If you would like to add a comment to any of the threads here on AADB, registration with blogspot.com is not required. Simply click on the ‘comments’ link at the bottom of an essay, and either enter a nickname under ‘choose an identity’ or post your comment anonymously. Serious comments are always welcome.

REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

12/29/2006

A Terrible Tipping Point


[I don't often post entire columns from another source here, but came across this column today, attempted to excerpt it with my own analysis, and was unable to do so. As usual, Mark Steyn takes what is common knowledge (to those of us who seek news beyond that including celebrities and sports figures) and weaves that knowledge into a futuristic image that we all need to step back and examine from several perspectives. We ignore his creations at our peril.]

~ ~ ~

Whatever the “realists” may say, nations talk to each other all the time. Unfortunately, when nation A opens its mouth, nation B doesn’t always get the message, no matter how loud and clear it is. Syria and Iran, for example, have subverted post-Saddam Iraq for three years now. Rather quietly at first. But, like a kid playing gangsta rap in his bedroom, if there are no complaints, you might as well crank up the volume. So Iran began openly threatening genocide against a neighboring state. And Syria had one of its opponents in Lebanon, Pierre Gemayel, assassinated.

Syria and Iran are talking, but are we listening?

Likewise, Russia. These days, we talk to the Bear incessantly, to the point of holding the G8 photo-op on Vladimir Putin’s turf. The old KGB man’s pals are also back in the assassination game, not just in his backyard but in London, too. As do Syria and Iran, Russia spoke loud and clear: Alexander Litvinenko, a political opponent, was poisoned by the rarest of substances and left to die a lingering death across the pages of Fleet Street’s newspapers in a very brazen and public way. Certainly as public as, say, Her Majesty The Queen making a visit to the Hermitage accompanied by President Putin and giving a speech on the renewed warmth of Anglo-Russian friendship. The British authorities, nominally charged with “solving” the murder of Mr Litvinenko (who was, after all, a British subject), wish the whole business would just go away, so they could get back to holding talks and signing joint communiqu├ęs with Mr Putin.

The question is: Which is the real snapshot of Russo-western relations? The affable buddy-buddy kibitzing between Bush and Putin at the ranch in Crawford? One President looking deep into the eyes of the other and getting “a sense of his soul” (if you’ll forgive a touch of geopolitical homoeroticism)? Or the liquidation of Moscow’s enemies on foreign soil?

And, even when we don’t get the message, plenty of third parties do. If you were a run-of-the-mill Third World basket-case what would you conclude watching the “international community” warn North Korea that there will be stern consequences if it conducts a nuclear test and, okay, even sterner super-duper-mega-consequences if it conducts a second nuclear test? If you were, say, the President of Sudan, to whom Iran has already offered its technology, you might reasonably posit that you too could go nuclear with impunity. So might Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. As for that brave band of foreign leaders who have been happy to identify themselves as American allies – the Kurds in northern Iraq, for example – that’s not looking such a desirable club to belong to. As the great Bernard Lewis said of the Baker-Scowcroft betrayal of Iraqi rebels in the first Gulf War, the lesson was plain: America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.

The danger in the years ahead is a kind of malign convergence. In Mexico during stops on the National Review cruise the other day, I wandered through the teeming streets and found myself thinking that if I were the jihad strategists I’d spend some serious Saudi-Iranian walking-around money in these cities and try to convert to Islam, oh, let’s say just a modest 3-5% of Mexico’s population. That would be more than enough to add a whole new wrinkle to the “undocumented” problem.

Speaking softly – as in State Department-softly – is fine if you’re carrying the big stick. But, when your big stick is a snapped-off twig, it makes less sense. In a way, you’ve already spoken volumes. There are differences within the “Talks Now!” faction, from outright defeatists to those who figure a weak hand is better played round the poker table than in a fist fight. But for the most part “realism” is a euphemism for inertia. And too many “realists” have already accepted a nuclear North Korea, a nuclear Iran, a resurgent neo-totalitarian Russia, a reSyrianized Lebanon, a perceived American defeat in Iraq. The talks would be merely the signing ceremony.

In Britain in the Eighties, Margaret Thatcher faced a very particular problem. No matter how she and her colleagues transformed the country’s economic fortunes, too many of the citizenry were unable to rouse themselves from post-war fatalism: they had come to believe in the irreversibility of British decline to the point that, even when the decline had been reversed, they were still mired in it. Britain, you’d hear, could never make a go of it in the world; it had no choice but to throw its lot in with a European ersatz-federation profoundly incompatible with British values. One hears it still.

In America today, we face the opposite problem. After 9/11, the President told the world: You’re either with us or against us. Most of the world flipped him the bird: Some “allies”, such as the Belgians and New Zealanders, said, “Actually, we’re neither with you nor against you.” Other “allies”, such as the Saudis and Pakistanis, said, “Actually, we’re both with you and against you. What you gonna do about it?” And, when it became obvious that there was no price to be paid for obstructing American aims, the world got the message.

Yet at home too many Americans are wedded to an absurd proposition: that somehow the lone “superpower” can choose to lose yet another war and there will be no consequences, except for Bush and sundry discredited “neocons”; that no matter how America stumbles in the world it can stay rich and happy and technologically advanced even as it becomes a laughingstock in Tehran and Damascus and Pyongyang and Caracas and Moscow and on, and on, and on.

Not so. We are on the brink of a terrible tipping point.

[Mark Steyn, National Review, December 11th 2006]

12/27/2006

When Dissent Becomes Sedition


(Thanks to my patriot friend, ‘Squantos’, for bringing this excellent essay to my attention.)

A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly against the city. But the traitor moves among those within the gates freely, his sly whispers rustling through all alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. … He rots the soul of a nation; he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city; he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist ... Cicero

Times like these focus the mind. The confluence of events from the 9/11 'Day of Infamy' to Afghanistan and now Iraq, has given us a once-in-a-lifetime moment of national clarity. We must take from it every kernel of truth it reveals before that clarity fades with memory.

In war, people die. In some wars, nations die. War, preparations for war and measures to prevent war are the most serious business a nation can conduct. All else is subordinate. The environmentalists would say it’s the environment. Wrong. The social workers would say it’s social programs. Wrong. The health advocates would say it’s health policy. Wrong. The anti-tax crowd would say it’s lower taxes. Still wrong.

Whatever your view on these subordinate issues, as goes the nation, so they go too. Without our wealth-producing market economy, there would be no capital for environmental projects. There would be no funds for social policy. There would be no money for health initiatives or anything else. The first priority of our government must always be national defense.

Somehow, between World War II and 9/11 we forgot this.

Despite the many cries in the wilderness from professionals in the military, intelligence and security fields, we forgot the crucial value of good military and political intelligence. We forgot the absolute necessity of maintaining a top-notch fighting force. We dismissed as paranoid delusion the idea that some people are truly out to get us. We derisively ridiculed seemingly pointless security procedures required at airports and other facilities. We forgot that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

Why?

Perhaps some is due to complacency borne of our geographic isolation and the fact that we have not had a shooting war on our shores for over 138 years. Absent an immediate threat, the natural human tendency is to become complacent. Also, our historical tradition has been to draw down the military after any large conflict. Our founders warned against the dangers of a standing army.

But there is much more to it than that. The political Left in this country, including people in the news media, entertainment, education, religion, think tanks (many of which are fronts for hostile foreign governments and organizations), even some past and present members of Congress and past Administrations, have over the years successfully sought to undermine both our national defense and intelligence functions – indeed the very fabric of our society – for the purpose of ultimately destroying it, all the while hiding behind the fig leaf of 'free speech.' In so doing, they made us vulnerable to attack from directions even they didn’t anticipate. They are still active today, but thanks to our recently revived national spirit, temporarily on the defensive.

It took 9/11 and the subsequent military action for our people to comprehend the ramifications of blinding our national eyes and ears. Today, we find ourselves asking how it got so far out of hand. Few now question the need for active intelligence gathering and a strong military. Indeed, many of those in Congress who used to criticize our intelligence agencies for being too intrusive are now asking why they are not more so. Virtually everybody claims to 'support our troops.'

Yet we still suffer the after-effects of long-term complacency. Anti-American activity seems like some kind of quaint rite. Radical activists are treated like celebrities. Hollywood actors boost their careers and their egos by excoriating our leaders (but they support the troops – really they do).

Over the past 30 years, members of Congress have blatantly aided and abetted enemies of our country. The outspoken Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, for example, lobbied for the release of jailed El Salvadorian FMLN terrorists during that country’s civil war. So did then-Rep. Barbara Boxer, D-CA. Instead of being investigated for her activities on behalf of communists, Nancy Pelosi has been elected by her Democratic colleagues as the House Minority Leader! Boxer went on to become a U.S. Senator.

Many congressmen made a notorious trip to Nicaragua in the 1980s to discuss ways Daniel Ortega’s communist government could counter President Ronald Reagan’s strategy there. Relatives of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA, conducted business with the communist government of Angola while Kennedy himself voted against funding the Angolan anti-communist rebels we supported. Former Rep. Ron Dellums, D-CA, often bragged of his desire to dismantle U.S. intelligence 'brick by brick.' The charming Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, never met a leftist dictator she didn’t love. Don’t even get me started on Bill.

