Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Pic: The Hardest Stretch of Interstate To Drive Award


IF YOU ENJOY INTENSE, DIFFICULT DRIVING THROUGH THE AMERICAN COUNTRYSIDE, then I have a great recommendation for you: try driving I-70 from Evergreen, Colorado west of Denver to Grand Junction, 20 miles from the Utah border. If you want to hone your driving skills---perhaps you're thinking of entering a NASCAR competition somewhere---then this stretch is a perfect training run for you. Especially if you don't mind mind-blowing concentration with both eyes glued to the road with no time to blink, and both hands gripping the steering wheel for almost 250 miles. Be my guest. Each time I drive this stretch, I seem to have forgotten how much it takes out of me when I do it.

Here are some of the things you'll encounter: High 10,000' mountain passes, steep downhill grades, breath-taking uphill climbs, big tunnels through mountains, falling rocks, wildlife on the road warning signs, curvy canyons, cantilevered split lanes, runaway truck ramps, mighty rivers rushing below, beside and in front of you and lots of traffic going in both directions. Occasionally there's a big tractor trailer rig hauling what appears to be a massive part of the Space Station. For much of the trip the posted speed limit is less than 50 mph. Yesterday there was a hail and wind storm for 20 miles.

Sure, between Glenwood and DeBeque canyons----the road tames down and you can open up the throttle full-steam. It's like a reprieve. But most of this trip is with sweaty palms, a wing and a prayer.

I cannot imagine what this---the last stretch of I-70 to open in the early 90s---cost to construct. It is an engineering feat of the major proportions!

It's beautiful countryside, but who's looking? I only took the time to relax for a minute of two when I was able to find a rest stop and get out to walk and breath deeply. This drive is not for anyone who needs to check their Blackberry every few minutes, or take their hands off the wheel. Take it from me, this is a tough drive and to do it safely requires mandatory concentration and patience. An amazing stretch of American road. But I wouldn't want to do it often. If I were a trucker, I'd avoid it like the plague and find a way to go cross-country on the tamer I-40 or I-80 by-ways. When you're done, you know you've been on a real drive.

Shock Meeting On Top Of Sanitas

AFTER A DIFFICULT CLIMB APPROACHING THE SUMMIT, euphoria often sets in for a hiker. It was certainly the case for me earlier this week, as I bagged the top of Sanitas. When people let go and start to enjoy their mountain-top experience, most become more convivial.

Indeed after such a climb I am deeply grateful to God and happy to be alive and in one piece. Since I can now breathe, I'm open to human conversation, especially willing for others to talk while I listen.

So as I took those last steps to the top, a woman close to my age---39, next question----was bounding down as if she'd been up nothing more than a low flight of steps. We glanced at each other and she spoke first....You made it and you look so fresh, she said.

Surely you're not talking to me---I'm definitely feeling the altitude, I responded. I was thinking the same thing about you.

Thus began an amazing conversation which went from the where-are-you-froms to much deeper subjects which I'll get to later. First a little background:

I've been coming through super-liberal Boulder for decades, mainly going back and forth to stodgy Wyoming. Frequently I stay with or certainly see my good friends---M & D a couple I've known and loved from our early days in Washington D.C. attending meetings of the national board of The Nature Conservancy (D and I were the youngest national board members they'd ever elected). In the beginning we were all somewhat liberal, but as time grinded on, M&D became more liberal and I grew way more conservative. For the most part our friendship wasn't affected and this change often added to more lively dinner conversations on a wide range of subjects when we all got together. But as time went on I became disillusioned with TNC's politically correct stand on man-made global warming, as M &D became more entrenched in its efficacy.

Last summer while I was in Boulder, I gave D a copy of the Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi on all things Goldman Sachs and the historic bubbles it had helped engineer. I have been critical of TNC to D for TNC's entrenching both Hank Paulson as the now erstwhile chairman of TNC's board, and later enthroning Paulson's protege from Goldman---Mark Terck--as president of TNC, even as Paulson rotated to become Secretary of Treasury under Bush2 and author those famous first bailouts of the banks, his old investment firm and AIG.... that our grandchildren will be paying for forever.

I often argued to D, and still do, that Goldman/Paulson/ are so interested in TNC (and the Democratic platform) not because it wanted to save disappearing ecosystems, but rather because it/they sniffed global carbon trading that would make GS and its principles wealthy beyond all human imaginings if Cap and Trade were passed. Taibbi's article shook D to the core. He told me it kept him up all night....He's a water lawyer and told me he was currently working on a hydro project with Goldman and TNC in China.

