Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Answer in November Can't be More Democrats

Economic News

Funny how Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez likes to "help the poor" of countries he has an ax to grind with (steal from the poor of his own country and give to the poor of others for political points), when he can't seem to manage the economy of his own country.

The Heritage Foundation's 2006 Index of Economic Freedom has Venezuela tied for 152nd place with Libya, on the scale of measuring which nations have the most economic freedom. Countries that rank lower than that, are Zimbabwe, Burma, Iran, and North Korea (with four countries not graded).
In the wake of a failed—and hotly contested—2004 recall attempt, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías has clamped down on civil liberties, property rights, and Western foreign oil companies that are still operating in this impoverished South American country. He has decreed new laws that define public protest as a crime, has imposed media restrictions that encourage substantial self-censorship under threat of operating license confiscation, and has begun to seize large rural farms and ranches that he claims are not sufficiently productive.
The mayor of Caracas exemplifies how the "compassion" of socialist-thinking makes life worse for everyone. Larry Kudlow reports on how the mayor seized privately owned golf courses in order to make room for building houses for the poor; on the surface, that sounds like an act of compassion. But it is compassion in the absence of wisdom and intellect. Consider:
According to the mayor’s reasoning, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that none may enjoy luxury while others suffer poverty. But consider the moral disaster that such a principal would create: The security and stability that flow from private ownership would evaporate. No one could safely produce, improve, or acquire any property for himself, since the resulting inequality would only create a new target for “forced acquisition” by the state. Productive incentives would be destroyed. It is for this reason that there is only one way for state-enforced egalitarianism to succeed: by making everyone equally poor.
In other economic news, new tax figures were released by the IRS. Michael Medved puts the numbers into perspective by comparing them to the Clinton years:
In 2000, the last year of the Clinton presidency, the average tax rate for all taxpayers was 15.3%. In 2004 (the latest year for which final numbers are available) that rate had fallen to 12.1%-- an across-the-board cut of more than 20%. The only voters who could claim that a 20% tax cut is insignificant are those who don’t pay taxes.

Meanwhile, the Bush/GOP tax cuts (decried by dishonest Democrats for benefiting “only the rich”) proved especially significant for the bottom 50% of all taxpayers. Under Clinton, these below-average wage earners still coughed up 4.6% of their income to the feds. Under Bush, that rate for the struggling bottom half dropped to 3% --a healthy cut of 35%.

The IRS numbers also give the lie to the Democratic charge that “the filthy rich” gobble up a larger portion of the national income than ever before. The top 1% of taxpayers took an all-time peak percentage of the national income under Clinton—some 17.8%. The most recent figures for Bush show that the privileged one per cent reduced their share of our society’s earnings during his presidency to 16.5%.

Politicians and pundits make it a habit of lying – and they indulge that habit with gusto and recklessness. Statistics, however, don’t lie – at least not when they’re based on the actual money collected by the IRS. Perhaps these new numbers will provide a needed dose of reality therapy for confused conservatives – and cure the crazy idea that there’s no real difference between Democrats and the GOP.
This is talked about toward the end of Michael Medved's 1st hour on Tuesday's show (first half, he talks about the lowering gas prices- really good stuff from America's #1 cultural crusader; highly recommended listening). Is it not obvious yet, that the Bush economy is working? If you want to see the American economy continue to prosper, then help keep a Republican majority in Congress this November.

Hat tip: Free Republic for the photo.

Friday, September 29, 2006

What's the Story Behind this Photo?

First person who either already knows it, or correctly guesses as to the significance of it....well, go ahead and give yourself a cookie. For those who have never seen this photo, I'd be curious to know what the mood of the image conjures up in you. Thoughts? Emotions? Impressions?

(Don't be shy or embarrassed if you are completely in the cave on this one, even though it's a famous photo...I only discovered it for the first time about half an hour ago).

I'll update this post afterward with more, once the guesses/answers are in.

CONGRATULATIONS OUT TO TOM'S COMMON SENSE!!! Tom brought the contest to a quick end and decisive win. Tom: go stick your hand in the cookie jar! You earned it buddy! Atheling2 was the first-responder in the comments section and gets an honorable mention; go ahead and lick the cream-filling from your Oreo, buddy.

The story behind the photo is this: it's a propaganda photo taken of captured members of the USS Pueblo in 1968 at the hands of the North Koreans. Atheling2 was correct in guessing the signficance of the middle finger in the photo. Those soldiers are under duress, and giving the "Hawaiian good luck" sign as a secret protest, unbeknownst to their captors.

What got me started on this, was that I was poking around the 'net, and came across this gem, from Pundit Review back in January:

It's a true photograph, taken in Iraq from Thanksgiving 2003; the year that President Bush made his secret trip to spend Thanksgiving with the Troops. Some of you might have received it before in e-mail forwards. Just click on the photograph to be taken to Snopes for the full story (also, the Pundit Review link) and a bit of history lesson on how soldiers under "coercion" might give away secret signs that they are appearing on camera against their will. I thought about linking to more examples, but I'm headed out the door. If anyone else wants to leave any more links in the comments section on other examples, feel free, and I will add them to the post later tonight. I seem to recall hearing, when I was a kid, about an instance where a captured soldier used morse code by eye-blinking. But, that could have just been an ABC Friday night movie-of-the-week, or something....

Also, check out Blackfive's John Kerry photo op.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tokyo Rose Dies at 90

Iva Toguri D’Aquino, the Japanese-American convicted of treason in 1949 for broadcasting propaganda from Japan to United States servicemen during World War II as the seductive but sinister Tokyo Rose, died Tuesday in Chicago. She was 90.

“I didn’t think I was doing anything disloyal to America.”
-Iva Toguri D'Aquino

What will the New York Times excuse be?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Beginnings of a Beautiful Frakkin' Friendship

It isn't the weekend, but I must indulge myself: My first post at skye's blog. A one-year blogcommentiversary. Skye's been a fun blogging buddy; an invaluable resource; a dependable moonbat slayer; and politics is just one of her many passions. The other is Lee Adama's arms on the new Battlestar Galactica series, on SciFi.

As my tribute post to the grand opening of skye's repackaged, refurnished, revamped, reinvigorated MidnightBlue blog, I shall discuss some BSG, and lace it with political fun.

I actually started this post at 2am on August 16th, thinking of BSG after listening to Dennis Kucinich on O'Reilly. His statements reminded me of President Adar in the original BSG series. I forgot what Kucinich said, now, but it was along the lines of an appeaser and peace fascist. What he said was a reflection of today's Democratic Party and how they want to approach the war on terror; basically, they just want to wish it away. To not even acknowledge that we are in a war. I'm reminded of Hugh Hewitt's warning: until the Democrats get serious about terrorism, the answer to national security isn't to put more Democrats in office.

