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Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Christmas Adventure


Sometime in the early spring, I told my children that I would need to get away from home this first Christmas following their father's death. They agreed to decide a Christmas destination for all of us.


Around Memorial Day weekend, the kids went to visit their grandmother, my mother-in-law, who had been too ill to make the trip to California when Pete died. When they returned, the kids informed me that they had decided on the place for our Christmas adventure. I asked where, thinking along the lines of Vegas or the Grand Canyon.

Not even close. My kids take after their Dad; they think big. Early on Friday, December 22, we are leaving for Ireland.

We'll be there until early January, our own Twelve Days of Christmas. It's our gift to each other, this precious family time together. It's our farewell to cherished family traditions and our celebration of new ones. From wherever Pete is watching us, I know he is smiling.

So have yourselves a merry little Christmas while I'm away, and may the New Year hold many joyful surprises for you. Perhaps even a trip to Ireland.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Blogged Down

Here's quite a discontented blog reader. Sorry, Joe, but the "blog mob" will be with us for a very long time. Click here for an illuminating example of why. The better blogs provide a depth of coverage, insight, and honesty that MSM can't, or won't, deliver.

Far from causing the demise of democracy, as Rago gloomily infers in his closing paragraph, blogs have clicked the media elites into worker mode. MSM can't feed "the masses" a load of garbage any more and expect us to swallow it whole. Reporters like Rago actually have to work now. Call us a "mob" full of "fools" and "imbeciles" if it makes you feel better, but bloggers are helping you keep your job. It takes you a lot more hours and vocabulary to sell what used to be a simple party line in a newspaper's articles and editorial columns.

Sorry to be such a bother.

Let Them Win

President Bush's news conference today was an encouraging signal that he is prepared to allow our military to win the war in the Middle East.

I hope he means it; I hope he lets our troops win. They deserve nothing less.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Irony of Freedom

I realize that the inane stupidity vomited forth daily on television's "The View" is not germane to the clear and present dangers of our time. In fact, being at work on weekdays, I never have seen the show--except for the seemingly endless montage of tasteless video clips popping up on internet news websites.

But this latest idiot attack has prompted me to wonder if these vacuous excuses for females ever stop to consider that the only reason they are allowed to spew such mindless venom over public airwaves is because we live in the most free country in history.

The tittering TV heads absolutely delight in eviscerating our national leaders. And they do it with impunity, because this is America. No matter how big of a jackass you make out of yourself, over two and a quarter centuries of dead heroes ensure that you have the right to shoot your moron mouth off about people who stay up all night to keep you safe. So go ahead, knock yourself out, girlfriend. The "joke" is on you.

Somehow, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-il always seem to get a free pass from the clueless media crowd. There's never any trashing of the maniacs who want all Americans dead. In Iran or North Korea, tacky one-liners against government authorities would buy "the stars" tickets to their own execution. Do they get that?

Probably not. Understanding the substance and value of our freedoms would require the application of cognitive neurons. From where I'm sitting, "The View" is quite dim.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Soldier's Silent Night


Have you heard it yet? If not, please listen to this moving recitation, set to Mannheim Steamroller's beautiful arrangement of the classic Christmas carol.


During our holidays, remember to think of our service men and women, serving overseas so that we can enjoy the season in peace and safety. Theirs is a gift we can never repay.


Sgt. Rob: I hope you've received your packages by now. Merry Christmas, with thanks, to you and your guys.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Candle in the Darkness


Bright flows the river of God


There are literally hundreds of saints named John in the Catholic Church. December 14 marks the feast day of one, St. John of the Cross, the 16th century Spanish mystic theologian. John the Baptist was perhaps the most fearless of St. Johns, and John the Apostle the most gentle and loving. John of the Cross might be considered the most discerning about the pitfalls of our human nature and how our sufferings and weaknesses can actually enrich our relationship with God.

One of less than three dozen saints who rank as a Doctor of the Church, among John's numerous writings is Dark Night of the Soul, a term that has been used in modern times to describe a state of despair and depression. John taught that, if embraced with faith, this black state of being could lead to spiritual peace and perfection. He is one of the Church's incorrupt saints; his physical body has not decayed.

During this season of Advent, as we await the celebration of Our Lord's arrival in our troubled world, it's reassuring to remember that our bad times can really be a way forward.

Never was fount so clear,
undimmed and bright;
From it alone, I know proceeds all light
although 'tis night.
~ St. John of the Cross

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Island of Conclusions

In Norton Juster's classic children's book, The Phantom Tollbooth, people who jump to conclusions find themselves stranded on a desolate island.

Today's frenzied media speculation on the ill health of South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson and its numerous possible outcomes reminded me of "The Island of Conclusions" that looks so inviting from afar and is so inhospitable up close. The only way back from the Island of Conclusions was a long swim through the Sea of Knowledge.

Most of the Washington D.C. crowd could use a good dunking in that.

I read "Tollbooth" many times while growing up, and I still revisit it occasionally when life gets too weighty. This charming book chronicles the quest of the young hero, Milo, to rescue the two lost princesses, Rhyme and Reason, and return them to the Kingdom of Wisdom. Besides the Island of Conclusions, among the many places Milo visits in his adventures are the Foothills of Confusion, the Land of Expectations, and the Mountains of Ignorance.

It sure sounds a lot like Washington D.C. to me. The Phantom Tollbooth should be required reading for all branches of government, politicians, and MSM. As for myself, well, based on the news lately, I'm due to re-read it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Eyes of Love and Mystery


Today, December 12, is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of the Americas. I think we need her protection and guidance more now than at any time in our history.

Roman Catholic Blog has good coverage of the intriguing facts surrounding the miracle of Juan Diego, the poor Mexican man who found the famous image emblazened upon his cloak. Most interesting are the scientifically verified accounts of human reflections within the eyes of the image.
I, for one, am grateful she is keeping watch.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Empty Suits Talking

My goodness, who's that wagging his slimy, Oil-For-Food scandal-stained finger at the good ol' USA? Why, it's Kofi Annan on his way out the door--imagine that! And without so much as a "thanks for the freebies" or a "sorry I didn't get jack squat accomplished in ten years."

There the pompous windbag stood, solemnly lecturing us on all our terrible shortcomings--and from the Truman library, no less. "Give 'em Hell Harry" is doing backflips in his grave. And if HT were here, he certainly would--give Annan hell, that is.

According to Kofi, we are making other nations "troubled and confused" by our actions. He scolds that "no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others." Go tell that on the mountain, to President I'm-In-A-Jihad over in Iran, and see how long your head's attached to your neck. Personally, I'd much rather be confused than decapitated. I guess Kofi would, too, which is why he's badgering and insulting the United States instead of Middle East fascist dictators.

I was half expecting to see Jimmy Carter follow Annan to the podium, as anchorman for this slugfest on America. But Carter's been very busy slamming Israel these days, no doubt he was already booked for some PLO fundraiser. Maybe Jimmy and Kofi can team up, now that Kofi is free from the pressing burden of stuffing his pockets while ineffectually observing international screw-ups.