No one has ever challenged these blatantly seditious activities.

Instead, we congratulate ourselves for our 'open-minded' tolerance of this malevolent behavior, never fully acknowledging its long-term impact. Even in Iraq, anti-American protests, obvious propaganda tactics, are casually dismissed as 'free speech.' But is it?

There is a fine line between legitimate protest and outright sedition. There is a fine line between our citizens’ legitimate need for privacy and the opportunity it provides conspirators to hide and plot. Concern for the former, however, provides no excuse for condoning the latter. Too often politicians have taken that excuse, and in so doing abdicated their pledge to "defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic .… " They choose to avoid the hard questions and tough fights. The 9/11 terrorist strike was one consequence of this. If we don’t learn, there will be more.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s methods against suspected American communists in the 1950s may have been wrong, but they were based on a legitimate premise, namely, that we do have enemies within.

The Army-McCarthy hearings for example, which focused in large part on spy activities at the Army Signal Corps Ft. Monmouth, NJ facility (where Julius Rosenberg had worked for a time) spelled the beginning of his downfall, when Attorney for the Army Joseph Welch posed the famous question: 'Have you no sense of decency, sir?' Three years later however, Congress shut down the Ft. Monmouth facility—determined to be irretrievably penetrated by Soviet agents.

Many politicians in both the Democrat and Republican parties agreed with McCarthy. One of his most ardent friends and supporters, John F. Kennedy, once expressed his outrage at a Harvard Spree Club dinner when the speaker compared McCarthy to convicted Soviet spy Alger Hiss. JFK stood up, interrupting the speaker, and said: 'How dare you couple the name of a great American patriot with that of a traitor!' He then walked out. Bobby Kennedy was minority counsel on McCarthy’s Senate investigations subcommittee staff. The Left would much prefer we didn’t remember JFK and RFK’s inconvenient anti-communism.

In part because of McCarthy’s failure, our reluctance to seriously investigate domestic subversive organizations really has its roots in this period. As noted columnist and conservative talk show host Chuck Morse relates: 'The substantial power the left wielded over our government and media was on full display in the concerted campaign to stop McCarthy, who, in hindsight, has been vindicated of all charges. Politicians who would henceforth be more circumspect when investigating communist or any other subversive element in government heard the lesson of McCarthy's downfall loud and clear. Average citizens, at least subliminally conscious of the auto da fe McCarthy had been put through, would also learn to curb their criticism of the left as well.'

But in those times even the communists sometimes revealed what they were up to. For example, the Soviet funded People’s Daily World newspaper explained a Hollywood studio strike thusly: 'Hollywood is often called the land of Make-Believe, but there is nothing make-believe about the Battle of Hollywood being waged today ... The prize will be the complete control of the greatest medium of communication in history.' As Stalin said: 'If I could control Hollywood, I could rule the world.'

Those forces still exist in Hollywood today and at least partially explain why so many movies we see tend to have anti-American overtones. In fact, actors who want to be successful in Hollywood implicitly understand the necessity of being Politically Correct. Conservative actors attempting to get regular employment face their own 'Blacklist'.

Many of the organizations investigated in the 1950s have continued to thrive and grow while we have looked the other way. Seeing fertile ground, new ones have popped up.

Loyal Americans need to agree on a methodology for attacking this problem. That means bruising political battles, because some people in virtually all professional disciplines lie with the enemy and many others unknowingly support them. We have allowed them to weasel their way into positions of power that give them direct influence over measures intended to expose and stop them. Yet it has never been clearer just how dangerous these individuals and groups are.

You want to protest American policies? Fine. But if your activities serve to undermine our national security and threaten our collective future, we don’t have to tolerate it. After all, your actions are really threatening our lives. Threats like that cannot go unchallenged.

It is unfortunate that the death and destruction of a 9/11 and the untimely deaths and injuries of our young men and women in battle were needed to get our attention. But they have, at least temporarily.

So now we must seize the moment: The 9/11 victims and the troops who sacrificed all in Afghanistan and Iraq stand mute sentinel over our collective national conscience. We cannot let them down.

When Dissent Becomes Sedition
by Jim Simpson, FrontPageMagazine.com, May 28, 2003

12/16/2006

Merry Christmas


I rarely include non-political subjects in the essays here, but tonight I am feeling particularly enveloped by the season, so, before allowing this year to come to a close, I want to share with the ‘regulars’ here a brief personal Christmas greeting. (If you visit here solely for the political content, you may simply want to skip this particular post ... :)

We live on nine acres of woodland in an isolated corner of our township, less than a half mile from the end of a barely-traveled, dead-end road -- nestled close to the bottom of a valley, with mountains to the north and south. There are only a handful of other homes on our road. Most of them are set back from the road, invisible, or barely visible, to the rest of the world.

We walk our dog, Bert, at least a half dozen times a day, either down the road in one or the other direction, or into the woods, taking familiar paths, or walking cross-country when we’re in a particularly energetic or ‘trailblazing’ frame of mind. :)



We have lived in our new home about a year now, and, in the evenings, we still find ourselves sitting by the fire wondering when we will have to pack and go home. The beauty, isolation, and serenity that surround us daily sometimes causes us to succumb to the illusion that we are on a ‘vacation’ of sorts. Such peace of mind could not possibly be permanent. :)

Tonight my husband was feeling a bit under the weather so Bert and I took our late-night walk alone. We walked down to where the road ends and the woods take over in three of four directions.

The night is so clear tonight that, for the first time in the more than five decades I have walked this earth, I was virtually overcome with awe as I looked into the nighttime sky.

Silence.

No colors but for countless infinitely tiny specks of white above … and skyward-reaching ropes of blacks and grays.

The trees are bare now, and, as I looked to my left, the entirety of my vision was filled with 100-150-foot tall, dark sentinels, through which peered an endless blanket of stars, all the way down to where the sky meets the dark left horizon. As I looked to my right, the image was the same. And, gazing upward, where the smallest, highest tendrils of those thousands of old, wise trees’ narrow arms trail off into tiny twigs, yet more stars formed an endless glimmering canopy above.

I sat on a large rock alongside the road, and Bert sat down next to me, appearing to want to drink in the majesty every bit as much as I.

I began reflecting on the way we modern Americans find ourselves incessantly bombarded with glitz, glare, noise and superficiality ... all posing as something of value. How often do we set aside time to step back from the cacophony, seek a secluded spot (if only in the corner of our own mind) and reflect on the majesty and artistry that surrounds us each and every day? Artistry that we rarely, if ever, acknowledge, let alone offer thanks for, when overwhelmed in its presence.

There is more beauty in a single leaf than in most of what passes for expensive, acclaimed, 'priceless' art today. What I saw and experienced around and above me tonight, extending infinitely in every direction, causes the creations of Michelangelo, Beethoven, and Shakespeare to pale in comparison.

I am convinced that the degree that we are able to experience of what we humans call peace of mind is directly proportional to the degree to which we are able to divorce ourselves from the dissonance and superficiality of modern society and, instead, regularly reflect on beauty and significance that is of a more eternal nature.

God is good. And, no matter how many trials we may be facing, or how many burdens we may be asked to bear, if we but take the time to isolate ourselves from the world for some time each day, the realization of a myriad of personal blessings that we tend not to acknowledge will find themselves flooding into our hearts and minds. And it is from that ‘stepping back’ ... and simple spiritual observing ... that peace of mind is born.

Below are a few personal Christmas photos that I’d like to share with friends here before signing off for the year.

Being that we are in a new (our final) home, we started fresh with new tree decorations that I have admired from afar for many years – mostly German blown-glass Kugel balls, white lace wire ribbon out of which I designed bows and a tree-topper, silver garnishes and white feather birds. The photos are of those that are among our favorites.






With these thoughts and these photos, I want to say to all who have wandered by here over the past seven months, thank you for stopping by. And to those who have added their own thoughts and observations, thank you for taking part. An interactive weblog is only as successful as the conversations it inspires.

Best wishes to all for a blessed Christmas … and a New Year filled with Peace and Contentment!

~ joanie

12/15/2006

Sleep Well, My Brothers ...


Every December for the past fifteen years, Morrill Worcester, owner of one of the world's largest holiday wreath companies, has taken time in the midst of his busiest season to haul a truckload of wreaths to Arlington from his small downeast Maine town of Harrington.


For years, he and a small band of volunteers laid the wreaths in virtual obscurity. But in the last twelve months that has changed, thanks to a dusting of snow last year at the cemetery, an evocative photograph, a sentimental poem and a chain e-mail. And this year, Worcester went national. A new program, 'Wreaths Across America,' shipped a total of about 1,300 wreaths to more than 200 national cemeteries and vets' memorials in all fifty states.

Worcester, 56, says he wants to help Americans remember and honor deceased military veterans, particularly at Christmas, when they're missed most. On the Wreaths Across America website, he makes this comment: 'When people hear about what we're doing, they want to know if I'm a veteran. I'm not. But I make it my business never to forget.'

On Thursday he looked at the crowd of volunteers — five times as many as last year's — and said, 'I didn't realize there were this many people who felt as I do.'

