Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Pardo's Push" -- Bravery, Ingenuity, Loyalty

(Painting of "Pardo's Push" by Steve Ferguson)

If stories of military heroism are to be told, we will have to tell them ourselves.

The Main Stream Media only want to run negative stories about our armed forces, and overlook their daily accomplishments and triumphs in the face of danger and hardship. They are more interested in securing a jury trial for an enemy captured on the battlefield with a weapon in his hand, and are only interested in the story of the brave, highly trained professional who captured him if a Koran may have been soiled in the process.

I recently posted the first installment covering my assignment as a Budget Officer to the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing in England in 1970. During my five years there, serving on the best base doing the best job I had in my over 21-year career, I met and worked with some of the greatest guys the world will ever know – the guys who flew and maintained the magnificent F-4 (Phantom) fighter-bomber. Using all the capabilities of the versatile F-4, they flew every mission ever designed for a fighter/bomber/reconnaissance bird, and some that no one could dream up.

This is the story of one such mission, called “Pardo’s Push,” that happened over Vietnam in 1967. I just learned of it the other day in an email chat with one of the guys I was stationed with in England in the 1970’s. I barely knew this fellow, a flight surgeon (a military doctor assigned directly to a flying unit, who provides primary medical care for the members of the unit both at the home base and when deployed) assigned to an F-4 squadron, but in the military you know someone who knows someone this fellow knew, and everyone’s experiences become part of a body of shared experiences. When one of the guys does something he can be proud of, we are all proud of it.

Because of Pardo’s heroics, a trained aircrew was saved from death or eight years of brutal captivity in a North Vietnam POW camp, and from suffering the indignity of a Jane Fonda visit.

Please go here for an incredible tale of bravery, ingenuity, and loyalty.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Dublin To Tralee Train

(Alice’s oldest daughter married a fellow from Keady, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, U.K. We visited his family for a couple of days, then continued our trip, this time in the Republic of Ireland.)

We pedaled in a southeasterly direction from Keady into the Republic of Ireland. After a couple of hours we arrived at a train station, and bought tickets to Dublin. Unfortunately, we arrived in Dublin the afternoon of September 13, 1998, as the town was full of madmen and madwomen celebrating or mourning (in Ireland it's hard to tell the difference) the result of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship contested earlier that very day in Dublin. Screaming, yelling, possibly even inebriated supporters drove in celebratory fashion through Dublin streets broad and narrow, probably searching for the hotel room they had booked and a pretty fish monger to share it. We hadn’t reserved a room, and quickly decided that Dublin was much too exciting for us on our bicycles, so we pedaled on to another train station and boarded the train to Tralee.

Soon we were on our way, listening to the sounds of revelry fading away behind, while being charmed by an off-duty conductor singing “No Matter What,” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Whistle Down The Wind.” We had heard “No Matter What” being played all over England and Ireland that summer – it was a monster hit for a group called Boyzone that I had never heard of before, or for that matter, since. And the conductor had a beautiful voice.

It reminded me of a scene from one of my personal top five best movies of all time, “The Quiet Man.” John Wayne as Sean “Trooper” Thornton, running away from his violent boxing past in America and towards his romantic memories of life as a young boy in Ireland, joins some locals in the village pub. Soon, as he did in many of his movies, the director John Ford had the men gathered at the bar break into song, “The Wild Colonial Boy.”

There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Duggan was his name
He was born and raised in Ireland in a place called Castlemaine
He was his father's only son, his mother's pride and joy
And dearly did his parents love the wild colonial boy

(For the lyrics of "Wild Colonial Boy." When the page opens, click on "Melody" at the upper left for the tune.)

So as we rolled along into the darkening evening, the off-duty conductor sang:

No matter what they tell us
No matter what they do
No matter what they teach us
What we believe is true

And I will keep you safe and strong
And sheltered from the storm
No matter where it's barren
A dream is being born

No matter who they follow
No matter where they lead
No matter how they judge us
I'll be everyone you need

No matter if the sun don't shine
Or if the skies are blue
No matter what the end is
My life began with you

(Go here for the lyrics of "No Matter What")

However, we weren’t allowed to relax and enjoy the singing very long before we heard an announcement that a train on the tracks ahead of us had mechanical problems that would delay our arrival at Tralee approximately three hours, which would put it after midnight. Alice and I became concerned about arriving so late without reservations at a hotel or bed & breakfast. We decided that while the train was waiting at the station in Limerick for the track to clear, I would telephone ahead and get us a room.

As soon as we stopped, I got off the train and started the long walk back on the platform towards the station building. It was a relatively long walk since we were in the third car from the front of the train; we wanted to stay close to our bicycles and bags in their special car second from the front. Just as I got to the station and the bank of telephones, I heard another announcement; the train ahead of us was fixed, was on its way, the track was clear, and we would be leaving immediately. Rather than rushing back up the platform to our car, I decided to get back on the train and walk back through the cars to Alice. I hadn’t passed through many cars before the train lurched into motion, and I congratulated myself on being on the train and not left on the platform. I was still congratulating myself, even as I slowly worked my way through the crush of bodies in the bar car, when the train came to a shuddering stop. Something in me somehow knew that I was connected to the sudden stop. I pressed on with renewed energy and foreboding, and in a few minutes came to the car where I had left Alice.

As I came through the door into the car, a woman looked at me and announced, “Your wife stopped the bloody train, you know.” At the same time, I saw Alice, and as soon as she saw me her grief-stricken look changed to a smile. She and others soon filled me in on what happened after the announcement that the train would be departing immediately. Alice had become very concerned that I would be left at the station, and that we wouldn’t be able to contact each other for eight hours or more until the morning train picked me up and carried me to her waiting in Tralee. When the realization hit her that we might become separated and out of contact, Alice did what she always does in such circumstances – she screamed. Truthfully, I have never known anyone who has a faster linkage between perception of danger and letting loose a scream than Alice. Nor have I known anyone with a louder scream.

The singing off-duty conductor took action immediately, and pulled the emergency stop cord. He then opened the train car door and was peering outside back towards the platform when I returned. I thought my fellow passengers would be quite annoyed, but soon found the Irish are the nicest, friendliest people, at least if you’re a Yank, you would ever want to meet. Two of the passengers loaned us their cell phones. We thanked them profusely, and called several numbers, but couldn’t find a vacancy.

We decided to just take our chances when we got to Tralee. When we arrived, we got our bikes and packs, and had just started to leave the station and head towards downtown Tralee, when a woman in an automobile called to us and asked if we had a room. As luck would have it, she owned a bed & breakfast that she only operated during the busy tourist season. She had just closed for the year, but offered to put us up if we needed a place. We happily took her up on her generous offer, and followed her car as she led us to her home.

During our month in Ireland, we always found someone eager to help us on our journey. We had a wonderful time in Tralee at Margaret’s Bed & Breakfast, and it put us in a great frame of mind to start off around “The Ring Of Kerry.”

