Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to have a Happy New Year

Go to bed early.

Get up early.

Spend five minutes in quiet meditation.

Fix youself a good cup of coffee.

Turn up your speakers, click on this picture below, and just try and be in a bad mood.

Happy New Day. Happy New Year. Happy New Decade.

Michael Peterson - Sure Feels Real Good

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Safe travels

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that our airport security system worked. If you think those words were taken out of context, listen to her say it in this interview on CNN.

Oh, and there's no reason to suspect this guy was part of any larger threat. Yep, he just picked up an exposive device at the newsstand in the airport. All by himself.

Oh, and there's no reason to believe he was improperly screened.

Nope, everything is hunky dory. She encourages the flying public to relax. She's got it covered.

And now she has some more good news for you.

Ms. Napolitano and President Obama have put forward a new candidate to head the TSA.


Because they believe it is the right of TSA employees to unionize. That's right, unionize the TSA.

They have the backing of President Obama, who promised on the campaign trail that collective bargaining and workplace protections "will be a priority" for his administration. "It is unacceptable for TSOs to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections -- this makes it more difficult for them to perform their jobs," Obama wrote in a letter to the American Federation of Government Employees in October. "Since 2001, TSA has had the unfettered ability to deny its workforce even the most basic labor rights and protections."

This administration does not get it.

They have one objective.

To create more Democrats.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Introducing the world's newest airline

Welcome to Freedom Air.

We are a new airline, designed for today's marketplace.

We are totally different from any airline you've ever flown.

We will make sure your air travel is on time, safe, free of hassles, and productive.

We will have a few different procedures, but you will appreciate the end result.

We believe air travel is not an entitlement. It is a privilege. And it is our job to protect the safety, sanity, time and individual freedoms of our passengers.

When you call us to book a reservation, you will need to provide us your passport information and your bank information. We do not accept cash. Particularly from Nigerian's who have recently spent time in Yemen and whose own father reported to the U.S. Embassy.

Once we have decided to accept your reservation, we will then ensure that your payment is coming from a bank or credit card that is legitimate.

And, we at Freedom Air will decide who flies and who doesn't. If you don't like it, fine. Walk. Take a bus.

For example, if you are a member of the ACLU, the group that contends that all-body scanners at airports are an invasion of privacy, you ain't flyin' with us.

If you are from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia or other places where radical Islamists are allowed to live and prosper, you should make other plans.

If you have a child under 6 years old, you can leave them with grandma. No screaming kids allowed. It obviously makes the kids unhappy, not to mention the other 300 folks on the plane.

You will appreciate our efficient check-in system.

No carry on anything.

No purses. No computer bags. No handheld anything including your boarding pass, which we will stamp on your forehead. This includes cellphones, PDAs, smartphones, iPods, etc. The stuff assholes refuse to turn off after repeated requests by flight attendants.

When you get to our check-in area, you will be handed a Hefty bag. Strip. Naked. Put your clothes and shoes into the bag.

You will then meet our friendly team of Freedom Sniffers. These are our canine friends that will sniff every orafice you have to make sure you aren't hiding anything. If the Sniffers even sense you are fooling around, you will then be given the shocker by our team of cold-handed proctologists.

Once you have passed security, we understand some of you may have modesty concerns. We will have complimentary pasties and g-strings. For an extra $3.99, we have the amazing twirling-tassle pastie. And for just $9.99 more, the Swarovski crystal bedecked g-string.

Your Hefty bag of garments will be loaded on the plane, and will be given back to you once we reach our destination.

Once on board, you will marvel at the technology there to keep you in touch. Every seat has an internet connected computer and telephone so you can stay in touch all along the way.

And comfort. Every passenger gets their own blanket and pillow that is yours to keep. In fact, we insist you take it with you. Nobody wants to share germs with whoever sat there before.

And you will appreciate the added sense of security provided by our flight crew. They are all former Special Ops folks and have worked for Xe, Blackwater, and the CIA. And nope, they will not be naked. And they are all armed six ways to Sunday.

But, you will all be served a real meal with real utensils. You want to try to take one of our birds over with a butter knife? Our team of flight safety folks will be happy to accomodate you. And you will then be passed thru a wood chipper and deposited as compost in a convenient area from 30,000 feet.

Imagine the safety you will sense. Imagine the time you will save. Imagine the frustrations you will avoid.

Arrive safe. On-time. Relaxed.

And we have a simple fare system that anyone can understand. You won't have to worry if the knucklehead next to you paid half what you did.

We charge by the mile. We know that's much different than say, oh, a fare of $800 to fly from Dallas to Northeast Arkansas when the same airline will charge you $300 to fly from Dallas to Seattle.

Nope, common sense wins out here at Freedom Air.

Come fly with us. Our in-flight entertainment this month is the movie Fitna that has been banned from distribution on the internet due to concerns about retaliation from radical Islamists.

And for our longer flights, a made for Freedom Air movie premiere, The Satanic Verses, starring Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Most Amazing Gift

The issue that we all must deal with is our acceptance or rejection of the Messiah.

Messiah is Hebrew. Christ is Greek. Same meaning.

It is what differentiates Christians (Christ in us) from all other religions.

And, the virgin birth story causes many to question.

It is just too hard to imagine.

It is either true or not.

Either Y'shua (who we call Jesus) was born of a virgin and is the Son of God, or He is not.

That is the question that causes wars. Quandrys. Lost souls.

If He was just a prophet, then the history of the world changes.

The Bible records the story of Maryum (who we call Mary) being a virgin and giving birth to Y'shua.

So does the Qur'an. Or Koran.

In the 19th Sura, here is the official English translation:

[19:16] Mention in the scripture Mary. She isolated herself from her family, into an eastern location.

[19:17] While a barrier separated her from them, we sent to her our Spirit. He went to her in the form of a human being.

[19:18] She said, "I seek refuge in the Most Gracious, that you may be righteous."

[19:19] He said, "I am the messenger of your Lord, to grant you a pure son."

[19:20] She said, "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me; I have never been unchaste."

[19:21] He said, "Thus said your Lord, `It is easy for Me. We will render him a sign for the people, and mercy from us. This is a predestined matter.' "

You can check it yourself.

And you can also check the census of world religions.

Of the 6 billion of us, 2.2 billion are Christian. 1.3 billion are Islamic.

So, 3.5 billion of the 6 billion believe in the Bible or the Qur'an.

And both books say that Maryum gave birth to Y'shua as a virgin, via the Spirit of God.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Muslims who Get It

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is an American Muslim.

I'll bet you will be amazed by and appreciative of his views.

He runs an organization called the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

Not to be confused with CAIR or other apologists.

Here is the website.

Listen to him speak.

He gets it.

Radical Islam is a Muslim problem that needs to be stopped by Muslims.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I gots a vine growin' out my jo-jo

Some steak house owners started advertising themselves as "Ten Best Steakhouses in America" years ago in airline inflight magazines. That was a lie. But it apparently worked.

And, it started a regrettable trend. Now in those magazines, you see lists of the "best" Italian restaurants. "Best" seafood restaurants. And so on. All lies. But it must be working.

So, now you see ads listing the "best" doctors in the country. Says who?

Anyway, on a flight yesterday, I perused one of these doctor ads. And one of these blowhards listed his specialty, and it was a new one for me.

Cosmetic vaginal surgery.

I blinked twice, looked again, and yep, he is a specialist in cosmetic vaginal surgery.

Apparently, I've been living in the country for too long. This is a big industry.

Billions of dollars spent by women getting their hoo-hoos nipped and tucked. One doctor in Los Angeles reports doing over $250k a month in tootchie touch-ups.

(I'm wondering if Obamacare is going to cover this. Afterall, it is reported that Nancy Pelosi has had so many facelifts she has to raise her left arm to whiz. But, she can do it standing up, so there is an upside.)

Women, if there was ever any question that you were stronger than men, this proves it beyond a doubt.

First, you have made it popular and expected to allow someone to pour hot wax in your lap and then experience a scene like the Steve Carell chest wax job in "The 40 Year Old Virgin".

Men get squeamish just thinking about the possibility.

And now, you are giving lots of money to doctors who promise to take a knife to your cootchie snorchers.


But this research made me wonder, are there men stupid enough to allow someone to cut on their willie?

And by George, there are.

I swear the following is reprinted exactly as it appears on

By Brian Alexander contributor
updated 1:08 p.m. CT, Thurs., June 9, 2005

When I first interviewed Toronto doctor Robert H. Stubbs way back in 1994, he was a pioneer of a new surgical technique that could add length to a man’s penis. He learned the basics of the procedure from a Chinese physician named Dr. Long.

Yes, Stubbs. Long. Penis lengthening.

So there are a few. But many fewer men going for johnson overhauls than women getting their lady gardens hoed.

And here's why. Men, read the following and see if your face doesn't squinch up.

"The operation also requires extensive after-care, including, insists Stubbs, a regimen of hanging weights off your ding-dong, and even after all that the results are not typically spectacular."

This cosmetic vaginal surgery information would have been handy for a friend of a friend a few years back.