Carter & Annan. (It sounds like a bad law firm.) They could start a traveling speaker series about those constant troublemakers, the USA and Israel. There's certainly a built in audience. My suggested title for their speaking tour is: "The World's Two Most Dangerous Free Countries and Why They Must Be Stopped."

It sounds exactly like something both men would love to come right out and say. But then, that would take courage.

Nevermind.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Through The Looking Glass

I knew this season would be the hardest part.

All year long, my daughter, son and I have been climbing over the holiday hurdles of a first year's loss. My husband Pete and I shared the same birthday, which followed just a few days after his death; we were all still numb, so passing that obstacle was almost easy. On Easter, we switched from family dinner to festive brunch, with great success.

Near summer's end, on what would have been our wedding anniversary, all four of "the kids" and I went out to dinner, following up with a bonfire party far into the night and a "sleep-over" at my house. Wonderful fun! Thanksgiving came fast upon the Hawaii cruise, and my mother was here to help us celebrate. So far, so good.

Then came December.

We always knew that this would be the tough one. Our family celebrated Christmas with iron-clad traditions for twenty-five years. Our Christmases were interchangeable as the years passed, like identical pearls slipping off a string. We never left home; that was the rule. Anyone who wanted to visit us was welcome, but we did not travel on Christmas. Every year, tree-trimming was a family event, the date carefully planned for and greatly anticipated. Kristine's "Snoopy" ornament went on the tree first, ever since she was a toddler. Matt's kindergarten snowman followed, second. This is the stuff that the most precious memories are made of.

On Christmas Eve, we always attended the same early Mass, came home, had dinner, drank eggnog, ate gingerbread cookies and watched "It's A Wonderful Life." When they were younger and living at home, Kristine and Matt woke us at 6:00 Christmas morning (although Pete and I were usually awake, awaiting our cue to rise). After the kids grew up and moved out of the house, they always spent the night with us on Christmas Eve and still "woke" us in the morning--although for the last few years it was closer to 7:30 than 6:00 a.m.!

Breakfast was always pop-open cinnamon rolls while we opened gifts, for what seemed like, and sometime was, hours. Dinner was always lasagna, prepared on Christmas Eve afternoon so that I could enjoy my Christmas Day with my family. Each year, the only difference in our Christmas was number of dinner guests. The kids knew that any of their friends who did not have plans should be invited to come to our house.

This year, there are no decorations; there is no tree. There are no gifts piling up in my spare room, waiting to be wrapped. No Christmas carols sing from my stereo. There are no excited daily conversations about what we found online or during a quick run through a favorite store, about what I'll give Kris and what Pete will give Matt.

My home is quiet. I still talk to Pete, but silently. Silent night, lonely night. All I want for Christmas is something I can never have again--that magical joy that enveloped the four of us each Christmas morning. But, I am quick to remind myself, I did have it. And I had it for over twenty-five years. How many of us are that fortunate?

I walk my dog in the evenings and admire the colorful Christmas lights on my neighbor's homes. Christmas trees wink and sparkle in front windows, just as ours always did, and I smile. Although my halls are not decked for the season, my children and I do have something to look forward to this Christmas.

We knew we could not endure Christmas at home this first year without Pete, without Dad. We're leaving town. We'll be traveling to Ireland for the holidays. I know Pete would approve. He was never one for doing anything halfway. If you're going to break tradition, break it all the way through to the bone. Shatter it, and build anew.

Christmas in Ireland won't be in the budget every year. It won't need to be. Traditions only need to be broken once. We're on our way to a Christmas full of surprises, this year and all the years to follow.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Life-Changing Day

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to see Pearl Harbor, the place where worldwide war engulfed our country. I looked forward to seeing the USS Arizona National Memorial as a highlight of my trip to Hawaii.

It certainly was that, yet in a depth of ways I had not anticipated. When my mother and I arrived in the morning light on November 7, one month shy of the 65th anniversary of the Japanese attack, I looked across the harbor for my first glimpse of the majestic white building straddling the lost ship, Arizona. On such a brilliant and peaceful day, it was difficult to imagine the fiery hell that had so suddenly consumed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

It made me think, also, of another spectacular sunny morning sixty years later, far to the east, in New York. Sudden tears stung my eyes, and a fist-sized lump rose in my throat, settling tightly there. I knew I would need my inner steel today.
Despite the early hour, there were hundreds of visitors milling about, swarming over every square inch of the visitor center, museum, gift shop, and the outside walkways. Although most were Americans, many were from other countries, including Japan. It was heartwarming, and somehow uplifting, to witness so many people eager to visit this honored place of history. Everyone was clutching their launch ticket and listening to hear their numbers called. We were number ten; it would be ninety swift-flying minutes in the museum before we were called and ushered into the small movie theater to watch dramatic newsreel footage of the attack. After the film, the theater doors swung open to the boarding deck, and we were ferried across the harbor to the USS Arizona Memorial.

Trade winds whipped through the sunlight, tumbling the water’s surface into endless ripples and lacy froth. Fighting the screaming gusts, we stepped from the boat onto the ramp that led up to the heart of the memorial. A few moments later, I was staring down into the rusted smokestack of the Arizona. The shadows of the dead ship waxed and waned, mirrored up through the flashing waves. Despite the Hawaiian heat, I shivered with a chill born of equal parts sorrow, reverence, and pride. In the emotions of that moment, there were no words; had there been, I could not have spoken.

At the far end of the memorial is the white marble wall of honor, etched with the names of the Arizona’s fallen. I looked for, and found, a S1c named Carroll and pondered his short life and violent death. A wellspring of prayer flowed easily, almost instinctively, for my unknown namesake and his shipmates as I stood over the final resting place of these heroes.

Heading back towards the boat ramp, I walked along the other side, looking out towards what had been the ship's stern. I watched the random ribbons of oil bubbling to the surface, black tears that weep through the decades. It is as though the Arizona shall never cease mourning the day that lives in infamy, never stop crying for her lost sailors and all their youthful promise, gone.

Those of the Pearl Harbor generation tell us that the military enlistment lines were around the block after December 7, 1941. I drew a parallel to our troops today, so many of whom say that September 11, 2001 inspired them to military service. Modern America is a large, spoiled, squabbling family amongst our own. But when an outsider attacks, an ironclad band of fellowship encircles us, and woe to the intruder. That was true in 1941, and again in 2001.

It will be true on the next December 7, or September 11, as that sad day will surely come. I was moved to understand that as I stood in the midst of our history on the Arizona Memorial.

Our nation’s enemies make a fatal mistake if they assume the whole of America is the sum of its empty-suited parts in Washington D.C. The angst-ridden paralysis that grips our government is born of weak leadership. But the majority of Americans still have spiritual grit and a fierce love of our home.

There is a chord of unity that reaches between the sacred waters of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the holy ground of Manhattan, New York. Somewhere in that span of 65 years, half an ocean, and a whole continent, if we look deeply enough past our petty differences, we Americans can view the solid core of our spirit. It is the same today, for the soldiers on watch in Iraq and Afghanistan, as it was for the first colonial minutemen. It was clearly visible through the oil-kissed waves of Pearl Harbor, and it sends the same message to those who would harm us:

Do not try to take from us our good life, which we have worked and wept to build. If you wish us ill, beware. We will protect our own.

