Friday, March 31, 2006

Fool of the Week

This week the Fool of the Week award goes to Robert Pambello, Reagan High School Principal, Houston, Texas.

I am sure this is nothing more than a local story but it is still of note in the debate over illegal immigration. As you have probably seen on the news, cities like Houston have had student walkouts of classes all week. The students are receiving support from their parents and many school administrators. They wave the Mexican flag and shout slogans and wave placards in Spanish. They also tie up traffic and take additional police security.

Hispanic parents have been interviewed all week proudly proclaiming the students are taking a stand. The students are proud of their heritage and culture. The students are taking a stand for civil rights.

Monday, Robert Pambello raised the Mexican flag under the American flag on this school ground and did not raise the State of Texas flag as is normally done. He agreed to fly the flag to show support for his student body, predominantly Hispanic. Calls for the firing of Pambello were heard from indignant parents. HISD (Houston Independent School District, the second largest school district in the country) declined interviews. Finally yesterday something called an undisclosed reprimand was given to Mr. Pambello. No word yet if or when taxpayers will know what this reprimand is or why it is undisclosed.

Yesterday some students were arrested by Houston police for breaking a city wide curfew that says children of school age must be off the streets during school hours. Some of the students marching have been middle school children. HISD Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra says harsher punishments will be forthcoming for students who continue to march and miss class.

Tuesday the school district had to spend $5,500 for 30 busloads of students from City Hall back to three high schools. It was raining.

My son has a Mexican flag hanging on his room's door here at home. It was brought back by his dad from a business trip there. It's a pretty flag. It doesn't belong under the American flag on public property in this country.

Reagan High School was named for President Ronald Reagan. He enacted an amnesty program in 1986 which was to solve the problem and be a one time solution. It failed.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Peeps Protest

It's warm, windy and humid here. Springtime in Houston.

The Easter bunny is not welcome at St. Paul's City Hall. He was removed along with a Happy Easter sign so as not to offend anyone.

OK. We realize the Easter bunny is not a religious symbol, right? I don't think he is mentioned in the Bible, but maybe I just overlooked that passage. I don't want to alarm anyone but he also doesn't really lay eggs.

I think I would like the employees of St. Paul's City Hall. They decided to stage a "Peep" protest under a statue called The Vision of Peace. "Peeps, it's pretty funny cause it peeps instead of peace," laughed attorney and city hall employee Maureen Dolan. So it is called the Peeps Protest and the colorful and sugary treats are being brought in to make a display of their own.

The St. Paul Human Rights Office announced that its director has no further comment on the Easter bunny brouhaha.

The ACLU of Minnesota, through one of its attorneys, states that according to law, the Easter bunny is secular and the greeting Happy Easter is religious. But allowing the bunny at City Hall? The ACLU would not have challenged it. Probably. So they say.

Power to the Peeps!

"Always hold your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level." - Max L. Forman

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wet Wednesday

It's damp, humid and foggy this morning. Blech. Community Coffee and blueberry muffins I baked last night got me going this morning.

I wonder if my hubby was able to see the solar eclipse yesterday in Bolivia. We missed any viewing opportunities in this country but I heard on the news that people saw it in Brazil. Hubby and son love that stuff.

The school board in New Orleans is offering the busses flooded in Hurricane Katrina for sale on eBay. I'm not kidding.

I noticed an update on a legal case that goes back to 1996. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) was finally given a ruling on violating federal law by turning over an illegally taped telephone call to reporters. Of course he blatantly did an illegal act and was finally ruled as so. He came into the possession of this tape from a couple in Florida who worked for the DNC and taped a cell phone call they intercepted from Newt Gingrich, then House Speaker, and John Boehner, now House Majority Leader. McDermott has been ordered to pay Boehner more than $700,000 for the leak. And I would guess McDermott is one who is shouting about the President breaking the law with the wiretapping surveillance policy concerning terrorist activity.

McDermott is quite a guy. He was one of three members of the House who went to Baghdad right before the U.S. and coalition went in and held the press conference there about how our policy and plans were so wrong. Baghdad Jim. Wonder if he is even bothering to check out any of the boxes and boxes of papers captured in Iraq that have now been de-classified. Even ABC News reports of the link that was in fact there between Saddam and bin Laden and terrorist activities and plans. The notion that Saddam as a secular dictator and fundamentalist bin Laden had no common ground is proven false. So much for the Big Lie theory.

You can revise history all you want but the facts are the facts.

"The danger with America today is not that they are too much involved. The danger is that they decide to pull up the drawbridge and disengage." - British PM Tony Blair, attacking "anti-American madness".

Tony Blair is the man. That bit of history will defy revision.

Geaux Tigers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tuesday Thoughts

On the homefront, finished the bag of Millstone's Special Blend for breakfast. I could have used more, though. Tonight I'll open a bag of Community Coffee for tomorrow's wake up cup. I get the coffeemaker ready the night before so all I have to do is push the button when I get up. Simple is best until I'm conscious.

Son has early dismissal from school today at noon so the morning routine is stepped up a bit. He is really enjoying this theatre class he is taking at the playhouse this semester. The teacher is in a movie being shot here and she is trying to arrange for the class - there are only 8 of them - to be extras. And for them to attend the premiere, which will be here in Houston. Cool.

Have you seen some of the protest marches around the country over proposed immigration reform? We've had them here in Houston, of course. Yesterday kids from a high school had a walkout and march of their own. Where else could 500,000 people in a large city, like the march in L.A. over the weekend, waving a foreign country's flag, protest domestic policy of a democracy? The chants were in Spanish. The flags were those of Mexico. Only in this country, I can promise you. No one arrested them. No one fired shots at them. No one did anything but try to manage traffic.

Those here illegally have no rights in this country. Period. I think it takes incredible chutzpah to make demands of a government in which you are breaking the law by the mere fact of living here. Estimates place the number of illegal immigrants at 11 to 12 million. There is no practical way to send them back to their own countries. The laws currently on the books must be enforced. The border patrol must be increased. I'm not opposed to a wall being built at the border. It's a different day.

Houston is a known as a sanctuary city. That means when a person is pulled over for a traffic violation or some such routine matter by the local police, you will not be asked to show that you are in the country legally. It's viewed as profiling and you know we don't want to offend anyone. In other cities around the world you are expected to show a passport or visa with photo to identify yourself as legally in the country. When we lived in Venezuela we always had our passports on us to provide documentation. And believe me when I tell you the police officer asking for documentation was not speaking English and was carrying an uzi on his back.

I watched the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday on C-Span briefly and the legislation to be introduced on the Senate floor for debate is confusing. It's hard work but it is their job and you, the taxpayer, are paying their salary. I understand desperate people seeking jobs to support families. I know ours is the greatest country in the world. The land of opportunity where anyone can be anything. However, we are a nation of laws. I want to know who is in this country.

To walk or swim across a border into another country is not showing respect to the welcoming country or its people. Illegal immigrants are vulnerable to exploitation by employers who will not pay them minimum wage or provide benefits. At least once a week we have been told by local law enforcement in Houston that homes are being raided that house tens of illegal immigrants being held for money from their families. Twenty or thirty people, usually men, being held in homes in neighborhoods until family members send money for their release. It is not uncommon for 18 wheel trucks to be stopped with a trailer full of men trying to sneak into the country. The people bringing them into the country are called coyotes. Often the people in the trucks die since the trailers have no fresh air or temperature control. Sometimes it makes the local news and a coyote is charged with the crime of human traffiking.

Diversity is great. Legally. To turn a blind eye as the government continues to do does no favor to our country.

"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday Morning

No sun this morning yet. A little bit of a chill in the air. However, spring is finally here, I do believe. It will be in the mid-70's later.

Quiet weekend. Just like I like it. Took son to purchase a new XBOX360 game Saturday afternoon and that was about it for outside activity.

Let's see. What is on the feeble mind today.

In the newspaper over the weekend was an article about the price of crawfish. Seems the price per pound, yes that is how you measure and sell them, is higher than ever. Due to the last hurricane season and continuing wetland barrier problems off the coast of Louisiana. Bummer. We do love to pinch tail and suck head on the Gulf coast. Lent is prime time for crawfish consumption, you know.

