Restoring the Sacred

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Closer to God in a Kayak XVI

A Second Visit With Tim

Our son Tim had been sailing as Master on United States Navy Ships (USNS) for the Military Sealift Command (MSC) for several years, and was the Master (Captain) of the USNS Capella home ported in Jacksonville from January 2000 to April 2005. In April of that year, Tim assumed command of a new ship, home ported in Corpus Christi, Texas: the USNS Benavidez, named in honor of Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez, a Medal of Honor Recipient from the Vietnam War. In early November 2008, Tim left Corpus Christi two weeks after returning home from Kuwait, to return to the Middle East with yet another full load of military cargo for Operation Iraqi Freedom. This time he was to load in Jacksonville, so he sent me an E-Mail letting me know he would probably be coming into the port here on November 6th. We began a series of messages back and forth to try to arrange a rendezvous at the St. Johns River Buoy marking the entrance to the channel into Jacksonville and the Mayport Naval Station. We finally were able to pull it off after being blessed with the first day of decent weather in a couple weeks. We had been having miserable weather for kayaking for two weeks, but on November 6th at least the sun came out. The winds were not nearly as bad as they had been, and the seas were forecast to be three to five feet - not a day I would normally attempt a journey to the sea buoy, but Tim was coming. Here are some of the E-Mails (slightly edited) between Tim and me, and a couple between older son Bob (a U. S. Navy Captain stationed at that time in Norfolk, Virginia) and me.

From: Tim
TO: Me
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 12:17:43 -0500

>>> Subject: Arrival
>>> Hey Dad,
>>> We'll be at the STJ buoy at 1200 local on Thursday. The big day is finally here. Do you still feel confident that McCain can pull it off? Hope the
weather is good Thursday and you can make it out there.

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Me
> To: Tim
> Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2008 8:22 AM

> Subject: Re: Arrival
>> Tim, You still expect the STJ at Noon? I'm going down to check it out in a minute.
From: Tim
> To: Me
Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2008 08:28:00 -0500

> Subject: Re: Arrival
> Hey Dad,
> Yes, 1200 noon for pilot. We're about 35 miles SE now.

From: Me
Date: Thu, 06 Nov 2008 08:44:47 -0500
To: Tim

Subject: Re: Arrival

Good deal, Tim. It looks pretty good out there, and the sun is out to dry me off after I get through the surf. I'll be on the south side, wearing a red hat. >>>

> From: Bob
> Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2008 18:19:31 -0500
> To: Me

> Conversation: Arrival
> Subject: RE: Arrival
> Did you make it out there?
From: Me
Date: Thu, 06 Nov 2008 20:17:02 -0500
To: Bob

Conversation: Arrival
Subject: Re: Arrival

Yes. It was brutal. I would only do that for Mom and my three sons (and maybe the Pope). The surf took about half my energy just getting through it. Then it took me an hour and forty minutes to get to the buoy, thanks to a 10-15 mph NNE wind and three to five-foot seas in my face. Fortunately, I left plenty early. I set up with the two Coast Guard security boats that were waiting for Tim. I told them I was the Master's father, and they called Tim and told him I was there. He already knew it though, because the pilot on a tanker that passed me at the buoy called back to the tanker behind him and told him to be alert because there was a guy out here in a kayak. Tim, who was still 12 miles from the buoy, heard him and said he knew it was me. I was sitting next to one of the CG security boats when Tim passed and several of them were on the bridge waving at us. I think the CG crew got as big a thrill as I did. They were good guys, and I thanked them for serving. One was an X-Marine, and I was wearing the red U S. Marines hat that Dick Lynch gave me. (He and I talked about our days as Marines, which were only about 40 years apart.)

After Tim passed, I realized that I had drifted about a half mile east of the buoy while waiting for him, so the trip back was a little longer, but the current and five foot seas were on my side coming back and, in spite of being pretty spent, I made it back in an hour and a half. I don't know how I made it in through the surf without wiping out, but I got lucky.

Good day over all, but I won't be paddling tomorrow. My elbow feels like it was crushed by a sledgehammer - again.

I have to add that on the way out to see Tim that day, I hesitated at the shoreline as the surf was pretty rough and high, and breaking outside (far out). Then three dolphins jumped straight up out of a crashing wave, and three more followed suit. I took that as a good omen and launched my scupper pro.

As a footnote, Tim was able to come to the house for dinner the night before setting sail. Unfortunately, they headed out after dark the next day so there could be no sea buoy rendezvous on the outbound. We did, though, get to watch him transit the channel from our beach, and signal his farewell with a bright light from the bridge. Why is it that such short visits always seem so special - and memorable?

(Click to enlarge photos)

(USNS Benavidez)

M/Sgt Roy Benavidez, R.I.P.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Azerbaijan: A Country With Guts

Approximately 93% of the population of Azerbaijan identifies as Muslim (mostly Shia), but many Azerbajanis are not religious. According to a recent Gallup Poll, Azerbaijan is one of the most irreligious countries in the world with about 50% of respondents indicating the importance of religion in their life as little or none. So Azerbaijan is considered a secular country, and in fact its constitution ensures everyone religious freedom.

So different is this predominantly Muslim country it has taken a risky stand by befriending Israel despite its own precarious location between Russia and Iran, both of which have been doing their best to destabilize her.

