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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

ESPN v. Christianity
The Ben File is a great blog -- one we should aspire to emulate, Gary. Ben is a believer, and quite a successful guy. He comments on issues of the day, and mixes in solid sports commentary. (In fact, his blog ended up in the Sports category of my FeedDemon reader.)

Today he comments on a hatchet job on Joe Gibbs and his faith done by ESPN. Good stuff.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
That was Hillary Clinton yesterday at a San Francisco fundraiser for Senate colleague Barbara Boxer. Read it and weep:
"'Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you,' Sen. Clinton said. 'We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.' "
Shoot, I must be pretty well off because I benefitted from the Bush tax cuts. In fact, I think the only people to not benefit were those who don't pay any taxes. Wait ... I think they did too - if they had children, they got the child tax credit, a credit on taxes they never paid!

Hills says she needs to take the money back to get America back on track. Psst, Ms. Rodham, we're already back on track. Leave it alone. Better yet, tell us the real reason you want to reconfiscate our money. What, exactly, do you mean by "the common good"?

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Re: Sam Mitchell
Great news about Sam. I've always liked him. Did I ever tell you my personal Sam Mitchell story?

He was playing (golf) in Tom Lehman's charity event and I was in the gallery. As he was walking between holes - from the green of one to the tee of the next - I walked up to him, shook his hand, and said, "Didn't your buddies tell you that your pants leg is stuck in your sock?" He was looking great, of course, nice clothes, good looking, fit gentleman. I thought it was a shame to see his general nattiness (that's a compliment, by the way) marred by the old pants-leg-in-the-sock problem. He thanked me then harangued his golfing partners about their insensitivity. It was a proud moment for me.

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Michael Moore Really Does Hate America
Of course, you've heard Michael Moore has a new movie out. Apparently it's critical of President Bush and U.S. foreign policy. (As you can tell, I haven't seen it and I don't plan to give any of my hard-earned money to Moore.) David Brooks, in his column today, gives us some insight into Michael Moore's worldview. He (Moore) doesn't think much of the average American,
"They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet ... in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy]," Moore intoned. "We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing."

"That's why we're smiling all the time," he told a rapturous throng in Munich. "You can see us coming down the street. You know, 'Hey! Hi! How's it going?' We've got that big [expletive] grin on our face all the time because our brains aren't loaded down."
American foreign policy has produced a long list of suffering peoples, mostly for the purpose of getting more oil,
"You're stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe." In Liverpool, he paused to contemplate the epicenters of evil in the modern world: "It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton."
(Somebody's going to be very angry because President Bush just turned over the control of Iraqi oil to Iraq! What was he thinking?)

And the American economic system (the kind of system where a guy can make movies full of holes, halftruths, and lies - and become rich), well, it stinks,
"Don't go the American way when it comes to economics, jobs and services for the poor and immigrants. It is the wrong way."
That's why those immigrants are coming to America - they're not treated poorly enough in their own country, they want to be treated worse here.

As I said, I won't be paying to see Moore's new movie. But I will be paying to see Michael Wilson's new movie, Michael Moore Hates America. Now that has a ring of truth to it.

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Raptors to name Sam Mitchell coach
I was pleased to see this item. I always thought Sam Mitchell was a good guy, and one of those real pros that just knew how to play the game the right way. I wish him well as the new head coach of the Raptors.

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Monday, June 28, 2004

A Voice From Iraq
This is really nice. An Iraqi blogger reacts to the news of today's handover of sovereignty. Here's what The Mesopotamian says: (hat tip to Kathryn in The Corner)
Hail our true friends, the Great People of the United States of America; The Freedom giving Republic, the nation of Liberators. Never has the world known such a nation, willing to spill the blood of her children and spend the treasure of her land even for the sake of the freedom and well being of erstwhile enemies. The tree of friendship is going to grow and grow and bear fruit as sure as day follows night. And the people deep down at the bottom of their hearts, they appreciate. Make no mistake about that.

Glory and honor to the U.S. and Allied men and women whose blood is irrigating the tree of freedom in this land; and their sacrifices, suffering, and toil is laying the foundation for a future renaissance of the Mesopotamian People. Hail soldiers of freedom and enlightenment. Do not be dismayed by the trouble and turbulence of the present, for the future generations will remember and appreciate.

And last but not least; Hail, Great El Bush, a leader not only of the U.S. but a true hero of mankind. And Hail Mr. Blair and the other Leaders of the Free World.
Wow. If Americans heard that more often (and, Lord willing, they will) this war would be going so much better.

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Intelligence backs claim Iraq tried to buy uranium
Shout it from the rooftops!
European intelligence officials have for the first time confirmed that information provided by human intelligence sources during an operation mounted in Europe and Africa produced sufficient evidence for them to believe that Niger was the centre of a clandestine international trade in uranium.

Intelligence officers learned between 1999 and 2001 that uranium smugglers planned to sell illicitly mined Nigerien uranium ore, or refined ore called yellow cake, to Iran, Libya, China, North Korea and Iraq.

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Friday, June 25, 2004

Jonah in The Corner
Jonah has a very interesting post in The Corner today. He refers to this story in the NYT. It seems that "Harvard -- like a lot of schools, I'm certain -- is going overseas to get many of its black students." Lani Guinier and Henry Gates find this trend "troubling." I'm sure you can guess why. Affirmative action is meant to give blacks, who have been historically harmed due to slavery and discrimination, a leg up on the competition for admission spots in universities.

But, Jonah continues,
the problem is that in order to sustain, defend and expand the racial spoils system liberals have had to argue that affirmative action is no longer a "remedy" so much as an educational benefit in itself, i.e. "diversity." So now Lee Bollinger the former President of the University of Michigan whose case was decided in the Supreme Court last year, must now defend diversity as educational tool and not as a remedy. ... "The issue is not origin, but social practices," he told the Times. "It matters in American society whether you grow up black or white. It's that differential effect that really is the basis for affirmative action."
So, it turns out affirmative action is bringing in the wrong kinds of blacks - not only immigrant blacks, but mixed race students.
But one of the numerous ironies here is that the diversity fixation has created a market for qualified blacks that -- despite the protestations of Guinier & Co -- cannot be satisfied with the domestic supply. So, in the era of globalization there is a flight to quality. I think it's all just really, really interesting.
Very interesting.

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Go Cheney! You rock!
I am not a big fan of the "F" word, but it's hard to blame Vice President Cheney in this case.

Man, wouldn't it be great to be able to tell of a Senator like that?

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Best of the Web Today
James Taranto's Best of the Web Today at has a nice surprise. It's a chapter from the new book, "Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House" (edited by James Taranto and Leonard Leo), available at the OpinionJournal Bookstore.

