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

9/30/2007

Autumn in Lancaster County

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Another detour away from the political realm ...

Every early spring and early autumn, Rick and I spend an afternoon driving through the heart of Lancaster County (Pennsylvania Amish/Mennonite country).

We did so this afternoon. Below are twenty-five of the many photos I snapped of the countryside and the people. The photos of the Amish and Mennonite people were taken either through the car window or with a telephoto lens. Amish and Mennonite do not approve of pictures taken of themselves (they consider self images to be ‘hochmut’, or ‘proud’ – so I never snap a photo of them when they might be aware that I am doing so). Thus, apologies for the poor quality of some of those photos.

I hope you all enjoy this small portrait of Lancaster County in the early autumn.

~ joanie

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An Amish one-room schoolhouse. The girls' outhouse has a bonnet on the fence, and the boys' has a little black hat.

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This young Amish boy had just left a local grocery store and was on his way home, alone, in the family's buggy. From what we could tell, all he had purchased was a stick of beef jerky. :)

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The looks on these Amish children's faces speak volumes about their simple way of life.

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9/24/2007

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

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I watched President Lee Bollinger of Columbia University introduce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the podium at Columbia University this afternoon. I also subsequently watched the madman himself speak (what passes for) his ‘mind’.

President Bollinger delivered a fairly powerful address, but its impact for me was greatly tempered by the fact that I believe he was playing to a world audience, attempting to defray much of the justified criticism of his decision to invite Iran’s president to speak on his campus. Much of what he said was diluted by his, and his university’s, history of -- and continuing notable deference toward -- anti-American, left-leaning ideology and policymaking. Today’s words did not match yesterday’s, or tomorrow’s, deeds.

His speech’s impact was also tempered for me by the questionable reputation of some of its references/sources.

With that said, I have transcribed below what I believe were his most important, and most powerful, points – many of which I, and most of the readers here, might well have written ourselves (no doubt with much more sincerity).

As for Ahmadinejad’s speech, I’ll not grant it space here except to say that I deeply resent his blatant attempt to proselytize, his convoluted, perverse references to Holy Scripture amid those egregious attempts, his gross inability to appear ‘learned’, and his hypocrisy in attempting to lecture Americans on the path to world peace. He is nothing more than a vile, vicious, bloodthirsty, delusional megalomaniac.

The final affront of the afternoon was, post-speeches, watching the media interview snot-nosed, know-it-all Columbia students who were urging us -- the great unwashed, in their minds -- to 'give peace a chance', open up dialogue and diplomacy, and remember that communication with our enemies is our best means of obtaining world peace.

I, and most readers here, lived through the debacle that was Vietnam, and all I have to say to those arrogant young know-it-alls is ...

(*Spit!*)

Below are President Bollinger’s generally truthful (if insincere) remarks:

_____________________

Let me now turn to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

  • First on the brutal crackdown on scholars, journalists and human rights advocates…


  • The arrest and imprisonment of Iranian Americans for no good reason is not only unjustified; it runs completely counter to the very values that allowed today’s speaker to even appear on this campus.

    But at least they are alive. According to Amnesty International, 210 people have been executed in Iran so far this year – 21 of them on the morning of September 5th alone. This annual total includes at least two children -- further proof, as Human Rights Watch puts it, that Iran leads the world in executing minors.

    There is more.

    Iran hanged up to thirty people this past July and August during a widely-reported suppression of efforts to establish a more democratic society. Many of these executions were carried out in public view, a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.

    These executions and others have coincided with a wider crackdown on student activists and academics accused of trying to foment a so-called ‘soft revolution’. This has included jailing, and forced retirement of scholars …

    … There are not enough prisons to prevent an entire society that wants its freedom from achieving it.

    We at this university have not been shy to protest and challenge the failures of our own government to live by our values, and we won’t be shy about criticizing yours.

    Let’s then be clear at the beginning:

    Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator. And so I ask you, why have women, members of the Bahá’í faith, homosexuals, and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?

    Why, in a letter last week to the Secretary General of the UN, did Iran’s leading political dissident and over three hundred public intellectuals, writers and Nobel laureates express such grave concern that your inflamed dispute with the west is distracting the world’s attention from the intolerable conditions in your regime in Iran? In particular the use of the press law to ban writers from criticizing the ruling system.

    Why are you so afraid of Iranian citizens expressing their opinions for change?

  • Secondly, the denial of the Holocaust …


  • In a December 2005 state television broadcast, you described the holocaust as a ‘fabricated legend’. One year later you held a two-day conference of Holocaust deniers. For the illiterate and ignorant, this is dangerous propaganda. When you have come to a place like this, this makes you, quite simply, ridiculous.

    You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated …

    … The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history. Because of this, and for many other reasons, your absurd comments about the ‘debate’ over the Holocaust both defy historical truth and make all of us who continue to fear humanity’s capacity for evil shudder at this closure of memory, which is always virtue’s first line of defense.

    Will you cease this outrage?