Perhaps I am overly optimistic, but I believe this dedication to our home and freedom is still true of most Americans and will stand us in good stead, whatever dark days may lie ahead. This faith in America’s essential substance allows me to look to the future with more hope than fear. I daresay that the heroes who rest with the USS Arizona would agree.

UPDATE 1: Victor Davis Hanson measures the differences between 1941 and 2001.
UPDATE 2: And more on the difference 65 years makes.

The Only Way To Fly

Debra Burlingame, sister of one of the 9/11 pilots, explains in no-nonsense detail exactly why U.S Airways was perfectly correct in grounding the "flying imans."

Read it all, but here's the money quote:
Here's what the flying public needs to know about airplanes and civil rights: Once your foot traverses the entranceway of a commercial airliner, you are no longer in a
democracy in which everyone gets a vote and minority rights are affirmatively protected in furtherance of fuzzy, ever-shifting social policy. Ultimately, the responsibility for your personal safety and security rests on the shoulders of one person, the pilot in command. His primary job is to safely transport you and your belongings from one place to another. Period.


Amen to that!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Must It Happen Here?


With each passing day, it seems inevitable that America must suffer a loss far more horrific than 9/11 to be shaken from its slumber of passivity. Time burns quickly away as Iran presses forcefully towards its goal of domination, complete with a nuclear scepter. We watch the ominous news unfolding on our televisions and computers, believing ourselves safe at a comfortable distance. We cluck and shake our heads, then switch channels to "Deal or No Deal."


Sad to state, it is now obvious that it will take far more than two skyscrapers and 3,000 American dead to galvanize our "leaders" into any remotely serious action. I shudder to think just how much, how massive, how irrevocable that requisite "more" will be.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Telling It Like It Is

When my mother and I visited the Arizona Memorial in Honolulu last month, the museum there contained many glass-encased newspaper front pages. I read the prominent display of 4-inch headlines in amazement; most of them announced, in varying fonts of outrage:

JAPS BOMB PEARL HARBOR!

Having become indoctrinated to our nauseatingly "politically correct" world, I was more than a bit taken aback at the 1940's slang term for our modern Asian allies being used in metropolitan dailies across the USA. Adding to my consternation was the presence of a Japanese tour group close on our heels. They seemed fascinated by the dramatic headlines, elbowing each other aside to peer into the cases, snapping photos of the newspapers, pointing to them and whispering excitedly among themselves.

I felt a bit like a hostess who witnesses her ethnic guest overhearing a racial slur. As such, I kept a discomfited eye on the Japanese tourists. However, they showed no dismay or offense--simply a keen interest. I remarked on this to my mother, and she replied, "In those days, the papers came right out with it. They just said what happened and that was the end of it."

As I considered this frank analysis of media reports from a person of the Pearl Harbor generation, I could understand why the Japanese tourists were not offended at the headlines of December 8, 1941. They were stark statements of fact. The "Japs" had, indeed, bombed Pearl Harbor. What else was there to say?

I wish more of today's newspaper editors would tour the Arizona's museum and find a clue about how to present unvarnished facts rather than agenda slogans in headlines. If they did, we might find ourselves reading a headline stating that "Islamic Terrorists Murder Civilians."

I can dream, can't I?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

End of Month Bulletin

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Timely Idea


At last, one-stop news shopping (HT: Hugh). All of my favorites, including Real Clear Politics, are right there on the same page.

As I browsed among the seemingly endless links, a giddy news junkie not knowing which headline to gulp down first, TheNewsRightNow seemed almost too good to be true. Could I be dreaming? Then, I read this story on banning Christmas scenes from a Christmas festival. Its sheer absurdity reassured me that I'm fully awake.

I wonder, when will the right occasion arrive for "officials" to worry about offending Christians? Evidently not at Christmas time. That's the news right now--and yesterday, and tomorrow, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Bah, humbug!

Well, I'm not an "official," and I'm not "worried about offending non-Christians." Especially at Christmas time. So MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my readers. Christian or not, I hope you enjoy the coming season.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Facing the Season

The marathon month of holidays has arrived, my first without Pete. I’m hoping I can maneuver a positive path through the season.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Both of our children will be at my house for dinner, along with their sweethearts. My mother is also here, visiting from New York, holding up the dessert standard in Pete’s absence. The dinner menu remains unchanged after over 25 years. Too much else is different, so the comfort of Thanksgiving tradition holds a special appeal for me this year.

When I stop to count my blessings, I am reminded of the gifts that fill my life. Thoughts of my daughter and son launch an immediate smile. In the midst of their own sorrow, they both have been my joy, comfort, and right arm each day of this difficult year. So, too, have been their partners—I like to say I have four “kids.” My many supportive friends and family members, my home and job, and my good health rapidly complete a full and happy list of the joys and treasures left to me.

There is always much to be thankful for in life, perhaps especially after such an overwhelming loss as the death of one’s spouse. Nothing brings what is precious into sharper focus that the death of a beloved one. I will be reminded of that as I glance at his empty place and recall the dozens of happy holiday dinners we were fortunate enough to share.

Remember to tally up your blessings tomorrow. You may find you have more than you appreciated; and, perhaps, some that will be gone this day next year.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Return to Earth

It’s tough to come back to routine and reality after a two-week cruise to Hawaii. I’m in the process of returning to earth, and it’s slow going. Having been there once before, I know that no one ever really comes back completely from a Hawaiian vacation.

Add to that the fact that the only news I could get aboard the cruise ship was CNN, and you can understand why I’ve had to take a few days after returning to the mainland to recharge my neurons. Good grief, how can people watch that pap all day long? Nancy Pelosi talks about “draining the swamp” of the Republican Congress, but I needed a few days to drain my brain of the toxins from the nonsensical garbage that was pumped in for fifteen days. Presenting a different perspective is one thing; flagrant attempted brainwashing is another thing altogether.

Where to begin describing the lopsided leftist coverage? Working backwards, let’s begin with the commentary on Pope Benedict’s decision to reinforce the Catholic Church’s stand on celibacy. The snide grins and condescending headshakes were beyond editorial, reaching into the nether realm of nasty. I don’t see any CNN reporters criticizing Islam because it won’t budge an inch on its central tenets. Why is the Catholic Church considered so hopelessly backwards when it reaffirms its own principles?

The O.J. debacle got huge and constant airplay. I don’t want to waste more than one sentence on that abortion of a “news” story.

And poor Ed Bradley! You’d think he was the first journalist ever to die. CNN coverage was non-stop and round the clock. Over several days following that sad event, each time I flipped on the set, there was a screen-sized picture of Bradley, with the caption “Ed Bradley’s Shocking Death.” Now, I’m sorry, but if you’re 65 years old and are suffering from a lethal disease, death is hardly a “shocking” outcome. CNN’s sensationalizing of Bradley’s death continued past the point of maudlin.

Of course, the elections made them all giddy. CNN smiles universally were ear-to-ear on Election Day and the days after. It remains to be seen if they can keep them there based on the Congressional majority’s performance in ’07.