The chapter is written by noted historian Paul Johnson and, man, is it good. His subject is Bill Clinton. Would that the whole book were written by Mr. Johnson, but it's not. (There are, however, other fine authors contributing to the book - William Bennett, Richard Brookhiser, Lynne Cheney, Brendan Miniter, Fred Barnes, John McCain, Theodore B. Olson, Max Boot, Robert Bork, Edwin Meese III, Peggy Noonan, Kenneth Starr, Paul Gigot, Robert Bartley, Victor Davis Hanson, and others.) Anyway, Paul Johnson's contribution is wonderful. He begins,
Presenting a just estimate of the Clinton presidency will pose perhaps insoluble problems to historians. The printed record of his doings, misdoings, and omissions is unarguably deplorable from start to finish. Yet he was reelected without difficulty, and some would argue that, had it been constitutionally possible for him to run for a third term, he would have been elected again. It is a fact that historians will have to take into account, for it is central to the success he enjoyed that William Jefferson Clinton was a formidable personality, at least in one sense: Face-to-face, it was almost impossible to dislike him. Indeed it was difficult not to like him very much. As Tony Blair put it to me: "I found I had to like him, despite all the evidence."
And he goes on, giving Clinton credit for nothing except being Bill Clinton. In fact, one of his greatest strengths as a President was his lack of activity.
If Clinton had been a continent man, and so with time to be an activist president, the consequences would almost certainly have been disastrous for the American economy. As it was, with the president busy elsewhere, the nation thrived mightily, as always when the White House does nothing.
In the end, I guess we're fortunate that he did so little and yet unfortunate that he was so successful at it.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Campaign Finance 'Reform' vs. Michael Moore
Talk about poetic justice. Michael Moore, maker of fictional 'documentaries,' may be restricted from advertising his film after July 30. The general counsel to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has advised the Commission
that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prohibits corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election.

Should the six members of the FEC vote to approve the counsel's opinion, it could put a serious crimp on Moore's promotion efforts.
Although I believe the McCain-Feingold is horrible legislation, it's nice to see it causing trouble for the reprehensible Moore. No one is more deserving.

The article also mentions 4 other movies that would be affected by the ruling. Revealed: There is no shortage of money backing the "Bush for Ex-President" campaign.

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The Economy Is Kicking Butt
This columnist from The Albuquerque Tribune, (Jeffry Gardner), has some news for his readers, and he thinks the Bush administration needs to "go positive."
The mainstream media is less to blame for my having to gin up this tell-all than is the administration. The Bush folks are so consumed with "defining" Kerry that they've forgotten they have a positive story to tell.

The economy rocks. The president needs to get positive now. If not for us, then - uh - for the children.
Here, exactly, is how the economy rocks:
Since the first of the year, 1.5 million jobs have been created, and economists project that number may double by year's end. Americans' per-capita income is up. The Treasury Department reports an increase in tax revenues, which shrank the budget deficit by $100 million in the first quarter - far, far ahead of Congressional Budget Office projections.
Gardner makes a great point. The truth needs to be told to balance against the lies Kerry is telling day after day.

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Top 100 Movie Songs
The American Film Institute last night released it's list of 100 top movie songs of all time. I only caught the last hour of the show, but of course, that was the best hour. I'm proud to say my wife and I picked the top 3 when they were showing us the 20th (approximately) song. Here's the top 10:
  1. Over the Rainbow, THE WIZARD OF OZ, 1939
  2. As Time Goes By, CASABLANCA, 1942
  3. Singin' in the Rain, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, 1952
  4. Moon River, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, 1961
  5. White Christmas, HOLIDAY INN, 1942
  6. Mrs. Robinson, THE GRADUATE, 1967
  7. When You Wish Upon A Star, PINOCCHIO, 1940
  8. The Way We Were, THE WAY WE WERE, 1973
  9. Stayin' Alive, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, 1977
  10. The Sound of Music, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, 1965
Three films had 3 songs on the list - The Sound Of Music (10-The Sound of Music, 64-My Favorite Things, 88-Do Re Mi), Singin' In The Rain (3-Singin' In The Rain, 49-Make 'Em Laugh, 72-Good Morning), and West Side Story (20-Somewhere, 35-America, 59-Tonight).

Good stuff. AFI also has lists of Heroes & Villians, Passions, Thrills, Laughs, Stars, & Movies.

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Pioneer Press
Guess who I found in the St. Paul Pioneer Press this morning? Mark Steyn! Somebody must have fallen asleep in Pioneer Press offices to let this slip through. Steyn's opinion piece is about Air America (the link is to Steyn's page - it turns out the column appeared in the June 7th National Review, I don't know why the Pioneer Press is printing it now), the left's feeble attempt at talk radio. Here's Mark:
Remember Air America? The brilliant pre-publicity campaign marred only by an ill-advised decision to actually launch the product? The hype was coast to coast, but the station was only in a handful of markets, and a couple of those dumped the station after a bounced check, and most of the senior executives departed after a couple of weeks, which, according to whom you believe, was either part of the original business plan or extremely necessary because one of them was a "former Republican activist from Guam" and thus likely a double-agent for the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

Many decades ago, Richard Mellon Scaife planted scores of deep sleepers in Guam on the off chance it might get statehood in the next century.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Yes, he does indeed!
I want one!

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Monday, June 21, 2004

Cafe Hayek: Shoot, The Data Speak Clearly
Cafe Hayek does a nice job summarizing a report by the inestimable John Lott that clearly shows that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws have guns. In 1997, England rather grandly banned practically all handgun ownership, and so naturally, crime increased as the criminals of England realized that most folks could reasonably protect themselves. Crime was actually declining in the years before the ban, but shot up immediately upon the ban taking effect. Same thing happened in Australia after their gun ban. What a surprise. Both England and Australia now have violent crime rates that are double that of the United States.

Here's my comment: Duh!

Seems obvious to the casual observer, but not obvious to the folks who drive around our fair state with "Repeal Conceal" bumper stickers.

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Friday, June 18, 2004

American Beheaded
An al-Qaida group followed through on their threat to behead American contractor Paul Johnson if Saudi Arabia did not release its al-Qaida prisoners. Could anyone not have predicted this would happen? It was inevitable ... unless. Here's what the Saudis should have done. They should have answered the al-Qaida threat by saying, "If you execute this prisoner, we will release the prisoners. They may be picked up at the east gate of the Riyadh prison, their heads may be picked up at the west gate." This response could even have been transmitted through back channels, not publicly. Honestly, though, I don't think the Saudis are that concerned about dead Americans.

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Jay Nordlinger Impromptued again on NRO. The best part of this one was the letters (gotta love the letters). They were in response to J-Nord's essay on Reagan a couple days ago. Here are some excerpts from multiple letters:
"I think liberals were shocked, and maybe frightened, by the outpouring of love and respect this past week."

"I can tell you honestly that I could not have taken another four years of Jimmy Carter. I didn't want to turn the damn thermostat down or put on a sweater. I wanted to fix things. My dad had taught me not to whine when things went wrong. I can still hear him now: 'Get off your lazy *ss and get to work.' Well, I was ready to get to work, and then along came President Reagan."

"I thought recently about the old 1960s liberal-left tearjerker song 'Abraham, Martin, and John.' I don't remember the singer. There was something about 'freeing a lot of people' in the lyrics. Ronald Reagan freed hundreds of millions of souls who suffered under a tyranny akin to slavery and Hitlerism. Shouldn't the song now be sung as 'Abraham, Martin, and Ron'?"

"In retrospect all Bubba ever tried to do was save his own a** while Reagan and W. concerned themselves more with saving everyone else's, even those who despised them."

"But I voted for Ronald Reagan that year [1980] and his victory brought my presidential voting record to 1-1, and I will never discard that wallet and the sticker that can no longer even be read. My record is now 4-3 and I fully expect to open up a two-game lead this fall."

"When I heard of his passing, I immediately thought of these lines from Julius Caesar: 'His life was gentle, and the elements / So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up / And say to all the world, "This was a man!"'"

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Ignoring the connection: Why?
The Power Line guys take a critical look at the 9/11 Commission's preliminary report. Relying heavily on Andrew McCarthy's ("the former chief assistant United States Attorney who successfully prosecuted the blind sheik and eleven other defendants for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993") analysis in NRO, the Big Trunk asks why the commission is ignoring all evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection.

