Monday, January 29, 2007

"The World Does Not Understand"

"We are in the midst of a third World War...the world does not understand."
~ former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy

It's a chilling must-read, Yoni's most recent post, but we don't have much time left to kid ourselves.

Speaking of chilling must-reads, if you are looking for more detailed information and deeper understanding about the evil we are facing, read Lawrence Wright's well-written and superbly researched narrative"The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Path to 9/11." I've almost finished reading it, and it's a sobering eye-opener to the fact that there is no going back. Deny it or not, this war is our past, present, and future.

The world needs to understand.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Take the Pledge

It's high time for "government of the people" to speak up.

Take the pledge, and make sure Congress knows that you did.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Writer's Saint

It is an error, nay more, a very heresy, to seek to banish the devout life from the soldier's guardroom, the mechanic's workshop, the prince's court, or the domestic hearth.
~ Francis de Sales

Today, January 24, is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales. He is the patron saint of writers, specifically authors and journalists. I find this fact especially delightful since today is also my birthday.

Francis de Sales, a Doctor of the Church, was a prolific writer. One of his most popular works through the centuries, "Introduction to the Devout Life," teaches that people in every occupation are called to holiness.

Even, or perhaps especially, writers.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Figure it Out

The president has spoken. Not many critics are listening. And the clock ticks onward as we fritter away our time arguing while the enemy plans and acts.

This war is not going away. Oh, certainly, we can go away. We can pull out, leave Baghdad to the monsters and Iraq to chaos. But the war, and the carnage, will follow us home. The Islamic terrorists have battle-worthy qualities that a frightening majority of American politicians simply don't have: passion, commitment, a determination to win, and a dedication to their cause.

We can fight in Baghdad or in Baltimore, Fallujah or Philadelphia. But fight we must, if we want to survive as a free people. It makes far more sense to keep the enemy engaged on his own side of the world.

What's hard to understand?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Jack Attack

UPDATE: It turned into family night on "24"--who knew that the lone wolf Jack Bauer had a brother AND a father in the mix?

We heard variations on three of the Top Ten. They're noted below next to their corresponding number.

Okay, it's Monday night. I don't care who's running for president, it's almost time for "24" and I'm ready to see what catastrophic disaster--or should that be disastrous catastrophe?--is about to engulf America next.

Pop quiz for series fans: out of Jack Bauer's Top Ten favorite lines, which one(s) will we hear tonight?

1. I don't have a lot of time. "You don't have enough time" (to his boss)

2. Do you have those coordinates yet?

3. I'll be there in 20 minutes.

4. Listen to me very carefully.

5. I don't want to hurt you, but I will if I have to. "I will rip your tongue out" (to his brother!)

6. I need backup on the perimeter, now!

7. Patch me through to the uplink!

8. Can you hear me?

9. If you don't do exactly as I say, millions of people will die. "People are dying..."

10. You have got to let me talk to the president!

Tune in tomorrow for the answers. No matter what lines he delivers tonight, rest assured that Jack will accomplish more in one hour than Hillary or Obama have in the past month.

And that's in "real time."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Do Not Dishonor Them

I simply can not listen to Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, to Barbara Boxer or Ted Kennedy, to Olympia Snow or Chuck Hagel. It's bad for my health. My blood pressure rises, my heart palpitates, I hyperventilate and get extremely angry.

How dare they undermine the morale of our troops fighting in the Middle East, for their own selfish political gain? Our young heroes have fought, and bled, and died, and are rewarded with the pathetic sheep and jackasses in Congress bleating and braying against their mission and insisting they will never succeed. It is beyond disgraceful.

The troops of our volunteer military understand and accept their mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank God for that and for them. God bless and keep each one of them, and may we all beg their forgiveness for the self-centered circus playing out in Washington while the best of our nation stands watch with their very lives, guarding our freedom.

We can never, ever repay our service men and women for their sacrifices on our behalf. The very least we should do is honor and respect them.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Yes, It Can Happen Here

Hugh Hewitt's Townhall column today deals with the feasibility of the Season Six plot line of television's hit show "24." I've been a manic fan of the show for a couple of years now and am all caught up on every episode from past seasons. So I know that a lot happens in a short timeframe, but a nuclear explosion in Los Angeles took the show to a whole new level of terror.

Although the fictional Jack Bauer combines all the Herculean qualities of a hybrid Superman/James Bond hero, the character is meant to portray our struggle against the very real dangers we face from our enemy. I was surprised by the sudden catastrophic ending to the last episode of the 4-hour season premiere (I didn't expect it quite so early within the "24" hours!). But I can't say I was shocked. A mushroom cloud may certainly be in America's future, if the radical Islamists get their way.

Going too far? No way. I say "Bravo!" to the producers of "24" for laying the true stakes on the table. It really might be that grim in the not-so-distant future, if we don't address the problem effectively in the here-and-now. It never hurts to remind people of what we are fighting for and against.

And Hugh makes an excellent point. Why do the "going too far" critics of the fictional "24" have nothing to say about Iran's actual and repeated promise to "wipe Israel out from the map"? If you want a nonfiction example of "going too far," that statement should qualify. Can a "real-time" mushroom cloud be far behind?

Monday, January 15, 2007

No Questions, No Answers

The Sandy Berger story, steadfastly ignored by MSM, has always frustrated me. We will never know what Berger stole from the National Archives that might help to explain why we are in this protracted international war with radical Islamists.

Nothing demonstrates the raw bias of the elite media more vividly than the unpursued Sandy Berger story. The liberal MSM will protect "their own" at all costs--regardless of the cost to the United States.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Tough Road

If you get up one more time than you fall, you will make it through.

