Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush on the Border

The Independent Conservative has this excellent review of President Bush's recent speech on illegal immigration:
President Bush finally starts talking about illegal immigration!

... The President covered many of the issues related to illegal immigration. And he pointed out the FACT that he has been doing things to improve border security. He's done a heck of a lot more than the President before him ever did!
After reading his blog, I realized my own review and discussion was totally inadequate, my own comments already contained in IC's insightful post. A must read!

De-Christmasing Christmas

Jeff Jacoby, columnist for the Boston Globe, has penned a great op-ed piece about the infuriating trend to remove "Christmas" from the December holiday scene:
And so it begins again -- the annual effort to neuter Christmas, to insist in the name of ''inclusiveness" and ''sensitivity" that a Christian holiday celebrated by something like 90 percent of Americans not be called by its proper name or referred to in religious terms. We all know the drill by now. Instead of ''Merry Christmas," store clerks wish you a ''happy holiday." Schools close for winter break. Your office throws a holiday party.
...[S]uppressing the language, symbols, or customs of Christians in a predominantly Christian society is not inclusive. It's insulting.

It's discriminatory, too. Hanukkah menorahs are never referred to as ''holiday lamps" -- not even the giant menorahs erected in Boston Common and many other public venues each year by Chabad, the Hasidic Jewish outreach movement. No one worries that calling the Muslim holy month of Ramadan by its name -- or even celebrating it officially, as the White House does with an annual ''iftaar" dinner -- might be insensitive to non-Muslims. In this tolerant and open-hearted nation, religious minorities are not expected to keep their beliefs out of sight or to squelch their traditions lest someone, somewhere, take offense. Surely the religious majority shouldn't be expected to either.

As a practicing Jew, I don't celebrate Christmas. There is no Christmas tree in my home, my kids don't write letters to Santa Claus, and I don't attend church on Dec. 25 (or any other date). Does the knowledge that scores of millions of my fellow Americans do all those things make me feel excluded or offended? On the contrary: It makes me feel grateful -- to live in a land where freedom of religion shelters the Hanukkah menorah in my window no less than the Christmas tree in my neighbor's.

Read the entire article -- it's worth the time.

Hat-tip: David Benzion at LST.

Scandal, Scandal Everywhere

Monday night in Canada:
After months of political instability, the government of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin fell Monday evening when three opposition parties united to topple him with a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons.

Martin's center-left Liberal Party had been dogged by a corruption scandal. It will now face voters in an election set for January 23 that could end 12 years of Liberal rule in America's largest trading partner.
And, as has become the norm here in "the states" when dealing with the liberal left, the campaign season promises to be a slimy one:
It was expected to be hard-edged, personal and nasty, and less than half a day into Canada's election campaign it turned out to be just that.

Prime Minister Paul Martin kicked off what is likely to be a bruising eight-week campaign on Tuesday by portraying his main rival as mean-spirited and unpatriotic.
In a reply to the Liberals' attacks, Conservative leader Stephen Harper fired back with a return volley against his opponent's liberal agenda:
"On January 23, you will finally be able to hold the Liberals accountable for stealing your money, accountable for breaking your trust and accountable for failing to deliver on your priorities," he said on national television.

The Liberals also pounced on other remarks Harper made on gay marriage to reporters on Tuesday. Harper said that if he became prime minister he would look at introducing legislation banning gay marriages, which were legalized in July.
Sounds like maybe these Canadians aren't quite as alien as I've always believed, eh?

No Reform for the United Nations

This from the Pakistani Daily Times:
US Ambassador John Bolton urged the United Nations and governments on Monday to crack down on corruption and mismanagement turned up by a probe of the UN oil-for-food programme for Iraq.

The oil-for-food investigation, led by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, last month accused 2,200 companies in 66 countries of steering $1.8 billion in bribes and kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s government.

Volcker’s commission also recommended extensive UN management reforms to prevent future fraud and abuse.

... "The central insights of the Volcker commission about corruption and mismanagement are at risk of not receiving the kind of attention that they need," Bolton told reporters. "I know it's painful to talk about the criticisms that Volcker made, but if you don't talk about the criticisms and you don't talk about the problems, how can you expect you are going to find a solution?"

US prosecutors are pursuing several cases of alleged wrongdoing by US businesses and executives and "I just hope other (UN) member governments do the same," Bolton said.
Interestingly enough, it was Pakistan's rival nation India who earlier this month became the first UN member nation to reprimand an official over the findings in the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) report. Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh was demoted and relieved of his ministerial duties pending an investigation by the Indian government, which has shown skepticism over the veracity of the report.
Volcker's report has become a major embarrassment for [Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh, a 74-year-old former diplomat who has led India's campaign for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Ambassador Bolton has urged the UN to keep control of the documents collected by the IIC to insure accessibility of the records, fearing many may be destroyed if returned to their original sources. Said Bolton, "We don't want to see these documents going into paper shredders around the world."

It's refreshing to hear an honest voice speaking up in the United Nations for a change.

Bolton Having a UN-Inspired Effect

Whether the Dems like it or not, President Bush's pick for US Ambassador to the United Nations is beginning to bring about the desired result: much needed change in the international organization:
Following intense US pressure, the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday issued an unprecedented condemnation of Monday's Hizbullah attacks on northern Israel.

This condemnation - slamming Hizbullah by name for "acts of hatred" - marked the first time the Security Council has ever reprimanded Hizbullah for cross-border attacks on Israel. The condemnation followed by two days a failed attempt to get a condemnation issued on Monday, the day of the attack, when Algeria came out against any mention of Hizbullah in the statement.

When asked what changed from Monday to Wednesday, one diplomatic official replied: "John Bolton," a reference to the US ambassador to the UN. Bolton lobbied vigorously for the passage of the statement.
Not only did the UN Security Council issue this unprecedented condemnation of Hizbullah's attacks, but they did so without balancing with any reprimand to Israel for its military response, for the first time ever placing "full responsibility for the violence on Hizbullah's shoulders."

Another recent UN first:
The statement against Hizbullah came just a few weeks after the Security Council condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his call to wipe Israel off the map. That was also a precedent-setting condemnation, marking the first time the UN body ever condemned an Islamic state for statements against Israel.
And Mr. Bolton is making his presence known in other areas of UN business as well, including the budget reform, political repression and human rights abuses in Myanmar (formerly Burma), and even (gasp!) corruption and mismanagement within the halls of the UN itself.


Hat-tip to Pat at Brainster's Blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Nagin Envisions a New N'Orleans

Last Sunday, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin came to Houston ... again ... to speak with Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have relocated to our area. And while the pre-Katrina period of his Big Easy reign was appallingly absent of reforms and civic improvement, Nagin has apparently embraced a new vision for his once-decadent, now decaying, city.
Speaking to a few hundred of the estimated 150,000 evacuees in the Houston area, nagin said the devastating storm that displaced thousands might ultimately have a cleansing effect on the flood-ravaged city.

"Everything that you didn't like about New Orleans, let's get rid of it. Everything that you liked about New Orleans, let's enhance it. Everything you dreamed about and wished New Orleans had, let's make it happen," Nagin told the crowd gathered at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
Last night I spoke with some neighbors that are members of Pleasant Grove and attended the Sunday "pep rally" (their words). While the Chronicle reported that Nagin urged attendees "to speak out about their frustrations with the recovery effort," my friends seemed more of the opinion that he went out of his way to discourage people from (or would simply not listen to) complaining about what went wrong, especially in speaking individually with evacuees after the meeting.

