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

8/31/2007

School is in but the Bible is Out


When an organization finds itself squarely in the sights of the ACLU, and other uber-Leftist groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the self-proclaimed "People for the American Way," we can be sure that the organization is exercising its constitutional rights in a meaningful and meritorious way.

Such is the case with a curriculum for teaching about the Bible in government schools developed by the nonprofit National Council on Bible Curriculum In Public Schools. The case against NCBCPS is filed as "Moreno v. Ector County (Texas) school board," but the real plaintiff is the ACLU and the real defendant is, well, God.

NCBCPS is a small North Carolina organization with a nickel-and-dime budget. For ten years, this group has been distributing a teacher guide, The Bible as History and Literature, for school districts desiring to teach about the Bible in that context. NCBCPS provides interested parents a template for introducing the curriculum to their school district in an effort to get this elective high-school course funded.

The NCBCPS course provides students with an entry-level understanding of the Bible's influence in history, literature and our legal and educational systems, as well as art, archaeology and other aspects of civilization. Appropriately, students use the most widely circulated text in history, the Bible, as their textbook.

Though the teacher guide is, clearly, not as well edited as the slick texts produced and marketed by the nation's leading academic publishing houses, the NCBCPS curriculum has, nonetheless, been implemented by more than 400 school districts in 37 states. More than 200,000 young people have been through the course.

Indeed, every student in America should understand the Bible's role in our nation's founding and principles -- and why.

What did our Founders have to say about the Bible? "The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God.... Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts." --John Jay (1784) "Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God." --Gouverneur Morris (1791) "[W]here is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths...?" --George Washington (1796) "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --John Adams (1798) "[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments." --Benjamin Rush (1806)

According to Chuck (Roundhouse Kick) Norris, an NCBCPS board member and advocate for government school Bible curricula, "A study by the American Political Science Review on the political documents of the founding era (1760-1805), [reported] that 94 percent of the period's documents were based on the Bible, with 34 percent of the contents being direct citations from the Bible. The Scripture was the bedrock and blueprint of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, academic arenas and heritage until the last quarter of a century."

Unfortunately, in that last quarter century, judicial activists have done everything in their power to Expel God from the academy.

Ken Blackwell, a national advocate for the restoration of our Constitution, writes, "In 1968, the liberal Warren Court carved out a narrow rule that if the government spends any money on something that involves faith, a person can be so offended that this creates a mental 'injury' for which they can sue. This rule, from Flast v. Cohen, [is] a weapon of choice of the Left to purge the public square of all reference to God."

The Left is using that weapon to expel the NCBCPS curriculum from one school district -- and, by proxy, the entire nation.

The ACLU chooses these cases very carefully, mapping the district and circuit courts through which the cases will advance, and only filing suit in locales where they believe there are enough judicial activists willing to do their bidding.

Accordingly, on 16 May 2007, eight parents of high-school kids in the Ector County (TX) school district are suing the school board to have the NCBCPS curriculum removed. One interesting aspect of this case involves the standing of the parents -- none of their children are actually in the course because, after all, it is an elective.

Ector County adopted the NCBCPS curriculum last year after a local resident, John Waggoner, collected 6,000 signatures on a petition asking for a Bible course.

To that end, ECISD school-board trustee L.V. Foreman, a defendant in the suit, exclaimed with typical Texanese eloquence, "If they don't have children in the class, they can kiss my butt. They're just looking to impose their beliefs and their views on everybody and we don't put up with that crap out here."

The NCBCPS has issued a response to the charges, and NCBCPS board member Mike Johnson, legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, says the curriculum "meets all tests" for constitutionality. "As one of the people who read and gave an editorial viewpoint it does a good job of presenting the Bible objectively."

Elizabeth Ridenour, NCBCPS President, says, "The real objection to our curriculum is not the qualifications of our academic authorities, but the fact that we actually allow students to hold and read the Bible for themselves, and make up their own minds about its claims. [Opponents are] fearful of academic freedom and are trying to deny local schools and communities the right to decide for themselves what elective courses to offer their citizens. This is not freedom, it is totalitarianism."

Ah, yes, precisely what Founding Patriot Thomas Jefferson meant when expressing his concern that the judiciary might become a Despotic Branch. "[T]he opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not ... would make the Judiciary a despotic branch."

Thirty years after the Constitution's ratification, Jefferson wrote, "The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone. ...[T]he germ of dissolution of our federal government is in ... the federal Judiciary."

Five years later, just before his death in 1826, Jefferson warned, "One single object ...[will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation."

Clearly our Constitution forbade such mischief: Arguing for its ratification, Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 81, notes, "[T]here is not a syllable in the [Constitution] which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution, or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every State."

The first line in our Constitution's treasured Bill of Rights states plainly: "Congress (emphasis added) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." But judicial activists, interpreting the "spirit" of the Constitution, have, in Jefferson's words, rendered it "a mere thing of wax ... which they may twist and shape into any form they please."