The wire services and newspapers certainly got the headlines they wanted:

"No Iraq Ties To Al-Qaida Found" (Mpls. Star Tribune)

"Report Discounts Iraq Ties To Al-Qaida" (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Also, the New York Post editorial today takes a shot at the way news reporting, and Democrat hacks, have skewed the conclusions of the commission's report. The editorial also makes a couple interesting points. First:
In fact, as Stephen Hayes writes in The Weekly Standard, the conventional wisdom in Washington long before George W. Bush took office was that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were partners in terrorism.

Two Clinton-administration stalwarts, Attorney General Janet Reno and U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, brought an indictment against bin Laden and a deputy, Mohammed Atef, in 1998 — charging that Saddam and Osama "reached an understanding . . . that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq."
Hmmm. And,
Meanwhile, back in 1999, ABC News reported that Saddam had offered bin Laden asylum, citing their "long relationship" and a December 1998 meeting in Afghanistan between Osama and Iraqi intelligence chief Faruq Hijazi.

That same year, the Congressional Research Service reported that if Saddam Hussein "decide[s] to use terrorists to attack the continental United States, [he] would likely turn to bin Laden's al Qaeda," which was then recruiting "Iraqi chemical weapons experts."
Again, hmmmm. The next sentence, "Did everyone mislead America?" Exactly. There's much more in the editorial, read it.

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Southern Baptists Reject Private Schooling Initiative
A proposal that would have encouraged the mass exodus of Southern Baptist children from the public school system was killed at this year's annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (search), supporters say because leadership felt it was too radical for the organization.
Too bad. Well, it's a start at least. I think more and more people should be thinking this way, and the publicity surrounding this proposal will make that happen.
The proposal, sponsored by retired Air Force General Thomas Pinckney and home-school advocate and attorney Bruce Shortt, suggested that each parent in the estimated 16 million-membership of the SBC take their children out of the public school system because, they say, it has long fostered an anti-Christian world view.

"I often tell people that public schools are killing our children morally, spiritually and academically," Shortt told "Certainly, any side of that should be a concern to any parent."

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Pistons Humiliate The Lakers
How sweet it was to see the Lakers fall last night. And not just lose, but lose badly. They were dominated by Detroit. Bye-bye Kobe. Bye-bye Shaq. Time to retire Karl, Gary, Phil, Rick Fox! You're done. It would have been sweeter if the Wolves had been the drubbers, but I'll take the next best thing.

Did you notice the TV ratings on the DRUDGE REPORT? "FLASH: NBA FINALE NEARLY DOUBLES AUDIENCE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR... ABC HITS 15.4 RATING/24 SHARE FOR TUESDAY NITE [OVER 8.7/14 IN 2003]... 51 SHARE MAX FOR LOS ANGELES... 67 SHARE MAX DETROIT... " It seems the whole country wanted to see the Lakers lose. I didn't watch any of the series until last night when I checked the game at halftime - Pistons up 10. I decided to watch to see if the Pistons could do it. So I kept watching, and it kept getting better and better. I've never been happier to see a team lose.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Will Baptists abandon public schools?
Cal Thomas writes today:
The Southern Baptist Convention - the nation's largest Protestant denomination with about 17 million members - is meeting this week in Indianapolis, and among the resolutions it is considering is one calling upon parents to withdraw their children from public schools and either educate them at home, or enroll them in private Christian academies.
I say, "Do it! The sooner the better." I appreciate the SBC's willingness to take a stand on the Bible and to live by it. Surely, Southern Baptists are not perfect and neither is the SBC, but that doesn't mean that they (and all Christians) shouldn't strive for perfection. We ought always to strive to do what is right.

"God gives the responsibility for education of children to the parents, not the government." Very true. And as a side benefit, the education establishment will begin to squirm a bit as their government funds shrink, as their influence shrinks. They might actually start listening to parents!

It'll be interesting to watch this story this week.

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Friday, June 11, 2004

Thatcher's eulogy to Reagan
I was quite moved by Baroness Thatcher's Eulogy to President Reagan.

That Maggie Thatcher is one awesome woman.

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From Reagan's Farewell Speech
"In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future...I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."

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An Ugly Photo
Some poeple just have no class. None.

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NBA Finals
There are few things are more fun for me to watch than the Lakers getting their butts handed to them.

I vowed not to watch the finals because I think they are totally fixed. And finally someone besides me noticed the subtle ways that the refs helped the Lakers win game 2.

Detroit is a better team. I don't see how that can be denied. They could very easily be up 3-0 right now, save a phantom foul call and a resulting free point and Kobe's shot. The Lakers are simply being out-played and outclassed. They can't get a decent shot, no one besides Kobe and Shaq are doing anything, the "hall of famers" who are supposed to be the ones to get them over the hump look like a couple of glue-factory horses, and they can't stop the pick and roll. Chauncey Billups is eating them alive on the pick and roll. I don't know why they don't run it every single time down the floor. The Lakers simply cannot stop it.

Detroit is going to win this thing. The Lakers may take one at Detroit, forcing the game back to LA, but the Pistons aren't even remotely afraid of playing at Staples Center.

The fun part here -- besides, of course, watching the Lakers lose -- is watching the press go into coniptions over it. They all thought the Laker juggernaut was unstoppable, and they are so wrong. They love the Lakers so much, all the headlines this morning are about the Lakers losing, and not about Detroit winning.

Go Pistons. Make them all look like idiots.

Man, I hate the Lakers.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

Reagan's Last Moments
I was touched by this recounting of Reagan's last moments.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Your Turn
Hey, thanks for the 'props'. I'll be out for a while so - tag - you're up. See you Monday.

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I've been sick
Gary --

I've been sick, and haven't been able to keep up with you. But I must say, since I've been on the bench, you have been on fire, man. That Colson stuff, connecting it to the Perle article? A wonder to behold.

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Chuck Colson: The Question of Good and Evil
Chuck Colson is one of the great thinkers of the Christian church. His thoughts on Ronald Reagan are no less insightful. Here's an excerpt:
But when Reagan was elected, all of that changed. He started talking about the "Evil Empire." At one time I thought he was being overly simplistic and said so in Christianity Today. But he was right; I was wrong.

Reagan dared to challenge the Soviets on the basis of morality - good versus evil. Freedom and democracy were good, tyranny and communism evil. And so at the Berlin Wall, Reagan challenged Soviet tyranny with the unforgettable words, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" And it came down, and the Iron Curtain came down along with it.
How often do you see someone write, "he was right; I was wrong" ? It takes a solid man to do that.

Colson here makes a point similar to Richard Perle's below. Perle said Reagan chose to "engage the Soviet Union on the battlefield of ideas," Colson, "on the basis of morality." But Perle fleshes out the same point as Colson. The Soviet system was brutal, illegitimate, and tyrannical. In other words, evil. A moral judgement was made. There was no relativity. No "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Reagan had a moral compass and used it. The same is true of Bush. And both are vilified for it.

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Jonah Goldberg on Ronald Reagan on National Review Online: "To summarize why I admired the Gipper: He was put on earth to do two things: kick butt and chew gum, and he ran out of gum around 1962."

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Oh Good Grief
Cry me a river. Billy Boy Clinton is whining that he doesn't get to speak at Reagan's funeral. Give me a break. The reason that he isn't being asked to speak is that his ego isn't big enough to get into the church. What a crybaby.

Ronald Reagan is dead, but it's all about me, me, ME! Why can't I be on national television??? It's all about MEEEEEEE!

Good heavens but I hate that awful man. I really do. I know I shouldn't but I do. He's just so utterly reprehensible.

