Thursday, December 29, 2005

In case you missed it...

The Sixth Circuit ruled that the Constitution does not demand a "wall of separation" between church and state. It called the ACLU's repeated use of that phrase "tiresome". Although this decison was reported in several smaller newspapers and the First Amendment Center, it failed to make the alphabet networks or the NYT.

Scott Ott at Scrappleface has a humorous look at the event (non-event according to NYT).

Those of us who could actually read the Constitution already knew that the wall of separation was a fabrication based on a comment in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist minister, assuring said minister that the government would keep out of personal religious matters.

Of course, this is in keeping with the Times' War on America, as documented by Michelle Malkin.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Once Upon a Time...

... there was a woman named Elizabeth, who was thought to be barren. However, through miraculous circumstances she became pregnant. In the sixth month of her pregnancy, an angel visited her cousin, Mary. The angel told Mary that Elizabeth was already pregnant and that Mary soon would be. This was startling news, so Mary went to see Elizabeth. While there, she confirmed that Elizabeth was pregnant and that so was she. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months.

Now, Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph and when she returned he was quite startled to see that she was three months pregnant. He thought about quietly divorcing her, but an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him not to worry. So they went ahead with the marriage plans. However, about that time, there was a census and Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to register. Due to the traffic, and the fact that they traveled slowly (Mary being pregnant and all), they arrived late at night and all the hotels were filled. One innkeeper kindly allowed them to stay in a barn. Mary gave birth to their first-born son and called him Jesus. Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid him in a feed trough. (Later people would call him the Bread from Heaven.)

God was so proud of the birth, that He sent angels again, causing a great light in the sky. They announced the birth to shepherds. The shepherds were so excited, they ran to see. After the excitement died down and the census was complete, Mary and Joseph took care to perform the required rituals and were amazed by some prophecies that people made about the baby. Joseph prepared a home for his growing family in Bethlehem.

Now, when the angels lighted up the sky, magi from the East noticed. They spent some time gathering gifts and organizing a caravan, then set out for Jerusalem (where else would the King of the Jews be, but the capitol?) After nearly two years, they arrived at the palace and enquired about the new king. Herod's scribes told them they had missed it by a few miles and might want to check Bethlehem. They told Herod the time of the star and were surprised that it appeared again as they left the palace. The "star" led them to the house and they saw the young child, but did not return to Herod.

God also warned Joseph to flee, thereby escaping the slaughter of those under two by Herod. They stayed in Egypt for a while. Once Herod died, they returned to Israel and Joseph's original hometown of Nazareth. They stayed there until Jesus was ready for his Bar-Mitzvah. But that is another story.

Merry Christmas again.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

Yes, without the X (although X is the first letter of Christ in Greek). I thought I would share with you the Christmas story, this being the Christmas season and all.
First, the really short version (John 3:16):
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Then, the slightly longer version (John 1:1-5,9-14 - KJV) (John 1:1-5,9-14 - NIV)

Have a blessed Christmas season.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Santini Hits a Homerun

Check out this song (to the tune of Winter Wonderland) over at Scrappleface.
Here's a sample:
Iraqis vote, Zarqawi fidgets
At all those purple middle digits
He can’t do a thing
In Iraq, freedom rings!
Thuggies dressed in women’s underwear

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Medical Privacy Upheld

Judge David F. Crow's decision prohibiting prosecutors from asking the talk show host's doctors about his medical treatment and condition or information he shared with his doctors during his care and treatment should put an end to the harassment of Rush Limbaugh.

Of course, next on the liberal chopping block are Bill Frist and Tom DeLay. Frist faces charges of insider trading since he divested himself of medical stocks just before they went down. The fact that he had tried to remove those stocks for over six months to avoid an apparent conflict of interest seems to have no bearing on the accusation.

Delay, although having some charges thrown out, still faces a money-laundering indictment, which will no doubt prove just as spurious as the charges against Limbaugh. The politics of personal destruction rumbles on with the Washington "climate of corruption". Has anyone heard of the Barrett Report?

Monday, December 12, 2005

No Liberal Bias at MSM

A new ABC poll has some interesting results, in spite of the spin put on it by ABC themselves. For a detailed analysis, see what Captain Ed has to say about it.

Wonder how long it will take for the Democrats to admit that their polling numbers were outright lies? Here are some actual results:
  • 76 percent of Iraqis express confidence that this week's elections will produce a stable government
  • 57 percent of Iraqis prefer democracy to either strongman rule or an Islamic state
  • 99 percent of Iraqis support women voting or working as medical doctors
  • 63 percent feel very safe in their own neighborhood, up sharply from an Oxford poll in June 2004
  • This survey finds 10- to 13-point gains in ratings of local crime protection, security and medical care, as well as in the still-problematic areas of electric supply and jobs.
Update: The link to the poll results was broken. Fixed it.

Happy Monday

I know it is too late to comment on the bad news that Tom DeLay got last week. (Some charges were dismissed). I know, most people think that would be good news, but not in Demoland. It is bad news because some charges were not dismissed.

OK. But we do have good news from Iraq. The voting has started. This marks the third in the country's experiments in representative governments. Turnout is expected to be high as in the previous elections.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mortgages Clarified (?)

Here is a typical amortization schedule:





























































Notice that you could double up payment 1 and Payment 2 by simply adding $100 to payment 1. Adding another $101 to payment 2 takes care of payments 3 and 4.
Adding $102 to payment 3 takes care of payments 5 and 6.
and so on. In fact, you could simply add $105 to the payment for six months to knock six payments off the end of the mortgage. You invest $1,260 to save $3,594.

You can add principal at any time, without making any special arrangements with the mortgage company.