Norma Zager, writing on Pajamas Media , provided an interesting analysis of the relationship between this modern mostly Muslim nation and the nation despised by every other Muslim country (not to mention some major European countries), and condescended to by her former principal ally (us).

You can read Zager's article by clicking on the link below.

Pajamas Media » One Muslim Nation’s Brave Support of Israel

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sundays are for Beauty - John Paul the Great

"Be Not Afraid!" Pope John Paul II

Have a Beautiful Sunday.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gov. Mitch Daniels on Obamacare

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a prospective Republican nominee for president in 2012, was interviewed by The Heritage Foundation about Obamacare, and then wrote a guest post to The Foundry, the Blog of The Heritage Foundation, on the same topic. You can read the governor's post here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Battle of Lepanto and The Holy Rosary

Michael Novak is a theologian, author, and former U.S. ambassador under Ronald Reagan. He wrote this piece for National Review Online.

Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote), served on one of the Christian galleys in what he called the greatest naval sea battle in history. It was 1571, and the Turks (Muslims) had been massing an enormous fleet for an invasion of Italy. Their fleet was assembling just off a port in Greece, near the Gulf of Lepanto. The battle pitted the two largest naval forces ever assembled: the Turks fielded 280 ships; the Christians, 212. The odds on the Christians winning that battle were only slightly better than the odds on them defeating the lions in the Roman Coliseum 1500 years earlier. Nevertheless, the Christians routed the Turks and much credit was given to Pope Pius V, who had urged all Christians to say the rosary daily on behalf of the brave crews on the Christian galleys. At the hour of victory, the Pope, hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, is said to have gotten up from a meeting, and exclaimed: "The Christian fleet is victorious!"

One of three admirals commanding the Christian forces at Lepanto was Andrea Doria, who carried a small copy of Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe into battle. That image is now enshrined in the Church of San Stefano in Aveto, Italy.

(Our Lady of Guadalupe)

The Christian victory was seen by many as nothing short of miraculous, and victory was immediately attributed to Our Lady Queen of the Rosary, who received a new title: Our Lady Queen of Victory. Church bells rang out all over Europe on the day of the victory, and October 7 has since been celebrated by the Catholic Church as a feast day. Later, the feast of October 7th was renamed "Our Lady of the Rosary" and extended throughout the Universal Church by Pope Clement XI in 1716.

Osama bin Laden cites the Battle of Lepanto and the amazing victory by Jan Sobieski’s Polish cavalry over the Turks outside the gates of Vienna on September 11-12, 1683, as battles for which he is still seeking revenge. Note the dates of the two battles. There are no coincidences.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant

Paul E. Marek wrote this interesting Op-Ed more than three years ago for Israel National News.Com. His thesis is: "History lessons are often incredibly simple," and he offers convincing evidence in support. He tells of a man he knew who was a former member of the German aristocracy prior to the rise of Hitler and his Nazi party. He asked the man how many Germans were true Nazis, and the man's answer should be a wake-up call to many people today.

“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

You can read the whole Op-Ed by clicking on the below link.

Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant - Op-Eds - Israel National News

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vortex: Is Obama a Christian?

Dear Friend in Christ,

The controversy swirling around the latest poll about Americans' opinions about Obama being Muslim says much more about the country's knowledge of Christianity than it does about whether Obama is Muslim.  Please pass this Vortex along to as many friends and family  as you can.

GOD Bless you and your loved ones.

Michael Voris
~senior executive producer,

Here's a copy of the 2008 interview with Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So This Is What We Call Soft Power?

Caroline May of The Daily Caller posted an eye opening account today about how our State Department is funding the restoration of Mosques around the world. How about that?

While much attention has been focused on questions surrounding the Ground Zero mosque and the appropriateness of the State Department funding Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s trip to the Middle East, little attention has been given to the fact that U.S. taxpayer money is funding mosque development around the world.

She cites 26 examples of federal funds going to fund construction, renovation, and rehabilitation of various mosques abroad. The benefiting countries include Bulgaria, Pakistan, Mali, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Egypt, Tunisia, the Maldives, Yemen, Turkmenistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Serbia and Montenegro.

Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokeswoman, told The Daily Caller that the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation is a type of diplomatic effort and outreach, what she says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls “soft power.”

“It is helping to preserve our cultural heritage. It is not just to preserve religious structures,” Thompson said. “It is not to preserve a religion. It is to help us as global inhabitants preserve cultures.”

Click on the link below to read the whole article.

Closer to God in a Kayak XV

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. June 1, 2009, though, was a special day filled with surprises. 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 that day, 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. 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 and off the incoming and outgoing 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 that day 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 probably 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 another reminder of how splendid it is to be Closer to God in a Kayak in the ocean.

Note: The photos, although accurate representations of the marine life and vessels seen, on June 1, 2009, were not taken during the trip.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Verum SerumBlog: Park 51... Priceless

John at Verum Serum Blog just posted this today, and I couldn't resist.

John on August 22, 2010 at 10:34 pm

A 13 story Islamic center two blocks from ground zero: $100 million.

Sending Imam Rauf overseas to spread tolerance on the taxpayer’s dime: $16,000.

Refilling the prescription on Frank Rich’s blood pressure medication: $14.

Watching progressives argue that religious freedom should never be questioned…


Also today: Heard that the AP has instructed all outlets to henceforth refer to what we have been calling the Ground Zero Mosque as "The New York City Mosque." Given that there are roughly 90 Mosques in New York City, according to a Google search on the topic, I propose we be even more specific in describing the Mosque in question as "The Ground Zero Victory Mosque."

