Sunday, January 16, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Melanie Phillips, who blogs at Spectator.Co.uk, is a lover of TRUTH, so she is an anomaly among the intelligentsia in her home country (and ours).
She was interviewed on Israeli TV, on January 8, 2011, and pulled no punches in her assessment of the media coverage (including in Israel) of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and her belief that it will not be settled by the "Two-state solution."
NOTE: Israel's "hasbara," about which the interviewer questions Phillips, is its public diplomacy.
Dear Friend in Christ,
Too many leaders in the Church these days offer a mixed bag when it comes to defending and promoting the Faith. What is so hard about just saying it like it is? Please watch this episode of The Vortex and pass it along as many friends and family as possible.
GOD Bless you and your loved ones,
~senior executive producer, RealCatholicTV.com
Friday, January 14, 2011
Andrew Klavan presents Klavan on the Culture regularly on PJTV. Click below for his tutorial on the History of Western Culture. It only takes 2 1/2 minutes.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal, as usual, cuts right to the chase in explaining why the Left launched such vicious attacks on Sarah Palin, the tea Party, talk radio, and other Conservative voices in the wake of the Arizona tragedy.
Here's a link to his column of yesterday on which the above video is based.
Peter Robinson, the host of Uncommon Knowledge (and the former Reagan speechwriter who penned the line, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall") conducted a five part interview with Thomas Sowell about the new edition of his best selling book: Basic Economics. The below link is to part 5 of that interview.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Peter Robinson, the host of Uncommon Knowledge (and the former Reagan speechwriter who penned the line, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall") conducted a five part interview with Thomas Sowell about the new edition of his best selling book: Basic Economics. The below link is to part 4 of that interview.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
(Click on all photos to enlarge)
Aboard USS McFAUL (DDG-74):
On days in my kayak when my mind is not cluttered with the multitude of world problems, our amply shared human foibles, or other depressing thoughts, I’m able to relax and entertain pleasant ruminations such as my last assignment with the Program Afloat for College Education (PACE).
In July 2008, I accepted an assignment aboard USS McFaul, DDG 74, a Guided Missile Destroyer. A Destroyer is quite a bit smaller than an amphibious assault ship such as the Kearsarge (my previous teaching assignment). There are normally only about 23 Officers, 24 Chief Petty Officers, and 291 sailors on a Destroyer, and McFaul was undermanned.
Central Texas College (PACE) flew me to Odessa, Ukraine, where I went aboard McFaul and set about preparing to teach four writing courses. This time, I was the only PACE instructor on board, and I was lucky to have the Executive Officer (X.O.) offer the Commanding Officer’s At Sea cabin for my berthing and work space. It was very compact, but it had a sink, toilet, pull down bed, which provided a large worktable when stowed and, best of all, privacy – something almost unheard of on a Navy ship. I immediately became a part of the crew when a female officer, Lt. Nicole Valentine, invited me to join a group of officers and sailors who were going, with the X.O., to run the infamous Odessa Steps. We left the ship and ran the mile and a half to the steps, ran up and down the steps three times and ran back to the ship. Since I have been running steps since 1979, I had no problem with the run and that fact played a large part (especially in view of my advanced age) in my being accepted as part of the crew. We did the same run again before departing Odessa for the Eastern Mediterranean, and did a similar workout a few times during stops at Souda Bay, Crete. On those workouts, we would run a mile and a half up and down hills to a tiny beach on the Aegean Sea, swim out about 500 yards to an island, swim back to the beach, and run back to the ship. It was a good workout. – especially for a 69-year-old English instructor.