I really hate him.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Re: Justin Katz
Cool! Thanks Justin.

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We finally get some blogsphere love!
Justin Katz of Dust in the Light was kind enough to notice us and link to us and put us in his blogroll. Justin is a believer, and apparently a very interesting and talented guy. It's hard to keep up, as he appears quite busy, but as far as I can tell, among many other things, Justin writes books and has a CD out. Justin is also part of the big-time in blogger-dom, having been linked to many times in the Corner by Ramesh Ponurru (a for instance).

Since Justin linked to us, we now actually have a profile at Technorati. Cool! I guess the only place to go from here is up! Thanks a ton to Justin.

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Mark Steyn!
One must always read Mark Steyn. Here is his tribute to Ronald Reagan. I only want to quote one part. These are not Steyn's words, but a quote from Dutch, Edmund Morris' biography of Reagan:
'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!' declaims Dutch, trying hard to look infuriated, but succeeding only in an expression of mild petulance ... One braces for a flash of prompt lights to either side of him: APPLAUSE.

What a rhetorical opportunity missed. He could have read Robert Frost's poem on the subject, 'Something there is that doesn't love a wall,' to simple and shattering effect. Or even Edna St. Vincent Millay's lines, which he surely holds in memory ...

Only now for the first time I see
This wall is actually a wall, a thing
Come up between us, shutting me away
From you ... I do not know you any more.
What mindless drivel! I made the decision long ago not to read this book, and I am feeling really good about it. Whoever chose Edmund to be the official biographer made a huge mistake. OH, that's horrible!

But Mark Steyn's piece is good, read that.

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John Fund
writes in OpinionJournal about "Freedom's Team - How Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul II won the Cold War." Reagan's strategy "rested on six pillars" -
  • support internal disruption in Soviet satellites, especially Poland;
  • dry up sources of hard currency;
  • overload the Soviet economy with a technology-based arms race;
  • slow the flow of Western technology to Moscow;
  • raise the cost of the wars it was fighting;
  • and demoralize the Soviets by generating pressure for change.
Did you know ...
On June 7, 1982, the day before Reagan gave his "ash heap" speech at Westminster Abbey, he met alone with the pope in the Vatican. Richard Allen, Reagan's first national security adviser, says the two men "agreed to undertake a clandestine campaign to hasten the dissolution of the communist empire." Until it was legalized in 1989, Poland's Solidarity union was kept alive by the U.S. and the Vatican. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, who later became president of free Poland, has said that "we owe our freedom to their unstinting efforts."
Did you further know ...
that the Reagan administration allowed a Soviet agent to steal gas-pipeline software that had been secretly designed to go haywire on a catastrophic scale. The ruse led to a June 1982 explosion in the Siberian wilderness that Mr. Reed says was "the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space." It crippled the Soviet's secret techno-piracy operation because they could longer be sure if what they were buying or stealing was similarly booby-trapped.
So it was more than just a matter of calling them the "evil empire" and proposing SDI. Reagan pressured and destabilised the Soviet Union from many directions and, with the help of Mrs. Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, "won the Cold War without firing a shot."

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Iraqi Gratitude
Today's OpinionJournal editorial:
A myth has developed that Iraqis aren't grateful for their liberation from Saddam. So it's worth noting that the leaders of Iraq's new interim government have been explicit and gracious in their thanks, not that you've heard this from the U.S. media.

First in Arabic and then in English, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in his inaugural address to the Iraqi people last Tuesday that "I would like to record our profound gratitude and appreciation to the U.S.-led international coalition, which has made great sacrifices for the liberation of Iraq." In his own remarks, President Ghazi al-Yawer said: "Before I end my speech, I would like us to remember our martyrs who fell in defense of freedom and honor, as well as our friends who fell in the battle for the liberation of Iraq."

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the U.N. Security Council much the same thing last Thursday: "We Iraqis are grateful to the coalition who helped liberate us from the persecution of Saddam Hussein's regime. We thank President Bush and Prime Minister Blair for their dedication and commitment."

We thought our readers might like to know.
You're welcome. Glad to help.

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Monday, June 07, 2004

How they misjudged the Reagan I knew
Richard Perle on Ronald Reagan:
Even now, the irony that so non-intellectual a man should choose to engage the Soviet Union on the battlefield of ideas has eluded most commentators and historians.

Reagan's was not the rhetoric of detente. His policy did not call for co-operative programmes in science, agriculture, space and energy. He took pains not to reassure but to discredit the Kremlin leaders. They ruled brutally. They ruled without consent. They built a military machine at the expense of the material wellbeing of ordinary citizens. Their economy produced only weapons, while their ideology produced cynicism at home and instability abroad. If pushed, they would fall.

... the truth is that Ronald Reagan was singular in understanding, and acting to exploit, the depth of Soviet vulnerability.

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Reagan Funeral Events
The Office of Ronald Reagan has released the schedule of funeral events this week. You might want to be in front of a TV at these times:

Wednesday, June 9, 2004
5:00 pm EDT Aircraft arrives Andrews AFB
6:00 pm EDT Formal Funeral Procession to U.S. Capitol
7:00 pm EDT State Funeral Ceremony in Rotunda of U.S. Capitol

Friday, June 11, 2004
10:30 am EDT Departure Ceremony at U.S. Capitol
10:45 am EDT Motorcade departs U.S. Capitol
11:15 am EDT Motorcade arrives Washington National Cathedral
11:30 am EDT National Funeral Service at Washington National Cathedral
2:45 pm EDT Aircraft departs Andrews Air Force Base
6:00 pm PDT Motorcade arrives Reagan Library
6:15 pm PDT Private Interment Service at Reagan Library

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Thanks From a Grateful Country
I've been waiting for Peggy Noonan to write about President Reagan and, thankfully, it wasn't a long wait. I don't know what to say about him that could be better said than Peggy. But I'll say this, he was a man who saw right and wrong clearly, who knew what he had to do, and did it (as far as he was able). He didn't waver, he didn't go wobbly, he stood on his principles through it all. And he combined those great qualities with good ones - faith in God, love for all men, humor, warmth, faithfulness.

Here's Peggy:
This was a life with size. It had heft, and meaning. And I am thinking of what Stephen Vincent Benet, a writer whom he quoted, wrote on the death of his friend Scott Fitzgerald. "You can take off your hats now, gentlemen, and I think perhaps you'd better."

He volunteered for action in World War II, was turned away by doctors who told him with eyesight like his he'd probably shoot his own officer and miss. But they let him join behind the lines and he served at "Fort Roach" in Los Angeles, where he made training and information films.

He studied communism, read Marx, read the Founders and the conservative philosophers from Burke to Burnham. He began to tug right. The Democratic Party and his industry continued to turn left. There was a parting.

[After losing the Republican nomination to Ford in 1976] He told his weeping volunteers not to become cynical but to take the experience as inspiration. He promised he wouldn't go home and sit in a rocking chair. He quoted an old warrior: "I will lie me down and bleed awhile / And then I will rise and fight again." Four years later, he won the presidency from Jimmy Carter after a mean-spirited onslaught in which he was painted as racist, a man who knew nothing, a militarist. He won another landslide.

Ronald Reagan told the truth to a world made weary by lies.

What an era his was. What a life he lived. He changed history for the better and was modest about it. He didn't bray about his accomplishments but saw them as the work of the American people. He did not see himself as entitled, never demanded respect, preferred talking to hotel doormen rather than State Department functionaries because he thought the doormen brighter and more interesting. When I pressed him once, a few years out of the presidency, to say what he thought the meaning of his presidency was, he answered, reluctantly, that it might be fairly said that he "advanced the boundaries of freedom in a world more at peace with itself." And so he did. And what could be bigger than that?