About Monthly Payments

This may prove useful in discussions with your children about money. Let's allow me some license with my early figures. Say you find clothing on sale for 20% off. Say further that you decide to buy $1,250 of clothing for the amazingly low price of only $1,000. Whether or not that is a good deal depends on where the $1,000 originated.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that your monthly discretionary income is exactly $1,000. If the money you spent on clothes came from that, no harm, no foul - unless you want to buy something else this month. Suppose you had other things you wanted to buy. Reach for that handy store charge card and we'll pay for it next month - out of next month's discretionary income. Aye, there's the rub.

In this scenario, you have just obligated income that you don't have yet. You have just guaranteed that you have NO discretionary income next month, because you have already obligated it. You spent next month's income before it actually came in. Now, if you control your spending and your income continues, no harm, no foul. After next month, you will return to having discretionary income. Suppose you had a sudden illness (like a heart attack, maybe) that stopped your income. You now have to pay money that you don't have. Of course, things like that probably won't happen.

What is more likely is that you will find something you want to buy next month as well. But you owe that pesky $1,000. Well, lookie here: The nice store will let you pay less than the $1,000, so you can still buy something next month. As long as you pay the minimum payment, everyone is happy and you still got a great deal on those clothes. Ya think?

I was going to give the name of a nationally known clothing store, but decided against it. The following figures are taken from an actual revolving credit account: Minimum Finance Charge per Month = $1. This rarely comes in to play, but if the finance charge computed to less than $1, they will still charge you $1. The reason that rarely happens is the Annual Percentage Rate is 22.8%. The only way the finance charge would calculate to less than $1 is if your balance were only $4.38. Update: Finance charge is $1 when the balance is $52.63. (Sorry for any confusion.) The minimum monthly payment works out to 5% of the outstanding balance, or $50 the first month.

You figure you can live with only $950 in discretionary income, so you decide to pay $50 a month until the balance is zero. You can verify these figures in any spreadsheet. Simply add the interest (22.8% / 12) per month and subtract $50 until the balance is zero. In a mere 26 months, you will have achieved your goal. You will have paid a total of $1,270.08 (that, by the way, is $20 more than the non-sale price of the items). But you can do better. The minimum monthly payment for balances under $200 is $10. Suppose you paid only the actual minimum payments. In a mere 76 months (that is six years and four months for those without a calculator), you would have paid a total of $1,532.98 for the $1,250 worth of merchandise that you charged for $1,000.

Let's say you decide to devote 10% of your discretionary income to paying this bill. After paying $100 for 11 months, you would owe $20.35. You pay that in the 12th month and in a mere year you have paid $1,120.35 for the items.

By now, I hope you get the idea. Those monthly payments can add up to quite a bit. That's why the car commercials no longer tell you what you will actually pay for the car, they tell you what your MONTHLY PAYMENT will be. That's why the "interest only" mortgages emphasize the amount you "save" each month over a conventional mortgage. Never mind that a conventional mortgage will eventually have a zero balance, while the interest only loan will always have the intial balance.

Oh, on the subject of mortgages (or any long-term loan), you can cut the number of payments (and therefore the amount you actually pay) substantially by making double payments early in the loan. You have an $800 mortgage and you are thinking "I can't pay $1,600 on this note each month". You don't have to. Look at your amortization schedule. You are probably only getting $150 of that $800 applied to principal. To double the payment, you simply include an extra $150 (Total of $950 in our example) with your normal payment.

Or, you could calculate what the payments would be for a 15-year instead of a 30-year mortgage. For example a $100,000 mortgage at 6% would have payments of $599.55 (principal and interest) for a 30-year mortgage and $843.86 (principal and interest) for a 15-year mortgage. The 30-year motgage will cost $215,838.19 and the 15-year one will cost $151,894.23. You do the math.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Chicken Age Calculator

I received an email from a friend with a "Chocolate Age Calculator". Now, this calculator works, but only if your age is less than 100 and only for this year. Since there are lots of Americans over that age (or at least that age), I am providing this new and improved Chicken Age Calculator as a public service. This will work even if your age is triple digits. It will also work for any year from now on (sort of).

Write down the number of times each week that you eat chicken. This number must be between 1 and 9. If you don't eat chicken, just pick a number from 1 to 9. Remember the number. Now do the following:

  1. Multiply the number by 25 (you can use the calculator that comes with the operating system).
  2. Add 50.
  3. Multiply by 40.
  4. Add the two digit year for your last birthday (for me that would be 05, might be 04 for some. Next year at this time, mine would be 06).
  5. Subtract the four-digit year of your birth.
This leaves you with a four digit number. The leftmost digit is your original number. The right three digits will be your age (for me it is 062). If you happen to be over one hundred, it will be your exact age also. This will work for the rest of this century. After that, I won't care.

Have fun.

So THAT's Economics

For those of you (like me) who struggled through economics in college - wondering why it was a required course - let me recommend two excellent books on the subject: Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy, and Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One, both by Thomas Sowell.

I wish my professors had been able to put the definition ("The study of allocating scarce resources that have alternative uses") and principles (starting with the role of prices) of economics so succinctly. Mr. Sowell not only makes economics understandable, he makes it almost fun. You will enjoy his many expanations of why high-minded policies for example, rent control) result in unintended consequences (like a shortage of affordable living space in New York and San Francisco).

Realizing that the incentives created by public policy trump the intentions of that policy, helps explain many apparent anomalies, like how lower taxes (wthin bounds) generate higher income to the government, or how wage and price controls contribute to a shortages and long lines. Why a centrally planned economy cannot match the efficiency of a market economy (We all saw the demonstrations of that in Russia, but some think it was the conduct of planning, rather than the idea of planning that was the problem).

Friday, December 02, 2005

Where Are the Jobs?