Back in Odessa, the ACLU and other plaintiffs may be banking on breaking the bank in Odessa -- in essence, picking a district with limited resources for defense, and hoping to extort them into folding. They also chose Texas because that state's House of Representatives almost unanimously passed a bill authorizing the training of teachers for classes on the Old and New Testaments. That bill is now before the Texas State Senate.

If we were still a "nation of laws," our Constitution would not have been rendered unrecognizable by judicial diktat, and this case would never have gotten through a courtroom door. Unfortunately, the so-called "Living Constitution" today is but a faint shadow of the bold document drafted by our Founders, ratified by the states, and defended with the life blood and sacrifice of millions of Patriots since.

Patriot Post

submitted by Marie Castiglione
(contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

8/30/2007

The Next Political Generation

map_world_zone.jpg

Official transcript of Miss Teen South Carolina’s response to the question:

“Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?”

Miss South Carolina: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and…uh…I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as…and I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future.”

video clip

Wait! Before you start poking fun at Miss Teen South Carolina, ask yourself: How much that is spoken on the House or Senate floor is just as vague, stupid and ridiculous? I think Miss South Carolina may just have a promising political career in her future, if not in U.S. America, maybe in South Africa or the Iraq.

submitted by Rob Maroni
(contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

8/26/2007

The Big Apple has a Worm

apple worm.jpg

CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) tied closely to
Hamas and other Islamic TERRORIST organizations must be
laughing themselves silly about now at the tax paying citizens of
New York, but let's back-up just a little to fully outline this bunch of
thugs we call "CAIR":

Since its founding in 1994, CAIR and its employees have combined
and conspired with the Islamic Association for Palestine, the Holy
Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Global Relief
Foundation and foreign nationals hostile to the interests of the
United States to provide material support to known terrorist
organizations, to advance the Hamas agenda, and to propagate
radical Islam.

Bassem Khafagi, CAIR Director of Community Relations: Arrested
by the United States due to his ties with terror-financing. He pled
guilty to charges of bank fraud and agreed to be deported to Egypt.
Ghassan Elashi, founding board member of CAIR-Texas, arrested
and charged with export fraud, dealing in the property of terrorist
organizations, conspiracy and money laundering. Found guilty and
deported.

Siraj Wahaj, CAIR board member, Co-conspirator in the first World
Trade Center bombing, called for replacing the American
government with an Islamic caliphate and warned that America will
crumble unless it accepts Islam.

Rabih Haddad, CAIR Fundraiser, co-founder of Global Relief
Foundation and found guilty by the US Treasury Department for
financing Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

Consistent with Hamas, CAIR has served as a conduit for the
distribution of materials and funds from foreign nationals to groups
within the United States for the purpose of promoting radical Islam
and attack anyone who rejects their ideology.

Enter the Khalil Gibran Islamist Academy in New York City. Six
years after being bombed by Islam, New Yorkers are tax funding a
private school for Muslims. (Gasp that they would tax-fund a
private school for Christians!). And surprise!; the principal of the
new "school" Dhabah Almonstater, was presented a plaque and
award by, you guessed it: CAIR. More importantly, the curriculum
of her New York Department of Public Education school has been
designed by the radical American Arab Anti Discrimination
Committee [ADC].

The ADC's funder [and recipient of the ADC's "Global Achievement
Award"] Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal's 10 million dollar
donation to the 9/11 victims charity was rejected by then NY
Mayor Giuliani because of Talal's claim that American policy
towards Israel was the reason for the terrorist outrage. Talal has
also raised money to reward the families of suicide bombers.

The ADC is also in the forefront of filing discrimination lawsuits and
legal challenges aimed at obstructing the FBI, JTTF and Homeland
Security from investigating Arab and Muslims who pose potential
terrorism threats.

Six years after the attacks and still no memorial at Ground Zero,
instead 2007 will see the opening of the taxpayer funded Brooklyn
based madrassah; "The Khalil Gibran International Academy for
Arabic and Islamic Culture."

Am I being too harsh on New Yorkers? Hold on; there's more: On
September 9, 2007, Muslims from the tri-state area will converge
on New York for the Muslim Parade which the city has agreed to
host. And if past parades are any indication, law enforcement will
need to be on high alert, as the participants have been amongst the
most radical Islamists in the nation. The parade amounts to an
Islamist rally for terrorism, anti-democracy and anti-Americanism.
Past parades have included such extremists as death squad leader
Ashrafuzzaman Khan, co-conspirator of the 1993 WTC bombing and
the new principal of the Khalil Gibran Islam Academy who defended
T-shirts calling for Intifada in New York. The parade is being
co-sponsored by the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan, a brutally
radical group who just last year provided Hamas with $99,000.000
for the purpose of killing innocent Israeli civilians.

This author cannot help but think that somewhere in the Arabian
desert twelve old men are sitting inside a tent eating figs and
laughing and at least one making the comment, "Akmed, the secular
humanists and atheists in America will give us their sovereignty
without having to fire another shot! They actually think WE are the
victims of 911!" (Raucous laughter)....