This fellow was doing his residency in an emergency room in New Orleans.

A middle aged woman was in one of the rooms when the young doctor walked in.

"What brings you to the hospital today?"

"I gots a vine growin' out my jo-jo."

The young doctor wasn't familiar with this ailment, so he suggested he give her a thorough examination. He took out his stethoscope and began listening to her lungs and heart.

The woman grabbed the end of the scope and speaks into it, "Doctor, I said I gots a vine growin out my jo-jo."

Young Marcus Welby then had the woman point to her jo-jo, cause he couldn't recall this term from anatomy class.

Once the area was identified, he indeed did see a vine.

Seems this lady had birthed thirteen children and her insides had started to come outside.

So she had placed a potato in her mail slot to keep everything in place.

Would love to know how one of the ten "best" doctors in America would have handled that one.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Bully

So Iran has started their grab of oil with the takeover of an oilfield in Southern Iraq.

How amazing. The Shia in that area are more closely aligned with, and intimidated by, Iran than the feeble Iraqi government.

Watch the dominoes fall across Southern Iraq. Then Kuwait. Then the island states.

Dubai will be easy prey.

The Strait of Hormuz will become a chokepoint.

The Sauds are already on the phone asking for help from their biggest customer and biggest protector.

President Obama is soon to have a tough choice.

Convert our remaining forces in Iraq into a force to blunt Iran.

Or, say hello to oil priced by the Ayatollah.

I don't expect he'll be offering free coffee with a fill-up. At $5 per gallon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Congresswoman that Gets It

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represents the 18th district of Florida, which includes Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and all the way to Key West.

She fled Cuba with her family to escape the oppressive Communist regime of Fidel Castro.

Perhaps it is her first hand knowledge of oppression that makes her such a strong advocate for protecting our freedoms.

Go get 'em, Ileana. We need more smart, tough freedom fighters like you.

Here is an op-ed piece she wrote that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

December 14, 2009
Hit Iran where it hurts
The U.S. must be prepared to use every weapon in its political and economic arsenal. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act could provide such a tool.

By Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

December 14, 2009

Behind closed doors, the Iranian regime probably cannot conceal its surprise and delight at what it has gotten away with. For more than 10 years, Tehran has succeeded in deceiving foreign governments, thwarting nuclear inspectors and keeping sanctions weak and feckless. During that time, Iran has not broken stride in expanding its nuclear program, and it has now announced plans for 10 new enrichment facilities.

Tehran's greatest feat has been its success in lulling global leaders -- including many in the U.S. administration and Congress -- into complacency, based on the belief that the threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons program can be negotiated away through engagement and concessions by the West. This approach also largely ignores the totality of Iran's multifaceted threat.

The range and accuracy of Tehran's ballistic missiles continue to improve, with U.S. forces and allies in the Middle East and Europe now within striking distance. Iran is also quickly accumulating an array of advanced conventional weapons in its effort to dominate the Persian Gulf and the world's oil supply.

Iran is designated by the U.S. as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and it is supporting extremist organizations throughout the Middle East and beyond, reaching even into Latin America. Iran has also assumed a major role in fueling the insurgency in Iraq and is backing Taliban militants in Afghanistan.

Many U.S. officials and congressional leaders seem content to engage in vague and open-ended talks with Iran, acting as though we have a reservoir of time to work with before the Iranian threat reaches critical mass. Yet, in June, the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, estimated that Iran had already amassed a stockpile of nearly 1,400 kilograms of enriched uranium, which it could use in a "dirty bomb" or pass along to extremist groups or other rogue states.

Just last month, the IAEA made the startling revelation that Iranian scientists may have tested advanced components of nuclear warheads. Nuclear experts note that such technology, once mastered, would allow for the production of smaller and simpler nuclear bombs, and would make it easier for Iran to put a nuclear warhead on a missile. This represents a step that few in the West believed possible.

The IAEA also issued a report last month containing urgent new findings. One was that yet another camouflaged nuclear facility, this time at the recently disclosed Qom site, was at "an advanced state of construction." With additional installations widely suspected, who knows what will be uncovered next.

The IAEA should immediately cease all technical assistance to Iran and should suspend Iran's membership privileges in the organization. Until such actions are taken, the U.S. should not send one more penny of taxpayer funds to the IAEA that benefit Iran's nuclear program.

The regime in Tehran knows only hardball, and nothing less than overwhelming and crippling sanctions could produce a reversal of its threatening programs and policies.

That is why the United States must be prepared to act alone, if necessary, and with every weapon in its political and economic arsenal. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act is one such tool. This legislation, which I coauthored, has the support of more than 300 members of the House, and it is urgent that this bill reaches the president's desk before the end of the year. It targets one of Iran's major weaknesses -- namely, its dependency on foreign gasoline and other refined petroleum products. By placing financial sanctions on U.S. and foreign companies providing these crucial resources, Iran's economic lifeline would be severed and its already weak economy would crumble.

But these sanctions must be coupled with action on all fronts. The U.S. must also specifically reject Iran's claim to an inalienable right to produce nuclear fuel. We must strengthen existing laws to prevent the transfer of prohibited materials and technology to Iran. Responsible nations should impose a ban on travel by senior Iranian regime officials and their families to Europe and the U.S. We should strengthen bilateral and multilateral efforts to shut down accounts of those doing business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or its affiliated entities; deny Tehran access to euros and U.S. dollars; and freeze the assets of those who violate U.N. sanctions on Iran. Concurrently, we should offer our full support to the Iranian people and increase funding for Iran democracy programs.

The weakness of recent actions has been daunting. The IAEA mustered only a weak censure of Iran; the U.N. Security Council has said that it was disappointed; the White House has maintained its wait-and-see approach; and the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act continues to languish because many remain true believers in the mirage of engagement. However, the threat is immediate, and the time to act has arrived.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who are "We the People"?

Ever seen this horrific image?

Those are the bodies of two Americans hanging from a bridge in Fallujah, Iraq on March 31, 2004.

These two Americans were killed with two others as they provided a security escort for a catering company. They worked for Blackwater.

Hand grenades were thrown at their vehicle. As they exited the burning cars, they were hit with small arms fire. Once dead, they were doused with gasoline, dragged thru the streets of Fallujah, mutilated, and then two of them were hung from the bridge. The other two were eventually found in the Euphrates River.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that in ” a macabre and murderous town fete, locals cheered as one corpse was attached to a car tow rope and pulled triumphantly up and down the main road….”

The article noted that “In terms of its sheer bestial violence, the attack on the Blackwater operatives was unprecedented….”

Dead were Scott Helvenston, Jerry Jerko, Wesley Batalona, Michael Teague.

Real young men. Doing a legal job. Sons, brothers, husbands, fathers. Hung like charred rats for the world to see.

The mastermind of this attack was Ahmed Hashim Abed. He was code named "Objective Amber", and has been one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq since 2004.

On September 3 of this year, Navy SEALs captured Abed.

Abed has now complained that during his capture and detention by the SEALs, he was punched in the stomach, and that he also sustained a bloody lip.

Abed made his complaint to Iraqi authorities to whom he was handed over to by the SEALs. He is now back in American custody at an unidentified location.

And amazingly, the U.S. Navy has now arraigned three SEALs based on Abed's complaint.

Julio Huertas, 28, Mattthew McCabe, 24, and Jonathan Keefe, 25, will face a court martial on this in early 2010.

Now imagine what these young men had to risk to capture Abed. And, know that they knew what he had done in Fallujah and other places.

The guy that lit the fuse on all of this, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind 9/11, has now been guaranteed a trial on U.S. soil. With all rights granted by the U.S. judicial system.

Meanwhile, three Navy SEALs, young men that risked their lives to capture murderous scumbags like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ahmed Hashim Abed, are living in limbo facing the possibility of being demoted, potential brig time, and a dishonorable discharge.

And, they will be tried in the military system. The place where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was to have been tried until Attorney General Holder decided to treat him to the benefits of the American justice system.

If this bothers you, you can do something about it.

There is a Facebook page to show your support for these heroes.

And, you can write your Senators and Representatives. Already, two letters have been sent to Defense Secretary Gates and the head of Special Ops by bipartisan groups of Congressmen. We need this idiocy to stop.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

When and how did foreign enemies of the United States become part of "we the people"?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Student Athletes

Tennessee football recruits Corey Miller (80) and Brandon Willis pose with Tennessee recruiting hostesses Dahra Johnson (left) and Lacey Earps after a game at Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., on Sept. 25.

The University of Tennessee football program is under investigation for illegal use of hands.

And these young women are majoring in sports management. Hoping to work directly under Tiger Woods.

Nothing newsworthy about any of this. Been going on since an athlete named Samson got recruited by the Philistine Lions.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Is It Ever a Good Time to Die?

Feelin' allright?
I'm not feelin' too good myself.

-Dave Mason, 1968

One of my best friends lost his mom last night.

Another friend lost his wife yesterday.

My mom went home seven years ago this month.

Pete left two years ago in November.

