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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Fifth Day of Christmas


My pet peeve at this time of year is the sudden disappearance of Christmas as of midnight, December 25. All the Christmas songs in which we have been saturated for weeks vanish from the airwaves, decorations start coming down, and the season is buried in the stampeding return to the humdrum and the routine.

Christmas begins on December 25--at sundown
. That's why people used to refer to "Christmas time" or, farther back, "Christmas tide." It's a joyful and meaningful season that should not be rushed out the front door along with the wrapping trash. The famous carol that goes on at length about the Twelve Days of Christmas ends the holiday on January 6, on the Feast of the Epiphany, which commemorates the Magi (popularly known as the Three Wise Men) visiting the manger in Bethlehem to bring gifts. In fact, in many countries people exchange gifts on Epiphany, which makes perfect sense.

Today is the Fifth Day of Christmas. We're not even halfway through this magical season that gets nary a mention after Day One, except for dreary TV ads for merchandise clearance. So I thought I'd try to keep the Christmas spirit alive with this link to Yule Blog 2010 on "The Meaning of Christmas." I'm also still playing Christmas carols and lighting my tree each night. Why hurry away the happiest time of the year?

Merry Christmas time to all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Customer Disservice

I bought a new dishwasher recently. The experience has moved “Appliance Replacement” ahead of “Root Canal” on my list of least favorite chores.

It all began last spring, when my dishwasher’s pump died. Since barbecue weather and paper plate suppers were almost upon us, I decided to wait until fall to replace it. In September, I purchased a dishwasher online from a well-known home improvement store.

That was my first mistake.

Although installation popped up as “$0” as I placed the online order, when I called to confirm the delivery date (because they sure as snow aren’t going to call you) the customer rep told me installation would cost $99. She couldn’t explain this rather dramatic contradiction. Consequently, I canceled that particular order and continued to use my defunct dishwasher as a drying rack.

In November, I ventured online again. This time, I accepted the opportunity for the “free” installation that I now knew would cost me $99. Then came the fun part: scheduling delivery. The subcontractors had two specific rules about delivery: they pick the day and they pick the time. Nothing was negotiable. So intractable was the delivery dispatcher that I was ready to believe that he was the one paying for my new dishwasher.

Since I work for a living, a concept that seemed foreign to the delivery company, I scheduled a Saturday delivery. Alas, when the delivery truck arrived, the crew was unable to install my dishwasher. A cabinet between the dishwasher and the electrical plug made it too complicated for them even to consider it. Since they couldn’t install the new machine, they couldn’t haul away the old dishwasher, either. Another ironclad rule, it seems. So, they asked me, should they leave the dishwasher there, in the middle of my kitchen, or should they take it back?

That’s a tough one. I sent the delivery “team” and the new dishwasher back to the Warehouse of Negativity. For installation, I scheduled a contractor for the following Saturday, the rescheduled delivery date.

The dishwasher was installed, just in time for Thanksgiving, and it worked great for a few weeks. But now, there is water sitting in the bottom of it—not just a drop, but a muddy lake of it. Today I called the manufacturer to schedule a repair. After ten minutes on hold and several more in a convoluted telephone system, I was connected to a customer rep who must have “arguing with customers” enshrined as one of her performance goals. She did a good job of it, too. Even when I pointed out that she had not read the right model number, she apologized that I hadn’t heard her correctly. She never did apologize for the fact that my dishwasher is not working. Finally, she assigned me a “repair assessment” date—over two weeks from now—and gave me my choice of 4-hour time windows.

I will never again question why American jobs are moving offshore.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..."

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Bad State of Affairs

Victor Davis Hanson draws a stark picture of socio-economic reality in his article, "Two Californias." There is no doubt that California is teetering on the brink of a financial abyss that might make Greece and Ireland look like two oases of comparative prosperity.

The state of California is essentially broke, yet free money showered upon illegal immigrants shows no sign of stopping, as Hanson notes. I don't know where the whole ugly mess is going, but it's safe to say that the end result will not be pleasant. That's not a happy thought at any time of year, let alone at Christmas time.

And we've got the return of Governor Moonbeam to look forward to, with the dim hope that he will be able to handle things. That's called California Dreamin'.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Presidential Pulse

Many people still haven't heard of him, but John Thune is one potential candidate for president to watch closely.

If you've seen or heard him interviewed, you know he is to-the-point and low-key. There's no soaring oratory from Thune, but I believe the South Dakota senator means business in 2012.

Why do I think so? I made a modest contribution to John Thune's Senate campaign in 2004, and in 2010 I'm still receiving his annual family photo Christmas card.