This author also can no longer have faith in the citizenry of New
York to help defend my sovereign nation against a murdering cult
who's sole purpose is global domination of Islam. I am no longer
interested in the "Apple". The worm can have you.

by Rich Carroll

focalpointusa

8/25/2007

Men Who Take Pleasure in Evil

vick dog.gif

Animals are far more ‘civilized’ than we humans when it comes to wreaking violence on one another. Very few animals kill simply for the sake of killing. Their killing is done mainly for food, for survival, and as part of the mating ritual (a natural example of ‘survival of the fittest’, in a sense). They do not kill for sport, or simply for the sake of killing.

Not that I object to man killing for sport when he hunts. But there is a world of difference between shooting a deer and eating the meat, and training dogs to be bloodthirsty and vicious in order to enjoy observing the gruesome results, and to benefit financially by pitting them against one another.

On an even lower moral plane is a man who not only authors/participates in the aforementioned brutality, but also tortures and kills those animals who either refuse, by nature, or are not strong enough, to be victorious in these contrived barbaric ‘contests’.

Our daughter spent two weeks in Kenya on business a short time ago. When she had some time off one day, she visited an animal refuge outside of Kisumu. Infant animals whose mothers have either abandoned them or been killed are raised in this refuge, and spend their remaining days there. Releasing them into the wild once they have been rescued by humans does not work.

Debating whether or not that is a wise thing to do might be reserved for another time. With that said …

The refuge is enormous, and the infant-through-adult animals have very large areas in which they live. Such an existence for them is sad, in that they would be much better off in their natural habitat, but they are treated well at the refuge.

While there, our daughter spoke with some of the keepers and discovered that, in all the years of the refuge’s existence, these animals have lived together in complete harmony, among themselves, and with the humans with whom they come into contact every day – simply because their needs are met, and there is no need to attack or kill for survival. It is the need to feed, the need to ward off natural predators, and the need to prove one’s dominance in mating, that causes animals in the wild to be violent.

While our daughter was observing the adult cheetahs being fed, she was allowed to enter their area and sit next to one. Below is a photo. This is a ‘wild’ animal, at feeding time, allowing a human to pet him – and he responded by purring like a kitten. She continued to pet him for a few minutes, with three other adult cheetahs feeding in the vicinity as well.

Mandy in Kenya 6.jpg

When man’s needs are met, there are those who are satisfied, and willing and content, even privileged, to live in harmony with those around them. And then, unlike animals, there are those whose natural bent is to want more – be it power, influence, material wealth, etc. – and their insatiable desire for more, and their strange inability to ever obtain peace of mind, is the reason for the violence that some men insist on perpetrating on others.

We all know who on this earth fits neatly in the latter human-on-human group of madmen bent on violence. We hear and read about their atrocities every day.

There is also a fine line between abusing animals and abusing other men. The stories I have read describing what Michael Vick did to young dogs who either refused, or were not strong enough, to perform well in his vicious fights causes me to react in the same way as I do to descriptions of what Islamo-fascists do to their fellow man.

Just as I cannot wrap my mind around the beheading of what madmen choose to call ‘infidels’, so I cannot also comprehend how any man can find it pleasurable to force a dog to swim in a smooth-sided container until it has no choice but to drown, or tie a dog down to a stake and then beat it to death until nothing remains of its existence but a pool of blood and a few strands of unrecognizable fur.

Men who take pleasure in evil (even some who are worshipped and revered) walk among us. A year in prison, and a monetary fine, will not cleanse a heart so black.

~ joanie

The Perfect Jury

PerfectJury.jpg
PerfectJury2.gif

Submitted by Rob Maroni
(contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

8/23/2007

May Not Be Suitable for Children


Upon good-natured urging from a blogger friend, I decided, on a lark, to find out what rating this weblog garners at a site that is dedicated to blog rating. (*yawn*)

Turns out, this weblog is not suitable for general audiences.

Why?

Because, within the 109 essays, and probably 1,000+ thread responses, the word ‘gun’ appears twice and the word ‘death’ appears once.

That’s it.

Which puts me in mind of an extremely minor, but still nagging, pet peeve I have about the way some of us are raising our children.

I teach piano. I currently have about twenty-five students, only three of whom are adults. The others range in age from four to seventeen years.

As an invention/motivation builder, I have what is known as a ‘prize table’ in my music studio. Without going into great detail (since I would prefer to have most of you remain awake until the end of this earth-shaking epistle), let’s just say that the perhaps two dozen objects on that table at any given time are there to reward the younger students when they show consistency in practice habits, or do something particularly praiseworthy in their studies.

When a student earns a prize, it is always fascinating to watch the process of deliberation that occurs when it is time for the momentous ‘prize decision’ to be made.

There are those who simply stand in silent contemplation for three to four minutes, then pick up the most valued (to them) object and skip happily out the door.

There are others who will rearrange the entire table into sections – presumably categorized from most to least desirable, before finally narrowing the selection to a single item.