  • The destruction of Israel …


  • Twelve days ago, you said that Israel cannot continue its life. This echoed a number of inflammatory statements you have delivered in the past two years, including in October 2005, when you said that Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’.

    My question then is, ‘Do you plan on wiping us off the map too?’

  • Funding terrorism …


  • According to reports by the Council on Foreign Relations, it is well-documented that Iran is a state sponsor of terror that funds such violent groups as Lebanese Hezbollah, which Iran helped organize in the 1980s, Palestinian Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad …

    … Your government is now undermining American troops in Iraq by funding, arming, and providing safe transit to insurgents like Muqtada al-Sadr and his forces.

    There are a number of reports that you also link your government with Syria’s efforts to de-stabilize the fledgling Lebanese government, through violence and political assassination.

    My question is this: Why do you support well-documented terrorist organizations that continue to strike at peace and democracy in the Middle East, destroying lives and the civil society of the region?

  • The proxy war against United States troops in Iraq …


  • A number of Columbia graduates and current students are among the brave members of the military who are serving, or who have served, in Iraq and Afghanistan. They, like other Americans with sons, daughters, fathers, husbands, and wives serving in combat, rightly see your government as the enemy.

    Can you tell them and us why Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq by arming Shi’a militia, targeting and killing U.S. troops?

  • And finally, Iran’s nuclear program and international sanctions …


  • This week the United Nations Security Council is contemplating expanding sanctions for a third time because of your government’s refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program. Why does your country continue to refuse to adhere to international standards for nuclear weapons verification, in defiance of agreements that you have made with the UN Nuclear Agency? And why have you chosen to make the people of your country vulnerable to the effects of international economic sanctions … and threaten to engulf the world in nuclear annihilation?

    Let me close with the comment – frankly, and in all candor, Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will, in itself, be meaningful to us.

    I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes so much of what you say and do. Fortunately, I am told by experts on your country that this will only further undermine your position in Iran, with all the many good-hearted and intelligent citizens there.

    A year ago, I am reliably told, your preposterous and belligerent statements at one of the meetings of the Council on Foreign Relations so embarrassed sensible Iranian citizens that this led to your party’s defeat in the December elections.

    May this do that … and more.

    I am only a professor, who is also a university president. And today I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world, yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for. I only wish I could do better.

    Thank you.

    _____________________

    ~ joanie

    The Line of Demarcation Between
    Free Speech and Traitorous Intent

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    Maniacal Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to spew ‘alternative views’ to an audience of American ivy league faculty, students, and guests during a speech at Columbia University this afternoon.

    One would assume that those ‘alternative views’ will include the fact that the Holocaust never occurred and is simply a Zionist-inspired hoax, the fact that the state of Israel should be annihilated, and the fact that 9/11 occurred because of America’s support of the 'illegitimate' state of Israel and because of America’s affluence and colonial aspirations.

    The international terrorist leader ‘graciously’ stated last night on 60 Minutes that he would not press the issue, after being denied an opportunity to lay a wreath at Ground Zero during his visit to New York.

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    How sad for him. And how surreal it might have been had he been allowed to lay a wreath in remembrance of three thousand-plus innocent American dead while, no doubt simultaneously, a representative handful of American soldiers might have met their brutal, bloody deaths in a remote area of Iraq as a result of an Iranian-supplied IED.

    In his ‘gracious’ response to the wreath-laying denial, Ahmadinejad stated, ‘Usually, you go to these sites to pay your respects, and also to perhaps air your views about the root causes of such incidents.’

    Translation: Mahmoud believed Ground Zero to be an appropriate site at which to propagandize about the evil that is America, and to justify the tragedy that occurred there. (Who knows? Perhaps in another decade or two he might find it conceivable, even advantageous, to deny the existence of that holocaust as well.)

    The nephew of a friend of ours was killed near Fallujah by a (no doubt Iranian supplied) IED back in December of 2005.

    I spoke with her yesterday, and she (normally a quiet, mild-mannered, 'live-and-let-live' woman) is outraged and inconsolable. She told me that the fact that Ahmadinejad has been invited to speak at an American ivy league college makes her almost want to renounce her citizenship -- except for the fact that the decision-makers at Columbia don't yet represent mainstream thought in academia (although I'm not so sure that I agree with that assessment).

    I suppose 'treason' is a word that is applied far too liberally today, by many on both sides of the political spectrum, but I believe the decision-makers at Columbia have stepped over the delicate line of demarcation between free speech and traitorous intent.

    ~ joanie

    9/23/2007

    White Supremacists in
    the Mainstream Media

    [I urge all readers here to read the following in its entirety. It is one of the most well-written, hard-hitting editorials I have read in recent memory, and therefore will no doubt achieve minimal circulation ... joanie]

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    Earlier this year, I wrote a column ... which detailed the torture, gang-rape and murder of a young couple, Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. Their five attackers—four men and a woman—dumped his battered body by a train track and threw her charred remains in a trash bin.

