Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hairspray (2007) ****

Early Sunday morning my wife and I went to see the new movie musical "Hairspray" at Tinseltown in Medford. Going to a movie on Sunday morning is something of an experiment that seems to work out for us. I like to go to movies in the evening but my wife always falls asleep. She likes to go in the early to late afternoon but that makes it difficult for me to do work around the house as I am not a morning person. So we have been trying to go Sunday mornings. That leaves the rest of the day to do work with no deadline to start getting ready for a movie.

The new movie "Hairspray is a lot of fun and I highly recommend it. I am a sucker for movies set in the early 60's. The story is about a young chubby high school girl played by Nikki Blonsky( a new comer) who live in Baltimore and wants to be a regular on a local Baltimore teen dance show on TV called "The Corny Collins Show". A local version of American Bandstand with Corny Collins as a stand in for Dick Clark. After she gets on the show she leads an effort to integrate the show so Black Americans are not relegated to the one day of the month called "Negro Day." Movie Director John Walters in 1988 made the original "Hairspray" which was the basis for a later Broadway musical play. This movie has brought the play to the big screen. John Walter is seen in a cameo at the start of the movie as a "flasher." Nikki Blonsky is very good for the part of the chubby girl and her personality carries the movie with the help of a good supporting cast. John Revolting..... I mean Travolta plays her mother in drag. The movie is very "camp" and we both enjoyed it very much. It is a musical in the tradition of South Pacific or Oklahoma with original music. A good way to spend a Sunday morning. To read more about the movie click on the title for a link to the Internet Movie Data Base site on the movie. Where were you in 62?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Over the hump!

Yesterday evening we were finally able to park our car in the garage. It's been over a month since we started our remodeling effort at home that required us to have a garage sale and then to move almost everything we own into the garage or out on our decks. In the process we have also gotten rid of a lot of stuff between our garage sale and a trip to Goodwill.
Well, except for a few remaining projects we are done with the major work. For the last two months we have been packing our stuff and moving it out of the house and then moving it back and redecorating the house. I am a collector of books, records, Oregon Duck memorabilia and movie memorabilia which are great hobby's but not when it entails moving it all. I am not as young as I used to be but this "old guy" was able to survive the hardest summer since I studied for the Bar Exam a "few years" ago. The hardest physically since I was in Army OCS a "few more years ago." Place looks great and it was worth the effort. Maybe I will have a beer tonight to celebrate! How long to football season?

Update: No Beer just some sleep!

Has President Bush Found his "General Grant"?

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, almost lost the war because he could not find a General that would fight! Finally, he turned to Ulysses Simpson Grant who would fight and eventually accepted General Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Now President Bush is in much the same position as Lincoln. Like Lincoln he may have found a General who will fight. The following is a report from Iraq published of all places in the New York Times!

War We Just Might Win

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.......

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

Michael E. O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kenneth M. Pollack is the director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brooking

Let's take it to the enemy! To read the rest of the excellent report click on the title for a link.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Last Lion

This summer in anticipation of a future trip to England and France I have been rereading William Manchester's biography, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940. As part of this future trip we will be visiting Churchill's beloved home at Chartwell in Kent to the south of London. In the HBO movie, "The Gathering Storm," in it's most dramatic scene, Churchill looks out the window of Chartwell and tells his wife that a Nazi German army marching on London, from the English Channel, would pass through Chartwell.

In my opinion Winston Churchill was the greatest man of the 20th Century. I feel privileged to be able to visit his home with at least one of my children. When my children were younger, at bed time I would forsake the usual bedtime stories, and I would read to them from Winston Churchill's own books.

Manchester has written a great biography. Stewart Brant says:

It's a painful dissection of appeasement-rabid England in the '30s--talk about ignoring signals and trying to buy off reality with more fervent ideology. Manchester's opening chapter on Winston's workday at Chartwell is one of the finest pieces of biography writing anywhere

The biography covers the years between World War I and II when Churchill was out of power and "Alone". He had held just about every cabinet post in the British Government. He was now out of power and a backbencher in the Parliament. He was a lone voice warning of the danger of Hitler and the Nazi's. England after World War I wanted peace and was willing to ignore the dangers signals to keep the peace. Churchill was isolated by the elites in England and was derided as a "war monger." He spent much of his time at Chartwell but kept in touch with friends in the government agencies that had access to the intelligence reports on the fact that Hitler and the Germans were re arming. After Hitler invaded Poland Churchill could no longer be ignored and was put in the cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty,(head of the navy) a job he had held in World War I. When his appointment was announce a message was sent out to the British Fleet, "Winson is back... Winston is back." A few months later as France was falling to the Germans the British turned to Churchill as Prime Minister. It was the worst of times as England was now alone to face the Nazi Juggernaut!