Occasionally, I have had a student spend well into the next student’s lesson standing behind us in deep contemplation over which item will go home with him. (It’s a major life decision, don’tcha know?)

Over the past maybe ten years, two prize-table items have caused considerable distress to my kids:

    (1) a miniature (maybe two-inch long) pen knife that contains a small nail file, a tiny fold-away blade, barely sharp enough to cut butter, and a little pair of fold-away scissors that, oddly enough, cut paper quite cleanly,
mini pen knife 2.jpg
(acutal size)

    (2) and a very informative, and not the least bit violent (in word or illustration), children’s book about Davy Crockett.
Crockett.jpg

Whenever I come across an item that I believe will be popular on my prize table, I will occasionally buy half a dozen – knowing that several students would like it. Then I will put them out on the table, one at a time, until all six are gone. I had six knives and six Crockett books. Earlier this year, the final one was won, presumably leaving my table forever empty of miniature pen knives and stories of Davy.

But getting rid of them proved to be unexpectedly difficult. Not that the children (the boys especially) didn’t like the little knife or the book. On the contrary – they were among the most popular items.

No, the problem lay with the parents.

Whenever a student (almost always a boy in the eight to twelve-year-old age bracket) would pick up the knife to examine it during the ‘prize selection ritual’, I would advise him that that particular prize cannot go home without first obtaining parental permission.

It turns out that parental permission was sometimes quite difficult to come by.

An example of parental responses (to the children, never to me):

‘We do not have knives in our house!’

‘That’s a weapon. You don’t need a weapon.’

‘That’s too dangerous. Pick something else.’

I have three questions in response to those reactions:

    (1) What ever happened to parental supervision?
    (2) What kind of irrational fears are you instilling in your children?
    (3) Has the generation that was raised in the fifties and sixties, who walked around with significantly larger pen knives in their pockets (granted, we weren’t banned from bringing them to school, but they can be left at home during the school day), turned out to be a generation of delinquent marauders? (the Clintons aside)
Another aside: I had two pen knives growing up. A Boy Scout one that was given to me by a lad who believed it would win my heart. (At the time, it did. :) And a much smaller pink ‘girly’ one that I kept attached to a tan rabbit’s foot. I believe I eventually returned the former to its rightful owner, and I still have the latter (packed away somewhere in the basement). I never drew anyone’s blood, or threatened to, with either.

On to Davy ...

A few of the parental responses to that particular prize were even more surprising to me. Davy, like knives, was ‘too violent’. He represents an era in our history that apparently some of us would choose to forget -- the modern sins of Brittney, Lindsay and Paris being considered much more palatable.

As I said above, all twelve prizes (six of each) have now been finally dispensed. So there are parents out there who see neither the little knife nor the story leading up to the battle of the Alamo as a threat to their children’s physical or emotional health, or their vision of America.

But, somehow, that handful of parents who see a tiny knife in the hands of a ten-year-old boy as undesirable, or a book on the grizzly but important history of our country as a national embarrassment, will forever remain a sad enigma to me.

(Are you still awake?)

~ joanie

8/21/2007

Can’t We Allah Just Get Along?

Islam Peace.bmp

In case you had any doubt that Western Civilization is mired in a crisis of suicidal self-loathing and pre-emptive surrender, a Catholic Bishop in the Netherlands has publicly commented that Christians should begin to refer to God as “Allah” so as to make Muslims like us better -- or at least bomb us less.

Unused to having their demands met before actually making any, a Muslim group responded that it had made no such request -- although now that it’s known to be within the realm of possibility, I’m sure it will be considered as a future point for increased “tolerance.”

The bishop in question is Tiny Muskens (“Muskens” apparently being the Dutch word for “cojones”), who professes to believe that he is fostering understanding between religions with his spiritual version of “Would you like me better if I were blonde -- or at least less obviously Christian?”

Perhaps rather than trying to increase understanding between religions, the Bishop (as a Christian priest and all) might want to focus on increasing understanding of, you know, Christianity. Oh wait, I might have just committed a hate crime with that thought. Please forgive me. The Bishop’s appeal for appeasement is said to come at a time of rising tensions between Islam and Christianity in Holland --“rising tensions” apparently being the Dutch words for “violence by Muslims.” Oops, hate crime.

One wonders where Christianity would be today had Christ had apostles of the same bent as Muskens. A concise history of the faith might read: and then, after Christ died on the cross rather than yield to demands that the message of his faith be corrupted, the apostles carried his message to Rome -- but nobody noticed since they decided to call God “Jupiter” and just tried to get along. Who needs the blood of the martyrs when compromise and groveling work so well?

Thankfully, the Bishop’s grand idea has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Dutch public, but it comes on the heels of other disturbing efforts to hide the horrible Christian nature of Christianity from Muslim sensibilities. As reported last year by the Brussels Journal, the bishops of Brussels opened up their churches as sanctuaries for Muslim Illegal aliens hiding from law enforcement in Belgium. To make them feel more at home, the altar was removed, the statue of the Virgin Mary was hidden under a cloth (burkhas -- not just for living females anymore!) and the churches were festooned inside and out with Green banners bearing the name “Allah” in Arabic script. Doubtless, this made the churches less offensive to the fugitive Muslims within. In unrelated news, church attendance by actual Christians in Europe is down for some reason.

