July 30, 2006

A New Chapter

Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. -- C.S.Lewis

This pretty much sums up parenthood. Having a light touch on our children is more art than science and is never quite so poignant than when you are helping them move out of your home into their new home.

Portia's dad and I spent the afternoon helping her move into her new place -- a beautifully restored historic home for grad students. This entailed lots of shopping, packing, up and down our stairs, then up and down her new stairs.

We are so proud of her (she may delete this post, so read fast), and I'm going to miss her terribly. I'll miss our long talks about the books she's reading, the Middle East, or politics or about spiritual matters. But those who know her well will understand that most of all I'll miss how she makes me laugh. One of the wonderful hallmarks of Portia is her sense of humor and quick wit. If she were here she'd do her impression of Shaun's mom in Orange County whenever he mentioned going away to college, and we'd be laughing till the tears came.

So this is what the empty-nest feels like. Last Friday we saw our youngest son off on a missions trip to Japan for two weeks, which was reminiscent of all the times we waved Portia off to different parts of the globe. Now the house is quiet - too quiet.

But this is where the light touch comes in: it's a must for young people to have adventures and pursue their dreams. May this next year bring many wonderful adventures to Portia as she pursues the fulfillment of her goals and dreams.

"May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose." Psalm 20:4

Posted by Mutti at 11:28 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 28, 2006

Muslim Targets Jewish Women in Seattle

My anger level is DEFCON 1 -- you mix that with being a mom and an American, watch out.

Talk about cowardly, sick and twisted, but that's a tame description of Islamic terrorists. A Muslim walked into the Jewish Federation in Seattle and opened fire -- on women. One of them was pregnant.

Six people were shot - one fatally - this afternoon at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle by a man who told a witness he was upset about "what was going on in Israel."
Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Pamela Steele said five victims were taken to the hospital, all women ranging in age from the 20s to the 40s. Each suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen, knee, groin or arm. Three were in critical condition. Two were in satisfactory condition.
One witness, who declined to give her name, said a man walked into the Jewish Federation building with a gun, said he was upset about what was going on in Israel, then opened fire. After the shootings, the man said to call 911, the witness said. The witness said the man identified himself as an American Muslim.

The real stinger is what the FBI is saying:

"We believe it's a lone individual acting out his antagonism," said David Gomez, who heads the FBI's counterterrorism efforts in Seattle.
"There's nothing to indicate that it's terrorism related," Gomez said. "But we're monitoring the entire situation."

This is not a terrorist act? WRONG. When a Muslim kills Jews, it's terror-related. This pc and sensitivity is beyond ludicrous.

If the liberals don't get it yet, then our country is in big trouble. These animals mean business. They want to kill Jews, Christians and of course all infidels. They've been saying it for years, and the hate-filled rhetoric has been amped up since 9/11. But the democrats aren't listening. They're too busy defending Hezbollah and Hamas, and wanting to understand root causes for terrorism.

Here's my solution. First, this Islamic perp must be executed for this hate crime (that's right - the left instituted hate crimes, now let's use it to our advantage). Then Homeland Security needs to beef up their surveillance techniques, which would include checking on the teachings of every mosque in America. This includes checking on what they are teaching their kids in American Muslim schools. Those that are found to teach hatred, jihad and terrorism must be shut down immediately. Bank accounts and assets to be frozen and the imams, teachers and clerics arrested.

We cannot afford to wait until this becomes commonplace. If harsh consequences are not taken, then this will signal to all the rest of the radical elements in Islam that America is indeed a paper tiger, as OBL said after we did nothing in Mogudishu.

Rabbi Daniel Weiner at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle, said his congregation was planning to meet in Bellevue this evening anyway, but were waiting for police to advise them on whether to go ahead with the services.

This is America! When Jews are fearful of meeting here in the USA, it's way past the time to do something.

Posted by Mutti at 06:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 27, 2006

The Word is Getting Out

Finally, the truth is getting out. Hezbollah is using the U.N. as human shields.

The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a "shield" to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.

The U.N. reports Hezbollah has hit several of the U.N. posts seriously wounding one unarmed U.N. observer. The wounded man was taken by the IDF to an Israeli hospital where surgery saved his life.

Still waiting for Kofi's condemnation of these Hezbollah attacks.

Shepherd Smith from Fox News was interviewing Israeli officers today; one captain spoke of the frustration with warning civilians to evacuate certain areas, but when the IDF moved into that area, they still found families living in homes where Hezbollah gunfire was coming from an upstairs window.

Hezbollah may not have given these families the option to evacuate. They're too valuable as shields.

Tip: Drudge/LGF

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A Rose By Any Other Name

This is a lovely departure from world events, at least for me. As part of our front-to-back landscaping, we transplanted my rose garden from one end of the yard to the other. After going through shock, they are all coming back nicely and some are even starting to bloom. There is so much more room in the new area, with little winding paths and colored stone gravel. It makes such a nice crunch when you walk on it. Then there's a bright white picket fence with an arbor covered by a Lady Banks rose that sets it off from the rest of the yard. I digress.

I just finished a set of weather-proof plant markers with the names of each rose. Funny thing about rose people, there is great meaning in the names -- at least to me. For instance, I would never have a Barbara Streisand in my garden. I could not enjoy that rose without thinking of her politics. As far as politics goes, I do love my WWII Memorial rose, Mister Lincoln, and Proud Land. Ronald Reagan is next on my list.