Nagin apparently went on the defensive several times during the meeting, shifting blame and responsibility to government and FEMA officials whenever he could.
At one point, someone in the crowd interrupted Nagin as he recited the accomplishments, yelling, "What about housing?"

Indeed, Nagin agreed, housing is problematic in a city where whole neighborhoods were demolished by floodwaters that spilled over failed levees. He said housing was part of his three-pronged approached [sic] to recovery.

First, he said, the city's levee system must be "world class." He said Dutch and German officials were being consulted about how to get the levees to pre-Katrina strength by next year -- and to help explore making them stronger.
Maybe they can train some of New Orleans' thousands of unemployed on the latest technologies of plugging holes in the levees.
He also said officials a all levels must provide tax incentives that encourage businesses to locate in New Orleans.
He expressed frustration at delays for federal relief funds, saying the city shouldn't have to "beg" to get back on its feet.

He urged evacuees to help by writing state and federal lawmakers and speaking out to others so they don't forget about pledges to rebuild the city and keep it a colorful, vibrant place.

"I'm trying to make it a better place. But I can only do so much. I need your help," he said. The evacuees had mixed reactions.
The NBC local news crew of KPRC interviewed one former New Orleans citizen who has temporarily settled in the Bayou City. Dorothy Stukes seems to represent many of the N.O. evacuees I have talked to in the past few weeks who want Mayor Nagin both to shoulder some responsibility for the city's failures during the disaster, and to offer them something a little more solid than his unrealistic dreams of the glorious rebuilding to come.

And while the New Orleans mayor busies himself traveling between his temporary homestead in Dallas and visiting evacuees in Houston, Memphis and other cities around the nation, Jeff Crouere of Louisiana-based BayouBuzz.com is frustrated that Nagin is racking up travel miles while leaving his city to rot and decompose.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin certainly has racked up some frequent flyer miles since Katrina hit his city. The Mayor set his family up in Dallas after the storm and has been commuting on weekends to see his wife and children. Quite frequently, he has traveled to Washington D.C. to testify on Capitol Hill. He has also been barnstorming around the area meeting with displaced constituents in Baton Rouge, Houston and other cities. He also squeezed in time for a vacation and spent Thanksgiving in Jamaica with other American tourists. Some questioned whether Nagin should be lounging on a beach in a ritzy resort while many of his constituents don’t even have a trailer to lounge in, but this Mayor has never been concerned about public relations.

While he has ample time to be a traveler and tourist, Nagin has not found the time to be a leader. An editorial last Friday in the Washington Post summed up the problem for New Orleans quite succinctly, "No unquestioned leader has emerged. Until one does, there is certainly a danger that the city and its problems will be forgotten and the architectural and cultural treasures of New Orleans ultimately abandoned..."

Ted Turner Back in the News

As if his Cable News Network (CNN) weren't enough, every now and then media mogul Ted Turner feels the need to grace us all with his presence and his ultra-leftwing outlook. Yesterday was one of those extra special occasions when Mr. Turner let his liberal light shine, this time over the hallowed halls of education in Manhattan. (Kansas, that is.)

CNN founder Ted TurnerSpeaking as a guest lecturer at Kansas State University on Monday, Turner announced to a "less-than-full auditorium" that Iraq is "no better off" today than it was under Saddam Hussein's reign.

Never mind the fact that Iraqi citizens have now completed two nationwide free elections -- neither of which were predicted (by the American and European media) to be successful – and are readying themselves for a third historic election to put in place their first democratically elected government body. Never mind the fact that the new Iraqi constitution has been ratified by the citizens in overwhelming consent. Never mind the fact that women are being allowed to participate in society, including business, education and politics, for the first time in years. Never mind the fact that Iraqi citizens no longer have to fear for their lives (or those of their families) for simply speaking out against the government or its policies.

Of course, being the multifaceted guy that he is, Turner did not dwell on America's sins in Iraq for the entire lecture. He saved plenty of time to touch on other subjects like global overpopulation, poverty, and nuclear disarmament.
"You have to question ... the president on a lot of decisions he's made," Turner said. "He might just think launching [nuclear] weapons would be a good thing to do. ... He thought Iraq was."
Turner also showed his media-minded surfeit of knowledge of international matters when he turned to the subject of diplomacy:
Turner said war is an outdated form of diplomacy that has stopped working.

"You would think that we would have learned that in Vietnam," he said.
Funny, but my public school education left me with the understanding that war was more often the result of a failure of diplomacy. And the lesson we should have learned from the Vietnam War is to never let a military action be driven or guided by the media or a gaggle of politicians, who tend to concentrate on nothing more than their own reelection.

Whether or not the Bush administration and Republican-led Congress have successfully learned this lesson is becoming less and less obvious as the year moves on.

Iraqi Women Celebrate Freedom in Business

The mainstream media and Democratic members of the Senate would have us all believe that the war in Iraq is a quagmire and a failure, and that Iraq's people are no better off now than they were under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Dave at The Paladin Blog brings us this newsworthy information as just one more item (and one that is very dear to my heart) in a long list of successes and improvements to prove them wrong:
In an effort to educate women on their rights within the new Iraqi constitution and encourage their increased involvement in community and government affairs, the Ministry of Women’s Issues held the Second National Iraqi Women’s Conference Aug. 3-4 at the International Zone convention center.

Nearly 300 women from all over Iraq attended the conference, listening intently to presenters from various organizations, including speakers such as Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Laith Kubba, representatives from the National Assembly, the Civil Society & Constitution, Homeland Security & Constitution, NGOs such as the Hope Organization and leading women’s institutions.
The conference was "covered by two independent Iraqi newspapers" (yet another improvement from Saddam's Iraq, where the state rigidly controlled the media), but for some reason was completely ignored by the American media.

PCO Program Director Karen Durham-Auilera, who spoke to attendees at the conference, outlined many of the advancements made by women in the Iraqi business world since the overthrow of Hussein:
Conferences geared towards Iraqi women can be a great opportunity for both learning and networking says Durham-Aguilera. "We recently sponsored a Business Day for Iraqi women-owned engineering and construction businesses to increase the opportunities for women to gain awards for reconstruction projects. Before that day, there was one award to a women-owned business for a police station renovation. After the Business Day, there have been nearly 30 new project awards to Iraqi women-owned businesses."

"PCO reconstruction includes 22 hospital renovations," she continued. "Seventeen of these are maternity and children's hospitals. There are also five expanded health care centers planned, with five of these for maternity and pediatrics, and 142 new primary health care centers throughout Iraq."
Sounds like definite progress to me!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Chronically Biased

I'll admit that I was a bit surprised, and somewhat encouraged, when I saw this post two weeks ago by James T. Campbell on the About: Chron blog of the Houston Comical. In it, Campbell -- the Chronicle's "Readers' Representative" and member of the Comical Editorial Board -- actually admits to bias by the Houston paper, even if in only one unique case. The situation pointed out by Campbell involved a recent selection of photos of one Democrat and one Republican senator, to accompany a related article.
Here's my response: I agree. The photo of Graham, considered a moderate Republican by some, standing alone might have been innocuous, maybe not. But juxtaposing it against the "thoughtful" and considerate photo of Bingaman makes Graham look crazed, as in "wild-eyed conservative." There was a better, more thoughtful photo of Graham. We should have used it.
But, as one commenter noted, "Posting a mea culpa on a blog is not the same as giving the 'correction' the same prominence as the 'error'." (To which Mr. Campbell replied that his post was simply intended to point out a failing, not to correct it.)

So imagine my surprise when I came across an expanded version of this same article in Sunday's Chronicle (print edition). Located on the back page of Section E (Opinions & Editorials), but with a large blurb/pointer on the footer of the section's front page. Kudos to Mr. Campbell for having the guts to put this matter into print.

