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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Babysitting Hardtail

He said he slipped and fell into his own swimming pool.

As ornery as Hardtail is, I'm not so sure he wasn't done in by the same guy that took Bernie Madoff's friend for a dip.

This former college quarterback and nimble dancer says he was cleaning leaves out of his pool and slipped and fell in.

What is real is he managed to scrape all the skin off from his left hip down to his left knee.

It looks like a 50 pound brisket.

One of the worst strawberries in history.

Swollen. Weeping. Already turning colors that the human body isn't supposed to.

I stopped by last night and discovered he was really in a bad way. Couldn't walk on it. Lot of pain. So I offered to help his saint of a wife today taking care of him.

Just my luck, Mrs. Hardtail had a friend in need she had to go take care of.

So, me and the world's worst patient were there alone for most of the day.

It's man love when you put flipflops on the world's ugliest feet.

It's man love when you help him to the john.

It's man love when you get him breakfast and lunch, and refill his coffee.

It's man love when the world's loudest man beseeches you from the other side of a 6,000 foot house. "BURKS, I NEED MY PHONE." And you don't pour salt water on his leg.

Nurses, you all need a raise. A big one.

I couldn't do what you do.

Although I would like to give that knucklehead a Tabasco enema.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

To die for

Our men and women who wear the cloth of our nation sign up to defend our country and our constitution till death.

We are alot like the Buffalo Bills.

We haven't had a big win in a while.

For all the money, blood and sacrifice in Iraq, what do we have to show?

For all the money, blood and sacrifice in Afghanistan, what do we have to show?

Tonight, a disturbing report surfaces about the brother of President Karzai.

According to "reports" to The New York Times, he is not only a big time peddler of heroin, he has been receiving payments from the CIA for eight years.

If this is true, and these leaks don't happen unless someone wants them to happen, what the f?

We put Karzai in power.

And in the meantime, our soldiers and Marines are getting killed fighting the Taliban that makes their money off the heroin trade.

Something is bad wrong.

What you don't know will get you killed.

It got my son killed.

He didn't know that the surge was to fight a proxy war against Iran. Pete was killed by an Iranian made EFMP. Has anyone in Washington told you that we have been fighting a proxy war against Iran in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was captured?

Our military in Afghanistan have no idea what the mission is.

And it just got more complicated and insidious.

President Obama, America has leverage. The sweetest word in business and war.

We control the skies.

In 1945, President Truman made a decision.

Send American troops into Japan. Assumption, 500,000 to 1 million troops killed.

President Truman made the decision to send nuclear bombs to Nagasaki and Hiroshima to prove to the Japanese regime that the United States would rather their civilians die than a million of our soldiers.

President Obama, there is a clear threat in Afghanistan, Pakistan's border regions, and Iran.

I urge you not to support General McChrystal's request.

He didn't ask for enough.

Send the bombs.

If you are going to send troops, listen to General Shinseki. He got fired for saying we needed 500,000 troops to secure Iraq. He was right.

We have overpowering force capabilities.

It saves lives. Mostly, American lives.

Pardon my French, but end this bullshit.

Kill the enemy.

Then bring us home.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a difference a day makes

The past 24 hours has been a whirlwind.

Our family was privileged to be invited to Skyball last night. Skyball is a fundraising event for Snowball Express.

And, Snowball Express is an amazing project with a clear and simple mission.

"Snowball Express is the charity for the children of our fallen military heroes. We started in 2006 with a simple idea: Provide hope and new memories to the children of our fallen military heroes who died while on active duty since September 11, 2001."

It was a sweet night for me. Ali, Sarah and Zac were there with me. And, many of the folks on the trip to Iraq in April were at the event. It was like a family reunion.

It was also a tough night for me seeing the many young men and women in uniform. Pete was one of them at one time, but he wasn't with us. It dug a hole in my heart.

Missy, Pete's fiance, was with us along with her sweet Mom and Dad.

The family that they were going to be still dances around our thoughts everyday.

Today was the last day of hot in Dallas.

We have two seasons.

And with the front that rolled in tonight with the hail and wind and thunder, we are now into cold.

This season change reminds us of when Pete deployed. And the events that followed.

I struggled today.

I went to the cemetery in Melissa, Texas where Pete is buried. I wept. I cried like a baby.

Almost two years, and the wound is still fresh.

When I got home, the most amazing series of goodness happened.

All my grown kids were here. It was like Thanksgiving.