All that said, I actually purchased a Charles Darwin several years ago when I saw how beautiful it was. It is a fully quartered, buttery-yellow old English rose with a wonderful fragrance. But how could I, being so picky about names and a Christian who believes in creation, put a rose named Darwin in my garden?

Easy. Placement is everything. I would put it between two roses I already had: St. Patrick and Billy Graham. I have always loved St. Patrick's prayer and have a copy on my office wall:

"As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me....Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Amen."

I get a chuckle everytime I walk through my garden and see Darwin planted between these two pillars of the faith. My little inside joke.

However, not all Christians share my sense of humor. One of the ladies in our church was still shocked and disapproving that I would buy a rose named Charles Darwin, regardless of who was planted on either side. Oh well, can't please everyone. I am just very thankful to the Lord for my little oasis of roses.

Posted by Mutti at 01:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 26, 2006

More on Islamic Gentle Justice

For those who believe death by lethal injection in the United States to be cruel and unusual punishment, here are more consequences in the Islamic "peace with justice" religion. Makes Singapore's caning sound tame.

THEFT: Amputation of hands or feet for persistent offenders.

ADULTERY: Death by stoning.

UNMARRIED SEX: 100 lashes.


SODOMY: Death for adults, 74 lashes for consenting child.

LESBIANISM: 100 lashes, or on the fourth occasion death.


RUBBING ANOTHER MAN'S THIGHS OR BUTTOCKS: 99 lashes - on 4th occasion, death.

Source: Sunday Mirror.co.uk

Posted by Mutti at 04:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

U.N. Peacekeepers Killed by Israeli's were Human Shields for Hezbollah

This just breaking on Fox News and Yahoo, but LGF had it first.

The Canadian U.N. observer that was killed had previously emailed Major General Mackenzie to inform him that Hezbollah was using their post as cover. Scroll down a paragraph and listen to the CBC radio interview with Major General Mackenzie.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has serious doubts as to whether the Israeli attack on this U.N. outpost was deliberate.

At the same time, he questioned why the UN had manned the outpost in Lebanon near the Israeli border as bombs exploded all around.

We're waiting for an explanation, Mr. Kofi Annan.

Posted by Mutti at 02:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Al-Jazeera Stumps for Democrats

That's right. Al-Jazeera is encouraging everyone to vote the Democratic ticket.

"Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) remarks at the National Press Club on Wednesday July 19th 2006 calling for regime change in Iran and described "Islamic fascism" as the "great test" of this generation, as threatening to the United States as last century's German Nazism and Soviet communism was inappropriate."

Senator Santorum has a long history of derogatory remarks against homosexuals and other minority groups. His speech was irresponsible and ill informed, and he remarks are likely to fan hatred of Americans in parts of the Middle East. Senator’s goal was to instill fear. Just like Fascism and Zionism achieved their objectives through fear, resulting in the vast societal FEAR syndrome. People who believe in peace with justice must do exactly the opposite of what the fear-mongers want. We must struggle in solidarity to promote more education, mutual knowledge, a "living together" based on universal values, on respect for life and diversity, for democracy, for freedom, and for justice.

The hidden code here is "people who believe in peace with justice..." The Islamic version of peace is people living under their system of justice. It is Islamic justice that requires the sawing off of infidel heads; it is Islamic justice that required hanging an Iranian girl that was raped; it is Islamic justice that requires your limbs to be amputated if you're accused of stealing. It is Islamic justice that requires honor killings. And of course if you accept this justice, there will be peace.

Here's the clincher:

Don’t ask Santorum to “apologize,” folks. Vote Democratic.

Tip: poster on LGF

Posted by Mutti at 02:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

For History Buffs

Philomena at All These Things has given blogdom a valuable tool: an online exhibition from the Imperial War Museum in London. The exhibit commemorates The Battle of The Somme during World War I.

Philomena writes:

The whole concept of an online exhibition is new to me, and what a great idea for those of us who always say we are going to visit museums and rarely get there. This one is extremely informative collection, not just of historical facts and battle paraphanalia, but of personal stories, letters, diaries and photographs that give us some glimse as to what it was like to be involved.

I encourage you to read Philomena's entire posting here, and spend time at the Imperial War Museum of London here.

Posted by Mutti at 12:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Handy Tip of the Day

Finding bug sprays to be obNoxious and fly-swatters too disgusting, here is a simple, clean and fresh-smelling tip to ridding your house of the unwanted fly.

Windex. That's right. I was using Windex long before My Big Fat Greek Wedding promoted it as the answer to every problem.

I discovered this by accident years ago when I was doing dishes. We have a large window in front of our sink and if there were any flies in the house, they'd be on that window. The only thing closest to me was a bottle of Windex, so I sprayed it on the fly, and voila! It plummeted to the counter where I scooped it up with a napkin, threw it in the trash, then shined the window pane where I had sprayed the Windex.

No flies. No bug spray odor. Clean windows. Who could ask for more?

Posted by Mutti at 11:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Innocent by Reason of Insanity

A Texas jury found Andrea Yates innocent by reason of insanity for murdering her five children.

Yates, 42, will now be committed to a state mental hospital, with periodic hearings before a judge to determine whether she should be released. An earlier jury had found her guilty of murder, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.

This is the part that troubles me -- "with periodic hearings before a judge to determine whether she should be released." Released after drowning her FIVE children. That she could go free and possibly have more children is beyond comprehension.