    The point of that grim essay was to highlight the mainstream media’s disparate treatment of interracial crimes.

    Indeed, there are some 17,000 murders committed in the U.S. each year, but this double murder was clearly far more barbaric, far more monstrous than most. Yet it never made a headline more than 20 miles from the crime scene—not on NPR, not on CNN or the networks, not in The Washington Post, not in The New York Times.

    Was the MSM’s lack of interest in this case race related, given that the two victims were white and the five defendants are black?

    Yes.

    How do I know?

    Consider this case in point: Last week, six white West Virginia lowlifes were charged with the kidnapping, torture and sexual assault of a 20-year-old black woman, Megan Williams. This was a brutal crime, to be sure, but Megan Williams is alive today, having been rescued by local sheriff’s deputies. Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, as we know, were not nearly so fortunate.

    Within 24 hours of the arrests in the West Virginia case, stories were headlined on CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times—even the BBC—and numerous reports have been filed subsequently.

    Was the MSM’s acute interest in this case race related?

    Yes.

    In fact, no sooner had Williams’s attackers been arrested than the FBI and federal prosecutors joined the investigation to determine if the victim’s civil rights were violated, or if her assault qualified as a “hate crime.”

    To this day, however, searches of the massive news archives of CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times for the names “Channon Christian” and “Christopher Newsome” render exactly zero references to their names in any news story—that’s nil, naught, zip and zilch.

    There is nothing unusual about the racial component of the Christian and Newsom murders. Indeed, while blacks represent just 12 percent of the U.S. population, black perpetrators are convicted by their peers in more than half of all murder and manslaughter cases. In other words, per capita, black-on-white crime is far more prevalent than the inverse.

    However, the contrast in how the MSM reported these two cases betrays a prevalent white-supremacist mindset among liberal journalistic scribes.

    By discounting the newsworthiness of black-on-white crime such as the murders of Christian and Newsom, and at the same time trumpeting the newsworthiness of white-on-black crime such as the assault on Williams, the MSM is, in effect, insisting that white people should be held to a higher standard than black people. In doing so, the MSM is essentially saying, “It isn’t news when blacks prey on whites, because we expect them to behave like vicious animals, but it is headline news when whites prey on blacks, because we expect whites to be more civilized.”

    Additional evidence of this underlying media hypocrisy is substantiated through the MSM’s coverage of race-baiting opportunists who inject themselves into racially charged criminal cases.

    For example, if a racially motivated hate group like the KKK showed up to protest on behalf of white defendants in a white-on-black crime, they would rightfully be skewered by the media. However, when racially motivated haters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson show up to protest on behalf of defendants in a black-on-white crime, they are canonized as civil rights saviors.

    In fact, this week Sharpton and Jackson, with more than ten thousand of their ilk in tow, swamped the small town of Jena, Louisiana, to protest charges against six black youths (the so-called “Jena Six”) for brutally beating and stomping a white classmate—charges that were reduced from attempted murder to aggravated battery.

    “You cannot have justice meted out based on who you are rather than what you did,” Sharpton argues, implying that because the defendants in Jena are black, and there was racial tension among the youths, the charges are unjust. “This is the most blatant example of disparity in the justice system that we’ve seen. You can’t have two standards of justice.” (Unless, of course, you consider Sharpton’s fabrication of the Tawana Brawley rape hoax a “blatant example of disparity in the justice system.”)

    According to Jackson, “Across this country, there are two justice systems—one for blacks and one for whites. Black young men are not more likely to commit crimes than whites, but they are more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be arrested if stopped, more likely to be charged if arrested, more likely to be jailed if convicted, more likely to be charged with felonies and more likely to be tried and imprisoned as adults.”

    Actually, black youth are far more likely to commit crimes than white youth, and for that reason they are more likely to be stopped by police (including black police officers), more likely to be arrested and, if charged, convicted (often by black-majority juries).

    District Attorney Reed Walters refuted the claims of Sharpton and Jackson, saying, “This case has been portrayed by the news media (emphasis added) as being about race and the fact that it takes place in a small Southern town lends itself to that portrayal, but it is not and never has been about race. It is about finding justice for an innocent victim and holding people accountable for their actions.”

    It is worth noting that neither Jackson nor Sharpton offered a word of sympathy for the actual assault victim.

    Remarkably, Jackson complains, “This isn’t just a Southern problem. A study of five states in the Northwest and Midwest showed that blacks are incarcerated at ten times the rate of whites.”

    Indeed, this is not “just a Southern problem,” but, in fact, a cultural problem. Too many black men do not take responsibility for themselves or their families, in part because racists like Jackson and Sharpton have inculcated black folks with the notion that they are “victims” of white folks.

    Of course, since Jackson fathered a child out of wedlock with an aide (and then paid her $40,000 from his “nonprofit” Rainbow/PUSH Coalition for “moving expenses”), he is not really in a position to advocate for responsible fatherhood.

