May 31, 2007

* What happens if the President’s surge were to be deemed a bust or ineffective come the fall? Perhaps, as Morton Kondrake suggests, we need a plan for “winning dirty” – meaning, tossing the Iraqi Sunnis overboard:

Without prejudging whether President Bush’s “surge” policy will work, the administration and its critics ought to be seriously thinking about a Plan B, the “80 percent solution” – also known as “winning dirty.” Right now, the administration is committed to building a unified, reconciled, multisectarian Iraq – “winning clean.” Most Democrats say that’s what they want, too. But it may not be possible.

The 80 percent alternative involves accepting rule by Shiites and Kurds, allowing them to violently suppress Sunni resistance and making sure that Shiites friendly to the United States emerge victorious.

No one has publicly advocated this Plan B, and I know of only one Member of Congress who backs it – and he wants to stay anonymous. But he argues persuasively that it’s the best alternative available if Bush’s surge fails. Winning will be dirty because it will allow the Shiite-dominated Iraqi military and some Shiite militias to decimate the Sunni insurgency. There likely will be ethnic cleansing, atrocities against civilians and massive refugee flows.
On the other hand, as Bush’s critics point out, bloody civil war is the reality in Iraq right now. U.S. troops are standing in the middle of it and so far cannot stop either Shiites from killing Sunnis or Sunnis from killing Shiites.

Winning dirty would involve taking sides in the civil war – backing the Shiite-dominated elected government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ensuring that he and his allies prevail over both the Sunni insurgency and his Shiite adversary Muqtada al-Sadr, who’s now Iran’s candidate to rule Iraq.

Hat tip: NRO’s Corner Blog

This seems about right to me. It was the Sunnis (via Saddam Hussein) that got us into this thing, and since they, in large part, are responsible for the insurgency and encouraging the entry of Al Qaida into the conflict, and we have no responsibility to make sure they get coddled were we to reduce forces or withdraw altogether. One can only hope that, if and when we do decide to toss the Sunnis overboard, we don’t do it before also figuring out a way to have radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his goons eliminated from the scene beforehand.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:25 | Comments Off on After the Surge
May 30, 2007

You gotta hand it to the Democrats – they never met a government program they didn’t embrace and want to shove down the throats of the American people. Oh sure, we’ve come to expect this from the likes of the money-grubbing trial lawyer and, of course, that queen of socialism, Hillary Clinton, but Barack Obama? Perhaps he sees his campaign starting to go stagnant in the polls, but today he came out with that old broken-down Trojan horse of liberalism, nationalized health care. As the AP’s Mike Glover reports:

Obama’s plan retains the private insurance system but injects additional money to pay for expanding coverage. It would also create a National Health Insurance Exchange to monitor insurance companies in offering the coverage.

Those who can’t afford coverage would get a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on their income, and virtually all businesses would have to share in the cost of coverage for their workers. The plan is similar to the one covering members of Congress.

Obama’s package would prohibit insurance companies from refusing coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

The plan doesn’t have the mandate that rival Democratic candidate John Edwards is proposing to ensure that all Americans get coverage. The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee would require everyone to have health insurance, much like state requirements for auto insurance for every driver. Both candidates would require businesses to help cover their workers.

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who oversaw a massive but unsuccessful project to overhaul the nation’s health care system while she was first lady, has promised universal health care but has yet to provide specifics.

No one is saying that our health system is perfect – there’s no such thing – but compared to any other in the world, its model fits best into the American free-market economy and everything it stands for. After all, one of the primary incentives for Americans wanting to improve themselves and their lot in life is to change jobs, or go to school, and/or learn new skills that will help them enter different fields of employment and/or climb the corporate ladder is better benefits and/or more income so they can afford better health insurance. Take away that incentive and burden small business employers with the task of providing free or inexpensive healthcare to people, and you remove that incentive. Do that, and watch the number of entry-level jobs available to young people provided by small-business owners disappear. Talk about your market economy wet blanket!