The tradition grew slowly. Every year there were a few more volunteers in Harrington to load the truck and a few more in Arlington to lay the wreaths. Every January there'd be a few more calls, e-mails or letters. Worcester says that apart from a newspaper story here and a broadcast report there, 'it was almost a private thing.'

Until December 2005.

When the day was almost over and all the wreaths had been laid, it started to snow. Around the same time, an Air Force news photographer covering the event went back for a final picture before heading back to the Pentagon.

Master Sgt. James Varhegyi had shot hundreds of images that morning. In accordance with photojournalistic convention, almost all had people in them.

But this time Varhegyi took a picture that had no people, just rows of graves, decorated with bowed wreaths, on snowy ground. White, green, red — the colors of Christmas. He didn't think it was anything special.


When the Worcesters returned to Harrington, things quieted down as usual after Christmas. Except that instead of declining in January, the appreciative calls and e-mails began to increase.

Varhegyi's photo had been posted on an Air Force website, from which someone — the Worcesters don't know who — had lifted it, put it in an e-mail, and added a poem:

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell ...

'Please share this with everyone on your address list,' the e-mail read. 'You hear too much about the bad things people do. Everyone should hear about this.'

The e-mail became an Internet sensation. It spread like a virus, so far and so fast that Snopes.com, a website devoted to exploring myths and rumors, investigated and confirmed its existence.

More and more people contacted Worcester Wreath Co. with questions, thanks and requests. By February, the company was getting thirty to forty e-mails a day. People sent checks, which were returned. Company staffers found themselves devoting more and more time to phone calls about the Arlington effort.

One night, Sherry Scott, the office manager, was working late, trying to get caught up, when the phone rang:

It was an elderly woman from Texas. She says, 'Tell me you're the company that lays the wreaths at Arlington.' When I said we were, there was silence. Then she started crying. She says, 'My Dad's buried at Arlington.' Then I started crying.

Thank you, Mr. Worcester, for helping us not to forget.


(Thanks to John Cooper for steering me to this at Michelle Malkin’s site.)

12/14/2006



Below is a message I received from a new friend -- one of several good people from all over the world whom I have come to know as a result of correspondences they sent me following the tragedy that took place at the West Nickel Mines Amish schoolhouse in October.

I asked Cea if she would grant me permission to post her letter here, because I believe her words are evidence of both genuine Christian love, and the precious uniting of two hearts that comprehend the true meaning of the celebration of Christmas (I did not express to her those opinions, in those terms, because she is far too humble to listen to, let alone agree with, those sentiments when applied to her own actions and beliefs. :)

Anyway, this is the message I received from Cea a few days ago, in its entirety. Perhaps we all can use it in some entirely personal way, to enrich our own Christmas reflections (I know I did) – by considering thoughts that are, at the same time, sorrow-filled and uplifting ... and so fitting for this most beautiful of seasons:

~ ~ ~

Joanie,

Lately, my free time is directed toward and consumed by caretaking. I am in the process of assisting my mother through the interesting stages of her second childhood and walking methodically with her through the emotional, physical, and spiritual struggles that come when one's body simply wears out.

Every day, she is moving closer and closer to the marvelous dwelling place her Heavenly Father has prepared for her.

As soon as I leave my assigned workstation at the office, I'm off to pick her up from "day-care." She calls our time getting settled in at home "happy hour" and dinner preparation, etc. "mischief making." We've finished putting up our tree and the little manger scene composed of Boyd's Bears. (She found it in one of the antique stores in Old Towne Orange, where we live.)

Christmas at our house is well underway. She, in her very childlike way, is peering into Christmas with such fresh excitement, awe, and wonder. I've caught her rocking in her chair by the tree on an evening saying over and over softly ... "It's amazing, it's amazing God with us."

She can no longer remember the words to familiar Christmas carols but the music itself speaks to her. She quietly hums her own special composition of Silent Night, Away in the Manger, Good Christian Men Rejoice, O Come All Ye Faithful, Jesus Loves Me, and her favorite bits and pieces from The Messiah. She often clearly sings ... "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

She has her own little bridge and goes into singing, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." My favorite of her songs is the chorus, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. Blessing, and honor, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

So, I may not have a great deal to say about the Christmas Season as I am so caught up in living it with someone very frail. Someone who believes in and rejoices in the miracle of Christmas. She admits openly that she doesn't know a lot any more ... but she does know the Christmas cookies have never tasted sweeter, the lights have never been brighter, the music never more glorious.

I'm living with someone who is, even in a wheelchair, walking by faith, who knows what it is to have a relationship with the person who came into the world as the child in the manger ... whose birth we celebrate.

As I daily walk my mother to the grave, I pity the souls who are trying to drive the Christ child out of our culture, out of our public square, out of our collective consciousness. What will they do when they stand on the edge of eternity ... peering into emptiness ... emptiness that resulted from insisting that we extract this miraculous time of remembering the Christ child from our lives?

What will our culture do when there is no longer the annual call ... the call to come and see ... to come and bow down ... to come and adore ... to recognize with awe and reverence the miracle of God with us?

Pity the man and woman, standing with diminished physical, emotional and spiritual strength facing eternity with such an arrogant heart knowing not the Christ of Christmas.

Yikes...

Cea

12/13/2006

The Last Word


(Beware those who caution against carrying a big stick,
especially when your enemy is carrying a bloody sword)

Jonah Goldberg's got it right on this one:

In Washington, sometimes it’s preferable to be wrong in a group than to be right alone. Nothing demonstrates the triumph of this truism than the release of the final Iraq Study Group Report. The Commission’s Chairman, James A. Baker III, could not have been more obvious if he had used hand puppets to illustrate what he thought was most important about this supposedly momentous occasion: the fact that all the report’s authors actually agree with its contents.

Their product, Baker gushed, ‘is the only recommended approach that will enjoy, in our opinion, complete bipartisan support, at least from the ten people you see up here.’

Whoop-de-do! No one in the media was sufficiently motivated to ask the emperors why they had no clothes on, or to raise the simple question, ‘Who cares?’ Instead, viewers at home (all three broadcast news networks broke in to cover the ‘news’ live) watched as one commission member after another grew misty-eyed over their own statesmanship.

Former Clinton Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta, waxed lyrical about how this document represented ‘one last chance at unifying this country on this war.’

Heads sagely nodded at the relentless self-adulation of the commissioners who put their ‘partisan differences’ behind them in the spirit of unanimity, unity, bipartisanship, comity, handholding and all around mutual respect and love. (It’s no wonder one of their key recommendations is to form an international Iraq ‘support group’. Who can resist the image of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whining about how his father never loved him, only to be interrupted by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia complaining that the Zionists ate all the good doughnuts?)


(end of Goldberg's eloquent rant :)
______________________



Too many similar imbeciles populate the halls of congress (and more will be sworn in in January). We cannot abide weak-kneed, self-worshipping, blind-sided creators or evaluators of policy at this most perilous time in the history of the free world, no matter the lofty label they or their handlers choose to affix to their propaganda machine.

Nor do we need their platitudinous advice as to how best to ‘get along’ in a bipartisan fashion – because those in the other party (as well as the weak-kneed compromisers in what was once the republican party) do not represent the kind of leadership with which we had better seek unity -- i.e., if you see a 'bipartisan' animal of any kind in your field of vision, run like hell in the other direction! Their brand of unity requires capitulation and a desire to negotiate with sub-human, sadistic barbarians who, if given a choice, would rather disembowel a non-believer (or, better yet, a thousand or two) than look him in the eye in an honest quest to find fertile ground upon which the mirage called ‘peace’ can be built.

Middle-ground bipartisanship is not a viable location of safety when the partisan with whom one is negotiating is completely incapable of movement in your direction. Feet firmly implanted in leftist soil ... thick, black, unrelenting leftist soil that values political power exponentially more than it values American freedom and sovereignty.

I, for one, now seek to segregate myself (‘unity’ be damned) from Pollyannas/traitors (take your pick, they fit into one or the other category, and no other) who continue to embrace a ‘we are the world’ philosophy on the issue of confronting Islamo-fascism.

Longfellow, whose writing and philosophy I generally adore, once wrote, ‘If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.’

Longfellow’s wisdom was forged in a different time – a time in which a man’s beliefs and behaviors could be traced to his unique personal and ancestral history. We now live in an historically unprecedented era in which tens of millions of men, simply by virtue of where on this earth they are born, are taught from birth that their ‘god’ demands of them to wreak torment and painful death upon large populations of their fellow man. Longfellow’s foundation of personal ‘sorrow and suffering’ fades into irrelevance, in deference to the germination of a singular wicked seed planted in the minds and (what’s left of the) hearts of hordes of vile, evil-nurtured barbarians.

As a contributor to this weblog recently wrote: No more talk, no more lies, no more dissembling, no more diplomacy. They stop, and they stay stopped, or they die, and their countries die with them. In Iran, in Syria, in Somalia, in Waziristan, leaders and civilians who support terrorists have forfeited their right to breathe the air of this planet. We don't have to occupy them, we don't have to rebuild them, we don't have to ‘bring them to justice,’ or grant them habeas corpus or let them have lawyers. We just have to destroy them.