That bespeaks a politician who's not fooling around with the people's goodwill. That is a quality the country could do with a lot more of these days. I think Thune will go far. And I think I'll be holding onto this year's Christmas card.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Peace At Last





It's sixty-nine years since the U.S.S. Arizona was bombed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Arizona today is a memorial--and a cemetery. As the long years unfold, shipmates from that day of infamy rejoin their fallen brothers with increasing frequency. Survivors of the attack on the Arizona may choose to be buried with their ship, as described on the National Parks Service website:
Crew members who were assigned to the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941, have the right to have their cremated remains interred inside the barbette of gun turret four by National Park Service divers. If you were a crew member before that infamous day, you have the right to have your ashes scattered over the ship. In both cases, the common thread is that these men were at one time in their navy careers assigned to the USS Arizona. This policy is strictly enforced by the USS Arizona Reunion and Survivor Association. (In addition, any Pearl Harbor survivor can have their ashes scattered over the place in the harbor where their ship was located during the attack). On April 12, 1982, the ashes of retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Stanley M. Teslow were interred, becoming the first USS Arizona survivor to return to his ship. By mid 2006, 28 surviving crew members have rejoined their shipmates in simple and private ceremonies, complete with a two-bell ceremony from the Fleet Reserve Association; a rifle salute from the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps; and a benediction with the echo of Taps being played across the harbor. The services are conducted inside the memorial and consist of an invocation, funeral ceremony, and a flag presentation to the family. Following the ceremony, the urn is carried from the memorial to the dock area and presented to divers, who swim the urn into the open barbette of gun turret number four and proceed to a large open “slot” that measures approximately 6" x 5'. The urn is placed into this slot and slides into the ship."

Rest in God's peace, brave veterans, with the thanks of your grateful nation.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tweeting Heaven

Holy tweet. This one will be hard to top. Hapless Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson actually went on Twitter to berate God for letting him drop the ball.

Really? Yep, this is serious as a heart attack--or maybe a lightning strike. Take your pick.

Get a load of this histrionic tweet from Johnson to the Almighty:


I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO...


I don't know if that celestial rant was such a wise move on Johnson's part. Is God really that concerned about the outcome of any particular football game? Somehow, what with war, famine, disease, death, frequent disasters, and ongoing creation, I think God has probably missed a few quarters. Furthermore, I doubt he TIVos any games.

Another thing: Do you think God reads his tweets? Even if he does, how seriously can you take a fool who's chewing out the Big Guy on Twitter? After all, Butterfingers Johnson's got life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and a big paycheck for playing a cool game. All these goodies come courtesy of the Lord--what more does he need? Well, perhaps a bit of double-sided tape for his game gloves. But I don't see how anyone could think that's on God.

As for praising God 24/7, that's quite a claim on Johnson's part. How much praying does he do while he's asleep? You know, it's those little fibs that catch up with all of us eventually. Remember what many of our moms told us: "God will get you for that." Or words to that effect. Maybe God "did" him to teach him a lesson; maybe Steve Johnson should "expect to learn" that life is not all about him. At least, not all the time.

So please, Johnson. If you'll "never forget this!! ever!!!", let the eternally-retained memory be the fact that YOU dropped the ball. And in the name of Facebook, get over yourself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

thanksgiving

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice."

-Meister Eckhart

thanksgiving

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action."

-W.J. Cameron

thanksgiving

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow."

-Edward Sandford Martin

thanksgiving

“Praise God even when you don’t understand what He is doing.”

[Henry Jacobsen]

thanksgiving

~ http://www.theholidayspot.com/thanksgiving/quotes.htm

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Executive Class

I've been watching a couple of the television interviews with former President George W. Bush as he promotes his book, Decision Points. Although they try mightily, the interviewers are unsuccessful in prompting the former president to say even a single negative word about his successor.

This magnaminity is quite remarkable, especially considering the fact that President Obama can barely go two paragraphs without flinging an over-the-shoulder mudball at his predecessor. Say what you will about George W. Bush--love him or hate him--but the man understands how a president should comport himself.

Bush's bearing and behavior during his book tour reminds me of a piece that appeared many years ago in Ann Landers' column. You can find it in Ann Landers Encyclopedia.
Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident in the knowledge
that you can meet life head on and handle whatever comes along.
Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from past
mistakes.
Class is considerate of others. It knows that good manners are
nothing more than a series of small sacrifices.
Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. The most affluent blueblood can be totally without class while the descendant of a Welsh miner may ooze class from every pore.
Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.
Class can "walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch." Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he is comfortable with himself.
If you have class you don't need much of anything else. If you don't have it, no matter what else you have, it doesn't make much difference.

~ Ann Landers Encyclopedia

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Universal Brotherhood

In honor of Veteran's Day this year, I decided to reflect upon the admirable qualities that all good troops share, no matter the country, the century, or the cause. There are remarkable similarities among all excellent military troops down through the ages, just a few of which are:
  • Love of country
  • Dedication to duty
  • Loyalty to brothers-in-arms
  • Acceptance of authority
  • Courage in danger
  • Bravery in battle
  • Commitment to victory
  • Honor in defeat
  • Respect for all warriors
You'll find all of the above attributes depicted in the 1964 film, "Zulu," an adaptation of the Battle of Rorke's Drift in South Africa, 1879. If you enjoy movies that entertain while they inform and inspire and haven't yet seen that film, I recommend it. As they prepare for their crucial battle, the British soldiers literally sing in the face of death. It's a scene that will raise the tiny hairs on the back of your neck.