    Hoping that the Louisiana “injustice” will jumpstart racial strife across the nation, Jackson insists, “In Jena, the protest will begin, but it won’t end there. This situation is explosive—not only in Jena but across the country.”

    Meanwhile, back in West Virginia, the NAACP has arrived on the scene to “monitor” justice in the Williams case, and no doubt Sharpton and Jackson will follow.

    However, still no word on when “journalists” at NPR, CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times will headline the torture, gang-rape and murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

    The Patriot Post
    Patriot Vol. 07 No. 38 Digest, 21 September 2007

    A Voice in the Wilderness

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    Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA, and this particular blogger’s current choice for the presidency in 2008) issued a statement this morning while attending the Republican Leadership Conference in Mackinac Island, MI:

    To Columbia University: ‘To host the leader of Iran when he supports terrorists that are moving deadly roadside bombs across the Iraqi border to be used against American troops is a slap in the face for the entire 165,000 men and women in Iraq and to those that have served before them.

    If President Lee Bollinger follows through with this hosting of the leader of Iran, I will move in Congress to cut off every single type of federal funding to Columbia University. If the left-wing leaders of academia will not support our troops, they, in the very least, should not support our adversaries.

    This event, following the slanderous action of MoveOn.org, depicting
    General Petraeus as ‘General Betray Us,’ in the New York Times represents the emergence of the extreme left-wing in American politics. I think it is time for the Democrat party to denounce this
    fringe element in their party.’

    Don’t hold your breath, Congressman Hunter. It ain’t gonna happen. Neither will congress support your call for Columbia to reconsider, or the withholding of federal funds to Columbia should Bollinger allow Ahmadinejad to speak. You’re but a whisper amid the cacophony of traitors ... but thank God for your courage to speak at all.

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    ~ joanie

    9/21/2007

    An Open Letter to American Forces
    in the Middle East

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    God’s greatest gift, that of life and the individual freedom attendant to life, is finding itself under relentless attack the world over. Attack by overt madmen who, with blood thirst in their words, proclaim their disdain for human life and liberty … and attack by covert ‘do-gooders’ in leadership positions here in America who see themselves as mini-gods, destined to wield unbridled power and influence over others.

    America represents the last best hope to stem that destructive, ungodly tide. And yet the majority of those in leadership positions in America count themselves among a god-like ‘ruling elite’ who profess a belief in human freedom and dignity and yet incessantly work to extinguish both.

    You Americans who have answered the call to war in both Iraq and Afghanistan are the hope of the free world. You are the hope of mankind. And yet, despite your commitment to freedom and the preservation of the American vision as our Founders authored it, you are not only facing down tyrannical madmen to whom brutality and violence are a way of life and a means to an end -- you are also battling much of the leadership in your own country, whose hidden agenda includes handcuffing you from doing that which you feel called to do, while simultaneously acquiring more power for themselves so as to extinguish freedoms here at home that you are fighting so courageously to offer to a people half a world away.

    Many have called the war on Islamic fascism ‘the war of all wars’, in the belief that, if the spread of radical Islam is not contained, Western Civilization will cease to exist, and humankind will find itself living under such intolerable conditions that unprecedented turmoil and bloodshed will become a way of life until humanity is eradicated from the face of the earth forever.

    And yet you, who are courageous enough to volunteer to be a warrior who will not sit by and allow mankind to succumb to such an abominable end, find yourselves increasingly betrayed by those whose charge it is to provide you with all of the tools and support that you need in order to succeed in this pivotal, watershed confrontation.

    And succeed you will – despite the actions of many of our leaders, rather than because of them.

    Joshua Chamberlain, a union colonel, later promoted to major general, at the battle of Gettysburg, remarked, twenty-five years later, during the dedication of a Gettysburg monument:

    In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls. This is the great reward of service. To live, far out and on, in the life of others; this is the mystery of the Christ,-to give life's best for such high sake that it shall be found again unto life eternal.

    Although most Americans will never see those ‘great fields’ on which you and your fellow Americans who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are ‘suffering great things’ for us, and for freedom-loving people the world over, you need to know that your great ‘reward of service’ will indeed be to live far out and on in the lives of others.

    You need to know that there are those in Washington who revere your courage, support your valor, and share your faithfulness to the cause of human liberty.

    You need to know that informed Americans consider you to be heroes of the likes of those who preceded you into battle during the Revolution, and all other succeeding wars in which America has been involved. You are cut from the same fabric. You are woven by the same invisible, all-knowing hands.

    Although he spoke his words of dedication more than a century ago, Joshua Chamberlain knew you. He fought alongside you. He watched some of you offer the supreme sacrifice. And he watched others return home changed men, bearing the indelible scars of battle, but possessing the elusive peace of mind that comes from having given their best to secure and preserve God’s most precious gift.