The backstory of BSG was, that after a thousand years of constant warfare between the Cylon Alliance and the human colonies, the Cylons decided to initiate peace agreements. Aching for peace, as only humans can, this is how President Adar "led" his people:
Each battlestar had a compliment of 32 fighters, bringing their fighter escort total to 384 Vipers. The ships were under the command of President Adar, who made several precautions so that the fleet would be as unaggressive as possible. There was no fighter screen and the ships travelled under the loosest of precautions.
As you can guess, the Peace Conference was a trap. And it was Adar's pacifistic naivete that enabled the destruction of the 12 Colonies. Skyebuck, here's a toast to you, and a lesson to why Adama's "peace through military strength and preparedness" is a much wiser policy than Adar's "peace through appeasement and pacifism":

Watch Part One

Watch Part Two

Take the time to watch these 15 minutes from the pilot. Pay attention to Adar's dialogue; and then tell me that Adar isn't a space cadet Democrat whereas Adama is the definitive military space-age Republican.

Don't forget to tune into the new season 3, beginning this October. It's been a long wait.

While I'm at it, I might as well remind another favorite blog-buddy, Miss Chatterbox, to check out another favorite TV series of mine: Space: Above and Beyond. Here are a couple of clips:

Opening credits:

Boot Camp:

Angriest Angel not making nice with his Maker:

Fans of "24" will recognize James Morrison; but it was his role as Col T.C. McQueen that should have launched his career into superstardom:

Go pay skye and Chatterbox a visit....and tell 'em Wordsmith sent'cha.

UPDATE 02/01/07:

Longer version of McQueen's finest moment:

A Case of Erectile Finger Dysfunction (or "Effed" for short)

From the now famous Chris Wallace interview of an ex-President coming unhinged:
Clinton: Even the 9/11 Commission didn’t do that. Now, the 9/11 Commission was a political document, too. All I’m asking is, anybody who wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.
That's just too rich. Remember that folks: former President Clinton himself called the 9/11 Commission Report, widely respected and heralded as bipartisan in their nonpartisan research and gathering, a "political document". (Off-topic, sorta: Regarding the recent Senate Select Committee on Intelligence findings, Flopping Aces has the relevant links and rebuttals)

As far as citing Richard Clarke over and over again and again during the interview, Byron York doesn't believe the Clarke book, "Against All Enemies", supports Bill Clinton as much as he would have us believe.

Clinton also asks of Wallace (waitaminute....who's interviewing who?!) whether or not he's asked the same "hard-hitting" question of anyone in the Bush Administration. I believe I heard on Michael Medved yesterday that Chris Wallace did ask Donald Rumsfeld the same question. Gay Patriot has the interchange, and more.

UPDATE (10/01/06): Hat tip to Little Miss Chatterbox for finding a video clip that I had been trying to search for. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

"Kill 'em all......let Allah sort 'em out!"

Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times ($^%^&#@!) leaks to us today information from anonymous sources of a classified National Intelligence Estimate:
Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document.

That's just peachy.

I don't question the veracity of the assessment at all. I'm just amazed at the bureaucratic leaks, and at the kinds of stories the NY Times, perhaps the leading U.S. newspaper, runs with during a time of war each day. This is the same newspaper that had a stake in Plamegate, that leaked 2 of 3 stories on NSA Surveillance programs; and it was the paper that ran 31 consecutive frontpage news stories on Abu Ghraib. I personally don't feel the war in Iraq in itself is what has fed and bred the Jihadists. It's our own obsessing over stories about Guantanamo and Abu's our own shooting ourselves in the foot with language such as "Bush lied"..."racial profiling and discrimination against Muslims"......"there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11" (a liberal fantasy that President Bush ever said that in the way that they understand it)...."OCCUPATION of Iraq"...."it's an imperialistic war for oil".....the focus on civilian deaths of innocent Iraqis as the fault of our military and not that of the Jihadists and insurgents...everything plays right into the hands of the terror propagandists. Our mission in Iraq- to make us safer by planting the seeds of democracy in the Middle East and subsequently helping the Iraqis build a better future for their people- has been twisted to fuel the misperception of this war. The negative press falls right into the hands of our enemies.

Even though by most accounts, Al Qaeda is fractured and much of its senior leadership killed or captured, splinter cells and Jihadist wannabes are cropping up not because of the actions of the U.S. But because of the propaganda. The same kind that fuels the anti-American hate, that has no basis in truth. The same kind that will have Arabs believe 9/11 was orchestrated by Jews, and about a third of our own citizens buying into conspiracy theories that the Bush Administration "knocked down the Towers". Disgusting and stupid.

The Pope's speech gets twisted and interpreted in a way that fuels Muslim outrage. Who's responsible for the violent reaction? The Pope? Or the Islamists? Grow some thicker skin and grow up!

Removing Saddam was a good thing. But we weren't done. Helping the Iraqi people in the rebuilding was and still is, the noble, responsible thing to do.

One final word (I'd talk about what Ted Kennedy just said about the NIE report, but I've lost patience):
I want to tell you before 9/11 innocent people used to die and nothing would happen but your death changed history forever.-Sooni's 9/11 post.
If you are a bit perplexed by that statement, go read this Baghdad blogger's post for the context. Hat tip to Gayle.

UPDATE 09/26/06: It would appear that President Bush plans to declassify portions of the NIE report to counter leakage of the CLASSIFIED report printed in the NY Times this past sunday.

UPDATE 09/27/06: Flopping Aces has two posts.
Ex-Donkey Blog also hee-haws.
Dean Bartlett calls it "uninteresting".
Freedom Eden links to the Washington Post.
Counterterrorism Blog counters here and here.
Mike's America is....well, Mike's America.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Weekend Must Listen!

Stop what you're doing! Your ass is mine for the next hour. You're only excused if you have to go pee or get a cup of coffee; otherwise, dump your rump in that chair and turn up the volume on your comp.

I don't care if you are a liberal or a conservative; this goes beyond partisanship. Click here. Mike, if you can't podcast it while you're sunbathing out at the beach, print out the interview transcript, and don't confuse it for a sunscreen.

Lawrence Wright has the most comprehensive book, "The Looming Tower", on al-Qaeda, its roots, and the events that led up to 9/11. Seriously, this is most riveting thing you will do all weekend long, other than watch 60 Minutes sunday (I believe the LA Times mentions Musharraf will be on there)...and maybe Clinton's interview on Fox News Sunday (Think Progress has the rough-and-ready transcript).

I first heard the author on Dennis Prager, right before the 5th anniversary of 9/11. Here's the show, which also included Richard Miniter. And I recall that on 9/11, Hugh Hewitt was blogging about how much he was riveted to Lawrence Wright's book.

Here's an account of John O'Neill in the New Yorker, written by Lawrence Wright, for those interested, further.

