January 2009


31 Jan 2009 04:09 pm

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Jan. 31: An Iraqi girl holds up an ink-stained finger after her parents voted in the country’s provincial elections in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, Iraq.

Growing up in Iraq for this generation of Iraqi children will be very different than it was for their parents. The color purple will signify something entirely different than it did for their parents because it will not be the sickening purple of bruises resulting from beatings inflicted because they dared to speak out against the brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein.

The brilliant choice of the color purple as the indelible ink to be used for proof that an individual Iraqi voted has also provided an indelible image of the courage of the Iraqi people to the world.

Millions of Iraqi citizens stepped over the rubicon from chaos to Democracy in the election in 2005 and as the nation has reached considerable more stability the Iraqi people again took advantage of the privilege a Democratic government provides. The color, purple has always been associated with royalty, regality, and nobility and with the election today, millions of Iraqis earned their colors.

While the news media’s been consumed with coverage of all things Obama, a man-made miracle happened today in Iraq and it was brought to the world, courtesy of the steadfast leadership of the former President of the United States, George W. Bush. He listened to and appointed General David Petraeus to lead the United States Military in that all important Surge which brought victory and provided more safety to the Iraqi people.

This election was truly a victory for the Iraqi people because they ran it themselves.

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s provincial elections have wrapped up without any reports of serious violence.

Polls closed at 6 p.m. (10 a.m. EST) on Saturday — an hour later than planned — after millions of voters cast ballots for influential regional councils around most of Iraq. There were no reports of major violence.

Iraqi authorities imposed a huge security operation around the country that included traffic bans in major cities and extensive checkpoints and surveillance posts. The U.S. military also was out in force but did not take a direct role in the election security.

Results from the elections are not expected before Tuesday.

Iraqis passed through security checkpoints and razor-wire cordons to vote Saturday in provincial elections that are considered a crucial test of the nation’s stability as U.S. officials weigh the pace of troop withdrawals.

Polls opened shortly after dawn after a step-by-step security clampdown across the country, including traffic bans in central Baghdad and other major cities and closure of border crossings and airports.

More.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has hailed a largely peaceful vote for new provincial councils across the country as a victory for all Iraqis.

Voting was extended by one hour due to a strong turnout, including among Sunni Muslims who boycotted the last polls.

“I consider it a great success, like a wedding.”

Iraqi forces are determined to show they can keep security in the country as U.S. troops begin to withdraw almost six years after the invasion to overthrow Saddam.

Maliki, who claims credit for improving security, aims to use the election to build a power base in the provinces before national polls later this year. Sunni Arab groups who boycotted the last provincial polls hope to win a share of local power.

There was something of a holiday atmosphere in many parts of the country. In normally traffic-choked Baghdad, children took advantage of a ban on cars to play soccer in the streets.

“How can we not vote? All of us here have always complained about being oppressed and not having a leader who represented us. Now is our chance,” said Basra voter Abdul Hussein Nuri.

In the only reported incidents countrywide, mortar rounds landed in former dictator Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit but no one was hurt, and Iraqi troops shot one person dead and wounded another after a quarrel in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum.

U.S. forces killed two Iraqi police officers during a raid in Mosul in early morning before polls opened. The circumstances were not fully explained.

In addition, five candidates were assassinated in the run-up to Saturday’s election — three just two days before the vote.

“Those who want to pull down the electoral process as a whole have just not been able to get off the ground. That … is a very positive sign,” said Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert at the University of London.

The 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq had patrols on the streets and helicopters in the sky but mostly kept a low profile. A U.S. armored column was seen weaving down a Baghdad street between children and rocks placed in the road as makeshift soccer goals.

“So far, so good. The significance? Historic,” U.N. Special Representative Staffan de Mistura told Reuters at a polling station in a Baghdad school. “We have seen quite a flux of participants … The rules have been applied quite strictly. I’ve also been seeing quite a good organizational system.”

There’s so much that’s good in this, my eyes fill with tears and I can’t begin to list all the insightful people who are taking note of this most historic day so I will let The Anchoress do it. She has so many of them already. Go see and forget all the dark, foreboding nonsense coming out of the Obama administration. Many of us supported President Bush from the begining in his decision to fight the war on terror and to invade Iraq and free the people from that mad tyrant. We have the right to share in the joy.

May the nation of Iraq continue to bloom and grow.

30 Jan 2009 02:49 pm

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Stepping outside this morning the first thing I noticed was the sound of popping and snapping of wood and birds singing. This was the first day the temperature broke the freezing mark.

Nature’s singing.

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For the past three days the trees and surrounding shrubbery have been bowed down heavily with ice.

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The sun makes its appearance for the first time this week to set the captive trees free from the ice.

Garrett Lewis, KFSM-TV’s Chief Meteorologist, has a Weather Blog at 5NEWS and he drove around the area taking a video of the damaged trees. It’s a really sad sight.

29 Jan 2009 09:52 pm

Now, this is more like it.

From Yankee Magazine Online, New England’s Website, (a website I highly recommend) is a deeply felt and carefully drawn tribute to the great American painter, Andrew Wyeth.

The Ghost of Andrew Wyeth

America’s Most Beloved Painter is Gone

by Edgar Allen Beem

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Trodden Weed,” self-portrait by Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth is dead. He reportedly passed away peacefully in his sleep at the great age of 91. Had this been summer, he probably would have drifted away in Port Clyde, Maine, but, as it is winter, his final resting place was Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the little hamlet where he was born in 1917. America’s most famous and most popular artist, Wyeth was also its most misunderstood.