Obama's Endgame: We Lose

This was sent by House Republican Whip Eric Cantor. Should anyone consider this a hatchet job on the current administration, it might be enlightening to check the facts stated in the video. Facts are stubborn things.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sundays are for Beauty - Alison Krauss and Union Station

That's Alison Krauss and Union Station, and this is one of their many big hits - over a million and a half views on You Tube.

Have a Beautiful Sunday.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sowell to Obama: Resign!

This is the fifth of a five part interview of Dr. Thomas Sowell on his latest book, Dismantling America. Dr. Sowell draws parallels between the fall of Rome and what he sees as the collapse of America, and when asked by the interviewer what one word of advice he would give President Obama, he answers: Resign!

The interviewer, by the way, is Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution, the former speech writer for President Ronald Reagan who wrote the famous line: Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall!

Here's a link to the interview:

Friday, August 20, 2010

I Want Your Money trailer...Set against the backdrop of today's headline - 67% of Americans don't approve of Obama's economic policies, the film takes a provocative look at our deeply depressed economy using the words and actions of Presidents Reagan and Obama and shows the marked contrast between Reaganomics and Obamanomics. The film contrasts two views of the role that the federal government should play in our daily lives using the words and actions of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Two versions of the American dream now stand in sharp contrast. One views the money you earned as yours and best allocated by you; the other believes that the elite in Washington know how to best allocate your wealth. One champions the traditional American dream, which has played out millions of times through generations of Americans, of improving one's lot in life and even daring to dream and build big. The other holds that there is no end to the "good" the government can do by taking and spending other peoples' money in an ever-burgeoning list of programs. The documentary film I Want Your Money exposes the high cost in lost freedom and in lost opportunity to support a Leviathan-like bureaucratic state.

Peter Johnson, Jr: Time To Do the Right Thing

That's Peter Johnson, Jr., Fox News Legal Analyst. He delivered these remarks this morning standing in front of the Burlington Coat Factory, the proposed site of the now infamous Ground Zero Mosque.

Time to Do the Right Thing
Friday, August 20, 2010
Peter J. Johnson, Jr.

I am standing at the site of the proposed mosque and community center about 500 feet from Ground Zero. I lost many friends here. As a lawyer, I represent retired firefighters and fathers who suffer cancer and other serious illnesses as a result of the rescue and search operations for their sons who perished at the site of the attack.

For some, including the president, this has become about civil rights: the First Amendment. But it is not really about the First Amendment. It is about America giving and taking. It is about Americans respecting other Americans; about neighbors supporting neighbors; about feeling each others pain; about being sensitive to the loss of life in a horrific act of war, where it still hurts almost nine years later.

We are proud that we are one of the few countries in the world which allows the free exercise of religion. But, when we resort to legalisms, when we invoke our First Amendment as a sword not a shield without seeing what there was to be seen and hearing what there is to be heard, well, it means we have lost touch with and lost faith in the victims. Because we know, whether it is the Fort Hood shooter or the Christmas Day bomber or the Times Square bomber or in battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation is still under siege. But as united as we were as a people on 9/11, we are just as divided today.

We have forgotten the important wellspring of our nation's strength that when it comes to our national interest, we are neither Christians, nor Jews, nor Muslims. We are Americans first.

But our common bonds seem to be fraying. Why?

Does our government sanction disrespect and disagreement between our peoples? When we demonize an entire state like Arizona because of the failings of the federal government? Do our courts sanction, disrespect and incivility when they allow a so-called religion to protest at servicemen's funerals, holding signs that say "Thank God for dead soldiers?" And then say the First Amendment makes it all OK.

How have we fallen so far, so quickly?

The developer of this mosque promises to build bridges, yet reportedly announced that its ground breaking would take place on September 11, 2011. When questions are asked about this site as to whether it is to be a reminder of Islamic triumphalism or supremacy, no assurances can be given except to deny that Hamas is a terrorist organization and refuse to deny that this community center will accept funding from our implacable enemy, the nation of Iran.

Governor Paterson and Archbishop Timothy Dolan have each taken steps to resolve this crisis. They understand the importance of the inalienable right to worship, but also understand the need for sensitivity of a kind neighbor understanding the loss of another neighbor in a time of distress, anger and yes, painful healing; the concept of right idea, wrong address.

Our hope and prayer is that this is no longer about government or politicians, or pain or protest, but about neighbors becoming good neighbors, about Americans being good Americans.

Thank God and the Founders for the First Amendment. But God help us if it all comes down to the need to rely upon it. Before we start talking about rights, let's start acting on our unique American responsibility to do the right thing.

— Peter J. Johnson, Jr., has served as a legal analyst for the Fox News Channel since 1997

Here's a link to a video of Johnson delivering the above remarks posted this afternoon on the Fox and Friends website.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hey Bloomberg, Build This!