Manchester finishes his biography as follows:

They had seen a strong Germany as a buffer against bolshevism, had thought their security would be strengthened if they sidled up to the fierce, virile Third Reich. Nazi coarseness, anti-Semitism, the Reich's darker underside, were rationalized; time, they assured one another, would blur the jagged edges of Nazi Germany. So, with their eyes open, they sought accommodation with a criminal regime, turned a blind eye to its iniquities, ignored its frequent resort to murder and torture, submitted to extortion, humiliation, and abuse until, having sold out all who had sought to stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain and keep the bridge against the new barbarism, they led England herself into the cold damp shadow of the gallows, friendless save for the demoralized republic across the Channel. Their end came when the House of Commons, in a revolt of conscience, wrenched power from them and summoned to the colors the one man who had foretold all that had passed, who had tried, year after year, alone and mocked, to prevent the war by urging the only policy which would have done the job. And now, in the desperate spring of 1940, with the reins of power at last firm in his grasp, he resolved to lead Britain and her fading empire in one last great struggle worthy of all they had been and meant, to arm the nation, not only with weapons but also with the mace of honor, creating in every English breast a soul beneath the ribs of death.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Gathering Storm!

Robert Kagan has an excellent article on the "End of Dreams, Return of History" about the march of world events. I have quoted below only a small part of the much longer article:

".....the United States and others will have to persist in fighting what is, in fact, quite accurately called "the war on terrorism." Now and probably for the coming decades, organized terrorist groups will seek to strike at the United States, and at modernity itself, when and where they can. This war will not and cannot be the totality of America 's worldwide strategy. It can be only a piece of it. But given the high stakes, it must be prosecuted ruthlessly, effectively, and for as long as the threat persists. This will sometimes require military interventions when, as in Afghanistan, states either cannot or will not deny the terrorists a base. That aspect of the "war on terror" is certainly not going away. One need only contemplate the American popular response should a terrorist group explode a nuclear weapon on American soil. No president of any party or ideological coloration will be able to resist the demands of the American people for retaliation and revenge, and not only against the terrorists but against any nation that aided or harbored them. Nor, one suspects, will the American people disapprove when a president takes preemptive action to forestall such a possibility -- assuming the action is not bungled...."

We cannot retreat to our "safe corner of the world" because the oceans no longer protect us from evil!
To read the rest click on the title for a link.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Weekend

Last night week took our son out to dinner on the patio at The Bella Union in Jacksonville. We then went by Barnes and Noble. What a happening place in Medford Oregon on a hot Friday Night. The adjacent Starbucks was crowded.
This morning I got up and did my yard work before it got too hot. The wife and I then moved a lot of our "stuff" out of the family room in preparation for the carpet installers on Monday. Two of the carpet installers then came by and toured the house for our plan of action. On Monday they will move the heavy furniture out of the first floor family room as well as the top floor where the master bedroom is located. They will then carpet those two floors. On Tuesday they will then come and do the main floor. After they left I moved a lot of stuff from our master bed room to the main floor.

Tonight we are going to Ashland for a play at the outdoor Oregon Shakespearean Theater. Our son, home from grad school, wants to go see "Romeo and Juliet". We will have a dinner in Ashland before the play and then browse some of the shops before we head to the theater. The picture above is from behind the Outdoor Theater looking at it from across the duck pond in Lithia Park.

On Sunday we will take our son to Shady Cove for brunch at the John Wayne Saloon at the Two Pines Restaurant. A great place. We will then come home and spend the rest of the day getting ready for the carpet men. We have to disconnect this computer and our TV entertainment centers with all their wiring between the VCR's and the DVD players. I am going to label each one so I can get them hooked back correctly.

On Tuesday our son will end his visit and head back for Grad School in North Dakota and his summer research job. It has been fun having him home. He has developed a real like for Nat King Cole and has been playing him much of the day. He is now playing music from "The Big Chill." Who would have though someone of his generation would appreciate such a fine music! We aging "Baby Boomers" are very lucky parents! I hate to see him go.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Happy Birthday!

To that special person!

Airplane Kid, kicked off set of Good Morning America

The young kid and his mother who were kicked off an airliner a few days ago because the child was unruly were on Good Morning America today. Before the interview was finished by Diane Sawyer, Chris Cuomo, had to come on the set and remove the child so Diane could finish the interview with the mother because the child was so unruly. It was very funny. Here is a news report of the interview:

Garren Penland, 19-months old, got so unruly during his mom's chat with 'Good Morning America' anchor Diane Sawyer, co-anchor Chris Cuomo had to take the toddler off the set.