There was an awesome, scary storm that came thru. We got the grandkids out of bed and we all got into the safe room under the stairs together. It rained sideways for about 15 minutes accompanied by nickel sized hail.

I got to hold 11 month old Liam Peter thru the storm, and then rock him to sleep.

And then more magic began to happen.

I got an email from a friend of a friend that is on the board of IAVA. He was an advertising maven, and is also a friend of the military.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is headed by Paul Rieckhoff. Paul wrote an amazing book about his experience during the invasion of Iraq. Chasing Ghosts. If you want to read reality about Iraq, read the book.

Paul is one of the most passionate men on the face of the earth. He has dedicated his life to representing the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and has made amazing things happen.

I can't wait till tomorrow to connect with my new friend who is on Paul's board.

Then, I got a phone call from another friend that is going to the Middle East in December to bring a taste of home to our troops.

How would you like to serve a home cooked steak to one our folks in the Middle East?

You can with ten dollars.

As though that weren't enough, Missy received this email tonight from one of the men that was with Pete on that day.

Date: October 25, 2009 9:58:38 AM CDT
Subject: LT Burks

I know you probably don't know who I am but I am one of Petes soldiers, SPC Higbee, and I just wanted to first appologize for taking so long to write you. It was a hard day for all of us there with him and we can't imagine what it must of been like back home for you and his family. He gave me hope and gave me a new sense of motivation when he showed up to lead us. He was an inspiration to all of us and he will always be a part of me. Thank you for allowing him to come lead us and be a part of our family.



Thank you, Lord.

Just when I think I can't, you show me I can.

I hope you and Pete had a good laugh at us from the other side of your storm.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Want to shag?

English is an official language of at least 50 countries.

None of those countries is the United States of America.

The U.S. has never had an official language.

At the very beginnings of the nation, John Adams proposed an official, government sponsored academy of the English language. According to some historians, the proposal was "rejected as undemocratic and a threat to individual liberty" by the Continental Congress.

The Founding Fathers apparently saw the use of ancestral languages as a right, and didn't want the country to have a single official language, just as it has no official religion.

When Columbus landed here, there were over 300 languages spoken. Most were Native languages. English wasn't one of them.

Some states have adopted an official language policy. They are listed below. Some might surprise you.

States with official English:

* Alabama
* Alaska
* Arizona
* Arkansas
* California
* Colorado
* Florida
* Georgia
* Hawaii
* Idaho
* Illinois
* Indiana
* Iowa
* Kansas
* Kentucky
* Louisiana
* Massachusetts
* Mississippi
* Missouri
* Montana
* Nebraska
* New Hampshire
* North Carolina
* North Dakota
* South Carolina
* South Dakota
* Tennessee
* Utah
* Virginia
* Wyoming

States without official English:

* Connecticut
* Delaware
* Maine
* Maryland
* Michigan
* Minnesota
* Nevada
* New Jersey
* New Mexico
* New York
* Ohio
* Oklahoma
* Oregon
* Pennsylvania
* Rhode Island
* Texas
* Vermont
* Washington
* West Virginia
* Wisconsin

And, exactly what is the English language?

Is it what they speak in England?

Cause what they speak in England, we don't speak here.

For instance, I was speaking with an Englishter earlier this week.

He was strolling down memory lane recalling, "When me mum would push me in the pram to the market for some biscuits."

Upon further review, he meant "When my mother would put me in the baby carriage and walk to the supermarket to buy some cookies."

Oh, bollocks. We shouldn't be calling for English to be the official language. Until we define English.

How would you like to pull into to see your mechanic and have him say, "Open the bonnet and we'll see why petrol is coming out the silencer."

Or, go to school and have your teacher say, "Class, have your pencil and rubber at the ready."

Or, show off your newborn baby and have a friend say, "What a cute dummy."

Or, order breakfast and have the waitress ask, "Do you want a banger?"

No, this English is dangerous stuff.

I know of a young British woman that decided to come to the United States to work after graduating university. (That's how they say "finished college".)

She went to work for a famous department store in the Southeast.

Her boss was a native North Carolinian. A proud Southerner.

On her first day, she went into his office to get acquainted.

She asked what he liked to do when he wasn't working.

"Shag. Just love to shag. Most weekends, my wife and I go to the coast and go to shag parties. You should come with us sometime. We're really good at it. As a matter of fact, these trophies on my credenza are all for shagging."

The young woman, shaking, made it back to her desk. She immediately called her mother in London.

"Mommy. You were so spot on about these Americans. They are brazen. They have no honor or shame. They give themselves trophies for screwing in public."