UPDATE: An interesting read from Born Again Redneck: "Freedom and Justice in Islam", featuring an article by Bernard Lewis.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Word to el presidente Chavez: "HuGo to hell!"

From the LA Times yesterday:
Chavez drew tentative giggles at times from the audience, but also some applause when he called Bush the devil.
That ticked me off more than Chavez' unstatesmanlike language.

For a more accurate translation of "sulfur" in Chavez' speech, go visit Freedom Eden. And here's the book Chavez really wants you to read:

Hat tip for the photoshop: Free Republic

More at Mike's America. A rarity: Marie's Two Cents praises Rangel (perhaps hell hath, indeed, frozen over).

Video at HotAir, of course, of Hugo Chavez' UN speech.

Flopping Aces with a good rant & roundup.

Check this out: The Intellectual Origins of America-Bashing by Lee Harris. Hat tip: Dennis Prager. His radio broadcast relevant to this and the UN.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

President Bush: Unplugged

Chatterbox got to meet President Bush the other week (still waiting on the picture, darlin'!).

Jen at Patriotes got to attend a "silly luncheon" (as she put it) and listen in on Karl Rove give a talk. Check out her notes. What I like are the personal, intimate details you don't normally get in a formalized newspaper:
Bush bike rides 16.5 miles a day, at the SS training center.
• He’s known Bush for 33 years.
• Joked that Barney, HAS NO PERSONALITY. He doesn’t like Barney while Bush describes the dog as the son he never had. Miss Besley is more well behaved. Barney doesn’t care about attention.
• He said that Truman once stated, “if you want friends in DC, get a dog.”
• Rove has two dogs.

• Bush is very well organized. He has 12 pens all pointing upside down and he gives them out to children. They are restocked every night.

• When Bush comes in, there is one document on his desk, Threat Matrix ... Rove has read it two times, said it’s “the stuff that nightmares are made out of.”

• Bush then meets with Chief of Staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff etc.
Secretaries of the Depts.
• Communicates via satellite phone w. Blair and commanders all over the world.

• Bush has another briefing all before 8:30 am

• Leaders from countries most people never heard of - call President Bush for help or for advice.

• Has a notebook that he takes with him when the work day is “done” - he reads it every night and knows it by heart almost in the morning. Challenges people to know stuff about it and asks very solid questions.

• Bush thinks about the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. It’s with him constantly.

• He never meets with
families before an event BUT afterwards. So they aren’t on his schedule.
• They went to Ft. Campbell one time and met with 55 families for 5 hrs.
Last Friday, I listened to Michael Medved open his show in almost star-struck language in describing an "off-the-record" meeting of the President between him and a few other talk radio pundits, such as Laura Ingraham (who mentioned it on-air yesterday). (Not sure if Cal Thomas' article was based upon this meeting).

Sunday, September 17, 2006
The President, Face to Face: In Command, and Enjoying It
Posted by: Michael Medved at 8:26 PM

When you sit down with George W. Bush in private conversation, he comes across with only a casual resemblance to the famous figure we've all seen on TV.

I had the opportunity to reach that conclusion during a ninety minute "off the record" meeting in the Oval Office on Friday afternoon, September 15th. I'd met the President before (as he duly noted when I came through the door) but only in passing: at a large, formal dinner in Dallas in 1995 when he was Governor of Texas, and at a breakfast gathering of Seattle religious leaders during his first race for the Presidency in 2000.

This situation was different, in part because any individual becomes a different person after he takes over the most powerful job on earth and in part because the setting was unusually intimate. On Tuesday evening, I received an invitation to this Oval Office meeting with the President: Trey Bohn, a capable official from the White House press office, said that the chief executive wanted to communicate his ideas, his view of the world, on a personal basis to a handful of opinion leaders from the world of talk radio. All day Wednesday, we struggled to rearrange my schedule in order to facilitate the trip to Washington: when the Leader of the Free World extends an invitation, it's only appropriate to make every possible effort to accept. I took the red-eye on Thursday night (with my wife Diane) after my normal broadcast, and a screening of a grossly incompetent movie. The schedule allowed time to shower, shave and change in our hotel before walking the three blocks to the White House.

I arrived early, as the President's staff had requested, and sitting in a waiting room in the West Wing with some of the other meeting participants, we could hear snatches of the singularly feisty press conference the chief executive conducted (to my surprise) that morning, immediately before our appointment. The other invited guests for the Oval Office meeting were four fellow national talk show hosts, most of whom I knew reasonably well -- Sean Hannity, Mike Gallagher, Laura Ingraham, and Neal Boortz. While the President grabbed a quick lunch after his press conference (we were told), we sat around a long table in the Roosevelt Room, immediately adjacent to the Oval Office--- inspecting the portraits of Teddy Roosevelt on the wall, and the framed Congressional Medal of Honor he won for leading the charge up San Juan Hill.

After a few minutes, White House press secretary Tony Snow invited us into the Oval Office, where we each greeted the President and his chief-of-staff, Josh Bolten. As we sat down on the couches in front of the President's desk, and he took the chair facing the two couches, Mr. Bolten left the office and the President began to talk. Other than the five guests, the only other people in the room were White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and White House communications director Dan Bartlett.

The first thing I noticed when enterting the Oval Office, by the way, is the superb lighting: the room is bright yellow, and the light is notably brighter than in the other rooms of the executive mansion. Even on a cloudy, overcast morning, you feel as if you're in the midst of a desert in the noonday sun. In a sense, I suppose that brilliant glare reminds the president and his aides that you can't count on any dark corners, any lingering shadows, to obscure what occurs in the Oval Office.

In that unforgiving light, the President also looks larger, more formidable than he looks on television. He often appears to be a slight, unsassuming man, but he's 5'11", notably broad-shouldered, and with a habit of throwing those shoulders back with a West Texas swagger. Standing next to Al Gore (who's 6' 2") or John Kerry (who's 6' 4"), President Bush may look small by comparison, but when expansively welcoming guests into his office he's a commanding and room-filling presence. Part of that, of course, is the air of familiarity and power that surrounds him, but part of that warm and authoritative aura is, inevitably, just him.

I had expected that once we all sat down, the President might ask us some questions about the concerns and opinions of the radio audience, or else he might have opened himself to questions or comments we wanted to pose. In the event, he did neither: he simply began talking about the world situation, and never stopped. We had been scheduled for half an hour with Mr. Bush but he continued to speak-- with increasing energy and focus, as a matter of fact --for some ninety minutes before aides appeared to enforce the rigors of his schedule. Because the conversation was officially "off the record," I'm not supposed to quote specifics of the President's comments, but I can describe the subjects he covered and my general reaction to his conversation. He spoke primarily about the ongoing War on Terror -- showing unexpectedly detailed and meticulous knowledge of progress (or lack thereof) in many specific fronts around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Bush's critics like to deride him as an empty-headed frat boy who knows nothing about other world leaders, but in his lengthy session with us the President told a series of amusing and very revealing stories about a half dozen heads of state. Without breaking the ground rules and providing specifics, I can say that the Leader of the Free World feels hearty affection for Junichiro Koizumi, the out-going Prime Minister of Japan, and he gave a riveting account about meeting the Prime Minister of Spain that would have made any American-- Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal -- feel proud and grateful that this generally under-rated Texan represented the United States of America a that particular moment. His comments about China, and the relationship between the Chinese economy and the nation's foreign posture, were particularly perceptive and persuasive, reflecting a much richer understanding of that confusing and powerful society than most reporters or pundits.