Rice University here did a study and found there is definate "Katrina fatigue" in this city 6 months after the event that brought 200,000 new faces to town. No surprise there. I feel it myself, I have to admit. I continue to try to put myself in their shoes. It is harder and harder as time passes, though, when the ones complaining are the ones who make the evening news broadcasts. Houston has given them 12 months free rent and utilities. Tons of support for the school kids and families needing jobs and daycare. Our local charities are suffering with dollars stretched thin. It is never enough.

Crime is up here. Markedly so, according to the police department. They are actively recruiting new officers from other parts of the country. The city is increasing the police force by 600 to keep up with demand.

I watched very little news this weekend. Sometimes it is all just too much. And with cable news, it is so often people who have no clue doing all the pontificating. How does one get to be an "expert" anyway? I'm a process oriented person, just pondering.

I watched a lot of shows on the Food Network and enjoyed catching some movies that are favorites. Saw "Fifty First Dates" with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sadler again. Love it. Just a feel good kind of movie. My hubby loves young Drew so he is always willing to tune into it. Son loves all the physical humor of it. And there's a penguin in it. Enough said.

I read an update on that Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staffer caught "misrepresenting" herself as the lt. gov. of Maryland on a website to obtain his credit report last summer. The lt. gov. is running for the Senate seat vacated by Paul Sarbannes this cycle. His name is Michael Steele and he is an African American Republican with lots of popular support. Anyway, this now former staffer decided to pry into Steele's private life to try to get some goods on him. She was caught and has plea bargained it to a misdemeanor and completing 150 hours of community service. Lauren B. Weiner, the former staffer, used a committee credit card to gain access to Steele's credit report over the Internet. She pretended to be him and created an e-mail address to get the report. So, obviously the DSCC knew what she was up to or she would not have had an official credit card. She was a researcher, not a bigwig in the committee. The chairman of the DSCC this election cycle? Charles Schumer, NY

Last week on 60 Minutes, a scientist called "the world's leading researcher on global warming" by the CBS show, claimed to be a victim of the Bush administration's censorship on the global warming issue. His allegation was that this administration is vested in denying global warming findings from the scientific community. He didn't mention he acted as a consultant in February to Al Gore's slide show presentation on global warming around the country. He didn't mention he publicly endorsed John Kerry for president and received a $250,000 grant from Teresa Heinz Kerry's foundation. $250,000 buys a lot of endorsement, I suppose. The reporter profiling James Hansen on the show, Scott Pelley, also failed to mention any of these links. Hansen made similar charges against the first President Bush, too. At the time, in 1989, Kerry and a dozen other senators co-signed a letter written by Gore, then a US Senator, demanding an explanation for that administration's supposed censorship.

Hubby is in Bolivia and communication is limited, to say the least. Have to communicate via e-mail but I'm not complaining. Better than nothing. Hubby is very good about keeping in touch with phone calls when he is away but sometimes the locations don't present the opportunity. This is one of those locations - the mountains of Bolivia.

"The best things in life aren't things." - Art Buchwald

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Good News

Today's is a good news story. A woman named Paula Nirschel, after the events of 9/11, was searching for a way to help the people of Afghanistan and channel her energy from her grief of the events. She founded a program called the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. In 2002, she set out to match young women win post-Taliban Afghanistan to U.S. colleges so that they might pursue a degree. She sent out letters to 2000 schools asking for participation in her new program. Three signed up right away.

The three signing on were Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, Notre Dame College in New Hampshire and the University of Montana, Missoula. Four years out, 20 students at 10 universities are enrolled.

As for Roger Williams University, this was a given. Mrs. Nirschel is married to the president of the university! He admits his first response to Paula's request for his opinion of her idea was to suggest they just give to a charity. But he says, "My wife can be very persuasive."

The idea was to find college-ready candidates and pay for their travel expenses to the U.S. The colleges were asked to pay tuition, room and board. As a matter of note, these women are prepared for their classes. They spent formative years huddled in basements secretly learning from male relatives and some lived in Pakistani refugee camps to get a chance to go to school. None of them have a GPA below 3.5. Girls were not allowed education under the Taliban.

Two requirements of the students are that they return to Afghanistan each summer to work for an organization involved in rebuilding the country and they must go home at the end of their four years in this country. The program does not serve as an escape from Afghanistan. This program helps along the progress of the shaping of Afghanistan.

The colleges participating to date are:
Duke University, N.C.
Juniata College, Pa.
Kennesaw State University, Ga.
Middlebury College, Vt.
Montclair State University, N.J.
Mount Holyoke College, Mass.
Roger Williams University, R.I.
Simmons College, Mass.
University of Montana, Missoula
University of Richmond, Va.
Looking for colleges for your child? That's a good place to start. Support institutes of higher learning doing good in this world.

To follow up on yesterday's post, Yale University declined to participate.

This is a good news story that does your heart good.

"The human race has one effective weapon--and that is laughter." - Mark Twain

Friday, March 24, 2006

Fool of the Week

The Fool of the Week honor goes to Yale University President Richard Levin.

Recently I blogged about the admission of Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, a former ambassador at large of the Taliban, as a special student at Yale University. Hashemi has a 4th grade education. When this admission was exposed in a newspaper account, Yale University remained silent and then issued a 144 word statement claiming it hopes "his courses help him understand the broader context for the conflicts that led to the creation of the Taliban and to its fall...Universities are places that must strive to increase understanding", according to John Fund in the Wall Street Journal.

Hashemi has not renounced this involvement in the upper eschelons of the Taliban and intends to apply for full-time student status as a Sophomore for the upcoming school year. The university remains silent and unwilling to reconsider the placement of this man.

When the story came out to the public, two alumni of Yale organized a protest among fellow alumni and encouraged others to stop giving money to the university until the situation is corrected. The Director of Giving threw a hissy fit and sent e-mails to these two graduates, one male and one female, asking them what was wrong with each of them and asked if they were retarded. Retarded. The exact word this Ivy League person in the position of Director of Giving used to alumni of the university when they demanded better of Yale. He delved into the giving records of these two alumni and claimed they haven't given enough to the university to complain about its policies. Nice. Fortunately he has since been put on administrative leave.

Hashemi goes to Yale courtesy of several members of a foundation and a 40% tuition discount from Yale. The foundation members have since pulled their support.

Last night Natalie Healy, mother of two sons fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Malali Joya, a member of Afghanistan's parliament spoke at Yale on behalf of the Afghan Women's Mission. Joya is appalled that people have forgotten or ignore the crimes of the Taliban and is shocked that Hashemi attends Yale. He is the same age as Malali Joya, 27 years old. She states, "He knew very well what criminal acts they committed; he was not too young to know. It would be better if he faced a court of justice than be a student at Yale University."

In his sole recent interview, given to the Times of London, he admits he's done poorly in his class,Terrorism: Past, Present and Future". He blames his textbooks which he claims disgust him. He objects to the textbooks stating the Taliban is the same as al Qaeda. Hashemi won't explain an essay he wrote just last year which states Israel is "an American al Qaeda".

Former Yale president Benno Schmidt says "admitting Mr. Hashemi is an exercise in amorality and cynicism." He told John Fund that "diversity simply cannot be allowed to trump all moral considerations."

This is an easy call. The admission of Hashemi is an insult to all the families who grieve the loss of a soldier killed in Afghanistan. It is a slap in the face to the new government of Afghanistan. It gives new meaning to the short-sightedness of political correctness.

Diversity run amok.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Irony Indeed

Again this morning irony rears its sometimes amusing head. Today we learn the "Christians" being held by terrorists in Iraq were rescued and their lives saved by American and British troops. I have blogged on this group in the past and on the death of the member killed last month, Tom Fox.

Northwest of Baghdad the three remaining hostages of the group Christian Peacemaker Teams were rescued by a Special Forces team of American and British soldiers. These teams have been put in place as rapid reactor teams able to respond immediately to intelligence gathered in the field. The rescuers got lucky, there were no guards present. No shots were fired.

Co-Director Doug Pritchard says, "We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq."