Both M&D were and are sold on Al Gore and the foregone conclusion of man-made global warming (AGW). We would talk for hours on the pros and cons.


Anyway, back to the top of Sanitas in Boulder this week. My conversation with this woman hiker unfolded further. (As fate would have it, M&D are both out of town this time---M in Truckee babysitting their new grandson. D is in China working on his hydro project with GS and TNC.)

We had an immediate connection about exercise, a healthy lifestyle, food, family and professions. Politics was not mentioned as we gabbed.

I already surmised without doubt I was talking with a super-liberal, health-conscious Boulderite like I'd met dozens of times before......I figured there was no need to go near politics.

Then she told me was a 'climate scientist'....

I bit my tongue....A climate scientist? I said. How very interesting.

Every aching, tired muscle, sinew and nerve in my body screamed Don't go there!! You already know what she's going to say.... Don't open that can of worms.....She's from Boulder for heavens sake!

And then....then..... I took a deep breath of that super-thin Rocky Mountain air and tip-toed towards that pregnant QUESTION about man-made global warming.....

Was she a believer in AGW, I wondered.

Actually no, I'm not, she responded adding, The science has been terribly contaminated by the politics of it. Then she went to say she regularly gives lectures in the area on the myths associated with climate change.

Surely I was hallucinating from altitude and heat. Would she say that again, please? I couldn't be hearing that in Boulder.

We ended up standing there, then sitting down on rocks for thirty to forty minutes about the racket of AGW. Then we talked about the economy, debt, the printing of money, the bailouts.

I had clearly met one of the few true conservatives in Boulder. We were clearly birds of a feather. I couldn't believe my good fortune. That evening, she and her husband---a contractor and avid fly fisherman----met me for dinner at all our favorite downtown restaurent, The Med. And we talked more!

Then we decided to stay in touch.

And guess what? While my older dear, liberal friends, M & D were out-of-town, I met some new conservative ones with exactly the same first initials---M & D from the right side of town!

And now I've told the rest of the story....

Monday, June 28, 2010

Climbing Boulder's Mt. Sanitas


I FLUNG MYSELF INTO THE DEEP END OF THE HIKING POOL TODAY climbing Sanitas. By any standard it's a tough, steep hike with an elevation gain of close to 2,000'. I'm in decent shape in the lowlands of Middle Tennessee. But being in good shape there and here from a mile-high base are two very different things. Two years ago I climbed Sanitas with a good friend who lives here in Boulder and turned my ankle so severely that I had surgery two months later to correct that three-decades old injury. Now I'm back doing it for the second time since that surgery. It went well today, but starting in the cool air of early morning is a must. Also hiking on an empty stomach with only a couple cups of black coffee and lots of water in my system helps. Other than that, it was a terrific climb with an amazing surprise at the top. But I'm too tired to write more until morning. Definitely feel a great night's sleep on the way! This is one of the finest training hikes of all time and I'd do it several times a week if I lived here.

The Way It Outta Be More Than It Is

"HILLSDALE COLLEGE is one of the last true meritocracies. There's no place on its application for racial identity, and it doesn't know the racial make-up of its student body until it shows up on campus in the fall.

'The purpose of education is not diversity,' Hillsdale President Larry Arnn says. 'It's truth.'"

Detroit News, Hillsdale College Continues to Just Say No (To Taxpayer Money)


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Reflections


MAN MUST HAVE AN IDOL—The amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry. No idol more debasing than the worship of money. Whatever I engage in I must push inordinately therefore should I be careful to choose a life which will be the most elevating in character. To continue much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of thoughts wholly upon the way to make more money in the shortest time, must degrade me beyond hope of permanent recovery. I will resign business at thirty-five...

— Andrew Carnegie, Personal Memorandum, December 1868

Pastor Rice Broocks talks at Bethel World Outreach in Nashville: Men Continue to Show Up and God Will Show Up Too.

Putting the Size of the Oil Spill in Perspective

NOT TO DIMINISH THE DISASTROUS QUALITY OF THE OIL SPILL to the ecosystems and lives of people in the Gulf states, or diminish the urgency of fixing it as soon as possible. Nonetheless, this is a must-read article which I first saw at RedState on the relative size of the spill: It wouldn't begin to fill the Superdome.

