Saturday, June 30, 2012

Down Time

The Supreme Court's ruling on Obamacare was horrible, but there will be plenty of time to write about that in the coming months. Today I will only say this: As angered as I am by the ruling, I am not discouraged. We can still prevail and force Obamacare's repeal come November.

For the next week I will be in the mountains and away from it all. I will resume blogging when I return, but until then I will enjoy myself. 

Because today is Thomas Sowell's birthday, I encourage you to read anything he has ever written, especially about current events in recent months. And because Independence Day is next week, I strongly encourage you to read this, which was the second post I ever published.

Take care.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

et ceteras

Millions of us are on pins and needles waiting for tomorrow, when we will finally learn the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, and many of us will be writing at great length about that decision after the robed ones hand it down. But in the meantime, here are some thoughts about other things that have been a-happening in the world:

When I was a teenager in the 1980’s, I read the Parade magazine one Sunday and learned that President Reagan had hosted openly gay overnight guests at the White House. That was very controversial at the time, but he did it and was the first American President to do so…Last week, gay activists flipped off Reagan’s portrait in the White House, took pictures of themselves doing it, and posted the pictures on Facebook…They are juvenile-minded ignoramuses with no knowledge of history and no sense of human decency, and they are an embarrassment to the people they profess to represent.

Speaking of ignoramuses, perhaps the world’s most dangerous one is Barack Hussein Obama on the subject of economics. Reflexively reverting to class warfare propaganda, he has taken to accusing Mitt Romney (via Bain Capital) of eliminating American jobs and shipping them to foreign sweatshops. This claim is disingenuous at best, bogus at worst, and thoroughly debunked here and here.

For all the deserved build-up over the Obamacare ruling, another major event will take place tomorrow when Congress votes on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for his refusal to turn over subpoenaed documents in the Fast and Furious scandal. As you probably know, after 16 months of Holder’s stonewalling, President Obama suddenly invoked executive privilege at the last minute to keep the documents under lock and key. It was obviously a farce, because if there really was a basis for executive privilege, Obama would have invoked it at the beginning of the 16-month investigation, not the end.

Speaking of Fast and Furious, many Obama apologists have responded to it by -- surprise! surprise! -- blaming Bush. Which is hogwash…When Bush was in office, the BATF started an operation called Wide Receiver, in which guns fitted with GPS tracking devices were sold to Mexican drug traffickers with the intent of tracking them back into Mexico to determine the locations of higher ups in the drug cartels. This was done only after giving advance knowledge to Mexican authorities and with the expectation of them cooperating; however, when their cooperation never materialized, the program was cancelled more than a year before Obama took office…By contrast, Fast and Furious began after Obama took office; did not fit guns with tacking devices; involved roughly ten times the amount of guns that were in Wide Receiver; was done without notifying the Mexican government…Wide Receiver was not a good idea, especially in hindsight, but to act like it and Fast and Furious were the same thing is brazenly dishonest.

And finally, as noted here, the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s immigration law was a mixed bag. Right now my mind is not made up about it, but is made up about one thing: Obama & Co. have officially declared war on the states. If this was not already made clear by the fact the feds have sued Arizona over its attempts to enforce immigration law, and sued Florida over its attempts to ensure that those who vote in elections are in fact registered to vote, then Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s childish response to the Arizona ruling should remove all doubt.

Until next time, refuse to give up the fight no matter what happens tomorrow…

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Porkchop

I can not believe it has already been a whole year since Parker emerged from Erika's womb to brighten our lives:

And make Sarah a big sister:

If you will pardon the cliche, I remember it like it was yesterday. Erika went into a molasses-speed labor two days before her scheduled C-section, and after a long, overnight back-and-forth about whether to wait until the scheduled time or go ahead and "do it now," the latter was decided upon in the pre-dawn hours of June 22, 2011.

But as I stood near Erika's head in the OR, just like I had done when Sarah was delivered by C-section seven years earlier, an unusual problem popped up. The local anesthetic, which was being administered by epidural injection, did not work. Erika could feel the doctor and nurses touching her and that did not change even after more time was allowed for the anesthetic to distribute to the key nerves. Perhaps this was because an old back injury was affecting the anesthetic's ability to distribute to the places it needed to reach, but regardless of the reason, the decision was made to put her under general anesthesia.