Their mission is to live among the families of detainees in Iraq and try to negotiate the release of the detainees. On their home page they have posted a statement on how badly treated the terrorists are when detained by coalition forces. They do not show gratitude for the soldiers risk taking to rescue the men but claim they were "released". Not rescued, but released. The very soldiers they openly and proudly work against are the ones who did the rescue.

The men have chosen to show Christian love and support to the terrorists and not to the soldiers working for a free Iraq.

The men have chosen to betray the soldiers in a war zone during a time of war.

The men call the war "illegal" publicly on foreign soil when the U.S. congress passed a call for regime change in Iraq in 1998. It was the policy of the United States long before this war began.

The men hide behind their religion to push their political agenda. Turns out it was the Special Forces soldiers who valued life, not the terrorists the men align themselves with.

The men are in the same ilk as those Baptist anti war protestors who crash military funerals.



"You have two hands. One to help yourself, the second to help others." - Unknown

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Windy Wednesday

Had to actually turn on the heater last night as it got quite chilly and son still is battling a cough. The cold front moved the humidity out so that is a plus.

The City Club of Cleveland was the host of President Bush Monday for his speech concerning the anniversary of the emancipation of Iraq. Brought back memories of the City Club of Lafayette. My husband and I had a membership and the City Club network across the country is quite extensive. If you belong to one city's then you are welcomed as a guest to the others in the network. Reciprocating membership, they call it.

The City Club of Lafayette is a private club. Not a country club with tennis courts and swimming pools. It is a fine dining and forum for fundraising and speeches kind of club. We joined to have access to their annual lecture series and to have a nice quiet dining facility to bring visiting family and friends.

They have a daily lunch buffet open to the public and frequented by all the office workers from downtown, as that is where the City Club is located. They are pros at setting out a fine buffet. Good southern food. Good Cajun dishes.

Anyway, tickets to the speakers series were in big demand by the membership. As soon as the series was announced each season, the member had to get right on the telephone and reserve seats or lose out on the chance. We had the opportunity to meet some interesting people in receiving lines and listen to what they had to say.

We listened to F. Lee Bailey during the O.J. Simpson trial, we heard from William F. Buckley and his thoughts on conservatism, Charlton Heston spoke of Hollywood and then his presidency of the NRA. Those are three that readily spring to mind.

Membership didn't equate to free tickets, mind you, but we did get a small, token discount on them. The forums were always in the setting of a welcoming reception/cocktails, dinner, speech, that kind of thing.

We also enjoyed the dining experience at The City Club. We liked to go for holiday celebrations - Easter brunch with the Easter Bunny for the kiddos, Santa's visits, etc. We often went to brunch after church. The atmosphere was always inviting to families and all generations were represented. The adults could inbibe in champagne at brunch or mimosas, or blood Mary's, etc and the kids could enjoy a Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers.

The City Club was a great site for fundraising. I helped raise funds for the Childrens Museum of Acadiana when I was working to help open that facility and also raised funds for the professional woman's group to which I belonged. I was very active in our local chapter of American Business Womens Association. I held all the offices of the chapter at some time and one year voted Woman of the Year. Made some good friends there. I remained active when I left the outside working world when son was born. I learned all about the fine art of networking and making contacts.

Days gone by.

"The optimist says the cup is half full. The pessimist says the cup is half empty. The child of God says my cup runneth over." - Unknown

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


For a large part of our marriage, hubby and I have had up to 4 cats at a time. We aquired Scarlett and Prissy just a few months into our marriage. They were orphans roaming around the cars in the driveway to try to keep warm in the Indiana winter snow. They were sisters from the same litter. Scarlett was an orange tabby and Prissy was a calico. Both grew into their names. Scarlett was a constant meower, letting her humans know of her displeasure. Prissy was very quiet and skittish. She always ran to another room for refuge from visitors.

Next, while living in Dallas, hubby brought home Rhett. He found him and brought him home. He was two or three years old and very docile. He was a big old teddy bear of a cat.
Another orange tabby.

Last to arrive of the original four was Beauregard. He found us in Lafayette, LA just a few months before our son was born. Beau was abandoned along a road. He was so small that he fit in my palm and too weak to walk on his own. He may have been 4 weeks old. We nursed him to health and he blended into the gang. Beau was not a social creature. He kept to himself and was not one to shy away from a rumble. He preferred being outdoors.

Beau was the last of the original four cats with us. We took Max the dog from my sister as a puppy. He was one of a litter one of her dogs had and she was looking to place the puppies. Our son was asking for a dog by then and Max became our first dog. And then Oreo. Oreo is a black and white stray we took in about a year after Max came to live with us. Oreo is about 3 years old now. He is so bouncy that I mentioned to our son we should have named him Tigger! He lets himself in and out using the dog door. Max, however, doesn't use the dog door. He thinks he's a people.

Beau had to be put down yesterday. He had a good 17 years and was just in too much pain from old age maladies. He was too onery to take to the vet, even tranquilized, but he was spoiled like all the other animals (and humans) around here. It was time. The end of the critters we parented before our son.

So, now we have Max and Oreo. That is plenty.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Rainy Days and Mondays

Good morning! Today's brew is Millstone's 100% Columbian and it accompanies toast with cherry jam. Caffeine and sugar to get going on this rainy and dreary Monday.

The guys are home and worked on the swimming pool yesterday to get it in shape for the season. This evening hubby will be packing after dinner for the trip to Bolivia. He is kind of looking forward to it as it is a country he hasn't visited before. At least it will be warmer than the last long trip, which was Russia in December and January!

I hear on the cable news channel this morning that there is to be a movie about Cindy Sheehan and the lead will be played by Susan Saradon. Makes sense to me. Saradon is much more attractive than Cindy but it's to be expected. Just so it's all about Casey, right Cindy?

When I blogged last week about the motorcycle group known as the Patriot Guard Riders, I wasn't sure how much work they had to do. I hadn't heard of them before and I hadn't heard much about anti-war protesters crashing military funerals. You know I am a news junkie so surely I would have heard something about this obnoxious protesting, right? Well, I guess it is necessary to have the Patriot Guard Riders after all. I read a brief article in yesterday's Houston Chronicle about the funeral of 19 year old Pfc. Amy A. Duerksen. She was buried in Temple, Texas Saturday. The Patriot Guard Riders were there, about 120 of them, to shield the 200 mourners at the funeral from an anti-war protest. The funeral crashers were a group of 6 from Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.

Gosh, couldn't they find a good funeral to crash in Kansas? Did they have to come all the way to Texas to show disrespect to a grieving military family? Did God tell them to do it?

During the delivery of the funeral service, the Rev. Shannon Soard said "the two themes of freedom and justice were colossal for her". She was remembered as a soldier who loved her country and championed its freedoms, according to the newspaper article. She died March 11 in Iraq. "She had a kindness and gentleness for people that caused you to warm to her quickly", said Rev. Soard.

I don't think God was smiling on those Baptists that day. So much for Christian compassion when it doesn't fit your agenda. I can't imagine anything lower than taking advantage of a grieving family. This young woman died so that foolish, rude, thick headed protesters could have the freedom to spit on her grave and her family.

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall, always." - Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sunrise, Sunset

Well, hubby and son are en route home and will be here early this evening. They decided to leave last night instead of waiting for morning and getting home Sunday. Hubby drove until 3:30 this morning then they got back on the road after some sleep. He has always preferred night driving.

I have a big pot of chili simmering on the stove for when they arrive. I'll fix the rice when I know they are close and pop the baguette in the oven to warm. Yum. That and a cold beer will hit the spot.

Hubby was called by his boss, twice, during his time off and is set to go to Bolivia on Tuesday. It's a country he hasn't been to yet so he is curious about this business trip. He is never really on vacation, that company issued cell phone of his keeps him tethered to the office. His plans can change at any time and that is why we do not plan vacations too far out. Something always comes up.

We have a new addition at the Houston Zoo. On the front page of today's newspaper was a photo of a new baby Masai giraffe born Wednesday. His proud papa, Kiva, was photographed with him. The calf was 5'6" and 102 lbs. at birth. He's taller than me already! The zoo is putting up a spot on its website to let the public vote on the new baby's name.