This is truly the greater scandal that nobody in the main stream media is talking about. St. Nicholas, a Greek Orthodox Church, was founded in 1916 by Greek Immigrants on the site where much later was built the World Trade Center. The Church was crushed by the collapsing of 2 World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 after Islamic Radicals flew planes into that building and its twin. The Church and the World Trade Center are still awaiting approval from the government to rebuild almost nine years after the catastrophe. There was, as you might know, no Mosque on the site - or near the site - but Mayor Bloomberg is upset with those of us who are upset with the very idea of building a Mosque on this scared site. Charles Krauthammer calls the idea of a Mosque at Ground Zero, a sacrilege, and most Americans agree with him. One might ask how upset Mayor Bloomberg is with the fact that New Yorkers, for nine years, have been staring into a massive hole in the ground where the World Trade Center and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church formerly stood.

So you can see the exact location of St. Nicholas Church, here is a photo taken on September 11, 2001.

(St. Nicholas Church, minutes before the collapse of 2 World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Photo: Eric O’Connell)

To read more about St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church go here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Survivors Vs Ground Zero Mosque

Thanks to Keep America Safe. Com for this video.

Wise Words From The "Gipper"

This video was on on Monday. It could not be more timely, which is the point made by Powerline's John Hinderaker in his post.

The Ground Zero Mosque Reality Check

Bill Whittle of PJTV sums up the events that led up to the reluctance of our government (and others) to do the right thing rather than the easy thing when faced with Islamic terrorism, and ends with the best argument against the Ground Zero Mosque: it's not about tolerance at all.

Michael Bloomberg, who bought the New York City Mayor's office with his personal fortune, is a coward and an appeaser, i.e., he's feeding the crocodile hoping it will eat him last. Bad news, Mike, it will eat you first.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Moderate Muslims and Progressive Catholics

That's Steven Emerson, who is doing the Lord's work as the founder of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. He was a guest on Bill Bennett's radio show this morning talking about Radical Islam, and the phony reasons being put forth by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf for the building of a Mosque at Ground Zero. Mr. Emerson's Blog can always be accessed through My Blog List on the right side of this Blog. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a feed so new posts do not appear as soon as they are published. You have to click on the link to see what's new on the site.

For prior posts on Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is about to embark - at your expense - on a U. S. State Department tour of those friendly, religiously tolerant Middle Eastern countries, none of which has condemned the massacre on 9/11, go here and here.

Emerson, while talking with Bill Bennett, made many laudatory remarks about an American Muslim doctor, Zuhdi Jasser, of Arizona. Here's a photo of Dr. Jasser with yet another gift to the country from the state of Minnesota (as if Al Franken wasn't enough), Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in the U. S. House of Representatives. Jasser is on the right.

These two gentlemen engaged in a rather lively debate on the subject of Islam. The debate was recorded in nine parts on You Tube, and is worth the time to watch. You can watch the first part here. Suffer through the first few minutes of Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, who sponsored the debate; you won't regret it.

Dr. Jasser comes across as being exactly what he is touted to be: a moderate Muslim, but Pamela Geller isn't sure about him. She published this post about him on her Blog, Atlas Shrugs, back in May 2009.

Zuhdi Jasser impressed me as being completely sincere in his beliefs and, just as importantly, in his loyalties (he served as a medical officer for 11 years in the U. S. Navy). Somehow, though, I can't forget the words of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey: "There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

I think Erdogan and Rep. Ellison are right about Islam, and Dr. Jasser is wrong. "Muslims" who do not believe in Sharia Law are not moderate Muslims; they're just NOT Muslims. Dr. Jasser, not only does not believe in Sharia; he believes in "separation of Mosque and state." I think Dr. Jasser is very much like today's so-called Progressive Catholics who have no problem with abortion or same-sex marriage (among other things). They're not "Progressive Catholics;" they're simply NOT Catholics.

Closer to God in a Kayak XIV

Sub Number Four and More

In early June 2008, I received an email from the scheduler at Central Texas College asking if I would be interested in going aboard a Guided Missile Destroyer in mid July to teach three or four English courses (I had taught four courses aboard the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship, in conjunction with the Navy College in November and December 2007). I had never been on board a Guided Missile Destroyer and was intrigued by the offer. Not only had I never been aboard a Guided Missile Destroyer, I had never even been close to one in the ocean near Mayport Naval Base where a number of them are stationed.

The day after receiving the offer from Central Texas College, while paddling out to the sea buoy, the first ship I saw in the channel heading out of Mayport was an Arleigh Burke Guided Missile Destroyer. The ship on which the teaching position was being offered, U.S.S. McFaul DDG 74, was an Arleigh Burke Guided Missile Destroyer. You might already have gathered that I am given to seeing omens; well, here was one more to record in my travels. Soon after returning to the beach that day, and after consulting with my wife, I notified the Central Texas College that I would accept the assignment, and would await more detailed information.

I sent an email to a good friend about the trip that day describing the sighting of, in addition to the Destroyer, my fourth submarine. Here’s that message:

“Dennis, I did get out in the kayak yesterday, and it was a memorable trip. For the first time since I've been going to the sea buoy, I met up with a DDG coming through the channel - must have been an omen. Then I had a super-sized merchant ship, which I was sure would turn north fool me and turn south at the buoy causing me to paddle backwards to get out of his way. A second (medium size) merchant coming out through the channel about a mile behind the first one blew his horn a couple times to let me know he was turning south toward me, but that was great because I could just keep heading northeast toward the buoy. About then I noticed a Navy tug heading out toward me, and since I could see no Navy ship anywhere since the DDG passed, I thought a Navy Frigate seen earlier heading south was returning over the horizon and was going to be heading in. I was wrong, and soon realized that I was about to see my 4th submarine. The tug went past me, and headed east from the buoy. He picked up the sub about a mile outside the buoy, and I paddled behind him and watched the pilot climb on top of the sub where he was met by three or four submariners. Then one of the Coast Guard inflatable fast boats appeared behind the sub and began escorting her from the rear toward the channel. It doesn't get much better than that. The driver of the coast guard boat was a female, and after the sub entered the channel, she sped over to me to ask if I was OK (I had taken off my hat and waved to the guys on the conning tower, and she didn't know if I was waving or signaling for help). Those Coast Guard inflatable boats are absolutely laden with weapons, and the guy standing on the front of it was manning a 50 cal that looked like it was pointed right at me when they were coming toward me. All in all, it was a great day out there.”