But it’s not just me who feels this way: Jim Addison of Wizbang! Politics hits the nail right on the head:

[Obama’s plan] supplies no details, but on the face of it, the accounting must have been done by Rosy Scenario. “Saving” an average of $2500 per year for consumers is nearly $40 billion right there, and that’s before even beginning to cover the estimated 45 million uninsured. You keep your private insurance, but pay less for it? How about free Cadillacs for everyone, too?

Oh, and he will also “ask all but the smallest businesses who don’t make a meaningful contribution to the health coverage of their workers to do so to support this plan,” he says. “Ask,” as in “mandate,” he means, of course. Might as well kill the economy while destroying health care, eh?

Of course, Obama is competing for the Democratic base voter, who likes nothing better than a “freebie” that someone else has to pay for. Only in such a party could a complete dismantling of the best health care system in the world be considered a worthy goal.

It’s my view that most Americans are basically lazy by nature and would be more than happy to let the government be their titty for everything – as if it were some distant and benevolent welcome wagon that somehow pays for itself. Well it doesn’t, and increasingly it is being supported by those who work the hardest to pay the most in taxes to keep it running. The government has a role in providing a safety net for the most needy of its people, but not everyone. Take away the incentive of working hard, and this country folds like a cheap bridge table. If the federal government had shown its ability to consistently and effectively deliver services through efficiently-run programs, that would be one thing, but the truth is, just about everything it tries to do, it fails at miserably. What makes the likes of Obama think it will be any different when it comes to providing effective and affordable health care?

Edwards, Hillary, and now Obama. You gotta hand to the Democrats – at least they’ve stopped being shy about showing their true colors.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:01 | Comments Off on True Colors
May 29, 2007

News item: Cindy Sheehan bids goodbye to her role as “media darling” of the anti-war movement.

Unlike a lot of other people who seemed to truly despise her, I always felt pity for Sheehan more than anything else – even when she did idiotic things like show herself alongside the likes of Hugo Chavez. She always seemed like a sad and pathetic lost soul who couldn’t, or didn’t, want to face the devastation or grief at the loss of her son – choosing instead to him the face of the anti-war movement.

I mean, to me, the only ones who can truly identify with her (and those like her) and have any right to express an opinion about her activities are those who also have lost sons and daughters, or moms and dads and/or other loved ones in service to their country. I can’t speak for myself, as I’ve never had to attend a military funeral and don’t even know anyone who ever has (perhaps that puts me in some kind of privileged minority). But others have, and they’ve painted her as everything from a hero, to an icon, to a fool, and to a traitor and every expletive deleted in between. But now, as Sheehan posts today on the Daily Kos, she’s had enough and is heading home to try and put her life back together again, disillusioned at finding out that – gasp! – the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is just as manipulative, hypocritical, and corrupt as those on the other side of the aisle:

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt “two” party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?

…I have also tried to work within a peace movement that often puts personal egos above peace and human life. This group won’t work with that group; he won’t attend an event if she is going to be there; and why does Cindy Sheehan get all the attention anyway? It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions.

Well, welcome to modern American politics and the mainstream media in the 21st century, Cindy. I say, where you been, darlin’? Are you truly surprised at the antics of the anti-war Left and those in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party who pander to it for their own political advancement – hello Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid! Don’t you realize that those celebrities and people you have identified and aligned yourself with are the same ones who spout all their concern about global warming, yet drive around in SUVs and corporate jets traveling to and from their multiple homes? Perhaps you’ve finally discovered that Presidential candidates like John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, or – most lately – New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson wouldn’t even think twice about using you, your son, or any other fallen warrior or grieving family for their own political purposes if it meant gaining the White House, and that there is no such thing as a pure, unstained politician in Washington? I mean, come on, Cindy – how the hell do you think they got there in the first place?

The fact is, Cindy, you’ve been duped. It’s one thing to want to add your voice to try and change things if you feel the elected officials of this country are taking it down the wrong road. And there’s nothing wrong with being a protest warrior when you feel passionately about injustice and things your country does that you believe are deeply wrong. But when you yourself become the story (unwittingly or otherwise), when your passion and hatred for someone like the President becomes the story rather than the crusade you represent to the point where your health is affected and, in your own words, you feel you have to “be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost”, and you need to “try to repair some of the [relationships] that have fallen apart”, then clearly there was some line that was crossed.