I was rushed out of the OR and down the hall, left to wait nervously outside one of those "authorized personnel only" doorways you always see in hospitals. I will never forget the feeling of my lips turning up in a smile when I finally heard Parker cry in the distance, letting me know he had safely arrived.

Here we are when we left the hospital a few days later to head home:

Within a few days of Parker's birth, Sarah gave him a nickname that will stick with him forever: Porkchop. And the past year has brought countless precious moments and memories -- not to mention a rash of fine photographs. This one was taken when he was only five days old, by the inimitable Kelly Noel:

And here he is on his very first Christmas morning:

One of Parker's cute traits is that he uses his middle finger, rather than his index finger, to point at things and touch them. Two months ago, that same inimitable Kelly Noel captured him doing just that on a sidewalk at the University of Tampa:

His first word was "egg," but the one he uses most often is "eat" -- and oh my God, does the kid love to eat! Maybe it's a boy-girl thing, but I don't remember Sarah ever eating anywhere near as much as he does.

Maybe this is a boy-girl thing too: Compared to how Sarah was when she was a baby, Parker is freakin' relentless. If Sarah wanted to crawl to something she wasn't allowed to crawl to, she could be redirected within only a few tries, but Parker will keep doggedly crawling back to the forbidden fruit until you surrender or put him to bed.

When he looks at ceiling fans that are turned on, he loves to swish his hand in a "round and round" motion...but when it comes to ceiling fans that are turned off, he stares at them with a look of puzzlement and sometimes gets upset.

And he loves to smile! But he is also very high maintenance, at least compared to Sarah, because he will not stay self-involved in anything for more than ten minutes before starting to demand our full attention.

And no matter what, all of these observations make me smile. I only wish he would stop growing so fast.

I love you Porkchop! In closing, here we are this very evening:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Sieve

So far, June has been such a horrible month for Obama & Co. that it’s hard to figure out where to start commenting on it.

Do you start by talking about the trouncing they took in traditionally blue Wisconsin, where voters rebuked their efforts to recall Scott Walker?

Or by talking about the fact that public sector unions, which comprised the main interest group in that recall effort, were also rebuked in California of all places?

Or do you start by talking about The Exalted One’s blatantly false and breathtakingly foolish remark that the public sector is struggling and the private sector doing “fine” -- when the private sector’s unemployment rate is almost twice that of the public sector’s?

Or by talking about the recently released unemployment figures, which a) were worse than Obama & Co. projected and b) confirmed that America has been stuck at more than eight percent unemployment for forty consecutive months -- ever since Barack Obama’s first full month in office?

Or do you start by talking about Attorney General Eric Holder’s obstruction of Congressional efforts to investigate the Fast and Furious scandal, which has led to the deaths of many Mexicans and one U.S. Border Patrol agent?

Or by talking about how after sixteen months of Holder’s stonewalling, Obama suddenly invoked executive privilege to protect him, on the same day that a vote was scheduled about whether to move forward on charging him with contempt of Congress?

Those are all good places to start and they all demonstrate why Obama does not deserve a second term. But as far as I am concerned, the month’s biggest story is the one about how his White House is leaking national security secrets to the press and jeopardizing our safety in the process.

The primary responsibility of our federal government is to defend America, and by extension our allies, against enemies who would not hesitate to kill us or rob us of our freedom. And because Obama is perceived to lack determination and courage in this arena, it is imperative for him to gain “street cred” as he seeks reelection. When it comes to the recent New York Times articles that divulged secret details about our national defense tactics, it is impossible for me not to conclude that those details were intentionally leaked to the Times by Obama’s inner circle, so that they would be broadcast to the world and make him appear strong and smart. And I would bet a thousand dollars to a donut that the leaking was done with Obama’s knowledge, perhaps even at his behest.

There is no doubt that leaks are coming from the White House, since the Times descries a source as "a senior administration official" and the Tampa Tribune reveals that "some of the information was known by only a handful of administration people." And it must be difficult for anyone to doubt that leaks are being done for any reason other than to lather the president in leg-tingling praise. Historically, most leaks are of the whistleblower variety, done to help the leaker clear his conscience over actions that offend him on an ethical plane; but the recent Obama leaks resulted in him being referred to as "a student of the writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas" who "believes that he should take moral responsibility for such actions" -- a line that should cause tear-inducing laughter, since Obama has a very long history of opposing warfare and never came close to mentioning Augustine or Aquinas in either of the books he wrote about himself.