Not that I expect the practice to go away, especially not at the Houston Comical. As another commenter pointed out, the picture accompanying each and every article about Congressman Tom DeLay is just another example of the Chronicle's photo policies.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sheepless Sheehan

Mother Sheehan has lost her sheep, and doesn't know where to find them. It appears her 15 minutes of fame are over.

Wishing for the Baby Blue

It's days like this that I really miss the old Luv Ya Blue days. The Texans were having one of their most successful days since the team's beginnings, leading St. Louis by ten points with only 30 seconds to go. It was theirs to lose... and they did. Final score: Rams 33, Texans 27.

I think linebacker DaShon Polk summed it up best:
"The words just won't come out right now. I'm hurt and disgusted."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Jihad for Jesus

God works in mysterious ways, and more often than not His plans include moves that we would never have even dreamed of.

Case in point: A new California-based TV station premiered last month and is being via satellite throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. The catch? This is a Christian programming channel, and its target is the Arabic community:

The founder of the nation's first Arabic Christian TV channel says the programming is attracting phone inquiries from curious Muslims.

The Southern California-based channel Alkarma, whose name means "the vineyard" in Arabic, premiered Oct. 17. It is the brainchild of Samuel Estefanos, an Egyptian-born businessman.
He estimates there are 35 Arabic-language TV channels airing nationally, but none of them were Christian until Alkarma began. The channel, which reaches about a million Arabic speakers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, is slowly attracting advertisers.
According to the station's website, which also includes a list of daily programs, their primary goals include:

  • Non-denominational, Christ centered focus on biblical principals and teaching

  • We don't attack any religion or beliefs, but we are helping to understand way Christ is the only way

  • Teach parents how to raise kids, to have healthy family relationships and to be better citizens

  • Reach out to kids in order to create mighty men and women that will make a difference in our world
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him of whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" Romans 10:13-15


Hat-tip: Lucianne.com

Friday, November 25, 2005

Not Worth Reporting

From the Anchoress, we get this amazing story of mainstream media bias:
If 200,000 people had gathered to call out President Bush, it would have been news all over the world - the pictures would have been everywhere - the story would have lived for days. Hell, this summer 2 to 3,000 gathered in Washington for a Bush hate-fest and it got all day coverage on C-span.

But if 200,000 Arabs take to the streets to call out a chief terrorist it gets no coverage, it is not a story, and there are no pictures.
Interestingly enough, I have seen Cindy Sheehan's mutt in at least four out of five local newscasts I have watched in the last week. But not a single word about these amazing anti-terrorism, anti-al Qaeda ralliers in the Middle East. Pitiful.

The American Socialist Experiment

So many of our liberal (and even a few so-called "moderate conservative") politicians have been clamoring for years for socialized medicine, increased social welfare, and other such programs. This in spite of the fact that these types of programs have failed utterly in so many other places -- for example, the socialized medicine programs of Canada and England have led to a drastic decrease in the quality of services for all but the wealthiest, who bypass the governmental programs and spend exorbitant amounts on private care.

Unfortunately, it seems that many in the American public are slowly being worn down and are beginning to accept the lies inherent in all socialistic programs.

And since we are in the midst of celebrating Thanksgiving (and the capitalistic holiday known as "after-Thanksgiving sales"), this seems the perfect time to recall the very first American experiment in socialism -- which failed as miserably as its successor in the Soviet Union.
[Plymouth Colony Governor William] Bradford writes that "young men that are most able and fit for labor and service" complained about being forced to "spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children." Also, "the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak." So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.
An intriguing chronicle from our nation's history that too few Americans have ever heard. Score another round for revisionist history.

Judge Alito on Religious Freedom of Speech

Up until now, the topic of debate on the matter of Judge Samuel Alito has been his supposed stance on abortion and predictions of his vote if a review of Roe vs. Wade should come before the Supreme Court again.

But a new subject is beginning to come to the forefront: an examination of Alito’s position on the so-called "separation of church and state."
There are long-running and contentious debates over the Constitution's requirement that Congress - and by extension all government - "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Alito would succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been keenly interested in religion cases and often provided the majority in 5-4 decisions based on her opposition to government actions that seem to endorse religion. That was so this year when a 5-4 majority outlawed a Kentucky Ten Commandments display (though the court allowed a Texas display, with O'Connor dissenting).
Grassfire.org has an interesting and timely article that suggests what we may expect of Judge Alito, should he be confirmed to the SCOTUS:
Over the course of his 15 years as a federal appellate judge, Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. consistently has given full effect to the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious liberty. C.H. v. Oliva, 226 F.3d 198 (3d Cir. 2000) (en banc), is a key case in which he refused to sanction the efforts of public school administrators to discriminate against religious speech.

In Oliva, an elementary school encouraged students to contribute to a Thanksgiving display on school property. In particular, the pupils were invited to make posters depicting the things for which they were thankful. One of the students, a Christian, decided to make a poster expressing his thanks for Jesus Christ. Although the school permitted the display of other students’ posters giving thanks for certain secular things, it barred the Christian student from displaying his poster expressing thanks for Jesus. The school also barred the student from reading religious-themed stories to his class, despite the fact that other students were permitted to read secular stories to their classes.

The en banc Third Circuit upheld the school’s decision to exclude the Christian poster and to bar the reading of Christian stories. In dissent, Judge Alito argues that the school had violated the First Amendment by discriminating against religious speech. According to Judge Alito, “public school students have the right to express religious views in class discussion or in assigned work.” Id. at 210. In particular, “the poster was allegedly given discriminatory treatment because of the viewpoint that it expressed, because it expressed thanks for Jesus, rather than for some secular thing. This was quintessential viewpoint discrimination, and it was proscribed by the First Amendment . . . .” Id. at 212.
The original wording in the US Constitution was intended just as it said – to prevent the government from establishing or endorsing a specific religion or sect, and in so doing discriminating against or even outlawing non-state-supported forms or expressions of religion. This was in direct response to the religious persecution many had faced in England, where the Church of England (Anglican Church) was endorsed by law to the exclusion/discrimination of Catholic, protestant and other believers. Our founding fathers wanted to make certain this sort of government discrimination did not hinder the freedoms of speech and religion they valued so much in this new world.

Even the venerated Father of our country, President George Washington, seemed to have no problem recognizing the role of religion in this new nation. In his very first Thanksgiving proclamation, back in 1789, Washington declared a special day of prayer and thanksgiving to Almighty God, as directed by Congress:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
But along the way, this clause intended to promote religious freedom has been twisted and deformed by liberal politicians and activist judges to deny people the very freedoms it was supposed to protect. It is time we return to the intent of the inspired writers of the Constitution, and take back the freedoms which were declared so many years ago:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Interestingly enough, these self-same liberals who guard so vehemently freedoms of speech and of the press, defined in the second half of the very first constitutional amendment, somehow cannot seem to see or remember the first right imparted to American citizens:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...
Thank you for your stand, Judge Alito. Please hold firm to that truth.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

On this wonderful family holiday, we offer thanks to God for all He has provided. I thank Him for His Son and salvation, and for my family and this free nation He has blessed us with.

Instead of my meager utterances, let's celebrate this blessed Thanksgiving with the words of our nation's father, President George Washington. This is his first Thanksgiving proclamation, made in October, 1789:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Hmm... So much for the separation of church and state. Someone better call the ACLU!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

True Crime in Houston's Neighborhoods

As much as it rankles to admit it, I found myself last night agreeing with Quanell X, Houston's local mouthpiece for the New Black Panthers and self-proclaimed defender of the black community. On the evening news for Channel 26, the local FOX station, was a story about a neighborhood protest over billboards promoting the latest X-box game craze, True Crime: New York City, by Activision. Present at the rally were neighborhood parents and kids, several neighborhood church leaders, and Mr. X himself.