The most memorable part of the trip (aside from my classes and group work-outs) was the selection of McFaul to be the first U.S. Warship to go to the aid of Georgia after that country was invaded by Russia. We were one day away from Haifa, in the Mediterranean, and were looking forward to a tour of the Holy Land, when the Captain informed the ship’s company that we were turning around and going back to Crete to pick up supplies to take back into the Black Sea to assist Georgia. The disappointment caused by missing a probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Holy Land, gave way to the euphoric news that my son, Tim, would be at Crete (Souda Bay) on the day we would be there picking up the supplies. Consider this: McFaul was supposed to be in Haifa, Israel, but the Russian invasion of Georgia caused a need for critical supplies, and McFaul was tasked with returning to Souda Bay to pick up the supplies and once again transit the Turkish Straits into the Black Sea to deliver them to Georgia. My son, Tim, was supposed to be in Louisiana where his ship (USNS Benavidez) was undergoing maintenance, but the Captain of USNS Fisher was unable to make a scheduled trip, so Tim took the Fisher on the trip to Kuwait. Tim and I had joked through E-mail, as soon as he set sail on the trip he was not scheduled to make, that we might end up being on two ships passing in the night somewhere in the Mediterranean, but McFaul’s X.O., Tim Gibboney, tracked USNS Fisher and learned that she would be arriving in Souda around the same time we would arrive there. An agnostic would no doubt attribute all that to just one of life’s coincidences, but I wouldn’t. God is good. To make a long story short, the X.O. arranged for me to be taken by one of the port security boats out to Tim’s ship for a two- hour visit. Tim’s ship did not come into the dock, because he was only picking up a security detail for his transit of the Suez Canal and passage through the Gulf of Aden (pirate country). Had it not been for the X.O., I would not have been able to meet with Tim, but only wave to him as he sailed by. The port security guys came back to Tim’s ship at the end of our visit and transported me back to McFaul, and both McFaul and Fisher left Souda Bay one behind the other: Fisher for the Suez Canal, the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf and Kuwait; McFaul for the Turkish Straits, the Black Sea and Georgia. Although unplanned, McFaul, while I was aboard, transited the Turkish Straits three times, and each time was special.
The Turkish Straits are two narrow straits: The Dardanelles and the Bosporus. The Dardanelles lie on the Aegean Sea side of the Sea of Marmara; the Bosporus, on the Black Sea side. A ship going from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea will pass through the Dardanelles, sail through the Sea of Marmara, which intersects the city of Istanbul, and then enter the Bosporus to sail into the Black Sea. The Straits are considered the boundary between the continents of Europe and Asia. They’re under the control of the Turkish military, and governed by the Montreux Convention of 1936.
The Dardanelles are historically significant as they relate to the First World War Battle of Gallipoli, also known as The Dardanelles Campaign, which temporarily ended the political career of Winston Churchill who, as England's First Lord of the Admiralty, pushed the plan to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) and secure a sea route to Russia. The battle was extremely bloody with heavy casualties on both sides. The Turks, under Mustafa Kemal Pasha (later Ataturk), won the day and, eventually, their independence. Churchill, to the benefit of the entire free world, recovered his career prior to World War II or we’d all be living in a vastly different world today.
Here's a good depiction of the Turkish Straits:
For someone who considers himself a Churchillphile, sailing through the Dardanelles (three times) on a U.S. Navy Warship was an almost unimaginable experience.
When we finished in Georgia, we played cat and mouse for a few days with a Russian Frigate in the area. While I was enjoying the show from the bridge wing, Captain Tim Schorr came up behind me and said: “Bet you thought the Cold War was over.”
Mention must be made about the students I had aboard McFaul. They were truly a delight. Some were exceptionally bright; all were willing and eager to become better writers – and all did. Many of them I will never forget. The students in my advanced class will all be welcome additions to any college campus should they choose to leave the Navy and pursue their degrees. In the event they choose one of the all-too-many universities ruled by the Left, they will at least have three college credits on their transcripts from a course in which they read, discussed, and attempted to imitate the style of, columnists never even mentioned on Left-wing campuses: Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Daniel Pipes, Mark Helprin, Bret Stephens, Charles Krauthammer, Tony Snow, and others.
My classes ended shortly after leaving the Black Sea, while returning through the Turkish Straits toward the Eastern Mediterranean. It looked like I would not be able to get off the ship for at least two weeks (probably in Bulgaria), but another change of plans called for us to make a short visit at the Turkish Naval Base of Aksaz. I was able to arrange flights from there to Istanbul, JFK in New York, Charlotte, N. C. and thence to Jacksonville, ending quite an odyssey that I will never forget.
Here is a Photo of USS McFaul (DDG-74)
And here is a photo of Captain Tim and his proud Dad taken aboard the USNS Fisher anchored off Souda Bay, on August 20, 2008.
Finally, here is a photo of The Odessa Steps.
