Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Condition: Disappointed

"His integrity was one of the great myths of college football." (Sports Illustrated)
Jim Tressel did the right thing yesterday morning, resigning as Ohio State's head football coach. The news dominated beer-fueled conversations at Memorial Day cookouts throughout Buckeye Nation, no doubt, but Mrs. KintlaLake and I virtually ignored the subject and concentrated on our third straight day of yard work.

We weren't engaged in denial, mind you, simply overwhelmed with disappointment.

Regular readers know well my passion for OSU football -- I've referred to it as "the longest continuous thread in the fabric of my life." Now, ten years into what seemed to be a return to glory, the program is mired in shame.

Things will get worse from here, of course. The NCAA is expected to throw the book at Ohio State, probably involving scholarships and post-season play, maybe more. No matter who takes the Scarlet-and-Gray reins, the process of restoring luster to the Buckeyes will be long and excruciating.

I have a long view, both retrospectively and prospectively. I suspect that after the present dust clears -- which will take many years, to be sure -- Jim Tressel ultimately will be recognized more for his honor than for his failings.

Scoff if you like, but consider that there's a Woody Hayes Drive and a Woody Hayes Athletic Center -- both named for the irascible OSU football coach who was fired after he punched an opposing player. In Columbus, hell, anything is possible.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Radishes are up

Wetter-than-usual weather has played hell with spring planting in this part of the country. Farmers haven't been able to get into sodden fields to till the earth, never mind sow their seeds. Yields will be down and prices are sure to rise, even if the first frost comes late.

I finally fenced our vegetable garden last weekend and (optimistically) began putting in our own "crops" late Sunday and Monday afternoon. First I set a variety of nursery-grown plants -- jalapeño and habanero peppers, Roma tomatoes, basil, Italian and curly parsley, oregano, dill, rosemary, cilantro, and chives. Next I sowed rows of peas, radishes, carrots and spinach from seed.

Last I planted several bushes -- raspberry, blackberry and blueberry -- in a new bed behind the garage, just a few steps from our vegetables-and-herbs plot. The soil in that area is wretched, pudding-like clay, and it took some serious work (plus quite a bit of "borrowing" from the vegetable garden) to make it usable.

Everything appears to be doing well so far. This morning I was greeted by radish seedlings, the first sprouts to break the surface.

Ours is a garden of favorites -- that is, we grow what we like. And while it's not a sustenance garden, per se, it allows us to hone our senses and practice the skills required for true sustenance gardening.

That's the big payoff.

We expect to double the size of our garden next year and experiment with other crops. Part of our garage will become a "hothouse" for starting saved and store-bought seeds well before the last frost.

That's a long way off, though. Right now, I think I'll go pick up a few cucumber plants and put 'em in later today.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Letter from 'Nessmuk.'

Wellsboro', Tioga Co., Pa.,
May 23, 1884.

Mr. Editor: -- The long and bitter winter is past.

"H'it mos' killed me.
But it has gone down the back entry of time."

Summer has come. It always does. I have been here sixty-two years, and there has been a summer every year. Sometimes I thought it wouldn't, but it always did come. I have grown to have faith in it. My last and most beautiful canoe rests in the cool, dry cellar right under where I am writing. I spend about an hour daily sparking her. I lift her by her handsome stems, and whisper of the long summer outing we are to have on the prattling, rattling waters of the Tiadatton, and she quivers and squirms like a trout; or, is it my imagination?

Yes, summer has come, and the wood-thrush, the cat-bird, the oriole, the song-sparrow, the waltz-bird (the naturalists miss him), they are here. I said I would leave when the maples did. They are leaved, and I am left; but not for long. I shall go next week. Good-by, debts, duns, taxes, and deviltries. "Life is short, art is long." Just so. Nature is longer than either, or both, and a great sight better.

I rather think Outing has come to stay. I think it ought. I read indefatigably during the off-season, but never in the woods. And so, away for the woods!

Yours for Outing,

P.S. The same meaning wood-duck in the obsolete Narragansett tongue; more correctly wood-drake. See?

(From Outing, August 1884. To view it as it appeared in the magazine, click here or here.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Don't look now...

...but the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is using tongue-in-cheek humor to educate a complacent public about preparedness.