    Whatever your beliefs, I hope you are certain that our days on earth are numbered, and that there will be a final judgment in which earthly lies, distortions, and self-serving motives will prove irrelevant. Those whose visions and goals are self-aggrandizing, at the expense of human life and liberty, will stand before a judge who knows the blackness of their hearts. And those who see their own self-interest as secondary to the preservation of others’ lives and liberties will find themselves forever held in His grateful embrace.

    I thank you for your service. And for the invisible thread that weaves down through the centuries, connecting you with those of vision and valor who brought us to where we are today. May we not let you down.

    ~ joanie

    9/20/2007

    Inconvenient Facts for Al Gore

    Here's another glaring example of liberal media bias and hypocrisy. You won't see this on network TV.

    Al Gore rants and raves about global warming and energy consumption. Bush says little on the subject and only then in reasonable terms, but look who talks and who acts (snopes):



    Al Gore's house: A 20 room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guesthouse, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2400. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern "snow belt" area. It's in the South.


    George W. Bush's house: Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house is 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on a high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geo-thermal heat-pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into theground. The water (usually 67 degrees F) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas and it consumes one-quarter of the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Surrounding flowers and shrubs native to the area enable the property to blend into the surrounding rural landscape.

    by Seaspook
    (contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

    9/16/2007

    Walking Through Life ...

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    My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car.

    He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

    ‘In those days,’ he told me when he was in his 90s, ‘to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.’

    At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: ‘Oh, bull----!’ she said. ‘He hit a horse.’

    ‘Well,’ my father said, ‘there was that, too.’

    So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

    My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

    My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. 'No one in the family drives,' my mother would explain, and that was that.

    But, sometimes, my father would say, ‘But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one.’ It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

    But, sure enough , my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

    It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

    Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother.

    So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. ‘Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?’ I remember him saying more than once.

    For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

    Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage.

    (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

    He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.

    If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests ‘Father Fast’ and ‘Father Slow.’

    After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: ‘The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.’

    If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, ‘Do you want to know the secret of a long life?’

    ‘I guess so,’ I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

    ‘No left turns,’ he said.

    ‘What?’ I asked.

    ‘No left turns,’ he repeated. ‘Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic.

    As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.’

    ‘What?’ I said again.

    ‘No left turns,’ he said. ‘Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights.’

    ‘You're kidding!’ I said, and I turned to my mother for support ‘No,’ she said, ‘your father is right. We make three rights. It works.’ But then she added: ‘Except when your father loses count.’

    I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

    ‘Loses count?’ I asked.

    ‘Yes,’ my father admitted, ‘that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again.’

    I couldn't resist. ‘Do you ever go for 11?’ I asked.

    ‘No,’ he said ‘If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week.’

    My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

    She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102.

    They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

    He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

    One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

    A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, ‘You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.’ At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, ‘You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer.’

    ‘You're probably right,’ I said.

    ‘Why would you say that?’ He countered, somewhat irritated.

    ‘Because you're 102 years old,’ I said.

    ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘you're right.’ He stayed in bed all the next day.

    That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.

    He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said:

    ‘I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet’

    An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:

    ‘I want you to know,’ he said, clearly and lucidly, ‘that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have.’

    A short time later, he died.

    I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

    I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns.

    Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.

    by Michael Gartner

    9/14/2007

    Freedom's Watch

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    Have you seen the thirty-second television spots, or heard the shorter radio spots, being sponsored by Freedom’s Watch? If not, you must.

    The simple, half-minute, fact-based snapshots are far more powerful than we might believe. They grab the viewers’ and listeners’ attention instantaneously, and they are just the kind of honest ‘sound bite’ that will leave a lasting impression on those of our countrymen who are not necessarily interested in doing their own research, are being swayed by the mainstream media’s bias, but are open to hearing the truth. The average American will be deeply touched by these messages.

    Take 3 ½ minutes out of your busy day to watch these seven powerful testimonials to our military’s successes in Iraq (especially number four – in which double amputee, re-enlistee John Kreisel reminds us that ‘It’s no time to quit. It’s no time for politics’.)

    The first time my husband and I saw one of Freedom's Watch’s television spots, about two weeks ago, I immediately went to my computer to find out how we can financially support this organization that is obviously dedicated to countering the lies, distortions and anti-American sentiment being disseminated by the likes of moveon.org – and being telegraphed by the left-leaning politicians and their cohorts in the media.

    I discovered, upon hitting the ‘donate’ link on their site, that the organization does not as yet have the ability to receive donations on the website. Apparently they are too busy doing more important things, like attempting to counteract media propaganda and leftist political posturing, by spreading the truth. I checked back in tonight, two weeks later, and there is still no way to donate.

    I sent Freedom’s Watch an e-mail tonight, strongly suggesting that they attempt to enable that donation link soon, because I am certain that my husband and I are not the only patriots who have been sufficiently impressed by their ‘product’ to want to become a part of the crusade ourselves, if only financially.

    How very different this organization is from those supported by the left, to whom power and money are of ultimate importance, and America’s sovereignty and the safety of her citizens are secondary.