As to my own reaction to the elections, I was disappointed, certainly. But, I am hopeful that this outcome will jar the Republicans into an action plan. The Republicans wasted their years of majority by accomplishing too little and abusing too much. Now the Democrats have won center stage, and they will have to begin putting up and start shutting up.

When you have a two-house majority, “It’s Bush’s fault” simply won’t cut it as a platform any longer. The people have spoken, and it seems to me the country is in the mood for results, not talk. The whiners and blamers must now step up and become the doers and achievers. Based on what I’ve seen so far, good luck with that. In any event, it’s going to be very interesting. Perhaps even entertaining, if CNN is doing the “reporting.”

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Taking a Break


I'm heading out for a Hawaiian vacation, so I wanted to let you know that I may not be posting for a couple of weeks.

It's been a very difficult year for me, as most of you know. Some down time will be refreshing. I'll return with, hopefully, revitalized blogging energy.

Aloha for now.

Beside the Point

The fact that John Kerry insists he was talking about President Bush in his insulting remarks about the military is totally irrelevant to the real issues. The point is, veterans and active duty military alike are equally outraged by Kerry's comments. If he "cares" so much about the troops, that fact alone should galvanize him to issue an apology.

Let's say Kerry really did intend his offensive remarks for the president. I don't believe that for a nanosecond, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt--something Kerry has never extended to our troops. The inadvertancy is beside the point. The point is that he insulted our troops. If he had a neuron firing that wasn't completely self-absorbed, he would recognize that mistake and say he is sorry. Even Democrats are figuring that out and urging Kerry to state his remorse.

But Kerry is not sorry, and he's not the stuff of which apologies are made or mistakes acknowledged. He is arrogant, pompous, prideful, vain, and shallow. He will fling the blame every which way, except where it belongs, at his own clay feet. There will be no verbal tap dancing out of this self-created mess. Kerry himself is now beside the point.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Beneath Contempt

John Kerry's disparaging remarks about our military drag his shoddy character to the depths of a new low, even for him. As an American and a Soldiers' Angel, I am outraged. I hope his sneering insult against our troops haunts Kerry right up to his obituary, which should read:

"John Kerry, whose anti-military remarks dashed all hopes for his 2008 presidential bid...."

Listen to what the loser said, if you have a strong stomach.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Straight Talk

Thank you to Michael Barone for posting the audio of this riveting one-hour interview with President Bush. Barone was one of eight columnists who met with the president in the Oval Office last week.

Thanks also to Mark Steyn for directing readers to this hard news treasure in his column at National Review Online. I'm currently reading Mark's book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. It's written with his customary wit and style, but the stark message is scary enough for Halloween.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Okay, Congratulations

Congratulations, St. Louis Cardinals, World Series Champions 2006. No one can argue that you didn't outplay the Detroit Tigers. Nice job.

Jim Leyland, the Tigers manager, gave the classiest statement on his team's loss. He very graciously sucked up the blame for them. It's a perfect template of humility and candor for Washington politicians to emulate in conceding defeat.

I know, I know...when pigs fly out of my ear, right? Oh well, October baseball is over and it's back to politics as usual.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Padres Lose

After 12 years as manager and nearly 24 years after his debut as a player with the team, Bruce Bochy is leaving the San Diego Padres to manage the San Francisco Giants.

Excuse me while I emit a very long primal scream.

This is a tragedy much closer to home than the Tigers' loss to the Cards last night, so it's hard for me to get worked up about St. Louis closing in on the big win. Detroit may have its woes, but it doesn't have to worry about losing an ace manager.

I agree with Trevor Hoffman: "The bottom line is disappointment." There go the next 5 years, Padres fans.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rainy Day Thoughts

Victor Davis Hanson explains how the Dark Ages are alive and well in our modern world.

It's grim reading that serves as a solemn companion to the gloomy weather that pre-empted Game 4 of the World Series.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Stuff of Courage

In honor of St. Crispian's feast day, Laura Ingraham played wonderful audio from Kenneth Branagh's movie Henry V this morning, reminding us of the principled and dedicated fighters that are needed in any century.

I think the rousing St. Crispin's speech applies to many facets of our world today: the war on Islamic fascism most certainly, but also the struggle to keep the upcoming mid-term election focused on our strength and security, and even the demoralizing plight of the Detroit Tigers in their difficult stand against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The classic and famous St. Crispian's Day speech, meant to inspire and encourage the English soldiers before the Battle of Agincourt, appears below. You don't have to be a Shakespeare fan to respond to it, and you may be surprised at a phrase or two you'll recognize within it:

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Cardinal Allergy

One of my loyal readers was a devoted St. Louis fan in her childhood years and has chided me about my harsh treatment of the Cardinals in recent posts. I suppose I have been unduly rough on the red bird boys. There is a reason for my animosity towards the Cardinals, and it's rooted in the mists of history. I suppose the time has come to share it with all my readers.

Once upon a time, very long ago--when I was a school girl, to be exact--I was a rabid NY Yankee fan. The first MLB game I ever attended was in the old Yankee Stadium, and I still remember the awestruck breath I took at my first glimpse of the brilliant green playing field. In 1964, the Yankees had a team for the ages. I still remember it:

1B - Joe Pepitone
2B - Bobby Richardson (I had a manic crush on him)
3B - Clete Boyer
SS - Tony Kubek
LF - Tom Tresh
CF - Mickey Mantle
RF - Roger Maris

The legendary pitcher Whitey Ford and catcher Elston Howard completed these superheroes of summer. As they so often did, the Yanks went to the World Series in 1964. And the St. Louis Cardinals beat them. I've never liked the Cards since.

So my dislike may not be rational, but baseball loyalties rarely are. As the years passed, all my favorite players left the Yankees, one by one. Then a highly talented but insufferably conceited upstart named Reggie Jackson dominated the Yankee team news. It was during the Reggie era that I began my summer job at Shea Stadium and found myself developing an allegiance to the NY Mets. The arrival of George Steinbrenner as the Yankees owner sealed my defection from the rolls of Yankee fans. The combination of big business baseball and runaway player egos convinced me that "my Yankees" had forever disappeared into the mists of time. The soul of the team was gone, and it is still to this day, in my sad opinion. But for love of the game itself, I thought I should fill you in on the ancient source of my Cardinal allergy.

After moving to San Diego in 1979, I became a terminally heartbroken but religiously devoted Padres fan; so did my reader who once loved the St. Louis Cardinals. We suffer together now with a baseball angst more piercing than anything we had endured with our previous loyalties.

Baseball is like that. If you think the famous definition of insanity applies to baseball, you're wrong. You can keep routing for the same team year after year, expecting a positive result despite uncounted failures, and one post season you will be blissfully right. Just ask any Red Sox fan. When you love a team, although you know they will break your heart almost every time, you can't stop yourself. You keep going back every season, hoping that this year it will be different. This year, it will be better. This year, we'll win.

To every baseball lover, I'm sure this makes perfect sense.

Friday, October 20, 2006

For the Birds

Carlos Beltran certainly picked a fine time to take a nap at the plate. Nice. If my late husband Pete had been watching the game last night, he would have turned the air blue with his commentary after that somnolent at-bat.