I'm a bit stove up at the moment with sadness for my friends and memories of my own.

Why is it harder this time of year?

Or, is it?

None of us gets out of here alive.

Why don't we prepare ourselves better?

The birth of a child is filled with months (sometimes years) of excited anticipation. We celebrate the event every year.

But how often do we talk about the certain death that is to come for each of us? What are we afraid of?

Like, not talking about it is going to make it not happen?

We all have a terminal disease. It's called life.

There are lots of grief counselors. Lots of grief songs. Lots of grief books. I've listened to and read lots of them.

And I've learned there are no magic words to heal what ails me.

Maybe there should be a new movement started to get us ready for the inevitable.

Give death a new name. Rebrand it. Learn to celebrate it's normalcy.

Call it something catchy. Like, Culmination Day.

Teach it to our children. Sing songs about it. Write poems about it.

So that it doesn't shock us. So that it doesn't leave those of us behind with such an emotional toll.

Maybe we have a warped sense of our mortality. In a world where it seems that nothing is impossible, how can something like death not be avoided?

We live so well. Maybe too well. We live healthier, longer.

Maybe we need to get our heads (or at least mine) out of the sand and realize the circle of life includes us. And mine. And me.

I hear you Pete. Yes, Mom.

"Get off my ass and quit with the pity party."

Thanks. I will.

'Cause there's too much to do before I die.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fur is Flying

I live in Texas. Have a lost a cat or two over the years.

For all I know, Cruella de Ville may be wearing them to the next Dallas big-haired, big-busted, big-blonded celebritycharityathon.

But I suspect coyotes.

Having two new cats, I decided to do a little research.

Good golly Miss Molly, what a mess I've stumbled onto.

Who'd a thunk there would be spin-meisters of Paul Begala's level and high-pitched caterwauling between rival animal rights groups who have latched on to the coyote versus cat (or vice versa) issue.

So, here's how it started.

A couple of professors published an article on coyotes and cats.

These two professors surely didn't expect the dust-up to follow. All they were doing was their required "publish or perish" work to continue their search for tenure.

Here are the highlights.

Journal of Wildlife Management 73(5):683-685. 2009
doi: 10.2193/2008-033

Observations of Coyote–Cat Interactions

Shannon E. Grubbsa and Paul R. Krausman1b

aGraduate Research Assistant, University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources, Biological Sciences E 325, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA

bBoone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife, Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA


Coyotes (Canis latrans) pose a risk to domestic cats (Felis catus). We captured, radiocollared, and tracked 8 coyotes from November 2005 to February 2006 for 790 hours in Tucson, Arizona, USA. We observed 36 coyote–cat interactions; 19 resulted in coyotes killing cats. Most cats were killed in residential areas from 2200 hours to 0500 hours during the pup-rearing season. Single coyotes were as effective killing cats as were groups (>1) of coyotes. Documented cases of predators killing cats could encourage cat owners to keep their cats indoors and assist wildlife managers in addressing urban wildlife issues.

Thanks for pointing this out, perfessers.

And yippee for the good kitty surviving or better in half of these altercations.

As I continued reading the Google postings on this topic, this article keeps popping up.

Guess who's latched on to this "research" and is now peddling it? The American Bird Conservancy.

Yep. The good folks at the ABC are using this info to scare cat owners into never letting their cats outdoors.

Guess why.

Cats like to chase birds. And sometimes, the cats get one.

"Birding organizations such as the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), which estimates that free-roaming cats kill more than 100 million birds each year, were quick to encourage cat owners to keep cats inside", reports the usually more reliable Christian Science Monitor that has now swallowed the hook on this non-story.

If one of my none to excitable cats would just put a scare into the grackles I would give him a pound of fresh lox.

But the story is not nearly over.

Oh, no. The good folks at the ABC have now offended the good folks at the Feral Cat Coalition.

“The bird people are always exaggerating the danger cats pose,” says Carol Ameer, treasurer of the San Diego-based Feral Cat Coalition.

The perfessers must be amazed that their half-assed study of 36 coyotes has now become real live research that these other Nimrods have glommed onto and turned into a bitch fight that has nothing to do with coyotes.

Seems to me the obvious missing headline in all of this is:

"Coyotes Getting Their Asses Kicked by Pussies."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Winter isn't here. But it sure feels like it.

So while we're whining about it, here's a story that will make it all better.

A dear friend is known to his friends as The Doctor.

He makes his living in the apparel industry. But he has this presence that makes it easy to sell him to the unsuspecting as The Doctor.

He has been a neurosurgeon that has performed the only successful brain transplant, a heart surgeon when it helped us get a table in New York, and at least once a plastic surgeon specializing in breast implants.

So anyway, The Doctor was on a weeks long sourcing trip in China.

He returned to his home near Green Bay, Wisconsin one really cold winter night.

He slipped and spun his two wheel drive Lexus home from the airport. It's after midnight on a day that began in Shanghai.

Jet-lagged, exhausted, he lugs his bags to the front door up the icy walkway and narrowly avoids falling on his butt. (Oh, that's right. He was also once a proctologist.)

Unlocks the front door and has that "I made it home" euphoric moment.

Stumbles inside, sits on the couch, and begins to peel off the layers of clothing.

Then he hears a dripping sound from the kitchen.

Begins looking for the drip, can't find it, but notices that it is really cold in the house. He can see his breath in the kitchen.

Checks the thermostat. The heat is set for on, but there is no heat in the house.

About this time, nature calls.

Goes to the downstairs toilet. It's frozen.

Goes to the upstairs toilets. They're frozen.

Now nature is calling more urgently, and it has become a conference call.

The Doctor is in agony.

He is a dignified, discreet man. In all the times we've played golf together, I've never seen him take a whizz outside.

So he now faces Hobson's choice. Go outside for relief, or don't and deal with the consequences.

He makes the hardest decision of his life, and walks out the back door.

It is blessedly dark. He finds a sheltered spot behind the wood pile.

Drops trou.

And then the motion detector floodlights on the outside of his house come on. He remembers installing them a few weeks ago for added protection while he traveled.

He feels like he's on "Cops".

He hurries to finish his business. At which time it occurs to him there is no Charmin' to squeeze out behind the woodpile.

As he sits their squatting in his embarrassment and anguish, he notices the dog. The neighbor's dog has been watching this all. He convinces himself the dog will tell.

The Doctor goes back into the house.

It's freezing. It is two in the morning.

He calls the heating guy, who actually answers.

The Doctor is told that it's probably just a pilot light that had blown out.

The heating guy comes in the middle of the night. Fires up the heater.

Then delivers this news.

"Your pipes are going to start busting as it warms up. First will be the upstairs bathrooms, and then downstairs. If you have anything you don't want ruined, you might want to start moving it now. You have about 30 minutes."

The Doctor recalls all the precious stuff in the basement. Family heirlooms. Photos.

He moves like Speed Racer up and down the stairs to get everything in the basement to the already stuffed detached garage.

He moves the furniture around to try to get it as best he can out of harm's way.

Then sits on the couch, and listens as the pipes begin to groan. Then watches as the water starts to come thru the celing from upstairs bathroom one. Then upstairs bathroom two.

And then the pipes below him on the first floor go.

The good news is he can't hear the dripping any more in the kitchen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Christmas Story

Tis the season.

It snowed today in Dallas.

Lights are up.

The tree is in the house.

The house is full of kids and grandkids.

Fire burning, and it is the best kind of warm.

The manger scene is up on the bookcase.

I picked up my two year old grandson and took him to the manger scene to explain.

"Ollie, this is the manger where Jesus was born. This is the angel overhead. Can you say angel?"


"Ollie, do you know who this is? Her name is Mary."


"Oliver, this is Joseph."


"And do you know who this is?"

"Baby Jesus".

"You are so right, baby boy. Do you know what baby Jesus did?"

"He farketed. And pooped."

To a two year old looking at a plastic replica of a baby in a loose diaper that was fully man and fully God, his perspective may be the most honest yet.

It isn't recorded in Scripture. But it is now in my head.

And I believe it is true.

Thank you, Ollie.

The Christmas Story just got so much more real, human, believable and honest.

Where are the leaders?

The job of leaders is to give their people the resources needed to succeed.

General McChrystal, men and women in uniform, how encouraged you must feel.

The man on the ground, the man responsible for killing the enemy and protecting the lives of all that report to him, has reported we are losing.

He requested a minimum of 42,000 more.

The knuckleheads in Washington came up with 30,000.

And left our military in Afghanistan waiting for months for their collective genius.

President Obama, if this is a war "we cannot lose", then why?

You should have sent everything asked for, and more.

Read the book, Kill bin Laden. Ask those men that were there that day when we had him surrounded how many they think it will take today to scour him out of those badlands.

And Sir, what will be done to the Pakistanis if they don't man up?

And Sir, what will be done about Iran and their weaponry being sent into Afghanistan?

And Sir, why did you leave yourself (as my grandpa would say) with "your ass flapping in the breeze because you weren't smart enough to cover it"?