Her husband weighs in:

"The jury looked past what happened and looked at why it happened," Rusty Yates told reporters outside the courthouse. "Prosecutors had the truth of the first day and stopped there. Yes, she was psychotic. That's the whole truth."
Some testified about her two hospitalizations after suicide attempts in 1999, not long after her fourth child was born. At the time, the family lived in a converted bus. Dr. Eileen Starbranch, a psychiatrist, again testified about how she warned Yates and her husband not to have more children because her postpartum psychosis would probably return.

The fact that he didn't stand trial for his part in this completely baffles me. That a man with five little children living in a converted bus (what woman wouldn't go insane?) would drive off to work every morning knowing his wife was suicidal, psychotic, unhinged, and depressed, makes him culpable for either negligent homicide or an assessory to his kids' murders (yes I watch Law & Order too).

The insanity defense is suspect for several reasons:

The state's key witness was Dr. Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist who interviewed Yates for two days in May. He testified that Yates killed the youngsters because she felt overwhelmed and inadequate as a mother, not for altruistic reasons.
Welner said that although Yates may have been psychotic on the day of the murders, it wasn't until the next day in jail that she talked about Satan, wanting to be executed and saving her kids from hell. He said the hallucination may have been triggered by the stresses of being naked in a cell on suicide watch and realizing what she had done.
Welner said Yates knew her actions were wrong and showed it in multiple ways: waiting until her husband left for work to kill them, covering the bodies with a sheet and calling 911 soon after the crime.

This is a sad day for justice.

Posted by Mutti at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"It's like...hard, you know, ...there are flies and its hot."

Jesus once said, "The poor you will always have with you." I'm convinced that he would also add, "and dumb blondes...and ingrates."

I'm sure by now most have seen or heard about the ungrateful Americans rescued by our tax dollars from amidst the Lebanon-Israeli conflict. My favorite was the ditz on CNN who said, "Yeah, it's basically like a floating refugee camp. I mean, there are a lot of flies." And when asked if she was "surprised that the Swedes had gotten there before the Americans" replied, "Um, no. I mean, if, like, you look at Hurricane Katrina, I'm not surprised it's taken us a long time."

It's not just Americans that have a sense of entitlement and little gratitude when rescued from death on another person (or millions of people's) dime. The Danes are apparently dealing with their own ingrates.

Still, not all Scandinavians were happy with the evacuations. Some complained of inadequate sleeping and toilet facilities in the locations they were housed before being flown home to Denmark, Thuesen said.

"We also had a few people complaining about the fact that you could not buy tax-free on the planes which we had chartered to take them home," he said.

Why do these stories remind me of the Mastercard commercials:

1 summer semester in Beirut: $11,000
Emergency evacuation in a time of war: $150 million in tax payer money
Emergency crews fielding complaints about cuisine and facilities: priceless.

There are some things money can't buy.

Except that ours did (buy their safety).

Posted by Portia at 05:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2006

Good News for Unborn Babies

A bill passed the Senate making it illegal to cross state lines with a pregnant minor in order to obtain an abortion without the parents' knowledge.

Of course, Kennedy weighs in with this stupifying remark:

"Congress ought to have higher priorities than turning grandparents into criminals," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

By law, schools cannot dispense an Advil without parental consent. A doctor cannot remove a splinter from a child's finger without parental consent. But liberal politicians are against parental consent in the case of an abortion. Of course they have the child's best interest at heart by using extreme examples of parental abuse:

No one knows how many girls get abortions in this way, or who helps them. But Democrats say the policy would be dangerous to pregnant teens who have abusive or neglectful parents by discouraging other people from helping them.
"We're going to sacrifice a lot of girls' lives," said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

The usual hysterics. These same politicians who get their knickers in a knot over the thought of even suggesting abstinence for teens are the very same who have no problem believing teens must abstain from smoking. Legislation has been written in all fifty states banning the sale of cigarettes to minors. But heaven forbid we suggest a teen abstain from sex until marriage. Why it's just not practical!

Senator Coburn, R-Okla, says it just right:

Abstinence is the best way to prevent teenage pregnancy, responded Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

"How many people really think it's in the best interest of young people to be sexually active outside of marriage? Does anything positive ever come from that?" Coburn asked.
Posted by Mutti at 07:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On the Darker Side...

Entertainment Weekly has a picture of Al Gore looking, well, positively sinister.

Very Mephistophelean.

Posted by Mutti at 05:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The IDF is closing in

Israeli's have sealed off a region considered a stronghold for Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon.

AP has the latest story, with of course, its famous omissions and slants.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Israel on the second leg of a Middle East tour, maintained the Bush administration's position that a cease-fire must come with conditions that make an enduring peace, saying the time has come for an urgent end to the violence hanging over the region.

"I have no doubt there are those who wish to strangle a democratic and sovereign Lebanon in its crib," Rice said before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem. "We, of course, also urgently want to end the violence."

I guess they just completely forgot to insert that Secretary Rice said the U.S. would only call for a cease fire after Hezbollah returned the Israeli soldiers to Israel. An honest mistake, I'm sure.

Let's hope Israel truly deals a crushing blow to this terrorist outfit. It would inevitably be felt by Iran and Syria. This business of terror must be crippled once and for all, and I, for one, think that Israel is more than capable of such a thing.

What also remains to be seen is whether or not Secty Rice used the term Lebanon's "crib" in an MTV manner or in its literal meaning.

Here's the rest of the AP story.

Posted by Portia at 06:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 24, 2006

Grammar 101

"Ifs and wishes are subjunctive!" For some peculiar reason my parents decided to drill that into my little head during my youth. To say, "I wish I was going with you", would result in a fine of 10 cents. Yet another fine would be imposed for saying, "If I was you, I wouldn't...". Money being precious to me in the '50's and early '60's, I remembered my subjunctive case well: "If I were..." I wish I were..."