You will recall during the 2004 campaign, John Kerry asserted this was the worst economy since Herbert Hoover. Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats continued that theme, in spite of the actual economic figures that showed the economy was growing. Finally, the President has talked about the economy.

Our economy added 215,000 jobs for the month of November. We've added nearly 4.5 million new jobs in the last two-and-a-half years. Third-quarter growth of this year was 4.3 percent. That's in spite of the fact that we had hurricanes and high gasoline prices. The unemployment rate is 5 percent. And that's lower than the average for the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

About time!

Falling Temperatures Prove Global Warming

So you thought that rising temperatures indicated global warming. Well, that's true as long as temperatures actually rise. However, if temperatures start to drop, that still proves global warming.
Confused? Read the study.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

OK. I'm Able to Sit Longer...

... so I can spend a little time composing. I am composing a final exam for my student and I can compose some posts.
Health Update
I will try to not be away so long in the future. I had a slight setback last week, but I am mending well. I should be able to return to work by the middle or end of January. I am walking longer and can sit at the computer longer. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and thoughts. Thanks, also, for the birthday wishes.

About the WOT
I am so glad that there is at least one Democrat with some spine and some sense. Joe Lieberman wrote an excellent piece for the Opinion Journal. This took a lot of guts, because he is bucking not only the media, but the rest of his party. Read the article.
Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn. ...
None of these remarkable changes would have happened without the coalition forces led by the U.S. And, I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country.

In case you missed it, the president gave a great speech at Annapolis yesterday. In the speech, he outlines the strategy for victory. Also posted on the White House site is a fact sheet about training the Iraqi security forces. The president quotes Senator Lieberman:

As Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman said recently, setting an artificial timetable would "discourage our troops because it seems to be heading for the door. It will encourage the terrorists, it will confuse the Iraqi people."

Senator Lieberman is right. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is a weak and an unreliable ally. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies -- that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends. And setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder -- and invite new attacks on America. To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your Commander-in-Chief.

One more thing
In case you want to help our soldiers and support our troops, you can adopt a soldier at Rush Limbaugh's site. Do it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Heart Attack Notes

I am writing this over a period of time, so that I can review before I post. Also, I can make it a longer post. Think of it as a sort of diary.

Shortly after 5:00 AM on October 29, I woke with an unpleasant pressure in my chest. I took two Tums thinking it might be gas pains. My wife woke and said I didn't look good. Since the pain did not want to leave, I agreed that I should maybe go to the emergency room at Prattville's only hospital. We also agreed that maybe calling 911 would be appropriate. All this commotion woke my mother-in-love who had been living with us for a little over a year. She suggested I take a nitroglycerin capsule in case it was a heart attack. She said if not, I would get a headache. I moved downstairs so that the emergency guys would not have to carry me down. I was sitting on the bottom steps when they arrived. I had no headache, but an elephant had decided to sit on my chest.

They assessed my situation and gave me some aspirin and another nitroglycerin capsule. After a short ride to the hospital, I was met by Dr. John Williams, who happened to be a cardiologist. He rapidly diagnosed me as having a heart attack and sent me to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery. They took me directly to the catheterization lab where he perfomed an angioplasty. That relieved the chest pain completely. I was awake for that procedure. I was also awake when Dr. Stephen Kwan, a thoracic surgeon, arrived and informed me that I had rather severe blockages in five arteries and he was going to operate on me. Somewhere between the cath lab and the operating room, the sleepy medicine took over. I was not awake for the chest surgery.

I did awake with a breathing tube down my throat, pain in my chest and what felt like bruised lungs. Every time the breathing machine pumped oxygen, it thumped agains my left lung or something. Anyway, the pain there was much worse than the pain on the way to the hospital and it kept beating on me. In spite of that, I drifted in and out of sleep. I remember having the thought, "It's a good thing they did this all at once, because there is no way I want to do this again."

I drifted in and out of consciousness until Sunday when they told me I had to breathe on my own if I wanted that breathing tube out. Later that day I was breathing well enough that they did take the tube out. It still hurt to breathe, but at least I could almost talk. I spent another night in the ICU before they thought I was doing well enough to go up to the ward. My precious wife, Pat, had stayed at the hospital that whole time. She would stay in the room with me until I was discharged.

Once in the cardiac care unit (3 West), I had a pretty fixed daily routine. They offered me food for lunch and supper, but I was not ready to eat. I did eat starting with breakfast Tuesday. They got me out of bed and sitting up as soon as they could on Tuesday. I learned to sit and rise without using my arms, only the leg muscles. I walked with assistance around the nurse's station at least once each day. Each day I was making progress, but there was something the doctor did not like about my lungs, so I went back to surgery on Thursday. So much for going home by the weekend.

One of the strangest things to me was the perception of time and space. When I closed my eyes, I did not see dark. I saw what appeared to be a stucco wall that looked like it was within arms reach. The wall had discernible grainy patterns. Time seemed to drag by at night. I was awake about half the time, seemingly sleeping a minute at a time the first night and gradually sleeping about five minutes at a time. When I came home I was up to sleeping an hour at a time. Even now, I sleep about three hours at a time.

I walk about an hour each day, so my time alternates between sleeping, breathing (using a special incentive device that shows what volume of air you are moving), walking, eating, and sitting with my legs up. Today I saw the doctor for a follow up. He removed the stitch from my abdomen and the staples from my leg, listened to my lungs and checked my blood pressure. He seemed pleased and schedule me for another visit in two months.

OK, I promise not to mention this anymore.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

In Case You Were Wondering...

... where I have been.

Two weeks ago yesterday, I got up at 5AM and was not feeling well. We cleverly called 911 and some nice gentlemen escorted me to the local hospital where the duty officer happened to be a cardiologist. He sent me immediately to a larger hospital because I was having a heart attack.