The primary reason I’ve always felt sorry for Cindy Sheehan more than anything else is, it’s the same kind of sorrow I’d feel for anyone who hates another human being so much that they expend all their time, passion, and effort focusing on nothing but the hatred and their loss, to the point where the hatred basically eats them alive from within like a giant maggot, leaving nothing outside but an empty shell. Certainly, the loss of anyone’s son is cause for grief, mourning, and yes, perhaps, even hatred. But life goes on; life must go on, and you have to, just as the one you have lost would have wanted you to. After all, life is for the living. It must be a sad thing to finally come to the realization that, in the end, no matter how passionately you feel about something, everyone has their own lives to live, their own agendas, and, yes, their own hypocracies. And, whether you believe Sheehan was the epitome of a patriot or a misguided loon, to read or listen to her disillusionment at recognizing this, it is a pitiable thing to behold.

For the last word on Sheehan, I leave it to one of those from the progressive Left who commented to her post, a one “cdale”, who writes:

This isn’t a knock against Sheehan. Her courage, bravery and commitment are exemplary and we are all in her debt.

However, as a (hopefully) career grassroots organizer, I can’t help notice that this is a case study in burnout, something we all deal with. For all of us who are going to continue in this work, let this be a lesson to us. You CAN’T destroy yourself to save the world.

Indeed. Whether you admire or despise Sheehan for everything she’s said, done, or stood for, I hope we can all agree that it’s time for her to find some sense of peace in her life. Even she deserves that much.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:45 | Comments (2)
May 28, 2007

On this Memorial Day, my thoughts are with all those for whom this day is not just about cook-outs, or goin’ to the beach, or gathering with friends and families. I’ve never served in the military – I don’t know if it was something I was ever cut out for – but I’ve never denigrated those who have volunteered for, or were drafted into, our nation’s military. Those who have done so have far more courage and fortitude than I could ever muster, so here’s to those who have fought and died not just for our freedom, but the freedom of those who often never fully appreciate their sacrifice, or are all too willing to forget about it.

This little piece of prose comes courtesy of Annie’s Place:

Memorial Day should remind us that freedom
is always under challenge
and that freedom is never free.
Freedom is important enough to live for,
and precious enough to die for.
Let us not forget those men and women
who have served our great nation
during times peace and conflict.
Because they gave their “last full measure of devotion”,
we are forever in their debt.
We stand with bowed heads and humble hearts
for their graves are hallowed places.
Their service to God and country will always be remembered.
On this day, we can pay no higher tribute to our dead,
nor render greater service to our great nation,
than instill in others,
who seemingly have no special reason for remembering,
what the true spirit of Memorial Day really is.
It is a day for all Americans!

~~By Laura Slaton Phillips~~

May God continue to bless those who have given their lives so that others may live in freedom. God bless them, and may God bless the United States of America.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:59 | Comments Off on Memorial Day
May 27, 2007

pentecost “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4)

Today is Pentecost, observed in the Christian tradition as a feast day celebrating the founding of the Christian Church. I love this day, not only because of the imagery behind the New Testament readings of the day, but because so much of that imagery involves fire, and passion, and purification, and all those good things that come with the dynamic of living faith and belief in response to the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Regardless of the droning drivel you’re likely to hear from your typical Episcopal Church pulpit on this day – about Pentecost being the poster-child for “diversity” and the need for the Church to “listen to different voices” in their pathetic argument for even more tolerance (as if the Church hasn’t been tolerant enough!), it is NOT a day to celebrate what they really stand for – a lukewarm faith, a faith with no scriptural or moral foundation, and a faith all too willing to compromise with a world hopelessly addicted to self-love, material wealth, and a “if it feels right, it must be right” attitude.

This excerpt from a Pentecost homily by a Monsignor Peter Magee from last year puts these sentiments into words far better than I ever could:

Pentecost is waiting to happen again and again in the pages of our bibles, if we would but stir ourselves and shake off our torpor, pick them up with faith and desire and read them with open hearts.