The Continental Congress knew what they were doing.

Had they adopted English as the official language, I would have a real problem.

Enlgish, as in over there English, has a derivation called Cockney Rhyming Slang.

So, instead of saying, "Go upstairs", they might say "Up the apple". See, stairs rhymes with pears. Apples and pears means stairs.

My last name is Burks.

In Cockney Rhyming Slang, there is a term, "Berkley Hunt".

Hunt rhymes with, well, something I can't say out loud.

So, a Burk is one of those.

No sir. No official English for me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The 65 Year Wait

The Press-Enterprise
Riverside, California

In September 1944, the family of Robert Stinson was notified that the 23-year-old San Bernardino airman was missing in combat after his B-24 bomber was shot down over the South Pacific during World War II.

Two years later, the military declared him dead. But his family never got the chance to lay him to rest.

That will change after his remains -- missing 60 years -- are flown to California on Oct. 28 and interred at Riverside National Cemetery two days later.

The Stinson family had despaired of ever hearing more about the fate of Robert, whom they called Bob. He was a sergeant in the Army Air Forces who joined the service in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Stinson's tale got an unexpected new ending earlier this year when the family was contacted by the Department of Defense and told that his remains had been positively identified.

"I felt we had just won the Lotto," said Edward Stinson, 74, of San Bernardino, one of two surviving brothers out of six. "After 65 years you don't think you're going to get to bury your brother."

Robert Stinson attended San Bernardino High School for two years but wasn't very interested and played hooky often, Edward Stinson said. He was sent to stay with relatives in Hale, Mo., where he graduated from high school in 1938.

Until her death in 1964, their mother, Vella Stinson, wrote constantly to the military asking whether her son had been found. The B-24J Liberator bomber and its 11-member crew were shot down Sept. 1, 1944. It was on a bombing reconnaissance mission of enemy targets near the town of Koror in Palau, a small nation of islands 500 miles east of the Philippines, a news release from the Department of Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel office said.

Three crewmen parachuted down but were captured by the Japanese and later executed. The other eight, including Stinson, went down with the plane.

The aircraft remained missing until late 2004 when a group of Americans specializing in searching for lost World War II aircraft found it submerged near an island in Palau.

DNA samples were taken from the oldest brother, Dick Stinson, 87, of Yuba City, three years ago. A forensic team started piecing together the wreckage.

The plane's discovery was the culmination of a decade-long search by members of BentProp, a group of adventure-seekers who scuba dive, fly planes and share an interest in military history, said Reid Joyce, a retired research psychologist from Pennsylvania who is the Webmaster for the group's Web site.

Joyce was one of four divers who went into the murky water and found the plane in several pieces 40 feet to 70 feet deep.

As they dove down, they first saw a propeller sticking out of coral. As they went deeper, a fuselage and an entire wing appeared, Joyce said. Still undersea, one diver excitedly wrote one word on a slate near her wrist: "Jack." Jack Arnett had been the pilot of the plane they had found.

"There was no question in our minds it was a B-24," Joyce said. "If it was a B-24 it had to be this one. You could hear everyone shouting just about to Koror when we finally came up from that dive."

The plane was one of four B-24 bombers lost in the region, Joyce said. Members of BentProp, which began searching for boats and planes in 1993, already had located two of them, he said.

But the fate of the crew remained a mystery until the team found a clue while examining military photos. They discovered two frames of film taken by a plane on the same mission showing falling debris. They surmised that was the missing plane, Joyce said.

They projected a position over the sea and began asking locals if they had seen anything unusual. One fisherman told them he had seen something while diving but wasn't sure what it was.

"We went to that location and by golly, there it was," he said.

They notified the Defense Department, which sent a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Team to conduct an underwater investigation. Between 2005 and 2008, the team excavated the site on three six-week missions, the news release said.

They recovered human remains, machine guns with serial numbers matching those associated with the plane and identification for three crewmen. The federal agency began contacting the families earlier this year as they used dental records and DNA testing to identify the remains.

Stinson family members, who hope to tell Robert's story in a book, say they are grateful to have closure.

"We couldn't believe it," Alice Stinson, Edward's wife, said of the discovery. "We held each other and cried."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Keeping the elephants away

As a new father in 1981, I was very concerned for the safety and well being of my family.

So, I spent many hours in the basement workshop after everyone was asleep working on a formula to make life safer.

And I did. And I can prove it.

I developed elephant repellant.

I used it all around our homes in Georgia, Texas and California.

Not once has any of my family been harmed or even had a glimpse of an elephant.