You send less than requested. And announce when we will be leaving.

Fighting an enemy that marks time in epochs, not months, what do you think their reaction might be? I'll bet the birth rate in the border region goes up considerably in the next 18 months.

Why fight and waste resources? They will just wait. Hide. Spend time with the Mrs. Mullah. Let it get real quiet.

Then it will look like your strategy was just perfect.

And then they will start all over.

Trying to satisfy every possible special interest group around the world has lead to this muddling strategy.

Sir, our objective has to be to win.

Your job is to lead us to that victory.

That is the only measurement that counts.

Monday, November 30, 2009

When you care enough to send the very best

President Obama,

Your job is to protect the United States.

And as Commander in Chief, your job is to send our military into conflicts with overwhelming force. That is THE advantage that the United States has.

We sent 10,000 troops to topple a Marxist regime in Grenada. A country with a population of 100,000.

We sent 28,000 troops plus 300 aircraft to topple Noriega in Panama. They had 47,000in their military.

We have no friggin' idea how many we are fighting in Afghanistan. The borders are pourous. The jihadists from around the world are many.

Since when do we have to announce how many and when they will arrive?

President Obama, please do not send not enough.

This issue could have been resolved nine years ago had we sent enough.

The recent Congressional report says, "We had bin Laden in our grasp."

The book, "Kill bin Laden", written by the head of Delta force in Tora Bora describes in great detail how we could have cut the head off the snake. But without explanation, after much bravery and skillful fighting, we allowed the sumbitch to walk into Pakistan.

President Obama, you have said you intend to finish the mission.

So, finish it. Do not be cowed by politics.

Lead from the front.

These bastards want to kill you, your family and everything you stand for. And they have proven that they will go to the ends of the earth to do that.

Stand up, President Obama.

The world needs to see it. Radical Islam needs to see it. The United States needs to see it.

Say what you must tomorrow night. But for God's sake, do the right thing.

Don't send our men and women on an unfinished errand.

End it. Stomp it out.

That's the kind of change we voted for.

The Really Scary News

Lots of headlines in the past few days. All worthy of much discussion.

"We had bin Laden in our grasp."

"Iran plans 10 nuclear sites."

"Swiss vote to ban minarets."

"President Obama to present Afghanistan plan Tuesday night."

But if you missed this one, buckle up.

"Iranian Revolutionary Guards take control of Iran's Navy."

This message means the most violent of the violent Iranian society now have control of the Navy. And there is only one target. The Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran is giving the world the middle finger and saying, "Try and stop us. Because we can and will stop the flow of oil from the middle East."

Check, Mr. President and U.N.

What's your next move gonna be?

Friday, November 27, 2009

I'm still shakin' it, boss, I'm still shakin' it

"Small town...not much to do in the evenin'"

"I hope you ain't going to be a hard case."

"When a man's mother dies and, uh, he gets to thinking about her funeral and paying respects. Before he knows it, his mind ain't right."

"Nothin'. A handful of nothin'. You stupid mullet head."

"Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand."

"What we have is a failure to communicate."

"I can eat fifty eggs."

"Nobody can eat fifty eggs."

"They're just little ole bird eggs... Fish eggs practically!"

"Alright, stand back you pedestrians, this ain't no automobile accident."

"That's it. That's the end of it."

"Why you got to go and say fifty eggs for? Why not thirty-five or thirty-nine?"

"I thought it was a nice round number."

"It's like a ripe melon what's gettin' ready to bust."

"You're gonna hafta kill me..."

"I'll radio the local hospital and let them know you're bringing him in."

The Devil's eggs they were.

...and all that was before the turkey leg, dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and macaroni and cheese.

I lapsed into a coma before pie.

"You make a bad enough mistake, and then you gotta deal with the Man. And he is one rough old boy."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Miracle Cat

Bob the cat was our soldier to protect us from mice, snakes, etc. for at least 7 years.

Bob disappeared this past summer.

As She who will be reckoned with explains, he was either eaten by a wild thing, or he has a new happy life with a new cat.

That explanation gives me peace.

About a month ago, She and I were at Petsmart in Manhattan Beach. An adoption agency had a bunch of cats there for the taking.

There was a big orange cat that looked so much like Bob it was amazing.

The only difference was he had a bit of white tipping under his nose and on his front paws.

He was Bob's angel.

So I brought him back to Texas.

I let him out of his travel satchel over a month ago.

We haven't seen him since.

When your daughter adopts an animal, you know that losing it is not an option.

Over the past month, we did everything we knew to do to flush him out. Nothing worked. He had vanished.

We had a sense that he was still here. But, we also had a sense that he might have met a hungry coyote.

This has been like chasing a ghost. Every now and then, we would think we had seen an orange tail. Not a whole cat. Just the tail.

Today, my son-in-law called me and said he had seen the cat. Not a tail. Not a ghost. The cat.

So this evening, me and Peanut and Sadie and Zac and the two grandsons went into the garage.

As one wise catwoman advised, we used tuna as the bait.

And sure enough, he emerged.

Whole. Healthy. Purring.

He has been hiding in a pallet of boxes that are to be used for the Unsung Hero Fund.

Bobby Angel is alive.

Thank you, catwoman.

Thank you, Lord. I didn't kill the cat.

Thank you Bob the original.

Thank you Bobby Angel for emerging.

We are going to have a long, full life together.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mr. Purple

The only two words that rival "Snow Day" for a kid in school are "substitue teacher".

You know the substitute really can't teach, so it's basically one great long play day.

In fifth grade, we got the word that a substitute would be coming in.

Bobby Spurlin and I hatched an excellent plan.

We switched identities.

Bobby and I were great friends, but very different. He had a well earned reputation for hijinks. And academics were not his focal point. He majored in fun at Mount Olive Elementary.

It started when she called roll. Oh what fun to see Bobby raise his hand and say "here" when my name was read. What more fun to do it myself when his name was read.

It was on.

Bobby and I were in different reading groups.

His group was called together first, so I went in and pretended to stumble around trying to read the Hardy Boys book. She took pity on poor Bobby and tried to help me say the big words.

It was all going so well. Bobby attended my reading group. Then the principal walked in to see how things were going.

Bobby and I had some 'splaining to do. And it didn't work.

I really hated writing those notes to mom and dad and getting them to sign them.

I think Spurlin got his older brother to sign his.

She who will be reckoned with had a substitute teacher this week.

"The meanest substitute teacher, ever. He ruined my world."

And I think I know why.

His name is Mr. Turple.

Oh, Lordy. Why didn't he change his name long ago.

How would you like to go thru life as "Mr. Turple"?

Apparently, he doesn't either.

After he wrote his name on the board, a couple of the boys quickly touched his third rail and called him "Mr. Purple".

So far as I know, no notes to mom and dad had to be written.

But had I received one, I would have signed it "Mr. Burps."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Prediction

Iran will become one of our most important trading partners in the next few years.

We will "normalize" relations.

The U.S. has spent its wad on Iraq and Afganistan.

In the meantime, we have allowed the influence of Iran to spread across the Middle East.

The Shia have proven to be more capable and willing to fight than the Sunni.

Iran will take control of Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and every other place that has oil. Eventually including Saudi Arabia.

There was a time when the Soviet Union was the great threat. We now build McDonald's there.

There was a time that China was the great threat. They now own more of our Treasury bonds than any other country.

There was a time when we could have controlled or eliminated the fascist theocracy in Iran.

No more.

All we want is the oil.

If Iran is going to get it, and we can't stop it, we are going to become bosom buddies.

The arbitrary country borders of the Middle East drawn up in the past 60 years will go away. Don't bother studying the geography.

The U.S. will allow Iran to have its way, in exchange for oil and a form of peace.

The net result is until the U.S. stops its dependency on cheap oil, Iran will control the U.S., and Israel will quake in its boots for years to come.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waiting on Brother

Asha Murthy MacDonald is an artist.

Much of her life has been spent in Montana.

She has been inspired by God's natural art of land and sky.

A few years ago, she painted a landscape. If you study it closely, you will see subtly a yellow ribbon tied around one of the trees.

When Pete was first deployed to Iraq, we were living in the San Francisco area.

A great friend found her painting in a gallery, bought it, and gave it to us as part of their commitment to remembering Pete and his service.

That painting has had a special place in our home ever since. Especially since November 14, 2007.

In April of this year, American Airlines invited us to help fill a 767 bound for Iraq. Thru the Unsung Hero Fund, we were allowed to put two and a half tons of soldier care packages, soccer balls for Iraqi kids and school supplies on the plane.

I begged my way onto that plane and that trip. And got permission for my youngest son Zac to go as well.

We had no idea who else was on that trip.

We soon learned that Tony Orlando and his band were the key human element as they were going with us to entertain the men and women in the Middle East.

The yellow ribbon has quite a history, but it became really famous as a result of Tony Orlando and Dawn and their recording of, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" in the 1970's.

The yellow ribbon became a symbol for families and friends waiting for the return of members of the military away at war.

Tony learned Zac's and my story, and he made it a point to become very close friends. He is such a patriot. Such a giver. Such a supporter of our military.