(Click to enlarge all photos)

I thank God every night for granting me days like that one. I’m so lucky to have ended up living this close to the beach. In fact, I often feel guilty that all my friends and, of course, my family, don’t live here. We often say that people plan for years to take a vacation in a place just like this and do exactly what we do on a regular basis. I don’t know anyone who lives better than this.

Note: I flew to Odessa, Ukraine, in July to meet up with the USS McFaul, and spent two months teaching aboard her in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, then flew home from Istanbul - it was great!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Who said our president is a Muslim?

This was posted yesterday by Caroline Glick under the title: "No words necessary."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sundays are for Beauty - Bocelli at Pavarotti Funeral

That's Andrea Bocelli, a frequent visitor to Sundays are for Beauty, singing Ave Verum Corpus, which translates: "Hail, true body," at the funeral Mass for Luciano Pavarotti in 2007. The hymn dates from the 14th century and has been set to music by many composers, most notably Mozart. It's a meditation on the Catholic belief in the Real Presence of the body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother, Body and Soul, into Heaven.

Have a Beautiful Sunday.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Obama: Build the Mosque

This should not be a shock to anyone who has been paying attention for the past 20 months.

For a reasonable and intelligent analysis of the Ground Zero Mosque debate, read the column posted yesterday by Charles Krauthammer, here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Obama to Israel: You're On Your Own

Caroline Glick is convinced that the Obama administration will do nothing to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That's an opinion shared by many, but Glick makes a convincing case based on evidence, which she says is found in "every aspect of Obama's foreign policy."

To all intents and purposes, there are no circumstances in which Obama would order an attack on Iran's nuclear installations to prevent Iran from developing and fielding nuclear weapons. Exceptions to this statement fall into two categories. Either they are so implausible that they are operationally irrelevant, or they are so contingent on other factors that they would doom any US attack to failure.

Glick's arguments lead her to conclude:

First, and most urgently, Israel must attack Iran's nuclear installations. Iran's nuclear ambitions must be set back at least until 2017, the latest date at which a new -- and hopefully more rational -- US administration will certainly be in office.

To read the whole piece, go here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Call For Term Limits Redux

We've called more than once for the imposition of term limits on members of Congress. Lord Acton had it exactly right when he said: "All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority."

The longer a politician stays in office, the greater the power and authority he will exert, which then all but assures "the certainty of corruption." The only way to protect the American people from that corruption is to make certain that no member of Congress can be in office long enough to become totally corrupted.

Here in the United States, Congressional efforts to limit the terms of members of the House and Senate lost their air in 1997, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be resuscitated. The Republican majority in Congress, in their 1994 “Contract With America,” initially declared term limits a priority, but that Congress failed to get the necessary votes for a constitutional amendment – which would be needed to mandate the limits.

As of May 2009, our House of Representatives had 62 members who had “served” for more than 20 years. Nineteen of them had “served” for over 30 years, and two (both Democrats) for more than 40 years. Almost 58 percent of the Members had been there for 10 years. Does that sound good?

James Madison wrote: legislators should be “called for the most part from pursuits of a private nature and continued in appointment for a short term of office.” Surely Madison would not have considered 40 years, 30 years, or even 20 years a “short term of office.”

We are now being governed by professional legislators - some of whom have never held a real job - and the only jobs they have ever created have been government jobs. This is not what our Founding Fathers intended, and we can do something about it.

Term limits is the answer, and not just term limits. Herewith some of our previously posted recommendations (call them modest proposals), along with term limits, to bring our elected officials back down off the perches we never put them on, and maybe even make them understand the meaning of "public service."

1. Members of the U. S. House of Representatives may serve only two (two year) terms in their lifetime, and those terms need not be served consecutively. They may thereafter serve in the U. S. Senate, but not in the term immediately succeeding their final term in the House.

2. Members of the U. S. Senate may serve only one six year term in their lifetime. They may thereafter serve two terms in the House of representatives but not in the term immediately succeeding their term in the Senate.

3. The House and the Senate will be modeled after the U. S. Military Reserve Force. Both Houses will meet in Washington D. C. one weekend each month, and for two weeks each summer. The weekend meetings, when possible, will be accomplished by way of telephone or video conferencing.

4. Each member of the House and Senate will have a full-time staff made up of two members in Washington D. C., and one in the home district. The Senate staff member may serve anywhere in the state, at the discretion of the Senator.

5. In order to be a candidate for either the House of Representatives or the Senate, the individual must have served in the U. S. Military. Those not eligible for active combat service must have served in some ancillary military capacity.