And another Irish legend was born. They probably still tell tales of the lovely Yank "colleen" whose scream stopped the Dublin to Tralee train!

I can hear them now.

"You know, a scream like that, she could teach the banshee to scream, she could."

"That's right. They say to this very day, when the train is pulling out of Limerick, you can still hear her scream echoing in the hills."

"Aye, I've heard that said too, but then again others say it's just the sound of the amorous Limerick alley cats."

Monday, March 27, 2006

England, 1970 To 1975

January 1970, Jeffrey was just a year old, and we were off to England. This was another example of the Air Force working in mysterious ways its wonders to perform. During the previous fifteen months I was in the MBA program at Michigan State, and at first I was certain that the Air Force would send me to Viet Nam upon completion. For the past three years the Air Force had told me my next assignment would be Viet Nam. But first I was sent for almost two years to the University of Arizona for a BS in Accounting, then Officer Training School at Medina Annex, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas for a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, and then immediately to Michigan State for the MBA program. Somehow the Viet Nam assignment I was “frozen” for never came up.

What did come up surprised me. Ent Air Force Base Colorado. I received a notification from the Air Force Personnel Center in the mail during summer, 1969, that I would be the Budget Officer at Ent AFB, downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. Marilynn and I were very happy at the prospect of a Colorado assignment. Marilynn was born in Colorado at La Junta, which is in the southeastern corner and is a lot more like Kansas than Colorado. If Dorothy and Toto would have landed there, Dorothy would have told Toto: “Toto, I think we’re still in Kansas.”

Colorado Springs would be totally different. Outside of the San Antonio area – which at that time included Lackland, Kelly, Randolph, and Brooks Air Force Bases – Colorado Springs was the spiritual center of the Air Force. The Air Force Academy is just outside of town, and Ent and Peterson Air Force Bases were in town.

We started planning our move to Colorado, and one of the first things we did was buy a new car. That part was spurred by the massive engine failure of my old car, an American Motors Rambler, which excelled at giving me examples of why American Motors is no longer with us. Michigan State University is in East Lansing, which is as you would expect just east of Lansing. Lansing was the home of Oldsmobile for over 100 years until production stopped in 2004. When I was there in 1968-1969, Oldsmobile was still going strong. In the American car market, Japanese cars were laughed at, and Volkswagen just had the most humorous ads. The big three US auto manufacturers were no laughing matter. They were the unchallenged masters of all that was holy to the American male, and the gas they guzzled only cost two-bits a gallon.

I bought a 1969 Oldsmobile Vista-Cruiser station wagon, with enormous V-8 and optional third row of seats, perfect for cruising across the United States between California and Colorado with Marilynn and sons Bruce, Scott, and Jeffrey. Very soon after taking delivery, another letter from the Air Force arrived in my mailbox. Without any warning or explanation, my assignment had been changed to be the Budget Officer serving in the 81st Combat Support Group, 81st Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Base Bentwaters, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom. Notification was soon followed by orders and information about my new assignment. Life got complicated quickly.

My support base while attending Michigan State was Selfridge Air Force Base. As I was preparing for the shipment to England, Selfridge was preparing to be inactivated as an Air Force Base and to be reconstituted as a Michigan Air National Guard Base. My initial paperwork to arrange the transportation of our family and our household goods was boxed up and sent off to I still don’t know where. After a nervous month passed with no progress apparently being made, I started the paperwork shuffle again. We drove to Selfridge on the northern shore of Lake St. Clair, north of Detroit, for passports for Marilynn and the boys, and to start the paperwork to ship our household goods and car to England. That was when I received the unwelcome good advice that I shouldn’t take my “Yank Tank” to England. It was too big for the roads, had left-hand steering in a country that required left-hand driving, and it would be extremely difficult to get spare parts and competent repairs and maintenance. In other words, it would be best to get rid of my brand new car, and buy something more suitable when we got to England. I reluctantly agreed, used the car a final time to drive us back to California on leave after graduating in early December, and luckily found a buyer for it just days before we got on the plane.

The first leg of our journey was flown from San Francisco to Philadelphia, then by bus to McGuire Air Force Base. As luck would have it, we were expected at McGuire. In fact, the guys in the Passenger Terminal almost fell over each other to gawk at the “2nd Lieutenant with a wife and three kids.” And they were also eager to tell me that, since my transportation had been arranged and I had gone off for thirty days of leave in California, the flight schedule had been changed and the plane I expected to leave on tomorrow had left yesterday. But no problem. I was booked on the next flight out leaving in three days. I guess it’s easy for a guy with a car and a house nearby to tell a guy with a wife and three little sons, no car, and no hotel room reserved, that there is no problem with spending an unexpected extra three days at a base in New Jersey in the dead of winter. Fortunately, we were able to get a room on base close enough to a snack bar that we didn’t freeze too badly while walking around in our California “winter clothes.”

We boarded the Boeing 707 and took off for RAF Mildenhall, England, late in the evening on January 13. I was impressed by the d├ęcor of the chartered plane; it was decorated in a Caribbean Islands motif, since its usual use when not chartered by the Air Force was to be chartered by tour companies to fly tourists to the Caribbean. The stewardesses were also appropriately attired for a tropical excursion, wearing high heels, light-weight flowery blouses, and mini-skirts. Little did we know as we climbed above cloudy and snow-covered New Jersey that we were embarking on one of the longest days of our lives.

The first sign that our trip to England was not going to be as simple and uncomplicated as we thought was when the pilot announced that bad weather over England and Germany was going to force us to divert to Cologne, Germany, to unload passengers going to bases in Germany to be taken by buses to their destination base, Rhein-Main AFB near Frankfurt. Those of us going to England would be delivered to RAF Mildenhall on the return flight to McGuire, after picking up passengers leaving Germany who would be bused to Cologne from Rhein-Main.

When we landed at Cologne, we were told we would have to leave the plane briefly so the ground crew could clean and refuel it, and restock passenger drinks and meals. Since all of this would be done quickly, we were advised that we could leave all our stuff on board. Fortunately, we took almost all of Jeffrey’s things with us – diaper bag, plenty of diapers (cloth ones in those days), baby bottles and baby food. We wouldn’t get back on the plane again for six hours.

(The next installment is about The Coach and Horses, Melton, where we lived for many weeks as I learned and intensively performed my Budget Officer duties. Click on the highlighted title, or here, to continue this tale.)

(Or click on the Air Force label below to go to all my stories about Air Force life)

Civil War In France?

Editor, Independent Coast Observer

According to the dictionary definitions provided by Steven Finz (ICO March 24, 2006, “’civil war’ as strife between members of a community,” just about every nation is or has recently experienced a civil war. France, for example.

In a more serious vein, in real civil wars, hundreds of thousands to several millions die. For example, the American, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian, Yugoslavian, and African (Rwanda, Congo/Zaire, Biafra, Angola and Mozambique through Sierra Leone and Liberia to Sudan and Ivory Coast) – each of these civil wars resulted in multiples ranging from ten to over one hundred more deaths than has been experienced in Iraq.