When we got home from the trip, I tracked down Asha.

I learned that we had the original painting, and that no prints had been made.

I asked if she could make two.

Asha did some research and found that she did have a digital copy.

She made two prints, added some personal color and her signature and sent them to me.

I sent one to Tony in May to thank him for his selfless service to the military.

Surprisingly, I didn't hear back from him. I thought that was odd.

The second print was made to give to the employees of American Airlines for their selfless giving to our military.

I intended to present it to Gerard Arpey, the Chairman and CEO of American Airlines, at some future date.

A few weeks ago, American Airlines sponsored an event called Skyball. It is a huge fundraiser with the proceeds going to support an event called Snowball Express.

Snowball Express is a free weekend of fun for the families of fallen soldiers. American flies the families from around the country to some fun place so that spouses and kids can enjoy a great time and meet each other just prior to Christmas.

I took the print for Mr. Arpey with me to Skyball.

As I walked in, the first person I saw was Tony Orlando.

We hugged.

He asked what I had under my arm.

Sheepishly, I showed him and said, "Tony, have you ever seen this painting?"

He began to weep.

"Alan, this painting showed up a few months ago. It hangs on a wall in my home. I did not know where it came from. I told my wife today that I hoped I might learn who sent it while on this trip. God is so good."

A few minutes later, I had the opportunity to present the painting to Mr. Arpey with Tony at our side.

What a gracious man. What a good man. What a servant. What a leader.

Mr. Arpey was taken aback.

"Thank you, Mr. Burks. Thank your son for his service, and your family for allowing him to serve. I want you to know this will have a special place in my office. And I want you to know I will pray for your family tonight."

The circle was complete.


I needed to tell Asha the story.

I emailed her, but the email was bounced back.

I called the number I had for her, but it was disconnected.

I Googled her and found a connection in Montana. He gave me her new email.

Asha is a new mom. She, her husband and their baby just relocated to Ohio.

I received this email from her today.

Asha to me
show details 3:23 PM (7 hours ago)


Your email made my day and I am so glad that you were able to track me down.

My husband accepted a new job in Ohio this past August, shortly after our daughter was born so we had been in the process of relocating and have finally settled. Since arriving here, I had been feeling less than inspired to paint having to leave our friends, family and beloved home that was Montana. And so my easel had been sitting dormant in our garage for over a month.

Until I got your email today - I am honored to know that my art is so greatly appreciated by those who have done so much for others - yourself included. That in itself is inspiring, so I know you have thanked me for helping you make this all happen, but really, I thank you.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Best, Asha

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

That's what she said . . .

Of all of the straight lines ever said, not knowing they were to about to be preceded by "That's what she said", I heard these marvelous words today.

If it never gets topped, that's ok. I'm glad I lived long enough to hear this one.

Innocent, well meaning, but oh so perfect.

The Hertz bus driver pulled into Terminal 4 at LAX. He then announced.

"In my front is regular American. In my rear is first class American."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Requiem for the masses

In 1967, the band called "The Association" was a top 40 hitmaker.

Their top song of all time was "Never My Love".

The "B" side of that single was a protest song about the war in Vietnam.

Momma momma forget your pies
Have faith they won't get cold
And turn your eyes to the bloodshot sky
Your flag is flying full at half-mast
For the matadors who turned their backs to please the crowd
And all fell before the bull

Red was the color of his blood flowing thin
Pallid white was the color of his lifeless skin
Blue was the color of the morning sky
from the ground where he died
It was the last thing that was seen by him

Kyrie Eliason

Momma momma forget your pies
Have faith they won't get cold
And turn your eyes to the bloodshot sky
Your flag is flying full at half-mast
For the matadors who turned their backs to please the crowd
And all fell before the bull

Black and white were the figures that recorded him
Black and white was the newsprint he was mentioned in
Black and white was the question that so bothered him
He never asked he was taught not to ask
But was on his lips as they buried him

Tremendae Majestas

Requiem adernaum Requiem adernaum

Two years ago

Pete and his men had finished an overnight security post in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad.

They had dealt with the night. They had kicked in the doors that needed to be.

They were rolling home.

The trouble seemed to be behind them.

They didn't know that they were rolling into a death trap.

There was a huge Iranian array of EFMP's waiting for them.

Outside of the Iraqi police station that guarded the entrance to the Green Zone.


And Pete was gone.

And Gage was blinded.

And Boekel will be full of copper to be pulled out later.

And the rest will be left to deal with the death and destruction in their truck.

The bastards that pulled the trigger didn't care.

All they wanted was payback.

They got it.

Oh, they got it.

Oh, you who pulled that trigger.

Oh, you who planted that bomb.

Oh, you Iraqi policemen that allowed it to happen.

You will get yours.

If you haven't already.

You will get what is yours.

A man is dead.

A man is blinded.

For what, you idiots?

Are you living better now?

I am thankful that I have a forgiving God. Unlike your wrongheaded Koran, we don't believe in killing infidels. We pray for them.

Otherwise, I would be on you like white on rice.

There is world war coming.

Let me tell you that you who choose Alluha Akbar are on the losing side.

See you soon.

The last communication

Two days before he was killed, Pete called me.

I was working in San Francisco.

"Hey, bud, how is downtown Baghdad?"

"It's really pretty safe, Dad. We've calmed things down alot."

Little did any of us realize the plot that was underway.

Whoever had received the cache of Iranian weapons and buried them in the soccer stadium was not happy to have seem them discovered and blown up the week before.

Someone was watching when 2nd Stryker Cavalry soldiers found the weapons. Someone was watching when the weapons were destroyed.

I don't know who it was. Due to security issues, I don't know if the military knows who it was. They can't tell me.

The best indications are that it was a Shiite militia. Most likely, the Mahdi Army controlled by Moqtada al-Sadr.

al-Sadr is a famous and respected name amongst Shiites in Iraq. They family also has close ties to Iran. Moqtada al-Sadr has taken exile in Iran several times since the war started.

Whoever it was wanted to payback 2nd Stryker Cavalry. Wanted to send a message not to mess with their stuff.

So as Pete and I talked, some bastards were planning to kill someone. They didn't know who. They just intended to send a message that they didn't appreciate their goodies being taken away.

Later in the day, I received my last email.

While Pete's death was being plotted, he was plotting asking Missy to marry him.

I had found a ring per his specs, gotten his approval, and bought it for him.

He wanted me to know he had a plan to pay me back.

Pete Burks Mon, Nov 13, 2007 at 8:18 AM
To: Alan Burks
sounds good. by the way, i sent all the checks that i will need to pay you back for the ring. have you gotten those yet? it ended up being 25 checks worth $216 each. please let me know when you get them.

thanks, and i love you,


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From sea to shining sea

I know I'm not normal.

Stop it.

I mean, that I'm oversensitized to things military.

Is it just me, or is this Veterans Day different?

It seems more people actually are talking about the day. Honoring veterans. Being sincere about supporting the military, regardless of their feelings about these wars.

From left wing to right, from old to young, from gay to straight, from black to brown to yellow to red to white, from sixth generation families to newly sworn citizens, I've observed more outpouring of support this year than ever.

Patriotism is cool again.

Loving our country is politically correct again.

Honoring those that fight our fights for us is back in popular culture. You can see it on television and in the movies. You can hear it on the radio.

I attended the parade today in Dallas.

I just stood by myself and watched the people.

From 10 year old junior cadets to teenagers in high school bands to veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. Korean and Vietnamese soldiers that fought with us in those wars. American Indian veterans. Black veterans. Hispanic veterans. Jewish veterans. Cavalry on horseback. Marines in Humvees. Veterans on Harley's.

All waving, cheering, showing love for the military veterans of our country.

In Manhattan Beach, California there stands a piece of the metal skeleton from the World Trade Center. A somber reminder of love of country and fellow countrymen in a town known for fun and excess.

This morning, my 8 year old daughter and her Brownie troop led a ceremony of remembrance there. She volunteered to make the following speech:

Thank you all for coming to the ceremony today. We all appreciate it.

Veteran’s Day is very important to my family. My grandpa served in World War 2 in the Navy.

And a friend of mine, named OD was a Green Beret and served in the
Vietnam War. He is a great friend.

I also know a girl veteran. Her name is Sergeant Emily.

It also happens to be, my brother Peter was a Veteran too, but he died in Irak.

November 14, 2007 was very sad for everybody in my family.

My brother died just three days after Veteran’s Day two years ago.

My brother was crying, I was praying and my mother was taking care of my
brother Zac.

I lived in Texas and my dad was out here in California.

Two people came to my house who served with Peter.

I was still in my room praying and talking to my brother Peter and still do.

What I’ve learned is veterans are very important to our country because they help
us be safe and they help others around the world.

Peter and his troop used to hand out school supplies, clothing, and even soccer
balls to the kids in Irak.

Sergeant Emily helped soldiers who came into the
hospital wounded, like my brother Peter.

Veterans are people just like us, who miss home when they’re away and need some comfort.