6. All candidates for seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate must pass an intelligence measuring test that demonstrates, at a minimum, competency in reading, writing, and balancing a checkbook. They will also be required to pass a rigid and thorough background investigation by the FBI before winning a place on the ballot.

7. All travel and living expenses of members of Congress in connection with their official duties will be reimbursed by the U. S. Treasury. Retirement and health insurance will not be provided, but a modest sum will be paid to each member, while serving, which can be used to contribute to any personal retirement or health insurance plan set up by the member.

Adoption of these modest proposals will, hopefully, lead to a new kind of legislator: one who will be motivated by service to country rather than by self aggrandizement. Their knowledge of the real world will serve them well as they legislate, and their legislative experience will make them even better citizens when they return to private life.

The only argument advanced against term limits, is that members of a term limited Congress would not have enough time to become experienced legislators. Is that a bad thing?

One more thing: every new member of Congress should be required to sign an oath affirming that every morning upon awakening he or she will look into a mirror and declare: "I work for the people; the people do not work for me."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vortex: Hope for the End

Dear Friend in Christ,

Regardless of the cultural destruction around us, faithful Catholics still have the most important role to fulfill; to defend the Truth to the death. Please watch this episode of the Vortex and share it with all your friends and family.

GOD Bless you and your loved ones.

Michael Voris
~senior executive producer,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tolerance Check for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

By now everyone is familiar with the "moderate Muslim cleric" pictured above who wants to build the giant mosque at Ground Zero, in the interest (he says) of tolerance. Comes now Greg Gutfeld with an interesting idea to test the tolerance of Mr. Moderate Muslim himself. Gutfeld says he's "dead serious" so this could get extremely interesting. Here's the post from Gutfeld's Blog, The Daily Gut.


So, the Muslim investors championing the construction of the new mosque near Ground Zero claim it's all about strengthening the relationship between the Muslim and non-Muslim world.

As an American, I believe they have every right to build the mosque - after all, if they buy the land and they follow the law - who can stop them?

Which is, why, in the spirit of outreach, I've decided to do the same thing.

I'm announcing tonight, that I am planning to build and open the first gay bar that caters not only to the west, but also Islamic gay men. To best express my sincere desire for dialogue, the bar will be situated next to the mosque Park51, in an available commercial space.

This is not a joke. I've already spoken to a number of investors, who have pledged their support in this bipartisan bid for understanding and tolerance.

As you know, the Muslim faith doesn't look kindly upon homosexuality, which is why I'm building this bar. It is an effort to break down barriers and reduce deadly homophobia in the Islamic world.

The goal, however, is not simply to open a typical gay bar, but one friendly to men of Islamic faith. An entire floor, for example, will feature non-alcoholic drinks, since booze is forbidden by the faith. The bar will be open all day and night, to accommodate men who would rather keep their sexuality under wraps - but still want to dance.

Bottom line: I hope that the mosque owners will be as open to the bar, as I am to the new mosque. After all, the belief driving them to open up their center near Ground Zero, is no different than mine.

My place, however, will have better music.
For investment information, contact me at

Closer to God in a Kayak XIII

The Air and Sea Show and More

Jacksonville, Florida has long been a Navy town, and, because of that and the close proximity to the Atlantic, the Jacksonville Beaches are blessed every other year with an Air and Sea Show that would make anyone who has spent part of his life savings taking his kids to Disney World feel cheated.

The show is staged in Jacksonville Beach, the southern most of the three Jacksonville beaches. Just north of Jacksonville Beach is Neptune Beach, and north of Neptune is Atlantic Beach, where I now sit.

The highlight of the show (for non-Marines) is the appearance of the U. S. Navy Blue Angels; the highlight for Marines is the simulated assault of the beaches by a combat landing force of Marines after being discharged from an amphibious assault ship and racing to the beach in Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC) boats. The whole scene is a special memory maker – especially when viewed from a vantage point a couple miles out in the ocean.

Back in the summer of 2005, our grandson, Brian (age 14 at the time), was visiting us from Virginia on the day of the show. Brian and I launched our kayaks from Atlantic Beach and paddled east into the ocean, then turned south toward Jacksonville Beach and found a good vantage point east of the long line of power boats that had lined up to watch the day's events. It was a day neither Brian nor I will forget. The show starts with an almost hour long parade of stunt planes that perform all kinds of death defying aerial acrobatics - everything but a wing walker (which would seem much too tame for this show). Then comes the world famous U. S. Navy Blue Angels, followed by the simulated beach assault by the Marines. The whole thing is a spectacle when one is watching from the beach, but even more spectacular when watched from a floating kayak at sea sitting next to a kayak carrying one’s grandson. It was a memorable experience for both of us.

The day after the show we had yet another (less memorable) experience while paddling a few miles off the beach.

I have always preferred traveling light, and have to admit that a life vest wasn’t considered (by me) necessary equipment when kayaking in the ocean. First of all, the kayak is probably one of the best flotation devices there is, and second: I guess there is no good second. Anyway, the day after the Air and Sea Show, Brian and I paddled out just for a little exercise and, when we were about three miles off the beach, a Florida Marine Patrol boat came speeding up to us and one of the officers asked me if I had a life vest aboard (Brian was wearing one, as I always insisted that anybody who took out one of my other boats take a life vest). That rendezvous with the Marine Patrol turned out to be a learning experience for me (who knew that in addition to a life vest a whistle was also required equipment when kayaking in the ocean?).