(On such things does one ruminate while paddling a one-person kayak miles out in the ocean - closer to God.)
Monday, January 10, 2011
(Professor Robert P. George)
(Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik)
When a so-called law enforcement officer waxes political, especially when espousing a partisan ideological viewpoint (totally absent of facts), he needs to be called on it. No one could do that better than Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and he did it last night on The Corner on National Review Online.
Here's the link:
The Dishonorable Sheriff - By Robert P. George - The Corner - National Review Online
Victor Davis Hanson, in his latest piece on National Review Online, exposes the fallacies of the intelligentsia who live their lives devoid of any real life experience, but willing to preach to the rest of us as the sophists did to the citizens of Classical Athens.
In classical Athens, public life became dominated by clever and smart-sounding sophists. These mellifluous “really wise guys” made money and gained influence by their rhetorical boasts of having “proved” the most amazing “thinkery” that belied common sense.
We are living in a new age of sophism — but without a modern Socrates to remind the public just how silly our highly credentialed and privileged new rhetoricians can be.
One constant here is equating wisdom with a certificate of graduation from a prestigious school. If, in the fashion of the sophist Protagoras, someone writes that record cold proves record heat, or that record borrowing and printing of money will create jobs and sustained economic growth, or that a 223-year-old Constitution is 100 years old and largely irrelevant, then credibility can be claimed only in the title or the credentials — but not the logic — of the writer.
America is huge and diverse, but the world of our credentialed experts is quite small, warped, and monotonous — circumscribed largely by the prestigious university and an office in the incestuous Washington–New York corridor. There are plenty of prizes, honors, and degrees among our policy-setters and experts, but very little experience in running a business in Oklahoma, raising a large family in Kansas, or working on an assembly line in Michigan, a military base in Texas, a boat in Alaska, or a ranch in Idaho.
Are we to wonder why an angry grassroots Tea Party spread — or why it was instantly derided by our experts and technocrats as ill-informed or worse?
To read the entire article click on the link below.
The New Sophists - Victor Davis Hanson - National Review Online
Sunday, January 9, 2011
In case you were not aware of it, North Korean children are extremely disciplined. That's Kang Eunju in the video. She was a student in Shin Hung Kindergarten in Hamhung City, North Korea, when the video was made. The tune is from a children's movie: "Boy Commander."
Have a Beautiful Sunday.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Peggy Noonan, on whom I'd given up after she declared her support for the current occupant of the White House, while he was still a candidate (she has since recanted), is back. The column she wrote yesterday contrasting the actions of U.S. Navy Captain Owen Honors (recently relieved of Command of the USS Enterprise) with those of King George VI of England in the 1930s (as portrayed in the recently released film: The King's Speech), might be her best piece of writing ever. Here are some clips:
Capt. Owen Honors, commanding officer of an aircraft carrier, was revealed to have made and shown to his crew videos that have been variously described in the press as "lewd," "raunchy," "profane" and "ribald." They are. Adm. John Harvey, who Wednesday relieved Capt. Honors of his duties, said the captain's action "calls into question his character and undermines his credibility." Also true.
In a way it's not shocking that Capt. Honors did what he did, because he came from a culture, our culture, in which, to be kind about it, anything goes.
He was acting as if it was important to him to be seen as one of the guys, with regular standards, like everyone else.
But it's a great mistake when you are in a leadership position to want to be like everyone else. Because that, actually, is not your job. Your job is to be better, and to set standards that those below you have to reach to meet. And you have to do this even when it's hard, even when you know you yourself don't quite meet the standards you represent.
It is England, the 1930s, a time of gathering crises. The duke of York, a shy man with a hopeless stammer, is forced to accept the throne when his brother abdicates. "I am not a king," he sobs; he is, by nature and training, a naval officer. Hitler is rising, England is endangered. The new, unsure king's first live BBC speech to the nation looms.
He will stutter. But he is England. England can't stutter. It can't falter, it can't sound or seem unsure at a time like this. King George VI and his good wife set themselves, with the help of an eccentric speech therapist, to cure or at least manage his condition.
He sacrifices his desire not to be king, not to lead, not to make that damn speech. He does it with commitment, courage, effort. He does it for his country.
It can't be said any better than that. The whole piece can be found on her website under the title: The Captain and the King (use the "search" box if necessary).
