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.

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.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Mary Factor

The Southern Cross Catholic newspaper ran a fascinating article in the August 17 edition about the possible impact of the 54-day Miraculous Rosary Novena on the favorable outcome of San Diego's Mount Soledad cross controversy.

The 54-day novena is definitely the biggest cannon in any devout Catholic's prayer arsenal. It consists of 27 days of the Rosary in petition, and another 27 days in thanksgiving. As my mother explained it to me, you need to say the thanksgiving prayers whether you have received your favor or not. Talk about a leap of faith! But my mother is a huge devotee of this marathon prayer and has told me many requests have been granted to her soon after its completion.

Back to the Mt. Soledad cross. It seems a group of San Diego Catholics decided to make the 54-day Rosary novena to save the cross. They began on June 7, meeting at the cross to pray as a group on Saturdays and praying at home during the week.

The House passed a bill (349-74) on July 19, and on August 1, the Senate voted unanimously to transfer the cross to Federal jurisdiction. President Bush signed it into law on August 14, transferring the entire memorial site to the Department of Defense.

Do the math. The Senate vote came as the novena was ending. In the current U.S. Senate, a unanimous vote on anything, nevermind a religious symbol, is a miracle in itself.

Catholics are but one segment of Christians all over the country who were praying for the preservation of the Mount Soledad cross, and I believe that all prayers are heard. I'm not one to quibble about whose prayers are most powerful, either. But Mount Soledad, the Southern Cross article notes, was originally named for Our Lady of Solitude, a reference to the Blessed Mother keeping vigil on Holy Saturday for Our Lord's return.

To a Catholic girl, it makes sense that the Blessed Mother would be sure that Our Lord has a nice place to stay on her mountain top.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

An Encouraging Word

Real Clear Politics links to this article about Nicole Kidman and 84 other Hollywood celebrities who have signed up against terrorism in a full-page LA Times ad. I find it highly encouraging that 84 tinsel town supporters of our fight against the terrorists are willing to go public.

The list includes such stellar names as actor Bruce Willis (one of my favorites, anyway), and director Ridley Scott. Any Hollywood name willing to speak out against the Islamo-fascists deserves full movie-going support. I'm going to study the complete list and plan my entertainment viewing accordingly.

UPDATE 8/17: A loyal reader sent me a scan of the ad, posted to the left. Thanks, Rick!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Crossing An Atheist

President Bush signed a bill transferring the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial, cross included, to the Federal jurisdiction of the Dept. of Defense.

This is by no means the last word on the subject, as the lone atheist protesting the cross "on federal land" is pushing for a high court decision reversing the bill that honors 76% of the voting population in San Diego.

But for today, the president has ensured that government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" remains in effect.

I wonder how all the religious symbols on the Federal property of Arlington National Cemetery , pictured to the right, have escaped the concentration of San Diego's obsessive atheist?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Timely Reminder

If you see only one movie this summer, make sure it's "World Trade Center."

Seeing this movie took some internal debate for me. Not because of the subject matter; in fact, I feel that September 11, 2001, is the most neglected dramatic story of all time in Hollywood. No, I hesitated because it is an Oliver Stone movie.

Oliver Stone movies make me sick--literally. I saw "Platoon" in the movies; it gave me a headache. I had a similar physical reaction to "JFK." I saw the video of "Nixon," which was forgettable, and I ignored the rest of Stone's movies as one does a food that produces an allergic reaction. To me, it has always seemed that Stone amplifies all that is wrong, negative, sad, or seamy in our culture.

I go to the movies in the hopes of feeling uplifted, not to become depressed or ashamed. So I made the decision to see this film with no small amount of trepidation. What a powerful surprise I received.

Stone leaves his customary ax-grinding out of this gripping true-life story of two surviving rescue workers. The graphic, raw details of that terrible day, which have become so familiar, are skillfully understated. The impact of the planes is not shown, yet the horror of those moments is palpable on the screen. The collapse of the tower also is not depicted, except from the internal perspective of the Port Authority policemen who sprint for the elevator shaft as the building implodes around them.