Putting things in perspective at least helps with patience which seems to be in short supply these hot summer days. We do need to continue working night and day to get this dreadful stream of gushing oil into the Gulf stopped for good. It probably won't be until the fall, from all reasonable accounts I read.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sunrise on the Colorado/Kansas Line

DROVE INTO COLORADO FROM KANSAS very early this morning with a grateful, happy heart. I was listening to Brazilian Cafe and drinking a cup of coffee I'd made in the microwave of a cheap motel this morning---the last motel room available in Goodland, Kansas when I rolled in late last night, so sleepy, I could have slept in my car or on the floor for lack of a bed.

Tonight, I'm truly exhausted on the beautiful Eastern slope of the Rockies. It's windy, cool and a good night for catching up on much needed sleep before going on to visit friends in Grand Junction Tuesday.

Driving across the country in uber-heat with the afternoon sun blaring in your eyes---and staying alert---is a real challenge at this time of year. Add to that a substantial elevation gain and it's even harder. No better time to fast and drink lots of water and sips of coffee. Leave the carbs, starches and sugars alone on drives like this.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On The Road Again

GETTING AWAY FOR SEVERAL MONTHS is always hard work, but I can't remember a time I've been busier before migrating. After hitting a big deer on I-81 in SW Virginia over Memorial Day weekend (want to write about it later when I can) and subsequently being delayed in the east 10 days longer than scheduled for repairs, I returned to Nashville to catch up and make up for lost time.

This afternoon I said my last goodbyes to family and friends in 95+ degree heat and headed up I-24, I-57 and I-64 for Kentucky, Illinois then Missouri. Friday it's more Missouri and a whole lot of Kansas. Colorado comes onto the horizon Saturday morning. It's a slow, imperceptible elevation gain from 500' in the Nashville basin to 5,280' rolling into Denver. Most of the trip now will be on I-70.

Meanwhile, I'm almost too tired to care whether Al Gore has been described as a wild sex poodle---how strange---or just the world's dullest noodle. Make no mistake, whatever the answer, he's never been one of my favorite people. But I've got to say in his defense that any woman who goes to a man's hotel room anytime of the day or night, under whatever pretense, especially to give a full-body massage to a man who's been drinking, is asking for, well---how to say it?--asking for a major life lesson in men and opportunistic sex.

None of it surprises me, though it is indeed bizarre. Also terribly uninteresting for more than five minutes, at most.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mr. Obama's Deepwell OK

IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T HEARD, it seems President Obama and various cabinet members were aware of and green-lighted the risky Deepwell Horizon drilling project to depths of 35,000' from the get-go, the front end, the beginning. All very, very interesting. Read on at Zero Hedge as to why the administration wanted this fast-tracked and was willing to waive many important safety precautions:

PRESIDENT OBAMA, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were informed that BP would drill an unprecedented 35,000 feet well bore at the Macondo site off the coast of Louisiana.

In September 2009, the Deepwater Horizon successfully sunk a well bore at a depth of 35,055 below sea level at the Tiber Prospect in the Keathley Canyon block 102 in the Gulf of Mexico, southeast of Houston.

During the September drilling operations, the Deepwater Horizon drill penetrated a massive undersea oil deposit but BP's priorities changed when the Macondo site in the Mississippi Canyon off the coast of Louisiana was found to contain some 3-4 billion barrels of oil in an underground cavern estimated to be about the size of Mount Everest. It was as a result of another 35,000 feet well bore sank by the Deepwater Horizon at the Macondo site that the catastrophic explosion occurred on April 20.

According to the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) sources within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Pentagon and Interior and Energy Departments told the Obama Administration that the newly-discovered estimated 3-4 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico would cover America's oil needs for up to eight months if there was a military attack on Iran that resulted in the bottling up of the Strait of Hormuz to oil tanker traffic, resulting in a cut-off of oil to the United States from the Persian Gulf.