Friday, January 7, 2011
Nice to have a Congressional Leader who puts kids before unions.
Dear Friend in Christ,
What are the consequences of Church leaders not boldly declaring the truth? Hell on Earth. Please watch this episode of The Vortex and pass it on to as many friends and family as possible.
GOD Bless you and your loved ones,
~senior executive producer, RealCatholicTV.com
Peter Robinson, the host of Uncommon Knowledge (and the former Reagan speechwriter who penned the line, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall") conducted a five part interview with Thomas Sowell about the new edition of his best selling book: Basic Economics. The below link is to part 3 of that interview.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
(Click in bottom right to view on YouTube)
This is from Caroline Glick's website:
Why Palestinian propaganda succeeds
We tend to forget just how uninformed we were back in our college days, but surely these UCLA "students" are not typical of today's college kids - but then again maybe they are.
Peter Robinson, the host of Uncommon Knowledge (and the former Reagan speechwriter who penned the line, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall") conducted a five part interview with Thomas Sowell about the new edition of his best selling book: Basic Economics. The below link is to part 2 of that interview.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
(Click in bottom right to watch on YouTube)
From the website:
Juan Williams is perhaps the most outspoken advocate for School Choice. He was particularly critical of the 111th Congress for dismantling the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program, but he unfortunately did not have the clout of the Teachers Unions. Here's Juan:
Peter Robinson, the host of Uncommon Knowledge (and the former Reagan speechwriter who penned the line, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall") conducted a five part interview with Thomas Sowell about the new edition of his best selling book: Basic Economics. The below link is to part 1 of that interview.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
(Click to enlarge all photos)
Aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD-3)
I spend a lot of time in my kayak reliving my days at sea as part of the PACE Program, run by Central Texas College. The program offers college level classes (and credits) to sailors assigned to ships (afloat). Becoming a part of that program was one of the better decisions I have ever made, and, as of this writing, I have been on two deployments: one, on an Amphibious Assault Ship (helicopter and harrier jet carrier); the other, on a Guided Missile Destroyer.
Since becoming a part of the P.A.C.E. Program, which acronym stands for, Program Afloat for College Education, I ruminate a lot about my time spent aboard ship with the young sailors who are trying to better themselves by acquiring some college credits while defending their country. I must say that all such memories are more than pleasant, and I have a new appreciation for the young men and women who choose to go “down to the sea in (U. S. Navy) ships” to preserve our dominance of the world’s oceans. My first deployment was in November 2007 aboard the USS Kearsarge, LHD 3, an amphibious assault ship. It is the fourth U. S. Navy ship named for Kearsarge Mountain in New Hampshire. The primary mission of amphibious assault ships is the embarkation, deployment, landing and support of a Marine Landing Force. While aboard Kearsarge, I was in the company of 3,000 Marines and 1300 sailors, and there was not a heck of a lot of room to move around. I slept in a small “stateroom” with three other civilians (one of whom was another PACE instructor), and there was not even enough room to have an original thought. My four classes all dealt with writing – from very basic stuff to more advanced levels, including poetry, drama, and the short story.
The other PACE instructor and I arrived in Bahrain in early November only to learn that Kearsarge had left the area to head for the East Coast of Africa to chase after the Somali pirates who were menacing commercial shipping in that area. They were somewhere near Djibouti when we left Bahrain aboard the USNS Lewis and Clark to find her. We spent eight days on the Lewis and Clark (a re-supply ship operated for the Military Sealift Command by a civilian crew), and during that time we did underway replenishments (refueling & re-supplying) with three Navy ships in the Indian Ocean, one of which was the USS Ponce, LPD 15, on which oldest son Bob had served as Executive Officer in 1998-1999. Given the number and types of Navy ships at sea on any given day around the world, what were the chances I would find myself on a ship I was not scheduled to be on, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, meeting up with a ship on which one of my sons had previously served? On the eighth day, we finally rendezvoused with Kearsarge and were flown to her deck in one of the two helicopters of the Lewis and Clark. We started our classes immediately since we had only six weeks to complete them before the next courses were to begin (so each of our class sessions would be extended, and classes would be held six days a week with tutoring on Sundays).