While Kate Penland explained her child was well-behaved on the Continental Express flight, little Garren kicked, wiggled and squirmed out of his mother's arms.

At one point he climbed up on a coffee table and rifled through Sawyer's scripts.

When Sawyer handed him a model Space Shuttle to distract him, Garren flung it to the ground.

Kate Penland said she and Garren were booted from the flight last month by a flight attendant who suggested she use benadryl to calm her son down.

ABC News was trying to make the mother's story oh so sympathetic and it exploded in their face.... it was very funny and the look Diane gave the camera at the end of the interview was classic!

Click on the title above for a link to a report on WSBTV and a video of the Good Morning America interview.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tony Snow, American Patriot!

For the last two days I have seen President Bush's press secretary hit the TV news show circuit defending the Presidents policy in Iraq with good humor and passion. The Tony Snow I have seen shows the ravages of his battle with cancer. He no longer looks like the Tony Snow of the above picture. His hair is thinner and now mostly gray and his face is no longer rosy but has the tired thin look of a warrior. He is definitely a warrior and a patriot. At this time he could be spending his time with his family and saving his energy for the battle of his life. Instead, he has answered the the call of his President and Country. Every time I get tired of the political battle to keep fighting for whats right I only need to look at Tony Snow and it gives me the courage to keep fighting! God bless you Tony!

Bush Stands his Ground!

***** This morning before I came to work I watched President Bush's press conference. I think it is one of his best. He was persuasive and in good humor. He seemed calm and resolute while others in America are panicking. ( ie Senator Gorden Smith of Oregon)

Near the end of the press conference President Bush said:

"And so, when it's all said and done, if you ever come down and visit the old, tired me down there in Crawford, (Texas), I will be able to say I looked in the mirror and made decisions based upon principle, not based upon politics. And that's important to me."

As the President said he will not decide the war in Iraq based upon polls or "focus groups" and our commanders in the field should not be micro managed by Congress.At the Alamo William Travis drew a line in the sand with his saber and asked those that wanted to stay with him to cross the line and those that wanted to cut and run to try and escape. Too many American are looking for an excuse to climb over the walls and escape from the War on Terrorism. You can run but the Islamic Fascist will find you. I stand with George W Bush!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oklahoma's 2005 Holiday Bowl win taken away!

Today the NCAA forced the Oklahoma Cheeter.....er....Oklahoma Sooners' (don't they mean the same?)to forfeit their entire 2005 season including their game with the Oregon Ducks in the 2005 San Diego Holiday Bowl.

The penalties stem from a case involving two players, including the Sooners' starting quarterback, who were kicked off the team last August for being paid for work they had not performed at a Norman car dealership. The NCAA said Oklahoma was guilty of a "failure to monitor" the employment of the players.

I just wish we were back in San Diego with my adult kids so we could go to the "Gas Light District" to celebrate their loss!
Christmas in July! How long till the 2007 season starts? (September 1st at home vs Houston) Go Ducks.

Update: Oklahoma forfeits the game but Oregon will not be given the win. Oklahoma should be required to give their trophy back to the Holiday Bowl folks or put an * on it. David Boren Oklahoma University President says they will appeal the decision of the NCAA. Ever the Oklahoma Whiners! Ha! After their game in Autzen Stadium, in Eugene Oregon, there will be bad blood between Oregon and Oklahoma for a long time. It was sure nice to see Boise State beat them last year.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The "Phoney War"

Tanya, Terrorism and Our Phoney War by Newt Gingrich
The Delusion of Our Elites and the Deadly History of Denial

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA -- As I write you this week, I am concluding a fascinating and informative trip to Russia with the American Foreign Policy Council and my friend Herman Pirchner. Last week, I wrote to you from Moscow. This week, we concluded our tour in St. Petersburg, the capital of the Old Russian Empire.

One place we visited in St. Petersburg in particular has got me thinking about the threats we face as a country and as a civilization -- and how our leaders and elites have yet to honestly face up to these threats. They are, in significant ways, deluding themselves -- and endangering us in the process.

The Dead of the Siege of Leningrad
On Sunday, we visited the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery, dedicated to the victims of the siege of Leningrad (as St. Petersburg was called at the time) during World War II. For nearly 900 days, from September 1941 until January 1944, the German Army surrounded and besieged the city. At least 641,000 people died and perhaps as many as a million -- the vast majority of them civilians -- mostly from starvation and disease.

More than 500,000 of these victims are buried in the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery. On its own, this massive place of death is sobering enough. But in the cemetery's museum are two chilling displays, shown side-by-side, that speak volumes about the consequences for average people when their leaders fail to heed the words of evil men.