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re: Moore gets a dose of his own
Gary -- count me in. I'd love to see a movie ripping up that big butterball.

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Ronald Reagan, RIP
Many others will say far more eloquent and meaningful things about the death of Ronald Reagan than I can. Let me just say this: Ronald Reagan was a great, great man who led a great, great life and did great, great things. The world -- the whole world -- is a much better place because of his courage and the strength of his indomitable will. I mourn his passing, and pray that we find another leader half as great as he was. I was proud to serve in the US Navy under Reagan. I was proud to vote for him in 1984. One of the great regrets of my life is foolishly passing up the opportunity to cast my first ever vote for him in 1980.

Let me say again: Ronald Reagan was a great, great man.

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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Moore gets a dose of his own
Twin Cities filmmaker Mike Wilson is my hero. He's turning the tables on Michael Moore by making a documentary, "Michael Moore Hates America," showing what a pompous ass Moore is.
Wilson says his documentary tries to point out the biases behind Moore films such as "Bowling" and the highly anticipated "Fahrenheit 9/11," which will be released June 25 and which Wilson has not seen. He says it's not only a response to Moore but also to others who have added to "the shrillness that has engulfed the American conversation."

At least three months before its release, the film has catapulted Wilson into national prominence. When an item about "Michael Moore Hates America" appeared on a showbiz Web site earlier this week, Wilson says, he was contacted by nine distributors who want to help book the documentary into theaters.
Wilson says he was motivated by Moore's implication in Bowling For Columbine that a Flint, MI, school shooting was due to a single mom working 2 jobs. mom worked two jobs when I was a kid, and it was like a personal slap to her to say you can't work two jobs and raise your children properly. My mom worked really hard, and she taught us right from wrong.
Wilson tried to interview Moore more than 50 times but, of course, was unsuccessful.
"The closest I got was I did run into him at the (University of Minnesota) when he was on his book tour, and he started screaming at me," says Wilson. The screaming began when Wilson mentioned the title of his film in the middle of asking a question. "It was quite a sight — 7,000 Michael Moore fans, just booing me."
Mike Wilson is a man who must be applauded, supported, and followed. I plan on going to the theater to see "Michael Moore Hates America." Who's with me?

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Friday, June 04, 2004

Too Late, Too Much
I don't know if you've read much of David Gelernter's stuff but I think he's a must read. He is a victim of the Unabomber, a Yale Professor, computer scientist, and author. I've read one of his books, Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber, it's excellent.

Anyway, today he has an OpinionJournal article about World War II remembrances recent and soon. He's not buying it.
A cultural establishment that (on the whole) doesn't give a damn about World War II or its veterans thinks it can undo a half-century of indifference verging on contempt by repeating a silly phrase ("the greatest generation") like a magic spell while deploying fulsome praise like carpet bombing.
He's right, of course. Most Americans under 30 can't name a significant battle of the war, a good chunk probably can't name whom we fought against. These things need to be taught - if only there was enough time after sex ed, diversity, multiculturalism, and loving our mother (the earth). But I will say this, all the recent attention given to WWII and its veterans has raised my interest level - I want to learn more. I'm guessing that's true for a lot of people. Will we follow up on that hunger? I will, I don't know about everyone else.

Gelernter points to a characteristic common to mankind - when the limelight shines bright we try the hardest to be the people we should be, but who are we when no one's looking? That's when our character, faith, and discipline carry us (or don't).

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Berlusconi's The Man today has the following quote from Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi. but there's no mention of when and where it occurred. Regardless, it's a winner.
They must know the price the Americans paid to free our continent. Half a million killed in world war II. More than 7000 killed on D-Day alone, in Normandy; 25,000 killed to liberate Italy. Some of them rest in peace in our country, buried in Anzio. I suggest you visit that cemetery, and see the names of people unknown to you: John, Charlie, Robert, Ted, Howard... Men aged 20, 22, who gave up their life for our freedom.

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One True Thing
Gary, glad that you like James' missives. James really is a great guy -- he's the perfect dinner guest: funny, interesting, kind, and generally a good guy. I definitely count him among the great American's I know. I miss eating lunch with him.

Dateline Baghdad: 16 May-19 May
Pomp and Circumstance, and One True Thing

Dear Kids,
As I said yesterday, I've had mondo computer problems, what with nit-wits burning through the fiber optic cable and technical experts unhooking my computer. Here is a little info on what has transpired recently. The biggest news was the doin's on 15 May. That day was we had an event of significance for us, and probably of no interest to anyone else. That was the day that Combined Joint Task Force Seven(CJTF-7), the overall command for all Coalition Forces in Iraq was disestablished and a new organization Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNFI) was stood-up to take its place. CJTF-7 evolved out of the American U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), which deals with events in the Mideast. CJTF-7 was in many ways subordinate to the CENTCOM. The new, Mult-National Force will be largely autonomous, with its own resources and policy, much as U.S. Forces Korea are largely autonomous of the U.S. Pacific Command (the theater Commander for that geographic region.)

The new MNFI will have a significantly different headquarters structure, and is postured to work with international organizations such as the UN. The change is meant to be a step on the way to full Iraqi control, a big part of which will happen (God willing) on July 1 when a UN appointed and ratified Interim Iraqi Government (IIG) will take power. What the Iraqi people will think of this new government will have to wait 'till then, but the military forces take it very seriously and are working to realign themselves to workwith an Iraqi government that will have a major say in how security operations are conducted.

Anyway...back to my story. This was the "stand-up" of this new multi-national command. In the military that means a big ol' ceremony with flags and brass bands and such. Representatives from most (maybe all) of the Coalition nations traveled to Baghdad to attend the ceremony. It was held in the atrium under the dome of the Al Faw Palace, known to many Coalition soldiers as "Victory Palace" after its first U.S. occupants, the U.S. Fifth ("Victory") Corps HQ. From all over Iraq, soldiers from about forty nations mustered up at one of the regional chow halls to get a bite (I assume) and get on busses for transport to "The Palace". The largest contingents were from Poland, Britain and Italy, but there were also Philippine soldiers, Albanians and at least one Thai (among others). I as one of the local commuters, I was able to get to The Palace without a helicopter flight, and so a friend and I went over to see the festivities.

Upon arriving it was made clear that We were not considered important enough to be allowed in the front door (an impressive portal with a 15 foot high green and bronze door). Apparently there was a honor guard of saluting dudes inside and their salutes would have been wasted on Us. Instead we was directed to a servant's entrance around the side.

We walked through a warren of offices carved out of massive marble audience chambers by American cubical partitions and made our way to the gigantic four story high, octagonal atrium. It is a spectacular public space, made to make other powerful men feel like supplicants when they came to pay homage to Saddam. Inlayed marble floor, massive columns, and pointed Arab arch ways stacked level upon level. Although immense amounts were spent on marble, as is usual in Saddam's palaces, the quality of the workmanship is a bit dodgy when you get a close look at it. Poorly aligned joints, oozing mortar, gaps filled with caulk. From a distance though, it looked pretty good. The Real show stopper is a massive Phantom of the Opera style chandelier that hangs in the middle of the atrium. It is likely that as with all the other chandeliers in the building the "crystal" chandelier droplets are plastic.