In the past, I've heard Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich show off their brilliant minds with long, discursive, deeply informed rambles that sketch out a free-flowing view of the state of the world. I've never heard anyone suggest that George W. Bush, whatever his virtues of character and resolution, could be capable of a similarly dazzling tour of the horizon-- but he provided precisely that sort of over-view this Friday, full of insight on societies, individuals, and ongoing struggles. The only significant interruption occured when we all heard a sudden, disturbing sound and looked to the glass doors behind the President's desk. It became apparent that some rudely insistent, or perhaps altogether unauthorized intruder, meant to disrupt our meeting, so the President summoned an aide from the next room who opened the door for Beazly, one of the White House Scots Terriers. A few minutes later, Barney, the more famous member of the Presidential canine corps, demanded entrance with similar scratching insistence. The little dog strode into the room with his own air of command and entitlement and looked around briefly as the President sang his praises to us, then scampered into an adjoining room for a more pressing engagement.

In addition to his exploration of world affairs, the president also spoke about gas prices in the US (lamenting the fact that he's much easier to blame when they go up than to credit when they go down), the ongoing religious revival, or awakening, and the upcoming Congressional elections (about which he maintains complete confidence, despite "stupid moves" by a few speicific Republican candidates which he discussed). Asked about the possibility of immigration reform before the election, he expressed passionate concern for establishing better security at the border, but indicated an unwillingness to change his "core principles." He made the important point that if he abandoned his well-known commitments on this or other domestic issues, the nation's enemies (and the rest of the world) would take away the belief that the President could be bullied, prodded, overwhelmed and initimidated -- harming the war effort for which young Americans risk their lives. He deeply believes in the importance of resolution, determination, and consistency in world affairs-- and emphasized several times that he refuses to govern according to trends, polls, or public opinion.

There's nothing grim about this commitment to remain unbending and unafraid in pursuit of his purposes. This President doesn't grit his teeth, or feel beleaguered or forlorn over low opinion ratings, or the angry demonstrators who wait outside the White House fence every day. When I visited the executive mansion, one protestor dressed as the grim reaper, in a black robe with a skeleton mask and scythe, carrying a sign thanking President Bush for the help. Others deployed larger-than-life puppets of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, dressed in striped prison suits, with manacles on their legs. I looked for some angry demonstators carrying signs equating the President to Hitler; they weren't there this trip, but I've seen them before, and so has Mr. Bush. In view of the poisonous nature of the opposition to his leadership, one might expect the President to sink into a self-pitying, paranoid funk, like so many of his predecessors (Wilson, Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, Carter) who faced a hostile public during the last years or their terms.

This President, however, feels in no way cowed or discouraged or overwhemed, and that's the most encouraging lesson I took away from my hour-and-a-half in the Oval Office. He looks and sounds energized, and said several times how much he enjoys the Presidency, likes making decisions, and remembers what a privilege and an honor it is to be where he is. He even indicated a determination to go back to an effort to save Social Security after the election --- despite the crushing opposition the last time he tried to perform this public service. The President clearly loves his job and relishes the opportunities it affords him to change the country. He doesn't feel sorry for himself, and with his savvy resolution to make the most of the two years remaining to him after the mid-term elections, he doesn't want anybody else's pity.

Of course, that brightly lit Oval Office is hugely impressive but so, it must be said, is the impassioned individual who occupies it. If some of George Bush's most fervent detractors had been able to sit where I sat on Friday afternoon, they might not have bought the President's arguments, or his defense of his positions, but they couldn't dismiss the man's intellect, energy or information base ever again.

And one more thing: twice during his meandering conversation, the President deployed the word "nuclear." Both times, he pronounced it flawlessly --- as "new- clee-ar," not "nuke-cule-ar." Considering the huge press attention on the mis-pronounciation of this single word, nothing shocked me more about meeting the president than hearing him, in private conservation, avoid a mistake for which he's become celebrated in public.

If he can say "nu-clee-ar" in private, why does he still say, "nuke-cule-ar" when he speaks on camera? Could it be possible that there's some mischievous intent here-- that the President deliberately gives his own spin to the word just to provoke pompous pundits into paroxysms of supercilious rage? It seems like a far-fetched explanation, I'll admit, but after seeing the President's infectiously feisty mood this Friday, I wouldn't put it past him.
I read Ronald Kessler's "A Matter of Character" over a year ago; and in it, the author made mention of how the President gets a kick out of saying it "wrong".

Even though he knew how the word nuclear was normally pronounced, he insisted on pronouncing it NOO-kyoo-ler, a southern rendering which happened to be similar to Jimmy Carter's NOOK-ee-yuh.

"He loves to say Noo-kyoo-ler," Clay Johnson said. "I think he likes the way it sounds, or maybe he's trying to affirm his southern roots. We were going to have a meeting about nuclear energy one time. Before the meeting, I kidded him and said, "Just remember, it's NOO-klee-er. During the meeting, he said NOO-kyoo-ler. Andy Card looked at me and shrugged, meaning: "What can you do?"

In fact, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists the way Bush pronounced nuclear as an alternate, even including that version in an audio clip on its web site.

"Though disapproved of by many," the dictionary notes, such pronunciations "have been found in widespread use among educated speakers, including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, U.S. cabinet members, and at least one U.S. president and one vice president. While most common in the U.S., these pronunciations have also been heard from British and Canadian speakers."1

And yet, those suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome continue to misunderestimate our President. As John Podhoretz concludes in Chapter 1 of "Bush Country",
Bush has described himself as "the master of low expectations." So, basically, he's come right out and said it: People who think he's a sucker are being played for suckers.2
Listen to Michael Medved describe his meeting with the President here. Go! Now! And don't come back until after you've listened to it.

UPDATE 09/20/2006: Max Boot of the LA Times also reports on the Oval House meeting.

1 Kessler, Ronald. A Matter of Character Inside the White House of George W. Bush, Pg 126
2Podhoretz, John. Bush Country How Dubya Became a Great President While Driving Liberals Insane, Pg 26


Monday, September 18, 2006

Islam: "The Religion of Peace Submission"

Reported on from the AP by The Anchoress:
Sr. Leonella Sgorbati, an Italian missionary sister of advanced years who spent her life in service to the poor in third world countries, was specifically targeted by her assassins. As she died, she forgave her killers.
Is there any doubt, as to which religion is "the religion of peace" and which religion is....something else altogether?