The Diary of Tanya Savicheva

The first display is the diary of an 11-year-old girl named Tanya Savicheva, written during the siege of Leningrad.

In seven short entries below, she documents the deaths of her entire family -- first her sister, then her grandmother, then her brother, her uncle, another uncle and finally her mother.

Jenya died on 28th Dec. at 12.30 AM 1941

Grandma died on 25th Jan. at 3 PM 1942

Leka died on 17th March at 5 AM 1942

Uncle Vasya died on 13th Apr. at 2 o'clock after midnight 1942

Uncle Lesha on 10th May at 4 PM 1942

Mother on 13th May at 7.30 AM 1942

The last entry in Tanya's diary says simply, "Savichevs died. Everyone died. Only Tanya is left."

And then Tanya herself died of starvation.

Side-by-side with Tanya's diary in the museum is another display that makes Tanya's diary all the more disturbing. It is a September 1941 German High Command order to the German army in Russia.

The order states with evil simplicity that "the Fuhrer has decided to raze the city of St. Petersburg from the face of the earth."

The German army is ordered to attack and eliminate the city's supply lines -- to isolate the city and literally starve its inhabitants to death.

"There is no point to prepare for the subsistence of the population."

"In this existential war, there is no point in maintaining these people."

The Suicidal Behavior of Gordon Brown
As I stood there looking at this call for the annihilation of an entire city and the extermination of its residents and as I read the tragic story of a young girl just a few years older then my own granddaughter watching the slow death of her entire family, I was reminded of a recent book about the terrible consequences of attempting to appease evil.

Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England by Lynne Olson tells the story of how the British establishment lied to the British people and sought to avoid doing anything to antagonize Hitler even in the first year of World War II.

And then I thought about the suicidal behavior of new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown after the attempted terrorist bombings in London and Glasgow.

Prime Minister Brown has reportedly banned his ministers from using the word "Muslim" in connection with the terrorism crisis in Britain. And he had also banned the phrase "War on Terror," apparently because of its close association with his former Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush.

Our 'Phoney War' on Terrorism
And as I thought about the new British prime minister's unwillingness to tell the truth about the terrorists who are seeking to destroy Western civilization, I realized this:

For the past six years, we have been engaged in a "phoney war".

The period during World War II from 1939-1941 became known as the "phoney war." After Hitler had attacked and occupied Poland, the Nazis had made their intentions clear, but the Allies did little to respond to Hitler's aggression. In this period of "phoney war," the British people eventually came to believe that they could avoid war. Children who had been evacuated from the cities began to return to their families.

And then, in May 1940, Hitler attacked France. The "phoney war" was over. The real war had begun.

How Many More Tanyas Will There Be?

Standing in that cemetery in St. Petersburg last week, I thought of all the other Tanyas who had died because their leaders refused to believe the evil words of evil men and refused to convey that truth to their people.

I thought of today's Tanyas -- all the young girls and their families who are threatened by the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam.

Just as in the years leading up to World War II, the signs are all around us. The rise of Hamas. The re-arming of Hezbollah. The Iranian dictatorship's relentless drive for nuclear weapons. Terrorists from New Jersey to London to Iraq and Pakistan who are saying repeatedly and publicly that they want nothing more than to kill us.

So my question is this: In our own existential war, do our leaders hear these voices that are determined to destroy us? And will our "phoney war" end on our terms, or the terms of our enemies?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Contempt of Congress!

Yes, we do have a lot of contempt of the Democrats in Congress. But, the Democrats may try to bring the quasi criminal charges of contempt of Congress against Bush administration officials who refuse to testify before Congress or ignore Congressional subpoenas in an attempt to harass the Bush Administration. However, the President's power to grant pardons as contained in the U.S. Constitution trumps the "Contempt of Congress" power so Democrats waste your and the country's time issuing meaningless subpoenas and contempt of Congress citations. All you will do is bring contempt on you! Bush, time to pay "Hard Ball!"

Update: White House Counsel's letter to Congress..... summery : Shove it!
Dear Chairman Leahy and Chairman Conyers:

I write in response to your letter of June 29, 2007.

Let me begin by conveying a note of concern over your letter's tone and apparent direction in dealing with a situation of this gravity. We are troubled to read the letter's charge that the President's "assertion of Executive Privilege belies any good faith attempt to determine where privilege truly does and does not apply." Although we each speak on behalf of different branches of government, and perhaps for that reason cannot help having different perspectives on the matter, it is hoped you will agree, upon further reflection, that it is incorrect to say that the President's assertion of Executive Privilege was performed without "good faith."