My companion tolerated my wandering around in the atrium, taking happy snaps of all the multi-national dudes (and dudettes) in attendance. Different contingents are stationed in different parts of the country so we don't often see the troops from some countries. The 1st Cavalry Division (Armor) Band was there (as they had been at the PX Grand Opening) playing appropriate martial music. Eventually we removed ourselves to the second floor gallery where many of the on lookers, who were not distinguished guests, stationed themselves for the best view.

Jump forward. Most of the highest muckidy mucks were there. Ambassador Bremer, the President's Special Representative to Iraq and the boss of the CPA was front and center. So were diplomatic and military bigwigs from many of the Coalition nations. Many members of the Iraqi Governing Council were there as honored guests, as were many other politically important Iraqis.

The officiating officers were LTG Sanchez (The theater commander), LTG Metz (the Corps charge of activities in the filed), and General Amer Ahmed Bakr Hashemi the commander of the new Iraqi Army. (Gen Hashemi was a respected retired career officer who has come out of retirement to take a mind bogglingly hard, and spectacularly dangerous job...building a new non-political Iraqi Army while multiple groups are murdering such officers.)

Right from the beginning there was a strange note in the proceedings. In order to, I suspect, emphasize the expeditionary nature of their mission all the Coalition participants (including all the American Generals were wearing their helmets (and body armor!!) during the ceremony. Some spectators might have suspected that they feared that a bad guy rocket was about to punch through the Palace's dome and interrupt the parade. The fact that Gen Hashemi had chose to wear a more sensible beret made the picture stranger still. (Lt Col Simon just noted that the senior British General sent his regrets and did not attend because he felt that it was somewhat farcical that the mandated "dress code" was full "battle-rattle".)

The flags of all the participating nations (including Iraq) were paraded in. The 1st Cav band played a jaunty military tune. I was impressed at the military bearing of the flag bearers. Considering the small size of the military forces deployed from some nations, the flag bearer may have constituted a significant percentage of the nations' military detachment in Iraq. Then there was the "Casing" of the colors (flag) of CJTF-7 and the "un-casing" of the colors of MNFI and its subordinate "field" command Multi-National Corps-Iraq. The new logos are pretty cool and incorporate traditional Mesopotamian iconography. (I'll send them to ya'll later.)

After that there were typical military speeches, obviously crafted by Public Affairs officers. Someone has a tin ear for diplomatic speech in this region. The speeches were extremely positive, almost triumphalist in tone, describing all the (quite real) achievements of the outgoing CJTF-7, and the great work yet to be done by MNFI and MNCI. However, considering the dangerous security situation and fragile political situation they sounded somewhat inappropriate in tone. That was certainly the opinion of many Iraqis in attendance, especially the Arab language press, who seemed less than engaged in the American speeches. (Some sat and stared at the ceiling.)

The occasion was saved by General Hashemi, who stepped to the podium and delivered a heartfelt speech filled with love of country and yearning for a better day. His comments took note of the dangerous task ahead but addressed the risks with determination and courage. When he finished he walked away from the podium, and I stupidly put down my video camera. Instead of returning to his seat the General strode across the atrium to the massed flags. He stopped next to the Iraqi flag bearer. (The flag in question was the traditional Red, White, Green, and Black banner that has been Iraq's flag since 1963, not the much hated "pretend" Iraqi flag dreamed up by the Governing Council and rejected by pretty much everyone in Iraq.) General Heshemi gently picked up the flag and kissed it reverently. Then he stepped back and saluted the flag smartly. The reaction was electric. The Iraqis (who, as stated before were almost totally disengaged from the proceedings) cheered and applauded, as did everyone else. I, and everyone else I think,was moved by this act of unabashed patriotism in a troubled land.

He then returned to his place with the two American commanders, and sailed through the rest of the ceremony. After its' conclusion, General Heshemi was mobbed by guests and military members who wanted to speak to him, take his picture, or just shake his hand. Then he was spirited away to meet the Arab language press where he was mobbed again. He delivered a series of long series of animated interviews on his views on the difficulties facing Iraq and the way ahead. The reporters were engaged and receptive. I wish everyone involved with policy could have seen him in action, and the extremely positive reaction. It validated the opinion of everyone in theater, more Iraqi control fast as better. I hope the General makes it. He is brave patriot, trying to do the best he can for his country.

Now on to a subject of much less import. Yesterday night I was walking home and passed the little old exchange. Far fewer people go there now (what with the big new one down the road), so they sometimes have interesting items that are sold out elsewhere. As I stated before, window shopping is a popular wartime recreational activity. Lo and behold they had Surefire flashlights! Ha! Now I have one too and Major Sean and I can engage in MAB (mutually assured blinding). This will possibly act as a deterrent to him. Ow! No it won't. I just said this out loud and he responded by shining his Surefire in my eyes. Apparently deterrence can fail, but at least I had the satisfaction of responding in kind.

Well, that's all the news that's not fit to print. See you next time, same Bat time, same Bat channel.

God Bless,

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Thursday, June 03, 2004

More News From Iraq
Nick, I enjoy reading your letters from James in Baghdad. Hugh Hewitt posts another letter from a Marine near Fallujah.
We have made great inroads in breaking up insurgent cells through ambushes and raids. Even more important, we have begun to establish an early and still fragile rapport with the people of these areas.
He goes on to tell of a firefight with mujahadeen (muj) in the area:
It was a 360 degree engagement that lasted 8 hours. An 8 hour firefight is an eternity. To put it in perspective, this guy was in both OIF 1 battle for Baghdad as well as the Fallujah fight. He states that the firefight up near this town was the toughest he has been in. We fired quite a bit of artillery and brought in a number of sorties of close air for them. By the time it was over, the estimates (now confirmed) are that they killed over a 100 muj. We could not understand why they kept coming but they did (more on that later). Throughout it all, very accurate mortar fire up to 120mm was falling inside the Marine position. Automatic weapons and RPGs were crisscrossing through the perimeter. The Marines just laid there in the micro terrain and squeezed off well aimed shots.

The Battalion Commander stayed that day until his guys broke the muj and he "owned the field" (his words). He then withdrew back to his original position.
Yeah! I love these guys!

The upshot is the regular folks in the area are warming to our forces. "The people were watching the entire time and have made up their own minds where their best future lies." They (the Marines) are receiving more walk up intelligence & more cooperation in locating the bad guys. The Iraqi people see the contrast between our guys, who treat them with respect, and the thugs, who rape, intimidate, steal, etc., and they're making the wise choice.

Read the whole thing, it's pretty good.

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Yahoo! News - George Tenet Resigns As Director of CIA
Rudy Giuliani, call your office.

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Yahoo! News - George Tenet Resigns As Director of CIA
Rudy Giuliani, call your office.

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William F. Buckley
World magazine has a nice interview with Mr. Buckley (WFB), founder of National Review magazine and conservative icon.

Nobody turns a phrase like WFB. In answering a question about his ability to civilly debate his opponents, he says:
It is to be expected that the most conspicuous representatives of antagonistic positions will pitch their voices in such a way as to please the ideological mobs. But time tends to dull political lances inordinately honed.
I love that! "Time tends to dull political lances inordinately honed." It is my life goal to use that in conversation at least once.

The interview ends with this exchange:
WORLD: Looking back at your life, what was a waste of time, and what should you have spent more time doing?

WFB: I waste a lot of time, and if I knew on what, I'd stop doing it.
There's no one like him.

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Impromptus, again?
It looks like he's back. It's been too long. Today's topic: "This Is a Stupid Country".

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Modest by Design
Gary ---

Interesting you'd post that about modest clothing. I whole-heartedly agree about the need to banish people from paying any attention to anything that Brittany Spears does.