And to the many here among us in America who serve as either purposeful or unwitting cogs in their propaganda machine (many of whom serve in leaderhip positions in Washington): The still-activist sixties leftist flower children -- now dupes, or avowed One-World Marxists -- have every right to continue to wallow in their ignorance-induced or liberty-loathing stupor. But don’t attempt to bring me, and my informed, patriot countrymen into your mirage. We have better things to do just now, and, concerning those ‘better things’ ... be forewarned ... you are counted among the enemy.

Veritas vos Liberabit -- Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis!

More to follow …

~ joanie

12/03/2006

Kingdoms at War


An article was referenced here in the past week which stunningly portrays the left’s continuing efforts to ban God from the public square, and the public consciousness -- which represents one of the basic goals of those who seek to redefine the America envisioned by our Founders, so as to better equip her to be part of a globalist, borderless ('we are the') world.

It seems that the ‘holiday display’ that has been erected in St. Albans, West Virginia consists of a manger, shepherds, camels, a palm tree, and a star (surely not the Star of Bethlehem … most likely a generic, secular humanist, ‘winter star’).

Visibly absent from the ‘holiday display’ are the Christ child, and Mary and Joseph.

Two of the town’s highest officials explained the absence of the Christ child in very different, but equally ludicrous, ways. The mayor stated that Christ is missing from the manger because ‘It’s not easy to put a light-up representation of a baby in a small manger scene, you know.’

Yeah, we know.

And the parks superintendent stated that Christ is left out of the nativity ‘because of concerns about the separation of church and state.’

The parks superintendent is surely a card-carrying member of the ACLU, or completely ignorant of the content and intent of the First Amendment.

The mayor is a liar, at best.

What do these local policymakers (and other lunatic policymakers all over this country who have chosen to alter nativity scenes) suppose this ‘nativity’ (na.tiv.i.ty – n – the birth of Christ) ‘celebrates’? The eternal sacredness of an arbitrary manger (an animal trough)? The importance of shepherds to modern society? The endurance of the camel? The beauty of the palm tree? The wonder of a single arbitrary star? Even if the lunatic fringe decides to celebrate any of the above, the degree of celebration is a bit over the top, don’t you think? :) (By far the most merchant-profit-lucrative shopping season of the year in celebration of a hump-backed animal that spits and hisses?)

The extremes to which the secular humanists have chosen to go has become almost laughable … if it weren’t for the fact that the one they are deriding and seeking to exile is the one who holds their future … the one who knows tomorrow … the one who lends them breath.

The arrogance.

When confronted with the annual frenzy of self-righteous leftists obsessively determined to take Christ out of Christmas, we would do well to reflect on something else that has been an integral part of the celebration of Christ’s birth, since long before the anti-Christ crusaders crawled out from under their rocks. Its message provides infinite hope.

A brief background:

In the summer of 1741, George Frideric Handel was a deeply discouraged man. He was deeply in debt, suffering from long bouts of insomnia, and racked with debilitating rheumatism.

It was then that the Lord’s hand began to work in Handel’s life – in a way that would both encourage and uplift the composer, and would also use him (as He so often does) as a human conduit for His message of justice, hope, love and redemption, intended for the ears of a hurting world .

Handel received a request to write music for a series of benefit concerts, and, coincidentally, he also received a compilation of Old Testament and New Testament scripture passages. As if directed by the hand of God, the two communications merged to become the divinely-inspired catalyst for the writing of one of the most beloved, most performed, pieces of music in the entire expanse of western music.

A spiritual spark was lit, and fanned into a fire, in the formerly downtrodden man, as he locked himself away, working day and night, and shutting out the physical world so as to better connect with the spiritual.

During his self-imposed time of sequestering, his servants would often hear him sobbing uncontrollably, as the power of God’s words and music flowed from his pen.

In that beautiful, surely pre-ordained manner, Messiah was born.

The music alone speaks to the human heart in inspiring, uplifting ways that mere words cannot.

Yet those who desire to exile Jesus Christ from the hearts and minds of their countrymen would do well to pay heed to the words, even moreso.

Handel chose scriptural passages mostly from the Old Testament (the books of Isaiah, Haggai, Malachi, Lamentations, Zechariah, Psalms, and Job), but also from the New (Matthew, Luke, John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Hebrews, Revelation).

Below is a portion of His word as it appears in the inspired Messiah, which should cause schemers and deceivers to take note, while bringing hope, joy and peace to believers:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel … Isaiah 7:14

For unto Us a Child is born, unto Us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace … Isaiah 9:6


Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed … Psalm 2:1,2

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision … Psalm 2:4

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel … Psalm 2:99


God (did) bless George Frideric Handel for responding to Him in submission borne of humility, for bending to His will, and for allowing himself to be used as an instrument of divine instruction.

In spite of wars, rumors of wars, and the power-hunger, deception, and sometimes barbaric nature of men, all of our earthly kingdoms are finite ... in area and time. And those who have made it their calling to banish and deny Him, and to subjugate, either physically or mentally, their fellow man, would do well to listen … and hear.


... of His kingdom there shall be no end ... Luke 1:33

12/01/2006

America's 'Play Station'
Generation Will Not Endure


America increasingly is accepting the notion of a "cut-and-run" response to Islamic terrorism. Post-election talk on Capitol Hill, from both sides of the aisle, focuses ever more on the notion that America ought to simply accept the "futility" of the Iraq situation and sound "retreat." It has been done before, and the country survived, so why not now?

In certain respects, America did indeed back away from its frontal opposition to Communism when it pulled out of Southeast Asia in 1972. And while that action was followed by genocide in Vietnam and Cambodia, those leftists who had caterwauled incessantly over the dozens of Vietnamese who had been killed in My Lai, suddenly reverted to absolute indifference over the millions who were slaughtered in that region after America had abandoned them.

Moreover, the waving of the white flag across the Pacific was not followed by North Vietnamese tanks rolling through the streets of America, purges of anti-Communist "dissidents," or the establishment of a Gulag on our soil. So, in the eyes of the anti-war protestors, nothing bad came from the defeat.

In truth, this nation kept up its valiant fight against Soviet Communism, though it had to do so on a different front. And within a generation of the Vietnam debacle, the USSR collapsed in the face of Ronald Reagan's resolve, and much of the danger it posed to the United States substantially faded.

Unfortunately, those on the left took the absolute wrong message from the events, as they invariably do. Since the advances and retreats of the Cold War unfolded in a theater that was far removed from the common citizen, liberals were afforded the luxury to bask in their ignorance. Thus they naively presumed that their fawning "peacenik" philosophies had won the day.

Far from such sophomoric and simple-minded postulating, the harsh truth is as it always was. America will prevail, or it will fall, based on its strength. And as was the case in Vietnam, where a wholly capable military was betrayed by cowardice from inside the Beltway, the moral/spiritual component of the nation's strength is ultimately the determining factor in the nation's success or failure.

Since the dark days of Vietnam, America's military capabilities have only increased. Yet concurrently, other events within the culture of the nation have opened a grim possibility. Although from a purely military and logistical standpoint America is far more able to fight and prevail in a war while sustaining far fewer casualties among its own forces, the public at large no longer has the "stomach" needed to do so.

The courage and resolve among the nation's citizenry, so necessary to underwrite a military venture and remain committed to it until its completion, has apparently been leached from the souls of the American people. In vain hope that they can simply conjure up a false sense of security and thereafter live free of danger, Americans are now unwilling to consider the looming possibility of more attacks by the Islamists or other rogue regimes.

Worse yet, a significant portion of the population appears to be staunchly committed to remaining in such a state of denial at virtually any cost. September 11 should have been the only "wake up call" the nation ever needed. From that point forward, the single national response ought to have been an iron will to overcome any who had participated in the horror, and all who might aid and abet a sequel to the event.

Unfortunately, the message being trumpeted by America's leftists has been heard, loud and clear, throughout the world. Reaction to it is as ominous as it is predictable. America's overt enemies, such as Iranian "President" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, are increasingly emboldened to actively undermine American interests, and ever more belligerent in their antagonism towards us.

Far from presenting a united front to our enemies, and thus persuading even the marginally rational among them that they would decisively lose in a military engagement, the constant laments from liberals, who only see America's shortcomings, has taken its toll. The result is an America with a broken morale and growing pessimism. This message has not been lost on those who seek our demise.

In response to the mid-term elections, America's enemies throughout the world have been reinvigorated and are voicing their commitment to drive this nation into oblivion. The fronts on which we face hostility are many. Across three continents, one unavoidable simmering cauldron after another has begun to boil.

Through their meddling, self-serving liberal politicians have further constrained America to wage the terror war within the perverse framework of "political correctness." Thus, they have shown our adversaries that, as a nation we are indeed weak, and moreover that such weakness can be exploited. Yet this is not a weakness of armament but a weakness of the soul.

Much of the world is at present, either too cowardly to admit that a clash of civilizations is going on, or has concluded that collusion with Islamists and other thug rulers is the most pragmatic approach to the danger they pose. It is certainly easier to denigrate America while it carries the torch of freedom, with no fear of reprisal, than it is to stand firm against the tides of militant Islam, which will most certainly reap a backlash of hate and violence.