Not once have I had to call on the police, fire or animal control to deal with elephants.

Nope, my special formula was so strong that the elephants never even came within view.

What peace of mind this has brought us.

And now, to continue to improve the safety and well being of our lives, I am working on a new concoction.

This one will cause the earth to cool.

If there is enough left over after properly treating my home, I am going to start a business selling it to governments around the world.

Friday, October 16, 2009

But they were clean, Mom

What a near tragedy.

I believe I'm beyond the statute of limitations of telling on myself on this one, so buckle up.

A few months ago, I was invited to make a presentation to a group of the finest men's clothing stores in the country. These are the people that sell Brioni, Pal Zileri, Burberry, John Varvatos, Zegna and Luciano Barbera.

I was invited at the last minute. I drove home in a panic, packed and headed to the airport.

The meeting was in Las Vegas. The town that REALLY never sleeps.

I got to the hotel after midnight.

I had to present at 8 in the morning.

As I unpacked, I was feeling good. I had grabbed my one Savile Row suit, a fine Italian shirt, and the perfect cap-toed shoes.

In less than 8 hours, I'm going to be standing in front of the best dressed group of men in the country.

Then the horror.

No underwear. I had not packed any clean Kimbies.

Do I go with the dirty boxer briefs I have on? Turn them inside out? Go commando?

Then I figure out I packed no socks, either.

The only socks I have are the stinky low-cut white ones with the Nike swooshes on my feet.

It's one in the morning. Oh, Dear Lord. Oh, Dear Armani. Oh, Dear Concierge.

Oh, Dear Walgreens.

At one in the morning, that was the only place in the hotel open that sold underwear and socks.

To the back wall I go. I pick up a package of black socks. That was easy because that's the only kind of socks Walgreens carries.

Now, underwear.

I find the section of boxer briefs and pick the least appalling of the horror show colors.

Whew. I get back to the room, and am so relieved. A few hours sleep, and I'm going to knock 'em dead.

At 6am, the alarm goes off and I have the, "Where the hell am I" moment.

Oh, yeah. Quick shower so I can get dressed and go find the meeting room in the convention area the size of North Dakota.

I open the Walgreens underwear, and it isn't a good thing.

They are bikini briefs. The colors of a month old Easter basket.

Quick, check yesterday's pair. Not a good idea, either.

So, I put a pair on and start looking for Richard Simmons to pop out of the closet with a camera. I am scarred for life.

Hurry, put your suit on and you'll forget about it.

No I won't. Indian underwear. They keeping creeping up behind.

Oh, suck it up.

Open the fresh black socks.

Walgreens apparently has used some General Motors logic. Put the same crap in different packages and no one will notice.

These are supposed to be socks. They are as sheer as La Perla lace.

More skin and leg hair is showing than sock.

I determine that if I never sit down, no one will ever see shins.

Not feeling my most confident, I finish getting dressed and head out into the real world.

I felt exactly like I do when I have that dream about being naked in the high school cafeteria.

I have the sense that everyone in this lobby has xray eyes and can see my ugly bikini briefs and bad socks.

I find the meeting room, find a place where I can stand up until it's my turn to present, and grimace my way thru my presentation.

So far as I can tell, none of these tailors to America's gentry was any the wiser.

The only person I'm worried about is the housekeeper for room 14765 in the Northeast Tower.

She was in the hallway when I left the room after I changed following the meeting.

Commando. Sockless. And relieved.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Returning to the scene

Operation Proper Exit is a new program started by Troops First Foundation.

Troops First has a mission to improve wellness and quality of life for all of today's military personnel.

I don't know this group, but I'm going to make it my business to meet them.

They get it.

In an attempt to help soldiers cope with their physical and mental wounds sustained in Iraq, Troops First has sponsored a unique program. They have arranged for soldiers to return to their bases in Iraq and the places where they were wounded.

Per The New York Times, that appeared to be the case for retired Lt. Edwin Salau.

He was one of eight wounded American veterans who lined up on Wednesday to meet Brig. Gen. Farhan Abbas, the Iraqi Army brigade commander in Diyala Province, where Lt. Salau had been wounded at Normandy base.

“It’s an honor to be here and see all the progress,” Lieutenant Salau, whose prosthetic left leg was hidden beneath his baggy uniform, told the Iraqi general. “We gave a lot for your country and we’re glad for it.”

“You should wear your wounds like badges on your chest,” General Farhan said.

As one of the privileged few Gold Star family members that have had a chance to go to Iraq, it does help.