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    Freedom’s Watch has also requested of the New York Times that the newspaper allow the organization to place the same size ad that moveon.org placed this week, at the identical reduced rate of $65,000 – enjoying the same $117,000 discount. The Times has yet to respond to their request.

    I urge all of you to watch their seven television spots on the site, and to check back as I did tonight, until they have installed the capability to receive donations online. Then please donate as much as you are able. Because of the historically unprecedented, entrenched, seemingly monumental depth of the corruption and treason in Washington, most of us feel powerless anymore to affect change, and to reclaim our republic from the scoundrels who seek to lead her, while also despising her foundations. This is one small, but powerful, way we can attempt to do so from the comfort of our own homes.

    I will provide a heads-up when I find that the site has enabled the donation link, and I ask anyone else who might discover that before I do to post an alert as well.

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    ~ joanie

    9/12/2007

    Many Americans See No War at All

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    Last week the New York Times carried a story about the current state of the 9/11 lawsuits. Relatives of forty-two of the dead are suing various parties for compensation, on the grounds that what happened that Tuesday morning should have been anticipated.

    The law firm Motley Rice, diversifying from its traditional lucrative class-action hunting grounds of tobacco, asbestos, and lead paint, is promising to put on the witness stand everybody who ‘allowed the events of 9/11 to happen.’ And they mean everybody – American Airlines, United, Boeing, the airport authorities, the security firms – everybody, that is, except the guys who did it.

    According to the Times, many of the bereaved are angry and determined that their loved one’s death should have meaning. Yet the meaning that they’re after surely strikes our enemies not just as extremely odd but as one more reason they’ll win. You launch an act of war, and the victims respond with a lawsuit against their own countrymen.

    But that’s the American way: Almost every news story boils down to someone standing in front of a microphone and announcing that he’s retained counsel … Those 9/11 families should know that, if you want your child’s death that morning to have meaning, what matters is not whether you hound Boeing into admitting liability but whether you insist that the movement that murdered your daughter is hunted down and the sustaining ideological virus that led thousands of others to dance up and down in the streets cheering her death is expunged from the earth …

    On this sixth anniversary, as 9/11 retreats into history, many Americans see no war at all.

    Mark Steyn

    9/11/2007

    Tilly's Story

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    I think back to those who didn't make it, or about whose fate I still don’t know, some of whom I knew very well.

    Of the now-horrible sounds of those bodies hitting the plaza surface above me while I was in the mall. What if that had been my only choice?

    Of a girlfriend whose husband worked on the WTC 1 102nd floor, sitting at home with an 8-month-old daughter who would never know her father.

    Of the countless people with whom I exchanged pleasantries daily.

    Of a gentleman who I only knew as "Fred" in the 44th floor cafeteria, who would cook me a beautiful breakfast and who always had a funny story.

    Of the lovely little girl who sat three desks down from me, who was to be married in a few months, died we now believe in a trapped elevator.

    Of my good friend on the 60th floor, who was missing because he stayed behind while others fled, trying to ensure that no one was left; of his six and three year old daughters, along with his wife left to wonder.

    Of my three "subway guys" with whom I was going to watch college football that weekend; they were Cantor Fitzgerald employees who perished along with 700 of their co-workers on the 105th floor.

    Of the people who died not 10 feet from me in the first floor lobby.

    And, of that brave firefighter who pulled me through to the safety of the mall from the lobby. Oh, how I wish that I had thought to look at his badge or fire shield so that I would have known who he was! I don't know if he made it out alive but I believe he didn't. I wish I could have thanked his wife or mother and told them what he did for me and countless others. While I oddly remember many small details of that day, his face is a blur; I can only see his green eyes in my mind's eye, which makes me believe he was of Irish descent. I went through every photo of the lost firemen but could not positively identify him. This does give me some hope that maybe he made it out, but I just cannot imagine that being one of the first ones there, he was not on an upper floor when the building gave way. I can only hope...


    If you haven’t discovered ‘Tilly’s Story’ of surviving the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center, posted on September 13, 2003, now might be a good time to read it ... or re-read it.

    You’ll never forget it.
    Tilly’s Story

    The Purpose of Education

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    As if we needed any more evidence of the sorry state of the “modern” American education system, the recent performance of Miss Teen South Carolina was the final report card: FAILED

    One has to shake one’s head in disbelief at her incoherent answer to a simple question, but who can blame her. The poor girl was only reciting the mindless garbage poured into her head in the government schools.

    Being at the curmudgeon stage of my life, I’m almost too old to care about the things I can’t possibly fix, but I can still point fingers and offer advice to those who will listen. So my advice to any of you who might want to fix the broken education system in America is to ask yourselves, "What is the purpose of education?"

    As I was going through school, I often wondered what the purpose was. I had heard all the platitudes about "making me a better person", but that kind of "answer" answered nothing. In my own mind, I finally decided I was there to learn how to do things. That was good enough to get me through and in retrospect, wasn’t too far off the mark.

    Now that I'm sixty, I finally understand that the purpose of education is Survival.