At the risk of committing yet another hate crime by bringing up the obscene subject of proselytizing the gospel, I would remind the bishops that the Muslims in Europe represent a special opportunity for them -- unlike Muslims in Muslim countries, the bishops can try to convert these to Christianity without fear of prosecution by the government. They’ll probably get killed for trying, but then I guess that’s why bishops such as these seek to promote understanding between religions, rather than the spread of their own religion. Again, the apostles burned with the passion of the faith. Muskens and friends smolder weakly in the spirit of compromise.

Also, issues of core principle aside, does anyone really believe that Muskens’ gesture of subservient compliance would reduce tension with Islam one mite? Suppose we did call God “Allah,” there’s still the minor source of conflict that Islam is aimed in large part at co-opting Christians and that the Koran specifically denies the divinity of Jesus Christ, or that he was crucified or resurrected. And oh yeah, because the teachings of Jesus are thus considered invalid, there’s about a thousand other differences too. Lack of a shared vocabulary is not really our central problem.

And to be blunt, we could all covert to Islam tomorrow and it would not reduce Islamist violence in the slightest, since the only folks more likely to be killed by Islamists than us infidels are other Muslims. Would we become Sunni or Shia, by the way? Personally I’m shopping the Alawite sect just to maintain my reputation for being a bit different. Of course being a bit different is a capital offense to Islamists.

Conflict is always unpleasant and burdensome -- but it is not always wrong or to be avoided. If you believe in something transformative and significant, that carries consequences and can entail suffering. If your faith is deemed offensive, it is your duty to offend; and if your identity as a Christian divides you from others, this division is acceptable. If such thoughts sound too deep to have come from me, they didn’t.

“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." -Luke 12:51-53

There are worse things than conflict. Loss of one’s core identity is surely among these. More and more, Western Christianity seems embarrassed by its own existence.

I am uncomfortable talking about religion, both because I think it is a very personal thing and because I believe I make a poor choice of spokesman for anything Holy (hint: my beatification is not exactly pending). But when church leaders themselves seem embarrassed by their own faith and so eager to compromise its ancient traditions, something has gone very, very wrong.

Let us pray that, when necessary, God will save the Faith from the Church.

by Mac Johnson in Human Events, 8/21/07

(contributed by Rob Maroni,
team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

8/20/2007

The Last Blooms of Summer

Another non-political diversion for all the faithful readers and contributors here: A few pics of the last blooms of summer from Rick's and Joanie’s flower gardens. Best wishes for an enjoyable remainder of the summer to you all.

It’ll soon be time to 'think winter'!

FlowerBeds3.jpg
FlowerBeds4.jpg
FlowerBeds2.jpg
FlowerBeds5.jpg
FlowerBeds6.jpg
FlowerBeds1.jpg

~joanie

8/17/2007

Over Extension and Bad Management

For Sale.jpg

When our children were in high school they both worked, after school and weekends, at a local fast food restaurant. It wasn’t a McDonald’s/Burger King national franchise; it was a small, one-of-a-kind mom-and-pop place that specialized in bar-be-cue sandwiches.

The owners, a young couple whose dream it had always been to own such a place, roasted their own turkeys, hams, beef and pork in the natural juices and served them on a variety of homemade rolls, from sourdough to poppyseed. They also served up a small number of side dishes (fries, onion rings, etc.), beverages, and ice creams for dessert.

Combining the above with curbside service (i.e., the servers would take your order at, and deliver it to, your car), that was it. A simple menu, but one that was unlike any other offered in the area, and one that was mostly ‘homemade’.

The place was extraordinarily popular. The parking lot was always full. And the business was well run, with one or the other of the owners generally there overseeing the operation, and half a dozen high school students or young adults manning the cash register and preparing the orders.

Then the owners began to set their sights on ‘improvement’.

The menu was changed, adding many new items – items that all of the other fast food franchises served. Emphasis on ‘variety’ became the business motto, and, in the process, the simple uniqueness of the place evaporated. Many more part-time workers were hired, and the place simply became a lot more hectic, and less well organized.

Over time, the atmosphere in the restaurant became the typical frenzied one seen so often elsewhere. The young employees became overworked, under-dedicated and disillusioned, and the owners became increasingly frustrated with demands on their time and the new and different procedures that had to be developed in order to cope with the addition of so many new items on the menu and the new distributors with whom they had to deal.

Customer loyalty began to wane, as the business struggled to survive, and, a mere year after the ‘expansion’, the once-thriving eatery closed, leaving a forlorn and crooked ‘For Sale’ sign as the only lingering evidence that it had ever existed.

Why do so many of us insist on fixing that which isn’t broken? Why do we not acknowledge and value the kind of pride in accomplishment that should be engendered by being both useful and unique? Why are so many of us determined that bigger means better? Why do we refuse to recognize the blessing of successful simplicity?