The situation becomes clearer. The story becomes real. As awful as the reality is, it is less scary when you visit it face to face.

And especially when there is visible progress, it helps make sense of the sacrifice.

Colonel David Sutherland made the trip as well. He was not wounded physically. But as a brigade commander in Diyala, he had lost 110 soldiers. That weighs on a man.

“I left about 15 pounds of guilt back in Iraq after that trip,” he said, “because I saw such dramatic change.”

For Sgt. Luke Wilson, 29, from Hermiston, Ore., the flight was the first he had ever flown anywhere in business class.

Business class was important, for a 13-hour-long flight, so they could lie down, take their legs off and relax.

“This has blown me away,” Sergeant Wilson said. He lost his left leg above the knee in a grenade attack in Baghdad in 2004. “I’ve never been treated like this.”

He then turned to Lawrence Wilson, the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer in the theater, and asked, “Can I stay, Command Sergeant Major?”

Godspeed, Troops First Foundation.

God bless the men and women who wear the cloth of our nation and all other nations that are willing to bleed for our freedoms.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
-John 15:13

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trouble in Oz

The President of the United States is the undisputed king of the human jungle.

In nature, it is the lion. Because the lion has no fear.

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the forest was in anarchy because the king of the jungle was afraid of his own tail.

Helen Thomas is the reporter that sits on the front row at White House news conferences. She has done so since 1960. She has covered every President since John F. Kennedy.

She is tough on all of them in public as a good journalist should be.

She herself is a proud liberal. One of her best friends was Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby). Dear Abby wrote in one of her books that, "No one is left of Helen Thomas."

Ms. Thomas was recently interviewed by Phil Bronstein, Editor at Large of The San Francisco Chronicle. Not exactly a part of the "vast right wing conspiracy".

In the interview, Ms. Thomas stated that Nancy Reagan was a heroine of hers. She stated she had tender sympathy for Lyndon Johnson. She stated she had great respect for Gerald Ford.

Perhaps some surprises there.

But her big surprise was this statement.

"President Obama lacks courage."

Her opinion counts with me due to her experience, integrity, fairness and proximity to power.

We should all be afraid. Very afraid.

Because if our President lacks courage, no one will fear him.

No one will respect him.

And he will soon become irrelevant.

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's goin' on?

Does the world seem especially screwed up this week to you, or is just me?

President Obama is awarded the Nobel Prize.

And yet, he is now running two wars with more military deployed than President Bush ever had deployed during his administration.


Iran and North Korea are rattling nuclear sabers, and we are rattling our MOP. That stands for Massive Ordnance Penetrator. A 30,000 pound (or heavier) bomb designed to penetrate underground sites. Lots of news on that weapon today. Wonder who that's designed for.

Peace prize?

I hope he deserves it someday, and I'm not against the use of force to get it. Sometimes a bully or nutjob just needs to be done away with in order for the royal we to get any peace.

But now? This week?

And in Washington, whilst our elected representatives are busy spending our money and trying to fix the economy and health care, we learn a couple of interesting facts.

We are still losing jobs. So, never mind on health care, cause nobody can afford it. We'll all be on Medicaid.

And because we are losing jobs and midterm elections are coming, the Democrats have pointed out to President Obama that another trillion dollar stimulus would be a good idea. Since the first trillion has done so much. At least it would give them something positive to talk about.

And now this news. A bill making the rounds on Capitol Hill marries two feel-good propositions -- tax cuts and pet ownership -- to generate a novel idea: A tax break of up to $3,500 per person for pet care expenses.

That's what we need. We can't feed our children, we are closing schools and hospitals, but we are going to offer a tax cut so you can buy more Alpo.

Won't this lead to more promiscuous animal behavior encouraged by humans? Sounds like a Congressional Oversight Committee will be needed. As well as picketing by those for and against more animal husbandry. And maybe a czar.

Since when does the United States have friggin' czars? Defined as
"a person with dictatorial powers". A Russian word that some Englishter mangled from tsar to czar several hundred years ago.

Commissioner of, Director of, Secretary of isn't good enough? Czars?

And how about those banks. They are reporting record profits.

And not loaning money.

How? Fees. Fees. Fees.

Let me know if you have seen this one yet.

In California this weekend at a gas station. Put in the debit card to prepay (something we take for granted but is a necessity because of all the assholes that drive off and steal gasoline).

The oh so personal little touch screen wants to know if I accept the 45cent debit card fee.

The what? A debit card is my cash going immediately into your cashbox.