Predictions that the world will end at 6pm tomorrow didn't deter the CDC from launching Zombie Apocalypse. (Ok, let's face it, those warnings of an imminent doomsday almost certainly played into the announcement.) The new campaign recycles familiar messages with a dose of fresh spin:
"You may laugh now, but when [a Zombie attack] happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency."
Think about it -- this is coming from the federal agency that virtually wrote the book on gravitas. While it isn't aimed at the masses -- that job belongs to the Ready America joint initiative -- Zombie Apocalypse has a shot at reaching more citizens about the need to prepare.

I mean, if comic books are good enough for the U.S. Army, raising the whimsical prospect of reckoning with the Living Dead might just wake a few civilians from contented slumber. If it does, that's a good thing.

And if it doesn't, hell, at least it's different.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lovable 'Madman'

Ted Nugent's music, admittedly an acquired taste, assaults the senses and seems to defy sense -- mercilessly blunt and yet expressed with undeniable precision. The same can be said of his views on politics, society and life.

Here in the KintlaLake household, we're quite fond of the ageless "Motor City Madman." We've traveled to see his live performances, and when we heard that Piers Morgan's interview with Nugent would air on CNN last night, well, we made a date to watch it.

Now we don't embrace all things Ted (he swings uncomfortably close to Caribou Barbie, for example), and we cringe when he squibs an easy shot (which happened more than once during his interview with Morgan). Still, we appreciate his unapologetic patriotism and love of liberty -- take this clip from last night's show:

Ok, so he's a passionate defender of an individual citizen's right to keep and bear arms. But for those who think he's a one-issue, suck-on-my-machine-gun guy, check out this segment from AC360° in January:

Notice, especially in that brief debate with Paul Begala, that "Terrible Ted" isn't so terrible. He articulates his views with intelligence and good humor -- always the entertainer, sure, but one who's not allergic to facts or common cordiality.
"I'm 63. I've been clean and sober my whole life. I was raised in a hard-core disciplined environment. To be the best that I can be. And not guess at things but to study evidence. Study conditions. Be aware of my cause and effect.

"And make a decision not based on what felt good or what was comfortable for me but rather what lessons of life taught me. So when I put forth what people call an opinion...I don't project opinions as much as I do share observations of life's realities and the evidence that brings either a quality of life when adhered [to] and learned from, or [destroys] life when ignored and not learned."
In that way he distinguishes himself from the demagogues dominating talk radio and populating our politics. He knows the difference between populism and principle, and he holds fast to the latter -- and that's why, around here, we like Ted Nugent.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nose of Newt

Just in case you've been living under a rock, last week former House Speaker Newt Gingrich formally announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination. Aside from being an undisciplined intellectual who resigned his seat in 1998 after being re-elected, his three marriages and multiple extramarital affairs -- one of which was in full song while he was leading the charge to impeach Pres. Bill Clinton -- will be tough to overcome with evangelical Christians and similarly self-righteous Republicans.

The newly minted candidate's first interview after launching his run was with -- wait for it -- Sean Hannity on Fox News. Reminded of press reports about his personal life, Gingrich responded,
"Well, if you are a conservative, you have to start with the assumption that you are not going to get an even break from the elite media. And that's just reality."
On today's edition of CNN's "Reliable Sources," host Howard Kurtz asked Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle if the media are, in fact, "trying to tarnish Republicans." Her take:
"Well, you can't help it with Newt Gingrich. I mean, it's like Cyrano de Bergerac expecting you to not look at his nose."
For this independent citizen, that captures the problem with neo-conservative ideology in general and Newt in particular.

I couldn't possibly care less about his marriages and affairs. Sure, I recognize the perception of hypocrisy and I know poetic justice when I see it, but I'm far more interested in a candidate's demonstrated ability to make critically sound choices, to lead and, most especially, to govern. Most Americans don't approach elections that way, of course -- I know that and so does Newt.

His are self-inflicted wounds. He has every reason to expect (if not welcome) scrutiny, but what does he do? He blames the media for calling attention to (you should pardon the expression) his pickle.

It's too early for me to say that his failure to take complete responsibility for his actions -- including their consequences -- is a deal-breaker. But if I voted tomorrow, Newt Gingrich wouldn't pass the laugh test.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Till today

When we moved here a year ago, the garden plot in our back yard was piled high with cut brush, yard debris and some trash. It looked like it hadn't been planted in ten years, maybe more.

While it would've been nice to put in a vegetable garden back then, we had plenty of other to-dos on our plate. (For evidence, note how many times I posted here last May.) So rather than rush things, we took a full 12 months to prepare the soil.