At that point, the film enters the netherworld of Dante's "Inferno." The viewer is entombed in a dark, smoky pit of hell, along with the badly wounded survivors. The stark scenes depicting the terrors suffered by officers McLoughlin and Jimeno as they become increasingly encased in debris are examples of dramatic film-making at its best.

The unrelenting tension of the two men's plight is balanced by interwoven scenes of their families' reactions, memories, and anguish. The story line of the Marine who comes to the rescue of the trapped heroes also serves to relieve the intensity. Acting is first rate throughout the film.

There is a shivery sense of kismet in this movie's debut within a day of the foiled plot by Islamo-fascists to explode multiple airplanes in flight. It is a timely reminder that we are not safe from those who are determined to murder us. It underscores the human pain and agony that are the fruits of such evil.

I can't say I've been converted to an Oliver Stone fan. But he deserves a truckload of credit for giving us a 9/11 movie that captures the fear, danger, horror, evil, and the responsive good of that unforgettable day. Even more remarkable is that he does so with a full measure of respect for 9/11's victims and heroes. That's a startling accomplishment, and it's one well worth seeing.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reality Check

We are at war.

Many in the Western world do not want to face this brutal fact. But the news today made it very difficult to avoid the reality of the war that has been thrust upon us. We've been at war for nearly three decades, although we didn't realize it. And again, some, even after today, refuse to admit it.

But we are at war. The arguments about global warming, social programs, national health insurance, and gas prices are so much secondhand smoke within the hurricane of hate that envelops us. The Islamo-fascists want us dead. All of us. Men, women, and children. Grandparents and babies. Families traveling together on vacation. Nothing would delight our enemies more than to see thousands of decent, innocent Western infidels explode into sky dust.

Thoroughly evil murderers are obsessed with doing us mortal harm. It's time to stop playing warped mind games. There is no conspiracy by the government to kill our own citizens. This news was not timed to help Joe Lieberman (and if it was, wouldn't it have come out before the primary election?). This is not a stunt to kick off the Republican election campaigns.

Face facts. This is war, and there is nothing more real than war. War can't be won by playing pretend. It's time to put down the lattes, turn off the iPods, and come to a decision. We, as a nation, must choose between our illusions and our lives. We must decide if we will remain fragmented and thus vulnerable to the vicious enemy's relentless and cold-blooded onslaught against us, or if we will unite together to defeat them, regardless of how long and hard our fight to defend ourselves against these evil forces will be.

For me, that's an easy choice. How about you?

One More Time

Please, one-third of the loony leftwingers, bear with me. In light of today's bone-chilling news about the Islamo-fascist plot to blow up multiple airplanes in flight between Britain and America, I need you to explain to me again:

Exactly how was 9/11 a U.S. government conspiracy?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Chasing the Dots

The FBI has located three out of eleven missing exchange students from Egypt. That leaves eight missing Egyptian students presumably roaming freely about the country, doing whatever it is that makes incognito Egyptian students happy in the U.S.

All of this is treated with an offhand, almost bored air in the television alphabet media, when they finally touch upon it two or three segments into their "info-tainment" broadcasts. Ho-hum. So the kids didn't show up for school. Boys will be boys.

But wait a minute. Let's think about this. Eight men are missing, all hailing from the country of Mohammed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker. If they're not at school, as they should be, then they came to this country under false pretenses. If they came under false pretenses, then in a post 9/11 world a logical person would have to assume that they're up to no good.

Haven't we learned our lesson yet with the phoney foreign students gig? Talk about loose cannon! For all the criticism about unconnected dots pre-9/11, there's not much concern about these eight rolling around the country.

Ask yourself this question: How many Japanese or German exchange students do you think would have been admitted to the U.S. in the 1940s? Nothing against Egyptians per se, but in light of recent history, I do think that anyone from that nation who is intent on entering the U.S. is deserving of some special scrutiny. Am I acting xenophobic? Considering 3,000 Americans murdered within a couple of hours, I'd say no. "Cautious" would be a better description of my approach.