Andrew Wyeth lived a charmed but cloistered life. His world was largely limited to the two poles of his existence - Chadds Ford and Maine, where the Wyeth clan owns properties in Cushing and Port Clyde, including several private islands. He preferred “going deep” to scattering his attentions far and wide. As such, he created internationally-known art out of the lives and landscapes of these two rural outposts.

There is much more to read in this very insightful tribute so please do. The last paragraph is the most meaningful in this piece as it expresses what I believe is the reason Andrew Wyeth will transcend the critics in the art establishment just as Vincent van Gogh did.

If you’re going to live a deep life rather than a shallow one, you have to embrace your roots. Wyeth was trained by his father, the great illustrator N.C. Wyeth, and when he came to paint his oblique 1951 self-portrait, “Trodden Weed,” he portrayed himself walking the land of his forebears wearing boots that once belonged to his father’s teacher, Howard Pyle. We all inhabit the past. We live among ghosts. And now Andrew Wyeth, who knew this better than anyone, is himself history.

I discovered Andrew Wyeth in a high school English textbook when I was a sophomore. His painting, Christina’s World was opposite a poem by Robert Frost. I remember being in awe of the painting, carrying the book home from school that day, not to read, but simply to stare at the painting, taking in all the rich details, lines, and subtle colors.

The discovery of the painter, Andrew Wyeth ranks as one of five thrilling discoveries in art in my young life: Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, Michelangelo’s David, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and Monet’s Haystacks.

28 Jan 2009 10:04 pm

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It has been eight days since the much ballyhooed inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama. The Wide Awake Cafe has kept the coffee locked up tightly in the canisters on the back shelves of the store. No froth, no cream, no lattes, and not even any weak tea has been offered while this proprietor has been hiding and watching the new administration march forward to the brave new world that was promised to us by the One.

After one week, has the One lost his aura of majestic Oneness?

What is in the privy council of this prince, Obama? What kind of treasure trove of artifacts will we find after eight days?

I’ve been studying the deep history of the first eight days of the Era of Obama and so far, the Hope and Change that we have all been promised has been much more like the Gloomy shades of a Tim Burton movie. Obama’s cast the great Rush Limbaugh as his evil nemesis. Nancy Pelosi’s been put in her place, Biden’s had a few forelocks plucked and some Republicans, in the senate, in their desire to please the great Obama seem to want to belong to another party altogether, say the Wannabe tribe.

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Never before in my lifetime (except perhaps the presidency of Jimmy Carter) has there been such a dour outlook coming out of the White House but at 12:01 pm on January 20th there was no mistaking who was in charge at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Obama started out in office by peddling fear of the future to the American people. Not fear of foreign attack, but fear of loss of jobs. In most, if not all of his news conferences in the past eight days, the president has promoted a list of new job losses, using this as fodder for his massive 800 billion dollar stimulus plan. (all 1,588-pages of the big pieces of pork that he calls economic stimulus)

The news media, of course, plays along with the president, they get the talking points every morning. And when the press doesn’t cooperate with Obama, he lets them have it.

Obama’s pressing hard to pass the stimulus bill quickly (before people read the small print) declaring “we don’t have a moment to spare.”

Everything you ever want to know (or don’t want to know) about the stimulus is at Read the Stimulus. Hat tip: Powerline

That’s some deep reading.

Surprisingly, Republicans are holding on to their wallets and are not supporting the great Obama in his quest to take America over the edge into socialism even though he has invited them over to the White House for cocktails tonight.

What will they be putting in the drinks? After giving such a resounding NO to Obama congressional Republicans may want to take along some food tasters. Not one Republican in the House voted for the Democrat Crap Sandwich. The GOP actually stood up and said no. This will be a stand that will sting the O in the Oval. The privy will not be pleased. Nevertheless, this must be done for the sake of our country and our children and generations to come.

Dick Morris wrote the following on January 20th…

But in the name of a largely unsuccessful effort to end the Depression, Roosevelt passed crucial and permanent reforms that have dominated our lives ever since, including Social Security, the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, unionization under the Wagner Act, the federal minimum wage and a host of other fundamental changes.

Obama’s record will be similar, although less wise and more destructive. He will begin by passing every program for which liberals have lusted for decades, from alternative-energy sources to school renovations, infrastructure repairs and technology enhancements. These are all good programs, but they normally would be stretched out for years. But freed of any constraint on the deficit — indeed, empowered by a mandate to raise it as high as possible — Obama will do them all rather quickly.

But it is not his spending that will transform our political system, it is his tax and welfare policies. In the name of short-term stimulus, he will give every American family (who makes less than $200,000) a welfare check of $1,000 euphemistically called a refundable tax credit. And he will so sharply cut taxes on the middle class and the poor that the number of Americans who pay no federal income tax will rise from the current one-third of all households to more than half. In the process, he will create a permanent electoral majority that does not pay taxes, but counts on ever-expanding welfare checks from the government. The dependency on the dole, formerly limited in pre-Clinton days to 14 million women and children on Aid to Families with Dependent Children, will now grow to a clear majority of the American population.