According to the FOX news report, several billboards (all owned by Clear Channel Communications) advertising the newly released game have recently been placed in predominantly black Houston neighborhoods. As do so many of today's video game, True Crime: New York City is chocked full of action and violence. According to a review on MSN:
Players wield the ultimate power as a rogue street cop in True Crime: New York City. Gamers assume the role of Marcus Reed, a former criminal turned cop, and use and abuse their authority...
The billboard itself, which is basically a copy of the graphic display on the game's official web site, seems to glorify this violence as it shows a bad-looking black cop pointing a smoking gun in that tilted "gangsta" style that is so often seen these days in music videos and TV cop shows. And in at least one instance, the billboard overlooked a local park where young kids were playing baseball and soccer and romping on playground equipment. Not the most civically responsible placement of such an ad, although it does make sense in a business advertising agenda.

It really impressed me that these good men and women were taking a stand for the moral welfare of their children. And amazingly enough, there was Quanell X standing peacefully alongside these parents and ministers in their support of the neighborhood youth.

Then reality kicked in -- he started talking. Standing right there in the middle of the kids and the church leaders, X gave his colorfully-worded (i.e., profanity-laced, if mildly) viewpoint full of the race-class-hatred-rhetoric we are so used to hearing from his mouth.

You almost had me, Mr. X.


On a side note, the FOX reporter did indicate that, while not making any official statement about the matter, a Clear Channel spokesman has said that the company would be looking into moving the advertisements.

The Politicization of a National Hero

As we all know, the nation is still mourning the loss of Mrs. Rosa Parks. During the weeks following her death, people from all across the nation have offered earnest and heartfelt tributes to this brave lady whose actions fifty years ago jumpstarted the civil rights movement in America.

But according to Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review Online, a Detroit gathering intended to celebrate the life of this great lady instead "fell into a graceless political rally." (Now when has that happened before?)
The message of Rosa Parks's courage in 1955 is a nonpartisan one. And yet, fanatical politics found their way into the ceremony via left-wing stalwarts. Al Sharpton, who has run for president as a Democrat, seemed to get moving on a pulpit strategy for another campaign at the funeral. He declared: "I heard somebody say Jim Crow is who she fought and Jim Crow is still around. But Jim Crow is old. That's not who I'm mindful of today. The problem is Jim Crow has sons."

The crowd went wild.

"One we gotta battle," Sharpton continued, "is James Crow Jr. Esq. He's a little more educated. He's a little slicker. He's a little more polished. ... He doesn't tell you that he's set against you, he sets up institutional racism. Where you have a nation respond looking for weapons in Iraq that are not there but can't see a hurricane in Louisiana that is there."

Ah yes. President Bush — the same blind president who called the governor of Louisiana to insist on a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans — didn't even see hurricane Katrina coming. Regardless, he was probably still looking for the weapons in Iraq. You know, the ones most of the Democratic politicians (Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Bill Clinton ... ), who also spoke at Rosa Parks's funeral, thought were a threat too.
Jesse Jackson, also a former Democratic presidential candidate, announced during his eulogy — the eulogy — that the president had nominated "an extreme right-wing judge, antithetical to everything Rosa Parks ever stood for." Presumably Jackson was talking about Judge Samuel Alito, who President Bush had nominated the same week to the Supreme Court. Alito is for segregation? That's news to ... everyone. Jackson must have gotten swept away. That sometimes happens at political conventions. People get silly and carried away demonizing the guy they want to beat. But, oh wait. This wasn't a political convention.

It was a funeral.

Rosa Parks deserved better. Americans who can be well served by her example for decades to come deserve better.
Old news? Perhaps -- it did happen three weeks ago. But this is just one more example of the idiocy of the liberal left, and the lack of leadership of those so-called "black community leaders" who use their public brandings as "men of God" to repress the black community for their own profit.

I, for one, am thankful that my parents taught me better than that. I am thankful for Mrs. Parks, the battle she waged and the life she lived. And I am thankful for the United States of America, where I am not a victim of institutional racism, but where I have lived the American dream of freedom and liberty, where all men are created equal. After that, it's up to each and every individual to determine their own future. And mine looks pretty good from here.

Sony Spyware


Earlier this week, the State of Texas filed a lawsuit against Sony BMG Music Entertainment over hidden spyware> that was included on recently realeased CDs.
"Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers," said [Texas Attorney-General Greg] Abbott. "Consumers who purchased a Sony CD thought they were buying music. Instead, they received spyware that can damage a computer, subject it to viruses and expose the consumer to possible identity crime."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Just a note...

...to say thanks. My typing is painfully slow right now, so I will keep this brief.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. They are appreciated more than you could know. Without the support of our family and friends, this would have been a much harder journey.

I am feeling pretty good now. There is a lot of discomfort, but nothing unbearable. Thomas and the kids have been working overtime to take care of me, so I certainly cannot complain. We go back to the doctor on Monday, so no further word until then, but everyone was very positive after the surgery. I truly feel blessed beyond words.

Love to you all,
Shebird

Friday, November 18, 2005

Shebird's Coming Home!

First of all, thank you to everyone for your prayers and kind words. And thanks to those who came to the hospital and who flooded Shebird’s room with cards and flowers. We have truly been blessed with such wonderful friends and family.

Shebird is doing better, and is scheduled to be released to come home later this morning. I’ll be heading back to the hospital as soon as the kids are up and dressed and all off to school. I hope we’ll be home by lunchtime or shortly after.

The doctors were very positive about the surgery. Everything went as expected, and most of the cancer is now gone from her body. They are planning to begin radiation treatments in a couple of weeks on the two remaining spots. From all that we’ve heard, that should be a walk in the park when compared to the chemo experience.

I’ve got to get kids moving now, but again I want to say thanks for all the prayers and concern. The Lord has blessed us mightily.

As for blogging, that will resume next week, when life has regained some semblance of normalcy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Quick family update

Just a quick update, since I know quite a few of our family members and close friends from the church check here regularly.

I just got a call from Thomas, and "Shebird" is out of surgery. The report from the surgeon is that everything went well, there were no major surprises, and they "accomplished everything they had expected at the outset." I take this to mean that they got the main tumor and the secondary lump. Don't know yet about post-surgery radiation, etc.

Please keep T & T in your prayers. I will hopefully have a better update by this evening to share at prayer service.

Pops

-------------------------------

FOLLOW-UP, Thursday 11/17, 9:00 am: I talked with the kids again this morning. Shebird is in a lot of pain but doing okay. She was originally scheduled to go home today (insurance only pays for one night at the hospital after this type of cancer surgery), but she has had a lot more bleeding and seepage and much more pain than anticipated. The nurse indicated to Thomas this morning that they might keep her over a little longer if she has not improved by early afternoon. I'll pass on any other news I get. - Pops

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Something's Fishy in the Waters of California

According to marine biologists studying sea life off the coast of California, there's something strange going on:
Scientists have discovered male fish living in Los Angeles and Orange County coastal waters that exhibit female characteristics, prompting further research into the effects of compounds in treated sewage wastewater on marine life.
Now I'm not a rocket scientist, nor a marine biologist for that matter, but I think I can solve this one for them, without spending all that well-earned research money. The problem: It's California!

'Nuff said.

