Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Real Deal

It's almost like a bad omen for November, the death of William F. Buckley, Jr. He was the godfather of modern conservatism, and his positive influence on today's America can not be overestimated.

Buckley was a favorite of my father--Dad was a loyal fan of Firing Line--so I remember him from a young age. My first memory involves Buckley's book God and Man at Yale. I was in elementary school when Dad received it as a birthday gift. As a child, the title was hard for me to understand. As an adult, the contents are. The man was scary-smart, with a gargantuan vocabulary and a lightning-flash mind.

Buckley was fearless and commanding in expressing his views, yet he was also very thoughtful and caring towards people, as evidenced by the personal testimonies of his kindness flooding the various media outlets today. His cerebral sense of humor was elegantly hilarious, one famous example being his response to President Reagan's question on what job he wanted in the administration. "Ventriloquist," Buckley said.

Ann Coulter
quotes this classic line:
When asked if he had "referred to Jesse Jackson as an ignoramus," Buckley said, "If I didn't, I should have."
Visit National Review Online, which is conducting a fond and extensive tribute to its founder, to learn more about the many accomplishments of William F. Buckley, Jr. He truly was one of a kind.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Fifteen Year War

On February 26, 1993, Islamic killers bombed the World Trade Center.

The first time.

The Islamo-fascist war against the U.S.A. has been going on for a very long time. It's frightening that so many of us don't understand it.

It's downright terrifying that one presidential candidate in particular wants to sit down and chat with these butchers.

To quote from the conclusion of Andrew McCarthy's bone-chilling article:

"That they would learn from their errors faster than we from ours is now clear. In truth, it was clear then. On the hard drive of Nidal Ayyad, one of the bombers arrested in early March 1993, the FBI recovered a claim-of-responsibility letter. It is even more chilling today than it was all
those years ago:

'We are, the Liberation Army fifth battalion, again. Unfortunately, our
calculations were not very accurate this time. However, we promise you that next time it will be very precise and World Trade Center will continue to be one [of] our targets unless our demands have been met.

And so it was."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lest We Forget

The media elites seem so bent on hammering their anti-Bush agenda that they will not give due credit to the greatest heroes of our generation. That's worse than unfair; it's dishonest.

Check the Vets for Freedom Troop Blog if you'd like to know the truth of events on the ground in Iraq. One Marine's View is another great source of solid information.

Just because MSM doesn't want to cover the war doesn't mean it's irrelevant. This war is real, it's ours to fight, and it's not going away simply because the New York Times thinks it should.

We Americans should be united in supporting the men and women of the armed forces who stand in the breach for us.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

80 Years of Oscar

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold...
~ John Keats

Tonight is the 80th anniversary of the Academy Awards, popularly known as "the Oscars."

Little gold naked statue, how you've grown in status.

The first event was not broadcast in any way and was attended by 250 people who payed $10 a ticket, which was quite a princely sum in those days. Today, you can barely go see a movie for that price, let alone attend the show biz happening of the year.

And as for tickets, they aren't for sale anymore, dahling. You have to either be Someone, or know Someone, or know Someone who knows Someone--you get the picture, fellow little people of the movie-going world.

I've been watching the Oscars for over 40 years, and there have been some major changes to how the show progresses. For example, I remember the closing years of women wearing evening gloves and tiaras to the podium. They always looked so classy and elegant, giving the kind of appearance that makes the term "Hollywood royalty" seem like a worthy description of the stars.

That all seemed to change immediately after Bo Derek showed up in an Indian bathrobe-style outfit, around 1980. We are now regularly subject to such frightful visions as Cameron Diaz's bedhead-with-hausfau wrapper look in 2002. How the mighty have fallen...

It's always fun to watch, although the show now stretches longer than most labor and deliveries. Years ago, when the kids were home and the Oscars were on Monday nights, I'd rush home from work, we'd order pizza, and the whole family would regale ourselves with hilarity over the self-appointed Beautiful People who take themselves oh-so-seriously. In the last decade or so, Hollywood geniuses finally figured out that they could keep more of the East coast audience to the "Best Picture" ending if they moved the show to the weekend, so Sunday is now the treasured evening for Oscar.

I'll be watching, as usual. I've seen several of this year's nominee's, so I'll step out on that limb and name my picks for winner:

Best Picture: No Country for Old Men

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Best Actress: Julie Christie, Away From her (Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose)

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Best Supporting Actress: Ruby Dee, American Gangster (Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton)

Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men

And the Oscar goes to....