Our military has the commitment and the courage, so I say give the new Iraq war strategy a chance.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Back to Reality

I preserved my post-Ireland vacation glow as long as humanly possible. I'm just about caught up on my sleep, so I have no further excuse. It's time to wake up and pay attention once again to what's going on in the world.

News doesn't stop for vacations, and I missed plenty. Among the many headlines, Gerald Ford died and Saddam Hussein was executed while I was overseas. I've been catching up on news websites and happened across this clearly written explanation of the problems we face with radical Islam. Also noteworthy are Victor Davis Hanson's cogent and sobering observations on why it is so difficult for our superior military forces to gain momentum in Iraq.

It's enough to make me start planning my next vacation.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Magical History Tour

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
~ William Wordsworth

It did indeed seem a wondrous dream, this family trip to Ireland. Each evening of the journey, as we wove our morning plans over delicious nightcaps of hot Irish whiskey, the coming day held forth a special excitement, the promise of joyful adventure. And each day proved to be a treasure of delights.

We began in Adare, a charming hamlet reaching over two centuries into the past. Four days at Dunraven Arms was our Christmas treat, and we savored every hour. We walked the beautiful grounds of Adare Manor, and were surprised to see a Vietnam Memorial monument, dedicated to the sixteen Irish-born soldiers who died in that conflict (the plaque also informed us that a duplicate statue stands in Riverside National Cemetery, California). We walked the quaint town streets and park, and, since we were in Ireland, of course we stopped to enjoy drinks at the pubs along the way.

The Irish people are friendly, hospitable, and good humored. They like Americans, perhaps because so many Irish have family members in the U.S. Others expressed a fondness for American business expansion in Ireland, fostered first by Bill Clinton and currently by George W. Bush, that have brought them their “Celtic Tiger” prosperity. Whatever the reason, it was very pleasant to feel so welcome in a foreign land.

No one in Ireland is shy about extending Christmas wishes. Right down to the television news anchors, “Happy Christmas!” sang from everyone’s lips, freely and easily. Christmas Eve we journeyed to the Cliffs of Moher, a place I have always wanted to see, and were fortunate to watch the milky winter sunset--one of the few we saw in December Ireland. On Christmas Day, we heard Mass in Adare’s centuries-old Holy Trinity Abbey. To pray in an ancient stone church, to kneel down at a Communion rail, to see real stained glass windows, was a spiritual tonic for any thirsty soul—especially my own.

On December 27, we continued south to Blarney and explored the famous castle and its splendid park grounds, which contain dramatic rock formations and gardens of Ireland’s pre-Christian civilization, the Druids. The scenery was otherworldly in its beauty, something akin to “The Lord of the Rings” landscapes. A small footbridge crosses a narrow river that burbles and twists through the lush greenery and towering ancient oaks. We left the castle grounds at twilight, as a groundcover of white fog crept slowly across the green fields, unfurling itself like a living blanket.

Although not famous for food, Ireland is the place to be if you’re hungry. The standard “Irish Breakfast,” which includes eggs, bacon, sausage, brown bread and toast, was included with the price of accommodation and served at every place we stayed. At dinner, one best be prepared to eat. Plates are platter-sized and heaped with enough delicious food for at least two people. Lamb and pork melts in your mouth, vegetables are delivered in serving bowls, and a potato order most likely includes two kinds—mashed with scallions, and boiled with butter. If you like good tea (and I love it!), Ireland is your heaven on earth. I did not see plastic or cardboard containers on any table, even once. To the Irish, mealtime is sacred. You are served with china, ceramic, stainless steel, and glass, even in a supposed “fast food” place. Ireland is definitely not a “throwaway” society.

The day after Blarney Castle we drove to Killarney and continued around the Ring of Kerry. That is a sight that needs to be seen to be appreciated. Words simply won’t do, everyone needs to see Kerry for themselves. Suffice to say, it took my breath away. Towards New Year’s, in the midst of a bitter storm, we traveled north to the Marian shrine at Knock and to my grandmother’s nearby hometown, Ballyhaunis. It was our worst weather day, with a bitter winter storm lashing rain and wind, but we were undeterred. (After all, the pub in Ballyhaunis had a gorgeous fireplace!)

Our final segment took us to Galway, which was a complete change of pace. Galway is both a thriving metropolis and a university town, so we got a taste of Irish urban life. Our last day in Ireland, we spent the day “in town” in Galway, visiting shops, pubs, and restaurants as we roamed the cobblestone streets.

This is not my grandparent’s Ireland. The Euro was trading at 1.37 to the dollar during our visit, so it was expensive. Business and development are booming in Ireland. New homes are large, numerous, and upscale, with BMW’s and Mercedes in the driveways. I read an Irish Times report that Ireland’s population is now comprised of ten percent immigrants, and work restrictions have been placed upon the newest members of the EU to help stem the tide. How ironic that the land that is famous for immigration out of the county is now the place where foreigners are lining up to enter. Of the countries immigrating to Ireland in 2006, Poland was number one. At number three stood Latvia, the homeland of Pete’s family. My daughter and son may soon have company in their exclusive minority of half-Irish, half-Latvian offspring.

Although I was wistful to think that much of the wide open green countryside will be built up in another few years, I was grateful that Ireland, with its impoverished and painful history, is finally getting a break in today’s world.

We returned to California late on January 3, travel weary but quite happy with our adventure. I was so dreading facing my first Christmas without Pete, but this magical trip to Ireland with our children was a gift of Providence. My Twelve Days of Irish Christmas were sweetly joyful, endlessly fun, and uniquely precious. May each of you find the New Year to be the same.