Fortunately, the officer wrote the citation as a warning, so it didn’t cost me anything. The following day my main kayak was equipped with both a brand new life preserver (which has since been kept fastened atop the aft hatch cover) and a whistle (which is kept in the mesh zippered pocket on the back of my seat).

Brian, now a 19 year old U. S. Navy sailor, definitely enjoyed and remembers the Air and Sea show, and probably also remembers his first traffic stop at sea.

(Click to enlarge)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Glick: On the Upgrading of the PLO

Caroline Glick is upset about the upgrading of the PLO office in Washington D.C., and addresses it, satirically, in this week's Tribal Update. The actors are from Latma, the Hebrew-language satire website.

Prior posts on Caroline Glick can be reviewed here, here, and here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sundays are for Beauty - Diana Krall

Diana Krall, has sold more albums than any other female jazz artist since 1990. To date, she's won three Grammys and eight Juno awards. This is one of her greatest hits in terms of number of views (3.5 million) on You Tube, but here is a personal favorite video of her and last week's Sundays are for Beauty performer, Yo Yo Ma. The bassist on both videos is longtime accompanist of Diana Krall, John Clayton.

Have a Beautiful Sunday.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Build the 9/11 Mosque in Mecca

(Click to enlarge)

The proposed building of a Mosque at Ground Zero in New York City was addressed earlier on this Blog. If you missed it, you can see that post here.

Now comes R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., Editor-in-Chief of The American Spectator with a definitive piece on the absurdity of the whole idea, and especially on the speciousness of the arguments advanced in support of the entirely inappropriate and insensitive placing of the edifice by member-in-good-standing of the "ruling class," Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said the following:

"What is great about America, and particularly New York, is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does it say about us?"

R. Emmett Tyrrell counters:

"First of all, we do not welcome everybody, not drugs lords, not Nazis, not Islamofascists. Secondly, we are not "so afraid of something like this." Rather, we recognize it as an affront to the fallen and to the Nation. Ad arguendo, the affront might not be intended by those wishing to put up the mosque, but it will be recognized by others throughout the world as an affront. Possibly it will be recognized as a sign of the triumph of Islam over non-believers. It ought not to go up."

To read the entire article in The American Spectator, go here.

Things got worse within hours of posting the above. Claudia Rosett, journalist-in-residence at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, posted this piece at Pajamas Media this afternoon.

It seems Feisal Abdul Rauf, imam of the plan for a mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero, is scheduled to spend the rest of the summer on a swing through those bastions of religious tolerance: Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, and Qatar, courtesy of the U. S. State Department. Actually, his entire trip will be courtesy of U. S. Taxpayers. Another day - another scandal.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bail Out For Unions Not Teachers

Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation provided some very interesting facts about the upcoming $10 billion "public education" bailout, which will probably be finalized any minute. She posted the piece on The Corner on National Review Online.

Forget Your Vacation, Come Bail Out Public Education - The Corner - National Review Online

Do teachers need lawmakers to leave the beaches and head back to Washington? Not if we’re to believe reports from school districts about their summer hiring. Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency reports that schools have begun rehiring teachers despite the pink slips doled out earlier this year (and despite cries from the teachers’ unions and the Obama administration of catastrophic teacher layoffs if the bailout fails).

Teachers’ unions, members of Congress, and the Obama administration claim that the $10 billion public-education bailout would save 100,000 teaching jobs. That means taxpayers will be paying $100,000 per job — nearly double the national average for teacher salary, $54,000. Moreover, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 57 percent of teachers are unionized. Using a conservative estimate of $300 in annual dues paid, the NEA and AFT have a minimum of $24 million in dues at stake.

Congress and the Obama administration have lobbied nonstop for increases in education spending since they came into office, and this $10 billion bailout is their latest attempt. Yet the tiny $13 million D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which is successfully providing vouchers to low-income children in the nation’s capital, is being phased out.

Anyone who doubts the power of organized labor in education should just follow the money trail.

Angel Flights for Heroes

God bless our heroes and their families. We owe them our freedom.

H/T: rkwlsn

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Caroline Glick: On US Aid to the Palestinian Authority

Caroline Glick an American born Israeli, now living in Jerusalem, is quite probably the most knowledgeable journalist writing today on the ongoing undeclared war in the Middle East. She posted the above video on her blog the other day, and it should make us wonder just why we are so free with our aid to people who have never been interested in peace, and since 1948 have been trying to drive their Israeli neighbors into the sea.

Here's her post:

US aid to the PA

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Prowler: A Global Department of Justice?

According to The Prowler, writing in The American Spectator last month, the guy who called us all cowards has decided (along with help from the White House) to change the background color scheme (no more red, white and blue) for the website at the executive department he heads. That's not all, the new website is emblazoned with a quote from C. Wilfred Jenks, "who back in the late 1930s and after World War II was a leading figure in the 'international law' movement, which sought to impose a global, common law, and advocated for global workers rights," according to the article.

The quote from Jenks, who no one could confuse with one of our Founding Fathers, reads: "The common law is the will of mankind issuing from the life of the people."

Jenks is credited, according to some DOJ staffers, with ushering in the socialist and communist theories that now permeate the United Nations.