There have been the myths of one sort or another before the election, but what is the reality of the man who’s first call to a foreign official from the Oval office was to Palestinian President Abbas; his first foreign interview was given to Al Arabiya, the Arabic-language satellite news channel; one of his first actions was to issue an executive order to close Guantanamo within a year. Where to house the terror detainees apparently hasn’t been decided. Sixty-two detainees released from the U.S. Navy base prison in Cuba are believed to have rejoined the fight against America so should Congressman John Murtha get his wish to house the detainees in his district in Pennsylvania we will see how well his constituents take that bit of news. So far, they’ve voted for him no matter what, despite the long list of verbal abuse he’s heaped on them so what’s a few homicidal jihadis in the mix?

Just eight days into his presidency, Obama’s soft approach to diplomacy has brought a strong reaction from Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded today that Obama apologize for sixty years of crimes committed against Iran by the United States.

The hardline leader also called on Washington to withdraw its troops from across the world as a proof of Mr Obama’s commitment to change.

“You were standing against the Iranian people in the past 60 years,” Mr Ahmadinejad said during an address in the western region of Khermenshah that was broadcast by state television.

“Those who speak of change must apologise to the Iranian people and try to repair their past bad acts and the crimes they committed against Iran.”

As to the troops, he said he expected two kinds of “deep and fundamental” change.

So Obama still thinks he can negotiate with this mad man? His administration has been drafting a letter to Iran since November?

And yet, he told the Republicans to get in line because he won.

Republicans, moderates and of course, the news media were praising Obama’s appointments to the cabinet during the transition and the Republicans, at least, had some faint hope that things would turn out better than they are in truth turning out to be. We are in for a fight as the Republicans in elected office are finding out.

Eight days of silence to watch the many reversals of Bush administration policies which kept our country safe and the despicable reversal of the Mexico City policy. The Obama administration is reversing former President George W. Bush’s climate change policies in order to allow states to raise fuel efficiency standards. How will this schizophrenic policy assist the auto industry as it struggles to get out of the red?

Eight days in, it’s not looking good. President Obama tried to walk through a window at the White House today.

20 Jan 2009 02:04 am

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Where do I start with this very sad missive that I feel must be stated for once and for all with my own limited means of expression? President George W. Bush will be leaving the White House tomorrow and believe it or not, he will be missed, if not immediately, within twenty months of this day. That he has been ripped to shreds by the political elite who knew what they were doing has been quite obvious since the 2000 election. That he has been treated with profound disrespect by Barack Obama throughout the presidential election and especially the transition is quite apparent.

That President George W. Bush has borne all of this with grace is crystal clear.

That the man who will become our next president tomorrow is just a man, has not been made clear by the no longer objective media. Barack Obama is not Abraham Lincoln or the second coming of Christ although some in the American punditocracy seems to believe he is. He could possibly be the Pied Piper.

That Obama is now a cult like leader is a frightening truth.

That Obamamania has become an obsession has been obvious for quite some time.

Because when it comes to Obama, hyperbole seems to be the rule, not the exception.

His charms seem tough to resist, even for some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

“He walks into a room and you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere,” George Clooney told talk show host Charlie Rose.

“I’ll do whatever he says to do,” actress Halle Berry said to the Philadelphia Daily News. “I’ll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear.”

Welcome to the cult of Barack Obama.

Not that the singer Bruce Springsteen’s utterances matter much at all but he launched an attack on President Bush yesterday in an interview which was published just as he was singing at the ‘We Are One’ concert on the mall celebrating the inauguration.

The Born to Run singer said that the US was now “suffering the consequences” of eight years of rule by a “very radical group of people” who had attempted to undermine the country’s democratic values.

Describing President Bush’s period in power as a “nightmare” for most Americans, the songwriter said: “We had a historically blind administration who didn’t take consideration of the past; thousands of thousands of people died, lives were ruined and terrible, terrible things occurred because there was no sense of real history, no sense that the past is living and real.”

In a rare interview, Springsteen said that President-Elect Barack Obama’s election represented the triumph of the values and spirit he had attempted to capture in his music.

That we no longer have an objective national media is more than plain to see.

Even some members of the media, trained to be “objective” and to withhold their own emotions while reporting, were lip synching the lyrics as Bono wowed the crowd, on the day before MLK Day, with a rendition of U2’s “(Pride) In the Name of Love.”

People were incredibly friendly, except, of course, for the one photographer in the media section who brought a stepping stool so he could tower over the other journalists.

The fanfare of it all struck me immediately after I got off the Metro train in the morning. As some left the station, they chanted, O-BA-MA! And then there were the streets littered with Obama merchandise.

One woman quickly showed me the small selection of Obama candy bars that she was selling.

“You can’t eat them, though,” she said. “They’re a collector’s item.” (I did end up buying one for $2, but only because I was hungry.)

The list goes on: Obama buttons, picture frames, even a set of playing cards.

“Get your Obama playing cards–where George Bush is the joker in every deck!” shouted the street vendor.

That we have very few individuals with courage in the Republican party is clearly observable.

That the conservative pundits we used to trust have bought into the Obama magic.

They want to see him succeed. At what one would ask?

On this Martin Luther King holiday I was taking a longer time to wake this morning. Not jumping out of bed to make coffee, just dreaming and coming to wakefulness slowly. First, praying for my family, then contemplating the day, and watching the light filter in the room.

Then, I remembered Martin Luther King’s profound statement about his dream that his four little children would one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

That dream seems to have come true in the election of Barack Obama.

Yes, I will pray for President Barack Obama in this respect…that he will soberly undertake the mantle of leadership of our nation and the free world. That he will consider that the national and economic security of our country should go hand in glove. Is this too much to ask?