We've had a very rainy spring around here, and it wasn't dry enough to get gardening until last week. First, using our electric tiller, I turned autumn's mulched leaves, which had broken down nicely. Next I harvested the "black gold" from our compost bins and worked that rich organic matter into the soil as well.

Today I was back at it again, beginning with the tiller and finishing the job with an iron rake and my dad's old shovel. I worked the 200-square-foot plot for a good two hours, ultimately building five raised beds.

I'm thrilled with the way our garden-to-be is shaping up. Right now the aroma is absolutely amazing and the soil is full of big, fat, happy earthworms.

If I were green, this is where I'd want to live.

Some folks probably would screen this soil -- it's fluffy, still with recognizable chunks that haven't broken down completely -- but I've never been much for screening. We'll choose our veggies and seeds and move straight to planting, probably over the next week or two.

Seven days to go...

Mark your calendars: Judgment Day begins one week from today.

According to Harold Camping -- a notoriously incorrect preacher, a guy I've called a "doddering nutjob" -- on May 21st,
"There's going to be a huge earthquake. It will be an earthquake far greater than any earthquake that has ever happened before."
Exactly five months later, Camping says,
"The whole world will be completely annihilated. It will completely disappear."
I have a question: If the world is gonna end in October, why the hell did I bother paying my income taxes?

Those of us who check "other" when asked to identify our religious affiliation aren't buying the snake oil Camping is selling, of course. It's amusingly fascinating nonetheless.

I wasn't surprised to learn that at least one enterprising atheist has turned Christian prophecy to his financial advantage. It's more than a little disturbing, however, that Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA claims more than 250 customers on its books.

Unfortunately, it's a little late now to come up with my own Judgment Day money-making scheme. I'm just relieved that I didn't buy the extended warranty on this computer.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I don't waste time fretting about any dreaded "liberal bias" in the mainstream news media. Ideological slants abound, of course -- MSNBC on the left and Fox News on the right come to mind -- but they're poseurs, not credible news networks.

I'm fully capable of digging past headlines and sound bites, thank you very much, and I can form my own opinions.

That said, CNN is my primary source for TV news. Over 31 years it's developed the horsepower to be present, relevant, agile and useful. It's not 100% accurate every time but, in my experience, it gets its facts straight far more often than do most other outlets. When it screws up, it takes responsibility.

One thing that continues to annoy me about CNN, however, is the outright clumsiness of many of its anchors. Carol Costello, for example, clearly is better suited to early-morning duty at a small-market affiliate. Wolf Blitzer, though well-traveled and smart, is such a company man that his reports often become interminably awkward infomercials for the network.

The unsophisticated Brooke Baldwin took over the mid-afternoon slot last fall when CNN fired The Crazy Cuban. Late in yesterday's program, she preceded a commercial break with the following tease:
"More and more members of Congress [are] getting a look at those pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden, and those who have been invited to see these photographs sit on the House and Senate committees on intelligence and the military.

"Coming up next, I will speak with Congressman Doug Lamborn about what he saw and why one Senator suggested
bin Laden was still alive in some of those pictures. I wonder what he saw. Stay right here."
The implication: Our guys photographed bin Laden before they shot him. Intrigued, I stuck around for the interview. Here's how it began:
BALDWIN: "Congressman Lamborn, thank you for coming on. And sir, let's just start with, how many photos did you see today at Langley?"

LAMBORN: "Well, when I went over to the CIA headquarters this morning, there were about six or eight photos. And some have a side-by-side showing him living, but from at roughly the same angle, so you can use that for identification and comparison purposes. He is, indeed, dead."
Ok, at that point I felt foolish for biting on the hype -- that is, I got it and laughed (at myself) out loud. Baldwin, alas, did neither.
BALDWIN: "You bring up -- and this is what we [heard] from Senator [Jim] Inhofe last night, talking to my colleague, Eliot Spitzer. So, several of these photos were of him living. Can you explain more specifically how -- how those photos were shot?"

LAMBORN: "Oh, they just had on-file photos of him over the years, and they only do a side-by-side to show the same angle and for ID purposes for, like, the forensic people.... He is dead."
There was a brief-but-delicious pause.
BALDWIN: "I see. So the living photos were not shot in the [Abbottabad, Pakistan] compound...."
Behind every inept anchor is a whole team of doofuses -- the detached producer, the clueless director and an army of wet-behind-the-ears interns. Take a look at what Sen. Inhofe said on Spitzer's program the night before, words that formed the basis for Baldwin's on-air idiocy:
"Three of the first 12 pictures were of [bin Laden] when he was alive. And they did this for the purpose of being able to look at those and seeing the nose, the eyes and [their] relationship for positive identification purposes."
Sen. Inhofe's description seems crystal-clear to me. It didn't send host Spitzer careening into the ditch, either, but it exposed the gulf between Baldwin and common sense.