The men sing an old Welsh song, with special lyrics created for the film:

Men of Harlech stop your dreaming
Can't you see their spear points gleaming
See their warrior's pennants streaming
To this battle field

Men of Harlech stand ye steady
It cannot be ever said ye
For the battle were not ready
Stand and never yield

Form the hills rebounding
Let this war cry sounding
Summon all at Cambria's call
The mighty force surrounding

Men of Harlech onto glory
This shall ever be your story
Keep these fighting words before ye
Cambria (Welshmen never) will not yield







Veteran's Day, 2010 - Thanks to all the men and women of the U.S. armed forces throughout our country's history. Because of you, we are free.

Friday, November 05, 2010

My Uncle Jack

My Uncle Jack died yesterday. He had been increasingly ill for many years with Parkinson’s disease. At age 77, he was my mother’s youngest sibling.

Although terrible suffering and debilitation scarred his final years, I remember a very different man. As my youngest uncle (he was still in his teens when I was born), Jack was a fascinating figure during my childhood.

Jack had majored in science in college and chose chemistry as his career. Before he got married, he lived at home with my grandparents, as was the custom in the mid-20th century. Whenever I stayed at my grandparent’s home during school vacations, and while he was at work, I spent considerable time in Uncle Jack’s upstairs bedroom, exploring the captivating evidence of his hobbies and interests.

I marveled at ship models he had built inside huge glass bottles. I fiddled with the buttons and dials of his ham radio set (and got scolded for that, rightly so). Uncle Jack’s portable record player also was too great a temptation for a pre-teen. I combed through his collection of 45s and LPs and played as many as I could manage while my grandparents were outside in the yard.

Uncle Jack’s personal library was a source of endless entertainment. His bookshelves were crammed full of science, philosophy, theology, science fiction, and modern popular fiction books. I read the nuclear thriller Fail Safe straight through one rainy afternoon and gained my introduction to such masterful science fiction authors as Ray Bradbury, John Wyndham, and Richard Matheson. My first acquaintance with Thomas Aquinas was one of Uncle Jack’s books entitled God Exists. It contained the great saint’s five proofs of God from Summa Theologica. Heavy reading for a twelve-year-old, but read it I did, sitting at my uncle’s desk by the sun-filled gable window.

My uncle often took me with him on his errands around town, and I felt quite important sitting in the front passenger seat of his Buick. He would take me outside on starlit nights to point out the constellations, and he could do quite a scary Frankenstein monster impersonation. He always bought me books, sometimes for no reason, often as birthday gifts—dozens of Nancy Drew mysteries, ghost stories, histories for young readers, and my personal all-time favorite, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. No child in my life has escaped receiving a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth. Just a few months ago, I had my tattered original hardcover rebound; it was a gift from Uncle Jack when I turned eleven. I still reread it occasionally, when life gets to be just too much.

Now might be such a time. As we advance along the crowded pathways of our years, we lose many of our heart’s treasures. I remind myself to be grateful that his suffering is over, and I pause to wonder--how much better would the world be if every child could experience such a loving example of family as my Uncle Jack?

Enjoy heaven, my dear uncle. I shall cherish your memory always.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Aftermath

This is a link to the Real Clear Politics results page for the House races. If I'm addicted to any website, it's RCP.

Check out their homepage, linked here. It will keep you busy for hours. They post the best political writers--right, left, and center.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

"The Giants Win the Pennant"


Yesterday...

Congratulations, guys!

...and 59 years ago


Friday, October 29, 2010

Vital Voting

"This is not an election on November 2. This is a restraining order."
P. J. O'Rourke

Next week, the majority of Americans will vote as though their lives depend upon it. In many ways, that's true. Furthermore, at least this time, the majority of American voters will probably vote Republican. In vibrant detail, P. J. O'Rourke sums up the reasons why.

Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 2. The life of America does indeed depend upon it.

4 days to the 2010 mid-term elections

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ego on Display

Jonah Goldberg, whose wry observations rarely fail to make me smile, has done it again with his NRO article, "Obama's Outsized Ego." Even for his supporters, it's hard to avoid the fact that President Obama's high opinion of himself is contributing to our national woes. A good example is this public reprimand to him from a hardworking U.S. citizen, someone who supported and voted for him.

Even Victor Davis Hanson, usually the most serious of analysts, scores well with a satirical review of the president's policies and how they are pounding us into further difficulties. "How to Turn a Recession into a Depression" is more truth than poetry.

Both articles boil down to the fact that the president will force his will upon the country because he is convinced that he is the smartest man in the universe and the voters are just too stupid to realize his magnificence.

We Americans have many big problems on our hands, but perhaps none more potentially damaging to the country than Obama's ego.

Election countdown:

17 days to the 2010 mid-term elections

751 days to the 2012 presidential election

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Crisis Remembered

This month marks the 48th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. For anyone with a memory of those tense days in October 1962, it was a terrifying time.

In today's world, it is difficult to describe the fear generated by the threat of nuclear annihilation. Personally, I have never been more frightened in my entire life than in October 1962--and that's saying something. Older baby boomers such as myself can recall in vivid detail the drills at school, when we were taught what to do in case the Soviets launched a nuclear missile attack on the U.S.A. My teachers didn't fuss around with under-the-desk routines; students in my school were marched downstairs into the dark and dingy basement of my middle school. Quadrants of this yawning cavern were marked with huge chalk numbers on the concrete walls, showing where each corresponding class would hunker down to wait out the nuclear storm.