The reason those were labeled civil wars and Iraq’s conflict has not is quite simple. We label conflicts in the context of previous ones, and at this point the terrorism in Iraq may qualify as an insurgency, but not a civil war. Let me indulge our fondness for dictionary definitions and use the easily accessible Wikipedia one:

“An insurgency, whether successful or not, is likely to be classified as a civil war by some historians if, and only if, organized armies fight conventional battles. Other historians state the criteria for a civil war is that there must be prolonged violence between organized factions or defined regions of a country (conventionally fought or not). In simple terms, a Civil War is a war in which a country fights another part of itself.”

“An insurgency is an organized rebellion that engages in deliberate actions to cause the downfall of a governmental authority, through destruction and armed actions.” The terrorism in Iraq may not even qualify as an insurgency under this Wikipedia definition, since at this point there is no “organized rebellion.”

However, the left is rabid to label the terrorism in Iraq a civil war, damn the facts.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Oppression Of Muslim Men, Too

Editor, Independent Coast Observer

Atop my “self-described pedestal of insipid moral and political righteousness,” I still can’t understand what Mr. Wasserman means. If he means he still doesn’t agree with anything I write, he very thoughtfully admits that he has no political philosophy upon which to base such disagreement.

He then mentions that Mr. Clinton drew upon his own intelligence to formulate his political ideology, and of that there is no doubt. Republicans are thankful to Mr. Clinton and his wife that their political ideology included “Hillarycare,” since they then captured control of the House and the Senate after only two years of the Clinton presidency. After that, Mr. Clinton continued to demonstrate intelligence by going along with Republican programs to reform welfare and control spending, “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and by preemptively attacking Saddam in Iraq and the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia, even though neither had attacked us.

Leaving Mr. Wasserman’s lack of political philosophy behind, I would like Ms.Rein to consider another point about a lack of basic freedom and liberty in Muslim nations. During the past week we have learned that an Afghan man, Mr. Abdul Rahman, may be executed because he converted from Islam to Christianity. Mr. Rahman courageously admits he is a Christian, and was found in possession of a Bible, so his conviction and sentence are assured. All that remains to save Mr. Rahman is a medical team to judge him insane as his reason for rejecting Islam, or President Karzai to pardon him. Neither of these resolutions of Mr. Rahman’s “crime” of apostasy is acceptable if we are to believe Ms. Rein when she says Muslims have “extreme” freedom, unless she really means that Muslims are free to do exactly what Muslim law demands. Just as prisoners are free to obey their jailers.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Still Waiting For Fatwa

Some of the best people have fatwas, the worst people give fatwas, and I won’t rest until I have one too. I envy Salman Rushdie and Oriana Fallaci their fatwas. I can’t think of anything that proves you are doing and saying the right things about the Islamofascists than getting a fatwa of your very own.

Fatwas are not for everyone. Our main stream media, so fast to offend Christians and Jews, and throw out unsubstantiated charges of Koran desecration that get people killed, duck for cover behind “journalistic responsibility” if there is a chance an Islamist would be offended and come after them.

Liberals, who insist that they are the purest protectors of our civil rights, say that just because you can publish the Danish cartoons doesn’t mean you should if a Muslim says he might be offended. Since Muslims are offended by just about everything, it shouldn’t be long before only Muslim publications meet the “journalistic responsibility” test. Already, in England, some children’s books like Winnie the Pooh and Charlotte’s Web can’t be displayed on some classroom book shelves. A town clerk had to remove a piggy bank from his desk.

Homosexuals offend Muslims too. Forget “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The Muslims will replace that with, “you do, you die.” Koran touching by Infidels is out, as is Bible toting, crucifix wearing, and silent praying in a public place.

Islamists can also be very choosy about what is offensive, and when. Mohammad, a mere prophet, has been and still is depicted in Muslim literature and art, and has been for centuries. The “offensive” cartoons were published almost six months before Islamists suddenly realized they had to be offended. The Buddha statues at Bamiyan stood for a thousand years, then were destroyed. One of the few things that has consistently offended Muslims is women. If a woman crosses a man's path while he is praying, he must begin anew because the woman is offensive to Allah.

Muslims find non-Muslims offensive, and Sunni find Shiites offensive, and vice versa. Any criticism of the Koran is offensive.

Since I find all of these things about Muslims offensive – their intolerance, close-mindedness, misogyny, willful ignorance – I am sure that Muslims will be at least equally offended by me. See, I just drew Gay Mohammad. See, it’s right here on my desk. I’m not much of an artist, so let me describe what it looks like. It looks like a childish scrawl, a stick figure with a beard wearing a dress, labeled Gay Mohammad. About the same amount of artistry was involved in its creation as was in the celebrated and widely published Piss Christ and Elephant Dung Virgin Mary.

(The art is now displayed. The caption reads "Gay Mohammad in drag, winking at a guy" - since a picture is worth a thousand words, the Islamofascists should be having a cow soon.)

So do I get my fatwa now?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Oppression Of Muslim Women

Concerning oppression of Muslim woment, Dr. Sanity notes: "Amazingly, this medieval culture has grasped the fundamentals of both Orwellian and postmodern rhetorical rationalizations, that are so prominent in certain intellectual quarters within our own culture! I have heard the canned rationalizations coming from the lips of muslim women myself; and they all claim that it frees them from having to be "sexual objects. On the contrary, in Islamic society that is apparently the only role open to women. That, and breeders for the jihad."

A case in point is this letter from a Muslim female in the March 10, 2006 Independent Coast Observer, our local weekly newspaper, which illustrates how the world has been turned upside down -- freedom of choice is oppression!

I feel that as a Muslim I must respond to Lisa Walters' letter in your "FencePost" column. Her letter was well titled "Blind Spot" for it's (sic) total lack of understanding of Muslim women. Shame on you Ms Walters for taking it upon yourself to decide I'm "op­pressed."
I was born Muslim and have been all of my life. I have always tried to dress modestly (no shorts, tight clothes, heavy make-up, etc.) and most always have worn a scarf or head covering of some sort as an adult. I am approaching 60 years, am female and have lived in several Islamic countries as well as the United States. I have worn a chador, burka, shayla, hijab, hat or scarf depending on the style in whatever country I was in. I have never felt "oppressed." Quite the opposite, I have felt extremely free. Free of being ogled as a sex object, free of my body being used to sell products, free of many, many things I would find very uncomfortable.
I dress modestly and cover my head as my way of showing respect to God and out of respect for myself — not because someone re­quires me to do so. I have no desire to drink alcohol, dance, attend mixed gender events, nightclubs, music concerts and so forth because I want to please God — not because someone won't al­low me to do those things.
I too am a lifetime civil rights activist but I never felt it was correct form to insult or make assumptions about anothers (sic) religion in the process of my efforts. Yes, in this country we do have the “right” to publish these cartoons, but that doesn’t make it “right.” For someone to publish such derogatory cartons (sic) of anothers (sic) faith is in poor taste. To claim that one half of the Muslim population (meaning the female half, no doubt) lacks human rights, is absurd!