Yet despite any futile hopes of clinging briefly to its past comfort and indifference, no such option exists for this country. Regardless of their recent electoral gains, those who would cower from the fray cannot be allowed to set policy.

An America that increasingly bends to the wishes of an effeminized culture, and is afraid to mete out whatever is necessary upon its enemies to achieve victory, is an America that will ultimately bear the scars of battle inflicted on itself in defeat.

by Christopher Adamo

(Mr. Adamo is a freelance writer and staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He lives in southeastern Wyoming and has been active in local and state politics for many years.)

link to article

11/30/2006


Extending thanks to two friends, John Cooper (a frequent commenter and occasional contributor here), and First_Salute (screen name), a faithful lurker, who both discovered, and then fixed on their own, some formatting problems with the blog.

Apparently, when viewed in Firefox (which I do not use, so was not aware of the problem), there were text-centering problems and coloration problems that rendered some of the posts virtually unreadable.

Both John and ‘First’ took it upon themselves to put their heads together and they solved the problem.

(With friends like this, who needs computer literacy? :)

At any rate, thanks guys!

~ joanie

P. S. In the future, should anyone ever discern any formatting problems in viewing this blog on his/her browser, please let me know (aanddbetrayed@hotmail.com). Thanks!

11/27/2006

A Desperate Plea to Democrats


As regular readers here know, I am not enamored of performers/celebrities. To say that I avoid them like the plague would be a vast understatement. And to say that I avoid listening to their political pronouncements could conceivably qualify as the understatement of the century.

But, (as they say) some rules were made to be broken. :)

I was lying in bed one morning a couple of days ago, in that interim state of consciousness between genuinely asleep and ‘just five more minutes and I’ll be ready to face the day’. The television was on in the bedroom, and tuned to FoxNews. Somewhere in a dark, barely-conscious recess of my mind I heard a male voice talking. And it was talking in a way that made my brain neurons instantly start rapid-firing.

Turns out the speaker was none other than Dennis Miller (comedian, and member of the aforementioned generally and perfunctorily disdained ‘performer/celebrity’ cadre). I sat up and took notice. And I witnessed what amounts to a modern American miracle: A ‘celebrity’ was making political sense. As a matter of fact, he was hitting the equivalent of a series of editorial home runs.

Below is a transcript of his rant. Watching it live on FoxNews was much more powerful, because his harangue was accompanied by extraordinarily effective visual aids (just a few of which I have poorly attempted to replicate here) and absolutely priceless sarcastic facial expressions.

At any rate, kudos are due to Mr. Miller. He has dared to stick his head above the Hollywood crowd and utter rational, intelligent (if irreverent), patriotic political rhetoric – words that won’t win him any friends in Hollywood. But he’s at least laid the groundwork for a new friendship here in south-central Pennsylvania. :)

_____________________

I want to shoot the election results through the prism of a brilliant book I just finished called ‘America Alone,’ by Mark Steyn.


Steyn’s incredible. He makes Thomas Paine ...


... read like Professor Irwin Corey.


And he reminds us that the war on terror is like skiing a double black diamond run. We better commit to it and carve this turn or we’re eventually gonna catch a dirty bomb for it.

And so I want to ask a favor of my liberal brethren and I’ll ask nicely because you did just win:

Please please keep your eye on the Radical Islamic Terror Ball. I really don’t care what else you do. Raise the minimum wage to $7.15 (I could use the extra deuce.) Just stay frosty about the Islamo-fascists.

Now I don’t know exactly how we fix Iraq. Maybe Neil Kinnock’s suggestion by way of Joe Biden that we partition off Iraq is the way to go. The Sunni here. The Shia there. The small Kurds here. The large Kurds there. But I do know this about Iraq: We can’t leave until it’s won. And hopefully won in a William-Tecumseh-Sherman-like rout.


If our exit strategy in Iraq is premature, we better get to work on our entrance strategy for the next throw-down, 'cause whether we like it or not this thing is on. And probably on for the next few generations.

And also, Nancy dear ... Now that you’ve won, can you and yours please shut up about the WMDs? Endlessly fixating on our insertion point into this war is like worrying about which entry ramp you used to get on a trans-continental highway. Who cares now? We’re driving. Keep your shockingly wide eyes on the road, okay doll?


This Al-Masri guy proclaims that he wants more of our blood and Al Qaeda won’t stop until they light up a brown paper bag filled with dog dung on the front steps of the White House.


And we counter by trotting out George McGovern, to lead some tactile touch encounter group under the same dome our enemies live to destroy.


Wake up! George Bush’s main achievement is that, as of today, the ‘Days Without an Accident’ sign on the American warehouse wall reads ‘1893’. And the only truly empirical way we can judge Bush (that is, no more terror attacks on domestic soil since 9/11), he gets an A+.

Don’t screw it up, dems! We’re all watching!


_____________________

(Thanks, Dennis. You’re a breath of fresh air surrounded by a sea of left-leaning, self-important, hypocritical, ignorant, pompous, self-proclaimed ‘experts’.)

~ joanie

11/22/2006

Repeat After Me:
'Krauthammer for President!'
:)



My husband and I were vacationing in Moosehead Lake, Maine in the autumn of '95 when the verdict in the O. J. Simpson murder trial was announced. We were just preparing to leave to visit Quoddy Point (the easternmost point in the continental United States) when it was announced that the jury was about to re-enter the courtroom.

So we sat down together in our motel room and awaited a verdict that we absolutely assumed was a foregone conclusion. When the forewoman announced the ‘not guilty’ verdict, we responded in a way that surprises me, in hindsight. We didn’t jump up and scream, ‘What the heck?!?!’ We simply stared at each other, for what seemed like an eternity, in utter disbelief. Not only disbelief that this arrogant, narcissistic, self-absorbed brutal murderer was going to be set free … but disbelief that glib attorneys (as opposed to the incompetent ones involved in the prosecution) had once again succeeded in perverting law beyond recognition of the rational mind, and taking abominable advantage of the unbounded ignorance and justice-blind bias of twelve of Simpson’s so-called ‘peers’. The rest of our day was spent in half-hearted sightseeing, occasionally discussing our contempt for a system gone awry, and leaving unspoken (until much later) our growing fears for our country’s crucial, but fast deteriorating, concept of the rule of law.

Fast forward eleven years ...

Below, in its entirety, is an article by Charles Krauthammer (the most brilliant man in Washington) that appears in today’s issue of Time.

Krauthammer says exactly what I have been saying here at home ever since news of the Simpson book and television special hit the airwaves – but the venerable Mr. Krauthammer says it ever so much better than I ever could!

Why We Should Let O. J. Speak

Rupert Murdoch has just canceled the O.J. Simpson book and TV special in which Simpson (presumably) describes how he would have half-decapitated Nicole Simpson and stabbed Ron Goldman had "the real killers" not done it first. The cancellation is certainly justified on grounds of decency, sensitivity and, given the universal public revulsion, commercial good sense. But I would have done differently. I would have let O.J. speak.

I thought the outrage was misdirected and misplaced. The attention and money Simpson (and Fox) would have garnered from the deal are not half as outrageous as the fact that every day he walks free. The real outrage is the trial that declared him not guilty: the judge, a fool and incompetent whose love of publicity turned the trial into a circus; the defense lawyers, not one of whom could have doubted the man's guilt yet who cynically played on the jury's ignorance and latent racism to win a disgraceful verdict; the prosecutors, total incompetents who bungled a gimmie, then shamelessly cashed in afterwards; the media that turned the brutal deaths of two innocents into TV's first reality-show soap opera.

Worst of all was the jury, whose perverse verdict was the most brazen and lawless act of nullification since the heyday of Strom Thurmond. Sworn to uphold law, they decided instead to hold a private referendum on racism in the L.A. Police Department.

The result was a grotesque miscarriage of justice. And there it rested, frozen and irreversible. I wanted to hear O.J. speak because that was the one way to, in effect, reopen the case, unfreeze the travesty and get us some way back to justice. Not tangible throw-the-thug-in-jail justice. But the psychological justice of establishing Simpson's guilt with perfect finality.

This is especially important because so many people believed — or perhaps more accurately, made themselves believe — in O.J.'s innocence. Everyone remembers gathering around the television at work to watch the verdict, and then the endless national self-searching over the shocking climax: not the verdict, but the visceral response to the verdict — the white employees gasping while the black employees burst into spontaneous applause.

Pollsters found that nearly 90% of African-Americans agreed with the verdict. Almost a third of whites did too. What better way to eliminate this lingering and widespread doubt about Simpson's guilt than to have the man himself admit it. But for that you need his confession. The fact that he prefaced his "I did it" with the word "if" is irrelevant. Simpson will always avoid unqualified admission if only to avoid further legal jeopardy for, say, perjury.


But has there ever been someone who responds to the murder of an ex-wife — a death he publicly mourned and pretended to be so aggrieved by that he would spend the rest of his days looking for "the real killers" — to engage in the exercise of telling how he would have cut her throat?