Many of my classmates started to cry, a few of them hysterically, calling for their mothers during this "safety drill." (I sometimes wonder what the ACLU might have done with this situation in our modern times.)

I suffered my life's worst nightmare during this period, and I can remember it as though it occurred last night. In this awful dream, my younger siblings and I lay huddled in my parent's basement. A radio announcer was screaming for everyone to take cover. Just as the missiles fell, lighting up my home's basement with a blast of heat and fire, I awoke with a gasp and a start, heart racing and face burning.

For anyone who has ever wondered "What's her problem?"--well, there you go.

During my recent visit to Boston, my daughter and I visited the JFK Library, where there is an extensive exhibit on those 13 days of international crisis. I recommend the tour to anyone, but especially to those Americans who can remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. The fact that JFK brought us safely through it is a hallmark of courage and leadership in our history.

We could do with a bit more of that today.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Guardians Unseen


Today is the feast of Guardian Angels, as I noted here exactly one year ago.

Since my most recent post was about the archangels feast day, I was planning to move on to a new topic. But, the storm came.

On September 30, San Diego underwent an incredible battering by Mother Nature. Forked lightening, booming thunder, screaming sheets of rain, even hail--the perfect storm of "global climate disruption" attacked the county with unfettered fury.

My 7-year-old Labrador, Riga, does not like noise. Ever since puppyhood, she has quaked at any loud or sudden sound. On July 4, during the neighborhood fireworks display, Pete and I would find her burrowed far back into the well of space under the computer desk. In recent years, Riga favors her garage bunker, behind the washing machine, during fireworks.

But on Thursday morning, the interior door to the garage was closed. Matt, Nicole, and I were at work. And the thunder was deafening. So Riga tried a new solution--she jumped the fence and ran.

Matt arrived home from a 24-hour shift at around 9:30 a.m. and found Riga missing. He began to drive and search for her. He phoned Nicole, and she left work to help him search. Wisely, my kids did not notify me of this crisis. I can only imagine the wreckage I might have caused on the freeway as I raced home in the tempest. Riga is my bridge to Pete, who unabashedly doted on her. She's my living link to better times, a walking furball of fun memories.

I arrived home in the evening blissfully ignorant of the days events. Matt informed me and said that in the afternoon, about 1:30 or 2:00 p.m., a woman called. Matt happened to be at home, preparing to begin a new round of searching, and he answered the phone. The woman told him that Riga was at her office, about two miles from our home.

Matt went to collect Riga. She was wet, scared, and tired. Who knows where she had traveled during those many hours of raging storm? I only know that she had to cross one of the busiest thoroughfares in San Diego to reach that business park. The thought of it still makes me shiver.

You may be wondering what Riga's dangerous flight and happy rescue has to do with the feast day of Guardian Angels. Well, I find it somewhat relevant that I had just posted on the archangels the very day before.

But another fact is more noteworthy. You know that woman who phoned Matt, to tell him she had Riga safe and sound? Her name is Angel.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In the Care of Angels


“At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book."
~ Daniel 12:1

Today, September 29, is the feast day of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael on the Church calendar. Being a bit of an angel nut, it's a tradition for me to acknowledge their special day.

There are many levels of angels, and several more archangels. But if I may be irreverant for the purpose of description, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael represent the "trifecta" of angelic prominence. They are all mentioned by name in the Bible, and each one has a special focus for their divine duties. Archangel names all end in "el," which means "in God."

Raphael heals and guides, Gabriel announces, and Michael protects. I think we're covered.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Rose Remembered


Gloria Stuart died last night. She had turned 100 this summer, on July 4
.

Although most famous for playing "Old Rose" in the 1997 blockbuster movie "Titanic," that role came to her more than 60 years after her starlet days in "Old Hollywood" had ended. At age 87, she became the oldest Academy Award nominee.

No disrespect to "Young Rose," co-star Kate Winslet, but I think the young Gloria Stuart's appearance left most actresses of any era in the dust. As her early publicity photos prove, she was flat-out gorgeous.

Stuart's late-life celebrity was one of those uplifting stories that proves how fate sometimes keeps bright surprises hidden for us. A joyful moment may emerge when we least expect it, or perhaps after we have forgotten the possibility might even exist. Such was Gloria Stuart's Oscar-nominated portrayal of Rose Calvert, a marvelous role in a world-famous movie, one that Stuart embraced and made her own. She will be remembered.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pledging Improvement

National Review Online has posted an editorial analyzing the Republican "Pledge to America." There are five components in the pledge, each of them compelling and timely. If your time doesn't allow you to read the full article, a quick review of the key points appears below:

1. Jobs - stop tax increases, require congressional approval of all new regulations, give small businesses a tax break.

2. Budget restraint - cut spending to pre-bailout/stimulus levels, impose a federal hiring freeze, require a full accounting of Social Security and Medicare funds.

3. Obamacare - (this is a biggy) - repeal Obama's healthcare bill, require medical malpractice reform, allow purchase of insurance across state lines, increase funding for high-risk pre-existing conditions, ban federal funding of abortion.