Thank you for this opportunity to respond to Ms. Walters (sic) letter.
Anne (Amal) Rein, Point Arena

I heavily edited the response I sent the paper to conform to its 300 word limit. The below is the longer, unedited version

Editor, Independent Coast Observer

I too celebrate the freedom from oppression, and “extreme” freedom, that Anne (Amal) Rein experienced living in several Muslim countries. Freedom and liberty, after all, are the sweetest fruits of the tree of life.

However, I would be negligent if I allowed Ms. Rein’s comments to stand for the experiences of the great majority of Muslim women. Forinstance, the following just happened in Iran: "Demanding freedom for women and political prisoners, protesters in Iran gathered Wednesday to celebrate International Women's Day, only to be beaten by police."

In Pakistan, five men were acquitted who raped a woman on orders from the village council to punish her 11-year old brother for walking unchaperoned with a woman from a socially higher tribe.

A woman who had been repeatedly raped and impregnated by her brother-in-law while her husband was in jail, was sentenced to death for adultery by a Pakistani court, while her rapist went free. You see, in Pakistan, a woman's testimony in court must be corroborated by four witnesses whereas a man's testimony is accepted on his word alone.

Thousands of women are killed or injured in “honor” attacks in Muslim nations in the Middle East every year (Palestine, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia), and honor killings are on the rise among Muslims in Europe.

In Bangladesh, which is 83% Muslim, acid violence has disfigured approximately 2,000 girls and women in the past five years.

In Afghanistan, not wearing the “optional” burka got a female reporter and her translator beaten by soldiers. Afghani women still may be beaten if they speak without permission from their male relatives, or if they try to get a job. Even though it was much worse under the Taliban, women are still imprisoned for traveling without being accompanied by a man, or for marrying without their family’s permission.

Ms. Rein, it may be in poor taste to publish cartoons which mock another’s faith, but much more than poor taste is involved when someone, such as yourself, says it is absurd to say many Muslim women lack human rights. Ms. Rein, it is thoroughly documented that they do. As is usual, I have posted this letter on my blog, Strong As An Ox And Nearly As Smart, with links to the supporting documents for every example I have given of rights abuses of Muslim women.

Shame on you, Ms. Rein. You owe Ms. Walters and your Muslim sisters an apology.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hamas Is The Terrorist

The Independent Coast Observer, March 3, 2006, included this Letter to the Editor. My response to Mr. Lopatecki follows.

(The accompanying picture: Twenty-three people were killed and over 130 wounded when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated a five-kilogram device packed with ball-bearings on a crowded No. 2 Egged bus in Jerusalem's Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood. Many of the passengers were returning from prayers at the Western Wall when they were killed. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.)

Who's the terrorist


If Hamas is to be desig­nated a terrorist organiza­tion that the west cannot negotiate with, then the state of Israel should get the same designation because it kills innocent people from the air with rockets. Or would you argue that God lets Israelis write off the col­lateral damage they have done?

The west needs to drop its hypocritical name call­ing and deal with Hamas as it is: the rightfully elected representative of the Pales­tinian people. If America is now going to starve out Hamas by withholding aid to Palestinian (sic) it will show its mission 'to bring democ­racy to the mid east' for what it is—a sham. And the more frantically Condi Rice tries to stomp out the fundamen­talist fires the faster they will grow.

Michael Lopatecki, Point Arena

Hamas Is The Terrorist

Editor, Independent Coast Observer

Michael Lopatecki stated (Who's the terrorist, ICO, 3 March 2006) that if Hamas is designated a terrorist organization, so too must Israel. Apparently, Mr. Lopatecki feels that if Israel responds to Hamas terrorist attacks, and anyone but a Hamas terrorist is hurt or killed, Israel has committed an act of terrorism. This is a distinction without discrimination, since Hamas indiscriminately targets innocent Israelis, and Israel retaliates by targeting Hamas terrorists. It is a sad but unavoidable fact, that although all killed by Hamas are intended, some killed by Israel in the pursuit of Hamas terrorists are not. Hamas could stop the slaughter of innocent Israelis, and thereby end the accidental Palestinian deaths, by stopping their terrorist attacks.

The United States and Israel are not the only nations that list Hamas as a terrorist organization. Australia, Canada, and the European Union do also, and Hamas is banned in Jordan. The United States, the European Union, Russia, and for that matter, the United Nations, have announced that future aid to the Palestinians is tied to "Three Principles": Hamas must renounce violence, must recognize Israel's right to exist, and must express clear support for the Middle East peace process, as outlined in the Oslo accords. The efforts of the world to bring pressure on Hamas have nothing to do with "a mission to bring democracy to the Middle East." The intent is to stop an organization harbored by the Palestinians from continuing terrorist attacks on the innocent civilian population of a UN member nation.

The United States would be foolish to support a nation that sponsors terrorism. In fact, we and the world have an obligation to bring pressure, including financial, on such nations. I am no fan of the United Nations, but even their support depends on Hamas agreeing to the "Three Principles."

Pete, The Norwegian Sea Lion

Pete Bjornavik was a big Norwegian, somewhere in his late fifties. As far as I knew, he was a lifelong bachelor. Pete lived near the abandoned high school building in Point Arena where we lived in the early 1950’s. He had a tiny house, probably about 300 square feet, at the southeastern corner of the high school property. He was partners with “Snoose” Graves in a cabinet shop for a while located at the rear of the Arena Theater parking lot. His cabinet shop was in operation when we arrived in Point Arena in September 1949, and I think he and his partner closed it around 1954. After that, the cabinet shop was made into a very modest residence, then for many years was vacant, and just recently was torn down.

Pete was a good neighbor and friend of our family. His little house was devoted to fishing – fishing is probably in Norwegian DNA, which may also explain why so many were bachelors. Fishing gear was on the walls, on the shelves, in the cabinets. The house always had a not-too-faint odor of fried fish. Pete was one of the best kind of fisherman, the generous ones. He was always coming over with a salmon, rock fish, abalone, or surf fish. Pete liked to give fish away as much, or maybe more, than catching and eating them.

Pop told a story about giving fish away in Point Arena which was probably fairly typical. He said Pete went to one neighbor’s house with some fine looking rock fish – a big ling cod, a couple of red snappers. Pete told Pop that when he asked if they wanted some fish, the neighbor’s wife said, “Well, I don't know, are they cleaned?”

In 1950 Pete sold Pop a dip net he built for catching surf fish, also called smelt, and I treasure the memories of all the times we spent at Alder Creek, playing on the sand, swimming in the lagoon, and netting surf fish. The dip net poles are still in good condition, and the dip net will be in as good as new condition when I get around to stringing a new net.