Five bypasses later , I was moved to the recovery room, where I spent the night. Then they moved me to the cardiac recovery unit where I spent the week. I came home on Tuesday, but did not feel a lot like blogging or answering eMail.

Each day I get better. Today I was able to sit up enough to compose this. Developing...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Is Cheney out of Prison Yet?

While waiting for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to somehow bring down President Bush, the MSM has been speculating on the other ways they can accomplish Job 1.

So far the investigation of a leak of a non-covert CIA operative's name (which was readily available from IRS sources and society magazines) has not accomplished the "i" word. (impeach Bush) Even conservative pundit, Cal Thomas, has called for his head.

Exhulting over American death #2,000 in Iraq, they have failed to note the passage of the Iraqi constitution, the rebuiilding of Iraq's infrastructure (except to complain that we are rebuilding it when New Orleans is down the drain), or the general revulsion many Arabs are now displaying toward the "insurgents" who blow up children and soft targets.

Let's trot out critics of the "regime" like the former chief of staff for Colin Powell who complains about the President and Vice President "hijacking foreign policy". Wonder who he thinks is supposed to set foreign policy if not the elected leaders of the country? The unelected career (mostly left wing) staffers within the State Department.

Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Taxes for 2003

According to the IRS, here's how taxes were paid in 2003:
What Tax Returns Adjusted Gross Income Taxes Paid
How Number % of Total Million $ %of Total Million $ %of Total
64,304,893 50.00% 879,735 13.99% 25,912 3.46%
96,457,340 75.00% 2,209,359 35.14% 120,564 16.12%
115,748,807 90.00% 3,624,117 57.64% 255,486 34.16%
122,179,297 95.00% 4,326,911 68.82% 341,341 45.64%
127,323,688 99.00% 5,233,019 83.23% 491,597 65.73%
Total 128,609,786 100.00% 6,287,586 100.00% 747,932 100.00%
Notice that the top 1% paid 256,335 million dollars taxes on 1,054,567 million dollars of income, or 24% of their income, about three times as much as any other bracket. Also note that the part of the total tax paid by the rich was 34.27%. The top 5% paid 54.36% of the total tax bill. So 95% of all tax payers combined paid less in taxes than the top 5%. Who says the rich get all the tax breaks?

Who are You and why are you blogging

Once upon a time, there was a quaint little satire site, called Scrappleface.  As of today, that site has had this many visitors since 21 Sep 2002.  I found that site in the fall of 2004, and began posting there as "Rick".  My first post was full of irony and I was immediately attacked by Mack and Hankmeister.  Camojack and Hawkeye® got it and defended me.  After a while posting as Rick, I noticed others using that name (not surprising - common name) and began posting as Pat'sRick©.  That persona was my true, conservative self.  Since Scrappleface was a humor site, I thought it would be fun to have another identity to post outrageous liberal talking points referenced to original source documents that refuted them.  Someone had posted a few times as "A Random Liberal", so I adopted "Another Random Liberal." 
Some of the Scrapplers thought I was actually Liberal Larry, but I did not even know who he was until the Tsunami when I followed a link to his site.  Some Scrapplers attacked Another Random Liberal without following the links.  Others caught on and suggested I was really a conservative in disguise.
To avoid confusing people, I created two other personae and allowed them to talk in my posts (Dave and Blarney).
Well, one day I decided to visit camojack's site and I wanted to leave him a message that I had been there.  Unfortunately, only registered bloggers could leave a message.  So I created Pat'sRick© Says.  After a while, I thought I might as well post some things.  Then I discovered that Chris Muir allowed folks to reference his political cartoons and I added that to the site.  So here we are.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Race Card

You have no doubt heard about the remarks made by Bill Bennett that aborting black babies would lower the crime rate. You might have thought that Bennett was pro-life before this. However, the so-callled Main Stream media has made it clear that he is a racist Republican (is that redundant?). If you have not yet read the actual remarks, they can be found here.

Larry Elder examines some of the criticism and makes this interesting point:
How does one artfully say that out of a small percentage of America's population -- 13 percent -- blacks account for 37.2 percent of all those arrested for violent crimes, 54.4 percent of all robbery arrestees, and are the known offenders in 51.3 percent of all murders? The murder rate in the city of New Orleans stands at over 7.5 times the national average, and authorities convict only one in four arrested for homicide.
Read the whole article.

I said all that to say this: The TV news coverage of Katrina focused almost exclusively on the poor blacks from New Orleans. Forget the rich black folks and rich or poor white folks who lost all their property in neighboring Mississippi or in Alabama or Florida from the four previous hurricanes. Forget also the welfare mentality that led to the evacuation failure, just blame Bush for his failure to rescue the New Orleans residents.

An eMail circulated last week with the title "Things I learned from watching TV" that skewered the media coverage and some of the absurd events in New Orleans - like people who were "acting out of hunger" stealing large-screen plasma TVs, complaining that the government-provided credit cards were not enough, etc. My son sent it to me and I apparently forwarded it on to others. One of the recipients - a brother in Christ - complained that it was offensive. I had to admit that, if you forgot about the media coverage and focused only on the points in the eMail, you could conclude that the message was attacking black people instead of the New Orleans insanity. I apologized, sincerely. Apparently Bill Bennett is not the only one who made a mistake last week.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Good Speech - er - Article

I received an eMail from a friend with the text of a speech supposedly made by The Chief of Naval Operations (currently Admiral Michael G. Mullen). The heading was simply

In case you haven't seen this's really good...