UPDATED after the Oscar telecast: 4 out of 6. Better than I usually do!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Choose One

For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country
~ Michelle Obama, February 18, 2008

I have, and always will be, proud of my country
~ Cindy McCain, February 18, 2008

Which woman would you rather have as First Lady of the United States?
Read Michelle Malkin's outstanding article before responding.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Conspiracy Fever

Was it Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick? Or Lee Harvey Oswald in the book depository with a rifle?

Or Umbrella Man with a silencer?

This is just what we need on top of Obamania and a tanking economy: more JFK assassination theories.

I've been hearing conspiracy theories about JFK's murder since my childhood. They started cropping up almost immediately after this national tragedy from which we have never seemed to recover. Dealey Plaza, the Grassy Knoll and the Magic Bullet have become painful fragments of American folklore.

I remember my father reading a book called Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane. It was subtitled "A Critique of the Warren Commission's Inquiry" and published in 1966, three years after the assassination. There's no cover image of this book on

Sounds like a conspiracy to me.

My father thought it plausible that President Lyndon Johnson was part of the plot. He remarked that before the shots, "Johnson was already on the floor of his car, looking at his watch." The 1991 movie JFK hinted at Johnson's involvement, also. But I've always thought that Dad's presentation of events was the most entertaining.

I suppose at some point in history--hopefully during my lifetime--this ill-fated president will be left to rest in peace. At least until someone finds Professor Plum's revolver on the Grassy Knoll, missing a Magic Bullet...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Translating Canine

That's my dog, Riga. Isn't she adorable?

Do you want a free dog?

Today, I arrived home from church to find that she had somehow dragged the defrosting London Broil from the bottom of the kitchen sink. My living room looked like a scene out of a "Saw" movie.

She knew she was in trouble, because I yelled the unmistakable "NO!" of an exasperated dog owner. Also, she had the decency to slink off down the hallway and hide while I scrubbed the rug and picked up the shreds of plastic and pulverized styrofoam packaging.

There wasn't too much damage done to the steak, although I had been gone for well over an hour. Riga's small for a Lab, only 48 lbs. It must have taken her a while to figure out how to hang by her forepaws from the edge of the sink, scrabbling her back legs, and balance herself in order to dip her head down into the sink low enough to score this meaty prize. If I had a surveillance video system, I'm sure I could win first prize in a contest.

There were just a few chunks taken out of the side of the meat, which I was trimming as my son and future daughter-in-law arrived. They were good sports about the misadventure. I don't know how hungry I would feel if I arrived to find my dinner entree being washed and whittled after some enthusiastic canine tenderizing. Matt thinks Riga should be "punished," receiving no biscuits before I leave for work in the mornings; he contends that she should only get the goodies when I arrive home and find no damage to my home or its contents.

I'm not sure Riga would make the disciplinary connection, and this link on dog behavior seems to back me up. I'm more inclined to think a London Broil at the bottom of the kitchen sink is the Holy Grail of doggie treats to a Labrador retriever, no matter how many layers of plastic grocery bags it's wrapped in. I have to accept that human error produced this episode of Dogs Gone Wild.

From now on, defrosting items go behind closed doors--either refrigerator or microwave. You'd think I would've learned by now, considering all the breadstuffs that Riga has swiped off the kitchen counter in the past, no matter how far back they were stashed. Today, she simply found a new mountain to climb.

Old dogs, new tricks, same story. Maybe I'm the one who shouldn't get a biscuit until I get home from work.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Prayers for Us

So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It was a sadly familiar scene in Illinois on the evening news. All we can do is pray for the victims, their families--and for ourselves. There is something terribly wrong with a culture in which these tragedies continually occur.

I don't pretend to know the answers to any of our societal ills. Whether they stem from violent video games, Viagra commercials, Roe v. Wade, or any combination plus countless other problems, is beyond my comprehension.

But I think we should understand, from the depths where we now stand, that we need help far beyond human capacity. We need God's help. Hopefully, we Americans are wise enough to ask for it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Hot Peppers and Purell Policy

It serves me right for breaking my own rule. Although I promised myself I would never witness such an unavoidably vapid spectacle, I went ahead and watched Katie Couric interview Hillary Clinton last night.

I still feel ill.

If you were a viewer hoping for even one single deep, substantive, probing question, it was a night for profound disappointment. Did you want to know about Senator Clinton's plans on dealing with Al Qaeda and Iraq? Universal health care? The national debt? Education? The tax structure? Global warming?