Besides his natural generosity, I think Pete liked to give fish away because he liked to talk to everybody. Pete was particularly interested in politics. He was one of the few Democrats in Point Arena at that time, and thought the United States would benefit from a moderate dose of socialism, brought about through the democratic process. In retrospect, I think Pete’s politics were influenced by Norway’s socialist leaning Labor party, and that Pete considered American politics to be chaotic in comparison.

I wasn’t even ten years old, but I remembered how much I enjoyed it when Pete would drop in to visit, and I would get to listen to him discussing things with Mom and Pop. Mom had strong opinions, and particularly hated unions and their influence on Democratic politicians, but except for throwing an occasional verbal bomb into the conversation, she seemed content to listen. The exchanges between Pop and Pete were the fun part. They never got angry or excited in their arguments, and never interrupted each other. Both had a similar speaking style – very slow, very deliberate, very precise. They used words like they were paying for each, and wanted their money’s worth. Pete used each word like it was a rare gemstone, to be polished and displayed in a proper setting. Pete’s favorite word was “consequently,” and he put proper emphasis on each syllable so that it sounded like a sentence by itself. When Pete finished saying “consequently,” the listener was sure that something of consequence would follow. I wish I could remember what it was.

All I can remember now is that Pop and Pete never agreed, and that they were the best of friends.

Monday, March 06, 2006

John Bolton Interview

Two of my favorites, United States UN Ambassador John Bolton, and Pamela of Atlas Shrugs, got together at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and Pamela was able to get an exclusive interview.

It didn’t take long before the interview got to the subject of Iran. Pamela, AKA Atlas, has just asked if John’s experiences at the UN were discouraging, or if he thought progress could be made:

John Bolton: Oh it’s do-able, under the right circumstances. I'm not so naive that I would be doing it if I didn't think there was a chance which makes it in some senses more frustrating. You can see sometimes how close you can get and yet you can't finish a particular thing. Like Iran, I've been working on this for three and a half years.

Atlas: And you'll be working on it for three and half more.

John Bolton: I hope not, I hope not, because now that it's in the Security Council, now is the time to say this is their chance that either they give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons or we go to what the President said, we do something else.

Atlas: We do something else? That's a little vague, don't you think? Deliberately vague?

John Bolton: Yeah, sure absolutely. The President said I never take options off the table. And you've got to be that way. Look this has happened to me enough times before .... if I said, well -- I'll give you an example......after the invasion of Iraq, after Saddam was overthrown, I said something in a BBC interview, like I hope the governments of Syria and Iran take notice of what's just happened, and I got into enormous trouble for that, because it sounded like I was threatening the invasion of Iran and Syria.

Atlas: Yeah, but you get in enormous trouble for waking up in the morning.

John Bolton: Well, that's true too.

All the interview is here.

John Bolton is the best thing that has happened for the United States in the United Nations for decades, which is why liberals, Democrats, dictators, poltroons, etc., all who are comfortable with United Nations corruption and inefficiency, hate him.

Remember the colossal corruption of the Food for Oil program? How so many UN Human Rights Committee members represent human rights abusers like Cuba, Libya, China, and Russia, who prevent the committee from doing anything about human rights? How UN peace keepers can’t keep the peace anywhere? Just like in Rwanda, later in Bosnia, they stand around and watch the slaughter. Or sexually abuse the women and children who come to UN encampments seeking safety?

John Bolton wants to reform the United Nations, and that scares the Hell out of the UN and their business-as-usual supporters.

John Bolton, you da man!

Dude, Where Is My Fatwa?

Look, Ayatollah Cockamamie, I’m getting tired of this Waiting for Fatwa. All Salman Rushdie did was remind you guys of Mohammad’s own words, and he got a Fatwa for life. A bunch of guys in Denmark made a few simple drawings of who knows what, labeled them “Mohammad,” and got put on your wanted “dead or deader” list. How about me?

I have gone out of my way to disrespect you. I think you and most of your Ayatollahs and followers are ignorant misogynists, and vile hypocrites of the worst order. You whine about disrespect for your religion because of some silly cartoons, yet daily publish the most virulent anti-Jewish cartoons the world has seen since Nazi Germany. Visitors to Saudi Arabia have their Bibles confiscated and burned, and can’t even show a hint of prayer in a public place. Now that is disrespect!

Disrespect? You don’t even know disrespect! The New York Times has never carried pictures of a Piss Mohammed, or Mohammad in Elephant Dung and Female Genitalia. And the cowardly Times and most other “major” American news media have not shown any of the cartoons you find so offensive, but they had no such reservations about showing Piss Christ and The Holy Virgin Mary in elephant dung and pornography.

On the other hand, I have published all the Danish cartoons in my blog, plus several others much more disrespectful. I have also criticized Allah and His followers, doubting that Islam is a “religion of peace” – I consider it a religion of war and savagery – and noted that Islam is a religion of ignorance based on blind faith in a petty, jealous god. If these things don’t get me a Fatwa, what will?

If you do give me my Fatwa, please watch out for my dog, Buddy, when you come to fulfill it. He has been trained to bite attacking Islamofascists in the groin, thereby reducing the allure of 72 virgins. Also, Allah has confided in me that there were good reasons why the 72 were still virgins when they passed on of old age.

Please note the following: By my remarks, I am not singling out Islamists. Many Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and others wish to live long lives at peace with their neighbors and, at the end, to die peacefully. On the other hand, many Islamists wish for, moreover they pray for, a way to die as martyrs for Allah. I simply wish that all these wishes, without exception, come true. The world would be a much better place.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Europe Bicycle Trip Of A Lifetime - We Begin

In May 1998 Alice and I completed preparations for a four-month bicycle trip through parts of Europe. I had resigned from the Internal Audit Department of Kaiser-Permanente in Oakland in early May, and Alice was wrapping up some pet projects at her company, Vulcan Incorporated in Hayward.

We had our bicycles and our gear ready to go, but had only ridden the bikes a few miles and had never tested them carrying the packs or being packed for a trip in an airplane. As a matter of fact, Alice and I had done very little bicycle riding since we got married in 1989.

In our favor, Alice planned the trip very carefully, and I was happy with my choice of bicycles and packs. Alice devoured travel guides, such as Fodor’s and Rick Steves, which proved valuable during the trip. Not only the advice was valuable, but just the sight of her Rick Steves or Fodor’s travel books got us better service from our B&B hosts. Alice also studied books specifically about biking in Germany, England, and Ireland, and made copies of the pages that covered the bike paths on our route.

The bicycles I chose were foldable Dahons with full-size 26” wheels and a 7-speed Shimano internal hub instead of a derailleur shifting system. The bicycles were easy to assemble and disassemble, pack in a carry bag, and take along with us as part of our airline luggage. We were very lucky to buy the bikes we did. Nothing comparable is on the market now. The closest I could find on the Internet now is this.

The night before departure, Alice worked at Vulcan until past 2 in the morning. We barely had our heads on the pillows before it was 5:30, time to be up and off to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, via San Francisco Airport and Baltimore.