4. Transparency - require that all new legislation be available for public review online for 72 hours before any action is taken by Congress.

5. National Defense - keep troop funding bills clean, support military courts, improve missile defense systems, maintain sanctions on Iran, introduce legislation for combined state-and local control of illegal immigration.

There's nothing for me to argue against in any of those five points. I wonder how Democratic competition will manage.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Time for Tea


"An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come."


Politicians of both parties would do themselves a favor if they took the time to read and--key word--understand Clark Judge's article, "Tea With Sympathy," posted at Hugh Hewitt's blog.

To use the kids' term, American voters are "over it." They are finished and done with talk, spending, talk, unemployment, talk, bailouts, talk, stimulus, talk, deficits, talk, and forced legislation. And, it bears repeating, talk. The voters are sick of talk. As Judge astutely notes, this is why there is a Tea Party.

The coming elections will be fascinating. I'm going to watch the returns on television over a toasty cup of tea.

42 days to the 2010 mid-term elections

776 days to the 2012 presidential election

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Can You Spare a Dime?


President Obama made a promise about not raising taxes "one single dime," and he's keeping it. If you pay taxes, they indeed will not go up "one single dime."

Taxes are going to go up by many, many dimes after Jan. 1 and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. For everyone, at every income level. But then, most of us who have been paying attention had figured that out already.

47 days to the 2010 mid-term elections

781 days to the 2012 presidential election

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Way Forward


"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."





Monday, August 30, 2010

Well Said


"Meaning of the crowd: An enormous upheaval in the emotions of average Americans is coursing through the country..."
~ Hugh Hewitt

"Seventy percent of Americans know they've been conned" is the telling title of Hugh Hewitt's Washington Examiner August 29 post. It gives a blunt and powerful recounting of the many reasons why 70% of Americans are fed up enough with the federal government to overrun the Washington D.C. mall at Saturday's rally.

It's amusing to watch MSM struggling to downplay and belittle the significance of Glenn Beck's event. The sourest of media grapes won't neutralize voter wrath before November 2. It's time for the majority political party to get ready for some real change--that American citizens, not Beltway elites and their media cronies, can believe in.

Election Day Countdown:

64
days to the 2010 mid-term elections

798
days to the 2012 presidential election

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Right to Do Wrong

Most Americans are familiar with the First Amendment. Not all Americans realize that the First Amendment has nothing to do with the proposed mosque at Ground Zero. Some prominent players in the debate are using “freedom of religion” as a straw man argument to demonize all Americans who stand for honor, decency, and respect for the dead, murdered in an act of war.

Common sense, which is increasingly rare, tells me that nothing intrusive or controversial should be built anywhere near the site of Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers once stood. That means no church, no temple, no synagogue—and no mosque. Ground Zero is a sacred site, as worthy of national reverence as the Pearl Harbor or Gettysburg memorials.

In fact, Gettysburg had its own issue with inappropriate construction. A politically neutral observation tower opened in 1974, to provide aerial views of the battlefield. After a long legal fight in which area residents, historians, and many other Americans across the country protested this desecration, the tower was demolished in 2000.

Gettysburg is hallowed ground, a place where ten of thousands of American soldiers died in battle nearly 150 years ago. It is, quite rightly, federally protected land. A mere nine years ago, at the World Trade Center, a murderous enemy that remains openly dedicated to our total destruction slaughtered nearly three thousand innocent civilians. If they could speak, I would not be surprised if the combatants who died at Gettysburg would say that the land at Ground Zero is equally as holy in American history as their own blood-soaked battlefield.

Memo to Imam Rauf and all his endorsers, especially those in media and politics: Just because someone has the right to do something does not mean it is the right thing to do. Most Americans still understand that. It’s beyond pitiful that so many of our so-called “leaders” do not.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An Intolerable Situation

I didn't know that remains of 9/11 victims are still being recovered in the vicinity of the destroyed World Trade Center. This fact renders me so breathtakingly outraged over the disgusting mosque flap that I'll let Andy McCarthy do the talking for me, in this link.

McCarthy wrote another piece, "The Tolerant Pose," linked here. It's long, but concerned Americans won't notice. It's well worth your time to read every word. Be prepared to be thoroughly disturbed. But knowledge is power, and we need to stay educated about what we as a people are up against--from our government as well as our international enemies.

Election Day countdown:

77 days to the 2010 mid-term elections

811 days to the 2012 presidential election

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A Defining Problem


Ol-i-gar-chy
\ 1: government by the few 2: a government in which a small group exercises control, esp. for corrupt and selfish purposes; also: a group exercising such control 3: an organization under oligarchic control


This is the troubled crossroads the U.S.A. has reached. It's not a pretty sight. Let's take a quick look at the current distressing status:


According to the Rasmussen poll, the vast majority of Americans (86%) believe that the powers of the federal government should be restricted. The majority of those governing (54%) feel quite differently. That leaves us overruled, discounted, and working for the people we pay to work for us. They will tell us how it's going to go down, and we will learn to live with it.

This is the bad news. We, the citizens of the United States of America, are now the unwilling subjects of a small, arrogant, and disinterested ruling class. Currently, we as a people are held captive to the whims of these radical tyrants.