Two years ago on Veteran’s Day, Peter asked his men what kinds of
things they would like from home and they asked for Oreos, Xbox games, Hot
Cheetos, Popcorn, Baby Wipes, pretzels, poptarts, and lollipops.

They just wanted some of the things we have all the time.

Imagine living without Oreos and Hot Cheetos!!!

We should remember the veterans that served our country and that are still serving,
not just today but every day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The next to last email

As he suggested, I stayed at Hotel Angerer last November when the Regiment came home to Vilseck.

Little did we know what the circumstances would be.

I miss you, son.


Pete Burks to me
show details 11/6/07

hey dad,

here is the e-mail that i promised to send you earlier today:

oakley boot size: 10.5 Regular. you can purchase them either through the oakley website, or you can buy them at

also, the hotel you should try to stay in if you guys come to vilseck is the hotel angerer. it's not far from the front gate, and it's probably the biggest hotel in town.

i love you so much dad, and thanks for all that you do. YOU ARE THE BEST!



Seven tons of love

Two years ago, Pete was alive and leading and inspiring his men.

He was a net giver.

This is the email that started what eventually became the Burks Country Store. This is the list that to date has created more than seven tons of care packages for our military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is the list that we will continue to honor and support.

Our Hero

Pete and Missy
Sun, Nov 11, 2007 at 8:33 PM
To: Melissa Haddad , Pete Burks

Hi there!

Hope that everyone is doing great and getting excited for the Holidays.

I wanted to let you know that Pete is doing very well in Iraq. He is leading a group of guys over there, and they continue to complete their missions successfully and safely. I can't tell you how proud I am of him - he is not only a determined soldier, but also an outstanding role model for his men. He was able to send a couple of pictures recently, and I wanted to share the attached one with you guys. Doesn't he look wonderful? :)

On another note, Pete is definitely the most popular soldier during mail call, thanks to all of you. He LOVES all of the wonderful letters and packages from home. Thank you all so much for taking the time to write to him - it really keeps his spirits up. Many of you have asked for some suggestions on what to send in care packages, so Pete and the guys got together today and compiled the below list of what they're craving from home. Please don't feel obligated to send anything - just wanted to send some ideas along in case:

double stuffed oreos / double stuff chocolate oreos
chocolate chip cookies
snack packs
blue gatorade powder
microwavable popcorn
beef jerky
poptarts with frosting
honey buns
hot cheetos / hot fries
fudge cookies
xbox 360 controllers
good shaving cream (Aveeno, etc.) / after shave cream
tooth brushes
baby wipes
UNO cards / deck of playing cards
magazines to read (Sports Illustrated, ESPN, National Geographic, etc.)
hand sanitizer (big need)

Thanks again for everything, and happy Veterans' Day!

Much love,
Missy (and Pete)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Boots on the ground: A reporters view

Apprehensive? Oh yes

Nov-12-2007 » Filed Under: 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment

A reporter with the Guardian Unlimited is currently embedded with the 2nd SCR.
David Smith, Guardian Unlimited

The steel hatch swung up behind me like a drawbridge and snapped shut. My fate was sealed. I was sitting inside an armoured, eight-wheel Stryker vehicle and would spend the next 10 hours patrolling 'al-Qaida's last stronghold in Baghdad'.

Apprehensive? Oh yes.

Fortunately the Stryker is probably the best there is and, I was told, able to withstand roadside bombs, the improvised explosive devices that have taken such a terrible toll on US forces. I tried not to think about the even more lethal explosively formed projectiles, which fire a slug of molten metal capable of penetrating the thickest armour.

With body armour, helmet, notebook and camera, I was sitting towards the rear of the Stryker with my back to the driver, in the middle of four soldiers who spent much of the journey standing at turrets with assault rifles. To my left and right were TV screens, clusters of wires and control panels, a fire extinguisher, an industrial strength laptop and, I noted, a box of sweets and an iPod. A thin film of sand clung to everything.

If I turned and looked over my shoulder in the half-light, I could see another bank of screens. One seemed fixed on a patriotic image of an US bald eagle spreading its wings paternally over heroic troops and vehicles. On another was a satellite photograph of Baghdad with blue icons representing important locations. Most fascinating was a laptop showing a live, roving aerial view beamed to us by a remote-controlled drone known as a Raven.

Occasionally, after shivering and distorting for a moment, it would fix a suspicious vehicle in its crosshairs.

All in all, amid the beeps and voices crackling over the radio, it was like being inside a windowless submarine or space capsule, with a similar sense of venturing into the unknown as we passed beyond the perimeter fence which makes the vast US military base Camp Striker something of a safe haven.

On yet another screen I could follow our progress via an external camera. It showed a series of streetlights and palm trees flowing against the sky, and sometimes caught the sun as a bright, beautiful circle. Finally, after a bumpy ride, it showed buses, cars, billboards, bridges, mosque domes, telegraph poles, and rubbish-strewn streets. We were in town.

The confidence of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment platoon was infectious. If you had to trust your life to anyone, these professional men with their hi-tech weapons would be high on the list. Yes, they said, they still feel fear, but with routine they learn to control it: fear breeds alertness, and is better that than getting cocky or casual.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Primer on the Enemy

The photo above is a cache of arms caught by our forces in Iraq this week.

They are sophisticated, freshly made weapons made in Iran.

Iran has been shipping these weapons into Iraq since Saddam Hussein left power because of our invasion.

IED is an abbreviation for Improvised Explosive Device.

When we first went into Iraq, we encountered IED's.

These were homemade bombs. Gunpowder and nuts and bolts. It's what you and I would do with shotgun shells and our workshops.

What is in the picture above are sophisticated Iranian made weapons. They were intercepted this past week on the border between Iran and Iraq.

This is exactly the kind of weapon cache Pete's brothers found in the soccer stadium on 11/05/2007.

When the surge of American troops was sent into Iraq in 2007, we ran into Iranian weapnory. IED's were an issue, but we had learned how to deal with it.

We had not learned that the enemy was ahead of us. Nor did we know that the enemy was Iran.

If you look at the photo, you will see to the right of the photo a line of conical shapes. They are pure-copper shaped charges.

That cone is designed to be powered by world class explosives. Not gunpowder in a coffee can. You can see the C-4 explosives in the photo. The rings.

The C-4 powers the copper explosive cone to penetrate every type of armour known to man.

The power of the explosive turns the copper cone into white hot liquid.

Thus, they are known as Explosivly Formed Penetrators. EFPs.

Screw IEDs. EFPs are the issue.

That is the type of bomb that killed Pete.

A piece of Iranian made copper entered his temple and penetrated his brain as his platoon was outside an Iraqi police station guarding the entrance to the Green Zone.

It blinded Gage in one eye. Pieces of Iranian copper are still being picked out of the men in Pete's vehicle two years later.

These weapons have killed and wounded many in Iraq.

And now, these weapons are killing and wounding our men in Afghanistan. Because Iran is now shipping their weaponry to the new front.

IED is a term as old fashioined as musket balls.

EFPs have been killing our folks in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last six years.

And they will continue to kill our men and women until we find better armour, or, we change the strategy of the fight.

The Set Up

Pete Burks to me
show details 11/8/07

yep, that's us. my platoon wasn't the one that found that stuff, but i did hear about it over the radio, and i felt the shockwaves from the controlled detonation that the used to destroy it. fun stuff!

Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2007 17:25:14 -0800
Subject: is this your group?

Pale Horse Troop Finds Two Caches

Nov- 7-2007 » Filed Under: 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment

Story by Spc. Alexis Harrison

BAGHDAD – Soldiers from Troop P, 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, currently attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, found two caches of weapons and explosives while on patrol in the Ramaniyah neighborhood, Nov. 5.

Buried under the bleachers of a soccer stadium in two locations, the Soldiers found 45 blocks of C-4 explosives, 33 mortars, almost 2000 rounds of ammunition, a rocket-propelled grenade and launcher, 2 Dragunov-style sniper rifles, 2 protective vests and a grenade.

Capt. Marcus Melton, commander of 'Pale Horse' Troop of the Vilseck, Germany-based 4-2 SCR, said the cache find was quite uncommon for the area he and his men patrol on a regular basis.

"We've found random weapons during cordon and knocks, but never a bulk cache like this before," he said. "The area is checked often, and we're still trying to figure out how they got [the weapons and explosives] in there."

The soccer stadium was checked just a few weeks ago, thus implying that the cache had been recently placed according to what Melton could tell from the last time his troops were there.

"This will definitely have an impact on whoever's operation this was," Melton said. "Someone isn't very happy with us right now; that's for sure."

Sgt. Chris Meyering from Rochester, N.Y, Spc. Danny Lee from Brooklyn and Staff Sgt. Elliott Davis from Lakewood, Wash., found the first cache buried under the bleachers after tamping the ground with a shovel. Meyering heard it hit something hollow-sounding and began to dig immediately.

"As soon as the shovel hit, I knew what it was," he said. "I was pretty happy knowing that weapons were getting taken off the street."