We had high hopes of getting a free military stand-by flight, called a hop, from Dover AFB to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, but we had delayed our departure too much. It was now mid-June, all the kids were out of school, and the regular military and their families were traveling with higher travel priority ratings than we military retirees. After ten days waiting, and little hope for a change, we bought commercial tickets and flew from Newark to Paris.

Our time in Dover was far from wasted. While there, we finally had time to ride the bikes and get used to them and carrying the packs. Also, I got to disassemble and reassemble them, and pack them for transport, almost on a daily basis. Learning these skills, which should have happened before we started, came in very handy throughout our four-month bike tour.

We Arrive In Europe

We landed in Paris at Orly Airport, collected our luggage – two bikes in bags, two large bike packs in bags, and we were wearing our day packs as our hand carry luggage. The first thing we did then was board the airport subway to go to the railroad station. That was the second thing we should have done. The first thing I should have done was reassemble the bikes in the airport. It would have been so much easier to roll the bikes, with the large packs already loaded on the luggage racks, through the subway trains and connecting corridors than to carry it all, bikes included, still in their shipping bags.

I was fortunate that one Parisian, who spoke English as well as I spoke French, saw the monumental effort required for me to move the four heavy pieces by myself, and silently gave me a hand. For awhile I mentally took back all the nasty remarks I have made about rude Frenchmen – but they have all come back to me since – one nice Frenchman is the lone exception that proves the rule.

Our train rolled out of Paris, giving us a charmless view of how most ancient cities look from their railroad cars – the dingy backsides of brick buildings covered with graffiti. Soon we were in the country, seeing the France that the tourist offices want you to see – picture post card villages, everything neat and orderly, no graffiti, no rude big-city Frenchmen. I just threw that last item in. Of course I couldn’t tell from the train what kind of Frenchman roamed the streets of the charming country villages, but in my mind I knew they would be an improvement over the city ones.

At some point we passed without fanfare into Germany, and our rail journey ended in Heidelberg. We checked in to the Ibis Hotel at the train station, and phoned my oldest son Bruce, stationed at Patrick Henry Village, an Army family housing area on the outskirts of Heidelberg. The next day Bruce and my oldest granddaughter Leaha, picked us up and drove us to their house on the Army post.

We visited with them a few days, and readied ourselves for the day we would strike out with our bikes and packs across the German countryside, then on to England, the Isle of Mann, Ireland, Wales, and finally back across England to Germany again.

Klein Gumpen, Here We Come!

On the 23rd of June, 1998, we loaded our packs, mounted our bikes, and struck out through Heidelberg, and then east along the Neckar River. In our typical fashion, it was already afternoon when we finally got going, and we left Bruce and Leaha to care for and eventually bring back stateside 24 generic German garden gnomes.

Alice just had to have the cute things; I couldn’t see any use for them, thought they were butt ugly, and tried to discourage their purchase. The more against it I was, the more for it Alice was. Alice was determined; they would make perfect gifts for many friends and relatives. She already had made a list of who would get which. Bruce eventually brought them in his household goods to Las Vegas, stored them in his closet a year or two, and we finally picked them up and sent them via UPS to our Gualala, California home. Most of them are still packed away in our barn.

When Alice reads this, the now eight-year old plan will be revived. So, dear friends and relatives, please prepare a place in your lawn or garden for a gruesome gift generic German garden gnome to be received sometime this year. Hopefully you have a place where you won’t have to look at it often. They are homely; only Alice and Germans think they're cute.

Our first day took us to Neckarsteinach, and we stayed two nights at the Vierburgeneck Hotel. When we made our plans to bike in Germany, we had decided that if we followed the rivers, we would avoid the hills. The plan worked to a point. When we were traveling from place to place along the rivers, we didn’t have to climb any hills. But when we stopped at a town like Neckarsteinach, and wanted to see the sights in its vicinity, we found that almost all of the things we wanted to see, such as castles, were on the tops of the surrounding hills. So we ended up doing a lot of hill climbing on our bikes, but at least we could leave our big packs in our room while sightseeing.

After two days, and a total of less than 20 miles traveled from Heidelberg, we loaded our packs and pedaled on. We left the Neckar, and went due north to Erbach. Along the way, we faced several challenging hills. Fortunately for me, even though I hadn’t put in much time riding the bike to prepare for the trip, I had been running three to five miles a day. On the other hand, Alice had been working hard at Vulcan almost to the moment we got on the plane, and was not in shape for strenuous biking. As we were pedaling up one long hill, with Alice straining very hard, a truck came up the hill from behind and passed us. The driver gave me a withering look – “Why are you abusing your poor wife like that?” his stare seemed to say. I wanted to explain, “It’s all her idea, this is what she wants to do,” but of course I never got the chance.

We stopped in a little park next to the road, ate our sandwiches and refilled our water bottles, and pressed on for Erbach. Just as we reached our hotel and checked in, it started to rain hard. We were tired, but thankfully dry.

During our short stay in Erbach, I learned a valuable lesson about modern travel that has served Alice and I very well in our many travels since. I had decided it would be a good idea to cash a travelers’ check and get some Deutsch marks. I soon found out that cashing travelers’ checks is a time consuming and expensive process in Germany, and probably elsewhere. When I found a bank that would cash one, the fees were numerous and prohibitive. This was very bad news, since I had brought $3,000 of travelers’ checks with me to use in the many instances, such as when we stayed in Bed & Breakfast hotels, where I knew I wouldn’t be able to use my credit card. Just as I was mentally beating up on myself, I noticed the bank’s Automated Teller Machine (ATM). “I wonder,” thought I, “if my credit union ATM will work here?” So I tried it, and out came Deutsch Marks, and I wasn’t even charged an ATM fee. Further, I noticed that there were ATM’s all over, accessible at any hour of the day or night, seven days a week, with no bank lines to stand in, and no bank managers or tellers to annoy or confuse me, and I them. I tucked the travelers’ checks away for future emergencies that never occurred, and deposited them back into my account after we returned to California four months later.

The following day we pressed on, still headed north, destination Reichelsheim. We never made it that day, or any day since. Alice was worn out, and as we passed a village named Klein Gumpen, Alice said, “I can’t go any farther, I’ve got to stop.” As luck would have it, just as she said that we were passing a hotel, so we turned back and checked in. This unplanned stop became one of the highlights of the entire trip.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Alice was a California Can Carrier

Alice was a California Can Carrier, or at least used to be a member of an organization by that name. She joined the California Can Carriers because her company, Vulcan Incorporated, primarily sold its baling wire to recyclers, and many of them were in the trash or garbage collection business.

When I met Alice in 1988, most trash collection was still being done by family owned businesses. In the San Francisco Bay Area, most of these families were Italian, and most of the owners and their family members had started in the business as can carriers themselves. Now they were prosperous, and looked the part.

Before we were married in 1989, I accompanied Alice to a couple of California Can Carrier Conventions. One was in Reno, and another in Monterey. My first impressions came when we were parking our car. Our car was by far the cheapest in the parking lot. The next impressions were that everyone at the convention spent a lot more on their clothes than I did. And then I saw the California Can Carrier lapel pin.