Also in the paper this morning was a little article on the death of Narvin Kimball, the last surviving founding member of the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band. He was known for his banjo playing and his vocal stylings. He was 97 years old. For those of us who dearly loved the music scene in New Orleans, The Preservation Jazz Hall is almost sacred ground. The article quotes Ben Jaffe, hall director,"he was really our last connection to a bygone time in the history of New Orleans."

Sunrise, sunset.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Fool of the Week

The winner of the Fool of the Week designation this week is Senator Russ Feingold, (D-WI) who called for the censure of President Bush on the floor of the Senate.

From the git-go this was a political stunt of the lowest kind. He announced his intention to call for censure on the ABC Sunday morning talk show before he introduced it on the Senate floor. He blindsided his fellow democrats by not mentioning it, let alone consulting with them beforehand. It is all for the glory of name recognition for Feingold. He wants to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate in 2008 and is not a household name. He thought this was his ticket to the top.

Shame on him.

Ken Mehlman, Republican National Committee chairman, must surely want to give Feingold a big ole hug right about now. Fellow democrats could not run away faster from Feingold after his stunt. Even microphone hogs like Hillary Clinton and Chuckie Schumer were ducking reporters.

Feingold claims censure of President Bush is justified as the NSA wiretapping surveillance program is illegal, thus President Bush has called for his intelligence agencies to do illegal activities. This program is a matter of discussion from all aspects of the legal community and the discussion continues. Congress has the responsibility of oversight and a commission has been named to follow through. The American people are overwhelming in favor of the President putting the program into use.

Russ Feingold was the lone vote against the Patriot Act in the Senate. He opposed its reauthorization. He opposes the NSA program. He was against the Iraq war. He opposes using coercive interrogation against terrorists abroad. He is the poster boy for why the American people do not trust the far left to keep the country safe, most importantly at a time of war.

Senator Joe Leiberman stated he "didn't know a single person in the Senate who doesn't support the surveillance program." He is a sane voice on the left. I say let's have this debate pre-election 2006. It would be an easy argument for Republicans to make that the opposition can not be trusted with national security.

Feingold wants to embarrass President Bush and his administration at a time of war just to score cheap political points. He claims he merely wants to open a discussion. The discussion has already been going on for some time now, since the New York Times took it upon itself to divulge national security secrets to the world, including the enemy.

Some Democrats want to punish President Bush for being too aggressive in the pursuit of bad guys in the global war on terror. Previously, of course, they claimed he wasn't tough enough. Can't have it both ways. There is no record of Feingold supporting any measure that would protect this country from another attack like 9/11.

We have not been hit since 9/11 in this country. Many plans of attack have been thwarted. The Democrats feel emboldened by the President's lower poll numbers. Governing by the polls, they are, as usual. That's how you govern when you have no plan, no core values, no leadership.

Good thing governing by polls wasn't commonplace as World War II was being fought.

There is no constitutional basis for Congress to vote to censure a president. There is no constitutional basis for the President to issue a proclaimation censuring a member of Congress. There is, however, nothing to stop the Senate from censuring one of its own members. This is constitutionally empowered to both houses of Congress to discipline its members. If it is such a great idea, censure Feingold.

If it's just all about political disagreement, he's the one to be censured. He'd still get his name out there.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

May you have:
A world of wishes at your command.
God and His angels close to hand.
Friends and family thheir love impart,
and Irish blessings in your heart!
-Irish Blessing

There isn't any Irish blood in my genetic makeup but I love all things Irish. My son loves Celtic folklore and symbols, too. I think today everyone can be Irish.

I am meeting a girlfriend for lunch later. I always love lunch and catching up. This girlfriend and I enjoy meeting at a little sandwich and soup place. Nothing fancy but the food is great. A place that people who have lived here forever know about.

I watched a briefing and question and answer session this morning on C-Span. It was conducted by the Pentagon. Lt. Gen Peter Chiarelli, Multinational Corps - Iraq Commander was answering questions from the press corp that covers the Pentagon in Washington. It was very interesting. To me, anyway. He says during the current big operation there, Swarmer it is being called, the Iraqi Army are really stepping up and doing the largest part of the work. That is good news. He said it is still not civil war there. The leadership of the different factions there have stepped up and lead their people to come together against insurgents, not fall into the abyss of civil war. That's good news. He said by late summer, 75% of the country should be under Iraqi control, up from less than 50% now. That's good news.

Try as they did, the media folks couldn't get this Lt. General to be pessimistic. He says on the ground the Iraqi people are more and more optimistic and getting the job done.

That's good news.

I'm off to find a green shirt to wear for lunch. I think I'll wear my green glass beads from a long ago Mardi Gras necklace that are now a drop style pair of earrings. I'm into it today.

"May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. The rain falls soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand." - Irish Blessing

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Fine Afternoon

I had a wonderful, so very me kind of afternoon. I went early to a book signing at a nearby Barnes and Noble Bookstore. I went to the mandatory Starbucks coffee cafe in said bookstore. I ordered a decadant Strawberries and Creme foo-foo drink. Then I cracked open the book to be signed and read until it was time to rise and stand in line for the author's signature.

It was heaven. I chatted briefly with a young woman who took the small table next to my small table in the cafe. She had such a pretty silk bag that she was using as a diaper bag for the 11 month old she had in the stroller that I had to compliment her good taste. She was sweet. That baby had such chubby, full cheeks that it took all of my willpower to not reach over and pinch them. She was all in pink and so cute.

The author is a 92 year old woman. A political insider and so very interesting. I am half way through her memoir now and plan to do a book review for Dew on the Kudzu when I finish. I love a good biography. I think people and the lives they lead are the most interesting of subjects. This woman was born and raised in Yoacum, Texas and has lead a very big life. Still spry, impeccably dressed as only an older Southern woman would be, and has a warm, smiling face. So cool.

A book signing I went to a couple of years ago was for Sherron Watkins, the former vice president of Enron who was hailed as a whistleblower after her memo to Ken Lay questioning accounting practices became public knowledge. She is in the news again because of the Enron trials. She was in court yesterday and the write up in today's paper was interesting. I knew she was on the lecture circuit. She says she makes $20,000 to $30,000 per speech. She has been told by experts that she is no longer employable in corporate America. She doesn't claim the title of whistleblower, it was a label put on her by the media. She remained in the employ of Enron after the famous memo and meeting with Ken Lay. If she was so outraged she would have quit. She sold $45,000 of company stock using insider info but doesn't think she did anything wrong with that transaction. She is an interesting character in the scheme of the Enron drama. I have mixed feelings about her to this day.

Sherron Watkins was very nice and friendly at her book signing a couple of years ago. I am sure she didn't ask for her current fee for that speech - it was in a large, old Methodist church and she was the keynote speaker at the Sunday luncheon after services. She patiently spoke to everyone who wanted to ask her questions and didn't make anyone feel the need to rush through her signing line after the speech.

So, now I am going to make some popcorn, open a Diet Coke and watch "Fried Green Tomatoes" tonight. In bed. Decadant.

So very me.

Thursday Talk

Hubby and Son made it to their destination among the rolling hills of southern Indiana. Grandma is happy and enjoyed receiving her George Foreman Grill and her book that were sent with them as gifts. Who doesn't like presents? Today Son is to tour Indiana University.

Yesterday the Congress held a joint session to welcome and listen to a speech by the newly elected female president of the African country of Liberia. First woman president. She thanked the people of her country, she thanked them for their courage to make the country better, and she thanked President Bush and the American people for their support and strong resolve to force out a tyrant. She made a point of saying Liberia does not want patronage from the US. They want to be a full partner striving for independence in the world. The American embassy in Monrovia is the most evacuated embassy in the world and it has been evacuated 9 times in the past 15 years. She promised there would not be a 10th time needed to rescue Americans and dependents out of the country for safety.

She is a strong woman. Her vision is that Liberia is the U.S. success story in Africa. Wish her well.