Obama, Salazar, Chu, and Gates green-lighted the risky Macondo drilling operation from the outset, according to WMR's government sources. WMR learned that BP was able to have several safety checks waived because of the high-level interest by the White House and Pentagon in tapping the Gulf of Mexico bonanza find in order to plan a military attack on Iran without having to be concerned about an oil and natural gas shortage from the Persian Gulf after an outbreak of hostilities with Iran.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Memories of My Father

HE WAS A MAN'S MAN, YET I NEVER HEARD A SINGLE curse word or profanity come out of his mouth. Never saw a Playboy in our home or any sign that he cared for any woman, other than my mother whom he singly adored. I do know in the early years of his marriage, about the time I was born, he would get into occasional fist fights, back when he still would have a drink or two at a social event. There was rumor of a big fight at the country club when a man tried to make a pass at my mother. I think they may have wrestled each other to the floor and several by-standers had to pull them apart. My father and his 'opponent' were chilly acquaintances from then on, for the rest of their lives. But I never heard of another fight after that.

Growing up, I almost never saw him take a drink other than a rare glass of wine. But he made up for it with a sweet tooth. He loved chocolate and would often pour chocolate sauce on top of chocolate ice cream. I was never a sugar fan, so I would often be silently appalled at what I considered his sugar addiction.

My father loved the outdoors as much as any man I ever knew and passed that passion on to me. Not only did he work part of each day outside in the lumber yard, he loved to walk, play golf and hunt. When he couldn't get outside enough, he'd go down in the basement and pound his punching bag with his boxing gloves on.

In the fall, he quail hunted in the wild country of hills and fields outside of town. As a little girl, I would beg him to take me with him. When he said Yes!, I was beside myself with excitement. We would walk for miles and miles all afternoon through brambles and briars with his shot gun and bird dogs in the late fall air. He taught me to shoot. When we'd get our limit of birds, we'd take them home to clean. He showed me how to pull off their heads---but I was too squeamish so he'd end up having to do it himself. I was brave enough to help pull off the quail feathers though. Then he'd take out his pocket knife and cut the guts out and more or less fillet them. I'd wash the newly cleaned birds in a pan before we put them in milk cartons, covering them in water, and freezing them until a special occasion. On Thanksgiving my mother would always cook dozens of quail in butter and sherry, served with wild rice , along with the turkey. I can still smell the sweet aromas of the birds and gravy coming to the table and was so proud I'd helped to bring them there with Daddy.

I have several strong images of my father that will live with me forever. He was a devout Christian and would get down on his knees to pray every night.Sometimes I would barge into the room when he was there. I'm sure he prayed for me and my sister every day of his life. After he finished his prayer, he would get up into bed with my mother---later with my step-mother---and read a page of two from the Bible either out loud or to himself. He never missed a night. This ritual, like his morning coffee, or blessings before meals was so entrenched for decades of his adult life that only his impending death weeks before he died would end it.

I remember the thrill of going down to visit him at his office at the lumber mill down in Depot Bottom. It smelled of oak paneling and tobacco, though he was never a smoker. In the early days there were brass spittoons in the waiting area for the men to use. Seeing that both terrified and fascinated me. It was as if I'd gone into a scary world of rough and tumble men. My father always admonished me to wear a skirt below my knees and conduct myself like a lady when I came into his man world. I was never allowed to wear shorts or skimpy tops down to the mill and never allowed to speak unless spoken to until I was older.

He was a political conservative who believed strongly in less government and lower taxes. He loathed labor unions like the plague. After that, he loathed debt. Although he made plenty of money, he never cared much for living high-on-the-hog. It was one of the things I most admired about him. Stuff simply didn't matter, especially as he got older. Much of what he had and did, he did it for mother and us-- and later for my step-mother who relished the good life a bit more than he did.

He was far from perfect and could be inflexible and stubborn. But both of his wives loved and respected him. He was happily married to my mother over thirty years before she died. It broke his heart. When he remarried, he was happily married another thirty years. I believe it's hard for any woman not to respect a Godly man like him. Love without respect is very hard to sustain between men and women I think.

I had many differences with my father over the years which are other posts for other times. When I went away to college in the 60s, I became a knee-jerk liberal with no idea what I stood for. Only that I stood for what sounded much more liberated, exciting and cool at the time. It took me decades to come back to my ideological roots, much to his chagrin. Yet when I did come back, I had made many of them my own and had experienced enough liberal elitism and experienced their effects never to want to go back there again.

There's so much more I want to write about my father and our relationship. But it's getting late and a strong West Wind is blowing in my life this week. Perhaps I'll come back and write a little more from the Western Slope of the Rockies soon. He would like that, I'm sure.