Did any Catholic archbishop or Christian Crusadist advocate a call to Salman Rushdie the director (Peter Richardson) of this 1991 movie:

Oh wait...this isn't a comedic movie after all: Somali Islamic cleric: the Pope must die

Flopping Aces-Curt: The Truth in the Pope's Words; "Oh, the outrage!", Where are the moderate Muslims?; Rob: The Present War on Christianity
Always on Watch has the musical rebuttal linked
Amy Proctor- This is what a religion of peace looks like
An Old Soldier "Islam just keeps on hating"
Assorted Babble (look for subsequent update posts)
Born Again Redneck- "The Muslims are revolting"; also, this quote in referencing the passing of Oriana Fallaci:
A month before her death she wrote to Pope Benedict and asked him to condemn Islam.
Iraq the Model- When will we be ready to accept criticism?
Freedom Eden- "Evil and Inhuman"
Patriotes- "The Pope Must Die"
The Bos'un
Woman Honor Thyself

Will update periodically.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Last Tuesday's Primaries

Two conservative favorites who have been very influential in shaping my political identity, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt, had a vigorous difference of opinion regarding Lincoln Chafee's GOP Senate renomination over challenger Steve Laffey.

Hugh believes it is in the GOP's best interest to have Chafee defeated by his Democratic rival. Hugh notes,
Lincoln Chafee did not vote for the invasion of Iraq, for the re-election of President Bush, or for the confirmation of Justice Alito. He has blocked years of efforts to attend to the rights of property owners burdened by his ill-informed enthusiasms for non-endangered species classified as "endangered" as a means of extending federal control of land use decisions. Chafee sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from which post he has repeatedly harassed --and in the case of Ambassador Bolton-- obstructed the foreign policy of the United States.
A strong believer in the Primaries, Michael Medved finds it acceptable to vote for a Republican challenger against a Republican incumbent; but beyond that, he is a strict believer that "you do not win by losing"; that you vote for the person whom you agree with MORE. Meaning, that just because a man like Chafee only votes with the Republicans about 40-50% of the time, that is no reason to vote him out of office to be replaced by a Democrat who will vote with Republicans 0% to under 30% of the time. Medved believes that the Republicans are the more mature party; the one that understands the two-party system better than Democrats. That a man like Joe Lieberman, a former vice presidential candidate for the Democrats, is thrown out to the curb by his party, even though he votes 80% of the time with the Democrats. I recall Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean boasting about how there is no diversity of thought in the Republican Party and how, in contrast, the Democrats welcome debate within their ranks. If that were true, why the ostracizing of Joe Lieberman? Like Zell Miller, it's because the Democratic Party has left them; not the other way around. It is becoming the party of Michael Moore and

Medved writes,
Why, Hugh, would you ever advise people to vote for a candidate with whom they disagree on EVERYTHING? It's true that Chafee is wrong on big issues (tax cuts, the war, Bush-v-Kerry, Alito) but what are the issues on which he's wrong but the Democrat, Whitehouse, is right? There are good reasons that the White House, and Steve Laffey himself, now support Chafee: keeping GOP control of the Senate is essential for the President to enjoy any success at all in the remainder of his second term, especially with the real possibility that the Dems will take the House. Supporting Laffey in the primary was an honorable if arguable position, but supporting the Democrat in the general is not.


I know there's an argument that the party is better off without flakes like the often missing Linc, but defeating him in the general isn't just a matter of "getting rid of him" -- it's a matter of sending a new liberal Democrat to Capitol Hill to re-enforce Harry Reid, Teddy the K, Pat Leahy, and the boys. The desire for "Party Purity" (let's purge all these disgusting moderates and RINO's!) is a self-destructive, illogical inclination.

During the frustrations back in April among conservatives over the inability for GOP leadership to get anything done with the illegal immigration and border security issue, many conservatives angrily threatened to "sit on their hands" in November and "teach the Republican Party a lesson". I definitely do think that this is the wrong answer, and the least mature response to political disillusionment. Hugh Hewitt calls these "death wish Republicans".
Hugh, you've made the case as well as anyone: politics is about supporting people with whom you agree most, not people with whom you agree perfectly. A pure, ideologically unpolluted party is a dead party --- one that could never, ever build a majority in this complex and divided country. We need Republicans like Arnold, like Spector, like Clifford Case (former Senator from New Jersey and another GOP victim of a rightist purge, whose seat has been held by Democrats ever since.) Isn't it obvious that you win elections by drawing people to your cause even if they don't agree with you completely, rather than pushing people away because they don't agree with you completely?

Reagan undestood this better than anyone. He once said, "if you agree with me 70% of the time, that doesn't make you my enemy."Okay, Lincoln Chafee only agrees 40% of the time (he has a lifetime American Conservative Union voting record of 37% -- pathetic, admittedly, but still better than any sitting Democrat). In any event, when Reagan had a chance to select running mates he reached to his left, both times-- naming the liberal GOP Senator Richard Schweiker as his VP designate in 1976 (when he failed to win the nomination), and the moderate George Herbert Walker Bush as his Veep in 1980. If the greatest conservative in recent history understood the idea that reaching out is better than driving out, we should learn from his example.
In a reply to Michael Medved, Hugh disagrees that what he is doing is siding with party purists and death wish Republicans.

Most of my most recent book Painting the Map Red is an extended argument against party purity and a strong defense of the need for majoritarian parties to indeed be very big tents. But in a chapter titled "Not the Party of Lincoln (Chafee)" I explained at length why Rhode Island's "Republican" is not really a Republican at all, and why his defeat is the exception to my rule that, in this time of war, every Republican Congressional candidate is a better candidate than every Democratic candidate. That doesn't mean voting for doomed GOPers when, for example, Joe Lieberman can beat back the Lamontites with Republican support. But it does mean that every vote for any Congressional Democrat is a vote against victory and a vote for vulnerability.

Unfortunately, a vote for Lincoln Chafee is also a vote against victory and a vote for vulnerability.

I strongly supported the re-election of Arlen Specter two years ago, and there is no other Republican in the Senate who is not to be preferred over their Democratic opponent.

But Lincoln Chafee is simply not a Republican at any moment when he needs to be.
He voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq. He voted against the confirmation of Justice Alito. He even refused to vote for the re-election of President Bush.