Well, Mets, you snooze, you lose, and now we're stuck watching the Cardinals and their dueling protruding tongues. Belliard has the Gene Simmons imitation down to a reflex, but Pujols was practicing air-tonguing while on base last night during his closeups. What a disgusting display. And I haven't even gotten to Spiezio's sorry strip of Halloween chin-fur. (We've got the World Series still ahead, I'm trying to pace myself.)

The saddest thing is that Endy Chavez' amazing catch was for naught. Ah, well, a Mets victory was not to be.

So it's on to Detroit. My favorite animal has always been the tiger. Time to turn the big cats loose on the dirty birds!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Red Bird Flu

The Cardinals beat the Mets 4-2 in St. Louis last night. Tonight's do-or-die game will take place at Shea Stadium, the Mets' home turf. I sure do hope we get to Game 7, and I hope the Mets clinch the title.

I'm sick of the Cardinals. Who wants to watch Belliard sticking out his tongue every at-bat for the entire World Series? Of all the odd batter's box mannerisms I've ever observed, Belliard's drooling lizard imitation is the most nauseating. Pujols is certainly a talented hitter, and he's in a good mood right now because the Cards are up a game. But he's an obnoxiously poor sport when his team is on the losing end.

Hey, Mets: Come on, guys. Remember Tug McGraw's rallying cry: You gotta believe.

Monday, October 16, 2006

National Pastime, National Treasure


The Mets-Cardinals playoff game is rained out tonight in St. Louis, so this is a good opportunity to catch up with another favorite topic, our troops.

This past weekend, the Navy's Blue Angels were in San Diego for the annual Miramar Air Show. Although I've watched the Angels flying their magic for over 20 years, as I live very close by the air station, I never actually went to the event. So seeing the jets up close was a treat. (The crease in the photo at right is the centerfold in my program book.)

I walked all over the show grounds and enjoyed talking to as many service personnel as I could. It was so refreshing to hear from the young men and women of our armed forces, who are actually doing the heavy lifting in this war, and not listen to the twisted, filtered MSM reports that always try to make things appear as black as possible. I spoke with troops from the Midwest, the Rockies, the South, the East Coast, as well as hometown kids from California. These inspiring young people were smiling, personable, excited about their jobs and eager to step into the breach for our country. Several had been to Iraq more than once and were looking forward to going back yet again.

One young Marine I talked with had not yet been to Iraq but is scheduled to ship out next month. I asked him if he really wanted to go. "Heck, yeah, ma'am! That's what I signed up for!"

To a person, each and every one demurred at being thanked for their service. They are a national treasure, and I told them so. We would certainly be in deep trouble without them.

There is a price to be paid for this national treasure we call our military. Some of our troops are not blessed with a homecoming to their loved ones. Many leave small children behind. A friend and reader who is a Navy veteran suggested I post a link to the Snowball Express. As the holidays approach, please consider the Snowball Express as one of your charitable contributions for the season. We can never repay what has been taken from these children of heroes, but we can provide them with a day of smiles at Disneyland.

It seems such a small thing to do, but it at least extends our appreciation and our gratitude.

The Priority of Baseball

There are loose nukes in North Korea, earthquakes in Hawaii--both disasters are President Bush's fault, according to Kos--but let's stay focused, people. The Mets won 12-5 last night in St. Louis.

The Detroit Tigers swept the Oakland A's, so now the only question is who they'll play in the World Series, the New York Mets or the St. Louis Cardinals.

Let's go, Mets!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Tough Loss

Watch therefore; for you know not what hour your Lord is to come.
~ Matt 24:42

There will be no "next season" for Yankee pitcher Corey Lidle. Today's tragedy underscores the precious fragility of life and the inevitability of our mortal fate. Death has no regard for age, occupation, health, wealth, or future plans. It comes when it will. Today's tough loss, to use a baseball term, is something beyond our human ability to control.

Do you know how to make God laugh? Tell Him what you're going to do tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Game of Reality

Detroit is leading Oakland, 5-0 in the 5th. There's still a lot of baseball to go in this game, so Tiger fans, conserve your energy. Meanwhile, MSM seems downright depressed that North Korea's nukes have knocked horny gay politicians off the front pages. Check out this gloomy quote, from CNN's Jeff Greenfield:
So does the North Korea test trump the Foley scandal? Here's one point to keep
in mind: there's a month to go before Election Day. The North Korea story may
well fade by then...the Foley follies are likely to stay front and center for
weeks.

The "Foley follies" have already been “front and center for weeks”! How much longer can MSM flog this broken zipper of a story? An unstable nation has hit a home run news item, and seamy e-mails simply can’t score against that fact. Nor should they.

MSM would do well to take a lesson from baseball. In baseball, situations change in a split second, and players need to respond to the moment. What seemed like sudden death at the bottom of the ninth short hops into a revitalizing rally in the space of one slider. Easy winners sometimes lose, in dramatic and humiliating style. Longtime losers find themselves line-driven into unexpected victories. In baseball, players understand when it’s time to shake it off, suck it up, let it go, wrap it up, or take it home.

MSM needs some spring training in the game of reality. Watching the MLB playoffs is a good place to start.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Poem for the Pummeled

Padres, you're tormenting me--
We know that you will not sweep three;
Boomer may have dropped the ball,
But Padres, just where were you all?
Game 2's no time to take a snooze;
We're singing the St. Louis blues!
We're set up for a Cardinal's win,
Dreaming of what might have been.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Playoff Memories

The (heartbreaking) San Diego Padres are scheduled to play Game 2 against St. Louis tomorrow at Petco Park. Baseball playoff season always puts me in mind of the time I worked in Shea Stadium's office and was lucky enough to be smack in the center of playoff and World Series excitement.

Here's an excerpt from my book, Working Over Time, describing one such long-ago game day:

This year, 1973, was one in which the Mets made it into the playoffs at the
end of the season, and they proceeded to the World Series. It was the
waning era of day games. My office was located behind the press box.
It was a nice suite of offices, but there were no windows. We had the
radio on to listen to the game, but we kept hearing thunderous roars from the
crowd just yards from our door every time a play went our team’s way. We
took turns rushing out to the press box to check the action, but the game was
heating up and nobody wanted to miss any of it. In those prehistoric days,
before one could send all calls to automated greetings at the touch of a keypad,
somebody had to man the phones. That, of course, was my job. By the
second inning, everyone in my office had filtered into the press box to watch
the game. I was left with the occasionally ringing telephone and a severe
case of fan frustration at being left out of the baseball
drama.

This was a playoff game for the World Series, for heaven’s
sake, probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I told myself. I couldn’t
allow myself to miss it. Yet I would still need the job long after the
champagne corks had popped. My dilemma persisted; how could I watch the
game and continue to cover the phones?

Being young, determined, and
caught up in baseball fever, I hit upon a solution. What if the lines were
just plain busy? After all, it was World Series season, a naturally busy
time in our office. Could I possibly tie up all incoming lines to Shea
Stadium’s director’s office? I pushed in each of the four lines, one at a
time, popping them onto hold with a punch of the Big Red Button. Then I
went out to join my co-workers in the pressbox to watch the Amazing Mets battle
Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine.