All that said, Kerry should have known better.

"If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John's bar and grill in Detroit's Cass Corridor.

Senator, I hereby fine you $100.00.

Posted by Mutti at 07:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 22, 2006

On The Lighter Side

The war between Israel and Hezbollah/Hamas takes a back seat to this story:

The left is all a twitter about Presidential Groping because Bush gave Chancellor Angela Merkel a quick shoulder rub.

Here is yet another example of Bush's groping. Notice the President's left hand. And right hand.

It's completely odd to me how those who are creating hysteria over this are the same who were deaf and dumb when Clinton was actually groping women. Therein lies the difference between form and substance. I challenge those who are fainting from false indignation: look up the word grope.

But thank you all for a light (though momentary) diversion in this troubled world.

Posted by Mutti at 11:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2006

Finally! Someone got it right!

New York Sun columnist Dan Pipes know's what he's talkin' about. In reference to a quote from a Washington Post op-ed piece stating that the creation of the state of Israel was a "mistake" (context: The creation of a Jewish state in Muslim territory, so they say), Pipes says,

Well, I don't think Israel itself is a mistake. But I think Israelis, since 1993, have had a wrong understanding of their situation. Namely that through compromise, retreat and so forth, they can win the good will or at least the acquiesce of their neighbors and the conflict.

My view is that the Israelis had it right before 1993 in their aspiration for victory. Wars end with one side winning and one side losing. If you don't win, you lose.

Essentially, Pipes is saying that Israel should keep doing what it's doing right now: Fight to Win.

Posted by Nasa Nerd at 09:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

Hope for Lebanon

Every day at lunch, one of my co-workers and I pour over the latest events out of Lebanon. Having very like minds on the subject, we've become fast friends in the last couple weeks. (It helped that we went through our intensive training together.) She is a first generation American from Lebanon. She came to the United States when she was nine and became an American citizen as a young teenager. (We've also discussed the whole illegal issue as well...don't get her started. She's darn proud to be an American, legally.)

One of the more profound statements she has made to me in the last few lunch/Middle Eastern problem solving sessions has been that she and her whole family are pulling for Israel. They're tired of Hezbollah and other Islamic fascists ruining their otherwise beautiful country.

Sandy, or so she'll be called on this site, has explained in great detail what it is like in Lebanon, not only having grown up there, but also visiting for weeks at a time in the summers. Beirut, she explains, is almost entirely Christian. She said women could walk around in clothing almost as skimpy as the girls do out here without fear of death. (Amazing, I know.)

However, north and south of Beirut is densely muslim. She said driving around in those areas is frightening, even for someone who knows the language and culture. Along the sides of the roads there are billboards with suicide bombers portrayed as heroes. Their picture (the "before" shot, obviously) is displayed along side pictures of the wreckage they caused and scriptures from the Qu'ran praising their "sacrifice."

Sandy's greatest hope is that Israel would rid her native country of the influence of these thugs who have been ruining the beauty of Lebanon and threatening their very western way of life. I've heard this echoed by other Lebanese callers to local radio stations.

I haven't read much of the news lately, but something tells me this sentiment will most likely not making to the final editing board for the NYTimes.

Posted by Portia at 08:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Downed Blogs, Hezbollah, and Condi Rice

I blame my lack of posting on Moveable Type issues. I know those issues have only been in the last few hours of today only, but still. I blame MT.

It's almost intimidating to come back to blogging with all that is going on in the world. There are many more schooled in Israeli-Middle Eastern history and policies to comment on the finer things of this latest battle raging on the other side of the world, so I'm not sure I'll even attempt to tackle the Hezbollah war waging from that angle. I will, however, provide my two cents. And it really is that.

On another note, I heard a Republican congressman say he's attempting to put an initiative before the house to do away with the penny. So my two cents might be worthless coming up here really soon. We'd best get on with this.

My initial reaction to the war between the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and Israel was one of dread. And "not again." This reaction was followed by, "please get the job done this time." I'm sick and tired of battles that end prematurely due to global pressure to appease rabid Islamic fundamentalists. But if there is one country that does have the wherewithall to finish a job, it is Israel. They might have pulled out of Gaza (a huge mistake in my opinion), but they can only stand so many rocket attacks against their citizens (over 1,000 since the pullout) .

One of the more outrageous news items I've heard in the last week was the news that Condi Rice is urging the Israelis to "exercise restraint." I nearly had a full fledged conniption fit in the car on my way to work. This is the woman who brokered the deal to withdraw from Gaza, which resulted in not fewer, but more attacks against Israelis. Then a neighboring country commits an act of war by kidnapping IDF soldiers and Israel is supposed to "show restraint?" Unbelievable that the woman who helped get Israel into this whole mess is now advising them against defending their own land.

I can only imagine Secretary Rice's reaction had a foreign power advised her to "control herself" if she militarily responded to the constant murder-by-rocket-bombing of our citizens.

Maybe pretending she had nothing to do with this helps her sleep at night. Maybe she's willfully ignoring the fact that things have only worsened since the pullout. But this "do as I say, not as I do" tactic with one of our greatest allies is not going to fly. It's not like her and it's not like this administration when it comes to the war on terror.

With all due respect, Ms. Rice, let the Israelis do what they deem necessary to defend their tiny, hated without reason, vulnerable country.