Now, a bit of good news. It is doubtful that the overbearing oligarchy that calls itself our government will be efficient or organized enough to actually abolish the right to vote before November 2, 2010. That's just 84 days away. One can only guess how many jet-setting vacations our royal elites will want to schedule with our disappearing tax dollars in that short span of time.

So, fellow citizens, evaluate your candidates and read your ballots with a keen eye, and prepare to vote with some discernment this coming Election Day. If we are not careful this time, it may be one of our last "free" elections.

Oh, one last item:

820 days to the 2012 election!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Foxhole Question

He may have no faith, but the man certainly has talent. Christopher Hitchens' Vanity Fair piece, "Topic of Cancer," addresses the personal disaster of the disease with articulate description, wry humor, and his incomparable style. Famous as much for his strident atheism as his elegant writing, Hitchens deals with the prospect of a slow, painful death with an impressive practicality and matter-of-fact courage.

As Hitchens faces his own mortality and journeys through his sad illness, the old question springs to mind: Are there any atheists in foxholes? It's a hard question to ask, and an even harder one to answer.

In the end, probably he will be the only one who knows the answer. A foxhole is a lonely place.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

"There is no separating our national security and our economic prosperity — they are interdependent."

Almost forgotten in the angst over such political hot potatoes as unemployment, the deficit, illegal immigration, and the healthcare debacle is the root cause of danger to the survival of the United States. What Andrew C. McCarthy calls "civilizational jihad" has been waged against us for 31 years, beginning with the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979.

In his NRO article, "It's About Sharia," McCarthy shines some much-needed light back onto this powerful danger. Just because it's not on the front page of the newspapers anymore doesn't mean the threat has gone away. In fact, it is perhaps a more perilous time now for our country, distracted as we are by the many controversies swirling within our government. Now is not the time to forget we are at war nor to discount the single-minded focus of the enemy.

Andrew C. McCarthy successfully prosecuted the terrorists responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He has rarely changed the subject since. McCarthy understands that, despite all of our current national problems, nothing is more crucial than turning back the Islamists.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wise Words

"It is tempting to protect yourself from the personal or professional costs of
loss by limiting how much you commit, how much of belief and trust in people,
and how deeply you care. Caution and cynicism are safe, but soldiers don't want
to follow cautious cynics. They follow leaders who believe enough to risk
failure or disappointment for a worthy cause.

If I had it to do over again, I'd do some things in my career differently but not many. I believed in people, and I still believe in them. I trusted and I still trust. I cared and I still care. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Winston Churchill said we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. To the young leaders of today and tomorrow, it's a great life."
Farewell to the troops
July 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

An Oscar Well Earned

I used to think that Jeff Bridges was underestimated as an actor, so I was pleased when he won the Academy Award for "Crazy Heart." Now that I've seen the movie, I'm even happier about his well-earned Oscar.

Bridges makes the tragic figure of Bad Blake his own as he journeys through the wreckage of past mistakes and their bitter consequences. Blake is a miserable, washed-up alcoholic singer-songwriter, remarkably talented but so enslaved by his addiction that he's trapped himself in a destructive downward spiral. Once a superstar of country music, he's been reduced to playing gigs at bowling alleys and bars in remote locations.

While country music is not my favorite form, I could listen to the "Crazy Heart" soundtrack every day. In fact, a couple of the movie's songs have found a home in my i-Pod.

Bad Blake's painful struggle to reach the hopefulness and promise of the final scenes is the soul of "Crazy Heart," and Jeff Bridges brings it to vivid life at all stages. Robert Duvall, who liked the book so much he was one of the film's producers, plays a memorable supporting role with his customary star power. Scott Cooper, who wrote the screenplay from Thomas Cobb's novel, directs with heart and grit.

After seeing "Crazy Heart," no one will ever underestimate Jeff Bridges. I love happy endings!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Enough to Ruin Summer

Six Months to Go Until
The Largest Tax Hikes in History

Read more: http://atr.org/six-months-untilbr-largest-tax-hikes-a5171##ixzz0tcwgCddr

846 days to the 2012 election!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Countdown

"Think About It!" - Victor Davis Hanson lists ten good reasons why we're in deep trouble in our executive branch of government.

Hanson continues to elaborate on our growing problems in "Words Matter, Even a Few," linked here.

We can only keep throwing ourselves upon the mercy of Providence--it's protected us so far, thank you, Lord. It might be somewhat encouraging to begin counting down to the next presidential election. I think I'll start logging the time, right now...

851 days.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

General Agreement

Victor Davis Hanson, the distinguished military historian, has addressed the McChrystal flap with his usual intelligence and clear judgment in two articles, linked here and here.

Although I was torn on the issue (because so much of what was said in the infamous article is true about the Obama administration), a Commander-in-Chief simply can't tolerate that level of disrespect going public. Although it is painful to think of the inept and self-obsessed Obama in that crucial role, it is our country's reality at the moment.

Respect for the office, not the person, is required. Our over-puffed president has trouble with that distinction, but it also is reality.