If anyone was the wiser for my
shenanigans, no one ever said a word to me.

***************

For old time's sake, I always find myself pulling for the Mets when they make it to October ball. I'm especially enjoying this year, when the Mets are playing those arch rivals of the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Changing the Subject




Okay, I'm sick and tired of dirty, slimy, lying, thieving, corrupt and disgusting politicians--of all stripes, ranks, and parties. I'm also completely fed up with sick, evil, demented, twisted, maniacal, cold-blooded killers--no matter how badly their feelings were hurt during their childhoods.

MSM, you've struck out with me. I'm going to skip the so-called news for a while and listen to the baseball playoff games instead. If there's any joy to be found in Mudville, the ballgame is where it will be. For the rest of the post-season, this will be a baseball blog. All the scandals and murders will just have to wait on deck, as it were.

The San Diego Padres are playing the St. Louis Cardinals today at 1:00pm Pacific time.

GO PADRES!

UPDATE: Okay, so maybe a baseball blog won't be a sure way for a Padres fan to dwell on good news. However, that's my game plan and I'm sticking to it. Cards 5, Pads 1 in Game 1. Poop!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Innocence Destroyed

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned
~ W.B. Yeats

Today we learned that there is no shelter from the depravity of our era. Even in the peaceful, pastoral environs of Pennsylvania Dutch country, where the insulated Amish community excludes electricity and automobiles from its lifestyle, the evil violence that scars our modern times finds a nesting place.

A lone gunman entered a one-room schoolhouse and brutally murdered three, no--four little girls. At least six more remain in critical condition from the execution-style shootings. The butcher killed himself; he was a local milk truck driver.

What is going on in our society?

There are as many theories as there are people you ask. Personally, I believe our culture has lost its soul. There is no right or wrong any longer; there are only "extenuating circumstances" and "outside factors" to justify any and all actions. There are no clearly recognized good or evil actions; there are merely "choices" and "alternatives."

One may point to the decline of strong family structures, the weakening educational system, the loosening of cultural restraints, or shrinking congregations in churches and synogogues, as aspects of our societal degeneration. All of these negative elements, and more, converge to produce the "mere anarchy" of which Yeats speaks so prophetically in his 1921 poem.

The "blood-dimmed tide" has indeed been loosed. And innocence has long since been engulfed in its deadly fury.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

More on Angels


Before I leave the topic of angels, at least until the Christmas season, there is another angel commemorative date tomorrow, October 2--the feast day of Guardian Angels.

The idea of each person being assigned a guardian angel is intriguing. Although it is not Church dogma, I've always liked the thought of having my own personal angel. Lord knows, I've certainly needed one, as most of us have at times. When my kids were little, during bedtime prayers, we always recited the "angel prayer:"

Guardian Angel Prayer

Angel of God, My Guardian Dear
to whom God's love commits me
here.
Ever this day, be at my side
to light and guard and rule and
guide.

Amen.


Guardian angels are thought to be of the lower ranks in angel heirarchy. I'm not sure I agree. If I do have a guardian angel (and I believe I do), it certainly has a powerful constitution. I've survived enough potentially deadly circumstances that a platoon of archangels would be worn down to a nub if they had to deal with me. My sturdy little blue collar angel is doing a stellar job. Ever this day, be at my side--and please, stay there.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Michael the Archangel


September 29, in the Catholic calendar, is the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. I'm an angel enthusiast, as any of my friends or family can affirm, so I pause again this year to commemorate the date.

As we Americans are in a protracted war that only seems to intensify, we specifically need Michael's assistance. As I posted last year: Michael, patron saint of police officers and soldiers, defends us against the powers of evil. He is considered to be the guardian angel of Israel, and he appears in the Koran, as well as both the Old and New Testaments.

In Michael, we find an archangel bound up in the histories of Judaism, Chrisitanity, and Islam, three major world religions that have converged at a cataclysmic crossroad in our lifetime. I think we all could use a bit of his heavenly help.

Michael's prayer is posted below. I have sent this to each of my adopted troops, on a prayer card that pictures Michael defeating Satan. So far, thank God, all my guys have come home safely. I like to give Michael a nod for their safety.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly
Host--by the Divine Power
of God--cast into
hell, Satan and all the evil spirits,

who roam throughout the world
seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.


Amen, indeed.

Unheralded Adios

Every once in a while, I force myself to watch TV's alphabet network news--"infotainment," it's been rightly called. Last night, I was curious to see if any mention would be made of the nationwide 7-Eleven convenience store's decision not to renew Citgo's fuel contract. Citgo gasoline comes from Venezuela.

It was also of interest to me to see if any portion of the 7-Eleven company's statement would be aired:
"Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over
derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president
,”
said 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris.

On ABC's so-called "World News Tonight," several minutes were burned covering the travails of a pill-popping American football player. No mention of 7-Eleven or their significant decision that shows action in support of our nation and president.

None of that was worth mentioning by ABC. Que lastima!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Stubborn Fact

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of the facts and evidence. ~ John Adams, 2nd U.S. President

As the political tirades over terrorism heat up in the wake of Bill Clinton's tantrum on Fox, with furious Democrats railing that President Bush's policies have made us less safe, one fact remains solid and irrefutable: The United States has not been attacked by Islamo-fascist terrorists since September 11, 2001.

That's over five years ago. The situation could change at any moment, and no one realizes that better than the president. But up to the moment I'm writing this post, America has remained unassaulted since 9/11. That's a stubborn fact, and one that gets marked in President Bush's column.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

SAVED!




CONGRATULATIONS,

Trevor Hoffman, on the major league baseball record for all-time saves:

479!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mary and the Muslims


Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham posted a link to a fascinating and provocative mid-20th century article by then Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (he later became archbishop, and is now being considered for sainthood). The topic of Sheen's article is the Blessed Mother's connection to Islam.

Although not too clear on the historical specifics, I knew that Fatima, Portugal, had been occupied by Islamic powers centuries ago. I have always assumed that the city of Fatima was named for the prophet Mohammed's daughter. Bishop Sheen's article explains that the source of the name is far more romantic, involving an interfaith marriage between a Catholic young man and a Muslim girl named Fatima.

The article also details the Islamic reverence towards the Blessed Mother, something I had been vaguely aware of but had not known the depths of its fervence. He then suggests that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, might well be the conduit through which Our Lord may reach the people of Islam.

Sheen offers his conclusion that the Blessed Mother's powerful and uniquely significant role in the spiritual history of humanity may not yet be complete. Her visitations to the shepherd children in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal, became world famous and gave the Blessed Mother one of her most well-known titles, Our Lady of Fatima (pictured). It is within the realm of reason that God would once again, in our current Islamic world crisis, apply her faithful willingness to do His will as a key component in His plan to "deliver us from evil."

On this subject, Bishop Sheen may have been light years ahead of his time.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Appreciating Our Heroes

It's hard to believe, but the holiday season is fast approaching. Remember our troops overseas, who are a long way from their families. Expressing our appreciation to them is easy to do, thanks to the "Holidays for Heroes" program through Soldiers' Angels.