Posted by Portia at 08:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 17, 2006

The new education reform is like the old education reform

Some bad news aimed at President Bush's push to fund independent (read school choice) initiatives took a serious blow this week. Or did it? After looking at some very basic numbers, I found the latter to be the case.

I was reading something over the weekend about edumication. It was from our infallible friends at the New York Times, and they offered a story on how "Public Schools Perform Near Private Ones in Study" (you can get the full report here). At first I thought this was a bad thing, really, until I went into the numbers.

As the article points out, they weren't just going at the facts carelessly, they went in and made sure that they were weighted as fairly as possible. I had a real quibble with the language they used, calling the other Christian schools Conservative Christian. I can find absolutely no reasoning for the distinction, at all, as there were no (0) contributing Liberal Christian schools. While there are Liberal Christian schools, that such distinction was made points to some sort of bias.

Inside the attached PDF, I didn't find anything besides the conspicuous labeling that was out of place. The numbers lined up with the private schools getting the same performance out of students as the public school systems. It was this sort of thing that prompted the NYT to print this stinger at the end of the story:

Two weeks ago, the American Federation of Teachers, on its Web log, predicted that the report would be released on a Friday, suggesting that the Bush administration saw it as "bad news to be buried at the bottom of the news cycle."

The deputy director for administration and policy at the Institute of Education Sciences, Sue Betka, said the report was not released so it would go unnoticed. Ms. Betka said her office typically gave senior officials two weeks’ notice before releasing reports. "The report was ready two weeks ago Friday,’’ she said, “and so today was the first day, according to longstanding practice, that it could come out."

At this, I flung myself into despair, as there were now proof that all my hopes and dreams of freedom of choice in education were ruined. Now there was nothing to do, but realize that the public school system was superior in every way, and to close all the Church schools. That's the only real, logical conclusion one can come to.

(Aside - Funny how I can use those words on everything but liberal bastions of power? No choice there. You WILL pay for Social Security, MedicAID, and other things that fail miserably.)

As I read through the careful analysis of the details, I came to a startling realization: the only real difference between the public and private school systems was that one was paid for by the parents, and the other was paid for by me. In another of a long string of hit pieces on Bush Administration policies, they'd given me an epiphany.

If you want a way of looking at it that's mildly chart-like, look at this:

Public School
Zillions of dollars
Private School
Nones of dollars

I hope this clears up any ambiguity in my position. Seriously, I find little reason to think that is bad news for independent schools. There's little reason that the underfunded private school system would be able to keep up with an institution, yet it either is the same, slightly behind, or even better.

If I were interested in true educational system reform, I'd do the same thing as every other institution: reward the programs that work, and get rid of the programs that don't work. Sure, it's going to destroy the labor unions that have kept our kids behind other developing nations, but that wouldn't be a bad thing.

But what do I know? I went to public school.

Posted by Macabee at 04:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2006

"Open War"

Hezbollah has now claimed they are ready for "open war" with Israel.

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah's leader said Friday that his group is ready for "open war" with Israel, and as his words were broadcast, guerrillas attacked an Israeli warship that had been firing missiles into southern Beirut.
"You wanted an open war, and we are heading for an open war," he said. "We are ready for it."
The Hezbollah leader also repeated a threat to hit the Israeli coastal city of Haifa and other towns farther south. "To Haifa? Believe me, beyond and beyond Haifa."
"You (Israelis) must take responsibility for what your government has done," he added. "You will soon discover how stupid and foolish your new government is."

This is the same Hezbollah that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 under Carter, holding the hostages until 1981 just after Reagan took office; the same terrorists that were responsible for the deaths of 241 American armed forces during Reagan's presidency.

Iran's Ahmadinejab has repeatedly threatened to "wipe Israel off the map".

For those who still say we need to make nice with the terrorists, and to understand the root causes, here is a timeline of attacks just at the U.S. This does not include the thousands of attacks on Israel, Malaysia, Indonesia or the Philippines. Just attacks against the U.S.

Posted by Mutti at 12:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

8 1/2 Mile

Because it's artsy, that's why.

Posted by Macabee at 10:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Safety takes a backseat...

Hey Kids! Good news! It's not cool to be safe!

That's right. Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback for the Pittsburg Steelers, admits he doesn't always wear his helmet, but that's it's not always necessary.

But you don't have to take my word for it (shameless Reading Rainbow plug...):

"That day I wasn't, I forgot it. I literally forgot it," he said. "You know there are times that, people that have been making a big deal for the last couple years about me riding first of all, and then me riding without a helmet, but it's one of those things that I ride with a helmet also. I do a little bit of both. If you don't wear a seat belt every time you ride in the car should I label you as a person who doesn't wear a seat belt? And unfortunately I happened to not have it on that day because I forgot it in the basement."

Maybe there was some brain-damage after all...

You can read more here.

This man is even dumber than I thought....

Ben Roethlisberger doesn't plan on doing public safety announcements for motorcycle or helmet safety following his accident last month.

"I don't think that's my place," the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback said in a taped interview aired Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"Some people feel that, you know, I probably should be doing that and being a big advocate for that," Roethlisberger said from Los Angeles. "But for me, I'm going to let people make their own decisions ... So I don't think you'll see me doing any kind of billboards or advertisements."

Posted by Nasa Nerd at 08:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 13, 2006

U.S. vetoes U.N.

The U.S. has vetoed the U.N.'s demand that Israel cease its offensive in Gaza.