And "relieved" will be the best description of my frame of mind if the FBI is successful in rounding up those eight missing Egyptian dots--before anything explodes.

UPDATE 8/14: All of the missing students are now in custody.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Living on the Brink

Read Victor Davis Hanson's August 4 article, The Brink of Madness. If you have a logical brain cell functioning, it will scare the booties off you. Hanson lays out, with his customary overload of cold facts and rationality, exactly how much trouble the West is in.

Which is precisely why you should read it.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Words of Wisdom

Mark Steyn has some ironical observations on "disproportion," and Dennis Prager educates us about the worthlessness of "world opinion."

From their lips to God's ears.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Heartwarming Heroes

Yoni the Blogger posts a wonderful news item about New York firefighters who are volunteering their time to help in Israel. It's certainly refreshing to read an upbeat report about the war-torn Middle East.

You can't do better than firefighters for positive attitude and action under stress and pressure. Guys, you do the U.S.A. proud. Shalom, and come safely home.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Spoken Word

A team of horses can not pull back the spoken word.
~ Anonymous

An open letter to Mel Gibson:

Well, Mel, you screwed up, big time. Yes, you know it, I realize that. But apologies, no matter how responsible or sincere, are not going to make things right. You've got a ton of hard work ahead of you.

I've always thought you were a bit of a maniac. Never had the school-girl crush on you. In fact, I thought you were just another low-talent Hollywood pretty boy who had gotten lucky. Then, my teenaged (at the time) daughter dragged me to see you in "Hamlet" for some extra credit in her English class. I was dreading the experience, thinking "Mad Max Does Denmark, UGH!"

But, you shocked me: you were good! You were so good, in fact, that I felt compelled to re-evaluate you on all levels. I started watching all your movies from then on, and I became a full-fledged fan. "Braveheart" is one of my all-time favorite movies. I own a copy and watch it a couple of times a year. I also own a DVD of "The Passion of the Christ," and I watch that sometime during Lent each year. It's a riveting movie, very courageous film-making.

I never found "Passion" to be anti-Semitic, but what does a nice Catholic girl know? To me, it appears to be telling the story as the Gospels present it. In my opinion, the superpower Romans come off as the bad guys in the movie, just as they do in the New Testament. But, as you yourself said in your statement, "this is not about a film." This is about your issues, and Mel, you'd better get a grip on them if you want to live to see all of your kids grow up.

Alcoholism kills. It is a fatal illness if left untreated. You've got it in quite a robust presentation. You're suffering from alcoholism severely enough to drink yourself stupid, get into a car inebriated, drive drunk at the speed of light, endangering every human being anywhere near your vehicle, including the peace officers who apprehended you. You were angry enough at having your drunken fun spoiled that you threw up all over the cops, so to speak. You launched an intoxicated verbal attack and, in the process of hurting others, you wounded yourself badly. Now, quite justifiably, you have to live with the consequences of all the ugly things that you said.

Your enemies, as I'm sure you know, are having a field day. Everyone, both inside and outside Hollywood, who hated your success with "Passion" are spewing almost unbelievable venom about you. They are erupting in orgasmic frenzies of hate-speech about your hate-speech. Odd that they don't seem to catch the irony in that.

But you can't let that deter you from what you need to do to stay alive, and I don't mean as an A-lister. First, get well. Get yourself into rehab, stay there. Work the Steps. Live one day at a time. Come home to your family clean and sober. Any possible good that can come of this mess starts there.

After all that, and only after all that, start making amends to all the people you have wronged, most particularly the Jewish community, of course. You may want to do something reparational for the officers involved in your arrest, too. And, incidentally, how your wife puts up with all of your nonsense is beyond understanding. Be good to your family, Mel; you've brought them a lot of heartache.

I wish you a happy ending, but that's entirely up to you. Good luck, Mel. See you at the movies.