But setting sardonic humor aside, the main issue regarding the leaks is that they make us less likely to receive help from our allies, and therefore less likely to prevent attacks in the future. It's a given that no one will cooperate in espionage if they can't trust that their methods and sources will be protected. If we won't protect our own secrets, how can anyone trust us to protect theirs?

Horrific real world effects have already happened in the leaks' wake. Shakil Afridi is a Pakistani physician who risked his safety and life to help us locate Osama bin Laden. Without his bravery, bin Laden would still be alive. And now, after the leaks led to his involvement being disclosed in public, he has been taken hostage and thrown into prison and is almost definitely being tortured. And no one in the Obama administration, much less Obama himself, is lifting a finger to secure his release.

Most American citizens do not know about this shameful episode, but every country's government certainly does, and given that knowledge I can not image a scenario in which they would choose to stand by our side.

If the Afridi episode shows how we treat our friends, then we are sure to be friendless, and it is entirely, one hundred percent, the fault of Obama and his cronies.

Who can possibly think it is a good idea to return that bunch to the executive branch for another four years?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Great Openings

Summer is upon us and seems to be when people do most of their reading. That is the only reason I can think of that I am writing this post instead of commenting about all the major goings-on in the world…Well, that and the fact I recently learned that It is being made into a movie, which reminded me that I have always wanted to write about opening lines.

I read all types of books and place a great deal of importance on a book’s first sentence. I want it to hook me, draw me in, and intrigue me so that I feel I must read the whole thing and see what happens.

When I am on the fence about whether to plunk my money down, all I do to make up my mind is read that opening line. It is all that stands between the publisher/author and their revenue/royalty. Since first impressions are known to be very important, if an author fails to make an impact with his first sentence, how can I trust him to make the rest of the book interesting?

Obviously, this tactic is far from perfect. Some books with humdrum openings prove to be great reads, while some with intriguing openings prove to be humdrum. And it is very subjective. For generations people have swooned over Dickens’s opening to A Tale of Two Cities (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,” ad nauseam) but I think it is cumbersome and dull and states something obvious rather than something insightful.

Now I will get off of my soapbox. If, after reading this, you want to take my place on it and tell me there are better selections than those I am about to list, please do so because that is what makes things fun. But here, in alphabetical order by author, are what I consider the ten best opening lines I have ever read:

“It was a pleasure to burn.”  (Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953)

“Not long after I moved with my family to a small town in New Hampshire I happened upon a path that vanished into a wood on the edge of town.”  (A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson, 1998)

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”  (Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier, 1938)

“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.”  (Tracks, Louise Erdrich, 1988)

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”  (Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides, 2002)

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”  (The Gunslinger, Stephen King, 1978)

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years -- if it ever did end -- began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”  (It, Stephen King, 1986)

“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.”  (The Road, Cormac McCarthy, 2006)

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  (1984, George Orwell, 1949)

“In my first memory, I am three years old and I am trying to kill my sister.”  (My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult, 2004)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


68 years ago this morning, human beings from the naval forces of eight Allied nations laid their lives on the line in ways most of us can hardly fathom. Two-thirds of them were from the U.S.U.K., and Canada.

Traveling in ships and amphibious vessels, they set sail from England in the pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944, bound for the Normandy beaches of Nazi-controlled France. It was the first time since the 1600’s that any invading military had crossed the perilous waters of the English Channel, and as day broke tens of thousands of troops disembarked from their landing craft and plunged immediately into Hell on Earth.

Slogging first through waves and then through sand, they were sitting ducks for the Nazi gunners positioned on shore. Bullets rained down on them amidst a cacophony of explosive reverberations. The men at the fronts of the landing crafts were the first ones to step on the beach, and they stepped onto it knowing they were likely to get shot. Each of them was acutely aware he might be entering the final seconds of his life.

Approximately 10,000 Allied men were killed or wounded that day. However, in bearing that brunt of brutality, those who were first on the scene helped clear the way for 100,000 of their fellow soldiers to reach shore and advance against the enemy, freeing occupied towns as they went. By the end of the month more than 800,000 men had done so, and the war’s momentum had swung in the Allies’ favor. Within a year the Nazis surrendered unconditionally.

In military parlance, the phrase “D-Day” refers to the first day of any operation, but in the public’s mind, it will always refer to the events on the beaches of Normandy. And now, the men who braved the bullets on those beaches are dying away at a rapid rate. Let us always appreciate their valor, and always understand that we would not be free without them.