One thing's for sure, I learned to pray for my family, children and grandchildren by watching and following his example. Knowing he submitted to a Higher Authority and feared the Lord was one of the greatest things he passed on to me and our family. He lived a godly life, though not without many heartaches and challenges. I miss him and give thanks one da I'll surely see him again.

He was truly a small town Southern gentleman. I've been blessed by that in ways I'm only now coming to fully appreciate.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Trace Atkins---Former Oil Rig Worker---Tells It Like It Is

TRACE ATKINS NAILS THE ATTITUDE OF THE WORKING MAN in the Gulf in this must-see interview. He calls President Obama's moratorium on deep well drilling idiotic.

Watch the whole thing, and remember while Mr. Obama ties the hands of American oil companies, foreign companies/countries will go right on drilling deep wells right off our shores. That includes countries like Cuba and China. Again, he makes the point that the moratorium on shallow water drilling which eco-extremists pushed to outlaw is much safer and should be re-instituted. I can't disagree with anything he says. After working in the oil drilling business for 10 years, including six on Gulf oil rigs, he should know what he's talking about.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

If You're a Politician and Want A Friend In Washington.....Then......You Know What You Have To Do....

YEP. That's it! Bill Clinton found out. So did George W. Bush. And now, Mr. Obama is learning too. Of course, Harry Truman said it. Here are a couple of other of his notable down-to-earthisms:

"I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell.”

"If you can't convince them, confuse 'em."

Thanks so much, Greg, for this fab vid!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Now, This Is.....Interesting.....To Say the Least

ALABAMA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE RICK BARBER has something to say about the unchecked growth of the federal government, government healthcare and increasing taxation without representation in our country. In this ad he sits around a round-table with with George Washington, Ben Franklin and Sam Adams. It's a powerful message to deliver. A powerful message to receive.

After being delayed/stranded in SW Virginia and NE Tennessee the past few days, I can tell you many of my Scotch-Irish brethren feel exactly the same way as Barber. We you don't want to get the NASCAR guys at the Bristol Speedway mad for long. We really don't.



I realize I'm treading on sacred ground for some here, but after being away from the computer most of the weekend, I've come back this evening to see a major brouhaha about N.C. Congressman Bob Etheridge who was accosted by two 'students' who were unwilling to identify themselves (Who were they anyway?) while asking him a monumentally silly question: did he agree with President Obama's agenda? First saw it on Drudge, then followed some links and watched the video. For the life of me I can't get wigged out about this. Even a little.

For one thing, the video accosting of Etheridge by the 'students' looks like a set-up to me, as a former newspaper reporter. Was it another staged sting operation orchestrated by Andrew Breitbart on a slow news day, after an even slower news weekend? Etheridge didn't exactly handle himself in the most graceful manner at the end of a long, hot day, we can all agree; however, he was walking down the street minding his own business when the brouhaha/brow-beating began. And what possible difference does it make that he was on his way to a fundraiser for Nancy Pelosi? Anyway, Etheridge has apologized. Needless to say, to the conservative elite it didn't have enough of a ring of authenticity to it. Does any forced public apology ever seem completely sincere? Of course not.

I'm quite sure Democratic Rep. Etheridge is a man I would rarely agree with on most issues and never vote for, for myriad reasons. However, it seems like a straw mountain has been made out of a teeny molehill here. I can't get on this outrage train with the likes of Andrew Breitbart's Three Ring BIG Circus, HotAir, Michelle Malkin, and Pajamas Media, just to name a few. It's not worth my energy or effort and none of them can or will make me care.

I prefer to save my emotions for things that might not have been conjured up during a hot, slow summer weekend by people who don't have better things to do and can never rest for even a minute. If some conservative-leaning organization staged this ambush of Etheridge, then I hope it's discovered and branded reprehensible.

This kind of political-baiting and cheap shot taking will never help conservatives or Republicans get elected or win back Congress. In fact it will only serve to slow things down. Haven't we got better things to do?


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Secular, Atheistic Fundamentalism On the Scourge Of Christian Fundamentalism

THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT is a degeneracy movement composed of reject and refuse elements of every kind…. It is therefore not racially conditioned; it appeals to the disinherited everywhere…. It needs a symbol that represents a curse on the well-constituted and dominant… it takes the side of idiots and utters rancor against the gifted, the learned, the independent, for it detects in them the well-constituted and the masterful.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power
(H/T, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, June 6 program)

I have to laugh when I hear the intellectual elite of the world talk about Christian fundamentalism as if fundamentalism were only an anomaly to followers of Christ. In fact every human being bases his or her life on some set of fundamental, bedrock set of beliefs. Secular fundamentalism says emphatically that we can't know there's a God. It says it with utter certainty. And independence from the Word of God. And ultimately it portends a life of rationalization and going one's own way in the shifting sands of relative morality instead of the fixed principles on which God created and based the world.