The United States blocked an Arab-backed resolution Thursday that would have demanded Israel halt its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, the first U.N. Security Council veto in nearly two years.
The draft was reworked repeatedly to address concerns that it was too biased against Israel. Language was added calling for the release of an abducted soldier and urging the Palestinians to stop firing rockets at Israel.
Nonetheless, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said it was still unacceptable because it had been overtaken by events in the region — including the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah militants on Wednesday — and was "unbalanced."

Contrary to the msm, Israel was not the agressor here and certainly has every right to defend her own. Which she is doing as promised.

My question to those who sympathize and/or justify Palestinian acts of terrorism and kidnapping: what about the promise of peace by the Palistinians on the condition that Israel pull out of Gaza? Israel kept her part of the bargain. It was hailed as a giant step in the peace process and a huge victory for a future independent Palestinian state.

However, the Gaza pullout was not enough to sustain even a short-lived peace; the Palestinians made it very clear by their choice for Hamas, in their first free election, that nothing will bring peace until Israel ceases to exist.

Posted by Mutti at 03:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 11, 2006

Bloglings Updated

A few worthy blogs have been removed, due to inactivity. One more has been added.

All These Things is a fabulous blog that is certainly worth the time of all the readers who grace this site.

But don't take my word for it...

See for yourself.

Posted by Portia at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 10, 2006

Suffer the Little Children to come unto Me...

Today I had a very troubling encounter with an 8-year old in a summer program at a local Christian elementary school. This particular class had twenty-one 7 and 8 year-olds. Toward the end of the class I asked the students to begin cleaning their areas in preparation for recess. One young boy's response to my request the first time, second time and fifth time was, "I'm not finished yet." Being that I was busy with the other twenty children, my classroom aide stepped in and handled it.

It didn't go well between the two of them; Aaron (names have been changed to protect...) flew into a seething rage, wadded up his art paper and threw it into the trash all the while yelling at me and stomping around the room.

The rest of the class was dismissed, and I asked Aaron to stay behind and take a seat. Not about to get into a power struggle with an 8-year old, I began asking him questions: did he understand my instructions? What would happen if everyone ignored instructions during class? Then, wanting to get an idea of where he was coming from spiritually, I asked if he went to Sunday School. Here it came: (Italics were his emphasis.)

"I hate Sunday School! It's stupid!"

"Why is Sunday School stupid, Aaron?"

"Because it is. Just a bunch of stories from the Bible. They mean nothing. I'm not a Christian! My mom is obsessed with the Bible. She reads it every morning for an hour and it's meaningless. It means nothing. Nothing!."

In all the years I've taught, I can't remember this depth of contempt for God and His Word coming from such a young child. Noting that 'obsessed' and 'meaningless' aren't common vernacular for a second-grader, he obviously learned it from a significant adult in his life, and not his mother. We talked until he calmed down, then I sent him to the playground.

Today the challenge in teaching kids is the enormity of brokenness each of them experiences on a daily basis outside the classroom. The majority of kids come from divorced homes. Two of my 3rd grade girls were commiserating one afternoon about the guys their moms are living with, and wasn't it a bummer because they were both real jerks.

The family unit is disappearing; it is not unusual for children to be cared for by a sequence of live-in boyfriends (or girlfriends). Many are in daycare from 7 in the morning until 6 in the evening. Mom drops them off, and their nanny or babysitter often picks them up.

No stability. No security. Very little spirituality. Kids become what parents pour into them, which in turn requires sacrificing the need to 'find yourself' or 'doing your own thing'. Nurturing the next generation ensures a healthy generation. My exhortation to this young thirty-something generation of parents is: work out your differences with your spouse. Get counseling. Do whatever it takes. Parent your children. Together.

The best I can offer is that of a surrogate grandma. Teach them to embrace excellence and high standards, give them lots of love and affirmation, and most important of all, introduce them to the One who cares for them most.

Posted by Mutti at 09:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Rocket Science Redefined

This was too good to pass up. A perfect example of the quality of scientists our schools have been producing over the last 50 years.

The brilliancy of this man's experient will astound you, surprise you and, yes, take your breath away. He entitles it: "Can a jet fuel/hydrocarbon fire collapse a steel structure? An Experiment."

Hold on to your seats. This experiment proves the conspiracy theorists right about the real reason the WTC's came down (hint: it was not the jets). Prepare for a magnitude 8 paradigm shift. All that you have learned to this point will be questioned. All scientific methodology will be scrutinized. Be warned.

You read it here (and thank you LGF for posting it first).

Update: This same 'scientist' provides us with a diagram exposing the cover-up of Flight 93 . Conspiracy theorists definitely tune into a different frequency.

Posted by Mutti at 12:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2006

Hope for reform in the Middle East

HAMSA, or Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance, is an organization that every blogger who concerns himself with affairs of the Middle East should know about. They are a tremendous, young force of both Middle Eastern and American activists working hard to support the grassroots movements for reform in countries all across the Middle East and Africa.

The news from the Middle East seems never to be good, and certainly nowhere near hopeful. But HAMSA is on the inside track and has a message of hope. They whole heartedly believe that there is power in numbers, and the more people decry tyranny and thug dictatorial regimes, the closer we are to seeing those regimes topple.

To prove their point, they've recently added a photo gallery to their website. The pictures and captions that follow are not only moving, in that they document life in the east, but they're enough to convince even hardlined critics of the Middle East that there really is hope for reform. People have had enough. And corrupt governments don't give their citizens enough credit. It will be to their detriment but the world's benefit when those citizens finally overthrow the bonds of oppression that have long been accepted as the norm in that part of the world.