Over-extension and bad management decisions.

Along a similar vein to my own personal recollections above, but capable of exerting a significantly larger negative influence on countless lives, fortunes, and futures …

What was General Motors thinking when they started lending money to high-risk, low-credit-rated people to buy houses? I can easily comprehend the business logic and appeal of providing financing for the purchase of GM cars, but ... houses? Talk about moving from a focused winning strategy to a diversified losing one.

In 2006 General Motors appeared to have resurrected itself, thanks in part to selling 51% of its best-performing division -- GMAC -- to buyout firm Cerberus Capital Management. But instead of printing money, the finance company is now courting disaster because of its mortgage operation, Residential Capital (ResCap), a lender whose subprime mortgages comprise a full fifth of its revenues.

At GMAC's investor conference last month, CEO Eric Feldstein assured attendees that subprime lending is being slashed, but he also acknowledged that ResCap could weigh down all of GMAC for the rest of the year, and beyond. This admission marked a major shift from 2005, when ResCap accounted for nearly half of GMAC's net income.

Over-extension, and bad management decisions.

What was H&R Block thinking, while engaging in the same thing? Offering short-term loans against tax refunds is brilliant, nearly risk-free, and extremely lucrative, but it's a giant leap from there to becoming immersed in subprime mortgages.

After suffering a major financial beating, H&R finally unloaded its subprime mortgage division, but got a bargain basement price for dumping it. H&R had valued the division at $1.3 billion as recently as this past srping, but the buyer offered a H&R less than 40% of that amount, and bought it for what would once have been considered a song.

Multiply the above two subprime debacles a hundredfold, and you are able to envision the ultimate in what one could call ‘ill-conceived product extensions’. Actually, I see little difference in what I believe the ultimate effects will be between victims of the short-sighted subprime expansion and the fate of our local mom and pop restaurant – except that the far-reaching subprime debacle will have financial tentacles whose negative effects will cause much more than the vision of a small, deserted mom-and-pop store in rural Lancaster County with a crooked, aging ‘For Sale’ sign hanging in the window.

~ joanie

8/14/2007

Achievement vs. Pretense

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I am not a fan of professional sports anymore. Mainly because I believe more sportsmanship, character, and sometimes even ability, used to be displayed at the ragtag baseball games we used to play in the vacant lot down the street from the house in which I grew up (yes, I was a tomboy).

We played with heart. We went all out. We didn’t need umpires -- majority ruled. We patted each other on the back for a heads-up play, and criticized each other on the days that we weren’t playing up to par. We played in dirty old Keds, cheap shorts or jeans that didn’t have a fancy name-brand displayed on the seam, and torn t-shirts.

We had no backstop, used stones, pieces of tree limbs (or whatever) for bases, thought nothing of sliding into home headfirst, often came home with fresh scrapes and bruises, and mowed the grass ourselves (with a rotary mower) when it got too high to play a fair game.

We loved the game.

Nowadays, baseball’s (and other sports’) professionals, more often than not, are businessmen with a skill. And, in recent years, even the ‘skill’ part of the equation is often suspect.

Barry Bonds recently captured the crown as the all-time leader in career homeruns, eclipsing the likes of Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. Sadly, Bonds’ ‘achievement’ epitomizes the way in which genuine achievement in modern America has become diluted beyond recognition. Call me a purist, if you must, but the rules of the game (almost all ‘games’ – in sports, politics, business, economics, academics, etc.) have found themselves so perverted as to be virtually meaningless, in many instances. And, as a result, genuine greatness often finds itself eclipsed by sleight of hand.

But I digress ...

Re: the new homerun record holder -- The human body does not dramatically increase its efficiency, output, power, size, or endurance, after thirty-five years of living. Not without the help of artificial catalysts.

It simply doesn’t happen.

Considerable talent is sufficient for a man of integrity, whatever the record books read. But a man lacking in character who is not content with his completely natural excellence, decides that it is more important to achieve unnatural excellence in order to find his name indelibly inscribed above predecessors whose gift was sufficient. And the system has afforded him a green light to do so.

The end is now far more glorified than the path that one traverses in order to get there.

The dilution – even perversion -- of the definition of excellence is one of the infamous hallmarks of a society in decline. Break out the asterisks. And await, sadly, the approach of the day when they will no longer even be deemed necessary.

~ joanie

8/10/2007

Taking a Brief Respite from
Reflecting on the Woes of the World :)

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(Photo taken from the window next to my computer desk, 8/10/07)

Is it just my eyes playing tricks on me, or does she look
significantly more wise than many American voters?

8/07/2007

Move Over, Sheriff Arpaio!

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As reported earlier this week, some dirtbag who got pulled over in a routine traffic stop in Florida ended up "executing" the deputy who stopped him. The deputy was shot eight times, including once behind his right ear at close range.. Another deputy was wounded and a police dog killed.