Please give your participation some thought. Learn how easy and inexpensive it will be to lift the spirts of our troops during the holidays by reading the details on the Soldiers' Angels website.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Truth Hurts

The adage tells us that truth hurts. I would further state that the thinner the skin, the sharper the pain that truth will inflict.

The hysterical outrage from the Islamic world merely underscores the veracity of the quotation Pope Benedict XVI cited in his speech at Regensburg University during his trip to Germany. It was a quotation from a conversation between two men who have been dead for five centuries. Their thoughts are hardly a real-time threat. It seems to betray a certain insecurity and, dare I say it, intolerance, that Muslims would get worked into such a lather over one historical reference in a lengthy speech.

Now, they're bombing churches because of the pope's quotation. This vicious Muslim overreaction merely proves the pope's point. It is "evil and inhuman" to insist, under threat of death, that people accept their religion. Didn't that recently happen to two captured news reporters? And whatever happened to that story, by the way? It sure fell out of MSM news pretty quickly. But MSM wouldn't want to offend the Islamo-maniacs, they might come after them with a rusty scimitar. Not that there's anything "evil and inhuman" about slaughtering infidels. Oh, no, that's just an expression of faith. Nothing evil or inhuman about it, it's so very simple--praise Allah or die.

Imagine if today's Christians tried that approach with Jesus Christ. Or, the "monkey on the cross," as the misunderstood and grievously insulted Islamo-maniacs call Our Lord. It appears that all the deadly force and terrible insults must come from the Islamic side of the religious equation in order for peace to reign in the world.

Not that there's anything "evil and inhuman" about that.

I, for one, am glad someone finally came out and called radical Islam what it is, even if it was via an obscure historical quotation. And, as a Catholic, I'm extra-glad that the one who said it happened to be the pope. If they aren't "evil and inhuman," let the Islamo-fascists prove it to us--in concrete deeds, not in maniacal words.

UPDATE: I've read many analyses offering the conclusion that Benedict didn't know what he was getting into by using that particular quote. I disagree. This pope is one smart cookie, and I think he intentionally launched his verbal rocket to smoke the religious argument out onto center stage. Benedict may pay with his life, but this controvery may well alter the dynamics of "the world's" attitudes and actions towards the war.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Crystal Clear

"It's a dangerous world. I wish it wasn't that way. I wish I could tell the American people, ‘Don't worry about it. They're not coming again.’ But they are coming again." ~ President George W. Bush, 9/15/06

Read the story and decide for yourself if the president is asking too much of Congress.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

America Needs Her Mother


When history looks back upon this time in the U.S.A.--if, indeed, we survive long enough to have a history to look back upon--I think it will see a president who fought mightily to protect our country while others in government kept his hands tied and his legs shackled.

After today's senatorial defiance of the president's call for stronger interrogation tactics, I am beginning to fear our own leaders more than the Islamo-fascists. The senators are well positioned to do serious damage to our country and our military, and they seem eager and committed to do so. Whether they are motivated by political design or complete stupidity is beside the point. Their determined ignorance of our enemy's nature is certain to get a lot more Americans killed.

Even former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the prior Secretary of State Colin Powell, a great American hero and icon, has weighed in against his former boss. " The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Powell wrote in his letter. Powell said Bush's bill, by tinkering with Geneva Conventions treatments allowed, "would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."

Don't look now, General, but our own troops are already at extremely high risk. No matter how solicitously we treat enemy prisoners, our troops will still have their heads lopped off if they are captured. I found all of Powell's statements utterly ridiculous.

"Moral basis of our fight"? What is he talking about? We're fighting people who pop out captive's eyeballs, just for fun, before killing them. Somehow, Britney Spears over the loudspeaker at Gitmo just doesn't compare. "The world is beginning to doubt," oh yes, there's a news flash. The U.S. acts and sacrifices, "the world" doubts. It's been that way for a long time, and it's why "the world" now has the luxury of armchair quarterbacking America's every move. "The world," as usual, is having all its heavy lifting done by the U.S.A.

This country needs more than righteous anger, although that doesn't hurt. The U.S.A. needs prayers, because I think we, as a nation, have totally lost our way. It is impossible to win this or any war by kissing the enemy's butt. Or "The world's" butt.

The patron saint of the United States is Mary, mother of God. She has hundreds of titles, collected over the centuries, but as our patron she is known primarily as the Immaculate Conception (pictured). In Catholic theology, this title refers to Mary being born without sin.

She has two other names as our patron. I'm a cradle Catholic, fairly savvy with Mary intel, but this second title was a new one on me: Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery. I didn't quite know what to make of it until I read the link, which describes the first U.S. shrine dedicated to Mary. It certainly breathes fresh life into the bromide about learning something new everyday.

The third title is my favorite: Our Lady of Victory. In view of this ongoing war, the strength we need to win it, and the internal odds against us, I'm one American who takes comfort in the fact that Our Lady of Victory--our patron saint, Our Lord's mother--is on our side. Three badly needed "Hail Marys" for the U.S.A., coming right up.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Afterwords

When one wants to absorb the grim facts with a large dose of ironical humor, Mark Steyn is the only place to shop. I've linked two articles in which Steyn will have you smiling and shaking your head simultaneously.

I'm looking forward to reading his book, available online at Amazon.com and due for bookstore release at the end of this month: America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. Coming to know Steyn as I have from his prolific writings, there will undoubtedly be more truth than poetry in it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

"We're in this together"


I flew home to San Diego from New York today, nonstop on American Airlines. It was a light passenger load, with perhaps one-third of the seats filled. The disaster of five years ago no doubt lays heavily on many travelers' minds. It certainly crossed my own mind, after seeing the riot of 9/11 coverage in New York newspapers all weekend and this morning. I prayed more than usual while awaiting takeoff.

It was a beautiful late summer day in New York today, a sparkling image of that tragic morning five years past. On the plane, I spotted a young Marine loading his gear into the overhead, and thanked him for his service--a rewarding habit I have acquired from Hugh Hewitt's oft-repeated advice. The young servicemen I greet and thank are always taken aback at first, and then warmly appreciative of the recognition. More Americans should try this simple gesture that is so important, so appreciated, and so gratifying to extend.

The flight was quiet and uneventful, and it was a rare treat to be able to stretch out across three seats to read my book, as though sitting on my living room sofa. As we approached San Diego, the captain made a brief and poignant statement over the speakers. To paraphrase, he thanked us for traveling with them on this date, when so many of our countrymen died in "such a horrific way." He stated that American Airlines had felt the loss "up close and personal." The captain then asked all passengers, "As you go about your business today in San Diego, please take a moment to pass a thought, raise a toast, or offer a prayer....for those who died."

He concluded with this simple directive, which was startling in its brilliant truth:

"Remember that we are all in this together."

Through the chaos, smoke and ash of September 11, 2001, that one fact seemed so very clear to all Americans. Remember "United We Stand"? We knew we were all in it together then. It's time to remind ourselves: no matter how we vote, or how much we wish things were different now, five years later we are still in it together.

Probably for a very long haul.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Never Forget



The World Trade Center

The Pentagon

Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Never forget the three battlefields of September 11, 2001, where thousands of our fellow citizens were slaughtered in a brutal act of war against the United States and its people.