Ryan Theodore was a chef in New Orleans. He had a deep faith in God and he was a big smiler. During the evacuation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina he drove his family to Sealy, a small town just west of Houston, to safety. After the hurricane he was left with his family and the clothes on his back. He kept smiling.

Carol's at Cat Springs is a far cry from Sweet Lorraine's and the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, but it is the fanciest restaurant in the small town. He took the opportunity to start anew and make a name for himself.

He was known as Theo. His story was told on the front page of the Houston Chronicle in October. His story of success over adversity. He was interviewed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier this month, touted as one of the few chefs that had been successful in Houston after leaving New Orleans. His friends say his life was never better.

Theo was a husband and a father. He and his wife were raising his nephew who they took in at the age of 3 when Theo's sister died. They had no children of their own.

Veronica Theodore and Theo were to celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. He was a bear of a man, standing 6-foot-8 and he was a gentle man. The town of Sealy wrapped their arms around the family as they settled in and provided everything for them.

Theo told the Houston Chronicle, shortly after moving to Sealy, "I've lived in big cities all my life, and now I see cows and horses and they're not on milk cartons. It's like I've died and gone to Mayberry." The community is devastated with the loss.

Tuesday his 1998 Ford Explorer rolled over on FM 2187, six miles northwest of Sealy. He was en route to a benefit in Houston. He was not wearing a seat belt . He was ejected from the SUV and died at 3:21 p.m., according to a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Ryan Theodore chose to live a positive life. He smiled through some tough times and inspired those around him. He took opportunities that came his way and built a better life for his family. He was full of life, living the dream.

Rest in peace, Theo.

"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice." - Indian Proverb

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

That Was A Close One!

That huge exhaling sigh of relief coming from this part of the world was made by me last night. Hubby and son called to say they were at the hotel and settling in for the night. During the conversation hubby says it's a good thing the anti-lock brakes work well on the car. A driver in front of them in Memphis, for no visible reason, spun out as they were going 70 mph. Missed son's passenger seat by inches. They are fine, no actual accident. Frayed nerves, though! Needless to say, I said a little thank you prayer after I put down the phone.

Laura Bush received another honorary title Monday from a group of HIV positive mothers from South Africa. They said they consider her their "grandmother". They were at the White House on the invitation from Mrs. Bush after meeting them during a trip to South Africa last year. She was inspired by the work the women are doing to help each other cope with HIV, many discovering they are HIV positive during prenatal care. The women are part of a group called The Mothers' Programmes, a private organization receiving assistance from President Bush's five year $15 billion anti-AIDS effort. Mrs. Bush also announced a new partnership between the U.S. government, drug companies and international organizations to develop more effective treatments for children with HIV and AIDS.

I learned of a group yesterday that gets little to no publicity called the Patriot Guard Riders, founded in August 2005. This group attends funerals of fallen soldiers, on motorcycles, and provide barricades between the family and anti-war protesters as a show of respect and support to the family. They provide a visual shield with 3' x 5' flags and motorcycles. How sad that there is a need for their service for military families.

In Aurora, Colorado Monday, Jay Bennish went back to teaching geography at Overland High School. He was put on administrative leave, paid, on March 1 after a 10th grader's 21 minute tape recording from Bennish's class was made public. He was reinstated after 2 days of meetings with Cherry Creek School officials, himself and his attorney. In support of Bennish, the principal of the school, Jana Frieler, said "It's not about maps anymore, it's about politics, it's about religion, it's about culture." Contrary to Bennish's assertions, the First Amendment rights to free speech was never meant as speech free of consequences. "Nowhere else do people think that it is ok to engage in politics instead of doing the job for which they are being paid. When you hire a plumber to fix a leak, you don't want to find our home being flooded while he whiles away the hours talking about Congressional elections or foreign policy" wrote Thomas Sowell in a recent column. "Inbred ideological narrowness shows up, not only in hiring and teaching, but also in restrictive campus speech codes for students, created by the very academics who complain loudly when their own "free speech" is challenged."

Which brings us to Dan Rather. Jim Walsh of the Courier Post (NJ) relates a lesson he learned from former CBS anchorman Dan Rather. Rather spoke to a Cherry Hill, NJ audience about the need for imporvement in reporting. He told the audience of 600 "What's gone out of fashion is the tough question and the follow-up." So, Walsh went to the floor mike to ask a question after the lecture. He asked, " You left the anchor desk last year after your report questioning President Bush's military service was discredited. Key memos could not be authenticated. Do you think the failure to ask questions then affects your credibility now?" Rather responded with civility that the independent review "couldn't determine whether the documents were authentic or not." Walsh asked a follow-up "The Courier-Post won't run something if we're not sure it's authentic. Are you saying it's OK..." and his microphone goes dead. Do as I say, not as I do should be the mantra for Rather, it seems. After making a whole speech about the absence of tough questions and follow-ups in journalism today, this is how a reporter was treated with his follow-up: a dead microphone. Posturing rather than supporting aggressive reporting again.

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation." - General Douglas MacArthur

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lois Ann

Today would have been my mother's 75th birthday. Lois Ann. An old fashioned kind of name not used much anymore.
She was born in Bedford, Indiana.
She was blonde and green eyed.
She was the 5th child of 9, born to a contractor and a housewife.
She remembered the attack of Pearl Harbor as a young girl.
She remembered ration books.
She lost a sister to leukemia at an early age.
She lost her mother at the age of 13.
Her father later re-married and relocated to Tulsa, OK and built many limestone buildings downtown.
She was awarded a scholarship to nursing school.
She didn't become a nurse as she discovered she couldn't handle blood.
She married at 19.
She moved to Ocean Springs, Mississippi at the age of 20.
She gave birth to two daughters in Biloxi.
She moved the family to New Orleans as my father's work changed three years later.
She moved the family to Shreveport as my father's work transferred him there two years later.
She gave birth to another daughter in Shreveport.
She moved the family to Atlanta some 11 years later as my father's work transferred him there.
She was a widow at the age of 44, 3 years later.
She moved herself and her youngest daughter to southern Indiana to be around family and begin anew.
She opened an antique shop and ran it.
She studied and received her realtor's license.
She enjoyed being a granny.
She lived a full life.

Chef Silenced

Soul singer Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef on the cartoon show South Park has opted out of his contract with the show. The producers and creators of the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have agreed to not enforce the contract with Hayes.

That means no lawsuits.

Through his spokesman Hayes issued a statement in New York which said, "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs and others begins."

Hayes, age 63, has been a follower of the Church of Scientology for the past 14 years. He sees the show's parody of religion as part of a "growing insensitivity toward personal spiritual beliefs" in the media, including the recent controversy over the depiction of Mohammed in the Danish cartoons.

So, after 10 seasons and that time of paychecks and exposure, Hayes is now offended by the crude and rude nature of the show. Nothing is sacred with South Park and the creators make no bones about it.

And, yes, they did a show last fall that poked fun at Scientology and celebs like Tom Cruise that are strident followers.

Hayes made a big splash in the 1970's with the soundtrack of the movie, "Shaft" and the theme song is forever linked to him. I think that's what he gave Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Ah, irony.

Up Before Dawn

We got an early start this morning so the guys could hit the road before morning rush clogged up the roads. So, I've been drinking coffee - Starbucks Bold Roast Italian - and started a load of towels in the washer. I thought about going back to bed but that never really works out like I hope. So, I'm up and starting my day, too.

Remember that Cindy Sheehan was to appear at an anti-war rally in Germany at our big medical base? Well, she was a no-show and didn't even bother to notify her peeps there that she wouldn't be showing her solidarity. Nice. She claims she was injured by police brutality during her arrest at the U.N. demonstration last week. It would be a normal assumption that if you don't support the military you also would not support your police. She claims police brutality whenever possible, even during her arrest at the State of the Union speech where she was simply lead out of the building and taken away.

Cindy's comrades in Europe sponsoring her trip claimed that if Cindy couldn't make the events in Europe planned then it was due to "the political repression in the U.S. This means that it is all the more important to carry out our events here in solidarity with Cindy." Europe good. U.S. bad.