    Humans and animals are both born with the desire to survive, but humans differ from animals in that we aren’t born with the knowledge of how to go about it - we have to be taught all that over a long period of ten or twenty years.

    When baby chicks hatch, they’re up on their feet within a matter of minutes, scratching around for food - they’re born with that instinctual knowledge. When baby goats, cattle, horses, or most other mammals are born, within minutes they’re standing on their feet and nursing. What an amazing sight to see!

    But we humans aren’t like that - we can’t even stand upright and walk for an entire year - we’re essentially helpless at first. Sure, we have a few built-in instincts - fear of heights and loud noises, and the suckling instinct - but that’s about it. A young human would die in short order if left alone after birth while most animals would do just fine.

    The essential difference between humans and animals, of course, is that we humans have a conceptual mode of consciousness, whereas animals think perceptually. In other words, humans are rational animals and we have to learn how to do just about everything.

    As a human child grows, the teaching of survival continues - at first by parents and friends, then (since about 100 years ago) in the public schools. After being taught how to eat solid food, walk, and talk by the parents, the “work of growth” continues, both at home and in school. Maria Montessori wrote in her book, Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook:

    “The infant’s first impressions are a bewildering chaos of sensory impressions which he must learn to organize and integrate. He must learn to recognize and identify the things around him; he must learn the distinction between himself and the external world; between reality and dreams; he must learn special and temporal relationships (e.g. the difference between near and far, between past, present and future); he must learn to make comparisons, to classify and to judge. In sum, he must develop his conceptual faculty.”

    After learning enough about his own nature (that he gets hungry several times a day), a curious child learns (or should learn) that the food he needs has to be provided by somebody. After learning enough about the world to understand that being outside can be too hot, too cold, or too wet, a curious child learns (or should learn) that the roof over his head and the warm bed in which he sleeps at night have been provided by somebody.

    Little pitchers have big ears, as they say, and young children pick up a lot of this from just watching how their parents and siblings interact. You can’t tell them everything, you have to show them by the way you live. (Giving thanks before meals and at bedtime is a good way to teach young children about food and shelter, for example.)

    After ten years or so, I suppose it’s possible that a human child could survive on his own in a stone-age sort of way - by hunting and foraging for food - but this primitive kind of survival isn’t the goal of education. The purpose of education is to teach children and young adults how to rise above living that kind of miserable existence. Every aspect of education should focus on what is required to achieve and maintain a civilized society - one where it isn’t necessary to forage for food and fight one’s neighbors in order to survive.

    After learning the basics of how to use our conceptual faculties, we learn to read and write so we can learn things far beyond the circle of our family and immediate friends. In this way, the literate person can leverage his knowledge to take advantage of what others have learned over the millennia.

    Some of us need to learn how to produce the food we eat, the tools required to produce the food we eat, the metals used to produce the tools. We need to learn how to mass-produce those tools so they are affordable. We need to learn about fertilizers, irrigation and pest control. We need to learn how to get that food to market and preserve it without spoiling.

    All of the above is why we learn math and science - chemistry, biology, and physics. Not that every child will be a farmer, but every child should learn the basic facts of how food is produced, and in general, how the world works.

    But even more than all of the above, we need to understand that to prosper, we must find a way to live productively among each other (e.g. in a society). There are proper and improper ways to do that as well, just as there are proper and improper ways to grow corn. This is why we learn about history.

    In any society, there are always some individuals choose to survive the easy way - by stealing from their neighbors. (Here in America, we call those people either criminals or politicians.) A just society has to develop systems (laws) which make production of any kind possible without the politicians and criminals stealing from us.

    For example, why spend six months growing a crop when your stronger neighbor or the tax man will just take it from you? Why spend years and dollars developing a new tool, a new method, a new pesticide, or a new genetic strain if someone will just steal the idea and profit from it with no effort on their part? This is why we learn philosophy, the third branch of which deals with morality (or ethics), and the fourth branch of which deals with politics (e.g. the proper way for men to deal with one another in a society).

    Some have asked, “Where do the studies of art, music, and the classics of literature fit into your idea of education?”

    That’s an excellent question and as I said earlier, when I speak of survival, I don’t mean just bare subsistence as has been the lot of humanity throughout most of recorded history.

    That sort of basic survival is primary, of course, but I was speaking more of the survival of civilization, or more accurately the best parts of civilization as we in America have known it. I think education should start with teaching what primitive survival was like, and then build on that base so the kids understand how we got from the "brutish and short" existence of not so long ago. That's where the fifth branch of philosophy - art - comes in.

    Art, literature, and music are essential in this learning process, and essential to a civilized society. There was a great passage in Ayn Rand’s book The Fountainhead where a teenager was walking out in the woods feeling depressed and thinking he had nothing to live for. The boy happened upon a cluster of houses built by the hero of the book, Howard Roark. Just seeing that such a thing of beauty was possible gave the kid the power to go on. In my humble opinion, that’s the function of art - to show us that great things are possible.