I'll be in New York on 9/11. I'll also be taking a plane home to California on that day. It seems a fitting action to commemorate our murdered countrymen on the fifth anniversary of the merciless attacks that have come to be known simply as 9/11.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Bone-Chilling Synopsis

As much as I admire Victor Davis Hanson as a scholar, historian and writer, I must say that his articles often put me in a gloomy state of mind. Today's entry in National Review Online, "The Waiting Game," is no exception.

VDH's pieces depress and alarm me because I think he is correct in his assessments. I, too, believe that yet another "earth-shattering kaboom" must occur on our soil before Americans realize the seriousness of this war.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Pope and The Physicist


Our faith makes us aware of the fact that many things are beyond the powers of human beings. But the Christian faith also moves the dignity of human life onto centre stage giving the religion a crucial role in present-day life. ~ German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Pope Benedict XVI and Chancellor Angela Merkel met this week and discussed the Middle East in the course of their conversation. I would have given a lot to be a German-speaking fly on the wall while they were chatting.

Here are two highly intelligent world leaders of the Christian faith. As one of her many noteworthy accomplishments, Chancellor Merkel holds a doctorate in physics. Benedict XVI, who chose the name of two significant peacemaking popes, is renowned as one of the most educated, well-read intellectuals to ever ascend to the papacy.

She is a Protestant head of state; he is the leader of the world's Roman Catholics. When these two brilliant minds think together, they can see light years beyond the technicalities of their differing interpretations of Christianity. They can strategize together in the aftermath of Merkel's letter from Ahmadinejad, Iran's Islamo-Maniac-in-Chief, to which no German response will be forthcoming.

The pope and the physicist arrived at a powerful, perfectly peaceful, counter move. Endorsing Pope Benedict's position, Chancellor Merkel announced that she will work for an EU constitution that emphasizes Europe's "Christian values." I'll wager that's not quite the intended effect the letter writer was hoping for. How did Chancellor Merkel put it? Christianity holds "a crucial role in present-day life."

Let's hope that President Ahmadinejad's knickers are in enough of a twist that he'll have to forego letterwriting for a while.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Must-See TV

"The Path to 9/11" is an ABC miniseries scheduled to air Sunday, September 10, and Monday, September 11. It is based upon the 9/11 Commission report and marks the fifth anniversary of the Islamic terrorist attacks upon our country. Preliminary accounts suggest it is an outstanding program.

I am staggered by the fact that Hollywood is actually portraying the significance of former president Bill Clinton's inaction, which allowed the terrorists to build their strength during the 1990s.

This is one show for which I'll be dusting off the VCR. I haven't seen this show advertised at all, so I'm trying to help spread the word.
(HT:HH)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Stars for Soldiers

Soldiers' Angels has a page with links to sites for the celebrities who support our troops. I knew about some of the names, but others surprised me.

My next care package for Iraq is about halfway done. I plan to stuff it full during Labor Day weekend and send it off next week. General Abizaid said in his Hugh Hewitt interview last week that he doesn't see much evidence in the U.S. that we are at war, and he's right. Being a Soldiers' Angel reminds me of the tremendous sacrifices being made by our military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'm pleased to see that even many of the stars can appreciate what is being done, for all of us.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sobering Thoughts

It is hard to think of a time when a nation -- and a whole civilization -- has drifted more futilely toward a bigger catastrophe than that looming over the United States and western civilization today. ~ Thomas Sowell

Read the whole piece.

UPDATE: Read this one, too.

...unless we in the West adapt more quickly than do canny Islamic terrorists in this constantly evolving war, cease our internecine fighting and stop forgetting what we've learned about our enemies - there will be disasters to come far worse than Sept. 11. ~ Victor Davis Hanson

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ten Questions For MSM


Mainstream media, or "MSM" as it has been anagrammed in the blogosphere, obsesses on very specific, often inane and completely vapid topics. The story of Nero fiddling while Rome burns comes to mind, suddenly seeming not so distant or implausible.

I don't know where MSM reporters get their marching orders, but I've got questions. If anyone can give me one reasonable answer for any of the following, I'll sit through the next Barbara Walters special:
  1. What bearing does the status of Tom Cruise's career have on world events?
  2. Why must I view a photo of Baby Suri before my life can be considered complete?
  3. How does what John Mark Karr--or is that John Karr Mark?--drank on the plane from Thailand have anything to do with anybody?
  4. Why must murderous psychopaths always be identified by three names?
  5. Since almost 100% of the terrorist attacks against the West are committed by Muslim men between 20 and 40, why don't airport security teams search Muslim men between 20 and 40?
  6. Why is pop music at Gitmo considered torture, but videotaped beheadings are not?
  7. Why should we worry about hurting a terrorist's feelings by calling them Islamo-fascists?
  8. If we don't hurt terrorist's feelings, do you think they'll stop blowing us up?
  9. If we don't hurt terrorist's feelings, and they don't stop blowing us up, will you finally understand that they're the bad guys?
  10. If and when you finally understand that they're the bad guys, do you think we'll have enough time to crawl out of the rubble and save our country?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

From One Who Knows


On his radio show today, Hugh Hewitt interviewed General John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command. Listening to Gen. Abizaid was a riveting lesson in what we are dealing with in Iraq, straight from the one who best knows the dangers and understands the stakes of this war.

I highly recommend that any American interested in being better informed about our invaluable role in world events today either read the interview, or listen to it at this link. It is impossible not to learn from it. Knowledge is power, and never moreso than at this point in our history.

I was left with one question, rhetorical in nature. Why aren't any of our TV alphabet networks bringing us this intelligent, educational interview?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Remembering 9/11



The World Trade Center Traveling Memorial was at the San Diego Police Officers Association building this weekend. I went to see it today.

If it comes to your area, the WTCTM is a must-see.

Created by two retired Port Authority police lieutenants, Chet Weekes and Gene Smith, it is a powerful and moving tribute to all who died that terrible day. The 37 Port Authority police heroes who sacrificed their lives are pictured individually on large posterboards, with their personal stories written next to their photos.

There is live video footage of the chaos surrounding the towers burning and the impact of the second plane. The airline flights involved in the attacks that day, as well as Flight 93, the Pentagon attack, the fallen New York police and firefighters, the 37 Port Authority officers and the murdered civilians, are all commemorated with honor, respect, and poignancy. No one is overlooked, including our troops fighting to protect us.

The most gripping items in the exhibit were bits and pieces of wreckage pulled from the Twin Towers disaster site. Crumpled police car doors, burned and soiled rescue worker caps, broken flashlights, smashed computer boards and charred road signs--and perhaps most haunting of all, jagged pieces of fuselage from the two planes that exploded into the towers.

It is so vitally important to our national memory that this story be retold, over and over again. We must not forget that the enemy who perpetrated these monstrous attacks upon our country would delight in seeing such destruction and carnage in every American city. In our everyday lives of comfort and plenty, that fact is easy to forget.

These two dedicated men, Lts. Weekes and Smith, who attended 30 funerals of their friends and colleagues within one month after 9/11, are doing a great service to our country in keeping the memory of 9/11 alive. I am grateful that they are making the effort and taking the time to remind us of that which we should never forget.