USAF Battles Terrorism with Love

This report comes from Staff Sgt. Marcus McDonald of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing:
Airmen participating in the ongoing Global War on Terrorism at nearby Bagram Air Field took time to spread some cheer and share smiles with the people of Afghanistan as part of an Adopt-A-Village visit here Nov. 3.

More than 1,200 pounds of winter clothes, blankets, school supplies and toys were distributed to the local village, according to Master Sgt. Edgar Langdon, Bagram's Adopt-A-Village coordinator.


"Our Adopt-A-Village program gives Airmen from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing a chance to travel outside the gate and share some goodwill with the people of Afghanistan," said Sergeant Langdon, a native of Hatboro, Penn., deployed to Bagram from Davis-Monthan Air Force, Base, Ariz. "During this visit, we focused on efforts on items that'll hopefully come into good use as the temperature drops in coming months."

Chief Master Sgt. Debra Ballentine, 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group superintendent, described the visit as "awesome."

"This experience gave us a chance to show the local community just how much we care," said Chief Ballentine, deployed to Bagram from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "We're here in Afghanistan to encourage a spirit of cooperation. Adopt-A-Village visits are one of many ways in which we can do this."

Chief Ballentine, a native of Lacey, Wash., said the village children were delightful. "Many of them enjoyed getting their picture taken, especially when they were able to immediately see their picture after it was taken," the Chief said. "They were excited about getting school supplies and several even tried to learn a few words of English."

A Centennial Worth Celebrating

Last Wednesday was a major milestone for Dorothy Inghram, who celebrated her 100th birthday in her hometown of San Bernardino, California. Ms. Inghram, a true pillar in her community, celebrated this life event in a manner that seems to reflect her life of service and of action:

On Wednesday she spent the entire day at the Library named in her honor, reading to the children and meeting well wishers.
Of course, she also made time to sneak over to the local bowling alley to party with the guys:

"Yesterday's celebration at the bowling alley was wonderful, too. I had my picture taken with all the men there," she said, smiling. "We had so much fun, there was food galore, but I bowled very poorly, just when I wanted to do so well."

She complained of back-to-back scores of 149 and 150 totals that most centurions could not even comprehend.
The local papers The San Bernardino County Sun and The Black Voice News both report that Ms. Inghram has led a full and vibrant life with many distinctions, including being the first black principal and the first black Superintendent of Schools in the state of California. She has written several books, spent 40 years serving her church as organist, works regularly to raise money for the local libray, and is even now a leader in the Golden Gleaners, a seniors group that volunteers and makes gifts for a local domestic violence assistance center.

From the Sun:
During her century, Ms. Inghram has seen all the miracles of technology from horse-and-buggy to robotic landings on Mars. She says she even remembers the San Francisco earthquake [of 1906].
Any regrets?

Looking back over her lifetime, Ms. Inghram says she would probably have eaten more ice cream. "I'm so thin, I could have afforded it. I would also have ridden my brothers' bikes and skated more because I love to do both."

Other than that, she wouldn't have done anything differently. "Both my positive and negative experiences being black made me a stronger person."
Now that sounds like a life worth celebrating! Congratulations, Ms. Inghram, and may God continue to bless you as he has obviously already done.

Farrakhan and the Press


After the lackluster turnout of his recent Millions More Movement march in Washington, DC, the "Honorable Minister" Louis Farrakhan's minions are now scurrying around trying to regain the public support and goodwill that their sovereign leader has always imagined he had. Last week Askia Muhammad, the "official White House correspondent" for Farrakhan's online mouthpiece Final Call, submitted an editorial to Black Press USA blaming Farrakhan's poor public showing on persecution by the press.
Although the Nation of Islam has rented the ballroom at the National Press Club (NPC) frequently during the last several years, it’s been almost a decade since he was invited to be a guest at “the second most prestigious address” in the nation’s capital, and just as long since he addressed the editorial board of The Washington Post newspaper.
Now supposing that Farrakhan's Nation of Islam really has been sidelined by the mainstream media (not that I buy into that, but just for the sake of arguments)... Why do you think they might have distanced themselves from such an Honorable minister and leader of the black community? Could it possibly be because his radical, racist rhetoric goes too far even for the liberal media to back?
"I have not plucked one hair out of the head of one White person, or Black person, nor Jewish child. You have never seen Farrakhan say one thing about harming Jewish people or White people or any people. So don't compare me with the killers who have come out of your race that bombed the levee in 1927 and may have repeated it" in New Orleans in 2005.

The reason for the Millions More Movement mobilization is "because we want to put a stop to lies, to thieves, to murderers in the name of government," explained Minister Farrakhan. "... It is only [through] our organization, and our mobilization, and our demand that they become accountable, that we will get some measure of justice."
The man has plenty of self-esteem, I'll give him that.

But I had to laugh at the one question put toward Mr. Farrakhan by a Weekly Standard reporter: "Are you worried that people might think you're nuts, the way you're sounding?"

By Today's Standards

As Burt Prelutsky points out, today's society is chocked full of double standards, whether the subject be race, religion, or politics.
For instance, if a white person speaks critically even about black thugs, crack dealers and unwed teenagers, he’s immediately tarred as a racist. Blacks, on the other hand, are not only free to denounce whites, but they’re lionized for their efforts. Recently, a black ex-professor, while on a panel at Howard University’s law school, claimed that whites had a plan to kill blacks -- and the only solution to the problem was for blacks to exterminate the entire white race. C-Span saw fit to broadcast his insane diatribe, sharing his hate speech with its worldwide audience. Can you in your wildest dreams imagine their covering a Klan convention? No, neither can I.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Bad Penny Resurfaces

First he attacked the Pledge of Allegiance. Now he's back again, and he's out to get your money. Or more precisely, he wants to change the look of it.

That's right. Bad penny Michael Newdow is back again to thrust his activist atheism into the face of the rest of the nation. This time, he plans to sue the Treasury Department to force the government to remove the national motto "In God We Trust" from all U.S. currency.
He claims it's an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and "excludes people who don't believe in God."
Except that it's not really about that at all. It's all about personal liberties and freedom from religious intolerance. Right?
Newdow said his efforts are not spurred by an atheistic agenda, but rather by a desire to see the government adhere to the U.S. Constitution. He dismissed opponents' arguments that references to God in government honor the country's religious roots, saying constitutional rights should take precedent.

"It's not the history that counts. It's not the patriotism. What it is, is these people want to get their religious views in our government," he said.
Interestingly enough, "these people" who want to ensnare the government in religion by introducing such inflammatory language on our currency did so way back in 1865, when Congress first authorized the words to be printed on the nation's coins. But I forgot – it's not about the history.

The strangest irony in Newdow's timing of this new ploy is this: The Supreme Court just today declined to rule on a suit very similar to this one.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a ruling that the inscription "In God We Trust" on the front of a government building in North Carolina does not violate church-state separation.

The justices rejected an appeal of the decision that dismissed a lawsuit by two attorneys who had challenged as unconstitutional the phrase over the main entrance to the county's government center in Lexington, North Carolina.

The phrase, written in 18-inch block letters, was more prominently displayed than the name of the building, which was the only other writing on the front facade, according to the lawsuit.

A U.S. appeals court ruled that the lawsuit failed to show that the display had no legitimate secular purpose, that it has the effect of endorsing religion or that it has resulted in an excessive entanglement of government and religion.
The most interesting fact of that story is that the justices apparently rejected the appeal unanimously.

So what do we say to Mr. Newdow? If it offends you that much, just use credit cards! Or if that won't work, then find someplace where the laws enforce your beliefs,

In God we trust, Mr. Newdow, not in you.