For me, this won't prompt a rant about incompetence in the media -- there's incompetence in every profession -- but I was glad for a chance to chuckle at chuckleheads.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quote of the day

"Facts don't work -- that's what I've learned. Facts don't work."

(Rush Limbaugh, unintentionally letting his listeners know today why it's not called "think radio")

Tilting at windmills, are we?

"Why does everyone think I'm paranoid? Do you discuss this behind my back?" (incurably neurotic Danny Zimmer, as played by Jack Weston, in The Four Seasons)
March 30th of this year marked three decades since the attempted assassination of Pres. Ronald Reagan. The round-number anniversary reminded thinking Americans that even the most protected man in the world isn't safe from a determined lunatic.

White House press secretary Jim Brady was seriously wounded in the shooting, and his wife, Sarah, exploited their personal tragedy for a national cause. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence engineered the 1994 "assault weapons" ban, plus countless other federal laws, state statutes and local ordinances that disarmed tens of millions of law-abiding citizens.

Every one of those laws was ill-conceived and unconstitutional. None could be credited, at least not plausibly, with reducing violent crime.

Since those dark days, we've managed to reclaim some of the ground lost to Brady. In 2004, Pres. George W. Bush allowed the Clinton-era ban to expire without reauthorizing it. The concealed-carry pendulum has swung in our favor. We've won two landmark cases -- Heller in 2008 and McDonald last year -- in the U.S. Supreme Court. And Pres. Barack Obama, whose election greatly concerned Second Amendment advocates, has been largely silent on gun control.

Despite that momentum, the National Rifle Association and other RKBA organizations continue to implore us not to let our guard down. That's caused some to call American gun owners "paranoid," accusing us of fighting an enemy that exists now only in fearful minds.

On the 30th anniversary of the Reagan shooting, Sarah and Jim Brady went to Capitol Hill to press lawmakers to resume their undermining of the Constitution, notably by banning "high-capacity" magazines. Guess who else showed up at the meeting?

The President of The United States, Barack Obama.

According to Sarah Brady, as reported by The Washington Post, the president assured her that gun control is "very much on his agenda" and that he's "committed to regulation." From the Post article:
"I just want you to know that we are working on it,' Brady recalled the president telling them. 'We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.'"
So we're just paranoid, eh?

Sarah Brady, supported by a disturbing number of like-minded enemies of the People, envisions "an America free of gun violence." She calls on "men and women of high morals and conscience to join [Pres. Obama]" in making her naive dream come true.

(Presumably, anyone who supports the Second Amendment and believes in the right to armed self-defense is, by her definition, amoral and lacks a conscience. Our "radar" works just fine, though.)

And consider this: A second-term Obama-Biden-Holder-Clinton-Brady administration would have little to lose, politically, by engaging in a full frontal assault on our right to keep and bear arms.

So the gun-grabbers aren't resting and neither should we. The 2012 election is crucial, too, at all levels -- but it's not enough simply to vote against this president's reelection. We need to vote for independent-minded candidates who think critically and place the Constitution above party and polls.

Clues: It ain't Palin-Beck, and it sure as hell ain't Bloomberg-Trump.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

'Tommy this, an' Tommy that'

Since Sunday night, naturally we've been getting more information -- I hesitate to say details -- about the assault that resulted in the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

There was a firefight; um, there really wasn't a firefight. The target was unarmed; he was reaching for a weapon; well, he might've been reaching for a weapon. He didn't indicate his wish to surrender; actually, he wasn't given an opportunity to surrender.

None of that matters -- not to me. With apologies to Ghostbusters:
We came, we saw, we kicked his ass.
In the analysis that's followed, we've heard the sort of second-guessing we've come to expect from pundits and elected officials who have neither the standing nor the experience to offer intelligent comment. Ideologues from the left quote Yoda or misquote MLK, suggesting either that we shouldn't celebrate the death of the butcherous bin Laden or that he should've been captured and tried. Right-wingers misquote Samuel Clemens or George Orwell while (at best) damning the Commander-in-Chief with faint praise.