But let us be careful.

The Gospel is not up for grabs. It is not our personal property.

In it lies the mystery of the Trinity itself. The Gospel is therefore a “holy place.”

And the Holy Spirit himself, at the behest of Jesus, has entrusted the Gospel to the church, and more especially to the apostles, to care for it.

If we read or interpret the Gospel in a way that is contrary to the apostolic church, then we read and interpret contrary to Christ and his Spirit.

If to know the Gospel is to know Christ, then to twist the Gospel is to twist Christ. We can no more manipulate the Gospel than we can manipulate the Lord.

And so, we must listen with faithful and loving hearts to those who have the tongues of fire today, to the successors of the apostles, if we are to understand aright the implications of the Gospel for the big questions of our time.

And if they establish limits on any interpretation of the Word of God, then we must not complain, but rejoice that they are showing us where the Spirit leads us.

We must trust them as we would trust Christ himself, for in matters attaining to our salvation, they cannot err by virtue of the promise and the power of Christ himself.

Let Pentecost this year be a grace to seek and to know once more “fire in our bellies” because of the Gospel we carry within!

Indeed. May you and yours enjoy a blessed and joyous Pentecost in the spirit.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:43 | Comments Off on Pentecost Sunday
May 26, 2007

Unfortunately, it will be a weekend of work for me, but when I lived back East I always enjoyed Memorial Day weekend. For one thing, up and along the seacoast, it meant the beginning of summer, although I can remember quite a few Memorial Day weekends when the weather was hardly summer-like. Because it was such a tradition, coming out here to Phoenix means it’s kind of a let-down. I mean, summer’s already been here for a month!

Between having a ton of work to do and the fact so many people will be getting away, blogging will be light this weekend, but it will be existent – heck, the rest of the world won’t stop simply because a couple two threee Americans are taking their first summer vacation! For those who are getting away, here’s wishes for a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:12 | Comments Off on Holiday Weekend
May 25, 2007

Just goes to show you – you publish a little golf humor, and all the linksters come out of the woodwork! 🙂 These, courtesy of my good friend Pete:

The 10 Best Caddy Replies:

# 10 — Golfer: “Think I’m going to drown myself in the lake.” Caddy: “Think you can keep your head down that long?”
# 9 — Golfer: “I’d move heaven and earth to break 100 on this course.” Caddy: “Try heaven, you’ve already moved most of the earth.”
# 8 — Golfer: “Do you think my game is improving?” Caddy: “Yes sir, you miss the ball much closer now.”
# 7 — Golfer: “Do you think I can get there with a 5 iron?” Caddy: “Eventually.”
# 6 — Golfer: “You’ve got to be the worst caddy in the world.” Caddy: “I don’t think so sir. That would be too much of a coincidence.”
# 5 — Golfer: “Please stop checking your watch all the time. It’s too much of a distraction.” Caddy: “It’s not a watch – it’s a compass.”
# 4 — Golfer: “How do you like my game?” Caddy: “Very good sir, but personally, I prefer golf.”
# 3 — Golfer: “Do you think it’s a sin to play on Sunday?” Caddy: “The way you play, sir, it’s a sin on any day.”
# 2 — Golfer: “This is the worst course I’ve ever played on.” Caddy: “This isn’t the golf course. We left that an hour ago.”
# 1 — Best Caddy Comment Golfer: “That can’t be my ball, it’s too old.” Caddy: “It’s been a long time since we teed off, sir.”

Thanks, Pete – some good yucks there!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:19 | Comment (1)
May 24, 2007

OK, 1 1/2 days into this city, and I think I’ve got a bead on it:

* The architecture is very much like Boston, with an old-world, European feel about it;

* If you don’t mind this married guy saying so, there are A LOT of cute girls here, with lovely French accents to boot;

* I’m sure glad the Red Sox beat the Yankees last night, given that Curt Schilling gave up his lunch money to the Evil Empire tonight. If the Yanks had ever swept the Sox in Yankee stadium, every unsufferable Yankee fan and media rat (especially the kings of the Yankee suck-ups, ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball tandem of John Miller and Joe Morgan) would have come out of the woodwork with their “here come the Yankees!” by-lines;

* …but Schill wasn’t the only one who got knocked around tonight, eh, Rocket?