We will see.

Hope and change are symbolic words, not policy deliverables as some Americans will be expecting once Obama takes over the reins of government but these words are supposedly what Obama told his wife, Michelle that he hoped to offer America when he was inaugurated. This is pretty thin gruel. There is nothing there that speaks of strong character, deep insight, or even of a deep love of anything. There has been no on-the-knees-Apostle Paul, sacrificial moment, “here I am Lord, send me.”

There is such a striking difference in the way this inauguration is being covered by the media and the celebrities that are flocking to it. One would think there was never a September 11th, or a war on terror. The holiday from history begins.

But what of the ripping to shreds of George W. Bush? It still continues and if Nancy Pelosi and her compatriots in congress have their way, it will continue while they tax and spend and spend and tax. The media will give them cover on the evening news by covering the testimony of the show trial.

It’s been this way since 2000. As Sissy Willis writes: to trash Bush was to belong.

What I’ve been getting to in this missive is a dream I had back in 1998. First of all, some background. I am a Christian and a Southern Baptist. I look askance at psychics and fortune tellers and all that.

But in my life I have had a few dreams that have come true. Just a few.

In the late winter of 1999 I became aware of George W. Bush because of the news that the previous November he had won his second gubernatorial race in Texas by a record 69%. Bill Clinton had just come through the impeachment with the senate voting to let him off.

One night I dreamed that George W. Bush was standing alone in the middle of a boxing ring seemingly the winner of a fierce fight and there was a sort of fogginess around him mixed with a golden aura. He seemed to have on a golden robe and a serene and yet determined look on his face. I awoke with a start. A thought came to me right away, “he will be the next president.”

I remembered that dream throughout the presidential primaries and even bought a book to learn more about him. When it looked like Gore was going to win the election after the networks called Florida for him I was pretty dejected and decided to go to bed (we were living in Germany) but I remembered the dream and knew that it would come true.

I remembered the catcalls from many in the media about President Bush’s Christian faith and statements that he had made about being called to a purpose that they had twisted, implying that Bush felt that he was called by God to be president. All sorts of calumnies like this were hurled at President Bush.

When one thinks what he did face just eight months in to his presidency, standing up against the most vile of all evil that our nation has ever had to face and yet for that he has received nothing but vilification from those who should have known better. They do know better but for political purposes they have chosen not to acknowledge that fact.

I’ve often wondered if I were the only one who could see the spiritual side of the fight that President Bush has had to endure in his sacrificial presidency to protect and defend our nation but no, there are some who do. Taking a step back from politics is helpful for one to see the other aspects of the job of a commander in chief.

Paul Kengor in the American Thinker writes of the sacrificial Presidency of President Bush and compares it to Aslan at the Stone Table in the movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

My mind, however, for several years now, has raced back to another movie when I think about George W. Bush — actually, a scene in the movie, based on a scene in a book by the same name. These final days of the Bush presidency seem an apt time to share it.

The scene is from C. S. Lewis’s classic, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” It takes place when the Christ figure, the lion, Aslan, is led like a lamb to the slaughter at the Stone Table, where he is killed by the White Witch and every ugly hobgoblin of the netherworld. Aslan knows this is what he must endure for the larger good. Lewis described it this way:

A great crowd of people were standing all round the Stone Table and though the moon was shining many of them carried torches which burned with evil-looking red flames and black smoke. But such people! Ogres with monstrous teeth, and wolves, and bull-headed men….

A howl and a gibber of dismay went up from the creatures when they first saw the great Lion pacing toward them…. Then [the Witch] recovered herself and gave a wild, fierce laugh. “The fool!” she cried. “The fool has come. Bind him fast…. Bind him I say!”

The Hags made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found that he made no resistance at all….

And they surged round Aslan, jeering at him…. But he never moved. And this seemed to enrage all that rabble. Everyone was at him now….

At last [the Witch] drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but his head looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice, “And now, who has won? Fool….”

She plunged the knife. It was finished.

The movie portrays this bracing scene vividly and unforgettably. It needs to be seen to be appreciated.

The rest of Kengor’s piece needs to be read in order to be appreciated.

The Americans who watched President Bush standing on that pile of rubble in 2001 boldly telling the world that those who knocked down the buildings would be hearing from us soon were touched by his strength and determination. (we know this because of his overwhelmingly high poll numbers) Now, at the end of his presidency, as we see the progress that our military has made, the Iraq war won, a Democracy in the Middle East being built, AlQaeda weakened and still on the run, to counter all this success, it took many malicious mouths and a determined daily drubbing by the media to knock down President Bush’s popularity but still, he leaves office as serene and determined as he entered it.

President Bush is a good man. He served our country with honor. He doesn’t deserve the malicious treatment he has received.

Still, we will see who has won. Fool….

Welcome Sisu readers. Thank you for stopping by.

Welcome Amused Cynic readers. Thank you for stopping by as well.

18 Jan 2009 11:57 am

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Andrew Wyeth, one of the most popular and also most lambasted artists in the history of American art, a reclusive linchpin in a colorful family dynasty of artists whose precise realist views of hardscrabble rural life became icons of national culture and sparked endless debates about the nature of modern art, died Friday at his home in Chadds Ford, Pa. He was 91.

What can be even sadder in the passing of a great artist is the selection and world view of the writer of the obituary.