Senator Specter and all the other Republican "moderates" or "mavericks" got at least two of these three right. Even very big tents need an inside and an outside, or they aren't tents at all, just meaningless labels. By any reasonable standard, Chafee left the tent a long time ago.
Hugh's rejection of Chafee is also a tactical decision, as he, like many analysts, don't feel that the Senate is in any danger of losing Republican majority.

if there was a 51-49 or even a 50-50 split, the Senate would in effect be governed by Lincoln Chafee, and his ever contingent support for the GOP's goals and perhaps even their majority status. Jim Jeffords proved that closely divided senates are governed by the most erratic person in the majority. Chafee's demands --which would not be refused by his chairmanship-hungry colleagues-- would lead to the most ruinous of situations, the appearance of majority without the ability to produce any results. His views on immigration, judges etc would be greatly magnified if he holds the key to the majority's continued status, with absolutely awful consequences to the 2008 campaign.

Finally, Senator Chafee is accumulating seniority. If he wins re-election, this relatively young man will eventually rise to the chairmanship of Foreign Affairs and/or Environment & Public Works.

If Senator Chafee comes to the chairmanship of Foreign Affairs, I see nothing but disasters for the adminstration of the national security as a consequence. The Senate's Committees do indeed matter, and in more than rhetorical ways. Senator Chafee with a microphone and the power to compel witnesses to appear and reports to be written would be as ruinous to the coherent defense of American foreign policy as Joe Biden's frequent appearances behind podiums have been to the Democrats' efforts to retool their image as serious on security.

The bottom line is that the parties have divided over seriousness and action v. silliness and obstruction in the two areas most important to the future of the country: national security and judicial nominees. Senator Chafee is not serious on either issue, and his lapses into silliness are not occasional, they are routine. A political party has to have a core of beliefs, from which great departures can be accomodated and even celebrated, but to which at least some modest allegiance is required. From Senator Chafee all the GOP has ever gotten is an organizing vote. The damage he does is not worth that bargain.
Even though at this point, I would agree with Hugh, lest you think I am giving him the last word, please take the time to listen to Michael Medved's radio program on the primary results. You will learn more than just about the Primaries. One of the best features of Medved's show, is that he often takes on callers who disagree with him; and in this case, it's mostly fellow Republicans; a few of whom I remember offering good challenges to him. I think Medved is brilliant (so too, Hugh Hewitt).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Oh God...look out for the Christian Militant Radical Extremists!"

Hat tip: Patriotes

"Sanitizing" War?

"We find ourselves (nationally) trying to balance a morality of fighting a war and not killing people. No, you did not misread that. We are trying to fight a war without killing people. There is so much morality imposed on our military commanders that in too many circumstances they must take friendly casualties rather than risk collateral damage."
-Old Soldier on War

Monday, September 11, 2006

"Ok, maybe the Americans weren't as bad as we let on..."

Recently, control of Abu Ghraib was returned back over to Iraqi authorities.

In part, due to security risks; but also in large part to incidents that swayed public world opinion against us, such as the following:
footage of naked prisoners made to masturbate in front of the camera. There were also "many" pictures of two prison guards - Private Lynddie England and her lover Cpl Charles Graner, who are both currently serving prison sentences - having sexual intercourse.-Uk Telegraph, Feb 16, 2006
The actions of a handful of American soldiers did enormous damage to the war effort.
The impact of those photographs, which were leaked to a US TV network by an American soldier, was seismic.

The affair became one of the defining points of the American occupation.

Eight soldiers, including Lynndie England, the 32-year-old former fast-food worker who was pictured holding the other end of the dog leash, were convicted for their involvement in the scandal, which undermined the moral authority of the Iraq invasion. The revelations dealt the operation a blow from which it is arguably yet to recover.

Many Iraqis who previously defended the US-led invasion turned against it.
- March 10, 2006

In the same article, it says that news that the American-run prison facility would be handed over to the Iraqis was "greeted with joy in Iraq". And now?

Tortured screams ring out as Iraqis take over Abu Ghraib
By Ali Saber in Baghdad and Gethin Chamberlain
(Filed: September 10, 2006)

Staff at the jail say the Iraqi authorities have moved dozens of terrorist suspects into Abu Ghraib from the controversial Interior Ministry detention centre in Jadriyah, where United States troops last year discovered 169 prisoners who had been tortured and starved.

An independent witness who went into Abu Ghraib this week told The Sunday Telegraph that screams were coming from the cell blocks housing the terrorist suspects. Prisoners released from the jail this week spoke of routine torture of terrorism suspects and on Wednesday, 27 prisoners were hanged in the first mass execution since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Conditions in the rest of the jail were grim, with an overwhelming stench of excrement, prisoners crammed into cells for all but 20 minutes a day, food rations cut to just rice and water and no air conditioning.

Some of the small number of prisoners who remained in the jail after the Americans left said they had pleaded to go with their departing captors, rather than be left in the hands of Iraqi guards.

"The Americans were better than the Iraqis. They treated us better," said Khalid Alaani, who was held on suspicion of involvement in Sunni terrorism.

Abu Ghraib became synonymous with abuse after shocking pictures were published in 2004 showing prisoners being tortured and humiliated, galvanising opposition to the US presence in Iraq.
This reminds me of the disproportionate obsessing over criticizing and highlighting every negative that America has played a role in....from slavery of black Africans to genocide of Native-Americans; as if the rest of the world have clean hands in either of those two categories. I suppose Americans will also now be held responsible and be blamed by "world opinion", for the torture of Iraqi prisoners, including violent insurgents and terrorists, at the hands of Iraqis.

Oh, yeah and: "It's all Bush's fault."

Hat tip: Jen for emailing me the story.

In Honor of David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst

How many of you remember what it was like to be 3 years old? How many of you can remember what you did just 3 years ago? How many of you have projected 3 years into the future, thinking that 3 years was a long time away to be planning for, that far in advance? How many of you have ever imagined what it would be like if 3 years was the average life expectancy? How would you spend your time if 3 years was all that you had left to live? 4 years to graduate from high school...4 years is the norm to earn an undergraduate degree from college. What could 3 years give you? What could you give back to the world and to your country, in just 3 short years?

David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst was born June 23, 1998. That same month, an enemy of the United States few Americans knew about, Osama bin Laden, was placed on the FBI's most wanted list. 2 months later, on August 7th, the world saw simultaneous bomb attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. 224 were killed, including 12 U.S. citizens. Worst was yet to come...

When I first learned about the 9/11 Tribute, I did not respond right away to it. The idea of blogging a memorial tribute for one of the victims of September 11th seemed too intimidating and too big of a responsibility to commit to. Plus, I had already written a bit about Ronald Gamboa in my 9/11 blogpost last year. But as summer was fast approaching, and it appeared that many bloggers were still needed to fulfill the goal of 2996 bloggers, one for each victim, I decided I did not want to see such a noble effort falter. So I contacted D.C. Roe, the orchestrator and mastermind of this monumental project. I had set my heart on blogging about Ron Gamboa, since that would make my post personal. When D.C. Roe wrote back to me that Ron was already taken, he knew of the personal nature of my request and interest in blogging on Ron. He mentioned that Ron's life partner of 13 years, David Brandhorst, was also taken; but that their 3 year old son, David, was not. I immediately sent back my reply that I would write my tribute post on David.