* Maybe we were dreaming, but my co-worker Sharon and thought we saw actor Brad Pitt (or at least someone VERY Pittish-looking sitting in a bistro tonight. He’s been up here filming a movie, so you never know…

* Bottom line is, Montreal seems to be a very fab town with lots to do and see, and I’ve got to figure out a way to get back here another and take Mrs. Shank in tow. It’s been a great time here, and wish my stay was a few more days.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:17 | Comments Off on More Montreal Musings
May 23, 2007

…so here I am, ensconced in my hotel room high above Montreal on the 26th floor of the beautiful Intercontinental Hotel, with a beautiful view of the sun setting beyond the downtown. The hotel is top-notch and the people – at least so far – seem friendly enough. Some things I’ve noticed:

* Montreal certainly seems to be a clean city – at least what I’ve seen of it so far;

* I like listening to pretty girls speak in French accents;

* …make that, I love listening to pretty girls speak in French accents;

* It doen’t surprise me that everyone around here speaks French, but it’s strange to see and hear Asians speaking in French – not that there’s anything wrong with it, it just seems odd;

* Isn’t the Internet wonderful? Here I am, blogging away north of the border, yet still able to watch the Red Sox pummel the Yankees on

* While enjoying my dinner in the hotel’s pub (it’s called “Chez Plume”), I was watching what I think was the Canadian version of CNN. While I couldn’t understand the closed captioning (in French), it was obvious they were profiling some well-known Quebec human-rights activist. Lots of coverage about her trips to Uganda, Rwanda, and Darfur, but I immediately lost interest when, all of a sudden, in the space of 10 minutes I was watching pictures of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

…Now, excuse me if this sounds cold-hearted, but to compare the death and suffering of thousands upon thousands of homeless refugees caught in the middle of a civil war in the most destitute part of the world with a handful of detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo is absurd. Actually, more than absurd – sickening. Talk about your moral relativism! But then again, I shouldn’t have been surprised, because shortly thereafter there was this same champion of human rights shaking hands with that disgraceful ex-President and noted anti-Semite Jimmy Carter. It didn’t make me lose my appetite, but it sure made me want to order another glass of cabernet…

More tomorrow!

Filed in: Politics & World Events,Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:05 | Comments Off on Montreal Musings
May 22, 2007

Well, this travelin’ guy is about to head back to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport – this time for a whirlwind, three-day business trip to Montreal. I’ve never been there before, but it’s gonna be pretty much office and hotel room time for me. What, pray tell, might I be missing when it’s an all-work, no-play deal? I don’t know – the only thing I’ve ever heard of in Montreal is the Forum (do the Canadiens still play there?) and St. Catherine’s Street.

But tonight, my mind is on music – and here’s a few tunes I’ve got rolling around in my head:

* Maple Leaf Rag and Solace, by Scott Joplin; both from “The Complete Piano Music of Scott Joplin” – aggressive, happy, sentimental music from one of my all-time favorite composers.

* Land Ho! – The Doors; from one of my all-time favorite albums, “Morrison Hotel”. Every time I hear it, I think of popping my quarters in a jukebox at Pat O’Brien’s and watching the bar patrons go nuts over it.

* Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys; from my all-time favorite album, “Pet Sounds”. The next time you listen to it, pay attention to the instrumental track – and you thought accordions were only for polka music!

* Tipitina – Professor Longhair; from “The Big Easy” soundtrack. Can’t you tell I’m only two weeks away from a visit to New Orleans? I’ve gotta figure out a way to hook up with my blogger buddy, Rob.

* The soundtracks to the movies “Jaws”, “The Perfect Storm” and “Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World”. Call me nuts. Call me irresponsible. Just call me.

But seriously, folks, it’s getting near that time of year where visits back home to New England are pending, and I’m diggin’ any kind of music that reminds me of home and the ocean.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:50 | Comments (2)


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