16 Jan 2009 07:55 pm

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The Captain of the Ship of State has kept the nation sailing safely through deep and troubling waters these past eight years. Yesterday as President George W. Bush prepared to deliver his farewell address to the nation there came the shocking news that a commuter plane had crashed into the Hudson River in New York City.

My first thoughts were, “Oh, no, not another terrorist attack!” After all, eight months in President Bush’s first term two planes flying in New York’s air space caused great destruction on September 11th, 2001 and just as Bush was about to say farewell some seven plus years later, here was a plane that could possibly be doing the same thing.

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Then came the news that it wasn’t a small plane that had plunged into the icy waters of the Hudson River, it was a US Airways jet with 155 souls aboard.

Then we learned that the plane was still afloat and encircled by many ferries, and other boats as people were literally standing on the wings.

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Isaiah 43:2

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Reporting from New York – After a stricken US Airways jet made an extraordinary emergency landing in the Hudson River on Thursday, a flotilla of commuter ferries, water taxis and other boats plucked all 155 passengers and crew — many shivering as they stood on the plane’s wings — to safety in as little as five minutes.

Once the plane was down, the ferries and other boats immediately went into action.

“Hurry up, guys! Man overboard!” shouted Vince Lombardi, the captain of the ferry Thomas Jefferson. Lombardi and his crew were among the first at the scene and rescued 56 people, he said. “They were shouting ‘I’m cold, I’m cold.’ “

As we have since learned, all the passengers on the plane were brought safely out of the water. They were cold and wet but alive. They were survivers, many have since declared, of a miracle.

The pilot, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger lll, a USAF veteran, has over 40 years of flying experience. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, (B.S.), Purdue University (M.S.) and the University of Northern Colorado (M.A.). He was a speaker on two panels at the High Reliability Organizations (HRO) 2007 International Conference in Deauville, France May 29-31, 2007. He has just been named a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

Even more providentially, Sullenberger heads up an aviation safety firm, is an expert in Catastrophic Risk Management and a certified glider pilot.

Sullenberger glided his plane safely into the water.

Last night President Bush delivered his farewell speech and although the news media covered it, most news organizations quickly went back to fulltime coverage of the miracle on the Hudson River. I found it ironic that not one commentator made note of the curious timing or place or circumstances of the crash landing or the fact that the pilot, an Air Force veteran was the right man in the right place at the right time which in the early days just after 911 was also how President Bush was being described by the likes of Howard Fineman and others in the liberal media.

No one made any connections.

How quickly Americans have forgotten.

In his piece, The 9/11 Presidency, Phillip Klein writes the following:

But while most of America has moved on from that horrific Tuesday morning, the occupant of the White House could not.

“As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9-11,” President Bush said in Thursday night’s farewell address. “But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our nation. And I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe.”

This threat against our nation became President Bush’s overwhelming focus after September 11th, 2001. He would defend the American people and our American way of freedom. He would do it against opposition from Democrats and even from some in his own party. President Bush chose principle over popularity. He did keep the American people safe. We will land safely on January 20th, 2009 with Captain George W. Bush at the helm.

Thank you President Bush for taking America on this safe journey these past eight years. The time seems to have flown and while I know that it is time for your term to end I am very sorry to see you leave. Our nation has been blessed to have such an honorable and good man leading it. I am sincerely sorry that there are so many Americans who don’t realize the good that you have done or the many sacrifices that you and others have made in the name of national security.

Some day history will tell the world about the greatness of the man, George W. Bush. Our great grandchildren will one day read about the tens of millions of people who now live in a democracy because of your belief that the desire for freedom resides in every human heart. The detractors who hounded you these past eight years will be forgotten because their words were full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, as we knew all along.

Come Tuesday, January 20th, at 11:30 a.m. EST, Captain Sullenberger’s advice to the passengers on Flight 1549 moments before they crash landed into the Hudson River may be prophetic advice for all of America, “Brace for impact.”

16 Jan 2009 12:08 am

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Old King Cole, one of the many snowmen my Dad built back in the snow days of our childhood.

It’s snowing today, just a little really but it’s cold here in the foothills of the Boston Mountains and I say, bring on the snow.

I can’t say we’ve had much of the white stuff in recent years, much to my regret. Our father made snow so much fun when we were kids that I have always loved cold weather and have looked forward to even the hint of snow.

Luckily, we’ve lived in a lot of snowy places but in recent years since my husband has retired it’s been like living in the Sahara Desert when it comes to snow.

My mother could always tell when snow was coming by watching the birds. She could spot the snow birds. For some reason the weather men can’t seem to do that. There was no hint of snow in the weather forecast last night.

Our weather man has taken to blogging.

I keep forgetting to check out the link but I should because it tells me more than the actual weather page, which should tell us something about the effectiveness of blogging….

I remember noticing something the other day about the world entering a global ice age, that global warming is passé which is why the environmental wackos have been changing their lingo of late to “climate change”.

It’s all a cycle. There was a lot of snow in the fifties and sixties here. It slacked off in the past twenty years. I’m ready for some snow but not ice.

I am writing under the influence of being under the weather today so this is all a stream of consciousness.

Last night I felt like I was being hit over the side of the head. I couldn’t sleep. All night long I was awake. That’s me though. When I do sleep it’s good. When I don’t it’s up all night for me. Notasleep. I am on twitter now and that’s my handle. Then for an hour I did go to sleep. When I awakened I looked out the window and there were all these little white things falling down from the sky. I hadn’t seen them for so long I had a hard time identifying them until I turned on the coffee maker.