Anyway, Nietzche---whose life and mental health was one long train wreck---represents the most scathing secular fundamentalist attacks on us hair-brained Christian fundamentalists. Rather than responding in my own words, I'll instead quote the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 1 who speaks for God better than anyone else I know:

1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
"God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise."
Is God the author of confusion?

1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Medical Tourism Here To Stay


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Salma and Friends Freak


CLEARLY POLITICS AND THE OIL SPILL have gotten to us, especially to me. That's why I can hardly write much about either at the moment, even after the primary wins last night. Right now, I favor less intense subjects. Like this video of Salma and friends completely freaking out over a snake that appears on the scene of some interview. It's very funny from a distance, but we all know we might not have done much better if we'd been in their place. Whether it's snakes, spiders, bears or rats, we've all been there. I certainly have. Can remember years ago when a grown man with a family and successful career almost fainted in our home when he saw our 'pet' white mouse escape his cage and run across the kitchen floor as our children roared with sadistic and uproarious laughter.

While I was fishing on the South Holston recently, one of my good 'friends' threw a life-like poisonous rubber snake on my shoulder while I was totally relaxed, sitting on the front porch minding my own business. He snuck up and dropped the snake on me in front of several by-standers....needless to say, I freaked completely out, giving the crowd the greatest laugh of the entire weekend. The men couldn't contain themselves. And my friend was beside himself with delight that he'd pulled this off.

For my part, I didn't think it was one bit funny. So I can commiserate with these wimmen-folk above. I screamed just as loud, but not quite as long. And, well, I didn't have to try to escape the snake in stilettos....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Answer to The Question, Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Washington D.C.? Yes! His Name Is Stephen Strasberg

HEAVEN KNOWS WASHINGTON NEEDS SOME NEW BLOOD. It's been a long, hard winter in more ways than one. The old guard has worn out its welcome. The hopeful new guard has lost its way, if it ever has one. But nevermind. There's a new guy in town name of Strasberg. He's young, athletic and knows how to pitch and strike a lotta guys out. He pitched and won his debut game for the Nationals tonight against Pittsburgh. He's the talk of the town.

Utterly refreshing. Here's wishing him the best as he begins his professional career in the nation's capital. Here's more:

Stephen Strasburg arrived in the majors with a flourish, looking every bit like the ace this town has not seen since Walter Johnson. He set a Nationals single-game record for strikeouts, fanning 14 Pittsburgh Pirates over seven innings of a 5-2 victory and taking a curtain call from a crowd of 40,315

Strasburg’s first pitch was a ball, 97 miles per hour. His 94th and final pitch was two m.p.h. faster, a swinging strike by Andy LaRoche. Strasburg struck out the last seven hitters he faced and eight of his final nine. He walked none, allowing four hits and two runs on a homer to the first row of seats by Delwyn Young.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Reflections

MR ALLNUT: A man takes a drop too much once in a while, it’s only human nature.

Rose Sayer: Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.

— Katherine Hepburn to Humphrey Bogart — in The African Queen


FOR THE GRACE OF GOD…...teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very
own, eager to do what is good.

— Titus 2:11-14

Thanks to Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, from last week's service. I'll conclude with a prayer of a seeker and ultimately a great man of faith, before he was found:

"Oh, Master, make me chaste and celibate ---- just not yet!"

-----Saint Augustine

Thursday, June 3, 2010



TOOK A CAR, A TRAIN AND THE JITNEY yesterday to get me here with G-boy and G-girl. Long day, but well worth it. Today was cool and very laid back. And until a few minutes ago, I hadn't even turned on my computer. It's a nice thing to be able to do that some days. Good especially because I've never known a time when I found the news more grinding. I find myself wanting to run and hide from it.