I'd copy over images, but I respect this site too much to do so. Please visit the gallery. It won't take you too long and will be time well spent. I assure you, if you are in anyway downtrodden over issues relating to that region of the globe, this site is for you.

Posted by Portia at 10:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2006

Viva L'Italia

Many who read my blog know of my admiration for the blog Port McClellan, so it is with great hesitation that I pen the following word: France?!?

That's right. I couldn't believe my eyes as I read the latest post from the Port: Five Reasons Americans Should Cheer for France in the World Cup.

To be clear, like Mr. McClellan, I have no vested interest in an Italian or a French win. In fact, I have no interest in the World Cup whatsoever. I'm with Mr. Last from The Weekly Standard--any game that promotes flamboyant displays of pain and injury for the express purpose of swaying a call is out in my book.

Also like MBMc, I am more Anglophile than Italianophile (a word?). I prefer Churchill over Mussolini, Locke and others over Machiavelli, and probably even Mary Queen of Scots over Nero. And while the French have contributed to our country in extremely significant ways, I'm going with the Italians on this one.

After all, it was the Italians who:

Found America.
Cristoforo Colombo and Amerigo Vespucci come to mind. While support from the French made the establishment of our government possible, we'd have nothing to fight for had a few Italians not landed on (or pointed toward) these shores lo those many years ago.

After borrowing a little from the Greeks, gave us the model for our democratic republic.
Sure we left out a few details, like ruthless dictatorship, but all in all, I'd say we have the Romans to thank for our system of political representation.

Perfected opera and the arts.
It doesn't get much better than Verdi or Puccini, Michaelangelo or Da Vinci. And then of course, we have the sciences, with masters such as Galileo and Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta. I mean, what Frenchman could come up with a name like that and invent the electrophorus?

In the first century, built one of the most incredible and advanced structures known to man.
This structure, the coliseum, subsequently made possible other similar stadiums making the viewing of our favorite American sports, football and baseball, a dream come true.

Gave us Latin.
Without it, the legal, medical and musical professions would be lost. What would life be like without phrases like "ergo propter hoc" or "quid pro quo," and of course everyone's favorite, "sit non doctissima coniux?" A bleak existence indeed.

I know I've already hit number five, but one could never diminish the feat of the Italians in inventing the substance that makes the world go round: gelato.

And those, ladies and gentlemen, in addition to a host of other reasons, are the very thoughts that should remain at the forefront of your mind should you choose to watch the World Cup match between France and Italy. It boils down to an old adage my dad always said, "Never trust a Frenchman."

(Readers be afterwarned that I am, in no way, a scholar in the subject of history. I, therefore, reserve the right to historical errors. Corrections welcomed.)

Silly me, I forgot to mention:
Dante, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Augustine, Botticelli, Giotto, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Joe Dimaggio, Vince Lombardi, Prada, Dolce & Gabana, Gucci, and the list goes on and on and on.

Posted by Portia at 09:53 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

American Generosity Helps Iraqi Children

Yet another wonderful story out of Iraq-- Brad Blauser, civilian employee stationed in Mosul, had an idea of providing wheelchairs to Iraqi children and the generosity of Americans brought it to fruition.

“There is an alarming rate of children in Iraq that suffer from birth defects, disease, or casualties of war,” said Blauser. “I wanted to make sure that these children are not restricted to their homes because they don't have any means to get outside and play with their friends.”
Blauser explained to his friends that they were in immediate need of wheelchairs, so he asked for 12, hoping to get the six he needed. At a cost of one to three thousand dollars each, he did not know what to expect. To his surprise the generosity of his friends began pouring in.
“I could not believe my eyes at how many we received,” said Blauser. “We ended up getting 31 pediatric wheelchairs delivered to help the children.”
According to Blauser, Federal Express shipped the first 12 wheel chairs for free. Then he was pleasantly surprised when Jane Crouch from Turner Broadcasting Network paid for the remaining chairs to be shipped to Iraq.
“I was just overwhelmed at the support we received from the people back home,” Blauser said. “Once again the American people have showed that they care about children they have never met, and it is truly inspirational.”

'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Matthew 25:40

Tip: LGF

Posted by Mutti at 03:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Homeland Security at Work

For all the liberal detractors of the methods used by Homeland Security, they certainly worked to avert a terrorist attack on the Holland Tunnel and the Manhattan Financial District.

The terrorists sought to drown the Financial District as New Orleans was by Hurricane Katrina, sources said. They also wanted to attack subways and other tunnels.
The plotters wanted to detonate a massive amount of explosives inside the Holland Tunnel to blast a hole that would destroy the tunnel, everyone in it, and send a devastating flood shooting through the streets of lower Manhattan.
The FBI discovered the plot by monitoring Internet chat rooms, where the aspiring terrorists discussed striking the U.S. economy, rather than causing mass casualties, a source said.
The News has learned that at the request of U.S. officials, authorities in Beirut arrested one of the alleged conspirators, identified as Amir Andalousli, in recent months. Agents were scrambling yesterday to try to nab other suspects, sources said.
Read the whole story here.

tip: Lucianne

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July 06, 2006

You've GOT to be Kidding

Ever wonder what one of my worst nightmares is?

Here ya go.

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July 04, 2006


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4th of July "Rocket's Red Glare"

What a great day for liftoff.