There was white on top of the car, on the yard, on the porch. It was fun looking out of the window and seeing so much white.

Flakes.

Snow.

Coffee helps to clarify the mind and therefore the fingertips on the keyboard.

elvissnowman.jpg

Daddy kept up his snowman-making-skills after I grew up and married. He sent me this photo of Elvis, the snowman when we were stationed overseas in Germany. He made this snowman in honor of Elvis Presley after his death in 1977. That winter was a cold one in this part of Arkansas.

He wrote on the back of the photo that he worked some more on the snowman after he took the picture and it looked better. Ever the perfectionist.

If you scroll back up to the top picture and look at Old King Cole, the snowman, take a look at the background and you will see the kingdom of our childhood, where my brother, Bobby ruled supreme. He was always the Captain and our neighbor, Mark was his right hand man. Tommy Across the Street was the Sgt. Lucy was the tattle tale and I was probably one too. Lucy and I did our own thing except when the boys took to building forts.

We always got in on that. When there were wars we liked to play too. Lucy and I liked to be the Indians and would go to the moss kingdom and look for arrowheads. There was a stream that ran through the woods and at the back of the woods it got wider and we liked to jump over it. We would jump and jump and purposely get sloppy so we would slip and fall in the middle and make a splash. A big white sycamore tree hung over the stream and it had lots of hanging vines we liked to catch hold of to swing across. Behind our woods was a large pasture which belonged to a neighbor. They had a large pond on their property. On a very rare ocassion we would slip through the fence and go over to the pond to try to skip some rocks.

But we had enough magic going on in our own woods.

Especially when it snowed. Our own horse, Scout got in on the action. He loved it when it snowed. Note the little shed in the background of the photo. That was his shelter. It was open in front so it didn’t keep him very warm. Quite often when Daddy closed the gate in the front yard giving Scout the run of the yard our intrepid horse would manage to get into the garage which is where we kept the feed and the hay. One time he trampled Daddy’s box of Al Jolson records.

One winter when it was so bitter cold that the temperature dipped into minus degrees my mother was so worried about Scout that she took one of my maternal grandfather’s old wool coats out to the shed and put it on Scout’s back. He wore it until it warmed up.

But Scout loved the snow. When it snowed he would roll around in it making his own kind of horse snow angels. He was just like all of us kids when it came to snow and rain.

But now the day is over. I just looked out the window and the snow stopped long ago and is no more. It’s cold still and will be extremely cold tonight.

Still no snow.

13 Jan 2009 02:37 am

lauraleeguitar1967.jpg

A fifteen year old southern girl sits on her mother’s antique settee while attired in her British inspired Mod look dress which was created by her grandmother from from a photo in Seventeen Magazine and then stitched painstakingly. The girl holds her Goya guitar which she earned by agreeing to make an appearance, along with her sister, Lucy to sing on a local country music television show. The sponsor of that show, The Ben Jack Guitar Center allowed her to take her pick of all the guitars, including Martins and she picked the Swedish made acoustic Goya. She’s never been sorry.

I happen to know because she’s me.

It was 1967 and I had been playing the guitar for four years, having taught myself on the front porch swing the summer before I entered the seventh grade. My first guitar was a Christmas present I received when I was in the seventh grade. It was better than the old guitar my Dad had let me use to learn to play on. That guitar had a wide neck and bridge and was very hard to fret. But I was determined to learn to play so perhaps it strengthened my fingers… a sort of basic training for the guitar.

I practiced the chording of the guitar in the swing on the front porch but Lucy and I practiced our songs and the harmonies in the little bathroom of our house…it had perfect acoustics…and by the time I was twelve years old and Lucy was nine we were invited to sing at various civic events.

There was always music playing in our home and when it wasn’t on the radio or playing on Daddy’s hi-fi on Saturday nights my sister and I were forced to watch The Lennon Sisters on The Lawrence Welk Show but as soon as they made their appearance we made a quick exit from the room.

Why didn’t we like them? I don’t know. Their harmony was pretty but they smiled too much and that bugged me. Being a nine year old cynic I suppose I felt they were too programmed by adults. Even then I didn’t allow my parents too much input in our selection of music.

The first song on which my sister and I learned to harmonize was The Missouri Waltz, a piece that was introduced to me by my piano teacher, Mrs. Dickey who claimed to be a descendant of the Ford family, the owners of the Ford Theater where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. (Mrs. Dickey is another story altogether.) When Lucy and I learned what the word Pick-a-ninny meant we quit singing the song altogether and never performed it in public.

Evidently it’s still the official state song of Missouri.

I loved watching Your Hit Parade when my parents first got a television and when the American Bandstand came on sometimes I was able to persuade my dad to get up and dance with me.

Daddy was a music lover and played Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash and the Ink Spots on his hi-fi. He was a song writer in his own right. He would come home late at night after work and wake me up and there I would be, sitting at the piano, picking out the notes as he sang his new tune, long into the night.

I had taken three years of piano and knew music theory well enough to transcribe the notes onto music sheets. My Dad had every song he wrote copywrited. My sister and I should have sung them but we chose not to because they were written from a male perspective. I’m sure I was probably sleepy after the late night music sessions but those musical evenings with Daddy were precious to me. If we didn’t have music being created in our home it was art being made or sporting events to partake of or rodeos to saddle up for or drama for which we had to practice our lines. We never stayed home to simply watch television.