A credit card means the gas station pays 2-8% to the credit card company.

Any you want me to pay a debit card fee?

And since I'm railing against the windmills, why in the name of Uncle Sam and common sense is the U.S. importing oil when we sit on a century's worth of it? Why does almost all of the oil from Alaska get sold to Japan? And why are we importing gasoline? Like we don't know how to pump oil and refine it?


I need a Coke and a BC Powder. At least that still works.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A lost dream

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
-I Timothy 6:10

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
-Martin Luther King, Jr. August 28, 1963

ATLANTA, Georgia -- Jury selection is set to start Monday in a trial pitting two children of Martin Luther King Jr. against their brother, whom they accuse of mishandling the late civil rights leader's estate.
-CNN October 12, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Complicated but Comprehensive Solution

This world has lots of issues.

But, would anyone argue that at the top of the list are:

1. Radical Islam
2. Oil and all of its related issues: economic, environmental, political

Think how much better this world would be if we could focus on more productive, healthy topics.

Well, if you will bear with me, I have some thoughts.

The radical Islam we need to worry about are groups like al Quaeda (which means "The Base"), the Taliban (which means "the Students") and related splinter groups like Pakistan's Lashkur-e-Omar and Lashkur-e-Taiba (lashkur-e means "army of").

Radical Islam has a number of characteristics that should make it quite easy to stamp out.

They are primarily Sunni, and many are Wahhabi, a fundamentalist radical sect of Sunni.

There are 1.57 billion Muslims in our world of 6 billion according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. And 9 out of 10 Muslims are Sunni.

Radical Sunnis make life miserable for the majority Sunnis. Sunnis have lived peacefully amongst their neighbors in India, China, Indonesia, Germany, Russia and Turkey for generations.

Suggestion #1: Sunnis of the world, unite. Turn in and/or turn on your radical cult groups yourselves. You have the power, the numbers, and the information to eradicate this scourge from the earth. Think how much your fellow believers and your neighbors around the world would appreciate you fixing this.

The Base (al Qaeda) has declared war and been at war with Russia, China, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Indonesia, Spain, India and Turkey.

Today, a high-ranking al Qaeda leader has called on China's minority Uyghurs to prepare for a holy war against the Chinese government.

"There is no way for salvation and to lift this oppression and tyranny unless you ... seriously prepare for jihad in the name of God and carry your weapons against the ruthless brutal invader thugs," Abu Yahia Al-Libi said Wednesday in a video on an Islamist Web site. He delivered his message in Arabic.

This won't sit well in Beijing. (How do you say "Goodnight, Dick" in Mandarin?)

Surely, between China, Russia, Europe, Turkey and the U.S. we can agree that radical Islam is an unnecessary evil.

Suggestion #2: The Dream Team of the above-mentioned superpowers unite with those willing Sunni countries to eliminate the marginalized Sunni terrorists. The Dream Team has enough economic and military clout to nudge moderate, rational Sunnis to action. And if Sunnis don't respond, the Dream Team can handle it themselves. And then, will remember who helped and who didn't.

Iran was once a home of radical Shia thinking and terrorism.

Iran continues to support terrorism, but it is not because of Islamic thinking. It is good old organized crime.

The imams of Shia Iran and their hired guns, the Revolutionary Guards, have figured out how to intimidate Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, many of the tiny oil oligarchies around the Persian Gulf thru economic and physical terrorism.

Iran sees itself as owning all of the oil in the Middle East in the not too far distant future.

Suggestion #3: Sunnis, as I understand your beliefs, those who worship power and money over Allah are infidels. And the imams in Iran worship money and power more than Allah. 1.3 billion Sunnis can't be wrong. And the Shia minority in the middle East wants all of your oil. Stop them. And guess who will support you?

That's right. The Dream Team will have your back.

OK, then oil. What do we do about oil.

First, let's realize it is a recent phenomenon. Most historians agree that the first oil strike was in 1858 in Titusville, Pennsylvania by Edwin Drake. That's only 151 years ago.

Why was Mr. Drake drilling for oil? It was thought it would be useful for lamp fuel.

Inexpensive oil from the ground was discovered to be useful for many more things. Heating homes, fueling locomotives, powering combustion engines, and driving production of electricity.

Oil was discovered in Persia in 1901. That's 108 years ago. My grandfather was born before that. And yet in that time, we have allowed this simple commodity to cause wars, pollute our environment, corrupt countries, and impact the map of the world.

In the meantime, we have figured out how to fly. And, how to fly to the moon.

