08 June 2017

Let's Try Leading From The Front, For a Change

British Police Name Two of Three London Attackers as May Calls for Crackdown
LONDON—One of three knife-wielding assailants who killed seven people in a weekend terror attack here was known to security services, authorities said Monday. Neighbors said his zeal for Islamic extremism was broadcast to the nation in a television documentary called “The Jihadis Next Door.”

But police said they had no intelligence suggesting the man, Khuram Shazad Butt, a 27-year-old Pakistan-born British citizen, was plotting violence ahead of Saturday’s rampage.
I think we may have hit upon a flaw in your system, chief.

29 May 2017

Aiming High, and Giving All

Originally written November 2004

This past Wednesday evening, I went to the visitation for a brave young Marine from Wheaton, Illinois, named Nick Larson.

Lance Corporal Nick Larson. I didn't know him, but I felt compelled to do something symbolic to show my respect and admiration for all the thousands of young men and women who do the hard work that allows us to live free. And especially for those who die too young, doing something so selfless. It's the least we can do.

There were HUNDREDS of people there. High school kids, Marines, soliders, sailors, airmen, family and friends, uniformed police officers and EMTs, etc. The line was probably 150 feet out the back door and 4-5 people wide, and it stayed that long for a good hour after we got into it and inched our way forward.

We waited an hour and a half, my 16-year-old son and I. I didn't make him go, but did encourage him to, and left it up to him. He wasn't sure, but when he saw me getting my shoes on, he went into his room and got dressed and said "I'll go with you". I have never been prouder.

Unfortunately, the casket was closed; Lance Corporal Larson had been shot in the head and in the chest/back. He would have been 20 years old next week.

There was a nice picture of him, sitting at his kitchen table right before he left for Iraq, with a cake. The cake said "Good Luck". His expression in the photo was mostly serious, with a tiny sort of half smile, like he was mainly interested in taking care of business. Which he most definitely was, having started climbing ropes and working out at 14 in order to prepare himself for being a Marine.

I never knew Nick, but it still makes me sad and a little bit angry that a fine young man, so motivated and sure of his station in life at such a young age, is now buried in a cemetery not far from here. He'll never be a husband, or a father; the kids he might have had will never be born. So much future, wasted. I'll be visiting that grave, to plant little flags on Memorial Day, and maybe just to say a little prayer now and then.

So, I was humbled to be in the presence of such an outpouring of love and respect. There is something about those who die while in service of a cause greater than themselves; people instinctively respond to that, in a way that they don't for others.

God bless him, and his family, and may his memory live on in those that he touched, forever.

The poem from the little card at the funeral home reads:

I'm Free
Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free
I'm following the path God laid for me
I took His hand when I heard Him call
I turned my back and left it all
Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow
My life's been full, I savored much
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief
Lift up your head and share with me
God wanted me now. He set me free

More details about Nick's story ...

Wheaton Marine dies in Fallujah - (James Fuller, Daily Herald)
Family and friends hugged and cried in the driveway at the Larson home Wednesday in Wheaton after they learned that Nicholas Larson, a 19-year-old lance corporal in the Marines, was killed in action this week in Fallujah, Iraq. 
Cars with red, white and blue magnets saying "Support Our Troops" crowded the street in front of the home as those who knew Larson gathered to grieve.

Some gazed at the red U.S. Marine Corps flag that hung limply outside. None of them was ready to talk publicly about Larson's death.

The Larson family was notified Tuesday evening by the Marines, with Wheaton police and a local ambulance providing an escort.

The offensive into Fallujah began its third full day Wednesday. At least 10 U.S. troops have died in the fight so far.

Larson, a 2003 graduate of Wheaton North High School was a determined individual, staff members said Wednesday.

"He was a quiet, focused and intense student," said Assistant Principal Matt Biscan. "It's rare for a kid his age to know what they wanted to do, but he knew he wanted to be a Marine.

"We're all very, very sad today," Biscan said. "It was shock when I found out."

Larson was the only son of David and Anne Larson. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who served in the Navy, friends said.

"He seemed like the kid who always wanted to go into the Marines," said Frank Rago of Wheaton, a high school classmate. "He was a good kid who just wanted to help his country. He was definitely very patriotic."

Friends said Larson's determination hit full-throttle when he hung a rope in the back yard to work on Navy SEAL exercises. He also lifted weights every day after school as he prepared to enlist.

"He was kind of scrawny in middle school, but (during high school) he became very muscular," said Tom Lundby, another classmate. "He did a lot of working out, a lot of pull-ups. He was really into that."

Tony Donaldson knew Larson since they attended Monroe Middle School together and found himself laughing at memories while struggling to grasp the loss of his close friend Wednesday.

"He was one of those guys that if you were deciding whether or not to go to school, you'd go just to see what Nick had to say during lunch," he said.

The two friends often chatted over the Internet while Larson was overseas, Donaldson said. In recent weeks, Larson was counting down the days, as his tour was set to end in January.

"He told me it was getting pretty bad, and he was genuinely scared about what was going on there," Donaldson said. "We all respect him for his choices. He died for it, but if there was anyone you'd want protecting your country, it was Nick."

Now it's my town's turn to sacrifice another fine young American.

I'll be going to the services for Nick, to show support and do my own little bit to thank him and his family and friends.

My sincere thanks to Nicholas for giving his life in a cause greater than himself, in fighting for freedom for people he didn't know.

May God rest his soul.

14 January 2017

Washington thinks America is stupid

Now that Trump's first Congress is sworn in, the big debates about what is worth keeping in the Affordable Care Act have begun.