By the time the Beatles hit our shores I had some basic grounding in music. I suppose you could say I was already a conservative musically speaking because I had some music training. My piano teacher had informed my parents that I had perfect pitch and I was quite a critical little wretch.

When I landed in the seventh grade I was fortunate to have music teachers who taught me to appreciate great music, Latin choir music, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, Bruckner and others. I was in chorus throughout junior and senior high. Our mixed chorus competed and won first in the state every year I was in high school and we never sang rock music which is now what most music teachers teach in this politically correct world. Public school music students today do not know what they are missing.


Miss Ann Duvall taught our Mixed Chorus Lacrymosa and I sang alto when we performed it when I was in the ninth grade. Knowing and experiencing the glory of that music while it is being sung is the height of musical expression on this side of heaven.

So the Beatles were fun but I wasn’t as excited about them as some of my friends were. I’d experienced music like the Lacrymosa by Mozart and Os Justi by Anton Bruckner.


I sang second soprano.


Then there was Christus Factus Est. Tears fill my eyes as I remember. This was the music of my youth that I cherish the most.

And yes, our teacher told us the meaning of the Latin words.

The Beatles had become the big rage in America in 1964 and many British groups had followed in their wake, groups like Peter and Gordon, The Animals, and the Dave Clark Five. The British invasion wasn’t limited entirely to males. Petula Clark had been on the British scene for many years but her song, Down Town took the states by storm with her silky, crisp voice that inspired both Lucy and me.

The harmonies of the early Beatles, Chad and Jeremy and Peter and Gordon appealed to Lucy and me. We would sing their songs and find our own way on the harmonies, making the songs our own. Lady Godiva, one of Peter and Gordon’s last big hits was one of our favorites and one of our most lyrically daring songs. We sang that song locally to many encores and I had learned many new picking techniques on the guitar thanks to many hours of diligent practice and listening to the song on the record player.

The Beatles’ earliest songs, “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” were enjoyable and catchy but it was the slightly more complex songs that captured my imagination, such as Yesterday and Here Comes the Sun. I loved the guitar, bass and drum accompaniment on all the songs. The Beatles grew on me really fast.

But, alas, the great fun that was the Beatles soon turned out to be a drag.

I loved the Beatles first movie, A Hard Day’s Night. The Beatles were brilliant in their unsophisticated humor and silliness but after a few years things seemed to get too serious with them. That came along about the time they released the Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper and the Lonely Hearts Club Band. I think Strawberry Fields Forever upset me most. It literally gave me the creeps…

The Beatles redeemed themselves on The Long and Winding Road but we all knew it was over. John was getting all moony with Yoko and George had gone to see the Maharishi. There were rumors of drugs. About this time in high school there weren’t even rumors about any of our fellow students taking drugs although my graduating class of 1969 gave as a gift to the school, a smoking pavillion. A smoking pavillion! How times have changed.

When I told my children that when I went to high school there were no drug problems they found it hard to believe but it’s true. Things changed just a few years later but at the time standards were still holding. The moral breakdown that was to come in our culture from the radical left, the Vietnam War protests….Hollywood’s anti-hero movies promoting drug use, the anything goes attitude of the sixties….I guess you just had to be there.

When I first heard “While my Guitar Gently Weeps” by George Harrison it became the favorite and most haunting of the Beatle melodies in my memories.

Today Strawberry Fields Forever still creeps me out and While my Guitar Gently Weeps still touches me and it weeps for the kids who have missed the innocent fun of the days when the harmony of the Beatles could bring a tear to your eyes. It’s doubtful that much of the music that young kids are listening to today brings them any heartfelt emotion. I know for a fact that they are not experiencing the out of this world emotions that exposure to the great classical music of Bruckner, Mozart, and Handel, would give them because the Christian themes are politically incorrect.

Am I sorry I laid my guitar aside at the age of eighteen and went to college?

In a word, no.

I knew what I wanted to do with my life and while music would always be part of it, love would rule for me.

I would get an education, get married after my West Point-bound boyfriend graduated, travel with him, have children, make music and art with my children, become a teacher, paint and draw and then pick up that weeping guitar again. I always did play music for them and when my children became teenagers they discovered the Beatles.

“Mom!” they exclaimed. “Did you ever listen to them?

Sigh.

“No, of course not. I was always glued to the television watching the Lennon Sisters.” was my secret response.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don’t know why nobody told you how to unfold your love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don’t know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
No one alerted you.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
Look at you all…
Still my guitar gently weeps.


George was always my favorite Beatle.

Read Sissy Willis’ take on The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis and Dusty Springfield. Sissy’s got the Look of Love.

10 Jan 2009 11:38 pm

pigeonsandthemoonkaialarsen.jpg

Another fantastic Kaia Larsen photo

The question in the title asks, are we a nation of pigeons? According to the dictionary, the second definition:

Slang. One who is easily swindled; a dupe

As January 20th approaches, Wall Street’s investing in mattresses, flyover America is stocking up on guns, while the pigeons of America are elbowing their way to Washington D.C. to get their share of Obama’s pie. The citizens of Edwardsville, Alabama may as well rename its town Pigeonsville.

Still, Obama talks down the economy. No optimist is that one. Perhaps he has his reasons. When people feel panicky, they are not apt to think logically. Perhaps Rahm and company want to take advantage of that. Supposedly Rahm already took care of Howard Dean.

But to give the president elect credit, he knows a pigeon when he sees one.