The groups supporting the troops came anyway and it was a good turnout. Several anti-war people came over to scream in their faces, as the photos show, but the German police sent them to the other side of the street. The pro-troop supporters were very complimentary of the German police and mentioned it was nice that their freedom of speech was protected.

Interesting group of people as finalists for Pulitzer Prizes this year. James Risen for exposing the NSA al-Qaeda eavesdropping program and Dana Priest for telling the world about the existence of secret terrorist prisons in Europe.

Betray your country and endanger our troops at a time of war;
get a prize.

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing." - Albert Schweitzer

Monday, March 13, 2006


The guys have been hogging the computer and I don't feel ambitious enough to connect the notebook computer in the other room. But, it's all mine tomorrow for the rest of the week. I'm busy getting the guys ready for their excellent adventure together. They'll leave very early in the morning tomorrow, much to son's dismay, and head to Indiana to visit Grandma.

While there, son will receive the tour of Indiana University, located in Bloomington, also home of Grandma and where hubby was born and raised. I can't believe my son is at the age where it's time for college touring. Yikes.

We had a very pleasant evening Saturday. The food was excellent at the Indian restaurant again. We met a food editor from Food and Wine magazine there. Hubby struck up a conversation with him on our way out to the car. Hubby has never met a stranger and we never know who he'll be talking to! The editor was pitching his latest idea for a story to us to see if readers would be interested. The idea was about the trend of Indian cooking being so popular and the use of spices in the cooking having a lot to do with it. As opposed to, say, Paul Prudhomme and Cajun cooking he brought the country from New Orleans. Having lived in south Louisiana for many years, we could talk about that and the fact that Prudhomme was from Opelousas, not New Orleans. The difference in Cajun and Creole.

I like the intimacy of the theatre. Especially smallish theatres. Before the play began and at the end of the play a group of gospel singers performed and they were really good. Made you clap your hands along kind of good.

I like the theatre for the unglossiness of the experience. Live people making mistakes and the unexpected happening. They had a bit of a lighting glich towards the end of the play but the cast rolled with it.

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?" - Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Smiling Because It's Saturday

The weather continues to be strange here. It's quite warm, in the low 80's but it's windy and cloudy. And humid.

Taking son for a haircut later this morning. Tonight we are going to the Indian restaurant before we enjoy "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the playhouse. Been looking forward to a relaxing night out all week.

Today I read in the newspaper that one of the men in the group called the Christian Peacemakers Team was murdered in Iraq and his body was discovered earlier this week in Baghdad. I wrote about this group a while back. They are a Quaker group that borders on sedition in their anti-war activities.

This man, Tom Fox, was a 54 year old resident of Virginia. He was an assistant manager of a Whole Foods store before he quit to be a full-time activist. He was the father of two college age children. He had been going to Iraq since 2004.

Tom Fox's activities in Baghdad focused on helping the families of detainees in the area. He was trying to be a conduit between the families and the family members being held. So, he was helping the enemy's families to make their life better.

I think if it was truly a humanitarian gesture of this group, they would have been working with normal, everyday Iraqis and helping out in their lives, not the families of terrorists. I think that is a big distinction in this group's mission. This group puts ideology above their country or Iraq.

Fox graduated with a double degree in music performance and education from George Peabody College for Teachers, now a part of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, according to the newspaper article. He was an accomplished clarinetist and spent 20 years playing with the Marine Corps Band. The Marine Corps Band. How many Marines did he and his group do harm to while he was in country?

Fox was not required to undergo Marine Corps boot camp to be a member of the band.

Rest in peace.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Frisky Friday

Just returned from a visit to the salon. My hair is lots blonder than it has ever been! Born a red head, my natural color is brown or auburn so when I started having my hair highlighted the blondness began. This time we went whole hog and it is looking great, I think. The cut is really good, too. Nothing makes me happier than having a good stylist.

Remember when we went to the beauty shop and it was beauticians working there? Ah, dating myself again.

I just saw "thousands" of illegal aliens marching in protest in Chicago of new immigration legislation that criminalizes illegal immigration and imposes fines and the like. Wow, so something illegal is criminal? What a concept.

And in this country illegal aliens feel empowered to march and protest as if their rights were the same as citizens of this country. They feel entitled to all the rights and priviledges of this country, except that pesky paperwork, I guess.

No other country on earth would allow such behavior. My stylist is first generation Vietnamese and her husband is an immigrant of Rumanian descent. People who play by the rules, or laws in this case, are not at all pleased with the illegal alien situation in this country.

God Bless America.

Fool of the Week

This week the Fool of the Week is Jimmy Carter.

Once upon a time there was an unspoken courtesy that former Presidents of the United States did not bash the current President while said current President was holding office. As partisan politics have become more and more bitter, some have chosen to take the low road. It's all about them and nevermind about the country they governed.

Jimmy Carter seems hell bent on destroying any shreds left of a legacy of human rights advocate. His was a failed presidency, both domestically and internationally, and he has tried for years to be relevent on the international level. His method is to bash whomever is in office. He bashed former President Clinton and since the get-go has criticized President Bush, preferrable on foreign soil.

The latest assault on the country by Carter has occurred over the process of voting this week at the UN on Kofi Annan's proposal that the Human Rights Council be replaced by a new Commission. This would relieve the UN of the embarrassment of having countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Council. The new Commission doesn't seem to be much of an improvement as some of the world's worst would still be eligible for membership. Annan watered down the strict membership rules he orginally proposed to appease objections.

Ambassador John Bolton has stated the U.S. won't go along with it. Many other nations have privately raised misgivings but only the U.S. has been willing to object publicly. Poor Mr. Annan is frustrated.

So, here come Jimma. He aligns himself with the Third World bad guys against the United States. "My hope is that when a vote is taken, the other members will outvote the United States," he told the Council on Foreign Relations according to the Wall Street Journal.

There is no political dignity left for Carter. Foreign policy from his administration led to the Ayotallahs taking Iran over the Shah and fanatical Islam was firmly planted in the region. American citizens were held hostage for 444 days due to his incompetence.

He lobbied Secretary of State Rice concerning his opinion of the new Commission. From whom does he think Ambassador Bolton receives instruction on this country's official policy?

"Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest." - Mark Twain

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thursday's Here

Ready or not, it's a new day. It is dark and lightly raining this morning. My son is trying to go to school today after being under attack from spring allergies this week. I imagine I will get a phone call later from him asking for a ride home. Poor guy.

Nice to see yesterday that Gov. Blanco and Mayor Naquin could make it for the photo ops with President Bush and Laura Bush in New Orleans. What with touring the country looking for votes and begging for more money, it must have took some calendar clearing on their part. President Bush asked Congress to get his request of $4.2 billion for homeowners to re-build in place ASAP. It's only for New Orleans. Didn't hear the big cry for the coast of Mississippi, though.

Maybe the coast of Louisiana would bounce back quicker if it really had some involved leadership on a state and local level.


Something that has been rattling around my grey matter: the grave of Casey Sheehan still has no headstone. Cindy is a jetsetting celeb with her sedition against this country and being rewarded monetarily for it but her son, in whose memory she claims to being protesting, goes without a simple headstone in the cemetery. You'd think with the $250,000 she was allotted after his death, she could have set aside some money to take care of that.

Seems that Reuters, the wire service that loves to hate the US, now has published a story that is putting Guantanamo Bay prison in a decent light. Seems the deputy head of Brussels' federal police anti-terrorism unit, a Mr. Alain Grignard, told a news conference that "prisoners' right to practice their religion, food, clothes and medical care were better than in Belgian prisons." Hmmm. I guess Dick Durbin better rush to the floor of the Senate and well up with tears about the gulags flourishing in Brussels.

The governor of Arizona has called for the state's National Guard to be placed on the border to handle the illegal immigrant situation. However, in the decree, she states they are not to be a military presence on the border. Huh? She orders them to help take care of the border patrols' vehicles, do maintence, and monitor with surveillance equipment. She doesn't state the number of National Guard soldiers to be deployed. This is the same governor that is in favor of issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. Quite the politician, no?

I wish the governor of Texas would order the National Guard to our border. I want it to be a military force. Enough is enough. The crime rate continues to rise, the cases of TB continue to increase, the strain on medical facilities and government services is at crisis level.