    Ayn Rand wrote her Romantic Manifesto in 1966. Those essays explained how a simple painting, piece of music, or group of buildings has the power to express our entire view of life. She wrote:

    "Consider two statues of man: One as a Greek God, the other as a deformed medieval monstrosity. Both are metaphysical estimates of man; both are projections of the artist's view of man's nature; both are concretized representations of the philosophy of their respective cultures.

    "Art is a concretization of metaphysics (the first branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of reality). Art brings man's concepts to the perceptual level of his consciousness and allows him to grasp them directly, as if they were percepts.

    "This is the psycho-epistemological function of art and the reason of its importance in man's life...

    "...The claim that "art is the universal language" is not an empty metaphor, it is literally true..."

    Art gives people a sense of possibilities.

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    The education establishment in America has forgotten the reason for its existence…or maybe I have that wrong. Maybe the education establishment knows full well what their schools are doing to our children, but it is the parents who have forgotten the reason for sending their children there. In 1963, Nathaniel Branden wrote:

    “Should the government be permitted to remove children forcibly from their homes, with or without the parents’ consent, and subject the children to educational training and procedures of which the parents may or may not approve? Should citizens have their wealth expropriated to support an educational system which they may or may not sanction, and to pay for the education of children who are not their own? To anyone who understands and is consistently committed to the principle of individual rights, the answer is clearly: No.

    Isabel Paterson wrote in The God of the Machine (1943):

    “Where teaching is conducted by private schools, there will be a considerable variation in different schools; the parents must judge what they want their children taught, by the curriculum offered…Nowhere will there be any inducement to teach the ‘supremacy of the state’ as a compulsory philosophy. But every politically controlled educational system will inculcate the doctrine of state supremacy sooner of later, whether as the ‘divine right of kings’, or the ‘will of the people’ in ‘democracy.’ Once that doctrine has been accepted, it becomes an almost superhuman task to break the stranglehold of the political power over the life of the citizen. It has had his body, property, and mind in its clutches from infancy.”

    I don’t see any of this changing any time soon. Yesterday I browsed the official websites of several of the presidential candidates, and their positions on education sounded a lot like Miss Teen South Carolina’s answer.

    “I believe we can educate students more effectively…”

    “I support streamlining the responsibilities of the U.S. Department of Education toward a goal of working in cooperation with local and state governments to meet local and state learning levels…”

    "If we are going to compete in the global economy, we have to set our education goals higher."

    “I believe that every child should have the opportunity for a quality education…”

    Nathaniel Branden had it right over forty years ago: "…when a government enters the sphere of ideas, when it presumes to prescribe in the issues concerning intellectual content, that is the death of a free society."

    by John Cooper
    (contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

    (included artwork by Bryan Larson -- http://www.cordair.com/larsen)

    9/09/2007

    Traitors in our Midst

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    Rick and I discovered this morning that yet another young man whom we know well has volunteered to be deployed to Iraq. He will be leaving in January. Which spurred me to do some serious thinking on the subject of our young men volunteering …

    My support for the war effort in Iraq has dwindled, for two sad reasons:

    (1) 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, and

    (2) I believe that we are fighting this war with one hand tied behind our backs. Men and materiel are streaming across the borders of Iran and Syria, and our attention is consistently diverted from addressing that critical situation – a diversion that costs the lives of both our courageous fighting men, and innocent Iraqis, every day.

    With all of that said, I respect beyond words those duty-bound, patriotic Americans who see it as their calling to do their part in creating an island of democracy in a sea of Muslim tyranny, and attempting to keep the terrorists contained and off of American shores. They are truly modern American heroes, standing in the cross hairs so that you and I might go on with ‘life and usual.’

    Because of the above considerations, I suppose I might be considered a member of the anti-war contingent. But, no matter my thoughts on the prosecution of this war, never would I consider entertaining a negative thought regarding the successes our military has achieved. And never ever would I consider voicing such a thought, in public or in private. To my mind, depending on the tenor of such a voiced opinion, that opinion would be tantamount to undermining our troops, at best, and treason and betrayal of allegiance and duty, at worst.

    I ask the readers here to consider the following statement made recently by the infamous senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer. Then ask yourself whether this man should be allowed to continue to occupy a seat in the American senate. I’ll comment no more, and leave the matter for you all to decide:

    The violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from al-Qa’ida said to these tribes, ‘We have to fight al-Qa’ida ourselves.’ It wasn’t that the surge brought peace here. It was that the warlords took peace here, created a temporary peace here ... Senator Chuck al-Schumer, last week in an interview

    I ask you, which of the following should be considered an American patriot, and which should be the object of criticism and scorn? Which possesses the moral high ground? Which is the embodiment of the America in which you take pride?

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    We're living in a Lewis Carroll world, where up is down, black is white, and criminals hold positions of power over heroes ... and have the arrogance and audacity to denigrate their heroism.

    ~ joanie