You can read the whole piece by The Prowler here, and view the new department of Justice website here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Closer to God in a Kayak XII

A Message From Billy

On the first day after returning from the funeral of my nephew and godson, Billy (in May 2008), I couldn’t wait to get out in my kayak and just think. I launched just a little after 9:00 AM, and, because of the wind direction intended to head southeast (the wind was coming from the southwest). It’s always better to head into the wind on the way out so you have the wind helping you on the way back. Once through the surf, I was somehow drawn to the sea buoy, which is northeast from my launch point. I still don’t know what made me change my mind, but before going too far to the southeast, I turned the kayak and headed for the sea buoy. The rest is pretty interesting, and I told my brother and his wife (the parents of Billy) about it in this email message.

Marge & Bill, This might seem a little other-worldly, but I have to tell you what happened to me today. I was paddling my kayak, with no intention of going to the sea buoy because the winds were not conducive to going in that direction: they were southwest and the buoy is northeast, and it’s usually better to go onto the wind on the outbound leg. For some unknown reason, I decided after getting underway to go to the buoy to visit Ed (I scattered his ashes out there last August). When I got close to the channel, and was still about two miles from the buoy, I saw my third submarine surface and head in to Mayport (that's always neat). As I got closer to the buoy, a fully loaded merchant ship came out through the channel, and cut me off before I reached the buoy. That was no problem, but then a U. S. Navy ship that I had seen earlier coming out through the channel, dropped off the pilot past the middle buoys and picked up speed. I signaled to the Navy ship my intention to circle the buoy from west to east. She got closer to me than any ship has been out there, but did turn to the right (ESE) in time to allow me to pass in front of her, still headed for the buoy. It is very difficult to make out the numbers on Navy ships at sea as they are only different shades of the same color as the ships (gray). Now comes the interesting part: all the way out to the buoy I was praying for Billy and wondering why a just and omnipotent God would take someone as young as 49 from his family. Billy's age was stuck in my memory because I had told friends that he had just turned 50 in March, and then only later realized he had actually turned 49. Driving home yesterday, I kept thinking of Billy's age, and did the same thing while praying for him when paddling this morning. As I paddled out of the way of the Navy ship ( a Guided Missile Frigate), I looked back at her and saw clearly her number: 49. She was the USS Robert G. Bradley, FFG - 49, the only ship numbered 49 at Mayport. I couldn't help thinking that Billy had something to do with all this, and thought you might like to know about it.

I should explain that my nephew Billy died at the age of 49 after a very tough battle with cancer that started in his lungs and spread elsewhere too quickly. He left a young wife and two beautiful daughters, and his passing caused me once again to revisit the question of why such things happen to good people. Billy was a very special guy evidenced by the fact that his funeral Mass was concelebrated by eight priests and a bishop. Billy lived his whole life in St. Timothy’s Parish, and devoted much of his life to working with the kids of the parish. He was a coach, athletic director and eventually the commissioner of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) activities for the whole diocese. The lines of people for the viewing on the night before the Mass went from 6:30 to 9:30 PM, and again from 9:00 to 10:30 AM on the day of the Mass. Somehow I was under the impression that Billy had turned 50 this year, but eventually realized he had just turned 49. That was why I was almost obsessed with the #49, and the fact that Billy had not made it to his 50th birthday. The chance of my almost literally meeting the USS Robert G. Bradley, FFG - 49 at the sea buoy that day was so remote it was not even imaginable. But I did meet her there, on a day when I had no intention of paddling to the sea buoy. I should also add that because of the color of the numbers on the pointy end of Navy ships (as mentioned in my above email), it's a very rare happenstance when I am able to discern the number on any of them that I encounter in my area of the ocean (in fact, this was the first of only two such times), so it was somewhat amazing that the Bradley was so close and in exactly the right place in relation to the sun that I was able to see clearly the large 49 on her port bow. My faith lets me believe that God was letting Billy send a message that he was with Him, just as He allowed messages to be sent when the lone dolphin surfaced near my kayak in the area where I had spread Susan’s ashes, and the giant sea turtle came up to my kayak and just looked at me out at the sea buoy not long after I had spread Ed’s ashes there. If there is anywhere in this world one can feel closer to God than in a one-seat kayak at sea, I'm not aware of it.

(Click to enlarge)

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Monday, August 2, 2010

James Delingpole Was Right

This is James Delingpole of the UK Telegraph writing yesterday on his newspaper's Blog:

“There’s nothing the greens like more than a nice, juicy oil spill disaster”, I wrote seven weeks ago, in a blog arguing that the environmental damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster was being talked up by green activists like Barack Obama in order to advance an eco-fascist agenda and that really, in the great scheme of things, this spill was as nothing compared to, say, the quantities of oil pumped into the oceans during World War II every time an oil tanker was torpedoed."

"Remember how upset people were about the Torrey Canyon disaster, how it was going to ruin the English coastline for at least the next three thousand millennia? Well, no, hardly anyone does because after a year or two the beaches cleaned themselves up and it was as if the problem had never been. It will be the same with Deepwater Horizon. It will be the same, one day, with “Man Made Global Warming.”

Here's the whole article:
So I was right about the BP oil spill…

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sundays are for Beauty - Yo Yo Ma

Yo Yo Ma is undoubtedly the most widely known cellist of all time. Here he performs the prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. Anyone who thinks classical music - especially cello solos - are not popular should watch the video on You Tube and take note of the number of views.

Have a Beautiful Sunday.