Coincidently, I found this link -- Modest by Design -- on my MyYahoo page this morning. Everyday they have a few links that they think are interesting, and this was one of them. Cool.

And re: the Seventeen magazine person -- being sexy is all there is. There is nothing else as far as she is concerned.

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Donny and Marie
For reasons I cannot explain, I have had "I'm a Little Bit Country" running through my head. You know, the Donnie and Marie song. It's been a big curse, because no serious person likes that song.

But it got me thinking. Marie, I can buy her as "a little bit country". I mean, put her in a frilly, 70's dress, gussy up her her in a Tammy Baker kind of thing, and I can believe that she's a bit of a country singer. And come on, who among us wouldn't admit to having at least a little bit of a crush on Marie back in the day

But I'm sorry, Donny was another story . That helmet-haired, beaver-toothed insane-smiling doofus didn't have a single ounce of "rock-n-roll" in his skinny little body. The thought that "Donnie Osmond" and "Rock-n-Roll" would even be used in a sentence together is completely, utterly ludicrous. Yet there it is -- the signature song of that irrepressible brother and sister duo -- claiming that Donnie was "a little bit rock-n-roll"


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More Girls Push Retailers to Sell Modest Clothing
This is good news. As a father of girls, I'm all for a more modest look in fashion. Our society is constantly pushing kids towards "adulthood" far too early and clothing styles are a big part of that. Kids need to be kids. I would be proud to have a daughter like Ella Gunderson, the girl in this story (although her spelling could use a little work). She complained to Nordstrom after a recent shopping trip.
"I see all of these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly button and underwear," she wrote. "Your clearks sugjest [sic] that there is only one look. If that is true, then girls are suppost to walk around half naked."
Good for you, Ella!

But it's obvious that some people still don't get it. Here's how Gigi Solif Schanen (is that a real name?), fashion editor at Seventeen magazine, sees it:
We like to call this new girl Miss Modesty. It's such a different feeling but still very pretty and feminine and sexy. It's just a little more covered up. It's kind of like a sexy take on a librarian. I think people are tired of seeing so much skin and want to leave a little more to the imagination.
Uh, hello? What are you talking about? You're completely missing the point! It's not another way to look sexy. "Sexy" is the problem. Just let them be girls. Of course, if Seventeen magazine were to see the light it would be the end of their magazine.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Bush is the Man
I'm sorry, but George Bush is just the man. How cool is this guy? You have to know that the cadets loved having him there. What a great photo. I don't think I can adequately express how much I admire this guy. I'd love to meet him.

You know, W is really a litmus test, a Rorschach Test for people. If you don't admire him as a man of strong character and integrity, then I must seriously call your character and integrity into question. The Left admires Bill Clinton and scorns George Bush. Doesn't that speak volumes about them?

By the way, here is the complete text of Bush's speech today at the United States Air Force Academy.

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Some officiating facts
Mark Cuban has some facts on the refereeing during the playoffs, most notably information about Danny Crawford and his crew.

I note that in general, Crawford calls "loose" games. Given that the Wolves can't win when Crawford refs, I conclude that the Wolves prefer a tightly called contest, which stands to reason, since they play a discipline, skills-based offense that relies on clean play.

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More From James
I have been falling behind in forwarding on my posts from my buddy James in Baghdad.

Dateline: Baghdad, May 14, (14:00)
Tea, Crumpets, and Stout

Dear Kids,
Well time continues apace and I am working as hard as I am able. You can draw your own conclusions as to what that means. I have had the privilege of working for the last few days with a number of extremely bright young(ish) officers thinking big ideas and writing them down for the perusal of the senior folks. This is at the instruction of high level people, so theoretically the people with lots of gold braid on their hats will read these ideas. Knowing that such people are out here makes me feel better about the future of operations over here.

The most recent adventure was a journey to a nearby British compound as the guest of Lt Col Simon, the deputy commander of my team. Some important officers in the British military organization here are getting to the end of their tours, and their friends (or "Mates" as the British might say) were having a going-away party for them. Lt Col Simon just walked by, and I told him that I was writing a humorous description of our rip. He countered that I was "attempting" to be humorous.

The invitation was to go to the party and stay the night at the Brit compound. Although a bed would be provided, he could not guarantee linens, so he advised me to bring my "sleeping bag". Of course, I did not bring a sleeping bag to Iraq, so when I packed for the trip I was forced to pack up my giant orange and black tiger stripe U.S. army issue furry blanket. This monstrous and non-compressible item WOULD NOT fit in my back pack and so had to go in my airline carry on wheelie bag (which it filled to bursting). When I reported for departure, he looked at the two bags, and asked how many days I had packed for. Although I tried to
explain the whole furry blanket conundrum he responded that I had just verified his opinion about American officers in general, and the Navy in particular. (Let it now be said here, that I am quite fond of Lt Col Simon,
who possesses all the best qualities that British officers are so famous for. Key among them is his dry wit.)

After eating we reported to the Brit command post on base to meet a British shuttle team that would take us to the bigger British Headquarters. The transport team included drivers and security folks, all drawn from the Royal Highland Fusiliers. The Scottish origin of these gentlemen became apparent when the detachment commander began our pre-trip safety briefing. His speech was not overly rapid, but none the less incomprehensible. His Scottish accent made his English almost alien to me, only punctuated occasionally by phrases like "straight through", "overwatch", and "wheel hub". I began to understand the gist of his monologue, although not individual sentences, some times catching the meaning of a declaration several seconds after is had come and gone. Together with his hand gestures I was able to discern that he was giving us instructions on potential trouble scenarios and how we were all to react if trouble came. At the end the soldier asked if I we had any questions, and I in my dim witted pride said "no." Truth be told I had a pretty fair idea of how to behave if we had any difficulty, but probably only in the most general way. I vowed to follow Lt Colonel Simon's lead in the event of trouble.

Luckily it turned out to be unnecessary to try out my Scots-English to American-English translation skills. There was no trouble in transit, a trip that was accomplished with smooth competence by our Fusilier escorts.

When we arrived at the British headquarters we passed through several layers of security to enter, all conducted with top-notch British efficiency and civility. The compound was formerly a small Ba'ath Party executive residence (with privacy wall and various out buildings). The Brits did a much better job of keeping up the gardens and trees alive. On our base many of the plants have been allowed to wither and die out of carelessness. (The powers that be seem to be uninterested in whether their soldiers live in a garden or a desert. (The default choice is desert, since the palms and other plants on the American base need artificial watering to survive....which they are not getting.) Back to the thought, it was nice to see green. When we entered the main building to find that in addition to our visit, high-level members of the Iraqi government were being hosted that night. That meant that we had to absent ourselves and amble back to the pub building in the rear (the building also included a TV room, an exercise room, and a weight room.) The pub had not officially opened so we walked the grounds a bit and looked at the Tigris from a roof top gallery before returning to the pub.

There was still a bit to wait so we watched some Brit sports and some of the Crocadile hunter with some of the lads. Finally the holy hour came and the pub keeping private arrived to officially dispense the suds. The place quickly filled, becoming quite jovial. The building was prefab primitive, but had a certain expeditionary style. The pub room was decorated mostly with humorous beer adverts, with a display of local weapons (no doubt rendered safe) bolted to the wall. There was also a collage of photos of men from the 2 PARA (Second Battalion, The Parachute Regiment) engaged in some party like activity.