No survivor of a murdered spouse who is innocent could do anything so grotesque. Can you imagine Daniel Pearl's widow writing a book about how she would have conducted the beheading of her husband? Or Jehan Sadat going on television to describe how she would have engineered her husband's assassination? Such things are impossible. The mere act of engaging in so unimaginably repulsive an exercise is the ultimate proof of Simpson's guilt.

Who cares if O.J. profits financially? There is nothing in that injustice — and a further injustice it undeniably is — that compares to the supreme injustice of the verdict. And exposing the verdict's falsity — from the killer's mouth no less — is worth whatever price we as a society would have paid in the sordidness of the TV spectacle and the book.

After such an event, anyone persisting in maintaining Simpson's innocence would have been exposed as a fool or a knave. The interview and book would have been valuable public assets to rub in the face of those who carried out the original travesty — Simpson's lawyers, his defenders and, above all, the jury — and those who continue to believe it.

Here's the television I really will miss now: the cameras taken into the homes of every one of those twelve willful jurists who sprung O.J. free 12 years ago and made a mockery of the law by trying to turn a brutal murderer of two into a racial victim/hero. I wanted to see their faces as the man they declared innocent described to the world how he would have taken — nonsense: how he did take — the knife to Nicole's throat.

11/21/2006

Three Wounded Amish Girls
Are Back in School

Donations Near $4 Million for
Victims of Nickel Mines Shootings

© Bill Coleman, used with permission

According to doctors at Hershey Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and various other regional hospitals in and around Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, none of the five wounded girls who were victims of the October 2nd shooting at the West Nickel Mines School in Bart Township/Paradise were expected to live. Yet, miraculously, it appears that all of them will … although two of the five will most likely be permanently disabled.

I, personally, have been sent checks and money orders, totaling in excess of $2,200, by friends and acquaintances in six different states, with accompanying notes saying that they don’t know where best to send a donation, and asking that I forward the money in their behalf to the fund that I believe will use it best.

If you multiply that by the probably countless other similar examples, the outpouring of love and concern throughout the world in support of the families involved in this tragedy has been monumental … and indescribably touching.

And the courage, and will to live, demonstrated by the five young girls who did not immediately succumb to their injuries has been nothing short of miraculous.

Not to mention the abundant love and grace of God, that has been apparent every day of the fifty days that have passed since the tragedy … which should be sufficient to encourage careful reflection on 1 Thessalonians 5:18: In everything give thanks! The Amish community does so each and every day, and they portray that joy-filled lesson through personal, faith-inspired example. What better lesson for the rest of us to take to heart as Thanksgiving approaches?

Below are excerpts from an article by Brett Hambright, which appeared in today’s Lancaster Intelligencer Journal:

As worldwide donations for victims of the West Nickel Mines School shootings approach $4 million, three of the girls wounded in the Oct. 2 attack have returned to classes.

Two other girls who survived the shootings suffered severe head wounds and are likely to have long-term disabilities. One is home while the other remains hospitalized, a spokesman for the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee said Monday ...

... Five classmates of the wounded girls were killed after Charles Carl Roberts IV stormed their one-room schoolhouse in Bart Township. Roberts shot all 10 of the girls before killing himself.

The schoolhouse was razed 10 days later, and classes were moved to a building on a nearby farm.

One girl who sustained shoulder, hand and leg injuries is attending school full time ... Two others with lung, abdominal, facial and leg injuries also are back full time, aside from time away for daily physical therapy treatment ...

One girl remains at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and ‘is recovering more than expected. She has some ability to communicate’ ...

... Another girl is home but semi-comatose. Those who have visited her [say] she ‘miraculously survived.’

Several funds were established for the victims’ families, which may eventually face massive medical bills. The money also will be used for counseling services, transportation costs and construction costs for a new school, which is expected to be built in the upcoming months.

For the time being, hospitals have waived the majority of medical costs. The families are waiting for these institutions to say they need to start paying ... but some institutions have indicated they can continue covering expenses.

$3.2 million has been raised by fundraising programs.

That figure does not include Capital Blue Cross’ pledge of $500,000 for medical expenses. It also does not account for other smaller funds, [according to the] Mennonite Central Committee.

MCC and three other agencies with local offices — Anabaptist Foundation, Mennonite Disaster Services and Coatesville Savings Bank — have collected most of the funds being overseen by the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee.

The public continues to donate ... it is a daily occurrence, with donations cresting immediately after the funds were established, but there remains a fairly steady stream of contributions.

It Takes a Family (Part I)


I heard Alan Keyes speak at a local Republican Committee banquet when he was running for president back in 2000. I won’t go into his speech or my reaction to it (that’s a topic for another day), except to say that his main political premise was that every ill from which America suffers can inevitably be traced to a single source: the breakdown of the nuclear family.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about his assertion in the six ensuing years, and I lean toward believing that he is right. It may seem a stretch to attribute the cause of the threat that Islamic fascism poses to the free world, or the invasion of illegals across our southern border, to the breakdown of the nuclear family, but I believe that, once one peels away all the layers of societal/political circumstances that have allowed both to thrive, even those seemingly unrelated threats would not exist to the degree that they do … if at all … if the nuclear American family, and the profound and far-reaching effect that it has on what we like to call ‘civilization,’ were not involved in a painful and purposeful process of incremental disintegration.

Time and energy permitting, I intend to write about this sad process, and its terrible consequences, in several essays over the next few months. Even though I have done much thinking about this idea since the Keyes banquet six years ago, his insightful observation on the family and America’s decline represents too interconnected and convoluted a process/relationship to tackle in one sitting. And, as always, I’d like to solicit input from other readers here, either debunking or adding to what I have to say. I (as have others, I am sure) have learned from many incredibly insightful comments here, and I’m sure will continue to do so. :)

To scratch the surface tonight, I’d like to make an observation regarding the generalized behavior of students in our schools, with the axiomatic assumption that changes that have occurred in that behavior, in, say, the last forty years, can and must be traced backed to simultaneous changes in what is expected, or tolerated, from them at home.

I attended high school in the sixties. A city high school. There were recognized groups of kids in my high school, as there always are in any school. The most ‘troublesome’ group were the ‘hoods’ – those who wore black leather, were often bikers or wannabe bikers, and generally threw their weight around a lot more effortlessly than the rest of us. The hoods were the ‘bad guys/girls’ of the school. Bad guys or not, their ‘bad’ never involved threatening or badmouthing a teacher. Teachers were authority figures, and authority figures, by definition, were afforded a degree of respect that included no verbal attacks, even by the ‘worst’ among us.

Not so in today’s average high school.

We live in a rural area in south-central Pennsylvania, within an excellent (as 'excellent' goes these days) school district – the kind of district in which parents and prospective parents seek to settle, so that their children can have the benefit of a 'good education'.

Yet, even in our school district, it is not entirely uncommon for a student to argue with a teacher about the amount of homework that is assigned, to verbally tell the teacher that he does not intend to do an assignment because the amount or content is ‘unfair’, or to evaluate, aloud, something a teacher says in the course of class instruction as ‘ridiculous’ or ‘stupid’. Of course, such behaviors are milder, but significantly more frequent, than much more obnoxious, disrespectful, even violent behaviors ... which is my purpose in mentioning them: their actual acceptance as part of more-or-less tolerated behavior in the modern American classroom.

That which we tolerate is a reflection of what we have become.

Our son, Dan, teaches high school physics in a small city. I recently told him that I was considering writing something that included this subject and asked him to provide me a recent personal example of the kind of fairly regular disrespectful behavior that the average teacher is forced to address. He told me this:

Several weeks ago, a junior girl in one of his physics classes approached him and asked him for his signature on a paper that would have allowed her to drop out of his class. He was already well aware that this girl is an underachiever who wastes more time than she uses productively, who has little focus or ambition, and who tends to quit anything that does not come easily.

He refused to sign the course waiver, telling her, at the same time, that he believes that she is an intelligent girl who is capable of doing well in the course, that quitting is not an option, and that he would be willing to spend after-school time in the class with her, or respond to e-mail inquiries, about any of the subject matter that she does not understand … now and in the future.

She walked up to him, and told him, ‘Unless you do as I ask, I am going to make your life a living hell' (verbatim).

Dan handled the situation promptly and well (he always does), but assured me that such arrogance and disrespect, though not an everyday occurrence, is not uncommon either – in many classes, in most schools.

I believe that several character traits, dramatically less prevalent in the youth of forty years ago, are evident in the modern representative examples I have cited above:

(1) disrespect for authority

(2) a belief that (even reasonable, by most civilized standards) boundaries are made to be crossed

(3) an unwillingness, inability, or disinterest in achieving (or even recognizing, or caring about) one’s potential

(4) a self-absorbed view of the world

(5) a lack of comprehension of the concepts of planning, organizing, or goal-setting

(6) a belief that difficulties or challenges are to be avoided rather than confronted

Readers of this weblog are familiar with the fact that I hold teachers’ unions, and the modern public education establishment, in general disdain (with exceptions, of course). But, as regards the inherent causes of the dramatic increase in the abovementioned behaviors and character traits in significantly more of the youth of today, I believe (as would Alan Keyes) that the seed for such self-destructive behaviors are planted at home.