I thought it was an excellent speech, but I wanted to cite the date, time and location, so I contacted the Navy for the details. They replied that this was certainly NOT made by Admiral Mullen. Turns out it was not a speech at all. It was an article written by a retired Navy Chief (Petty Officer, that is). Thanks to LT Bill Couch, USN, for directing me to the source. Here are the author's* comments on the eMail confusion.

"Someone had either liked (or disliked) my words enough to copy them into an email, and forward it one or more friends. Perhaps the original forwarder was dazzled by my sterling wit and brilliant logic, and simply could not wait to share them with his or her friends. Or, maybe he or she found my writing disjointed enough or offensive enough to hold up as an object of ridicule. I cannot say, although I will admit to having a personal favorite among those alternatives.

Somewhere along the line, it picked up the headline "Navy Chief Lets Loose a Broadside." So far, so good. I am a retired Navy Chief, and you could certainly argue that I was loosing a broadside. If you haven't read it, "The Wrong Army" is a fairly opinionated piece. (Okay, it's a very opinionated piece.) So that header was appropriate, even if I hadn't chosen it myself.

If the shape shifting had ended there, nothing else would have happened, apart from a lot of people circulating an email from an old Navy Chief. But, after a few hundred bounces, the header of the email became "Navy Chief of Operations Lets Loose a Broadside." Now we were starting to get into the danger zone. Someone could look at that header, and easily conclude that the words that followed were straight from the mouth of the CNO. Not good. But the header of the email wasn't through changing yet. A few hundred bounces later, it had acquired another headline: "Speech by the Chief of Naval Operations." By this time, all mention of retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Jeff Edwards had vanished from the email. It was squarely marked as the work of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Be sure to follow the links above. I am sure you will enjoy reading the original article and the author's commentary.

Jeff Edwards is a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, and an Anti-Submarine Warfare Specialist.

Friday, September 30, 2005

An Evening with Lt Dan

Pat and I just returned from a USO show that featured Gary Sinise and his Lt Dan Band. I t was at Maxwell AFB and was just about the best concert I have ever attended (Carman beat them, but only barely). This band ROCKS. They played everything from show tunes to rap with a little Jimmy Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen along the way. Some of the band members wrote songs especially to support the troops.

Opening the show was a local group called the Space Cowboys who did a little country, rock, and easy listening tunes. Starting promptly at 5PM, they performed for an hour before the Lt Dan Band took the stage a little after 6PM.

The Lt Dan Band performed until 7:30, took a 20 minute break and continued until 9PM. Then came back for an encore due to the crowd's cheers and applause. It was truly a great show. One highlight for me was Gary Sinise talking about the good things going on in Iraq. The soldiers are building schools and Gary formed an outreach called Operation Iraqi Children, which provides school supplies to the troops so they can pass them out to the Iraqi children. In the wake of the two major hurricanes, Operation Iraqi Children is expanding its efforts to provide assistance to the many Americans affected.

If you ever get the chance to view a Lt Dan Band concert, take it.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Good News Again

In case you missed it, on Wednesday American forces in the city of Kerbala officially handed over security responsibilities to Iraqi army and police units in the city. This is the second Iraqi province now controlled solely by the Iraqi army and police units. This is good news because the fight belongs to the Iraqis. We are only there to help. It is also an indication that democracy is taking hold in spite of the terrorist attacks and threats. Read the full report at Iraq the Model (see sidebar for the link).

Also, John Roberts was confirmed today by 78 to 22, in spite of bloviating by the usual suspects. Even "moderate" Hillary Clinton voted no. Here are the "Nay" voters:
Akaka (D-HI)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Boxer (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Corzine (D-NJ)
Dayton (D-MN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Obama (D-IL)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
All the Republicans and 23 Democrats voted "Yea"
All I can say is "Yay." Now if only the President will nominate Janice Rogers Brown for "the O'Connor seat".

Content of Character

This is truly an amazing world we live in.  Mark Riner, the student body president, gave this address at the Sep 20, 2005 convocation for Dartmouth freshmen.  His focus was on character.
He got this reaction to the speech.  Because Mr. Riner had the audacity to mention Jesus (along with other influential people), his speech was deemed "inappropriate" by some.  Fortunately, Mr. Riner has some of that "character" stuff about which he spoke.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A note from Deborah Johns