So it seems like a great time for a little reminder of just how little regard the Washington establishment has for the average American ...

Washington has been selling us shit sandwiches for decades now, and we've been buying them and asking for more. This is nothing new.

What is new: admitting it.

13 January 2017

Empathy - have we reached peak stupid on this yet?

An interesting essay by Bulldog at Maggie's Farm - a site which should be a daily read for you - on empathy and whether people can use it as a weapon to shame you into agreeing with somebody else's, um, stupidity: Has Lack of Empathy Been Pathologized?

I posted the following comment there (copied here with a slight edit for style):

Empathy is important, but it cannot be used to disallow all disagreement with someone else's opinions. That's um, crazy and ridiculous. 

A person's opinions exist independently of who they are as a person. The fact that those opinions are "theirs" is true enough, but they can also change their opinions over time (let's hope so!) so while today you might disagree with their opinion on Trump or whatever, someday their opinion might change and at that time you might agree with them. So ... we agree and disagree not with the emotional center of a person, via empathy, but with the opinions they express, their rational side. 

I'm with you Bulldog - people who so strongly tie their entire identity to their opinions and insist that any disagreement with any of their opinions is automatically an affront to them *personally*, well, sorry, that's 7th grade. I've moved on from 7th grade.

06 January 2017

The synthesizer comes SO close to ruining this song. But it doesn't.

Starbuck - Moonlight Feels Right

You know the song, just not the name of the band. Now you do. You're welcome.

03 January 2017

Obama:, smart or not?

Commenter Michael at this Althouse post hit on something I too have noticed before:  Like her husband, Mrs. Obama is not all that smart. (8:57 AM)

Some people are impressed by the Obamas in the same way that they are drawn to the Left in general: platitudes favored by intellectuals, with lots of "ten dollar" multi-syllabic words. Makes 'em feel smart and stuff.

I used to be one of those people. I know how they think, and what they read, and the sources of news they cultivate. I also know how far off base they can be when it comes to policy and fixing real-world problems.

The office of president is an executive position, requiring leadership, decisiveness, commitment and fortitude. Just sounding smart is not good enough. Using big words that impress intellectuals is great, but it needs leadership behind it, or it's more than useless, it's deceptive.

The contrast between what Obama sounds like off-teleprompter, vs. on-teleprompter, is instructive. He's a real trainwreck when he's off-teleprompter. It's embarrassing to even listen to it. I'm not sure what the problem is. Is he simply too dim-witted to think on his feet? Tongue-tied from thinking too much like a lawyer i.e., an obsession with parsing every word to death? Maybe both.

I remember very distinctly listening to a Fresh Air interview with actor James Woods back in the 1990s - he sounded like a borderline genius. Very impressive. One of those IQ 150+ people, able to think very quickly and express those thoughts concisely. No "ums" or "uhs". Pretty impressive, especially among the celebrity set.

Obama thinks he's one of those people. So do millions of others. He's not, and it isn't close.

He sounds nothing like those people. He sounds dull-witted, timid, lacking any confidence in his "ideas", whatever those might be, and a complete inability to express them coherently. Shouldn't we know by now what they are, after 8 years?

Soaring speeches are nice but worse than meaningless if not backed by the actions that implement the ideas. The number of people fooled by this in 2008, 2012, and into the current day is distressing.

It's pretty clear that we need more people who can distinguish between meaningless b.s. and actual evidence of leadership.

29 December 2016

When prayers are not enough

I've noticed a serious lack of attention -- even within Christianity itself -- to Christian persecution in general, especially in foreign lands, and by Muslims.

This has become a glaring problem to some of us, with Christian churches usually led by clergy who choose not to acknowledge that Christian persecution is occurring in the world today, even though I know that it is. And let's be clear: by "persecution" we don't mean calling you names. We mean the worst kinds of persecution: murder, rape, enslavement, burning churches and homes, forcing people to flee their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. It's like ethnic cleansing, or attempted genocide, but by religious affiliation.

You would think that of all the people that should care about that, it's Christians around the world. I don't see much evidence of that, however. And it drives me nuts.

In our church, I don't recall ever hearing a mention of this Christian persecution, even though I read about it on the Internet just about every week. Our sermons never mention the atrocities committed by Muslims against Christianity, both its people and its symbols.

Thousands of Christians and other religious minorities have been killed during the rise of ISIS, whether from military operations or various disgusting spectacles - filmed of course - including drowning them in cages, burning them alive, crucifying children, etc. It's subhuman and nauseating, yet it doesn't merit a mention? This is bizarre.

In Egypt, after the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in 2011, mobs torched close to 100 ancient Coptic churches with the obvious approval by the authorities who looked the other way while the torches were lit. In Syria and Iraq, ancient Assyrian churches from the time of Jesus himself have been purposefully destroyed by ISIS.

These stories show up again and again in my news feeds, because I follow sites that show concern about the health of Christianity in a world filled with apologists who - please explain this to me - are compelled to complain about Donald Trump but not to criticize ISIS throwing gays to their deaths from tall buildings.

The lack of attention, likewise, has also become a glaring problem in the political world. President Obama rarely mentions Christian persecution, or persecution of other religions, by Muslims. He is, allegedly, Christian. Doesn't that seem a little odd? And defending religious freedom around the world is part of the job description, since our country was founded upon that idea, first and foremost.

This leaves me with only two possible conclusions: A) too many of our leaders are unaware of the persecution, or B) too many of our leaders don't care enough to even call attention to it due to fears of backlash from the Political Correctness police.

Neither is acceptable. But I'm pretty sure it's that last one. And that's shameful.