Silly you. Here's the important question Katie couldn't wait to ask: "Have you grappled with the idea, Senator Clinton, that it could be him and not you?"

I'll say this for the $15 million woman--she understands Clinton enough to know that the race is all about Hillary. To be fair, we, the viewers, did learn a great deal. For example, the nation can rest easier now, knowing that Sen. Clinton washes her hands "all the time." Or, if she can't, she uses "Purell or one of the santizers."

To quote the character Hudson, from Aliens: I feel safer already.

The secret to Clinton's good health? "I eat a lot of hot peppers...and I swear by it." And there's more:

"I take vitamins. I drink tea, not coffee anymore. I have really stopped
drinking diet drinks. Because I found that they gave you a jolt, but they
weren't good over the long run. I used to drink a lot of them. I drink tons of
water. Just as much water as I can possibly drink."
This is earthshaking data, to be sure, though just how it correlates to the health of the republic is beyond me. But then, what do I know? I don't even like hot peppers. As this travesty of an "interview" progressed, no personal detail of Hill's life seemed too inane for close examination. I fully expected the two of them to launch into comparisons of their favorite Victoria's Secret fragrances. (Maybe that segment ended up on the cutting room floor.)

I'm not sure how much all this fluff will matter in the long run, considering the fact that Barack Obama is pulverizing Clinton lately. No wonder. But what an embarrassment that the first woman candidate for U.S. president seems perfectly comfortable discussing meaningless minutia at tedious length on national television.

Can you imagine Margaret Thatcher blathering on in public about her dietary habits and personal hygiene? No? Well, I can't either. Thatcher knew how to behave. But then, Thatcher also knew a few things about running a country. If the Rasputin-like Hillary manages to survive the current Obamania, she could end up as Commander in Chief--of the country, as well as of Peppers and Purell.

At which point, the aforementioned Hudson would say, we'll be "in some real pretty --" um, stuff. You know, the stuff that is often preceded by hot peppers and followed by Purell.

Suddenly, the Hillary interview is making sense to me.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Boleyn Background

As a lifelong addicted reader, I have to admit that my first drug of choice is historical fiction. If a book is set in Renaissance times, so much the better.

Thus I enjoyed a thrilling "reader's high" while devouring The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, a tale of Anne Boleyn's sister, after its prequel, The Constant Princess, which recounts the youthful years of Henry VIII's hapless first wife and sets the stage for Anne Boleyn's entrance. Among the countless good things my daughter does for me, loaning me these two absorbing novels is the most recent.

The Other Boleyn Girl is scheduled to be released as a movie late this month, with a stellar cast. If you're a fast reader, you have a couple of weeks to catch the story where it deserves to be discovered, in literary form. Author Philippa Gregory has the excellent writer's gift for breathing authentic life into these historical characters in the grip of their personal dramas. If the movie is done well, I suspect that book sales will soar following its debut.

I'll certainly want to see this one in the movie theater, even though Eric Bana as King Henry stretches my imagination, and Scarlett Johansson's hotdog bun Botox lips are sure to be a modern distraction in the setting of Tudor England. I've willingly suspended disbelief for much less valid movie topics.

So away and Godspeed to merry olde England in a fortnight.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Supreme Challenge

I don't like John McCain. I don't trust him for a variety of reasons--his nastiness and his stance on illegal immigration are two random examples that spring to mind--and I don't want to vote for him.

But logical, pragmatic people are going to have to take the long view in this election if they want to preserve the country's integrity. That's not an exaggeration.

There are few longer views to take in the U.S.A. than to look at the approaching Supreme Court vacancies. These are lifetime appointments; no justice needs to worry about campaigns, elections, term limits, or political correctness.

Republican, conservative, moderate, and independent voters need to think very carefully about the following information:

John Paul Stevens
Born: April 20, 1920

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Born: March 15, 1933

Antonin Scalia
Born: March 11, 1936

Anthony M. Kennedy
Born: July 23, 1936

Stephen Breyer
Born: August 15, 1938

David Hackett Souter
Born: September 17, 1939

These are six out of nine Supreme Court justices between the ages of 68 and 88. How many of these justices will need to be replaced within the next four years? How many within the next eight years?

The next president will appoint the successors for several, if not all, of these esteemed members of SCOTUS. The new justices will probably serve for the rest of my life. The question I need to ask myself is, who will make the wiser choices for Supreme Court justice--Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or John McCain?