A statewide manhunt ensued. The low-life was found hiding in a wooded area with his gun. SWAT team officers fired and hit the guy 68 times. Now here's the kicker: Naturally, the media asked why they shot him 68 times.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, told the Orlando Sentinel, "That's all the bullets we had."

Submitted by Rob Maroni
(Contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

8/05/2007

Make Good Bridges, Not Bad Art

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View, photographed yesterday, of the collapsed I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, taken from the observation lounge on the ninth floor of the Guthrie Theater.

Note the huge ‘work of art' rising up in the foreground.

Personal observation: The same liberal minds that cooked up that pork would now be complaining about money not spent on the bridge.

Make good bridges, not bad art.

Submitted by First_Salute
(Contributing Team Member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

(Photo from http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1876359/posts?page=3#3)

8/03/2007

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Thanks to John Cooper for alerting me to this legislative travesty perpetrated by the ‘bring ethics back into congress’ democrats. The House democrats appear to have unbridled legislative tyranny on their minds.

After you read these two separate accounts of events on Thursday night, ask yourself where the mainstream media is (other than in the pockets of elitist politicians … ‘fair and balanced’ FoxNews included).

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In a massive flare-up of partisan tensions (video link courtesy Breitbart.tv), Republicans walked out on a House vote late Thursday night to protest what they believed to be Democratic maneuvers to reverse an unfavorable outcome for them.

The flap represents a complete breakdown in parliamentary procedure and a distinct low for the sometimes bitterly divided chamber because members of one party have rarely, if ever, walked off the floor without casting a vote.

The rancor erupted shortly before 11 p.m. as Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D-N.Y.) gaveled closed the vote on a standard procedural measure with the outcome still in doubt.

Details remain fuzzy, but numerous Republicans argued afterward that they had secured a 215-213 win on their motion to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving any federal funds apportioned in the agricultural spending bill for employment or rental assistance. Democrats, however, argued the measure was deadlocked at 214-214 and failed, members and aides on both sides of the aisle said afterward.

One GOP aide saw McNulty gavel the vote to a close after receiving a signal from his leaders – but before reading the official tally. And votes continued to shift even after he closed the roll call - a strange development in itself.

Whatever the final tally, acrimony quickly exploded between lawmakers on either side of the aisle as Democratic leaders tried to plot a solution, while parliamentarians on either side argued over protocol.

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) eventually offered a motion to reconsider, according to floor staff on either side, ostensibly giving members a chance to recast their votes. But the maneuver sparked a chorus of angry protests from the Republicans, yelling “shame” on Democrats, while they returned fire with angry volleys of their own.

When Democrats finally moved to consider the spending bill as the last vote of the night, furious Republicans left the chamber en masse to protest the maneuver. The House eventually recessed at 11:18 p.m. But Republicans quickly discovered that there was no longer any record of the controversial vote and immediately charged Democrats with erasing the bad result.

“Obviously, the Democrats don’t want to stand up against illegal immigration – so much so that they’re willing to cheat in order to win a vote,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said in an e-mail. “They’re desperate – and it shows.”

The official House website did not show a record of the vote as of 1 a.m. Friday.

(from House Erupts in Chaos)

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From another site (An Outrage on the House Floor):

High drama on the house floor tonight. Dems brought an Agriculture appropriations bill to the floor greatly expanding government programs, yet again. Republicans moved to recommit the bill to committee, in order to add language prohibiting any taxpayer funds under the agriculture programs from going to illegal immigrants.

The Democrat chair closed the roll call when Republicans had won – as the electronic voting tally indicated enough votes to return the bill to committee. Shouting erupted on the floor, as the Democrats attempted to change the outcome of the vote after the gavel had come down – the vote was closed.

Republicans attempted to adjourn, but we were ruled out of order. Confusion set in as members waited at least five minutes for the chair’s decision.

Republicans members then began to leave the floor in protest, after Democrats proved they would go to whatever lengths necessary to further their agenda. A bad call by the chair, the vote was closed. Then the Democrats allowed their members to continue voting to change the outcome.

An outrage. Is this a democracy or a dictatorship?

All but a few Republicans refused to vote on final passage since it became obvious that a fair vote would not happen.

Let’s be clear - this is not even comparable to holding the vote open. They allowed votes to be cast AFTER the vote was closed and the results were announced, because they didn’t like the way it turned out. They erased the previous vote from history, as though it never happened.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the Republican position that no taxpayer dollars should go to illegal immigrants in that bill, we all have a duty to oppose the unprecedented actions by House Democrats last night, for the sake and health of our democracy.

The vote was counted, the vote was declared over and gaveled closed. The clerk had recorded the total.

Then, after the vote was over … they allowed their people to keep voting to change the result. Then, erased any record of the earlier vote count, as though it didn’t happen, because it didn’t go their way.

In other words. The vote was closed. Never reopened. But the result was changed.

This has never happened before in our republic.

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~ joanie

8/01/2007

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The Lord admonishes us not to hate, but my human frailties cannot keep me from despising those who paint themselves as public servants, and yet betray, and place in deadly jeopardy, the public they purport to serve.