In a majestic Independence Day liftoff, Discovery and its crew of seven blasted into orbit Tuesday on the first space shuttle launch in a year, flying over objections from those within NASA who argued for more fuel-tank repairs.
NASA's first-ever Fourth of July manned launch came after two weather delays and last-minute foam trouble that added to worries that have dogged the space agency since Columbia was doomed by a flyaway chunk of fuel tank insulation foam 3 1/2 years ago.
Commander Steven Lindsey, an Air Force fighter pilot, was at Discovery's controls and aiming for a Thursday linkup with the international space station.
"I can't think of a better place to be here on the Fourth of July," radioed Lindsey. "For all the folks on the Florida east coast, we hope to very soon get you an up-close and personal look at the rocket's red glare."

Posted by Mutti at 12:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Breaking News...Korea has Launched Missile

Korea has apparently launched a missile according to Tokyo broadcaster NHK..

CNN reports Korea just launched a short-range missile test.

When our government draws a line in the sand, our expectation is for them to stand firm. Korea just crossed that line. Now we're waiting for a response. Let's hope we don't keep backing up and re-drawing the line.

Update: 7/4/06 2:10pm The missile landed in the Sea of Japan.

Update: 7/4/06 3:35 pm It wasn't just one missile, but three missiles; two scud-type missiles and a long-range missile. The long-range missile failed.

Posted by Mutti at 12:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 03, 2006

Honor to Whom Honor is Due

The American Flag
Joseph Rodman Drake

When freedom, from her mountain height
Unfurled her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robe of night
And set the stars of glory there.
She mingled with its gorgeous dyes
The milky baldric of the skies,
Then from his mansion in the sun
She called her eagle-bearer down
And gave into his mighty hand
The symbol of her chosen land.

Ben Stein's riveting performance in Ferris Bueller's Day Off isn't the only avenue by which that man has inspired me. His countless visits to the men and women who have fought to preserve our national identity, our freedom and our future has long convicted and inspired this little blogger. (You can read his account of one such visit here.)

So tomorrow, after work, I'm going to stop being inspired and convicted, and instead am going to act. I'm going to the Veterans Hospital in Los Angeles to pay tribute to men who presently suffer the enduring memory of their sacrifice that has enabled me to sit here, in peace, and write freely.

In the last few years, these men have had to look out their hospital windows to all manner of anti-war anti-victory, anti-Commander-in-Chief, anti-American protests. Protests attended by thousands--enough to shut down heavily trafficked boulevards.

But the scales have never been balanced. There haven't been thousands of patriotic American visitors bombarding the lonely hospital rooms to even out the score, to show these men they are not forgotten. It's truly heartbreaking, which is why Mr. Stein writes so frequently and so passionately about his visits. And why he so ardently encourages others to stop by and thank a soldier.

So I'm going to. I'm sure I'll be a basket case and they'll wonder what this unknown, emotional blonde is doing there. But I could stand to lose a little dignity for those who've lost life and limb. Plus, there's a reason waterproof mascara was invented. This would be one of them.

Have a lovely and safe and ultra-patriotic Independence Day.

Happy Birthday, America!

Posted by Portia at 08:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Who's in Your Gene Pool?

Everybody, according to Steve Olson, author of Mapping Human History.

With the help of a statistician, a computer scientist and a supercomputer, Olson has calculated just how interconnected the human family tree is. You would have to go back in time only 2,000 to 5,000 years — and probably on the low side of that range — to find somebody who could count every person alive today as a descendant.
It means when Muslims, Jews or Christians claim to be children of Abraham, they are all bound to be right.

This gave me a chuckle:

It also means that all of us have ancestors of every color and creed. Every Palestinian suicide bomber has Jews in his past. Every Sunni Muslim in Iraq is descended from at least one Shiite. And every Klansman's family has African roots.

Poetic justice for the aforementioned groups to be related to their archenemies.

Furthermore, Olson and his colleagues have found that if you go back a little farther — about 5,000 to 7,000 years ago — everybody living today has exactly the same set of ancestors. In other words, every person who was alive at that time is either an ancestor to all 6 billion people living today, or their line died out and they have no remaining descendants.

It's an interesting read.

Posted by Mutti at 04:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Cross

The Supreme Court just stayed the removal of a 29-foot cross at a Korean War veteran's memorial in San Diego.

Phil Thalheimer, chairman of the memorial association, said the ruling "borders on divine intervention."
"We were jumping up and down," he said. "For this to happen on July 3 — the day before our Independence Day, which is about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression — it couldn't have happened better."
Last year, San Diego voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot proposition to transfer the land beneath the cross to the federal government. The measure was designed to absolve the city of responsibility for the cross under the existing lawsuit. But a California Superior Court judge found the proposition to be unconstitutional.
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July 02, 2006

Iraq's Most Wanted

Saddam's wife and eldest daughter currently reside in the top twenty on the list of the Iraqi government's most wanted list.

Saddam's wife, Sajida Khairallah Tulfah, was No. 17, just behind the ousted leader's eldest daughter, Raghad. Sajida is believed to be in Qatar, and Raghad lives in Jordan, where she was given refuge by King Abdullah II.

Iraqi officials have long alleged that Saddam's relatives who fled the country have been financing insurgent groups linked to the former ruling Baath party. Raghad has played a leading role in organizing her father's legal defense against charges stemming from his 23-year rule.

For more on the misses and Zarqawi's burial, Yahoo's got the rest of the story.

Posted by Portia at 04:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Through valleys low and mountains high

And people say chivalry is dead.

Estonians reign in wife-carrying contests. Men brave near insurmountable obstacles to carry their wives, through thick and thin. So it's for a gold medal. Who's counting?

Posted by Portia at 04:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack