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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Just adding a few pics

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Peace prize winner "would love to kill Bush"

Peace prize winner 'could kill' Bush

NOBEL peace laureate Betty Williams displayed a flash of her feisty Irish spirit yesterday, lashing out at US President George W.Bush during a speech to hundreds of schoolchildren.


"Right now, I would love to kill George Bush." Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.
- sigh - Good to see a little hypocrisy, I guess.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Dems Stack the Deck in Maryland

I've been fighting this fight for about two months to no avail. I'm including two articles from the Washington Post for you to look at and post about if you have time. Here's a quick synopsis: Maryland has decided to hold early voting this year. The kicker, only in heavily Democratic districts and with no requirement for valid ID. In my opinion, you either have it everywhere or not at all and you certainly must have some form of ID or this thing will be rife with fraud. The governor vetoed the bill authorizing all of this mess but the heavily partisan legislature overrode his veto. I helped organize the petition drive mentioned in the 2nd article to refer the issue of early voting to the ballot as a referendum. This initiative failed due to, in my opinion, malfeasance by the staff at the board of elections office, especially on the part of the heavily partisan director Linda Lamone. Anyway, enough from me, here's what's on the record.

Tilting Maryland's Vote
How to cast a pall over elections -- before they even take place
Wednesday, April 5, 2006; Page A22

IN THE SANCTIFIED name of expanding the popular vote and widening access to the polls, Maryland Democrats have sacrificed fairness to partisan advantage. The Democrats, who dominate the state legislature in Annapolis, pushed through a bill allowing voting to take place for five days before Election Day -- but mostly at polling stations in Democratic strongholds.

This isn't the first time a majority in a state legislature has sought electoral advantage by ramming a brazenly partisan measure down the throat of the minority party. The justification generally comes down to, "Well, they'd do the same to us if they were in power." But no matter which party is behind such partisan mischief, the effect is the same: to subvert the faith that Americans place in the electoral system's fairness.

The procedural aspects of this bill's passage are odious enough. Before they voted, Democratic lawmakers stripped the bill of provisions that would have permitted Republicans an equal role in deciding where to place the early-polling stations and that would have required that the stations' locations be geographically central. The conference committee that wrote the bill was composed of six Democrats and zero Republicans.

The locations of many of the polling stations for early voting seem designed to mine Democratic votes, which tend to be in more heavily populated areas. In Howard County, early-voting stations were placed in heavily Democratic areas in an apparent effort to weaken the reelection prospects of freshman state Sen. Sandra B. Schrader, probably the most imperiled of Maryland's 14 Republican state senators.

Democrats enjoy a healthy advantage in voter registration and are understandably eager to recapture the state's governorship, which they lost in 2002, in this fall's elections. Over the past two years they have sought to leverage their statewide numerical advantage by enacting a set of relatively permissive elections laws under the aegis of what the party has called a "voters' bill of rights." As a result, Maryland voters will not be required to show any form of identification, and they will be able to cast provisional ballots practically anywhere in the state, regardless of their home address.

Republicans insist that these measures will open the door to electoral fraud; if fraud does mar the November ballot, the Democrats will be responsible. But they are not unfair on their face. By contrast, tilting the early-voting system toward heavily Democratic areas in strategically key jurisdictions taints the election even before it occurs. With such arrogance and abuse, the Democrats will only erode their majority in Maryland.

Petition Fails to Derail Md. Early Voting
Election Board Says Drive Backed by Ehrlich Fell Short by 138 Signatures
By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 22, 2006; Page A01

A Republican-led petition drive to block legislation allowing early voting in Maryland elections for the first time this year has failed by fewer than 140 signatures, state officials said yesterday.

Democratic leaders hailed the news as a rebuke for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

Ehrlich has led the campaign against early voting, charging that the legislation passed by the General Assembly lacks safeguards against fraud. After his veto of the state Senate bill was overturned by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, Ehrlich's office helped sponsor a petition drive to overturn the law by referendum.

The Maryland State Board of Elections said yesterday that petition organizers had not collected enough valid signatures for a referendum. Though opponents submitted more than 20,000 signatures, election officials were able to validate those of only 16,924 registered voters, 138 short of the 17,062 threshold for challenging the law authorizing early elections. "They did not get enough signatures to move forward," Linda Lamone, administrator for the election board, said yesterday.

From the start, the issue has been charged with politics. The ruling further inflamed partisan tension.

Democrats have charged that Ehrlich's objections to early voting represent a cynical effort to hold down voter turnout in the fall election, when the governor is expected to face a tough bid for reelection. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.

"Ehrlich's attempt at voter suppression is based on his fear of a high voter turnout, and he should be ashamed to have spearheaded the petition," Terry Lierman, chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, said yesterday.

The head of the organization leading the petition drive, Marylanders for Fair Elections, expressed outrage at the election board's finding and questioned its legitimacy. "I'm concerned and I'm indignant, and I just don't believe that it's true," Thomas Roskelly said.

Roskelly, who was asked to run the campaign by the governor's office, said his group submitted almost 21,000 signatures and was incredulous that approximately 4,000 were not counted. "All of a sudden we're 138 signatures short," he said. Roskelly said the group would seek a recount and, failing that, might pursue a legal challenge.

"This is not over by a long shot," Roskelly said.

David Paulson, spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party, said it was not surprising that the petition fell short of the 17,062 threshold. "Everybody knows you should submit at least one-third extra. Some are not legible, some are duplicates, some are people who don't live here," Paulson said. "They failed. They failed despite intense efforts by Governor Ehrlich."

Lamone said the tally of 16,924 voters was based on the counts submitted by boards of elections across the state.

Barring a successful challenge of the decision, registered Maryland voters will be allowed to vote starting one week early in both the Sept. 12 primary and the November general election. "Ehrlich's mean-spirited campaign to suppress the vote has failed because voters want more flexibility and opportunity to vote," Lierman said.

"We are declining at this point to comment," Henry Fawell, an Ehrlich spokesman, said yesterday.

Opponents succeeded in collecting enough signatures on a petition drive challenging a second piece of legislation, a House bill passed this year that provides much of the mechanics for early voting. Should the petition drive meet a second threshold of 52,000 signatures at the end of this month, the proposed referendum question will be placed on the November ballot.

But because that House legislation was passed on an emergency basis, it cannot be overturned by the results of a referendum until after the November election. The law "is in effect regardless of whether they are successful," Lamone said.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Semper I

Semper I

Semper I is an old Marine Corps term applied to those selfish careerists who place their own success ahead of their men and the wellbeing of the Corps. Congressman John Murtha is a living example of that disgraceful term.

A bugle blows in Arlington,
Lilting notes fill still sad air,
An eagle's tears a globe fall on,
Trail an anchor with despair,
For a man we'd wish had not to die,
Brave youth among the best,
A Marine, he lived for Semper Fi,
And with Semper Fi he'll rest.

So sadly is the contrast,
Between those who talk and fight;
Fat Pols for whom their war's past,
But now can't see the light,
Accusing brave young fighting men,
Of crimes they can't defend,
Disgraceful fat old congressmen,
Who've lost the will to win.

Yes there we see the difference,
Between those who fight to win,
And a congressman with no sense,
Who's committed grievous sin;
He's turned against his Corps,
And no one knows quite why,
Except he loves himself much more:
Classic case of Semper I.

Semper Fi to all Marines everywhere from an old paratrooper who holds Murtha in as much contempt as you do.

Russ Vaughn
327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

Friday, July 14, 2006

On Flag-Draped Coffins (a poem)

From the inbox:

The Democrats' use of images of our war dead in their campaign video inspired me to write the following poem last night:
On Flag-Draped Coffins (a poem)

I thought I’d seen it all I guess
In videos from the East;
Enough to tell me nothing less,
We’re dealing with a beast.
Such savagery and blood lust,
Sawing off our soldier’s head,
Ensures to me that we must
Leave all these bastards dead.

And yet may God preserve us
From those too weak to serve,
Faint of heart, afraid of service,
With no will to save, preserve.
They shriek about the troops lost,
Deplore our mounting dead,
Ignoring what our freedom cost,
In the steps our nation tread.

Now when their country needs them
To mount a solid front;
They’d sacrifice our freedom
For the power they so want.
On flag-draped coffins standing,
Crassly using our dead brave,
To our enemy they’re now handing,
What those dead fought so to save.

Some day there’ll come a reckoning, a payment for the pain,
To those who used our dead so ill, for naught but power’s gain.

Russ Vaughn 7 13 06
An effective way to counter their tasteless campaign ad is to send a contribution to John Murtha's oppenent Diana Irey, here:

Another excellent post, Russ. Thanks!

Fasting Like They Fight

Fasting Like They Fight

It is almost comic, nah, hell, it’s hilarious, to watch the Moonbats, led by their batty high priestess, Cindy Sheehan, undertake their new attempt to garner media attention. When I first heard about their planned Troops Home Fast, my immediate reaction was, “Hey, she can stand to lose a little weight and maybe if she lays off the tofu for a while her brain processes will clear up some.”

But now we see that Liberals approach fasting with the same half-assed dedication with which they defend their country. You boldly step up and volunteer to courageously go all out, or rather, without, for a whole twenty-four hours, at the end of which you pass the buck on to some other witless Moonbat while you sit around pigging out on Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked, soaking up the adulation of fellow revolutionaries around the world, smug in your sense of accomplishment, knowing your sacrifice will be hailed by the fifth column media. Boy, don’t you just feel so, like totally satisfied, so connected to all those other brave freedom fighters like Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, ready to take their places up there on the ramparts, in the vanguard of the proletariat, willing to sacrifice all for the downtrodden of the world? Well, OK, for twenty-four hours, anyway.