Of course, Senator McCain reverted to moderate status the moment he conceded to Barack Obama and he let it be known through his campaign aides that he didn’t really like Sarah Palin all that much so now he’s back in the senate, coaching his fellow senators to be nice little moderates. Reaching across the aisle is apparently the only exercize the man ever gets.

Yes, just a few months back I was supporting this man with all my might. Do I feel like a pigeon? With the exception of McCain placing Gov. Sarah Palin on the GOP ticket, I would have to say yes but I am not sorry I supported that great lady for VEEP.

ALLAPUNDIT puts up as quote of the day David Frum’s latest snark against Sarah Palin.

“She tells us she was a victim of sexism. She tells us she was a victim of class prejudice. She complains about her media treatment - then insists she never watched any of it. She deplores the unpleasant personal comments directed against herself, while offering up some equally unpleasant personal comments of her own. She repeatedly shades the truth in order to escape blame for her own mistakes. (She won’t for example let go of our claim that there was some insult to Alaska embedded in Katie Couric’s simple question: ‘What do you read?’)

A smart politician rebuffs all invitations to speak about his or her own hurt feelings. It’s not just that such talk sounds whiny and weak, although it does. Much more seriously, such talk betrays a self-involvement that alienates voters almost more than any other personal quality. Through the 2008 election, Barack Obama repeatedly said ‘It’s not about me. It’s about you.’ Exactly so! But Palin’s replies to Ziegler make clear that for her, the election was about her. The next election will be even more so, because she has collected so many more grievances along the way.”

A weak Frummian attack and I don’t understand why the allahpundit gave it any notice whatsoever. I have never seen the national media go on such a vicious personal attack against a candidate for national office, and her family.

It’s a definite first. The media hated Nixon, and Reagan and they went after Nancy Reagan on issues such as her wardrobe and the White House china but they left the kids alone. Not so, with President George W. Bush and his daughters. That should have been a warning to the McCain campaign but as McCain always said, he considered the media his base. I don’t recall during the campaign much in the way of outrage coming from McCain himself when Palin’s daughter, Bristol was attacked on the very first weekend Sarah Palin was announced as the vice presidential choice. It went down hill from there.

The fact that it is continuing to happen had to be a reason why Sarah Palin decided to speak out.

Where is it written that a politician can’t threaten to punch the lights out of someone who has insulted their children? (think Harry Truman)

“I have just seen your lousy review of Margaret’s concert. It seems to me you’re a frustrated old man. Someday I hope to meet you. When that happens, you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a jock supporter below. (signed) HST, President.”

It’s high time that Sarah Palin spoke out and that she did so with John Ziegler who is currently working on a documentary of How Obama got Elected is fine with me. Sarah Palin is no pigeon, in fact, in many circles she is known as a barracuda and the news media might as well learn their lessons right now.

Ziegler’s interview is at the terrific new, Breitbart’s Big Hollywood. I’ve found myself clicking over there several times a day.

Of course, Sissy Willis always gets there before I do, so read her terrific write-up of the genius, Roger L. Simon and his decision to hire Joe the Plumber to travel to Gaza to report on the Israeli-Hamas war. See the Rembrandtesque photo of Tiny and read Sissy’s insightful comments about Palin, Joe the Plumber and the cultural left.

“If a community organizer can be president and a Saturday Night Live comedian can be a U.S. senator, why can’t a plumber be a reporter?”, Michelle Malkin asks in her syndicated column. It’s a simple question.

The cultural left, as always, place themselves in boxes that perhaps may be targets for actual pigeon droppings but they are usually the kind of boxes they can easily bend and be made into other sorts of boxes when their ideas don’t pan out. May they box themselves in so well that they leave themselves no way out when the big bills come due.

Nancy Pelosi comes to mind when I visualize the pigeons in the above Kaia Larsen photo. These pigeons are minding their own business of course, just perching on top of a building downtown in the evening as the moon rises. But may their fellow pigeons in Washington D.C. somehow, someway, get a message from a certain blogger who would like for Ms Pelosi to have a very bad hair day at the very least if she wants to immediately raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans as she is urging Obama to do, because, as most people (if not pigeons) know, that is the worst thing that can be done in the middle of a recession.

Hugh Hewitt (definitely not a pigeon) writes:

I suppose there are a few crackpot economists who agree with the Speaker, but the vast majority of economist concur that any tax hike in a fragile economy is very bad medicine indeed. Nancy Pelosi’s demand for a punitive assault on the highest income earners may just be posturing for the benefit of the hard-left that supplies her troops with energy and money, but there’s a very good chance she really doesn’t understand this very basic truth about the business cycle: It takes business to employ people. Tax people at higher rates and fewer people will be employed.

The president-elect has a rare opportunity to extend the Democratic Party’s deep reach into the center and even the center-right. This opportunity worries Republicans –a lot.

But the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader seemed poised to insist on imposing the ideological purity of the hard left leadership on the new Administration. Bad for the economy, good for the GOP’s rapid recovery.

It may be the Year of the OX according to the Chinese but in Chicago it’s the Year of the Chicken. According to John Kass in the Chicago Tribune there will be a lot of chicken dancing and roosting when it comes to filling Rahm Emanuel’s vacant congressional seat. This is a very interesting and illuminating read.

The amazing thing is that Barack Obama managed to emerge so immaculately from the slime that is Chicago politics. But still, that politics has followed him to Washington like a three ring circus as P.J. O’Rourke puts it.


I dunno. Maybe Blago and the Chicago slime use carrier pigeons instead.

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