I now believe the Gulf oil leak---one of the greatest man-made disasters of all time---will continue on into the late summer and fall. It's only going to get harder to watch wildlife, birds, salt water ecosystems and the culture that's tied to them die as this mess spreads.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Gore Separation


WHILE THERE'S NO ONE WHOSE POLITICS AND 'RELIGION' I DISAGREE WITH MORE, I'm nonetheless deeply saddened to hear today of Al and Tipper Gore's reported separation. One of their homes, the one in Nashville, is just round the corner from where I live. I must confess it's seemed pretty lifeless there----as in no one appeared to be home---for the past six to eight months. I surmised they were in Santa Barbara doing over their latest piece of residential real estate overlooking the Pacific.

Life in the global spotlight, on the road trying to change the world has to take a heavy toll. I certainly didn't expect this though. Somehow, I thought the Gores were exempt. I've never been personally or professionally attracted to Al. But I've always found Tipper to be lovely and genuine. They certainly seemed like a devoted couple. But you never know.

Anyway, I've found public separation usually follows years, if not decades, of slow emotional and spiritual separation/erosion and going separate ways. At some point, you wake up and find there's nothing left to work on or resuscitate. Sad to learn this truism proved only too true for them.

I'm not going to say anything about global cooling. I'm not going to say anything about global cooling. I'm not going to make a crack about global cooling.....or the doubling, triping of the separation footprint......

Instead, if reconcilation is not an option for them, I wish them both well. I pray there's no hidden scandal yet to unfold. I suspect Al is forever done with Tennessee and that Tipper will go between her old family home in Arlington, Virginia and Nashville.

As the World Swoons With Israel Derangement Syndrome (IDS), Can't We Just Get Hold of Ourselves?


SEVERAL YEARS AGO, I traveled to Israel as the only Christian with a humanitarian group---The Jewish Federation of Lehigh Valley (JFLV). It was and still is one of the highlights of my life. Many wonderful friendships were made and endure today. Now as the world again swoons with Israel Derangement Syndrome (IDS), I'd like to post a briefing sent to me this morning by Mark Goldstein, good friend and executive director of JFLV. It includes information you probably won't find readily in the MSM.

BTW, I absolutely support Israel's right to exist as a separate state. Unequivocally. I support its attempts to co-exist with the Palestineans. I do not believe Israel is always right and without fault all the time in its struggle to exist in the Middle East.

But I do think the world is far, far too quick judge and rule against Israel. It's filled with the political chicness which harsly and automatically judges Israel before all the facts are in and without putting it in context.

I think the MSM routinely makes spaghetti of Israel and slants news towards its enemies---enemies hellbent on wiping it---Israel--- off the face of the Earth. Enemies that have no intention of co-existing with the State of Israel. For the sake of balance, I am copying here Mark's worthwhile update---and its invaluable links---on the incident below:


WITHOUT A DOUBT, there is tremendous fluidity to the news surrounding the interception of the Gaza flotilla and the unfortunate deaths of nine aboard one of the six ships.

At the risk of inundating you with too much information, I wish to call your attention to several facts that seem to be either missing or limited to a fleeting reference in the news. Note that links to videos and source information is in bold, blue text.

Israelis Met by Deadly Violence on Mavi Marmara:

The Israeli Navy provided several warnings to the Mavi Marmara ship. Click here to see the video.

The Israeli Navy boarded five ships with no resistance and no fighting. This clearly undermines statements by anti-Israel news commentators who state that the Israelis boarded the ships intending to create a violent conflict.

Only on one boat, the Mavi Marmara, was there significant violence. The first Navy paratroopers to land were attacked with metal rods and knives. In some cases, soldiers’ weapons were stolen and used against them. Israeli soldiers interviewed on Israeli television report that police riot equipment and ordinance, including paint balls, were initially utilized. Only after 30-40 minutes of combat did they resort to live fire. Link here (video: IDF Navy soldiers attacked on ship) and here (video: demonstrators use violence against IDF Navy) for 2 separate videos graphically reporting the violent greeting awaiting the Israeli Navy paratroopers.

Note: viewing of the 3 videos referenced above in this section is highly recommended.

Connected to Terror: Who is Behind the Flotilla?

§ The organizations and passengers behind the Gaza flotilla have been variously described as "peace activists" and "humanitarian organizations". This could not be further from the truth. The primary objective of this flotilla was not to deliver aid packages to Gaza but to spread anti-Israel propaganda in cooperation with Gaza's Hamas rulers.

§ Playing a central role in the flotilla is the Turkish IHH organization, which besides its legitimate philanthropic activities is also, according to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, a supporter of radical Islamic networks, including Hamas, and at least in the past, even global jihad elements.