There are at least a couple of ironies in the conclusion to this messy incident. Apparently it takes personal insults against President Obama for him to act quickly and decisively. Perhaps BP and Gov. Bobby Jindal should start calling the president a "wimp" in order to prompt more Federal involvement in the Gulf cleanup. And General Petraeus, about whom Obama was so negative during the Bush years, has become his new go-to guy. We won't be seeing "Betray-Us" ads in the media or hearing Hillary Clinton bleat over "suspension of disbelief."

Generally speaking, it's an acceptable outcome.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection."
~ Sigmund Freud

It's been a very long time since I could wish my dad a Happy Father's Day. After twenty-three years, I still miss him.

As an adult, with a continent between us, I never did much for Dad on Father's Day. Of course, being a good father, he never expected much. Dad really enjoyed humorous greeting cards, so each year I would send him a funny card. He always said that if a card didn't make you laugh immediately when you opened it and read the punch line, it was the wrong card. I would spend considerable time each year selecting the properly amusing card for him.

On Father's Day morning, I would call Dad and we would chat and chuckle about this year's greeting card. To this day, it is difficult for me to walk past displays of Father's Day greeting cards.

A good dad makes all the difference in life. I hope you can hear me saying, as I do each year, "Happy Father's Day, Daddy."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A New Addition

I've added Rasmussen Reports to my sidebar links, since I've been checking it every day for a few months. I think Scott Rasmussen has the most accurate and comprehensive polling on the widest variety of issues that concern American voters. In my opinion, and in today's cyber-speak, he's earned his hotlink on my homepage.

UPDATE: I removed the link when it began requiring a subscription to read it

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lessons from Loss

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind...
~ William Wordsworth, Ode on Intimations of Immortality

Since my husband’s death over four years ago, I’ve been through a lot of changes. Not all of them are noteworthy, but I have developed two beneficial habits. One is an attitude of thankfulness for every good thing that remains in my life, because I now understand the reality of how quickly things can change. The second is the awareness of the knowledge that any loss can always be so much worse than it was.

Yes, Pete died at an early age. I am grateful that our children were already grown. Both of them were young adults, no longer dependent upon their parents for the basic support and structure of their daily lives. Yes, it would have been wonderful for them to have their father here for love and guidance as they stand poised for families of their own. But the kids did have a wonderful father throughout all their formative years, and God had other plans for Pete. I’m so grateful that I was not left with young children to raise without their dad.

I received some bad news today that reminded me of this blessing. A friend I worked with many years ago just lost his wife after a 10-year battle with cancer. She was a beautiful person, 44 years old, and she leaves behind her husband and two teenaged daughters. Her girls will not have their mother to help them prepare for senior prom, college life, marriage, careers, or motherhood. My friend will not have his wife to help him finish the work and share of the joy of raising their children. When I think of his situation, I thank God I was spared this burden.

Deep losses teach us important lessons. My friend is just beginning the hard journey of grief, and my prayers go with him. I don’t doubt that he will learn, as I did, the precious value of life’s remaining blessings.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Pain of the Game


You can ask any San Diego Padre fan and they'll most likely agree--baseball breaks your heart.

Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game last night. Even if the blown call is reversed--and I hope and pray that it is--he's been robbed of his joyful moment at game's end. Nobody ever said that life is fair. But for a baseball fan, this kind of painful injustice is hard to take.

Let's hope the officials reviewing the call will put things right. At least that will give Galarraga his well-earned place in the record books.

Congratulations, Armando. Regardless of the final ruling, you pitched a perfect game. You know it, just like everyone who has seen the play knows it--including the umpire who made the mistake. Small comfort, I know, but I hope it helps.

UPDATE: Alas, there will be no reversing of this sad decision. As Pete always said, "That's the game." It is somewhat uplifting, though, to watch the compassion and dignity of all parties involved. If there's a bright side to be found, that's it. In an age of selfishness, we've seen a gracious, classy sportsmanship that I thought was long extinct.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The End of the Day


It’s finally happened. The sun has set on television’s award-winning 24, the uniquely formatted series in which nail-biting events occurred in “real time.’

The show chronicled eight very long, extremely bad days for Jack “I-don’t-want-to-kill-you-but-I-will-if-I-have-to” Bauer, counter terrorist agent extraordinaire. More times than we can count, fans of 24 have seen Jack stabbed, shot, electrocuted, tortured, tied up, beaten down, thrown sideways, and left for dead. We have also watched him plagued by lethal nerve gas and throttled by heroin addiction. These were but momentary inconveniences for our steel-plated hero. That fateful clock was ticking, and Jack "We're-running-out-of-time" Bauer always had to move beyond the petty annoyances of brutal terrorists in very short order. After all, he had our country to save. And he succeeded in doing exactly that every time.

The premise of 24—that truly evil, organized forces are plotting the ruin of the U.S.A.—held timely appeal when the show premiered in the wake of September 11. For many of us, that premise stands firm. Over the ensuing seasons, 24 built loyal legions of fans that looked forward to Monday nights and the next episode. We wondered: what would Jack “Listen-to-me-very-carefully” Bauer do next to thwart the murderous villains? How many international laws would he flout in order to keep us safe, warm, and riveted in front of our TVs? (It always turned out to be as many as he had to--which made for some gripping, often gory, viewing.)