Neither extreme strays far from unfiltered ignorance. And both, ultimately, pile insult on the men and women -- from commanders to warriors to those "who only stand and wait" -- who sacrifice much and risk all to defend our freedom.

Over a century ago, Kipling gave voice to the warfighter's bitterness at ungrateful countrymen. I'll close with the classic tribute.

by Rudyard Kipling (1892)

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fifty years ago today, I was...

...playing with a toy shovel, heaping beach sand into a small plastic bucket. That's what a boy of (almost) four years old does when he's vacationing in Florida with his family.

My father kept interrupting my shoveling that day, repeatedly calling my attention to the ocean and the eastern sky. I seem to recall two large ships visible near the horizon. I have a very clear memory of a U.S. Navy B-17 making several low-altitude passes just offshore.

What I remember most, though, is my dad hoisting me up and pointing excitedly at a wispy trail of smoke arcing over the Atlantic to our southeast. Leading that trail was a bright orange speck.

On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard became the first American in space. I was there -- albeit at a tender age and from a distance of 50 miles -- to see that Mercury-Redstone 3 propel Freedom 7 into history, and I remember.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

As we know it, as I see it

I've digested a fair amount of news, analysis and commentary since Sunday night, and I've managed to collect some of my thoughts.

Osama bin Laden is dead. He died on May 2, 2011 at the barrel of a gun wielded by a member of DEVGRU (f.k.a. SEAL Team Six). Theories to the contrary have no basis beyond anti-government paranoia.

I celebrate, without apology, both the death of Osama bin Laden and the manner in which he met justice. 'Nuff said.

This was a "kill mission" from the get-go. All the soft-pedaling we've heard over the last few days is intended to soothe the squeamish. I'm not squeamish and I don't buy it.

Releasing photos of a dead Osama bin Laden won't make a bad thing worse. In other words, the fresh threat posed by his pissed-off followers isn't appreciably greater if we show the world what he looks like after taking one Black Hills round to the chest and another bullet to the head. I don't have a pressing emotional or intellectual need to see the photos myself, but I can't argue against their release.

Radical Islamist terrorism and al-Qaeda are not dead, nor are they mortally wounded. David Morris summarized it simply and well:
"As to the statements that we 'cut the head off of al-Qaeda and radical Islam'...they completely miss the point. That would almost be like saying that when Elvis died, rock-and-roll died with it. Rock-and-roll and al-Qaeda are movements. Both have the equivalent of highly public, well-funded, organized groups as well as garage bands, and solo acts anonymously practicing at home every night -- hoping to someday get to play on the big stage and get famous. Just like rock-and-roll continued after Elvis died, misguided people will continue to try to kill us, disrupt our way of life, and terrorize us after bin Laden's death."
The trail that led to Osama bin Laden began during the second term of Pres. George W. Bush. U.S. intelligence operations unraveled a network of couriers, ultimately tracing one promising thread to the compound in Abbottabad. Pres. Barack Obama missed an opportunity to be magnanimous on Sunday night, however -- he should've expressly highlighted an effort that originated in the previous administration. In my opinion, he should've explicitly thanked his predecessor, but (uncharacteristically) he didn't.

Much of the "heavy lifting" -- developing intelligence that made possible the assassination of Osama bin Laden -- was done by career and long-serving federal employees. Many were around before 9/11 and will be there after Pres. Obama leaves office. That's the nature of (our) government. Though it's great sport to disparage bureaucracy and bureaucrats, these folks deserve our respect.

Pres. Obama made a command decision -- deal with it. Just as Sunday's address was missing a particular expression of gratitude so, too, are statements from the President's political opponents. They thank "the troops" and Pres. Bush but fail to give Pres. Obama his due for making a correct and yes, a gutsy call. Typically, right-wingers don't seem able to distinguish national unity from policy agreement, so they can't bring themselves to say a heartfelt American thank-you. It's a symptom of the grade-school mentality infecting our politics.

The death of Osama bin Laden doesn't put a lock on Pres. Obama's re-election. Far from it, I'm glad to say. Truth is, the expected post-assassination "bump" probably won't help that much or last very long -- and November 2012 is a long way off. (See also Operation Desert Storm and Pres. George H.W. Bush.) In a week or two we'll turn our full attention back to the floundering U.S. economy, this president's weakness and the biggest roadblock to a second term.

The kind of scene captured in the White House photo of the national-security team gathered in the "Situation Room" isn't as rare as most people think it is. I'll leave it at that.