As the letter from the Acting Attorney General explained in considerable detail, the assertion of Executive Privilege here is intended to protect a fundamental interest of the Presidency: the necessity that a President receive candid advice from his advisors and that those advisors be able to communicate freely and openly with the President, with each other, and with others inside and outside the Executive Branch. In the present setting, where the President's authority to appoint and remove U.S. Attorneys is at stake, the institutional interest of the Executive Branch is very strong. The Acting Attorney General's letter clearly identifies the subject matter of the deliberations and communications at issue and provides an extensive treatment of the issues implicated by the subpoenas and the legal basis for the President's assertion of Executive Privilege.

Your letter does not dispute these principles. It does not take issue with the practical fact that, in order to fulfill his constitutional functions, the President, no less than Members of Congress and federal judges, needs the protection of a principle that shields his close advisors from open-ended inquiry by another branch of government. The letter does not challenge the exclusive character of the President's appointment and removal power, nor does the letter attempt to establish a constitutional basis for the Committees' inquiry into this matter. Although the letter sets forth certain generalizations relating to Congress's investigatory authority, it does not explain how that authority extends to White House communications about the possible dismissal and replacement of U.S. Attorneys. And, even if Congress's authority might be deemed to extend that far, the question remains whether the Committees have demonstrated that the information sought here is demonstrably critical to the responsible fulfillment of the Committees' legislative functions.

In response to your inquiry concerning the mechanics of the President's assertion of the privilege, you may be assured that the President's assertion here comports with prior practices in similar contexts, and that it has been appropriately documented. I do hope that your Committees will appreciate that I write on behalf of the President and therefore understand that my letter of June 28, 2007 precisely expresses the President's position on this matter.

Your letter also "direct[s]" the President to provide certain additional information to the Committees before 10:00 a.m. on July 9, 2007. The letter goes on to say that a very detailed "privilege log" is necessary "to facilitate ruling on" claims of Executive Privilege and your letter thereafter announces an intention to "take the necessary steps to rule on [the President's executive] privilege claims." We are aware of no authority by which a congressional committee may "direct" the Executive to undertake the task of creating and providing an extensive description of every document covered by an assertion of Executive Privilege. Given the descriptions of the materials in question that have already been provided, this demand is unreasonable because it represents a substantial incursion into Presidential prerogatives and because, in view of the open-ended scope of the Committees' inquiry, it would impose a burden of very significant proportions.

One final observation underscores the preordained futility of any White House compliance with this demand. When your letter states that your Committees "will take the necessary steps to rule on [the President's] privilege claims and appropriately enforce our subpoenas" and that the Committees will enforce their subpoenas "[w]hether or not [they] have the benefit of the information" (emphasis added), only one conclusion is evident: the Committees have already prejudged the question, regardless of the production of any privilege log. In such circumstances, we will not be undertaking such a project, even as a further accommodation.

As noted in my previous letter, as we remain at the present impasse, the President feels compelled to assert Executive Privilege with respect to the testimony sought from Sara M. Taylor and Harriet E. Miers covering White House consideration, deliberations or communications, whether internal or external, relating to the possible dismissal or appointment of United States Attorneys, including consideration of possible responses to congressional and media inquiries on the United States Attorneys matter, consistent with the advice provided by the Acting Attorney General. The President has instructed me to notify you and the counsel for Ms. Taylor and Ms. Miers of his decision and to inform counsel of his direction to Ms. Taylor and Ms. Miers not to provide this testimony.

I renew again the President's offer: in the absence of subpoenas he remains willing to provide you with information as previously offered. And I likewise convey the President's request that further interbranch relations in this matter be distinguished by respect for the constitutional principles of both institutions and marked by a presumption of goodwill on all sides.

Respectfully yours,

Fred F. Fielding
Counsel to the President

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

William Kristol : Bush should attack!

Bill Kristol speaks for me when he gives President Bush some good advise. I hope he takes it!

Moment of Truth
for the President
Will he reject disastrous advice to compromise with opponents of the war?
by William Kristol
07/09/2007 12:20:00 PM

The New York Times leads today with David Sanger's story, "In White House, Debate Is Rising On Iraq Pullback; Political Considerations; Not Waiting For Sept. 15, Aides Seek to Forestall G.O.P. Defections." The piece is tendentious, as one would expect--but THE WEEKLY STANDARD has confirmed that there are real discussions going on the White House, with advocates of what is being called "The Grand Bargain" pushing hard for the president to move soon to announce plans to pull back in Iraq. So this week will not only be a week of (mostly silly) debate on the Hill; it will also be an important moment of truth for the president, who will have to decide whether to give Gen. Petraeus and the soldiers a chance, or to accept the counsel of some of his advisers and begin to throw in the towel on Iraq.