Hello to all of you wonderful people out there who have stood strongly and resolutely behind our troops.
This is Deborah Johns writing to you, the proud mother of a U.S. Recon Marine who has already served 2 tours of duty in Iraq and will soon return for a 3rd tour.
Last month I led, in conjunction with Move America Forward, the "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" caravan to Crawford, Texas. We had over 3,500 supporters of the men and women of our military, and it was an event that made me feel so proud to be an American. That caravan began in California and stopped in close to 2-dozen cities. So many of you came out to greet us at each stop, and your kind words, hugs, and support gave me the strength to carry on through the long, grueling days on the road.
I'm sending you this short note from aboard the tour bus that is spearheading the national "We Support the Troops & Their Mission" bus tour. We've just left Salt Lake City in route for Cheyenne, Wyoming after having made stops in San Francisco, Vacaville, Sacramento, Reno and Elko. Our final destination is Washington, D.C. for a giant pro-troop rally on Sunday, September 25th that we are hoping will draw thousands of supporters.
I wanted each of you to know why it is that I have again agreed to such an arduous road trip. Being the mother of 3 beautiful boys, its not easy to give up weeks of your life in order to face hostile questioning from the news media, and long, sleepless days.
However, my eldest son, William, has endured far greater discomforts in Iraq. He just re-enlisted with the Marines, having done so he said because he felt like he owed it to the Iraqi people to 'finish the job' in that country.
William and his fellow Marines believe strongly they are doing the right thing in Iraq. I worry about him every day that he has been over there; what mother wouldn't worry that every knock at the door isn't one telling them the worst news that they could possibly hear?
But, I understand the decision made to serve his country and the risks that it entails. And I am so very proud of him for his bravery, strength and decency. They are the characteristics I see in all of the Marines and soldiers I have had the pleasure to meet.
Sometimes the worst possible outcome can occur. Joseph Williams knows this all too well. He is here on the pro-troop bus tour with me. His son, Michael, died in combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and it is clear that Joseph still is dealing with the pain of this tragic loss.
Yet, Joseph understands that his son's will only be in vain if we allow the misguided and misdirected individuals like Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore to dictate American policy.
Our nation was attacked by radical Islamic terrorists. They hate America. They hate our allies. They hate our way of life and our values. They constantly change their demands (upon which they promise to end their y, violent, and murderous ways - empty promises made only to influence those weak kneed individuals who will cave to their demands), making it clear that if we do not all embrace their twisted world view then they will continue to target us for terror.
America is the only nation in the world with the power, the resolve and the commitment to freedom & liberty to effectively stand up to these thugs.
Why those in the anti-military crowd do not understand this I cannot tell you.
I wonder why it is that they are so determined to turn this generation into a clone of the Vietnam Era. Do they want our nation to return to a time where our soldiers were spit upon? Do they want to return to a time when American policy was appeasement of those who targeted our citizens and our nation?
Well, we cannot let them prevail.
And that probably best explains why Joseph Williams and I are on this bus right now.
But we are only 2 voices of a nation of almost 300 million people.
We need your help.
We need you to show up at the rally stops of this bus tour. You can find where we will be and when at the Move America Forward website:
And we need to get the word out to as many people as possible.
Move America Forward has produced a TV ad that tells people about the tour and the need to stand up for our troops. These TV Ads can reach over 50 million people if they get the funding they need to broadcast these television commercials.
And that's what we need right now - to make sure that the silent majority in this nation who stand behind our troops are heard from. Since the mainstream media won't give us the wall-to-wall coverage that they give to the anti-war/anti-military people, we must pay for our message to get out over the airwaves, through TV ads.
We have only 24 more hours to send additional payments to the TV networks to get these ads aired.
Please make a contribution to this TV ad campaign, you can do so online.
Thank you for reading my note. I do hope to see you all at our stops from here to Washington, D.C.
And please, continue to keep our troops in your prayers. It gives me and William both great strength.
May God Bless you and your families.
Warmest Regards,
Deborah Johns
Northern California Marine Moms
P.S. Please - let us make sure we mobilize Americans to stand up and be heard from. I keep seeing the anti-war activists willing to stand up. Surely we can all muster the strength to stand united and let them know that we will NOT accept defeat in this war against terrorism.
Again, I urge you to go support the TV ads that will spread word of our efforts.

Good In-flight Pilot Announcement

This was forwarded to me by the Heirborne Ranger.  This link requires you to have your speakers on.  You will enjoy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Now I See

Remember John "I have a plan" Kerry? Neal Boortz has discovered the plan.
My wife (smiles proudly) has some thoughts about that plan:
I vote that we pass on the whole Democratic plan, otherwise we will be taking away the reason that people work, and a lot of their self respect. How can you have self respect if you have been excluded from the very programs and practices that make every American a part of the American Way. If I am excluded from participation in providing for my self, my family and moreover my own future, I have been relegated to a different class of citizen. I must in some way be of less worth and dignity than those who have NOT been relegated to this secondary category. Someone has decided for me that I am less able, less worthwhile, and in general a human being of less ultimate value than my fellows. I am not being discriminated on because of the color of my skin, or my ethnicity or religious preference, but simply because it has been decided that I do not earn enough money in the course of a year to qualify for inclusion in all of the rights and RESPONSIBILITIES that my forebears fought and gave their lives to secure and protect. We must look at this from more than one perspective...not only does it unfairly shift the burden from each and every American to a select segment of the population, but it takes away the God given responsibility given at the expulsion from the Garden, to be responsible for your own food, raiment and shelter. You arbitrarily take that responsibility away, and you are on your way to taking away the reason for which we conduct our selves in responsible fashion. For what purpose will anyone strive to better themselves, they will be taken care of but most certainly in BONDAGE to that system. I am a free American, keep your 'second class citizenship'. Should we not take a lesson from the former Soviet Union, if you let part of the people pay for all of the people then no one but the Government will have any money.
Unfortunately, some people would probably want to be kept by the rest of society. Look at the ones from New Orleans that wanted everyone else to solve their problems. That might be why most of Europe is leftist. It's the same thing that I learned when teaching Laubach literacy. If the students did not pay for the materials, they did not value them.
Same as a story that Zig Ziglar tells:

A businessman was rushing to work and saw some disheveled individual selling pencils. Because the businessman was in a hurry, he just dropped some money in the bucket and hurried on. Then he stopped and went back and got his pencil, saying something like: "You are an honest person trying to make an honest living selling pencils. I forgot to take my pencil." Years later, as the story goes, the businessman was at a chamber of commerce function when a neatly dressed man came up to him and introduced himself. He asked if the businessman remembered him. The businessman said no. The other gentlemen then said something like this: "I was that hobo selling pencils a few years ago. When you came back to get your pencil, you gave me my dignity. I am now a success, thanks to your reminding me that I was not a beggar, but a businessman."

Cool story. Ziglar says it is true.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Happy Birthday USAF

This is from Air Force speech writers:

“Yesterday, today and tomorrow – America’s Air Force”

Celebrating the Air Force’s 58th Birthday, Sept. 18, 2005

On Sept. 18 we mark the creation of the world’s most powerful Air Force. With the stroke of President Harry Truman’s pen, our quest to become an independent service became a reality 58 years ago.