These behaviors have causes whose roots run deep and wide, and which affect many other aspects of our societal decline … and their future ramifications will affect more than the lives of those currently involved in the battle to shape the minds of children who refuse to recognize, or have been rendered incapable of recognizing, that their mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Education should consist of a series of enchantments, each raising the individual to a higher level of awareness, understanding, and kinship with all living things ... Unknown

(to be continued … )

11/08/2006

The Day After ...


More than two centuries ago, Thomas Jefferson observed, ‘Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction.’ Jefferson believed that America's survival lay primarily in the character of her people.

Likewise, Samuel Adams warned future generations by referring to ‘good manners’ as the vital ingredient a free society needs to survive. Adams said, ‘Neither the wisest Constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.’

As many of you know, I spent a lot of time over the past three weeks speaking to people about the need to re-elect Rick Santorum. While I was uplifted by the average person’s willingness to listen and comprehend -- and by the number who seemed to be swayed toward voting republican after listening and questioning -- it is still very disturbing to be personal witness to the number of voters who had intended to vote based on superficial perceptions resulting from snippets of campaign advertising, much of which was sheer distortion or out and out fabrication. For every one voter whose door was approached by a conservative intent on informing him, I am sure there were a thousand who entered the voting booth yesterday never having been ‘set straight’. It is beyond disheartening.

So, while I returned home every night uplifted by the fact that people are very one-on-one receptive, the ‘bigger picture’ is pretty grim.

With each succeeding year, the American populace becomes less informed and more special-interest oriented. Combining the ongoing illegal alien problem (whose solution is nowhere in sight) with the ‘education’ that our children are receiving in our public schools (placing less emphasis on our proud heritage, and civics in general, every year – focusing instead on phony, leftist multicultural philosophies), and the Marxist influence in virtually every institution of higher education, exactly what kind of optimistic view can we embrace of the intelligence/knowledge/allegiance of the new (both alien and youth) voters coming down the pike? Where is there a reason to believe that future disingenuous, un-American, anti-liberty candidates and programs will be held accountable by a citizenry that is even more apathetic, disinterested, special-interest-oriented, or leftist-indoctrinated than today’s voters?

Patriotism requires allegiance, education, strength, endurance, courage, resolve, and action. But it does not require the wearing of rose-colored glasses. Until our leadership addresses the illegal alien problem, until the number of voters who feed at the government socialist welfare/entitlement trough (as forewarned by deTocqueville) can be dramatically reduced, and until we determine to educate our children as to their proud heritage and the dangers posed by relinquishing it, election results will continue to fall in favor of powerful liars who can voice the biggest promises to the host of least informed minds.

I believe we are fighting a losing battle. But, unless and until the battle is lost, we are called to continue to do our part to keep the enemies (both foreign and domestic) at bay. To do any less would hold us just as accountable as those passive, 'sideline Americans' who choose not to be a part of the crusade to reclaim this republic from the scoundrels who call themselves leaders, but who bear no allegiance to our Founders and their vision.

I believe the results of yesterday’s election will have strong and insistent implications for the future of our republic. Barring a miracle of God, or a personal/spiritual epiphany on the part of the generally apathetic and/or ignorant-by-choice citizenry (the former is always possible; the latter grows more unlikely with each passing day), I believe that the following events are very likely to occur over the next few years.

Prepare for a dramatic increase in the invasion of America by an irresponsible, parasitic, malevolent army which chooses to thumb its nose at the critical concepts of the rule of law/national sovereignty by illegally crossing our southern border with the over-riding purpose of reaping the benefits of two-plus centuries of courage, moral sacrifice, work, excellence, and unprecedented prosperity … without any intention of contributing their own. In the process, and under the governance of left-leaning American ‘leadership’, they will play an integral role in the realization of the socialization of America. Even worse, we will witness the complete erasure of our borders, and the establishment of a North American Union, in knee-jerk deference to the eventual vision of one-world governance, under which our Constitution will become increasingly ridiculed, mocked, and eventually declared entirely irrelevant, and the vagaries of Marxist/socialist-authored and implemented international law will take precedence.

Personal and corporate industry will find themselves under relentless attack, with government, academia and media working feverishly to revoke the citizens’ right to keep the fruits of their labor, and replace it with a monstrous entitlement state which will ensure a massive, far-reaching, involuntary redistribution of wealth – aimed at punishing personal and business excellence and ambition and promoting personal and business mediocrity, with the end result being a dramatic increase in the power of the state and complete dependence on state largesse for our existence.

There will be continued erosion in respect for, and protection of, the institution of marriage and the nuclear family. Government will become even more of an advocate for homosexual rights, abortion rights, and laws which will continue to attack and destroy any notion of the importance personal responsibility for one’s own actions. Families will find themselves under relentless attack, with the government usurping increasing power over the lives and minds of the children of America, and with parents finding themselves serving simply as biological creators and temporary physical custodians of wards of the state.

Government intrusion into the education of our children will escalate. Despite the unconstitutionality of the federal government dictating education policy, it will continue its aims at leftist indoctrination of the generations to come through the political power implicit in loans, grants, regulations, activist court decisions, and curriculum manipulation. Government-controlled curricula will continue to downplay, if not eradicate, the importance of our constitutional heritage while indoctrinating our children in environmental mythology, globalist doctrine, and sexual liberation. As a result, future generations will not understand their proud roots, nor be willing to defend the noble society which emerged from them.

The federal government will continue to pass laws focused on driving up the cost of medical care, so as to eventually allow the government takeover of that all-important industry. The direct takeover of medical care in programs like Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the free hand that trial lawyers have obtained in dictating the terms of care (while coincidentally lining their own pockets, and those of the politicians to whom they choose to contribute) have played a major role in the destruction of what was once the most excellent health care system in the history of the human race. The government’s interference in the healthcare free market through ERISA mandates related to HMOs and other managed-care organizations, and the medical aspects of our tax code, will continue to undermine healthcare in America, while lining the pockets of the privileged few, driving good doctors out of business, and eventually placing the government in complete control of our health and well-being. When medical care is forced to circumvent government rules and bureaucratic management, it will not be long before the quality of each and every American’s life will be profoundly and inalterably affected.

The left will eventually impose its own brand of ‘faith’ on the American culture – a secular humanist ‘faith’ in which man and his needs and follies are the focus of ‘worship’, and the mention in the public square of the name of the one and true God becomes legally and politically verboten … there will arise an incrementally, governmentally-imposed ‘faith’ in which moral absolutes are deemed criminally intolerant and situational ethics are raised to the level of holy sanctimony.

The war on Islamic fascism will be transformed into a series of compromises with evil, including the retreat of American forces from the Middle East, which will result in brutality against liberty-oriented Middle Easterners that will rival the bloodshed that occurred in the killing fields of Cambodia. Our enemies, in the Middle East and the Far East especially, will become dramatically emboldened, and our genuine allies, Israel and Taiwan especially, will find themselves looking down the barrels of vicious, barbaric, unyielding guns … and, when they turn around to see who is watching their backs, they will see nothing but darkness.

There will be another terrorist attack (if not a simultaneous series of attacks) on America, made possible by a deadly combination of open borders and failed paper-tiger policies, which will make the holocaust of 9/11 seem like a walk in the park. The increased demands for vigilance, defense of sovereignty, and sense of nationalism that occurred five years ago have all but evaporated into the political ether, and the after-effects of what was surely our final wake-up call have fallen by the wayside. There will be no more wake-up calls. There will be death blows, after which America will be brought to her knees, pleading for mercy with barbaric madmen, and no longer capable of even whispering the word ‘freedom’, let alone defending that noble, precious, God-given gift.

The democrats controlled congress for forty years, from 1954 through 1994. Ronald Reagan was entirely responsible for paving the way for the Republican Revolution. The miraculous and providential accomplishments of the Reagan Revolution are now nothing but a fond memory. And, to those who believe that the pendulum will eventually swing back, and that conservatism will regain the prominence and power necessary to reclaim our beloved republic from the scoundrels, I say there is no time to wait to reclaim her again. We have run out of options and wiggle room. The hot breath of a mad and unprecedentedly barbaric and determined adversary, bent on our annihilation, is breathing down our necks now. They will not be denied ... nor does our current leadership – especially after yesterday’s election results – appear to have what it takes to hold them at bay.

The majority of Americans cannot continue to accept, at face value, leadership which says what we want to hear, and then proceeds to do as they wish (which, in the case of the current, and now future, leftist leadership on the Hill, requires the eventual subjugation of American citizens to the state, and the eventual subjugation of the American state to globalist governance). Simply put, the future of our republic will lie in the willingness of her people to take the time, and expend the effort, to look beneath the surface. Believing the words from the mouth of a leader is a conscious choice that must be made by every concerned citizen. As with any choice, it cannot be made without critical thought. Believing their words was okay when our leaders in Washington were virtuous. It is a deadly practice when they are anything less.

Over the last twenty-four hours, I have heard countless references to the need for bipartisanship and building bridges. Bridges are only as desirable and powerful as the relevance of what lies at the other end. I, for one, want no part of bridge-building, when doing so means creating a meandering, but single-minded, path to self-destruction.

Adieu, for now.