The California Can Carrier lapel pin was basically a big solid chunk of gold fashioned into a garbage can. The garbage can was dented, and was twisted to the side with its lid askew. Out of the can dripped “garbage,” consisting of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc., not a cubic zirconium in the lot.

I thought the symbolism was pretty clear. In California, the 49'ers shouted, "There's gold in them thar hills!" The California Can Carriers lapel pins shouted, “There are fortunes in all that garbage!” Alice would agree.

To prove that point, in a few short years all the families were bought out by big national companies like Waste Management Inc., and as far as I know, California Can Carriers is no more.

Has anyone seen one of their lapel pins anywhere? E-Bay?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Point Arena 1960 Basketball Team Thanks "Chub" Ohleyer

In 1960, Raymond “Chub” Ohleyer, Pop’s boss at Bojock Lumber Company, Manchester, California, took the Point Arena High School basketball team to the 1960 National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship Playoffs in the Cow Palace, San Francisco. Mr. Ohleyer’s treat included buying the tickets for us and our coaching staff, and paying for all our meals and rooms. We traveled in a school bus driven by our coach, Leland Stanford III, but I bet Mr. Ohleyer also paid for the gas.

The Championship Playoffs were held in the Cow Palace because the University of California won the national championship the previous year and was the host. Besides California with star center Darrall Imhoff, the tournament featured Ohio State with Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek, the University of Cincinnati with Oscar “the Big O” Roberson and Paul Hogue, and New York University with Tom “Satch” Sanders. Of the four games we watched during the two-day tournament, and as excited as we were about every moment of every game, only one game was close, the California-Cincinnati game the first day. As Cal won 77-69, we were uncharitably and unfairly calling the great Oscar Robertson “the Big Nothing.” The next night the “Super Sophomores” of Ohio State easily beat Cal 75-55 for the championship title. Everyone predicted that Ohio State would win three in a row, but everyone was wrong. The next two years, without Oscar Robertson, the University of Cincinnati beat Ohio State each year.

Be that as it may, we still enjoyed the basketball immensely, including and perhaps even particularly, the pregame warm-ups, where even the shorter players dunked the ball with gusto.

Our downtown hotel was very nice, just off Union Square. We dined in first class restaurants, like Original Joe’s, still a San Francisco favorite. Mr. Ohleyer and Coach Stanford were used to such surroundings, but I think I can speak for the guys on the team that it all seemed like something that happens after you rub a magic lamp.

Because, as a very special bonus to the basketball, San Francisco was magical then, its streets and shops full of well dressed men and glamorous women. Unlike today’s dowdy and scruffy look, standing on a street corner then seemed like watching an unending Easter Parade. The women in particular were stunning – their trim figures in suits and dresses, high heels, hats and gloves, perfect hair and makeup – they seemed to occupy a much higher step on the evolutionary ladder. They moved quickly, confidently, gracefully. I’m sure they all smelled of expensive, seductive perfumes, except I never got close enough to even one of them to find out.

In addition to noting how awed we were then by the whole experience, I think I can also speak for my teammates and express our thanks to the memory Mr. Ohleyer for his generosity and consideration towards us. He gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and his only reward was seeing us getting a big kick out of it all.

He is not gone, because he is not forgotten.

Travelling With A Water Bed

At the end of my fourth year stationed in England, we moved from the big farmhouse in Saxmundham, Suffolk, into Air Force military family housing on Royal Air Force (RAF) Woodbridge, near Ipswich. Not long after we moved into our new house, Marilynn’s parents, Dean and Priscilla Miller, traveled from Vallejo, California, to visit us. We drove to Heathrow Airport, near London, to pick them up. When I remarked that one suitcase was very heavy, Dean explained that it was a water bed.

Among other things we talked about as we drove home, I mentioned that I thought it was really odd to travel with a water bed. Dean and Priscilla couldn’t agree with me in the least. They told me how much they now loved water beds, and how they just couldn’t bring themselves to sleep in a regular bed more than a day, or two days at the most. They were visiting us for almost three weeks. Much too long to sleep in anything but a water bed.

When we got home and unpacked the water bed suitcase, I was not surprised to discover that it was not a complete water bed. They had brought a plastic liner, a heating pad and thermostat, and a water bed mattress. The rest of the bed we would have to buy locally and build ourselves. Since as far as I knew we were about to have the first water bed in England, we would not be able to just get what we needed from a British water bed shop.

“How soon do you plan to be sleeping on this water bed?” I asked Dean.

“Tomorrow night.”

Then we got really busy. Our first stop was a building supply store, where we bought about 30 feet of 2”X8” boards, two 4’X8’ sheets of ¾” plywood, and 12 concrete blocks. Next we visited the Woodbridge Air Base scrap yard, and found some sheet metal which we bent and drilled for corner braces.

Armed with the necessary materials, the actual assembly went very quickly and smoothly. We measured and cut the boards to form the frame for the mattress, then joined the boards with the corner braces. Next we cut the plywood to the dimensions of the bottom of the mattress frame, and fastened the plywood to the frame. We stacked the concrete blocks to form four pedestals, and then put the frame on top. The heating pad went into the frame first, then the plastic liner, then the mattress.

The last part, filling the mattress with water, seemed to take a long time, probably because we didn’t have much to do except keep checking that the mattress filled evenly and didn’t bind in the frame. The step that took the longest by far was also the easiest – heating the water to the proper temperature. Dean assured me that, as wonderful as water beds were for sleeping, you would have a most miserable night in them if the water wasn’t warm enough.

The water bed was ready for use their second night with us, as planned, and Dean and Priscilla slept in it with no problems for the rest of their stay with us – except for the two nights we slept in our fourteen foot trailer when we took them to London. There was no way that water bed could have gone in that trailer, although I’m sure Dean thought about it.

When they went back to Vallejo, they left the water bed with us. Soon some of our friends, other young Air Force couples, heard that we had a water bed, and hinted they would like to sleep over and “check it out.” I think their interest in trying out the water bed had less to do with getting a good night’s sleep, and more with rumors that water beds would add new dimensions to their sex lives.

I must confess, I thought the water bed was a complete waste for all purposes, but I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t feel motivated to change. Since expectations can determine outcomes, those who expected significant improvements in their sleep or whatever in a water bed have a much better chance of finding it than those who don’t.

It didn’t take long before my boys started arguing over who got to sleep in the water bed, so we brought it with us when I was transferred to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. By then my middle son Scott claimed it as his, and having it soon came in handy when Dean and Priscilla visited us.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dr. Wafa Sultan Triumph On Al Jazeera TV

(Photo: Dr Wafa Sultan)

A visitor left a much appreciated comment including a link to a remarkable debate on Al Jazeera TV between Arab-American Psychologist, Dr. Wafa Sultan, and a thoroughly outclassed Islamic cleric. It is high charity to call the Al Jazeera program a debate. The Islamic cleric was pathetic, although with the material he has to work with, he probably did about as well as anyone.