In the nearly six decades since it became a separate service, the Air Force has seen the world change in almost unimaginable ways. We fought wars in Southeast Asia – Korea and Vietnam – as well as in Southwest Asia, the Persian Gulf. We witnessed the end of a decades-long Cold War. In every one of these conflicts, whether “hot” or “cold,” Air Force men and women played a vital role.

We are now living in a time of momentous change around the globe. We are seeing the seeds of democracy beginning to take root in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in other nations in the region. The Air Force is continuing to play a pivotal role in making these remarkable changes possible.

Katrina Relief Operations: However, before we get to those issues, let us focus on the situation that has commanded most of the nation’s attention in the past three weeks. We have been transfixed by the images from our Gulf Coast region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The scope of devastation is unprecedented in American history. This disaster devastated some 90,000 square miles – that’s an area roughly equivalent to the size of Great Britain.

The military response to this disaster has been nothing short of amazing. Every service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard – has performed magnificently, and thousands of men and women in uniform are still on the job as we speak. Here is what the Air Force, the Air National Guard, and the Air Force Reserve have been doing in the days since Katrina hit.

Day after day, we watched helicopter rescuers pluck men, women and children from rooftops, where they scrambled to escape rising flood waters. This has been the largest search and rescue operation since Vietnam. In the first week alone, Air Force pararescuemen airlifted more than 5,000 people from the New Orleans area. Capt. Grant Paap, an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter pilot, said, “You could fly over New Orleans and it was like a scene right out of a movie. There were helicopters everywhere.”

Rescue helicopters operated around the clock, using night vision goggles to pull people trapped in their houses at night. One of those rescuers was Senior Airman Jack Earnshaw, a pararescueman from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. “Spending eight or nine hours in the air totally wipes you out at the end of the day,” he said. “And when you think about all the obstacles we’re taking on with each mission, it really gets hard.”

They make it look easy, but the fact is these rescues are dangerous. They demand every bit of skill these rescue teams can muster, as they dodge power lines, trees, and confined spaces to reach flood victims. But, Earnshaw said, “There’s nothing more rewarding than giving back to our country. You really feel like you’re giving back and serving Americans.”

There is another team we don’t see, behind the scenes, making sure these helicopters are ready to fly every mission. Our helicopter maintenance troops have done a superb job. Sergeant Robert Marchewka is a production superintendent from the 347th Maintenance Squadron at Moody AFB, Georgia. He said: “We’re putting almost 20 hours a day on these helicopters.” He explained that maintenance crews would normally have 12 to 14 hours to turn around choppers before their next mission; here they get only four or five hours before the chopper is needed for another 20-hour day. He said: “Even in Kosovo we weren’t flying as much as we are here.”

We also saw an amazing effort at the Louis Armstrong Airport, where many of the injured and the elderly of New Orleans were brought for evacuation. More than 5,500 people were treated by military medical teams. Master Sergeant Kem Redic, from the 55th Services Squadron at Offutt AFB, said, “When you are called upon and you roll into a situation like this, you just roll up your sleeves and jump in wherever you can.”

Air Force aeromedical teams from all around the country deployed to Louisiana to help airlift more than 2,500 patients to medical facilities around the country. It’s no easy task to move critically ill patients anywhere, let alone to airlift them. The Air Force team has been doing a magnificent job of saving the lives of our men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq by airlifting them to the U.S. military hospital in Germany. Now those same skills are being put to use here on the home front, saving countless lives in the wake of this devastating natural disaster.

Our aircrews have been delivering an amazing amount of food and critical supplies to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In the first week alone, Air Force planes delivered nearly 5,500 tons of supplies to Katrina relief sites. They have flown more than 3,500 flights, and have moved more than 23,500 passengers [as of 8 Sept].

Air Force assets are being called on in many other ways, as well. For example, a reconnaissance aircraft from Offutt AFB is being used to capture aerial imagery of the Gulf Region. These images are used by FEMA to quickly assess the status of roads and evacuation routes and evaluate the extent of damage to critical facilities such as oil rigs, hospitals, and military installations.

Guardsmen and Reservists are working side-by-side with their active-duty counterparts, helping with security, law enforcement, medical, aircraft maintenance, communications, civil engineering, and dozens of other specialties. They are conducting search-and-rescue operations, evacuating residents, distributing food and water, and providing communications support to this hard-hit region.

At Maxwell AFB, Alabama, Air Force Reservists from the 908th Airlift Wing came home from a deployment to Iraq on Sept. 6. What’s amazing is that they turned right around and volunteered for hurricane relief duty! Lt Col Ronnie Roberts, commander of the 908th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, said, “We’re professionals. We’re out here, in natural disasters and combat.”

The chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, put it this way: “The first citizen-soldiers responded to the shot heard ‘round the world. Now we’re responding to the storm heard ‘round the world.”

President Ronald Reagan once asked, “Where do we find such people?” And then he answered his own question: “We find them … where we always find them in our hours of need – on [the] main streets and farms of America. They are the products of the freest, fairest, most generous and humane society that has ever been created.”

The Katrina relief operation is a monumental task, but it is only the latest in a series of challenging missions that the Air Force has taken on since its inception. As we mark the creation of the U.S. Air Force, let’s pause for a moment to consider the events that led to our becoming a separate service.

Remembering World War II: This month, and for much of the past year, the world has marked the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in September 1945. It’s no coincidence that the Air Force became a separate service just two years after the end of that global conflict. World War II was the ultimate proving ground for air power. This global war demonstrated as nothing else could that air power deserved its own service – trained, equipped and led by aviators.