The pub keeper handed out the appropriate beverages to all. There was a wide variety of alcohol available, Guinness of course, but a wide variety of others too including a Lebanese beer the name of which escapes me. I of course as an American, was prohibited from consuming alcohol. The Arab language Coke was delicious. We also had mini French bread pizzas as pub food. Col Simon linked up with his friends and made all the requisite introductions. Then over the evening I enjoyed all the witty British Army anecdotes, and tried to keep my end up. (Unfortunately most Naval anecdotes center about lethal accidents, or drunkenness leading to physical illness.) Through the night more and more folks showed up to the warehouse/pub and the joint started rockin' out. There was a volunteer DJ in appropriate clubware in the corner layin' down the tunes in a manner worthy of a Brit rave or a German Loveparade.

Finally, there was heartfelt valedictory to the departing officers, and the presentation of Iraq oriented t-shirts (one already framed) signed with good wishes, jokes and the occasional lude joke. After things wound down I was escorted to our quarters. We roomed with one of Lt Col Simon's friends, who had unoccupied beds in his cube room. (Most of the rooms in the main building were created by putting partition walls in jumbo Saddam size rooms.) I got out my too short yellow sheet and fuzzy tiger stripe blanket and snuggled into bed. In the morning I got up early, and padded off to the bathroom It was gigantic, and signs instructed you how to use the toilets without breaking them. It seems that although they are gilded, they are built shoddily (Ha! What a surprise!) The shower was over a swimming pool size marble bathtub, and I only had one near fatal slip on the wet marble floor. (What a way to die in a combat zone!!) After shaving I found that I could not unlock the door to my section of the bathroom suite and had a traumatic moment imagining being trapped in there until I was rescued by some bemused British Sergeant. Unexpectedly the lock popped open and I escaped the trap and embarrassment worse than death. Soon Lt Col Simon was up, and we were off to a fine British cafeteria breakfast. Um, um, good. The bacon was extra robust, and the sausages were soft and tasty.

Finally, we met up with the security transport team for our ride home. We were treated to another monologue in Scottish, with only the slightest improvement in comprehension on my part. Then it was into the vehicles and off down the road.

There is nothing to say about the trip, it was fast and safe once again, and our Fusilier friends took us back to our lodgings. As we were getting out I thought of something. I had some of my "challenge coins" from my office back at Scott (AFB, Illinois) in my pack. They are a military item that people present as tokens appreciation in the military....a bronze coin (about the size of an old style Eisenhower dollar) with organizational logo and motto on them. Anyhoo...I had some in my bag and these fine Scots seemed the perfect recipients. I asked them to hold on a bit, dug them out of my bag and handed one to each. They were pleasantly surprised, and we shook a hearty hand shake.

The British military has no comparable do dads so Lt Col Simon was unable to give them a physical token of his esteem, but he did stride forward to express his thanks. "Well, You will get bugger all from me" He told them, as he smiled and shook their hands warmly. The drivers laughed, saluted and drove off.

Well, all back home safe and sound having seen how our Brit friends do things. We could learn a thing or two from them.

God Bless,
See you next time.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

So we finally get an Impromptus out of the Nord! It's about time ... what a slacker.

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Iraq News Balance
Rod Dreher has a good article today about the paucity of good news from Iraq. I'm sick of hearing about Iraqi detainees, roadside bombs, ambushes, etc. while not hearing about things like this:

  • School attendance is up more than 95 percent from prewar times, and more than 2,500 schools have been rebuilt or renovated, with 1,500 more scheduled to be completed by year's end.

  • All Iraqi hospitals and primary health care clinics were operating by December, and U.S. soldiers, along with UNICEF, are teaching basic personal hygiene and sanitation techniques throughout the country. Health-care spending is 26 times what it was under Saddam.

  • The CPA has been building playgrounds, sports fields, youth centers and places where Iraqi women can get child care.

  • The vast marshlands area of southern Iraq, which had been drained and destroyed by Saddam to punish the rebellious Shia who lived there, are being restored through efforts of the U.S. government, along with Iraqi and international agencies.

  • Three-quarters of Iraq's irrigation canals were choked by weeds because of neglect. The CPA reports spending $9 million to clear those waterways, providing water to thousands of farmers.

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development, along with private foundations, is conducting conferences and training sessions promoting democracy and teaching democratic decision-making and problem-solving.

  • Seven in 10 Iraqis say things overall are going well for them.

  • Fifty-six percent say their lives are better now than before the war, compared with 19 percent who say things are worse (23 percent, the same).

  • And the level of personal optimism is extraordinary: Seventy-one percent expect their lives to improve over the next year.

These are the kinds of things we should be hearing from the press. Sadly, they don't seem to want to report them. Hence, someone - either the Bush campaign committee, or one of these 527s we keep hearing about - should package these facts into a nice ad and begin airing it nonstop. If the word doesn't get out ... say hello to President Kerry.

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More Letters
This one isn't strictly a reader letter, but it is a letter none the less.

I laughed out loud at this one, because it is so very true.

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"Post-traumatic Slave Syndrome"
"The first thing we must do is kill all the lawyers" -- Shakespeare's King Henry VI

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It's for the Letters
As I've always said, I read NRO for the Letters.

Scroll down to the end of Jay Nordlinger's latest Impromptus and read the letter there -- it's a home run.

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The Ushers of the Eucharist
I just got off the phone with Rosenbaum and O'Connell on am 1500 KSTP, where I spoke briefly with Dr. Pense, the guy leading the "Ushers of the Eucharist" group that was protesting the giving of Communion to a group of Rainbow sash-wearing gay men. I say briefly, because they cut me off pretty quickly after I said "...I'll go ahead and say it, I think the Bishop is a coward." ;-)

In the time that I had, I did encourage Dr. Pense, and tell him I thought he was doing a good thing. He was speaking the truth about two things -- about homosexuality, and about the role of men in the church. As you know, I'm not Catholic, but he was speaking about the role of men as leaders and protectors -- all things that good Christian men should know and understand. The thing that struck me, though, was how strange the truth sounded. As he spoke, I realized that what he was saying was very much not "politically correct", and I confess that I actually cringed a bit as he said it.

But that's the problem, isn't it? The Bishop won't stand up to homosexuals in the church, and he won't stand up for masculinity, and so the popular culture becomes feminized and homosexualized.

And I do think that Bishop Flynn is a coward. I read the Pioneer Press article, which had this in it:

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, however, said in a statement it would not deny Communion to those wearing sashes because "members of this group have previously assured us, in writing, that their attendance at the annual Pentecost Mass … is not in protest of the Church's teachings.''

Please. What kind of fool do you have to be to buy that? A pretty big one. The so-called "Rainbow Coalition" is making a clear and open political statement about their view of church teaching. Defying the rules of the Catholic Church so openly clearly is protesting the church's teachings. The Catholic Church has rules and doctrines, and if you don't like those rules, then leave the church. To expect the church to heel to your way of thinking is hubris; however, it is worse for the church to lay down and let such people run rough-shod over the teachings of the church.

So yes, I'll say it again here on my blog where I can't be cut off -- Bishop Flynn, and any other bishop who cowers before these sinful, immoral people, is a coward. He should stand up to immorality and sin, he should stand up for masculinity and the truth, and he should start acting like a man of authority, which he is.

In addition, I'll add that we Christian men in the country are to a large degree as guilty as Bishop Flynn. The fact that I cringed when Dr. Pense spoke of the need for men to be men speaks volumes to me about how much feminism and its philosophy has seeped into my psyche. Men need to be men, and not cow before the alter of feminism. We in the Church need to realize that more than anyone, and we need to do something about it.

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