All a Matter of Perspective

Our old friend Pat of Brainster's Blog had this to say about John Hinderaker's recent review of President Bush's decline in the polls in the year since his reelection:
Things seem bad? Why?

Since that triumphant moment, the conventional wisdom is that nothing has gone right for the Republicans. But what, exactly, has happened to cause such a reversal in the party's fortunes? Has the economy collapsed? Not at all. It is humming along as strongly as ever, putting ever more distance between America's prosperity and that of Europe and Japan. Have the terrorists attacked the American homeland, exposing a weakness in our domestic security? No. Astonishingly, we have now gone more than four years without a successful attack on American soil, even though newspaper headlines reveal, on an almost daily basis, the bloodthirstiness of our enemies. Have there been setbacks in foreign policy that could explain how a party that was triumphant just 12 months ago should now be in full retreat? No. We continue to make progress in both Iraq and Afghanistan. On a number of fronts, liberty has taken root in the vital Middle East. And no foreign power even imagines that it could rival the United States in influence.

The biggest part of the problem is that the media are dead set against the president, so that any poll that shows his popularity declining is headlined, while polls showing his popularity going back up are buried on page A-23.
This reflects very closely a discussion my wife and I were having over the weekend with some family members, who are lifelong Democrats that jumped over and voted for Bush last year. Although they are morally/socially conservative, they grew up with that old lie that the Democrats are the only ones who care about the black community.

Now that they are beginning to open their eyes to the real issues and to lean more and more toward the Republican point of view, the biggest question that comes up is, "Then why is the entire nation against the president and the Republicans?" The whole "power of the press" to drive the political scene and shape the national outlook is sometimes a hard thing to overcome.

Creation vs. Evolution

Matt Forge, cartoonist and contributor over at the Lone Star Times, last week posted a fantastic piece on the debate and arguments between the theory of evolution and the theology of creationism. Since several of my readers are not regular visitors of that blog, I am reposting (with Matt's permission) the opening of his post here:
Well, it seems that [Matt] Bramanti has opened up a whole can of world-view worms when he posted an article on this subject earlier. As a young-earth literal-day dinos-on-the-ark creationist southern baptist boy, I found the statements in the comments section rather fascinating.

Once a theistic evolutionist, I have put more hours into research and study on this subject than I can recount. I even created a website dealing with evolution in my own :::ahem::: "subtle" way (but haven’t added to it in a couple of years).

What I’ve done is extracted statements from the comments section and linked them to websites that I trust to explain/refute the charges way better than I ever could. Simply click the statement to be magically teletransported, with technology brought to you by operational science (not "origins" science), to an answer to it.

These represent my opinions and not necessarily those of any other writers here at LST. Whether you agree with them or not, I hope you find them to be fascinating reading and food for thought…
For the fascinating full set of arguments and links, as well as an impassioned debate by LST readers (on both sides of the debate), click here.

(Thanks, Matt!)

Not a Mistake

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that one of my favorite online columnists is a savvy young man by the name of Richard O. Jones. Now, Mr. Jones may not be syndicated or well-known, but his weekly words of wisdom in The Black Voice News are always inspired and right on target. And his targets, more often than not, are the young black men of today's America.

Mr. Jones' most recent essay is written for young men who are currently incarcerated (with enough meat to be used as a frightening preventative medicine for those who may be heading that way), giving advice on how to turn their lives around after paying their dues to society. But this little bit is just too great not to pass on.

Being a criminal is not making a mistake. Planning a crime is not a mistake. A mistake is when you do something accidentally, like making a wrong turn while looking for a street or calling a man 'Paul' when his name is 'Henry'.
That right there addresses at least half the liberal mindset and agenda in today's society. Nothing is their fault, they just made a mistake.


For more words of wisdom by Richard Jones:

Symptoms of the Bird Flu

The Center for Disease Control has released a list of symptoms of bird flu. If you experience any of the following, please seek medical treatment immediately:

Please read carefully:
1. High fever
2. Congestion
3. Nausea
4. Fatigue
5. Aching in the joints
6. An irresistible urge to poop on someone's windshield

John Edwards Kicks Off New Campaign


Okay, so maybe it's not official, but all the signs point that direction.
Former US senator John Edwards, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004, broke yesterday with his campaign stance on the war in Iraq, declaring in a newspaper opinion piece that he made "a mistake" in supporting the invasion.
"It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake," Edwards wrote, in what will likely be seen as a gambit to reposition himself ahead of a 2008 presidential run.
He learned that little flip-flop play from the best of 'em.


UPDATE: 11/15/2005 - Jimmie over at the Sundries Shack has an excellent analysis on John Edwards' editorial, well worth the read! Hat-tip: the Anchoress.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gun-totin' Granny Bags Burglar

This is just one more example of why events like the recent riots in France would never happen here:
An Arlington woman who wounded an intruder she found hiding in a closet says she shot his leg -- because she didn't want to kill him.

Sixty-six-year-old Susan Gaylord Buxton says she's good shot and could have killed the guy.
Buxton heard glass breaking and told her 28-year-old granddaughter to call 9-1-1.

Buxton located the intruder in a closet near the front door.

In the 9-1-1 tape, Buxton is heard telling 22-year-old Christopher Lessner to lie on the floor, before the first shot is fired.

Before the second shot, Buxton said to her granddaughter, "Get the police out here or this is it for him."
Way to go, Grandma!

Sorcery and Cults in the South Pacific

This story seems more like an episode of the Twilight Zone than a report from the twenty-first century:
Police in Papua New Guinea have arrest 320 people for practicing sorcery and religious cults, the National newspaper reported Thursday.

Belief in sorcery is widespread in this jungle-clad, mountainous South Pacific island nation where some villages only encountered Western civilization in the 1930s.

Police raided three villages Monday near the city of Lae on the north coast and arrested leaders of a "cargo cult" and their followers, the newspaper said. Those arrested were aged between 20 and 70.

Cargo cults believe that Western goods or cargo, first encountered through missionaries and explorers, are created by ancestral spirits. They have been known to build airstrips in the jungles in the belief that planes would land with cargo.

Happy Birthday, Marines!

Today is the 230th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

In November of 1921, Major General John Archer Lejeune, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, issued the following order, which has been read to all active Marines every year since on the birthday of the corps:
The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name "Marine". In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

(2) The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and is the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

(3) In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

(4) This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.

Happy birthday, Marines! Thank you for your daily diligence and sacrifice in the name of liberty and freedom. May our Heavenly Father bless and watch over each and every one of you on this and every day.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The State of France

The Anchoress has posted an email from a reader who lives in France reporting on the state of the riots in her country, and pleading for prayers from Christians across the world.

May I ask you to pray for us in France, just ordinary decent people who do no have the means to go elsewhere? I do not sleep much. The situation is frightening.
Apparently the French media is not any better than ours about reporting the truth about what is going on in their own backyard:

To night, one state channel, FR3, has decided not to speak about burned cars. No fire reported=no fire at all. Most people don’t even know that dozens and dozens of little churches all over France have been set on fire during these past years. Our media don’t like the Catholics and as they despise the ordinary French people, they did not want us to put 2 and 2 together.
When we dare to grumble, when we dare to murmur that Islam is a religion of death, that we do not want to become an Islamic republic, the media and the politicians also scorned us saying we were racist and fascist and anti-arab, and islamophobic, and anti-Semitic.
We pay, with our taxes, scores of “associations” full of communist-islamics and we just have to shut our mouths and say amen. Well, not “amen”; amen is not politically acceptable.

She closes with a verse from the New Testament book of Ephesians:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Please read the entire letter from Marianne, and be in prayer for the people of France.


