we had hoped.'' He added that there will be some “sacrifice” ahead and “everybody’s going to have some skin in the game.”

In February, Obama scolded corporate executives (while also costing Las Vegas some $130 million) when he said: "You can't get corporate jets. You can't go take a trip to Las Vegas, or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime."

Last Saturday night, May 30, the president and his wife showed they have “some skin in the game,” when they sacrificed the use of Air Force One and flew on a Gulfstream 500 corporate jet to New York for dinner and a Broadway show. It is next to impossible to arrive at an accurate figure of what that trip, complete with Marine helicopters, Secret Service personnel and limousines, and local police protection in NYC, cost taxpayers. It could have been more, though, had they decided to fly up there on the Boeing 747 that serves as Air Force One, as Obama did when he traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia to address a gathering of Democrats some months ago. Williamsburg is 152 miles from Washington, D.C., about a 2½ hour drive.

On June 1, in his speech announcing the bankruptcy filing of General Motors, he admonished all of us that we had to make “a sacrifice for the next generation -- a sacrifice you may not have chose to make, but a sacrifice you were nevertheless called to make so that your children and all of our children can grow up in an America that still makes things; that still builds cars; that still strives for a better future.”

"Not the cry but the flight of the wild duck leads the flock to fly and to follow."
Chinese Proverb

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bountiful Day at the Buoy








I've been paddling out to the sea buoy that marks the entrance to the St. Johns River, the Port of Jacksonville, and Mayport Naval Station for about 12 years, and the trips are never boring. Today, though, was a special day filled with surprises. The photos above will help to describe the sights I enjoyed on today's trip. The Manta rays were running in packs of 20 to 30; some were swimming alone or with one or two others, but mostly they swam in large groups. I've never seen so many on one trip. The sea turtles were coming up for air and sun, and I counted five today, which is a record for one 11 mile trip. They were huge, and were most likely females just waiting for the right time to come ashore and drag themselves up into the sand dunes to bury their eggs. It looks to be a bumper crop of baby turtles this season. The dolphins, often present in large numbers, were mostly swimming far out near the buoy for some reason today.

Once I rounded the buoy, I noticed one of the Navy tug boats totally out of place. They usually travel inside the channel going back and forth between Mayport Naval Station and the sea buoy where they transfer the Navy Pilots on to incoming Navy ships. This tug, though, was out of the channel and headed south. It was not long before it turned east south east and headed straight for a Navy Frigate that I had seen plowing along very slowly in a southerly direction while I was at the buoy. The tug approached the Frigate and it appeared to transfer somebody from the tug to the Frigate, and then headed back to Mayport. About then, I turned and looked back toward the channel and was surprised to see a partially submerged Navy Submarine moving rather quickly through the channel and just beginning to head out of the channel in an east south easterly direction, toward the Frigate. Only the conning tower on the Sub was visible as it passed within 150 yards of me. The rule is all vessels must keep at least 500 yards away from U.S. Navy Ships, but if anybody was in violation here it wasn't me: I was trying to get back to the beach and was not headed in the direction of the Sub - and I was there first. Submarine sightings are a rare treat for kayakers, and that was my seventh sighting - all in or near the Mayport channel. It was not long before I realized I was witnessing the beginning of an ASW (anti-submarine warfare) exercise, but knew I was an unwelcome guest so I kept paddling southwest toward my beach. All in all, it was another eventful trip to the buoy for me, and I hope these photos have given you an idea of how splendid it is to kayak in the ocean.

N.B. The above photos, although accurate representations of the marine life and vessels seen during the above trip, were not taken during the trip.