First, a little background on how I came to know Ron. In the mid 90's, sometime after college, I had taken a part-time job doing security work for The Gap. I traveled the district at first, helping managers train their sales staff in the area of loss prevention. In this way, I began crossing paths with Ron, who was a store manager. When I settled into the Wilshire Gap store, and took a step down to being a part-time lead cashier, I would occasionally see Ron pop in for a visit from his store. The turnover rate for the management staff is rather high. Not necessarily people being fired or quitting; just transferred around. When Ron became my new store manager, he was already familiar to me. Because I only worked Fridays and the weekends, and store managers almost always scheduled themselves for the weekends off, I really didn't see Ron very often. Just on Fridays, and sometimes on a Saturday. He was always in good spirits and smiling at his own wittiness and biting humor...his playful insults always clever, never cruel.

One of the most vivid conversations I remember having with Ron, was one day in his office, he asked me if his son was too young for gymnastics (my primary job was and is coaching at a competitive gymnastics club). I bragged about the benefits of gymnastics training, and Ron bragged about the physical prowess of his son, as only a proud father can do. He felt his son would love gymnastics, and that gymnastics might be good for his son. I told him his son wasn't too young, and that we had programs for babies as soon as they can start walking. I promised to bring him a brochure, which I eventually did, and left in his manager's folder.

I believe September 7th was the last day that I saw Ron. That would have been a Friday. I probably worked the weekend through to Sunday. If I had said goodbye to him that day, it wasn't with the foreknowledge of permanence. I wasn't scheduled to be at the Gap again until the next Friday. Tuesday, our country was reeling and in turmoil. Thursday evening I had the TV on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate news, and the name of Ron Gamboa was mentioned and I looked up to see briefly a picture of Ron and the front of our Gap store on Wilshire and 20th Street, where a makeshift memorial was set up with an American flag wrapped around a tree and candles and cards and flowers all around it. It was then that I learned that Ron had been a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center. Friday morning I went in angry that I was not informed about Ron's death. The managers apologized, saying no one had my current phone number to let me know. I learned that Ron had not been alone, but that he had his partner, Daniel, and their son David with him.

This is very hard to type...

I cannot tell you how painful it is to see so many images over and over again of that second plane hitting the South Tower. That was the moment we all knew it was no accident, and that we Americans were under attack. And for me, any images of that 2nd plane is an image of the moment of murder of Ron, Daniel, and David. It never fails to water my eyes or choke up my voice when I see an image still. The videos can do it too, but there's something about a picture, where it's frozen in time exploding into the Tower that is difficult to stare at without my eyes welling up.

There was a national noonday prayer that first Friday after 9/11, and our store closed its doors shortly before 12pm. I raged inside as we sat around the Memorial outside the store, before we all headed across the street to a local church to bow our heads in national mourning. There I sat, sulked, and smouldered.

I don't handle grief too well, in terms of "letting it out". I'm the kind that bottles it all in and withdraws from others. I skipped the Memorial Service for Ron, Daniel, and David. I knew family members would be there, but I just couldn't bring myself to go (I'm sorry Jeannie). When the Gap Company held a candlelight vigil behind the store, including burying a time capsule in honor of Ron, I reluctantly went, but was mostly withdrawn in my own private grief, aloof and unfriendly.

Well, so that's a little background on the personal nature of why I am deeply proud and honored to be able to celebrate the memory of Ron and Daniel's 3 year old son, David.

Here is what one commenter who knew David wrote at a September 11 Victims site on Sept 13, 2002:
I want ot tell all of you a little somthing about David. My son has had manny surgerys on his feet and gets tired from time to time. David and my son went to the zoo just 2 months before his death. My son was so excited to be with his best little friend David however would get tired from time to time and had to stop and rest. Being that it was David's first time at our Zoo in Seattle I am sure he wanted to take it all in as fast as he could. But as my son would cry that he had to stop and rest and tell his little friend David to go on and he will catch with him. David refused and sat by My 3 years old side and held his hand for what seemed like minutes.What three year old does that???? It is simple and clear to me......a little angel names David. May god bless him and his papa and daddy. We miss you all so much. One small child has changed my babys life and tought him that people will except him the way he is.
Another comment on the same site, by Kevin, writes on 3/24/2003:
I took my two small children to a Los Angeles park today for a birthday party. While there, I saw a boulder with a plaque. The plaque explained that the park was dedicated to David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst, who lived nearby and played there often. David would have been about the same age as my son is now. Another boy was sitting on the boulder. He asked his dad what the plaque was for, and the father began to explain, "Well, you remember when those buildings were knocked down?..." It was the kind of talk I've had with my son many times since September 11th.

So David, you are missed and remembered and being met anew every day. A beautiful park is bears your name. And your story will bring home September 11th to other children for decades to come.

Rest in peace.

Since I had pretty much lost contact with all of my old Gap associates who knew Ron, and with so little time to do the fingerwork of tracking people down through myspace (*blech* and *shudder*), I did manage to Google and successfully make contact with one of Ron's sisters, Jeannie Gamboa Merwin. She is my primary source of knowledge on David. Without her help, there would have been precious little concrete information on David.

August 1st was when I signed on to this project; and August 3rd was when I made contact with David's aunt, by e-mail. So I had about a month to write up my post. It pretty much came down to the wire here. Jeannie admitted that this was more difficult than she had thought it would be and I feared I was being intrusive and opening wounds. But she proved gracious enough in answering a series of questions I posed to her 5 days ago. I thought about paraphrasing and reiterating; but I think it would be better to listen to her in her own words. Here it is:
So sorry about the lateness of my reply, but I guess it is harder than I thought it would be. Talking about the events brings everything so close to the surface and all the media attention makes it hard to ignore. To be honest with you, that is the best way I have found to get me through these years without my brother, pure avoidance of the subject of 9/11. I love to talk about Ronald, Dan and David and we remenisce about them often, but the thought of the awful things they went through that day makes me physically ill. I'll do my best to answer your questions:

1. How David came to be adopted and into Ron and Daniel's life.
Ron and Dan adopted David from a relative of Dan's sister's husband. They brought her to California to give birth.

2. A bit about Ron and Daniel, as a background for David.
Ron and Dan had been together for 13 years at the time of their

They first met in Hoboken, NJ where they lived until Dan was
to the Los Angeles branch of Price/Waterhouse Coopers where he was an attorney and Ron relocated there with his company, the Gap where he was a store manager. They first had a home in Century City, until they had David and then moved into a bigger home in Hollywood Hills. Dan traveled alot for work and Ron was in charge of running the household. They had a Filipino nanny to help care for David when they were both at work. They were both very family oriented. Every year, even before David was born, we would all go on ski trips together and we'd spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas together, even though we all lived so far apart. Ron, Dan and David attended Catholic mass together as a family every Sunday, even though Dan was not officially Catholic. Dan was like a brother to me. I even named my only son after him and Dan was my son's Godfather. David called Ron "Daddy" and Dan was called "Papa". Ron phoned our mother almost every day just to say hi and to see how she was doing. They were very close and he was her only son. Our father was diagnosed with Colon cancer in June 2001 and Ron came home to Kentucky each month to see him. When we were cleaning out their house, I found 4 more airplane tickets to Kentucky, one each for the next 4 months.