Thank you to the Right Mom for pointing us to this great post!

Seabrook Tar Baby, the Sequel

You may recall the stink that arose from Seabrook last month when cries of racism and racial slurs erupted from a city council meeting over use of the term "tar baby." Before the smoke cleared, Councilwoman Dee Wright was demanding the resignation of alleged offender John Buhman, and racial instigator Quanell X had rallied the local news teams with shouts of the inhuman injustice of it all.

Well, it looks like the smoke hasn't quite cleared yet:
"I think the whole thing needs to stop," she said. "I just took a stand on political correctness and they didn't like it... We all just need to agree to disagree and just move on."
As is so often the case with liberals when their bluff is called, Ms. Wright now just wants to "agree to disagree" and leave it at that. However, Councilman Buhman does not appear to be so quick to let things go after publicly being called a racist.
"She's already done the damage and I've suffered the consequence," he said. "If I did make the racist comments that Dee claims I did, then Council should give me a vote of 'no confidence' and remove me from all boards.

"They should also give Dee a vote of confidence for having the courage to expose racism.

"However, if I didn't make those comments, then Council should give Dee a vote of 'no confidence' and remove her from all boards.

"They should also give me a vote of confidence showing I did nothing wrong. To me, this is a quick and simple resolution of the matter. Afterwards, we can move on."
Sometimes you just have to shake your head and laugh.

Reformed Klansman

Laurence Simon of This Blog is Full of... brings us this little gem from the Houston Comical:
A "reformed Klansman" died recently, and the Houston Chronicle described him in those terms.

You know, Robert Byrd is a "reformed Klansman" but you don't see the Houston Chronicle ever describing him as such.

I don't claim to know anything about Mr. Ellis, other than what is stated in the article. Robert Byrd, on the other hand, is an open book of hipocrisy and filth. I will never understand why the good people of West Virginia continue to reelect this man as their national representative.

Southern Manners

One of the things I notice most often when traveling out of state is the difference in how people treat each other.

I am in Chicago on business this week, and as I headed out the front door of my hotel this morning, I noticed the doorman was busy bustling another patron and at least a month's worth of luggage into a taxi. So without thinking about it I stopped to hold the door open for the two ladies walking behind me. I smiled and offered a friendly "good morning" to the pair, who completely ignored me as they stalked past without a break in their conversation.

Another fellow (I'm guessing from one of the burroughs of New York, from the accent) rushed forward to get through the door while I still held it, so I smiled and offered another, "'Morning!" as he passed. In return I got a snarl and a barely decipherable "Wha, yew wanna TIP oar sumphin?" by way of thanks. (If you've never been to New York, that's Bronxian for, "Why thank you, kind sir. And a good morning to you as well!")

Anyway, as I arrived at the office building where I'm working this week, I again stopped to open the door for a lady. By the startled look I received, you would think I had just stepped off a space ship from Mars!

It always amazes (and to a certain extent entertains) me to realize that what to me and to most Texans is an everyday, accepted practice (drilled into me over the years of growing up by my Pops, I might add) is something strange, wondrous or even offensive when you get outside of the southern states. I have actually, in the past, been accused of insulting and disrespecting a woman for trying to open the door for her; apparently I was making some sort of statement that she was somehow inferior and incapable of taking care of herself. On the other extreme, I was once told by a fellow black man, "You don't have to do that, you know. Lincoln freed the slaves!"

Two more days until I get back home to Texas. I can't wait!

DUI: Dangerous and Utterly Irresponsible

Republican Congressman Kevin Brady yesterday pleaded no contest to DUI charges in South Dakota, stemming from a traffic stop back in October.
Mr. Brady and his wife were attending a college homecoming at the University of South Dakota and had just left a dinner at which he received an Alumni Achievement Award.
Rep. Brady, whose congressional District 8 includes several counties ranging from just north of Houston east to the Louisiana border, received a rather light sentence from the South Dakota judge and was sent packing back to Texas.
He was fined $350 plus $53 in court costs and won't be allowed to drive in the state for 30 days – the judge's standard punishment for a first offender, said Clay County state's attorney Tami Bern.
"I was wrong, and I deeply apologize. This is an extremely important law. Perhaps others, especially young people, can learn from my mistake as I have," Mr. Brady said in a prepared statement.
As the Houston Comical reports, Rep. Brady was duly repentant:
"I never dreamed I would be in this situation," Brady said. "I really believe what I said: I have to take full responsibility for whatever are the consequences and go from there."
I guess the question is, what exactly is the scope of "full responsibility" for such a reckless and irresponsible act as this?

I am of the firm belief that the elected leaders of our country should be held to a much higher standard than most. And since Republicans hold forth to be the party of morals and ethics, my expectations of them are even higher. We elect men and women to lead our country based not only on their beliefs, but also (hopefully) on their proven qualities of leadership, which should include wisdom, judgment, and discrimination. (I'm not quite sure what this tells us about the good people of Massachusetts, but...) I for one expect them to show the good judgment and moral fortitude required to keep this nation great, not only in their political decisions but also in their everyday personal lives.

Mr. Brady had a serious lapse of judgment back on October 7 when he decided to get behind the wheel after drinking a little too much. We're not talking driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit on an otherwise empty road, or failing to come to a complete stop before slowly rolling through that four-way stop sign. This man endangered his own life and the lives of his family, as well as those of every other driver he encountered on those South Dakota roads that night. A very serious lack of judgment.

Yes, perhaps it was "just this once," and "no one got hurt." But what happens next time? And what if he were to apply that same logic in his political duties? Is the first time you take a bribe... er, "unreported campaign contribution" ... any better just because no one got hurt? What happens the next time? And the next?

So what should Mr. Brady do, now that he has "paid his debt to society" for his little indiscretion? I may stand alone in this -- at least among Republican supporters -- but I firmly believe he should resign. At the very least, no attempt at reelection when his term is up, but in all honesty he should step down. That is taking "full responsibility" for his actions. That is upholding the moral code that should be so engrained in our political leaders. That is what this Texas conservative would like to see.

Mr. Brady, you have taken the first step by admitting your sin, rather than denying or fighting the charges. Now be the leader you were elected to be, and remove yourself from this role of responsibility.

Marriage Wins Hands-Down

The Texas State Constitution amendment passed yesterday defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. And it passed handily: 76% for, 23% against.

Of course, the Houston Comical's coverage of the election results never mentions how overwhelmingly the proposition (which they opposed) was passed, and they also manage to throw in a reference to the Klan. How surprising.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Republicans Twist Religion

Believe it or not, that was the accusation made recently by Senator John Kerry. In a stump speech last weekend in New Hampshire, Kerry lashed out at "Republican 'fakery' and religious hypocrisy."
"It really comes down to the kind of values you have, and how you take those values into public office and live them out. Not talk about them, folks -live them out," said Kerry, who lost last year's election, in part, because of President Bush's sway with evangelical Christian voters.

"As a Christian, as a Catholic, I think hard about those responsibilities that are moral and how you translate them into public life. And I'm tired of watching a whole bunch of people who talk about that faith not go out and live it."

Citing the New Testament, Kerry said, "There is not anywhere in the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ, any, that remotely suggests - not one miracle, not one parable, not one utterance - that says you ought to cut children's health care or take money from the poorest people in our nation and give it to the wealthiest. Nowhere."
Of course, there is also nothing in the Bible about taking someone else's money and giving it to the poor. We are told to give of ourselves to help those in need (as was so recently practiced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina by the churches and people of Houston). But as Marc Vander Maas of PowerBlog states:
What comments such as these reveal is a philosophy that, as Rev. Gerald Zandstra has noted, lacks "any real discernment about the proper role of government with respect to the issues of poverty and charity." When the government assumes the primary responsibility for the care of the poor, it does not enhance a society's morality (as Kerry and others like him would argue); rather, it erodes the moral foundations of the society... (Read the entire post and discussion...)
If I recall, Mr. Kerry, the Bible also has a little something to say on the topic of hypocrisy...