The first cache was the smaller of the two and was buried in a wooden box. After it was found, the troops began searching the stadium more thoroughly and came upon the second cache, which was slightly larger and buried in what looked like a chest freezer.

Melton said much of the mortar rounds and explosives found were in brand-new condition; still wrapped and in original containers with date stamps as recent as earlier this year.

Meyering, a combat engineer during the Gulf War, said the amount of explosives found could've been used to make "vicious" improvised explosive devices, even more powerful than ones made out of mortar rounds.

Melton said he was very proud of his troops and especially the three Soldiers who found the cache and dug it up. Meyering, Davis and Lee are expected to receive medals commending them for finding the weapons and taking them out of the hands of would-be terrorists.

"Regardless, medals or not, this takes weapons off the streets, and that means more to me," Meyering said.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Herding Cats

Bob, the trusty ruler of the back yard, went to that great litter box in the sky a few months back.

In order to get over our grief, my youngest daughter and I have recently adopted two new cats.

She wanted the all black ball of fur. I wanted the orange and white guy cause he's the same color as our high school sports teams.

So we made the Deion decision. (When Jerry Jones asked Deion Sanders, "What's it going to take, $15 or $20 million?" Deion answered, "Bofe.")

There was then the small issue of transportation. See, we adopted from a center in Los Angeles. The cats had to get to Texas. And I was the mule.

The black cat was named Midnight by she who will be reckoned with. And he was the first to make the flight home.

Having never traveled with a carry-on pet before, I was stupid enough to call reservations and ask what the deal was. The deal was I got to pay $100 to make a reservation for the cat to sit under the seat in front of me.

Airports always cause anxiety. That's what I blame the next move on.

Going thru security, I put the cat carrier on the belt and thru the xray machine. With Midnight in the carrier.

Not the best idea. The alarms went off. The TSA shut down the line. "Who just put a cat thru the xray machine?"

Well, nobody told me not to. I asked how they would know if there was a stash of black tar heroin or C-4 explosive up Midnight's butt. They said I didn't need to worry about that. Just don't put any more cats thru their machines.

Midnight made it home safe and sound and now rules the garage.

This past Sunday, it was time for Bobby Angel to learn that American knows why we fly. I wisened up.

No call to reservations. (And you know what, nobody ever asked at the counter.)

Back to the security line.

I must admit that I've rolled my eyes more than a few times when grown men and women pull some doorstopper size canine out of a travel bag.

I just got paid back. A grown man pulling a cat out of a bag had folks giving me the, "Is he a pitcher or a catcher?" look.

Bobby Angel is a big boy. With very sharp claws. Who apparently doesn't care for the TSA.

He sank himself deep into me as we strolled thru the metal detector. Then as I was attempting to gather my belongings off the belt, he goes wheels off crazy. I literally caught him by the tail or we'd still be searching LAX for him.

Now, happily, Bobby Angel is safe and sound in the garage as well. At least we think so.

He's hidden himself behind boxes, the old basketball goal, three bicycles, four golf bags, two garden hoses and a rocking horse.

It seems Midnight has established territorial rights on the garage. So Bobby Angel is either going to have to man up, or come sleep with me.

The good news is I never have to search for Midnight. He meets me at the door with that, "What have you been doing cause you haven't been paying enough attention to me" look.

And since he now glows from the radioactivity, this is one black cat that can be found in the dark.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Two Fathers of Dead Sons

Politically correct wars cannot be won in today's world.

Our enemies hide behind civilians.

This isn't the first time.

The Japanese were the first.

The Viet Cong mastered it.

Now the chickenshit "fundamentalist Muslims" have taken it to a new level.

In the attempt to be the most partial to local situations in war, the United States has lost more men and women than any country in history.

Pete wrote me about the "Rules of Engagement".

If their group was fired upon by a sniper, they could shoot the sniper if he was behind his gun. But, if he ran, they couldn't shoot him. They had to chase him down and arrest him.


A sumbitch just shot one of your men, but now he's running down back alleys and you have to try to arrest him? You see him at 300 yards just before he jumps another wall, and you can't kill the MF?

Every branch of our military has a warriors creed. Here is the Army version.

I am an American Soldier.

I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.

I am an expert and I am a professional.

I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.

I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.

I am an American Soldier.

Not a policeman. Not the Peace Corps.

Today, a former Marine, spoke out about this nonsense. He lost his son in Afghanistan. Read, weep, and understand.

Families outraged over engagement restrictions
By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Nov 3, 2009 20:31:39 EST
Enough is enough. Retired 1st Sgt. John Bernard has had it with the war in Afghanistan.

Enough of “shameful” and “suicidal” rules of engagement that leave U.S. troops vulnerable to ambushes. Enough of worrying more about harming Afghan civilians than American forces. Enough of politics.

Bernard was a scout sniper and platoon sergeant during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, so he’s familiar with the warrior’s creed. But as the father of Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard, he has reached his limit.

The younger Bernard was killed Aug. 14 by a rocket-propelled grenade, an attack that became a national story after The Associated Press distributed a photograph of Bernard’s son’s last living moments in Dahaneh, Afghanistan. The father wrote his representatives in Congress several times during the weeks leading up to Joshua’s death, each time expressing apprehension about the more-restrictive guidelines put in place by the new commander of U.S. forces there, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

It wasn’t until he was thrust into the spotlight by the AP photo and the controversy that surrounded it that anyone paid him any mind.

After that, things changed.

Bernard, of New Portland, Maine, was mentioned by name Sept. 15 during the Senate confirmation hearing of Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told Mullen that she had received a letter from Bernard before his son’s death that “expressed serious concerns about the rules of engagement” in Afghanistan. Those rules were altered in July by McChrystal in response to mounting civilian casualties.

The new guidelines call on U.S. forces to limit the use of heavy fire power — close-air support and long-range artillery — when ordinary Afghans may be at risk. A week before Mullen’s hearing, three Marines and a Navy corpsman were killed in an ambush after commanders allegedly refused their requests for fire support for fear it would kill women and children.

“I’m going to send you the letter so that you can read it,” Collins told Mullen, according to a congressional transcript. “I promised Mr. Bernard at [his] son’s funeral that I would do so. And I hope you and General McChrystal will look seriously at the concerns he raises ... about the rules of engagement.”

It wasn’t much, but it was a start, Bernard says now.

A fiery, blunt speaker, Bernard is just one among a growing group of vocal family members whose children were killed in fighting overseas. They support the cause and the troops still in harm’s way, these family members say, but they also believe U.S. forces are handcuffed by rules and tactics and vulnerable as a result, leaving them with little help when such ambushes occur. Some also question whether the U.S. should have launched a counter-insurgency strategy so quickly, rather than employing search-and-destroy missions that proved successful in Afghanistan during the early part of the decade.

“The rules of engagement are so convoluted, so open-ended, that it puts the people on the ground at risk no matter what they do,” said Bernard, who retired from the Corps in 2003. “It’s insane. You don’t let your guys languish there when these things happen. You err on the side of your guys, not the civilians.”

These are not anti-war families. They want the military to succeed in Afghanistan. They’re deeply proud of their fallen sons’ sacrifices.

Army, Marine and Afghan National Army troops experienced the effect of McChrystal’s tighter rules directly Sept. 8, when their small outpost in Ganjgal, in Kunar province near the Pakistan border, was blindsided by insurgents.

Three Marines and a corpsman died that day, and a soldier, 41-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, who was shot through the mouth and neck, died Oct. 7 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. An embedded reporter with McClatchy News Service, Jonathan Landay, reported that “U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines — despite being told repeatedly that they weren’t near the village.”

In retrospect, it should have been obvious an attack was imminent, family members believe. Two days before the ambush, the trainers came under RPG fire that killed an Afghan soldier and wounded Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, 30, of Williamsville, N.Y., and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton, 22, of Riverbank, Calif.

Both decided to stick to their mission, and they were quickly pressed back into action. The morning of the ambush, a group comprising 60 Afghan soldiers, 20 border police officers, and 13 Marine and Army trainers were tasked with searching the fortified village for weapons and meeting with the elders to discuss establishing police patrols, McClatchy reported.

The first shot rang out about 5:30 a.m., when the Marines and Afghan soldiers first reached the village. It took nearly two hours for helicopters to arrive and provide fire support, McClatchy reported.

By then, more than a dozen Afghan troops were dead, as were Kenefick, Layton, Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, Ga., and 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, Va.

Westbrook, out of Fort Riley, Kan., was gravely wounded, but his medical care was delayed because troops carrying him to a helicopter were forced to stop and take cover from insurgent fire several times, Landay reported. The journalist said a Marine lieutenant tossed him Westbrook’s M4 rifle in the heat of the battle, in case he needed it.

While the Pentagon has questioned the accuracy of Landay’s report, the families want answers. They’re angry at the leaders who had a hand in putting the policies in place, including President Barack Obama, McChrystal, Mullen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Commandant Gen. James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser.

Susan Price, Kenefick’s mother, said she’s still reeling from her son’s death but has begun to question how the incident could have taken place.