§ See here and here for detailed information on the IHH.

§ Amongst the other organizations involved in the flotilla is
the International Solidarity Movement. The ISM has a shameful record of placing foreign nationals in danger through encouraging 'direct action', which resulted in the death of American citizen Rachel Corrie. In 2003, ISM's extreme ideology was underscored when terrorists, originating from the UK, used ISM as a cover to attack Mike's Place bar in Tel Aviv, murdering three people. More recently, ISM has been a leading force in the violent protests against the security barrier at Ni'lin, while an ISM activist has been jailed in the US, charged with "giving about $20,000 to a group he knew supported Hamas."

§ An Al-Jazeera report from May 28, translated by Palestine Media Watch (click here for video), shows activists on board before departing for Gaza, chanting Intifada songs aimed at Jews and praising martyrdom. Chants include "Intifada, intifada, intifada! Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Mohammed will return!" relating to a seventh century massacre of Jews in Khaybar by early Muslims.

§ From Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief, one of the main groups involved with the flotilla, “is a radical Islamist group masquerading as a humanitarian agency.” Israeli authorities claimed that the group is "sympathetic to al-Qaeda". Israel does not dispute that the foundation, known by the initials IHH, provides relief compatible with its official status, including supplying food and medicines to orphans and conflict zones, and investing in education. But they accuse it of overtly supporting Hamas, designated as a terrorist group by both the United States and the European Union, and also of being in contact with al-Qaeda cells and with the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

§ Carnegie Endowment analyst, Henri Barkey: "It's (IHH) an Islamist organization as it has been deeply involved with Hamas for some time, … some of its members went on the boat saying that they had written their last will and testament."

International Law

§ Dr. Ronnie Sabel, Hebrew University international law expert, explains that a state, in a time of conflict, can impose an embargo, and while it cannot carry out embargo activities in the territorial waters of a third party, it can carry out embargo activities in international waters.

§ Within this framework it is legal to detain a civilian vessel trying to break an embargo and if in the course of detaining the vessel, force is used against the forces carrying out the detention then that force has every right to act in self defense.

§ Dr. Sabel noted that there is a long history of embargo activities in international waters.

§ Indeed, according to the San Remo Manual that governs international humanitarian law, it is permissible under rule 67(a) to attack neutral vessels on the high seas when the vessels "are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture."

Important Points:

§ We regret the loss of life and the serious injuries that occurred on both sides of the confrontation.

§ While it is too early for definitive judgments, it appears that Israeli forces were brutally attacked when they peacefully tried to divert the flotilla to Ashdod port where an assessment of items on board could be made.

§ This tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea could have been avoided. The fact that the flotilla refused to cooperate with Israel’s repeated entreaties to unload their humanitarian cargo in Ashdod for delivery to Gaza proves that violent clashes are exactly what the international supporters of Hamas must have been seeking.

§ According to Israeli sources, their commandos were acting completely in self-defense.

§ The motivation of the Gaza flotilla organizers is questionable: As flotilla organizer Greta Berlin stated: "this mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege,” and another supporter exclaimed that the aim of the flotilla was “either of two good things…achieving martyrdom or reaching Gaza."

US Reaction

§ Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, Deputy Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations, forthrightly dismissed the flotilla's attempt to directly deliver aid to Gaza by sea as "neither appropriate, nor responsible, (and) certainly not effective under the circumstances” reminding the UN Security Council that “mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by member states and groups that want to do so. These non-provocative and non-confrontational mechanisms should be the ones used for the benefit of all those in Gaza.” He added that “Hamas’ interference with international assistance shipments and the work of nongovernmental organizations complicates efforts in Gaza. Its (Hamas’) continued arms smuggling and commitment to terrorism undermines security and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike.” Wolff stressed that the US “will continue to work closely with the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, along with international NGOs and the UN, to provide adequate access for humanitarian goods, including reconstruction materials, through the border crossings, while bearing in mind the Government of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

§ Sunday statement by the Office of the White House Press Secretary: “…The President spoke by phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He said he understood the Prime Minister's decision to return immediately to Israel to deal with today's events. They agreed to reschedule their meeting at the first opportunity. The President expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today's incident, and concern for the wounded, many of whom are being treated in Israeli hospitals. The President also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning's tragic events as soon as possible.”