Dr. Wafa Sultan, on the other hand, was as good as it gets. She spoke clearly, passionately, pulled no punches -- as the cleric and moderator tried to sidetrack her, she stayed on message and blistered the backwardness and lack of freedoms found in Islamist nations and culture.

Unfortunately, I lost all the comments on that post and to all my other posts to date when I added a "trackback" capability I sorely needed. Necessary, but I really miss the thoughtful comments that readers had left.

Fortunately, not all was lost. As I was despairing over the lost comments, I went on line and found that my favorite Blogress Diva, Pamela of Atlas Shrugs, had posted a link to them. Thanks to Pamela, I have the honor and privilege to present Dr. Wafa Sultan, with the best presentation yet of the culture war between the West and Islamists.

Update: This just posted from the New York Times (more links at Power Line)

(Visitors: Thanks for dropping by. Before you hit the link to Dr. Wafa's "debate" on Al Jazeera, you may be interested in an exchange of letters in our local paper I had recently with a Muslim woman. In her letter, she said being a Muslim woman had made her life exceptionally free. In my response, I noted that her experiences were not typical for Muslim women. I gleaned my examples of the Oppression of Muslim Women from recent news articles, but saw many instances myself over forty years ago when I lived in relatively moderate Turkey for a year.)

The Chronicle And AP Spread Bush - Katrina Lies

Editor, San Francisco Chronicle

The Chronicle headline story today, "Bush Was Warned of Katrina," contained little new information and many factual errors. The most significant of many reporting errors was that the president was warned "that New Orleans' levees could topple in hurricane." However, with the Internet, we can easily dismiss such falsehoods by going directly to the source, in this case the Associated Press video of the president's briefings that shows the warnings were of overtopping of the levees, and not of breaching.

We are also fortunate there are other sources for thorough and balanced coverage of events. In the case of Katrina, the coverage and analysis by Popular Mechanics, Now What? The Lessons of Katrina, published in the March, 2006 issue, are a marked contrast to the Associated Press and The Chronicle. After over six months, you're still the Gang That Can't Report Straight. In the intellectual vacuum of Bay Area , your leftist propaganda passes as legitimate reporting.

UPDATE! As noted in Captains Quarters and other blogs, the Associated Press, after reporting that President Bush was told the levees might be breached, changed their story a day later when bloggers brought their attention to the fact that "overtopping" and "breaching" are not synonymous, and that the word "breach" had not been used once in the very video tape the AP referenced as its source. Once again a major news media organization breathlessly pushed a story critical of President Bush that anyone could recognize as false by simply comparing it with its so-called source, as Power Line has. More echoes of CBS and the Texas Air National Guard letters. Will AP soon be saying that the essence of Bush being briefed on breaching was accurate, even though their source didn't support it?


Editor, San Francisco Chronicle - again

The Associated Press yesterday afternoon issued a correction to their tale that President Bush had been warned that New Orleans' levees could topple in hurricane," then cited as proof of this claim a video that showed no such warning had been given. Prior to the AP issuing the correction, I emailed you that the AP report was false, and cited my source for this claim.

Predictably, the Chronicle ran with the error, even to the extent of making the erroneous report the basis for an editorial, and only printed letters from readers criticizing Bush based on the AP misstatements. I am sure the Chronicle will see no need to correct an AP error, or note the need for a modification in their editorial position. To the Chronicle, the AP report may have been false, but its essence was accurate.

This is becoming the UNENDING OUTRAGED UPDATE!

The San Franciso Chronicle belatedly ran the AP "correction," which disclosed that President Bush had never been informed the levees might be breached, and as usual buried it in a tiny box. The Chronicle had run the original erroneous report on the front page, and based a lead editorial on the error. They also compounded the error by stressing that Bush was "oblivious" to what was going on. The perception that Bush was not involved in Katrina is belatedly being corrected (as once again updated at Captain's Quarters), but The Chronicle still uses their editorial power to run letters that ignore the corrections, thereby perpetuating the errors! Interestingly, The Chronicle letters editor commented about a minor correction concerning the book President Bush was reading to students when informed of the 911 attacks, but never corrected the writers whose letters continued condeming President Bush for "lying" when he said he had never been informed the levees might be breached. So much for their "corrections" -- and their editorial integrity!

The main stream media continues to weave fantasies of "truth" from half truths, errors, and lies, and then wonders why their product has fallen into such low regard. The only reason I still buy a daily newspaper is because of habit, but it won't be a habit for following generations. Why read yesterday's "news" in tomorrow's Chronicle, after it has been spun to fit the Chronicle world view, when you can see the original sources on the Internet almost as events occur?

Why pay to be lied to?

(An afterthought: Over many years, I have written many letters to the Chronicle, and many of them have not been published. One reason I blog is to have an outlet for the frustration I feel caused by the Left's monopoly on "news" reporting.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Open Your Heart And Think

I received this email today from a Muslim visitor to my blog.

"our prophet is not as the media trys to show him......the prophet told us to respect all nations and live with others....prophet Mohammed shows us the meaning of tolerance along his life ...he told us that there is only one god which has no wife or son...try to think .. if their is more than one god the world will be corrupted..!for more contact with me ... but try open your heart and then think ..!"

As he requested, I opened my heart, and I thought. I thought of innocent men, women, and children, lying dead and dying worldwide, killed by Muslim suicide bombers, and my heart broke, and I wrote this reply:

Your belief in your one god has corrupted the world, and has hardened your heart to the suffering caused in his name.
You believe that young men should kill themselves and innocent men, women, and children because they don't agree with your beliefs.
A Muslim will even kill another Muslim who disagrees with his version of god's truth.
And then you believe that your god will reward these young men with 72 virgins in paradise.
I would think that such a primitive belief would offend a god of love and tolerance, a god who teaches you "to respect all nations and live with others."
Did you see the hand of this god as humans leaped screaming to their deaths from the burning New York Twin Towers?
Or in the blasted corpses in the nightclubs in Bali?
In the bombed underground trains and bus in London?
Or in the trains in Madrid?
Where do you see the hand of your one god?
I see his bloody hand all around, where innocent men, women, and children lie dead and dying.
It would be far better that there be no god, than your god who showers his anger on the innocent of the world.
If your god had a wife and son, maybe then he would care for the wives, and sons, and daughters of others.

Mohammad Is Mad

"Mo's got the hump" is a British way of saying "Mohammad is mad."

I've received emails from Muslims that tell me the fine words of Mohammad. A gentle prophet. Bringing us a religion of peace.
I pick up the paper and read words of Muslim murder and genocide -- in the Sudan, in Paris, in the street in The Netherlands, in Pakistan and India. And Muslims demanding respect for their religion in Denmark have no respect for any practice of any other religion in Saudi Arabia.

To all the Islamists out there telling us that we are misrepresenting you: "What you are doing speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you are saying."