"Courage is being scared to death - and saddling up anyway." - John Wayne

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Strange feeling morning. The humidity is high and the sky is cloudy and dark. Blech.

Son stayed home again as he is not quite up to going to school. The doctor gave him a perscription for a nasal spray and told him not to eat or drink dairy. Same old, same old. He also was told to continue taking Claridin as he has been doing.

State primary elections held yesterday produced the expected low voter turnout. On a national level, you may be interested in knowing that Tom DeLay won his district, no run-off necessary. He won, big, too. I'm sure many are disappointed by that.

I went to the monthly meeting of a group I belong to Monday morning. It's a woman's political group, a political action committee, otherwise known as a PAC. Our speaker was a local political columnist in the Houston newspaper. He was really interesting. His columns run twice a week, with Wednesday being one of the days. Today's column was a lot of what he was talking about Monday morning. And he is really relieved that the mayor pro-tem of Houston is in a controversy now as he is frequently critized as only bashing Republicans or conservatives with his writing. Now, he says, he can be an equal opportunity basher!

The office of Mayor Pro-Tem is a mostly ceremonial office that has been eliminated in most other places. Here it is used for events where the Mayor is unavailable to attend and the Mayor Pro-Tem goes and cuts the ribbon or waves to the crowd at a gathering or welcomes a visiting celebrity, etc. The current holder of the title is a city councilwoman who was thought to have bigger political ambitions than Houston City Council. She is Hispanic and very popular in her district. She was recently re-elected to her council seat.

During her last campaign, it came out that the degree from the University of Houston she claimed to have was a bit of an exaggeration. Ooops. She really didn't have the diploma. So, amid all the publicity of that disclosure the University "worked with her" and she got the actual piece of paper. Now she is embroiled in a financial scandal involving 4 employees, hired by her, in the Mayor Pro-Tem's office. They gave themselves huge bonuses, it seems, and forged her initials to the paperwork to ok the bonuses. She says she knows nothing about it, the employees deceived her, let her done, yada, yada. She finally, after waiting almost 2 weeks and after hiring a top criminal lawyer and a p.r. guy who used to work for Hillary Clinton, stepped down from the office. She says temporarily. We'll see. One employee claims her boss knew all about the bonuses at the time.

The City Council office is separate from the Mayor Pro-Tem office, so she remains on the City Council.

On a different note, I read that Cindy Sheehan is going to Germany this weekend to protest at the military base where the soldiers go for medical care from the battlefield. A counter-protest is being organized this time so that she knows she is not welcome. Cindy Sheehan, world traveler.

"Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - Saint Francis

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tuesday Talk

Son is home today with a spring allergy cold and sore throat. Taking him to see the doctor this afternoon.

RIP Dana Reeve. She was a strong and brave woman. She stayed by the side of Christopher after the tragic riding accident and they started a foundation to help others. Then after his passing, her mother died, and now last night she lost her battle with lung cancer. So tragic, especially for their young son. I believe he is only 14 or 15 years old.

Yukky Geography teacher - the term used loosely - from Colorado, Jay Bennish, I see is on the media tour, complete with a makeover. Talking to Matt Lauer on the Today Show this morning. Of course Lauer takes out his hostility on the student who taped the class. And the nerve of his father to take it to a conservative talk radio show in their town. It's those conservatives, I'll tell you. Inappropriate teachers below the college level have nothing to do with it, you know.

Military recruiters must be allowed on college campus again after the Supreme Court's ruling yesterday. Forfeit federal dollars if they don't. I guess the whole freedom of speech thing is for everyone, after all.

I've purchased tickets for the Saturday night performance of "To Kill A Mockingbird" at the local playhouse. Looking forward to it. I will be in the company of my two guys. Sunday they plan to leave on a guys road trip. Spring Break for son is next week so him and dad are driving up to Indiana to visit Grandma. Male bonding and all that on the road together. I'll be here with the dog and cats. And my books. And the remote control all to myself. And the computer all to myself. Sweet.

"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it." - Margaret Thatcher

Monday, March 06, 2006

He's Baaaack

Mayor Ray Naquin of New Orleans was in Houston all weekend campaigning for the upcoming mayorial race. He would like to keep his job. He was praised by local black leaders but there were lots of questions for him from Katrina evacuees living here now.

The most basic question was, why should we vote for you? And also, what were you planning to do with the people you didn't evacuate before the storm?

Both very good questions.

The tapes released by AP last week, even though they were widely available among the press and government officials since last October, failed to implicate the president and his administration asleep at the switch. They have shown the opposite. The president called the governor and the mayor and asked them to evacuate the city and surrounding areas a good 56 hours before the storm hit. It was further recommended by Max Mayfield from the National Hurricane Center. But no. Naquin waited until 19 hours before the storm to urge an evacuation. A fatal mistake. He was more concerned about the city losing money if the evacuation was not really necessary after all and more concerned to make a point that he was going to run his city, not the governor or the president.

A fatal mistake.

He complains now that very few of those running against him in the upcoming election "look like us" to the local audiences here. The mayor of chocolate city strikes again. Any politicians running to the floor of the House or the Senate demanding he resign for racist remarks?


Concerning the absentee voting process he says, "This process that's before us is one that I'm getting more uncomfortable with every day. This is not about Ray Nagin. There is potential for major changes in the political structure."

We can only hope.

I watched some of the Oscars as I was not able to find anything at all on tv to watch last night. John Stewart was disappointing with the opening but seemed to warm up as the show went on. I felt bad for Lauren Bacall who was struggling to read the teleprompter and not at all comfortable on the stage. And it says a lot when it's all about glorifying the pimps with the song category. Plus George Clooney saying that he's glad Hollywood is not in touch with real life.

And they all complain no one goes to the movies and ratings for the Oscars show slip and slide every year.


"Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less." - Ken Blanchard

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscar's Night

On Oscar Night, I flip back and forth around the channels as I no longer really watch the Oscars. Haven't for years. Just lost interest in the whole thing. More and more it is just an auditorium of wealthy, pampered, self-absorbed, celebrities who are not very educated and certainly don't live outside of their high maintenance bubbles. Am I holding back too much for you?

I like to see the pretty gowns, provided free to the stars, so I try to see the red carpet thing. I sometimes flip to see the biggest awards being presented. Best Actress and Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Actor, and Best Picture. That's about it. The rest I will run through in the morning newspaper.

I have actually seen more movies at the movie theatre this year than in several years past, but even then I have not seen any of the movies nominated for best picture. I did see "March of the Penguins" and it is nominated for best documentary or something. Naturally, I really liked it and hope it'll win an award.

I did see "Syriana", nominated for best picture, I know, but did not see it in the theatre. Sshhh. Anyway, it was crap. The exact plot line I was expecting except the whole plot was so jumbled and incoherent. Just mostly blame big oil and white American men are corrupt and destroying the world with evilness. Not a lot of original thought going on there.

I really wanted "Walk the Line" to be nominated for best picture. But, no. It was a movie about a real American legend and his struggles to overcome adversity throughout his life and dealing with the love of a good woman, so that won't do.

I hope Joquain Pheonix and Reese Witherspoon win. They both learned to sing and play the instruments for the movie. Admirable.

So that's that.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Field Trip

So, the husband, son and I load ourselves into the car on this fine, warm and sunny afternoon and head out to a local micro-brewery. They do tours every Saturday afternoon for free and beer tastings, also free.

This is my husband's favorite beer. He is not much of a beer drinker but enjoys this brew. Being local and all, supporting the homies. They have been producing beer for 10 years and are finally starting to really hit it. They still are mostly in the state of Texas but are about to leave the category of micro-brewery and move to the next one up for volume of beer produced.

Now, however, as word has spread locally about this place, the tours are quite crowded. They say typically they have 450 or so visitors on Saturday afternoons. They are very friendly folks and lots of fun.

Hubby and I were disappointed that the tours are no longer actual tours where the visitor goes through the plant operation step by step and sees it all. Now they have someone talk to everyone at the appointed time and he explained how they make beer and the history of the company. Also some history of beer throughout the ages. It was interesting but too crowded to get a lot of it. A real tour would have been better. Alas, success.