Let me be clear: The president ordered the "surge," which only recently came to full strength and whose major operation has been going on for less than a month. If he were not to give it a chance to work, he would properly be viewed as a feckless, irresolute president, incapable of seeing his own strategy through a couple of months of controversy before abandoning it. He will have asked our soldiers to go on the offensive, assuming greater risk of casualties--and then, even though the offensive is working better than expected, will have pulled the plug on their efforts.

Indeed, the White House is living
in a fool's paradise if they imagine that "compromising" now and in this way buys them anything. Even the New York Times editorial page has abandoned the pretence that its preferred strategy will lead to anything other than catastrophe in Iraq, and in the very near term. If the president gives in now, he will not be credited with a statesmanlike compromise. He will be lambasted by the left for fighting a bad war, and by the right for fighting it badly, recommitting us to the fight, and then losing it. The remainder of his term will be mired in congressional investigations as the waters fill with blood and the sharks go in for the kill. The Democrats will be emboldened to press him on every front, especially since Iraq is virtually the only position he's actually been defending. Lame duck does not even begin to describe where President Bush will be if he does this.

What's more, the president will lose any ability to mitigate the effects of the withdrawal or control it. The pullout will become a wild hell-for-leather race for the exit, and the result will be a triumph for al Qaeda and Iran, and a moral and geopolitical disaster for the United States.

The best strategy for the president is to hold firm. There is every reason to believe that he can survive the current calamity-Janes of the Republican party (does anyone really imagine that a veto-proof majority will form in the Senate this week or next?). This nonsense will pass, Congress will go on recess, and Petraeus will have a chance to continue to produce results--and the president and his allies will have a chance to gain political ground here at home. Why on earth pull the plug now? Why give in to an insane, irrational panic that will destroy the Bush administration and most likely sweep the Republican party to ruin? The president still has a chance to emerge from this as a visionary who could see what the left could not--but not if he gives in to them. There is no safety in the position some in the Bush administration are running towards.
Here's what I gather is a basic lesson of tactics: When you find yourself in an ambush, attack into the ambush. Don't twist and turn in the kill zone, looking for a way to retreat. Especially when the ambush is not a powerful one, and the Democrats' position (to mix military metaphors) is way overextended.The Democrats are hoping the president will break and run.They will not allow him a dignified retreat or welcome him with compromise. They will spring to finish him off completely. It doesn't matter what the president's motives are. Some of his advisers are trying to persuade him that he needs to go for a grand bargain now so as to build bipartisan support for his policies when he's gone. But the only way to do that is to hold firm now--and to counterattack. Those who try to convince him otherwise offer nothing but defeat, for the troops, for the mission, and for the president.
--William Kristol

The carpets

Now that we have completed the Garage Sale we move to our next summer "adventure". We now have to move everything in the house from one room to another so the carpet men next Monday and Tuesday can install the new carpeting. The carpet men will move the large stuff but we have lots of books (we have a large,large library),Cd's,records,cassette tapes, Oregon Duck memorabilia, computers, 2 TV-Entertainment Centers, clothing, nicknack's, lamps, small furniture, movie memorabilia from three floors. We will sure be happy to see that 70's burn orange carpet replaced!

The 4th of July has come and gone and now we are into the "dog days" of summer. A high of 110 degrees is forecast for Medford tomorrrow.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Garage Sale!

Today and tomorrow we are having our big garage sale. We are having new carpets put in next week and we wanted to sell a lot of the stuff we have accumulated over the 20+ years we have lived in our home. Our kids have grown up and moved away but left a lot of their stuff. In addition, after my parents died and I had to clean out their home I made a pact that I would try to downside so my children would not have to go through that after I am gone! I am also a "pack rat" collector and have lots of things I have collected through the years. We have had sales over the years but this was the largest at home. We advertised in the local newspaper and put up 10 or so signs through out the neighborhood. Being a political junkie I have a lot of political lawn signs I converted to "Garage Sale" signs. The customers started arriving at 7:30 am at our cul-de-sac for or 8:am opening. When we opened the people started pouring in and we had a crowd until it got hot about 2 pm. There must have been 15 to 20 people waiting when we opened.