We have figured out how to split atoms and turn that microscopic process into power.

We have discovered that helium can lift huge objects because it is lighter than air.

We have invented computers that are approaching human thinking and physical capabilities.

But, we haven't figured out an alternative to oil.

Let me speak to just us North Americans for a second.

Here's the reality. There is enough oil in and around Canada, Mexico and the United States to keep us running for at least thirty years. Maybe fifty.

Suggestion #4: North America, swear off buying one more gallon of oil from anywhere but here. Forever.

Yeah, it will drive the price up. For a short while.

But it will also force us to figure out how to do without oil. Which will then drive the price of oil way down.

But North America will then own the new technologies and industries to sell to the rest of the world.

Just remember, it wasn't that long ago we couldn't do without typewriter ribbon. Or paregoric. Or rabbit ears for our black and white televisions.

The point is we can change things fast if we want to.

Necessity is the mother of invention. We need some Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs thinking around here.

Until the spigot is turned off (or the syringe is taken out of the arm), there is no motivation to change.

Think of the the new industries, new technologies, new jobs, new freedoms we would enjoy without dependence on middle Eastern oil.

And with the good riddance of radical Islam, the world could get focused on cooperation and competition as opposed to fear and loathing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Are we becoming the Federal Republic of America?

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the no-nonsense sheriff of Maricopa County, the county surrounding Phoenix, Arizona.

The following article is in today's edition of The Wall Street Journal.

'The Obama administration is curbing the powers of an Arizona sheriff who has led one of the most contentious fights against illegal immigrants.

Under an agreement involving local enforcement of federal immigration law, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies will no longer have the authority to arrest suspected illegal immigrants in the streets in the course of their duty.

A senior official with Immigration & Customs Enforcement flew to Phoenix late last month with the revised agreement, which the sheriff signed late last week.

Homeland Security announced in July that all localities participating in the enforcement program -- more than 60 from Alabama to California -- would have to sign revised enforcement deals by Oct. 15. Unlike others participating in the program, Mr. Arpaio will be restricted to determining the immigration status of inmates booked into Maricopa County jails. Vincent Picard, an ICE spokesman in Phoenix, declined to comment. ICE is a unit of the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Arpaio was an early participant in a federal immigration program that enlists and trains local police to identify suspected criminal aliens in jails and on the streets. The program, known as 287g, is designed to target drug dealers, gang members and human smugglers.

Since February 2007, Mr. Arpaio has arrested about 30,000 illegal immigrants who were booked into jails in his county. The street-enforcement component, the most contentious portion of the program, resulted in the apprehension of far fewer people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

Human-rights activists have said Mr. Arpaio's officers engaged in racial profiling and found pretexts, such as broken tail lights, to arrest undocumented residents of the Phoenix area. The Department of Justice is investigating whether officers used skin color as a pretense to stop Hispanics. Mr. Arpaio has said that his actions were in line with the law.

"They took away my authority on the streets. That doesn't matter because I will still pursue illegals on the streets of Maricopa utilizing the authority I have as the elected official," Mr. Arpaio said Tuesday in an interview.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered a comprehensive review of the 287g program shortly after taking office.

A person close to the Obama administration said some DHS officials had been hoping Mr. Arpaio would withdraw from the program altogether when confronted with a watered-down version.

Mr. Arpaio, a headline-grabbing elected official in his fifth term, said: "They thought I wasn't going to sign it. I signed it."'

So, the question has to be asked.

Why, Ms. Napolitano?

Why not arrest illegal immigrants?

In a related article in today's The Arizona Republic, we learn the following.

'Federal officials have come under pressure from civil-rights, labor, religious and pro-immigrant groups to end the program, known as 287(g), because of racial-profiling fears.

A canvass of agencies in the U.S. with both street-level and jail-enforcement agreements indicated that ICE's decision to remove the street-level provision with the Sheriff's Office was unique.

The interaction with ICE during the last sweep could give insight into the practical impact of Arpaio losing the street-level agreement. When sheriff's posse members and deputies descended on Chandler in July, federal immigration agents would not take custody of nine suspected illegal immigrants who were not suspected of other crimes.'

So, Maricopa County and Sheriff Arpaio are singled out by the U.S. government?

And ICE won't take custody of illegal aliens unless they have committed crimes?

Isn't it illegal to be in this country illegally?

Sheriff Arpaio certainly has detractors. The folks that don't like him include Amnesty International, the ACLU, and the Arizona arm of the Anti-Defamation League.