“I’ve spoken to all the other parents, and we’re all interested in knowing why it took so long for the aid call to be filled,” she said. “My son died the way he would have wanted to die. I have no qualms about that. I just have questions about the aid call being rejected and why we were late. It can’t keep happening over and over again. It’s inexcusable.”

Brent Layton, whose son was shot and killed while providing medical attention to 1st Lt. Johnson, agreed.

“They’re out there with their handcuffs on; that’s the way I look at it,” he said. “I was in law enforcement, and it’s just like it is in the military: Your strength is in knowing that you have help coming if you need it. These boys asked for it repeatedly, and they didn’t get it.”

Brian Johnson, the lieutenant’s father, said he had strongly supported Barrack Obama’s run for the presidency, but now is disappointed not only by the adoption of the new rules of engagement, but also by his delay in making a decision on when and if additional troops will deploy to Afghanistan. A decision is expected sometime after an Afghan runoff election scheduled for Saturday; the leading opposition candidate withdrew from the race Sunday, though, and it is now unclear if the election will take place.

An initial round of voting Aug. 20 was characterized by low voter turnout, widespread fraud and intimidation tactics. First Lt. Johnson sent an e-mail to his twin brother Danny not long before he died, according to their father, expressing frustration that on election day his Marines were not allowed to open fire on possible insurgents unless they had “proof positive” the Afghans had ill intent.

“For [Obama] to say he needs to wait because he doesn’t know which government he’s going to be working with is complete bull— because we need a plan that can working regardless of which corrupt government goes in there,” Johnson’s dad said. “I think the president needs to act like a commander-in-chief instead of manager-in-chief and make up his damn mind. Putting this thing off like a management decision is not sitting well with me at all.”

The parents agree on another point, as well: They doubt they’ll ever receive full disclosure on what happened the day their sons died, or who made the decision to deny the requested support.

“We want the names,” Price said. “We want the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how.’ We all have the flag on our home. We all love the Marine Corps; we just want answers.”

Officials with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, headed by McChrystal, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Pentagon officials have said previously that there will be a full investigation of the incident.

Bernard, the former scout sniper and platoon sergeant, says he knows it wasn’t the new rules of engagement that directly contributed to his son’s death. Lance Cpl. Bernard, a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, was killed in the opening salvos of a battle in which extra fire support had not been requested.

However, the senior Bernard says there is more to it than that. The overall strategy U.S. forces are using in Afghanistan — especially working side-by-side with Afghan forces whose intentions aren’t clear — should be questioned, he said. The Afghan troops have not proven themselves, but rank-and-file troops have been ordered to rely on their help in battle, Bernard said.

An embedded journalist with the younger Bernard’s company reported after the battle that a young Afghan approached the Marines before the ambush, promising to show them where insurgents had fired on them previously. He begged the troops not to tell them how they knew, though, saying insurgents would kill him if they found out.

When the ambush began, the tipster could not be found, and the interpreter took cover, raising questions in Bernard’s mind about whether they led the Marines into a trap.

“Call me cynical if you want, but some rogue element led them there,” Bernard said. “The bottom line is both of those guys were gone. It’s just another indication of how this counter-insurgency strategy can’t work.”

In an Oct. 13 letter to Collins, Mullen addressed Bernard’s concerns by saying that “the new tactical directive did not change the ROE in Afghanistan, but rather provided more clarification and guidelines regarding the use of force.”

“We have refined our procedures in order to reduce civilian casualties, but at no time have the ROE been modified to place our troops at greater risk,” Mullen wrote. “Our troops still operate under a set of ROE that allows them to protect themselves against enemy actions in balance with protecting the Afghan populace.”

Bernard said the letter is “smoke and mirrors” and overlooks his consistent concern: A counter-insurgency strategy won’t work as long as Afghanistan is filled with warring tribes that have no empathy for the U.S. and its way of life. Counter-insurgency may have helped to pacify Iraq, he said, but the gains came mostly because the U.S. “inundated the country with troops” after a surge in the number of U.S. troops deployed there occurred in 2007.

“I already talked to Collins’ office and said, ‘Don’t let him spin this crap,’ ” Bernard said. “There’s no indication that Afghanistan has changed anywhere. Our mission should be very, very simple: Chase and kill the enemy.”

Collins’ office did not respond to several requests for follow-up comments.

Bernard said he is frustrated that Collins, one of his home state senators and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has handled his complaints as that of a single constituent, rather seeing him for what he is: representative of the hundreds of people he says have contacted him in recent weeks.

“You can’t turn this into one lone idiot in the backwoods of Maine mourning his son,” he said. “This is bigger than that.”

God bless the police in the United States. If it's this bad in war, I can only imagine their frustration in dealing with the killers here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Next Big Push

From The Army Times:

Pentagon announces Afghan deployments

Staff report
Posted : Friday Oct 23, 2009 6:52:54 EDT

The Defense Department announced Tuesday major units scheduled to deploy as part of upcoming rotations of forces operating in Afghanistan.

Specific units receiving deployment orders include:

• 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky. (3,700 soldiers)

• 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany (4,000 soldiers)

• 2nd BCT, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard (3,500 soldiers)

The 1st BCT and 2nd SCR are slated for a spring/summer 2010 deployment and the 2nd BCT will begin deploying in fall 2010.

Pete was a member of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment.

When they deploy, the Burks Country Store goes with them.

We are starting to gear up the Unsung Hero Fund to make a major shipment to Pete's guys in early 2010.

So far, we have shipped over 7 tons of soldier care packages into Iraq and Afghanistan. It's time to load 'em up with love again.

If you are unaware of the background, please click here to learn more:

Veteran's Day is next week. If you are a school teacher or a parent, this would be a great project for kids of any age. They can gather supplies for care packages, make cards, write letters. We will ship it all.

The two year anniversary of Pete's death is November 14. It would be a great honor to Pete to make a donation of supplies or money in his memory to take care of his men.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hannukah are coming up. A great opportunity to add a soldier to your list to give thanks to.

This is how we carry on Pete's legacy. His life. His love. His smile. And that laughter.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I wish I had been wrong

On March 9, 2009, I wrote about mosques popping up around America.

This just in from The Christian Science Monitor . . .

Detroit imam killed in shootout with FBI

By Ben Hancock

The leader of a Detroit mosque was killed Wednesday in a shootout with the FBI, which had charged him and 11 of his followers with arms violations and conspiracy to commit federal crimes. The shootout followed a raid by the FBI on a Dearborn warehouse in which the imam refused to surrender and opened fire on agents.

Authorities say Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the slain imam, espoused violence and wanted to create a separate state within the US under Islamic sharia law. Friends and some who knew the religious leader were in disbelief over the allegations.

The official complaint filed by an FBI counterterrorism squad was unsealed Wednesday after a two-year investigation. It said Mr. Abdullah had, among other things, threatened to stage an attack during Super Bowl XL and to commit a suicide bombing as a final courageous deed, reports the Detroit Free Press.

"If they are coming to get to me, I'll just strap a bomb on and blow up everybody," he said in a March 21, 2008, conversation.

Federal officials said Abdullah was the leader of a group that calls itself "Ummah, a group of mostly African-American converts to Islam, which seeks to establish a separate Sharia-law governed state within the United States."

Authorities said none of the charges levied today are terrorist-related. Abdullah and 11 suspects were charged with felonies including illegal possession and sale of firearms, mail fraud to obtain the proceeds of arson, theft from interstate shipments and tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers.

The mosque's members had been evicted from a building in January for not paying property taxes, says The Detroit News. When they were kicked out, Detroit police confiscated "two firearms, about 40 knives and martial arts weapons from Abdullah's apartment, the complaint alleged."

People who knew Abdullah were skeptical of and rattled by the FBI's allegations.

David Nu'man of Detroit, who considered himself a friend of Abdullah, said he is skeptical about the allegations.

"It doesn't seem to be of his character," said Nu'man, who had attended the mosque on Joy Road but was not a member.

Ihsan Bagby, the general secretary of the Muslim Alliance of North America, said Abdullah was a member of the Lexington, K.Y.-based group, and his shooting shocked the African American Muslim community nationwide.

"We want to know what happened," said Bagby. "We had no inkling of any kind of criminal activity. This is a complete shock to all of us."

FBI raids took place in and around Detroit in the middle of the day. During the arrests suspects were ordered to surrender, reports the Dearborn Press and Guide. "At one location, four suspects surrendered and were arrested without incident ... Abdullah, a.k.a. Christopher Thomas, did not surrender and fired his weapon."

Though his attempted arrest was not tied to terrorism charges, the FBI report paints Abdullah as a man who identified with terrorists, according to the Detroit Free Press.

"America must fall," Abdullah said, according to the complaint. At another point, he "told followers that they need to be with the Taliban, Hizballah, and with Sheikh Bin Laden."

"We should be figuring out how to fight the Kuffar," Abdullah said at another point, the indictment states. Kuffar "is a highly derogatory term" used to describe non-Muslims, the document states.