I am a collector of Oregon Duck memorabilia and had lots of old Duck clothing items that I sold off. I also have, through the years, collected 100's of plastic Oregon Duck Cups at Oregon games. Yes, I am one of those people that pick up empty cups on the way out of the stadium. After keeping a good selection I still had over a 100+ I put out at 5 for $.05. My wife told me "No one will want those cups." I sold over 60+. I also had boxes and boxes of football cards. I collect football cards of the Oregon Ducks who have gone on to the pros..... but in looking for those cards you end up with a lot of cards from other players. Today I sold between 5,000 to 10,000 cards. Again my wife had said "no one will buy those cards" but I sold everyone I had put out. Granted, I sold them at discount prices but I sold every one. We also had Oregon Duck chairs and lots of other items that were very popular. One of our friends, who happens to be a Oregon State Beaver fan, was kidded us that we must be selling all our Duck stuff because the Beavers won the NCAA championship in baseball. We quickly assured her that was not the case and we still had more than enough Duck stuff. I was able to give away a lot of my old 8 track tapes. I had thinned out my vinyl record collection and sold a lot of records. It only hurt when I saw my Patty Duke album go. When she was young I thought she was very cute. We also were able to give away an electric lawn mower that didn't work. We will be open tomorrow on Sunday but even if we don't sell anything the sale will have been a success.

Garage sales are a good way to meet neighbors and folks you haven't seen for years. Our cul-de-sac was so crowded there was a traffic jam getting in or out. One of our neighbors came over and said "this is the happening place." It Was! Garage sales bring out the skills I learned working at a variety store (Sprouse Reitz) in my youth. My wife hates garage sales but even she said this wasn't bad. Our son, who is home for a few weeks, helped out as did my mother-in-law and brother-in-law. It was a real family effort. We open tomorrow at 8 am. Be there!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

American Defeatism

Yesterday I saw first hand the face of American defeatism in the war against Islamic Fascist. My family went to Ashland, Oregon for the annual 4th of July parade. Ashland is an "Artsy /Crafty" community in Oregon that draws that crowd due to the fact Ashland is the home of the Oregon Shakespearean Festival and has become a place of refuge for Californians trying to escape the "rat race" of California. It's a beautiful almost "European" town at the base of the Siskyou Mountains. Think of Carmel with mountains in place of the ocean and you get the picture. I saw "Peace" symbols everywhere, on the side of house, on bumper stickers, lawn signs and on people. One house had Old Glory and a "Peace" flag side by side. Some people refused to stand for The National Anthem. This is truly where the aging "flower children" have gone to retire. As I walked through Lithia Park on the way to the parade I saw a vendor selling Tee shirts that were red and stated "The Peoples Republic of Ashland." The parade itself had many participants who expressed their anti war/Bush views. The only counter were two National Guard Vehicles and a fly over by two National Guard F-14s. Several years ago there was a movement in Ashland to stop the military fly overs.

Washington Post Columnist David Ignatius today has a column in which he asks the question:

How would America react to a future terrorist attack? Would the country come together to combat its adversaries, or would it pull further apart?

He goes on to say in part:

A chilling measure of Muslim anger is that several of the suspected bomb plotters arrested by the British are medical doctors. What kind of rage would lead a physician trained in the healing arts to pack together nails, explosives and propane gas in a mix that would shatter bones and rip apart human flesh? This is a revolt of the privileged, the uprooted, the disconnected. It speaks of self-mutilation, as much as mayhem against others.

What happens when the bleed-out reaches America?.....

Based on the tone of the national debate today, it seems likely that the American public would react angrily -- but not just at the terrorists.

Liberals would blame the Bush administration for making America a more vulnerable target. Didn't the war in Iraq inflame Muslim terrorists around the world? Wouldn't we have been safer today if we had focused on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, rather than embarking on a costly war that has sapped the military and CIA and added to America's enemies? These arguments aren't imaginary: We hear them every day, almost as rehearsals for the post-attack finger-pointing.

And how would conservatives respond? They would blame liberals who, in their view, have weakened America's anti-terrorist defenses. Couldn't we have stopped the bombers if critics hadn't exposed the NSA's secret wiretapping program? Wouldn't aggressive CIA interrogation techniques have yielded more intelligence that might have prevented the tragedy? Didn't congressional demands to withdraw from Iraq embolden the terrorists? I can hear the voices on talk radio and cable news right now.

America's political disharmony is scary

I agree it is very scary. In preparation for a trip to England in the future I have been rereading William Manchester's biography on Winston Churchill "The Last Lion: Alone 1932-1940" about the "wilderness years" when Churchill tried to warn the English people of the danger of Hitler and was branded a "Warmonger." Manchester writes about the French in the months after England and France declared war on Germany for it's invasion of Poland. Manchester points out that many of the French were more angry at the English for getting them into this war than they were at Hitler who was the real menace. The lack of resolve on the part of French public infected their army and in a few month Hitler's Army was marching down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Ignatius ends his column with these chilling words:

In a politically healthy nation, the news from Britain would have a galvanizing effect. Politicians and the public would pull together and take appropriate steps to prepare for future terrorist attacks on America. There was a moment of shared purpose after 9/11. It's frightening how totally that mood of national unity has dissipated. I can think of lots of people to blame for the current polarization, but that's not the point. The point is to get serious, and get ready.