Living conditions could have been better, but they were not bad. Privacy, of course, was non-existent. The Ward Room Mess was a huge room filled with round tables that sat eight to ten people each. The Marine Officers tended to sit away from the Navy Officers, but even they (the Marines) segregated themselves (ground pounders in one area, aviators in another). The Navy guys blended much better with each other, although the pilots did seem to gravitate toward each other.
The time went very fast, and each day was more or less a blur. It seemed like all I did was eat (breakfast), teach, eat (lunch), teach, work out, attend Mass, eat (dinner), correct and comment on that day's essays, prepare the next day's classes, and sleep, because that is exactly how the days went. We were lucky to have a Catholic chaplain aboard, Fr. Fix, who said Mass every night (except Saturday, for some reason), even though it was attended regularly only by a small group of Marines, the Navy dentist, and me. Sergeant Major Tom Hall, USMC, acted as Lector and Eucharist Minister at every Mass. We became good friends.
Kearsarge made only one port visit during my time on board, and that was in Jebal Ali, the port of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and we were only there for three days. That stop was really the highlight of the trip, though, as the other PACE instructor and I got to ski at the indoor ski resort in Dubai – twice! Other than that mini ski vacation (which amounted to two half days), I will always remember spending every available minute (and there weren’t many) watching flight operations – many at night. There was a deck on which was located the flight tower, that Sergeant Major Hall showed me during my first week aboard. I probably never would have found my way up there had Tom not shown me. I spent as much time as I could on that deck, watching the show as the helicopters and harrier jets took off and landed on the short, moving, and swaying runway.
I should mention the first man I encountered aboard Kearsarge, after deplaning from the above-mentioned helicopter, was Chief Jay Schimke, who was the PACE liaison. Jay was the electronics go-to-guy on the ship, and was very smart and very competent. I’ll never forget how he managed to get me home for Christmas. I finished my courses on December 21st, and had only to distribute grades and have the students complete a course evaluation form on the 22nd. The next opportunity to leave the ship would be on January 3rd, in Haifa, Israel, so I would miss Christmas with the family – a fact I was aware of when I accepted the assignment. On the evening of December 21st, Jay contacted me and asked if I could leave the ship the next morning to fly to Bahrain and thence to the USA. I would have to be on the flight deck at 0830. I told him I had to meet with all my classes, distribute grades and have the evaluation forms completed, so I didn’t think it was possible. It was about 8:00 PM, on the 21st. Jay said: “let’s get it done.” With his help, I contacted all my students and requested them to meet with me in the classroom at 0700 the next morning. Jay and I worked quickly to complete all the administrative forms for the Navy and Central Texas College, and he helped me complete all the paperwork in the ship’s administration office so I could be properly checked out. Later that night, LTJG Kelley Fitzpatrick, USN, knocked on our stateroom door behind which I was feverishly completing last minute preparations for departing. Kelley, whom I had met in Bahrain and spent a lot of time with on the Lewis and Clark (he was a helicopter pilot joining the Search and Rescue group on Kearsarge), had a huge smile on his face, and said: “Guess who’s flying you off this boat?”
The next day, Jay insisted on carrying my bag up to the flight deck and stayed with me until I got the signal to approach and enter Kelley’s SAR helicopter. We took off headed for Bahrain, making one stop on the USS Carr, a Frigate patrolling in the Persian Gulf, to drop off some supplies. I really was not surprised that all my students came through, and all showed up at 0700 sharp to get their grades and fill out their course evaluations.
I got to the international terminal at the Bahrain airport at around Noon, on the 22nd, and had to wait until 0200 the next morning for my flight to London. From London I flew to Miami and thence to Jacksonville. I really owe that Christmas with my family to Jay Schimke, who went out of his way to get me a seat on that helicopter and then helped me well into the night to get everything done. I was absolutely delighted to learn later that Jay won the Admiral Zumwalt Award for Visionary Leadership, on January 12, 2008, and that he had been nominated for the award (nominations must come by way of an essay from a sailor who works for the nominee) by one of my students, Tony Milbut. Tony had been in my advanced writing class, and was one of the best and brightest.
(On such things does one ruminate while paddling a one-person kayak miles out in the ocean - closer to God.)
USNS LEWIS & CLARK (T-AKE-1)
USS PONCE (LPD-15)
USS KEARSARGE (LHD-3)