Logical, pragmatic people arrive at logical, pragmatic answers. I don't like him, but I think John McCain would do the least damage to the third branch of our government. So, if McCain is the Republican nominee, I'll accept his candidacy--without joy or enthusiasm. But, I'll vote for him--without reservation.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Tale of Big Government

Government-provided health care is a hot potato topic in this year's electioneering. Hillary and Obama are gung-ho for it. In fact, they're ready to cram it down our throats, ready or not. If you're one of those trusting souls who think federalized health care is a wonderful idea, I have two words for you: Post Office.

Reflect for a moment upon your misadventures at the hands of the U.S. Postal Service. Admit it, you've had them; we've all had them. How often do you receive a neighbor's mail? I do, at least once a week. How often do you receive an envelope that was postmarked months ago? I do, at least once a month. How often do you mail a card or gift that is never received? I do, at least once a year.

My most recent tour of duty in navigating the pitfalls of the U.S. postal service began Thanksgiving weekend. The struggle is still in progress, with no end in sight. It all began when my sister decided to mail a gift to my son and his fiancee last fall.

Upon opening, the lovely ceramic salad bowl was found to be broken, which was a disappointment to all involved. But, never fear! The item was insured. All I had to do was bring the delivery confirmation slip to the post office and fill out a form. In about two weeks, I was told by the post office, I would receive a money order in the mail for the insured amount.

After four weeks, I called to inquire. The "person who handles claims" was outraged that I was disturbing her during the holidays--didn't I know how busy they are at the post office? Well, yes, I admitted, but this is twice as long as the processing of my claim was supposed to take. After being advised in no uncertain terms that "it will take a while longer," I meekly hung up and waited. And waited....and waited...until today.

This morning, I was at the post office bright and early, to mail my monthly Soldiers' Angels package. I ventured a question as to the status of my claim. Upon being informed that I would need to call the "person who handles claims," who only works weekdays, I informed the agent that I had already spoken with her, over a month ago, and that she was not helpful. Is there someone who can check status in her absence? The agent reviewed my claim form and then turned to his countermate. "You're Agent processed this...go check."

Agent #8 dutifully trotted off to the netherworld "behind the curtain" of the post office. He returned to announce that "the box is still sitting there." Do you mean, I asked, it's still where you left it on November 27? Agent #8 nodded blankly.

By now, I was not in a happy place. I asked to speak with a supervisor and was directed into the lobby to wait near a closed door with a top half that (hopefully) would open eventually. Dorothy and her traveling companions popped into my head as I stood there--you know, the scene where they are at the door awaiting entry into Oz. I fully expected an agitated little man to open the doortop and sputter at me that "Nobody sees the Supervisor! Nobody!" before slamming it in my face. And me, with no sad tale of my Aunt Em to melt his heart...

...Suddenly, the half door opened. "The Supervisor" stood before me. I began to recite the drill again, my dog-eared claim form in hand. The supervisor stopped me cold. He has no access to anything at the desk of "the person who handles claims," he stated. "But, she reports to someone, doesn't she?" I ventured. Oh yes, he assured me, "the person who handles claims" reports to him--the supervisor. But he has no idea what she's doing.

I pleaded my case for a few moments, and finally the supervisor relented and took the form from me to make a copy to give to "the person who handles claims" on Monday--but he stopped in his tracks, telling me he remembered that the copy machine was broken. I must have looked especially incredulous, for without prompting, the supervisor offered me a little pink message pad to write a note to "the person who handles claims" that he, personally, would "tape to her desk." Or so he told me.

After burning 30 minutes of my Saturday morning in this federalized nightmare, a frightening thought occurred to me. This 3-month saga is a matter of broken crockery; it's annoying, but it can wait. Cancer can't wait, nor can heart disease, kidney disease, spinal meningitis, diabetes, broken bones, or any other of the innumerable serious ailments that afflict humanity. Do we, as a nation, honestly want to turn our physical well-being over to the keeping of the U.S. government?

Will we have Doctor #8 instead of Agent #8? Will we need to fill out a claim form before "the person who handles claims" assigns us a medical appointment? What if we happen to fall ill on her day off, and "the Supervisor" doesn't have access to anything on her desk? Will we have to leave a little pink note and come back on Monday? What happens if we lapse into a coma in the meanwhile? On February 2, will "the person who handles claims" be perfectly content to leave us exactly where we were on November 27?

These are not idle questions. Anyone who has had to deal with the Federal government--IRS, Social Security, as well as the USPS--should be asking them. I, for one, am happy to pay whatever it takes to keep my own private health insurance. If the government gets hold of our health insurance, none of us will be in Kansas anymore.