Based upon what I saw in Ashland, Oregon, yesterday, we will not pull together after the NEXT terrorist attack and that scares me.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy 4th of July America!


From the Wall Stree Journal

"President Bush's commutation late yesterday afternoon of the prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will at least spare his former aide from 2 1/2 years in prison. But by failing to issue a full pardon, Mr. Bush is evading responsibility for the role his Administration played in letting the Plame affair build into fiasco and, ultimately, this personal tragedy.....

Mr. Libby deserved better from the President whose policies he tried to defend when others were running for cover. The consequences for the reputation of his Administration will also be long-lasting."

William J Bennett: "How do we ask our children to fight, and perhaps die, for a country they do not know"?

"Tens of millions of Americans are about to celebrate our nation’s Founding. The worrisome question is, will future generations take to this celebration the way we have for the past 231 years if they do not know the first, second, or third thing about their country?Two years ago, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough told the U.S. Senate that American History was our nation’s worst subject in school. The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (a.k.a., “our Nation’s Report Card”), released last month, bears that out again. Our children do worse in American history than they do in reading or math. McCullough testified we were facing the prospect of national amnesia, saying, “Amnesia of society is just as detrimental as amnesia for the individual. We are running a terrible risk. Our very freedom depends on education, and we are failing our children in not providing that education.”

To read the rest of William Bennett's article click on the title for a link

PS If you can not identify the above picture you don't know your American history. Hint: The Rough Riders!

Happy 4th of July!

231 years ago the United States of America declared it's independence from England in the Declaration of Independence authored by Thomas Jefferson. John Adams who led the political battle for Independence described many years ago how we should celebrate this day when he said:
"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).

Well John Adams, you were off by two days, but the Wickre family will celebrate the day by attending an old fashioned parade in Ashland Oregon, followed by a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Band Shell in Lithia Park (a few feet from where my wife and I were married) and then will attend a friends BBQ followed by a trip to Eagle Point, Oregon, after dark, for "illiminations" (fireworks).One member of the Wickre family will celebrate it an a city where there is a monument to Thomas Jefferson and where Jefferson and John Adams served as President of the country they founded.. May we celebrate it for another 231 years! God Bless America....What a great day!

Congratulations Son!

Congratulations to our son for having received a substantial check yesterday from a publishing company for a 2000 word article and "side bar" he wrote for an upcoming historical encyclopedia on Slavery in America. He is presently working at a university in the Midwest as a teaching/research assistant while working on his masters degree in History. He eventually wants to be a History Professor on the college level. He has a real passion for history.

American slavery was an evil that is hard to understand. Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address said it best:

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

His mother and I are very proud of him . As I told him last night it is a lucky man who can have a profession for which he has a passion.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Weekend

We had a busy weekend. For some reason the death of Joel Siegel, the movie critic for ABC's Good Morning America, hit me hard. I have watched and enjoyed his reviews for many year and he was only 63! After people die you often find out things you didn't know like the fact he marched with Martin Luther King in the early 60's in the South and was campaigning for Bobby Kennedy and was there in LA at the hotel when he was killed in 1968. He was a Liberal but I liked his reviews. RIP

Saturday I along with my wife and son, home from grad school for a few weeks, spend the day getting ready for our garage sale next weekend. We went through the entire garage and found a lot of stuff to add to the pile of items we found in the house. We even got some items from under the back deck. A friend of my wife's brought over about 5 big tables to help us display our "stuff" for the garage sale. We have had garage sales in the past but this is the largest ever by far.

On Sunday we got up and had breakfast a Donut Country... the best place for donuts in Oregon! We then went to see a Sunday morning movie at Tinseltown.... The new Bruce Willis movie "Live Free or Die Hard" and it was a wonderful movie. I loved it. It was both an action and a thinking man's movie with Willis his conservative/John Wayne self, fighting cyber terrorist and never giving up. It was also funny. I love it when heroes are not "conflicted" and know that action is required. Best line of Willis in the movie is:

"You know what you get for being a hero?" he asks. "You get shot at, get divorced, eat a lot of meals alone, your kids won't talk to you. Nobody wants to be that guy."

Yet, when pressed he says he does it because he is placed in a position where he is the person who has to do it.

After the movie we went back home and while I priced merchandise for the garage sale my wife made our signs for posting around the neighborhood. See you Saturday at 8 AM for the Big Sale.