Son, being 16, and me, being the designated driver, were not drinking any free beer. Hubby drank only one - they hand out 4 free tokens - and then he purchased a t-shirt (with design of his favorite of their brews logo on the back) and a glass mug with the logo. He also purchased a case of their root beer - brewed using their process - for son. That root beer is mighty fine.

So, that was our excitement today. Son and hubby are working in the backyard doing some landscaping maintenance. It really needs it after these colder months and the neglect that happens. They are also beginning to make the swimming pool swim worthy again.

I am roasting a fine, plump chicken for dinner. It will be accompanied with rice, gravy, steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Yummy.

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." - Abraham Lincoln


So, the AP is now saying they got it wrong in their reporting that the president was briefed that the levees would breech during the approaching Hurricane Katrina. Oops.

They now admit that President Bush was orginally briefed that the levees would overrun. The next day, as the storm hit, President Bush ASKED about reports he was hearing about actual breeches.

Gee, you can spin history any way you want, but the facts are the facts.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Not Much

So, how much have you heard of an historic nuclear energy agreement between the US and India brokered by President Bush and his team while visiting there the past couple of days?

Not much.

How much have you heard about the "secret" stop in Afghanistan and the Afghanistan people praising President Bush for being their liberator and hero? The first president to visit Afghanistan since President Eisenhower, by the way.

Not much.

How much have you heard about reform pushed to the front of the agenda at the UN, thanks to the energy of Ambassador John Bolton? You remember, that evil man John Bolton, don't you?

Not much.

How much have you heard about the video tapes put out there by the AP to show the administration's actions leading up to Hurricane Katrina, which in fact show the administration in place and prepared? How much have you heard of Gov. Blanco telling the President and FEMA that the levees hadn't breeched and may not, even though this conversation took place a good 4 hours after the levees did, in fact, breech? But it is the sole responsibility of the administration in Washington, DC to control a natural disaster?

Just a little perspective, people. That's all I ask.

The local news stations here in our fine city have now for the past two nights talked about the video tapes and asked Katrina evacuees their thoughts on how the administration handled the situation. Not their mayor or governor, or even themselves, mind you, just the administration in Washington, DC. Of course they think the president should be impeached and all that utter nonsense.

No personal responsibility with these folks. They have all been healthy looking, capable people from what I have seen on camera. Just waiting for "the government" to do everything for them.

My question is - what were they doing to take care of themselves waiting for the storm to come? No preparation, no plan, just expect "the government" to do for you. Then complain afterwards because it didn't all go smoothly for you. Don't blame yourself for your life. Blame the president. Blame FEMA.

Personal responsibility. What a concept.

Fool of the Week

This week the Fools of the Week goes to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The controversy over the port deals with the United Arab Emirates has shown again that the Clinton duo has no center. They have no center since they only have beliefs as long as the beliefs are politically expedient.

Bill Clinton is a featured speaker at summits in Dubai on a regular basis. His fee is $300,000 per speech. The money men in Dubai are heavy contributors to the Clinton presidental library in Arkansas. Two weeks ago, Clinton advised top officials in Dubai on how to appease US concerns about the DP World deal.

Hillary Clinton, hoping to be the first out of the gate to overreact to the deal, without all the facts of the deal, introduces legislation to stop any foreign country from responsibility of port operation in this country. Where was her concern as she and Bill were giving away our port operations to the Chinese? Or our satellite secrets to the Chinese, for that matter? Did she oppose Singapore or Taiwan operators? What about the Brits?

It is all about the politics of the subject, not homeland security. This administration has been stellar on protecting this country from future attacks. That is why we are fighting overseas. And of course she is beholden to the unions for campaign money.

Nothing changes due to this deal. The company is sold to UAE and our operations at the ports remains the same. How many people were aware that most of our ports in this country are operating with foreign owned companies unloading the containers from freighters? Our country doesn't have enough companies capable of doing the business. It's a global economy.

The Clinton duo hopes to play good cop, bad cop on this subject for the maximum effect come election time.

So, what else is new?

Thursday, March 02, 2006


In an attempt to once again play gotcha style politics with the President of the United States, the AP released tapes of the President with former FEMA director Mike Brown and others in the time leading up to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. It is video taping and shows the president talking to concerned officials. He promises the government will do all that can be done.

What the tapes show is confirmation that the president was engaged pre-Katrina despite the common complaint that he was late to respond and not paying attention to the situation. Hey, we gotta blame someone, right? The hurricane did not take out New Orleans. The levee breaches took out New Orleans. This was discussed on the tapes. So was Governor Kathleen Blanco's admission that levee breaches were a big concern. However, the officials were of the mind that the water would go over the levees, not actually breach the levees. Later the tapes verify everyone's breathing a sigh of relief that New Orleans dodged the bullet after the hurricane blew through. Everyone thought it had dodged the bullet, including the governor and the mayor of New Orleans.

The tapes show Max Mayfield from the National Hurricane Center stating how huge the storm would likely be to the Gulf Coast. Am I the only person who remembers Mr. Mayfield on tv before the storm hit stating his concerns? Am I the only person who remembers he said he couldn't sleep the night before landfall and called the mayor of New Orleans because he was concerned that the Mayor and the Governor were not getting the people out of there?

The major difficulties brought to light from Hurricane Katrina were mostly problems of communication and of local officials, whether it was the governor or the mayor, not following previously established hurricane preparedness procedures. Blanco and Naguin were the first to scream that the federal government was not going to tell them what to do. That they had their own powers to exert. That the governor was in charge of the state's National Guard. All true enough. But when things reach crisis level due to state and local incompetence, you can't have it both ways. It is disingenuous to blame everything on the federal government.

On a more positive note, I was happy to hear yesterday that 6 of the 9 hostages in Nigeria have now been released. The local man was released yesterday. It was his 69th birthday. I'm guessing his release is the best birthday present he has ever received.

I am proud to say my son is competing this afternoon in an annual National French Competition. He goes to that during the last period at school and will be back at school by 6:00 this evening, where I will pick him up. So, he'll go from 2 Sanford standardized tests at school today to the competition this afternoon. That's a lot of testing for one day, if you ask me. I'm proud he was invited to participate in the competition, I just hope he isn't too burnt out to do his best. And, oh yeah, he'll have a Boy Scout meeting this evening as it was moved to tonight instead of the usual Wednesday meeting in recognition of Ash Wednesday last night. Very busy day for the boy.

"The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running." - Anonymous

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday. A 40 day period of sacrifice and atonement for Catholics around the world. Some years I have given up a pleasure for the time. This year I am not. We are not a Catholic family but for my high school years I attended a Catholic girls school and learned of the ritual. Our son attended Episcopalian schools prior to high school and sometimes was encouraged to participate in the self-sacrifice. I understand it, I just don't do it much any more. I think the 40 day period is a good time for self-examination and try to encourage myself to be the best human being I can be. Most days I fall short, but I get up every morning and try again.

You want to know something that irritates me? People who steal yard signs showing support for a political candidate. Ours was stolen out of our front yard. Someone felt entitled to come onto our property and steal a sign. It's common but it's just a petty act.

Here's a head scratcher - how does an ex-Taliban ambassador-at-large with a fourth grade education and a high school equivalency degree get accepted into Yale University? He was admitted into a nondegree program for special students. He has a 3.33 grade point average. Who at the State Department approved his student visa?

Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi is studying at Yale University on a U.S. student visa. Sounds as though the politically correct doctrine of diversity has once again gone amuk. Yale University, had "another foreigner of Rahmatullah's caliber" apply for special student status. Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions, said "we lost him to Harvard, and I didn't want that to happen again."

Mr. Rahmatullah told the New York Times "in some ways I'm the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale." Lucky indeed. He is taking a course called Terrorism - Past, Present and Future.

Why is Yale University of the impression that they really scored with this admission? Weren't there other bright students, American or foreign, who would have been grateful for the opportunity to attend Yale? Why did Mr. Rahmatullah's application trump those applications?

"Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it." - William Penn