I despise the leftists in congress, and their partners in crime in the mainstream media, who are working every bit as much as are the Islamic fascists to see to it that our mission in Iraq fails.

Damn them.

A growing number of people in ‘leadership’ positions in Washington place the amassing of political power above the safety and sovereignty of the republic they are charged to defend, and above the safety of the courageous men and women in uniform who daily place their lives on the line to secure our republic, and to bring liberty to an oppressed people.

Meanwhile, congress debates which will be the most politically advantageous way to lose the war.

And the man for whom I voted … twice … and in whose hands the fate of the free world rests, has betrayed us as well. He works under the pretext of bearing allegiance to his oath of office, but his actions betray his words.

The war in Iraq may or may not have been a necessary or wise decision when it was initiated four years ago. But, in the interim, under the president’s leadership, it has devolved into a political catastrophe, the victims of which are the best and most loyal and duty-bound among us.

There are two reasons that this war is a travesty:

(1) It has become nothing more than a flashback to the debacle that was Vietnam. Courageous, duty-bound young Americans are laying their lives on the line in order to contain a brutal, radical, inhuman movement that (worse than the threat of the 60s and 70s) threatens to place the entire globe at mortal risk. And yet (as was the case in the 60s and 70s), weak-kneed, agenda-driven, self-absorbed politicians are tying the hands of these young American patriots and preventing them from achieving decisive victory.

Personnel, arms and materiel are streaming across the Iraq border from Iran and Syria, American fighting men are dying as a result, and yet the deadly flow is being allowed to continue, while we ‘negotiate’ with those responsible for brutalizing, and killing, our countrymen … our defenders.

(2) Our president told us four years ago that America has to battle the terrorists in the Middle East in order to prevent the need to battle them here on our own soil.

So we are sending our troops six thousand-plus miles from our shores into a region surrounded by a vast sea of enemy sympathizers in order to fight a ruthless adversary, whose supply lines are easily replenished, and who wages war under rules that defy comprehension by the civilized world.

Yet, at the same time, we are leaving our own two-thousand-mile border virtually unsecured, so that those very same barbarians may enter our own country at will, circulating among us, and devising all manner of mass brutality that may eventually make the bloodshed on the battlefield in Iraq seem a comparative walk in the park.

It would appear that our president is intent on facing down the enemy half a world away, while at the same time issuing them an open invitation to walk, unhindered and undocumented, across our unprotected border.

The Secure Fence Act, passed by congress and signed by the president nine months ago, requires our leaders to achieve operational control over the entire span of our land and sea borders within eighteen months. $1.2 billion was allocated in order to accomplish that. Half of the time allotted to complete the urgent project has already passed, and nothing more than a token effort has been made to secure our borders.

To add insult to injury, in a show of politically opportune (at the time) good faith, President Bush last year deployed six thousand National Guard personnel to aid in securing our southern border. Yet just recently he announced that half of those troops will be sent home within the next month, and they will not be replaced.

It would appear that, since the so-called ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform’ abomination recently went down to resounding defeat, the powers that be in Washington (the president included) have decided that our southern border needs to remain an open door, so that the continued invasion of criminals will eventually redefine amnesty/guest worker programs/special privileges as a necessity rather than a choice. We are, in effect, being force-fed that which we abhor.

Back in the 80s, when we suffered through our last phony immigration reform effort, the reform was basically an economic and political issue. Thanks to 9/11, it has risen to the status of a sovereignty/survival issue – an issue that the majority of our leadership in Washington has chosen to ignore.

We could win this war on both fronts. We could contain the spread of Islamic tyranny and brutality. We could seal our borders and make it extremely difficult for Mexican lawbreakers to wreak havoc on our citizens and our economy, and for terrorist operatives to infiltrate our cities and towns, plotting their cold-blooded crimes among us. But our leadership (both in congress and in the White House) chooses not to.

Instead, congress maligns our troops, and the administration joins them in pandering to our enemies, focusing on bread-and-circus legislation, making no efforts to fortify our borders and keep the enemy out of our midst, and steadfastly refusing to learn the painful, but necessary, lessons that history has to teach.

Despite the fact that their own leadership is working against their success, our military is making progress in Iraq. They are winning the hearts and minds of the people. They are rebuilding the country. And, even though their hands are tied by politically-motivated traitors, they are holding the enemy at bay, against all odds.

But they cannot win ultimate victory without support from American leadership and the American media. And that support will continue to be withheld, and will continue to erode, until (1) the troops are unable to do their job because of inadequate supplies and half-hearted strategies that continually allow enemy reinforcement, and (2) the American public has become so weary of anti-war rhetoric that they demand complete withdrawal well before ultimate victory is achieved.

The betrayal is nearly complete.

When the promise of increased political power, and economic/financial pressures from special interest groups, take precedence over the sovereignty of our republic, the safety of its people, and the lives of those precious patriots who have volunteered to defend it, it is time for the whisper of revolution.

~ joanie