But there are some truly committed stalwarts in the Moonbat movement: Mother Sheehan is far too dedicated to the socialist revolution, led by her hero, Hugo Chavez, who, by the way, looks like he needs to go on an extended fast, to be diddling around with any of this Hollywood twenty-four hour, rolling fast business. Nope, none of that tentative, toe in the water stuff for the Earth Mother of the Revolution. Why, she’s now on Day Six of her total commitment to world solidarity, denying herself all sustenance until that evil Bush brings the Troops Home Fast; well, all sustenance that is, except an occasional Jamba Juice Smoothie or maybe some coffee with vanilla ice cream in it. Of course, should Mother Sheehan become so weakened from her denial of food to the point that she loses her ability to deliver her thundering rhetoric on the evening news in that adorable, teeny-bopper timbre we’ve all come to know and love, then her Code Pink handlers are standing by with protein-fortified juice drinks or avocado slices to help this brave woman through her ordeal.

And therein lies their problem: Liberals fast like they fight wars; it’s all about good intentions and appearances, all talk and no substance; and it must only be done in such a way that no one suffers real pain or true loss. It’s all about feeling that you are accomplishing something; and when you no longer feel that, perhaps there is some actual pain involved, then it’s time to pull back and put an end to that pain. Hey, how about a Ben & Jerry’s pig-out? That’s what the Democrats and the Moonbats (I know that’s becoming increasingly redundant) are offering the American public, a smoothie, ice-cream future free of the pain of fighting those misunderstood terrorists. Kerry, Murtha, Kennedy and their crowd feel your pain, America, and they know how to keep it at bay: just like liberal fasting, we’ll only fight terror till it starts to hurt then we’ll pull out and pig out on Ben & Jerry’s new flavor created especially for Democrats: DeMinted Delight.

Russ Vaughn

Monday, July 10, 2006

Take Them There

Take Them There
by Russ Vaughn

There is a wonderful musical/visual tribute to WWII vets that people email me occasionally, entitled Before You Go. It can be found numerous places on the Internet, among them here:

If you get through it without a huge lump in your throat, you’re tougher than I am. It is altogether fitting that someone has put together such a tribute to those who stopped world Fascism in its tracks some sixty years ago. It is strange that there haven’t been many more such tributes; in fact, I am sure that there have been but perhaps not on the scale of this particular effort. There is, however, a tribute far greater, far grander to honor these warriors, and that is our national World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Constructed at a cost of almost $200 million and opened in the spring of 2004, it has quickly become one of the more popular monuments in a city of monuments.

I had followed the creation of this memorial from the beginning and contributed in a small way to its funding in honor of my father’s memory and my octogenarian father-in-law, both participants in WWII. Leading up to the dedication on Memorial Day weekend in 2004, I had been thinking about the possibility of taking my father-in-law, Watt, to see what his country had erected in his honor. Wanting to avoid the crowds associated with any major opening event, I decided to wait a couple of months. Also factored into my hesitation was the fact that in my thirty-six year marriage to his daughter, I had heard Watt speak only briefly of his WWII experiences. He had been a draftee, a young, married Texan, coming out of the Great Depression a family to raise, when the war broke out. My perception is that he had been hesitant to volunteer because of his responsibilities, but when the summons came, he, like so many other young husbands and fathers stepped up to serve his country and reluctantly left his wife to fend as best she could.

I had never known Watt to wear any insignia, lapel button, cap or whatever indicating his veteran status; he was a member of no veterans’ organization. So it was with a bit of hesitation that I finally popped the question during a phone call. To my surprise, after a moment to think, he responded to the effect that he thought it would be really nice; he would really like to see the memorial. Getting off the phone I kicked it into high gear because I knew the logistics of getting him there and getting him around in a wheelchair were going to be a bit of a problem. I called an old friend in Virginia Beach, a Vietnam vet like me, and asked him if he’d like to join us. Max and I had worked together many years in government marketing and I knew he knew Washington like the back of his hand. To my relief, he readily agreed to drive up and act as our guide and provide transportation with me to cover the hotel expenses.

I then got on the Internet and began researching my father-in-law’s unit, the 65th Infantry Division. Knowing that this was one of the many divisions created specifically for WWII and disbanded as soon as the war ended, I was amazed to discover a division diary with detailed maps and information about the division’s campaigns from the time it landed in France to war’s end. I printed out everything and arranged it in a report format. I then found a website maintained by one of the 65th vets where I could purchase a 65th division crest. I found other sites with other WWII crests and ribbons. I purchased a snappy, WWII vet baseball cap and adorned it with these crests and ribbons.