Last night the final milliseconds of the concluding 24 hours of Jack “Do-exactly-as-I-say” Bauer’s tour of duty expired, and our indestructible hero —wounded yet again—made his exit. After a touching farewell via satellite to his devoted friend, IT goddess Chloe O'Brian, Jack “I-understand-that-you’re-upset” Bauer sprinted off towards an unknown destination. Only Jack "I'm-fine-keep-moving" Bauer can run full speed with a bloody collection of knife, gunshot, and head wounds.

Let’s hope Jack stumbles upon the studio that’s planning to make the feature film of 24-- and quickly, too. After all, this is real time. The fans are waiting, and there’s not a second to lose.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shame and Lame

Mark Steyn has some customarily pithy observations on President Obama's shamefully lame statement about the 2002 butchering of Daniel Pearl. Read them here, and weep. Or, at the very least, shake your head in embarrassment that Obama is actually our "leader."

Can 2012 come soon enough for you? I'm counting the days already.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Uncommon Sense

"The best chance America has in retaining its greatness, let alone its exceptionalism, is to understand the Left. And the Left's explanations for what makes a Faisal Shahzad or a Maj. Hasan seek to slaughter Americans are key to understanding the Left."
~ Dennis Prager

Here's a link to some urgently needed plain talk from radio host Dennis Prager regarding our radical Islamic enemies and their sympathetic portrayal in MSM. Prager also notes the media's demonization of peaceful American citizens participating in the "Tea Parties," including the effort to implicate them in the Times Square bomb.

For readers who don't know Prager, he's a well-informed intellect whose oft-repeated mantra is, "clarity is more important than agreement."

This link will take you to Prager's homepage. If you take the time read and/or listen, I think you'll agree he's worth getting to know.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Political Home Run

Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his 'confrontational tone'

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

One of a Kind

It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.
~ Lena Horne, 1917 - 2010


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Pete's Prayer

In honor of the National Day of Prayer, I'm posting one of Pete's favorite prayers in his memory.

The Road Ahead, by Thomas Merton, is a prayer that Pete held close to him. He kept a batch of copies in a white folder that usually traveled with him. The copy appearing to the right is from that folder. In his volunteer work, Pete counseled many troubled people, and he often gave copies of this prayer to them.

In the four years since Pete died, I've learned this prayer by heart as I've tried to live by its philosophy. My own "road ahead" seems more peaceful now, not so frightening as it once was. You were right, Pete. Prayer works.

Amen.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Evil Ignored Grows Stronger

At NRO's "The Corner" today, Mark Steyn, in a piece aptly entitled "Crying Lone Wolf," has some interesting musings regarding the Times Square bomber:

Whenever something goofy happens — bomb in Times Square, mass shootings at a US military base, etc. — there seem to be two kinds of reactions:

a) Some people go, "Hmm. I wonder if this involves some guy with a name like Mohammed who has e-mails from Yemen."

b) Other people go, "Don't worry, there's no connection to terrorism, and anyway, even if there is, it's all very amateurish, and besides he's most likely an isolated extremist or lone wolf."

Unfortunately, everyone in category (b) seems to work for the government.


How sad but true for Americans.

Since Barack Obama became president, there has been an alarming uptick in Islamo-radical terrorist attacks on the U.S.A. The failed Times Square bomb plot this past week is one more example of the U.S. dodging a terrorist bullet, so to speak. Add that Islamo-radical terrorist attempt to the September 2009 failed New York City subway bomb plot, the November 2009 Fort Hood massacre, the December 2009 failed Christmas bombing of Northwest Flight 253, and we have quite a disturbing trend developing under President Hope-and-Change.

Our law enforcement is doing an outstanding job of foiling Islamic terrorist plots to kill Americans, but I doubt we'll be so fortunate every time. As September 11, 2001 proved--our enemies--or, these "isolated extremists," in Obamaspeak--only need to be lucky once to bring disaster to our country. It would be somewhat reassuring if our president at least pretended to take these determined killers a bit more seriously.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Uneasy Words

When Peggy Noonan hits the bull's eye, her work is suitable for framing. Here is a link to her Wall Street Journal piece, "The Big Alienation," which is an exceptionally astute summation of why so many Americans are so completely fed up with government--and why the numbers of dissatisfied citizens is growing.

Noonan also hints at why, if not addressed, this expansive unrest will lead to more change than even our current president bargained for.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Honor of St. Catherine's Day


Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.

"Therefore, You, moved by that same fire of love with which You created him, willingly gave man a means of reconciliation, so that after the great rebellion into which he had fallen, there should come a great peace; and so You gave him the only-begotten Word, Your Son, to be the Mediator between us and You. He was our Justice, for He took on Himself all our offenses and injustices, and performed Your obedience, Eternal Father, which You imposed on Him, when You clothed Him with our humanity, our human nature and likeness...We are Your image, and You have become ours, by this union which You have accomplished with man, veiling the Eternal Deity with the cloud of woe, and the corrupted clay of Adam. For what reason?--Love. Wherefore, You, O God, have become man, and man has become God. By this ineffable love of Yours, therefore, I constrain You, and implore You that You do mercy to Your creatures."