However, Arpaio continues to enjoy the support of Maricopa County voters, who reelected him sheriff by double-digit margins in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.

In 2007 a petition to recall Arpaio from office failed to gain enough voter signatures to get on the ballot. In a survey taken by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication while the petition was in circulation, nearly three out of four respondents opposed the recall, and 65 percent of the respondents held a positive opinion of Arpaio.

So, who runs Maricopa County?

The residents, or the U.S. government?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Men with big hands

When I was in the advertising business, my favorite clients were the folks that had started and grown a business from nothing.

They had put their lives into it. They had passion for the business. They had their money and their reputations at stake.

And, they knew more about the product than anyone else.

Ben Hogan.

Arnold Palmer.

(More to be written about both of them at a later date.)

Carl Paul who founded Golfsmith.

The Haggar family.

Ben Love who made Texas Commerce Bank a great bank by sheer force of will.

When I moved to Dallas to work for Tracy Locke, my first client was Borden Dairy.

Tracy Locke and Borden had made Elsie the Cow as well known and respected a brand icon as ever there was. And she's still going. She's at the Texas State Fair right now.

When I met my clients, I noticed these were men with big hands.

They had worked their way up the ranks. They knew of cows. And milking. And pasteurizing. And how to make butter. And cottage cheese. And all those other wonderful things that come from cow's milk.

The president of Borden during my watch was a man named Richard.

He wasn't more than 5'9", but he was a powerful presence. A man with passion for milk. And milk consumption. And Elsie.

And he had those giant mitts.

Richard absolutely made two of my favorite meetings in my little business history.

We had a meeting at the agency in Dallas. Richard was there with the marketing team.

A corporate sort of guy had made his way to EVP of Marketing. He didn't have big hands.

Richard was explaining to the entire group that milk consumption was under attack by the health nuts. He wanted all to understand this was a dire situation and that something had to be done.

The marketing guy had the temerity to say, "Well, Richard, I have alot of balls in the air. We'll see what we can do."

Richard's priceless response was, "Bill, I have alot of balls in the air. And two of them are mine."

A few months later, Richard called a summit meeting in Columbus, Ohio where Borden was headquartered.

He invited us agency types, his marketing team, his legal team, and his food chemists.

There was no agenda published before the meeting.

Once we were all assembled around the huge conference table, Richard closed and locked the door to the room.

"Folks, here's why you are all here. Borden stands for milk. The health people don't like the fat in milk.

So, we are going to find a way to introduce fat free milk.

That's it. Meeting's over."

The legal beagles and the chemists immediately went into spastic attack.

"Richard, the federal labeling guidelines say there is no such thing as fat free milk."

"Richard, it can't be done. Milk has fat in it."

Richard unlocked the door.

"I've said it. Now go do it."

The legals and the chemists continued to whine and pontificate and roll their eyes at the only man in the room with big hands.

Richard literally threw them out.

He physically pushed them out the door, with the following admonition.

"I don't want to hear why not. I just want to hear how."

He slammed the door behind them with only the marketing team and the agency boys in the room.

"Goddamnit. Trying to get those guys to do something new is like trying to get hogs off a trailer. They just hump up on you."

That's a visual and a metaphor I shall never forget.

Richard was fired within a year by a man with small hands.

But if you go to your dairy case today, there sits Borden Fat Free Milk.

We need more men with big hands.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Do you want lime with that taqiyya?

"Lying and cheating in the Arab world is not really a moral matter but a method of safeguarding honor and status, avoiding shame, and at all times exploiting possibilities, for those with the wits for it, deftly and expeditiously to convert shame into honor on their own account and vice versa for their opponents. If honor so demands, lies and cheating may become absolute imperatives.” [David Pryce-Jones, “The Closed Circle” An interpretation of the Arabs, p4]

“No dishonor attaches to such primary transactions as selling short weight, deceiving anyone about quality, quantity or kind of goods, cheating at gambling, and bearing false witness. The doer of these things is merely quicker off the mark than the next fellow; owing him nothing, he is not to be blamed for taking what he can.” [David Pryce-Jones, “The Closed Circle”, p38]

In Shia Islam, there is a concept known as taqiyya.

It permits lying.

It encourages lying if it is good for Shiites.

Iran is a Shia superpower.

Just know that it does not bother them, shame them, or embarrass them to lie. To anyone at anytime. It is, rather, expected that they will lie.

So tap the brakes on these discussions about their nukes and their willingness to open up for inspection.

They will literally lie till death. It's what their religion teaches.