Watt flew into San Antonio where I joined him for the continuing flight to Washington. At the departure gate I presented him with his cap and the report on the 65th. I was unsure as to the reception the cap would receive, knowing that he’d never worn anything commemorating his service before. And, in fact, he did hesitate; he was wearing a cap given him by his son just to wear on this trip. But as he sat there in his wheelchair, looking at the Army cap in his hand, I could see him wavering. Of course I knew he didn’t want to insult me and I assured him that would not be the case should he choose to continue wearing his present cap. But it was more than that: he wanted to put that Army cap on and finally let people know he’d served. And he did. And from that day on he has worn it frequently, to the point now that it’s beginning to look a little worn. You know, sometimes I like to think that maybe that cap and our trip awakened a long-dormant pride in my father-in-law of his brief but historically consequential contribution to his country. I sure hope so.

And thus we flew to Washington that July day. To my utter amazement, the day we visited the Memorial, the weather was picture perfect, clear, bright blue sky, a slight cooling breeze and none of the sticky humidity I’d been expecting. It was much more like a fall day than mid-summer. The memorial itself was all I’d hoped for, both beautiful and dignified, fitting for its purpose. Water and splashing fountains are incorporated into the design reflective of the on, under, above and across the ocean exploits of those whom it honors. It is a grand monument without being grandiose and the open circularity of its design brings to mind the globe-encompassing scale of that great conflict.

But it’s the vets themselves that make it special. For the whole time there, I found my emotions whipsawing between lump-in-the-throat sorrow and hearty, happy camaraderie: sorrow for the 400,000 who never made it back and the uncounted number who had, but then died before the completion of this tribute to their sacrifice; and hearty, warrior’s camaraderie from being here with one of the fortunate ones who had lived to see on this beautiful summer day the esteem in which his countrymen and descendants hold him and his brothers. There were far more smiles and grinning faces than the saddened wistful countenances you see at the Wall, that long, solemn gravestone for my own war. I found myself wistfully wishing that we Vietnam veterans had a less lugubrious, more celebratory memorial. But then, according to the left-driven conventional wisdom, we didn’t win our war did we?

Max and I wheeled Watt all around stopping to visit other vets momentarily, many of them in wheel chairs like him. Their greetings and exchanges were sometimes clumsy and hesitant but all were heartfelt. Of course, there were children everywhere, running, laughing, playing as children will when in a park with ponds and fountains. And seeing the interaction between the veterans and the young, it occurred to me that the thought must be running through many of those wizened old grey heads, that “but for our willingness to serve and our sacrifice…”

That night, back at the hotel, two old Vietnam vets and one old WWII vet did what old war dogs tend to do: we sat around drinking way too much and woofing war stories, anecdotes separated chronologically by the two decades between Watt’s war and ours, but indistinguishable in content and humor. And that night, Watt wasn’t just my father-in-law; he was my comrade in arms, just like Max, and he remains so to this day. If I outlive this tough old Texan, which remains in doubt considering his constitution and my bad habits, I will see that Taps is played at his graveside. I think he’d like that.

So back to the original intent of this writing: take them there. If you have WWII vets in your immediate or extended family, bust your butts to figure out a way to get them there to see their country’s monument to their contribution to history. Sacrifice a few days of your own vacation, get senior discounted airfares, buy them caps and wheel them around their memorial. While you and they still have the chance, take them there…before they go.

Russ Vaughn

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The North Korean Crisis

Media reports indicate that the recent test firing of missiles by the North Korean government all resulted in missiles falling harmlessly into the ocean. The launch of the Taepodong-2 missile, a long range ICBM, has been widely reported as a failure and a telling indication of North Korea's missile program. Once again, I think the media has it wrong. The very fact that North Korea launched missiles in defiance of the international community, and faced absolutely no repercussions whatsoever, is an overwhelming success for North Korea.

The "unsuccessful" test of the Taepodong-2 missile was, in a manner of speaking, simply a testing of the waters. Kim Jong Il fired some missiles into the ocean. This was not a particularly threatening action. The Taepodong-2 missile cut out shortly after launch (before things could escalate: the US could likely not have shot it down that quickly, and North Korea would not have to respond to a US show of weapon supremacy). Kim Jong Il did succeed in launching the Taepodong-2 missile in that he showed that he could and would despite international pressure. The fact that the missile fell harmlessly into the ocean is convenient for everyone involved.

Kim Jong Il can now sit back and see if there is any fallout for his actions. So far there has been none and there is likely to be little actual fallout beyond a potential "condemnation" by the UN. Facing no severe consequences will embolden Kim Jong Il and will escalate the crisis. Unless the international community make a swift and severe response, Kim Jong Il will continue to push the bounds until the international community gives in to his demands.

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