One of the Air Force’s most important “founding fathers” was General Henry “Hap” Arnold. As the only five-star general in Air Force history, Gen. Arnold organized and led the world’s greatest aerial armada to victory against the Nazis in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific.

But it’s also instructive to remember that when “Hap” Arnold became a pilot in 1911, the U.S. military owned just two airplanes! In the three decades that followed, a small band of airpower advocates developed aerial tactics and doctrine and “pushed the envelope” of flight technology. They also lobbied vigorously – and often unsuccessfully – within the military community for the value of aviation assets. World War II effectively ended that debate.

You might say that airpower provided the “bookends” for the Second World War. Our nation was drawn into the war by an unprovoked aerial attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese naval air forces. Four years later, our nation dramatically ended the war by sending two B-29 bombers to drop atomic bombs on the Japanese mainland.

By the time Gen. Arnold retired in 1946, he had built the Army Air Force into a global aviation powerhouse, with more than 78,500 aircraft and nearly 2.4 million men. Their performance during World War II convinced America’s senior leaders – both military and civilian -- that airpower deserved a separate armed service.

But even visionaries like “Hap” Arnold who dreamed of an independent Air Force could hardly have imagined where their vision would take us.

Air Force “blue suiters” have shaped history in many ways in the past six decades. There were the monumental supply efforts of the Berlin Airlift, and the dogfights in “MiG Alley” in the skies over Korea. There were the “Wild Weasels” of Vietnam, deliberately drawing enemy SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) so their fellow Airmen could bomb North Vietnamese positions. And we had the spectacular performance of Stealth fighters and precision-guided weapons during Desert Storm. Wherever America’s interests were threatened, America’s Air Force answered the call.

Global War on Terror: We now find ourselves waging another global war – a global war on terrorism. And like the Second World War, this global war began with a terrible surprise attack on our country.

Just one week ago [Sept. 11], we marked the fourth anniversary of the horrific attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. It is a chilling reminder that airpower is a deadly force that can be used for evil as well as for good. On that terrible day, civilian airliners were turned into weapons of mass destruction, killing some 3,000 innocent men, women and children in less than two hours.

The attacks taught us a painful lesson – that a good defense is no longer good enough. We cannot afford to be hit again, perhaps by even more powerful weapons. We are engaged in a life-and-death struggle with an enemy whose brutality knows no bounds.

In June [2005], President George Bush told the nation, “Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home.”

And that is exactly what the Air Force is doing, along with our sister services. Since Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001, followed by Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command has flown more than 52,000 missions. Those missions have moved 1.4 million tons of supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan, and ferried nearly 3 million troops to the region from the U.S. and Europe, as well as within the region. Our tankers have flown nearly 15,000 missions, during which they refueled nearly 22,000 aircraft.

Just to put these numbers in perspective, these airlift operations are second only to the Berlin Airlift in scope. This is a tremendous undertaking, and our people have done a fantastic job bringing all the people, supplies, and equipment halfway around the world. This is truly “Global Reach” in action.

We have more than 23,000 people deployed to the Persian Gulf region. And not all of them are Active Duty – at any given time, we have roughly 5,000 members of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve serving in theater, as well. This is a Total Force effort, all the way.

In Iraq alone, our fighters have flown more than 30,000 sorties and dropped more than 21,300 munitions, more than 70 percent of which were precision guided. Our aircraft are flying an average of 150 sorties per day over Iraq. Earlier this month, for example, we launched a series of airstrikes on the Iraqi town of Tal Afar, near the border with Syria. These airstrikes were designed to take out insurgents operating in that town.

But these numbers really don’t begin to tell the whole story. Our people are taking on new challenges and new roles, using their ingenuity to help our sister services. You’ve heard the expression “boots on the ground”? Well, today, those boots might just be worn by an Airman. In addition to traditional flying operations, our Airmen are taking on many non-traditional roles, as well.

For example, Air Force people are heavily involved in convoy operations, which is some of the most dangerous duty in Iraq. In July, Airmen at Balad Air Base reached the 3 million-mile mark in convoys driven on the roads of Iraq. These Airmen have supported more than 3,500 convoys since they began helping out the Army in 2004. That means not only loading supplies onto the vehicles, but driving the convoys and providing security for thousands of vehicles. Air Force maintenance crews are repairing and maintaining the trucks used in the convoys, and they are also adding armor plating to these vehicles to provide added protection for the vehicle operators.

We’re making great use of what we call “UAVs,” or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. UAVs like the Predator are being equipped with laser-guided missiles. In the Air Force, we like to talk about shortening the “sensor-to-shooter timeline,” meaning the time it takes for us to spot the bad guys and call in an air strike on them. But in the case of the Predator, the sensor is the shooter. Not only can operators on the ground see the bad guys with real-time video images, but now they can take them out with lethal precision, and that’s a good thing.

Our medical teams are operating closer to the front lines than ever before. Because of that, patients are getting advanced medical care within hours, not days or weeks, as they had in the past. The result is that we’re seeing the lowest death rate of wounded Soldiers in any war in history.

Nevertheless, the loss of any of our men and women is deeply felt. As President Bush said, “We mourn every loss of life,” but he promised, “We’ll honor their memories by completing the mission.”

The road to democracy in Iraq will be a long and difficult one. But however long it takes, you can be sure that the men and women of the U.S. Air Force will be there, both in the air and on the ground, doing whatever needs to be done to achieve our assigned mission.

What Lies Ahead: The Air Force has truly earned its wings in its first 58 years of existence. We cannot know what challenges lie ahead for those who wear the Air Force uniform. After all, who could have predicted the attacks of September 11th, 2001, or the devastation along the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina? But the Air Force has a rich tradition of rising to meet those challenges. We can be confident that America’s Air Force will be up to the task.