11/03/2006

Reflections


Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance toward the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point. Climb slowly, steadily, enjoying each passing moment; and the view from the summit will serve as a fitting climax for the journey ... H. Melchert

This will most likely be my last post here for a while, so I thought I would write something non-political for a change – something more introspective and philosophical that might cause anyone who happens by here to reflect, or maybe consider some ideas he hadn't before afforded much brain-space (on the other hand, he may leave here scratching his head and muttering, ‘What the heck is she smoking?’ :)

The following observations are not meant to be maudlin. If any readers see them in that way, I offer my apologies in advance. My intention is quite the opposite. I simply offer them as three short and simple ‘tales’ ... all of which I believe speak to the fleeting nature of our earth-bound life, and the natural, innate human desire to leave some kind of permanent personal mark on the ever-changing landscape.

Recent happenings in my family circle have caused me some reflection on the concept of our mortality, and I have somehow become acutely aware of the passing of time, the changing of the seasons, etc.

... which often puts me in mind of a scene from the lovely movie 'A Trip to Bountiful', in which Geraldine Paige portrays an elderly woman whose final, heartsong yearning is to return, one last time, to what remains of her dilapidated and abandoned childhood home on the economically beleaguered Texas Gulf coast. Looking plaintively over the overgrown fields surrounding her nearly-a-century-ago childhood home, she reflects:

Twenty years from now, I’ll be long gone. The river will still be here ... the fields ... the trees ... and the smell of the Gulf. But it’s so quiet now ... so eternally quiet.

My papa always had that field over there planted in cotton. It’s all woods now. But I expect someday people will come and cut down the trees and plant cotton again ... and maybe even wear out the land again. And then their children will sell it and move to the cities.

And then trees will come up again.

We’re all just a small part of all of God’s plan.



We live toward the end of a completely forested, dead-end road in a remote part of our township here in south-central Pennsylvania. Toward the other end of our road, nearing where it meets a main township road, sits a beautiful, well-maintained horse farm that has been in existence since 1831 … a full thirty years before the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter.

Just a few hundred feet from that farm, across a main township road, stood an old red, weather-beaten barn that has to have stood there at least as many years as the old horse farm … through the Civil War, both World Wars, and all of the events, both momentous and unnoticed, that have occurred in the interim.

That old barn sat on the edge of a fallow field that stretches just about as far as the eye can see, and its only companion was a young (in comparison) maple tree that stood sentinel alongside it.

Two weeks ago, someone had painted on the side of that barn, in gnarly, irregular letters: ‘For Sale’, accompanied by a phone number. I didn’t think much of the crooked lettering until, one day last week, I drove by and saw three young Amish men dismantling the old barn (old barn wood is a valuable commodity, since old wooden barns are becoming more rare with the passage of time). Without realizing that it was happening, I found myself audibly sobbing, as I drove toward town, with a river of tears streaming down both cheeks.

The nearby development of upscale houses that began construction last year surely intends to invade and digest the barren farm field in the not-too-distant future, and the removal of the old barn was, no doubt, a necessity in order to accommodate the march of (what we like to call) ‘progress’.

The young maple tree now stands sentinel there alone, with just the remnants of the weathered stone foundation of her older companion, still stubbornly clinging to the ground, insistent on reminding her of simpler, sweeter days.



Directly across the street from the building in which my office is located stands another field. At the edge of that field, adjacent to the road, once stood three lovely oak trees, the largest and oldest of which was damaged about five years ago during a spring thunderstorm that was accompanied by especially strong winds. I suspect that the two younger specimens on either side of her were her acorn ‘offspring’.

Man did nothing to repair the damage that the storm wreaked on the mother tree, and, over the ensuing five years since the storm, insects have had their way with her. Just last winter, the top three-fourths of her gave way and came hurtling earthward, leaving simply a tall, insect-riddled hollow stump. Pieces of her former self still litter the ground.

That stump is scheduled to meet the township road crew’s chainsaw within the next couple of weeks.

When leaving my office this afternoon, I reminded myself to capture the last remaining evidence that that lovely old oak … most likely witness to the Great Depression and beyond ... ever graced that particular spot of ground. Two weeks from now there will be no earthly evidence that she ever existed, but for the two younger versions of her that still stand to either side of her remains.



Below is a short story that I first read several years ago. It appeared in a book many years before my first reading of it. It is a telling and touching story for those who view man’s mortality as something that evokes both awe and dread. And I offer it here as a human counterpart of the simple tales of the barn and the oak.

But For This...

by Lajos Zilahy


He didn’t stop to wash the turpentine from his hands, but merely dried them on the rag that was hanging on a nail behind the door.

Then he untied the green carpenter’s apron from his waist and shook the shavings from his trousers.

He put on his hat and, before going out the door, turned to the old carpenter who was standing with his back to him, stirring the glue. His voice was weary as he said:

‘Goodnight.’

A strange mysterious feeling had shivered in him since morning. There had been a bad taste in his mouth.

For a moment his hand would stop moving the plane, and his eyes would close, tired.

He went home and listlessly ate his supper.

He lived at an old woman’s, the widow of Ferenz Borka, in a bare little room which had once been a wood shed.

That night – on the fourth day of October, 1874 – at a quarter past one in the morning, the journeyman carpenter, John Kovacs, died.

He was a soft-spoken, sallow-faced man, with sagging shoulders and a rusty moustache.

He died at the age of thirty-five.

Two days later, they buried him.

He left no wife, nor child behind, no one but a cook living in Budapest in the service of a blank president, by the name of Torday.

She was John Kovacs’ cousin.

Five years later, the old carpenter in whose shop he had worked, died, and nine years later death took the old woman in whose shed he had lived.

Fourteen years later, Torday’s cook, John Kovacs’ cousin, died.

Twenty-one months later – in the month of March of 1805 – in a pub at the end of Kerepesuit, cabbies sat around a red clothed table drinking wine.

It was late in the night; it must have been three o’clock. They sprawled with their elbows on the table, shaking with raucous laughter.

Clouds of thick smoke from vile cigars curled around them. They recalled the days of their military service.

One of them, a big, ruddy-faced, double-chinned coachman whom they called Fritz, was saying:

‘Once my friend, the corporal, made a recruit stick his head into the stove …’

And at this point he was seized by a violent fit of laughter as he banged the table with the palm of his hand.

‘Jeez!’ he roared.

The veins swelled on his neck and temples and for many minutes he choked, twitched and shook with convulsive laughter.

When he finally calmed down he continued, interrupting himself with repeated guffaws.

‘He made him stick his head into the stove and in there he made him shout one hundred times ‘Herr Zugsfiere, ich melde gehorsammst’ ... poor chump, there he was on all fours and we paddled his behind till the skin almost split on our fingers.’

Again he stopped to get over another laughing spell.

Then he turned to one of the men, ‘Do you remember, Franzi?’ Franzi nodded.

The big fellow put his hand to his forehead.

'Now ... what was that fellow’s name ... '

Franzi thought for a moment and then said: ‘Ah ... a ... Kovacs ... John Kovacs.’

That was the last time ever a human voice spoke the name of John Kovacs.

On November the tenth, in 1899, a woman suffering from heart disease was carried from an O Buda tobacco factory to St. John’s Hospital. She must have been about forty-five years old.

They put her on the first floor in ward number 3.

She lay there on the bed, quiet and terrified; she knew she was going to die.

It was dark in the ward, the rest of the patients were already asleep: only a wick sputtered in a small blue oil lamp.

Her eyes staring wide into the dim light, the woman reflected upon her life.

She remembered a summer night in the country, and a gentle-eyed young man, with whom – their fingers linked – she was roaming over the heavy scented fields and through whom that night she became a woman.

That young man was John Kovacs and his face, his voice, the glance of his eye had now returned for the last time.

But this time his name was not spoken, only in the mind of this dying woman did he silently appear for a few moments. The following year a fire destroyed the Calvinist rectory and its dusty records that contained the particulars of the birth and death of John Kovacs.

In January, 1901, the winter was hard.

Toward evening in the dark a man dressed in rags climbed furtively over the ditch that fenced in the village cemetery.

He stole two wooden crosses to build a fire.

One of the crosses had marked the grave of John Kovacs.

Again two decades passed.

In 1920, in Kecskemet, a young lawyer sat at his desk making an inventory of his father’s estate.

He opened every drawer and looked carefully through every scrap of paper.

On one was written: ‘Received 4 Florins, 60 kraciers. The price of two chairs polished respectfully Kovacs John.’

The lawyer glanced over the paper, crumpled it in his hand and threw it into the waste paper basket.

The following day the maid took out the basket and emptied its contents in the far end of the courtyard.

Three days later it rained.

The crumpled paper soaked through and only this much remained on it:

' ... Kova ... J ... '

The rain had washed away the rest; the letter ‘J’ was barely legible.

These last letters were the last lines, the last speck of matter that remained of John Kovacs.

A few weeks later the sky rumbled and the rain poured down as though emptied from buckets.

On that afternoon the rain washed away the remaining letters.

The letter ‘v’ resisted longest, because there where the line curves in the ‘v’ John Kovacs had pressed on his pen.

Then the rain washed that away too.

And in that instant – forty-nine years after his death – the life of the journeyman carpenter ceased to exist and forever disappeared from this earth ... but for this ...