Where's the Beef?

This guy has an interesting campaign gimmick:
A wealthy Sri Lankan presidential candidate said he will use his personal fortune to buy a cow for every home if he is elected.
Buying votes? Sounds familiar.

One of Those Days

Just a hint about how the day is going...

A Tribute to Texas

It's been a long time since I've shared this, but every time I travel out of state I start missing my home: Texas. There's no place like it!
When you're from Texas, people that you meet ask you questions like, Do you have any cows?" "Do you have horses?" "Bet you got a bunch of guns, eh?"

They all want to know if you've been to Southfork. They watched Dallas.

Have you ever looked at a map of the world? Look at Texas with me just for a second. That picture, with the Panhandle and the Gulf Coast, and the Red River and the Rio Grande is as much a part of you as anything ever will be. As soon as anyone anywhere in the world looks at it they know what it is. It's Texas. Pick any kid off the street in Japan and draw him a picture of Texas in the dirt and he'll know what it is. What happens if I show you a picture of any other state? You might get it maybe after a second or two, but who else would? And even if you do, does it ever stir any feelings in you?

In every man, woman and child on this planet, there is a person who wishes just once he could be a real live Texan and get up on a horse or ride off in a pickup. There is some bit of Texas in everyone.

Did you ever hear anyone in a bar go, "Wow...so you're from Iowa? Cool, tell me about it?" Do you know why? Because there's no place like Texas.

Texas is the Alamo. Texas is 183 men standing in a church, facing thousands of Mexican nationals, fighting for freedom, who had the chance to walk out and save themselves, but stayed instead to fight and die for the cause of freedom. We send our kids to schools named William B. Travis and James Bowie and Crockett and do you know why? Because those men saw a line in the sand and they decided to cross it and be heroes. John Wayne paid to do the movie himself. That is the Spirit of Texas.

Texas is Sam Houston capturing Santa Ana at San Jacinto.

Texas is Juneteenth and Texas Independence Day.

Texas is huge forests of Piney Woods like the Davy Crockett National Forest.

Texas is breathtaking mountains in the Big Bend.

Texas is the unparalleled beauty of bluebonnet fields in the Texas Hill Country.

Texas is the beautiful, warm beaches of the Gulf Coast of South Texas.

Texas is the shiny skyscrapers in Houston and Dallas.

Texas is world record bass from places like Lake Fork.

Texas is Mexican food like nowhere else, not even Mexico.

Texas is the Fort Worth Stockyards, Bass Hall, the Ballpark in Arlington, and the Astrodome.

Texas is larger-than-life legends like Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, Janis Joplin, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Landry, Darrell Royal, ZZ Top, Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell, Nolan Ryan, Denton Cooley, Michael DeBakey, Sam Rayburn, George Bush, Lyndon B.Johnson, and George W. Bush.

Texas is great companies like Dell Computer, Texas Instruments and Compaq. And LOCKHEED MARTIN AEROSPACE, Home of the F-16 Jet Fighter and the JSF Fighter.

Texas is NASA.

Texas is huge herds of cattle and miles of crops.

Texas is skies blackened with doves, and fields full of deer.

Texas is a place where cities shut down to watch the local High School Football game on Friday nights and for the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, and NIOSA River Parade in San Antonio.

Texas is ocean beaches, deserts, lakes and rivers, mountains and prairies, and modern cities.

If it isn't in Texas, you don't need it.

Texas even has its own power grid!

No one does anything bigger or better than it's done in Texas.

By federal law, Texas is the only state in the U.S. that can fly its flag at the same height as the U.S. flag. Think about that for a second. You fly the Stars and Stripes at 20 feet in Maryland, California, or Maine and your state flag, whatever it is, goes at 17 feet. You fly the Stars and Stripes in front of Pine Tree High in Longview at 20 feet, the Lone Star flies at the same height - 20 feet. Do you know why? Because it is the only state that was a republic before it became a state.

Also, being a Texan is as high as being an American down here. Our capitol is the only one in the country that is taller than the capitol building in Washington, D.C. and we can divide our state into five states at any time if we wanted to! We included these things as part of the deal when we came on. That's the best part, right there.

God bless Texas!

(Note: I have no idea who is the author of this tribute or where it originated. If anyone knows for sure, please pass on the info. I would love to give them credit!)

Ugly Rumours and Rivers of Cocaine

I'm not sure exactly where to place the link, but these two articles have got to be related somehow:
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's past life as a wannabe rock and roll star with shaggy hair and lurid underwear is to be exposed in a comedy documentary, Channel Four television said.

Before becoming a smart-suited world statesman, Blair fronted the rock band Ugly Rumours during his days studying law at Oxford University, apparently even styling his unruly locks with butter.
... and ...
So much cocaine is being used in London that traces of the white powdered narcotic can be detected in the River Thames, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper said.

I'm just saying, is all...

A Change of Image for DeLay

An update from the Houston Comical:
The new judge in the criminal trial of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on Monday set his first hearing in the case for Nov. 22, most likely taking up motions to move the trial from Travis to Fort Bend County.

Attorneys for DeLay, R-Sugar Land, have asked Senior Judge Pat Priest to take up the change of venue motion first, but there also are motions before Priest to quash the indictments against DeLay and to sever his trial from his co-defendants, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis.

Interestingly enough, I have noticed that no one in the mainstream media is still using that smiling, confident mug shot photo of DeLay. On the Houston Comical website, the small bio window that is included with every DeLay article has gone from using this (the mug shot image):
Tom DeLay mug shotto using this more pensive shot:Tom DeLay, worried by the Houston Chronicle

Monday, November 07, 2005

Students Threaten Texas High School

An online threat against a San Antonio high school virtually shut down the school, as less than 15% of the students showed up for classes today:
All but 400 of the 3,000 students at San Antonio Warren High School either didn't show up or walked out of class today due to threats against the school posted on a popular teen web site, 1200 WOAI news reported today.

"About mid morning today we were able to confirm that the web site 'MySpace-dot-com' allowed several students to post threatening messages on it's web site, messages threatening Warren High School," Pascual Gonzales of the Northside School District said. "This message said two boys were planning to show up at school with guns."

Gonzalez said extra police were on hand, and teachers and administrators were in a 'high state of anxiety.'
Police report that the students who posted the threats have already been identified and will be facing felony charges.

Following Her Example

The following remarks were made by Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams at the recent memorial service for Rosa Parks:
"The lesson from Mrs. Parks' life is that one person can make a big difference. Each of us is challenged to reach deep inside, as Mrs. Parks did on December 1st in 1955, and find the moral courage to reach across party lines, economic lines, religious, cultural, ethnic and racial lines to bond together in a way that manifests our greatness. This greatness is the highest calling to human dignity and freedom, this hope that is America, that Rosa Parks responded to and that people around the globe continue to heed. So today, I think the best way to honor Mrs. Parks is to reflect on her example of service.

"While each one of us may not be able to do everything, we can each do something. A small act that might make a large contribution. Take action. Get involved in our community. Clean a parking lot, school ground or park. Mentor or tutor a child. Lead with conviction in our homes, our jobs and our community. Promote the well being of others beyond our families and our selves. This is the best way to continue the legacy of Mrs. Rosa Parks."