3. Your first memory of David
My sister and I were lucky enough to be visiting them in LA when David was born. We were at the hospital and met the birth mother while she was in labor, and we all went out to dinner a few days after she gave birth. We first saw David in the nursery when he was just a few hours old, and we were there when they brought David home for the first time. David was so beautiful, yet such a big baby! His birth mother was very tall and his birth father was even taller. His hair was blond and his eyes so blue, totally opposite from his Filipino Daddy. They needed a little help taking care of a newborn, as my sister and I already had children of our own. But they were natural fathers and were so excited to finally have him home.

4. Your impressions of the relationship between the 3

Ron and Dan doted on David. He was the world to them, especially to my brother. Ron was always so good with his neice and nephews, so he was a terrific dad. In fact that's why they were in Boston again. They were there 2 weeks before and David loved it so much that he wanted to go back.

His Daddy and Papa loved him so much that they gave him what he wanted and took him back to Boston...

5. David's personality. What he was like; what he liked and disliked.

His favorite things: David was a sweet little boy. Actually, not so little. He towered over his older cousins, but was so loving and gentle. He loved to eat vegetables (my brother was very health conscious) especially tomatos and carrots. At his cousin Nicholas' birthday party, he chose cherry tomatos over cake and ice cream. But when Ron wasn't looking, David would sneak into his grandmother's bedroom and take a few potato chips and he'd tell her "Don't tell Daddy."

6. Any photos/video clips you'd be willing to share.
Will send ASAP. [Jeannie was gracious enough to send two beautiful photos that just brought tears to my eyes and heart- the one above of David sitting on the porch with his toy; and the one below at the end, of him kissing Daddy. I am eternally grateful to Jeannie for her trust in sharing personal photos with me. There have been precious little on the internet.- Wordsmith]

7. Any fond memories of David: The last time I saw David was at Aspen. We had met them there for a ski trip in March 2001. It was his first time skiing and we watched him go down the bunny slope over and over again. He really liked it. After dinner that night, he pulled on me and asked me to sit with him and watch "Toy Story". He was so lovable and cuddly.

8. Anything you'd like to say/add about all 3 of them. Your final
conversation, when you first heard the tragic news, etc.

The last time I talked to my brother was about 2 weeks before he died. He called me on the phone to ask me a question about an old movie. We did that alot, qoute lines from old movies and sing lines from old songs, and when one of us couldn't remember the lyrics or who sang it or what movie it was, we would call the other to find out. It was a quick conversation: "Jeannie, what was the name of the movie with Audrey Hepburn and Humprey Bogart that they just remade?" "Sabrina", I answered. Ron said, "That's it. Thanks. Talk to you later. Bye."

I was at work in Philadelphia when it happened. There was a tv in the waiting area and someone told me about the first crash. I was busy so I didn't think much of it and then someone said that another one crashed and it was a passenger plane from Boston. I called Ron at his home in LA because I knew that Dan travelled so much for work. The nanny answered and said he was not home yet. They were on the way back from Boston. My heart sank and I almost fainted. She said not to worry, they always flew on United and they thought the plane was American Airlines. I said ok and to tell him to call me as soon as they got home. Then I tried his and Dan's cell phones and I kept getting busy signals. I called United to find out if any other flights from Boston had landed safely and they couldn't tell me anything. I called my Mom and sisters but they couldn't reach him either. And it was not like him to not be able to reach. In fact, he would always be the first one to call us. By that afternoon, me and my family were packed in the car and on the way to Kentucky. We still hadn't heard anything from Ron, and by then we knew that it was a United plane that hit the second tower. In wasn't confirmed until 8pm that night that they were on that plane. The next few days were a blur. By November 2001, I had sold my house and business in Philadelphia to move back home to Kentucky to be with my parents and family.

Life will never be the same without Ron, Dan, and David. We miss them so dearly and the pain never ends. We haven't been on a ski trip since Aspen, and the holidays still are sad. They will never be forgotten, and we thank you for honoring David this year and for remembering my brother in the past and future.


Ron, Daniel, and David were 3 fellow Americans who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001, out of 2,996 victims. I thank everyone who has taken the time to read this, to honor their memories; to know that the world was robbed of 3 beautiful souls, one of which had only known the joys of life for 3 years on this earth. In that 3 years, David was blessed and nurtured with a stable, loving family environment; and in kind, he blessed and enriched the lives of his fathers, and everyone who came in contact with him. Even today, 5 years after his passing, he continues to affect lives. Our lives. I hope celebrating the story of his short life on my blog will have affected your life. His memory will always and forever be, engraved upon my heart. God bless Ron, Daniel, and David Gamboa-Brandhorst. God keep their families in grace. Thanks to DC Roe for making sure that the memories of our fellow Americans are remembered and honored.

Jeannie: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Never forget...

I do not see posts up yet, but Daniel and Ronald are to be honored by the following:

Daniel R. Brandhorst is honored by VegasQueen (I have tried Googling, but cannot locate VegasQueen; I have written to DC Roe about the problem). Ronald Gamboa is honored by John Williford

UPDATE (09-15-06): I've been moved by the comments I've read for this post. Some brought tears to my eyes all over again. My thanks to everyone for honoring the memories of David, Ron, and Daniel. I'd like to make mention of a couple of blog posts I found that are noteworthy:

The Saddest Tribute by Jenna. She links to my post and identifies with David's biological mother; she ponders the emotional guilt and grief that a firstmom might feel in having given a child up for adoption, then having that child's life end so abruptly and tragically. It is a very emotionally charged post, Jenna being a firstmother herself.

A recent commenter from Los Angeles, Circuit Mouse, links to my tribute and had written his own observations of 9/11 and remembrance of the California victims; Daniel, Ron, and David in particular. I found this passage fitting to add to this tribute post to the memory of David. Circuit Mouse visits the section of the park renamed the David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst Children's Garden:
There are flowers adorning the boulder by the playground in West Hollywood Park that serves as a monument to David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst and his parents, Ronald Gamboa and Daniel Brandhorst. For all its simplicity, the boulder with a brass plaque is possibly the most fitting and eloquent monument to 9/11 that I have yet to see. The last words at the bottom of the plaque are familiar ones of David's at the playground, frequently pleading, "Just five more minutes, Daddy."

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