Pakistan is an unreliable ally. We were right to leave Pakistani officials in the dark about the assault on the Abbottabad compound until our DEVGRU team was airborne and outbound -- we couldn't risk jeopardizing OPSEC by informing a regime that's untrustworthy (to put it kindly). That said, maintaining good relations with Pakistan -- without continuing to throw away billions in aid -- will prove useful in the future, as it has in the past. Only simple-minded zero-summers are proposing that we sever ties completely with this (unreliable) ally.

I've lost count of the heroes. Our culture invokes "hero" so often that the word has lost much of its impact. When it truly fills the bill -- ordinary Americans who resisted terrorists on United Flight 93, NYFD firefighters who ran toward near-certain death on 9/11 -- we should use it. And anyone who wants to apply the same label to the real-deal team that assaulted Osama bin Laden's compound on Sunday, well, that's fine by me.

I choose to call them warriors.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nutjobs & nonsense

"If [Pres. Barack Obama] was a shoo-in for re-election, Osama bin Laden would still be alive today. There would have been no need to undertake the mission." (Rush Limbaugh, to his poodles-- er, fans)

"I am sorry, but if you believe the newest death of [Osama bin Laden], you’re stupid. Just think to yourself -- they paraded [Saddam Hussein's] dead sons around to prove they were dead -- why do you suppose they hastily buried this version of [Osama bin Laden] at sea? This lying, murderous [U.S.] Empire can only exist with your brainwashed consent -- just put your flags away and THINK!" (Cindy Sheehan, who really is "sorry" -- just not the way she meant it)

"Of course, [Pres. Obama] made his announcement right in the middle of Donald Trump's 'Celebrity Apprentice' show. Of course, that was just a coincidence." (Judson Phillips, Tea Party Nation, who has yet to meet a conspiracy theory he doesn't love)

"The free world, particularly the United States, has a right to make sure Osama bin Laden is really dead. Every American has a right to walk right up to bin Laden’s corpse and view it. We are entitled to know for a fact that the witch is dead. No shroud for dignity’s sake, please -- bin Laden’s naked, bullet-riddled corpse should be put on display in lower Manhattan for all the world to see. The entire body should be digitally scanned, inside and out -- and made available for everyone to take his or her own picture." (J. Michael Walker, via Andrew Breitbart's Big Peace, giving fuel to the "deathers" movement)

"So why did [Pres. Obama] announce the [assassination of Osama bin Laden] like he was reading the dictionary? You know the answer. It’s because his speech wasn’t so much aimed at Americans. He was being careful of how the 'Arab Street' would interpret his remarks. Any hint of gloating or happiness might be rubbing it in the face of some of the crazies in the Arab World and heaven forbid we get them upset! How dare we Americans look like we’re celebrating his death! The travesty of it all! Give me a break. Isn’t it time to stop catering to thugs?" (David Brody, Christian Broadcasting Network)

"Maybe I should have read Proverbs 24:17 before I wrote that.

"Proverbs 24:17 says:
'Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.'

President Obama actually lived by that important biblical verse by the words and tone he used. I did not and for that I apologize. While I do believe that his remarks were measured so as not to cause more commotion in the Arab World, I got a little caught up in the euphoric celebrations of the evening. The Book of Proverbs got it right and therefore so did President Obama. Pulling out the Bible is the best thing you can do and I wish I had done it sooner."
(Brody again -- yet another right-wing ideologue caught with his politics wedged uncomfortably between his religious beliefs)

Monday, May 2, 2011

'The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden'

"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body." (Pres. Barack Obama, May 1, 2011)
Mrs. KintlaLake and I had just settled in for the night when CNN reported that Pres. Obama would be addressing the American People at 10:30pm. We sat up, switched on the bedside light and traded theories until we learned that the subject of the President's remarks would be "national security."

"Bin Laden," I whispered, scarcely able to believe what I was saying. "Killed or captured, it's gotta be bin Laden."

CNN confirmed my speculation a few minutes later. We got out of bed and woke our 16-year-old, and the three of us gathered around the TV in the kitchen to await the President's remarks.

I pulled a fresh bottle of Jack Daniels from the cabinet, broke the seal and poured two shots. My wife and I raised our glasses to bin Laden's demise -- accompanied by the toast, "Vengeance is mine, dammit!" -- as Pres. Obama began to speak around 11:35pm.

The spawn returned to bed when it was over. Mrs. KintlaLake and I adjourned to the front porch, lit cigarettes and sat quietly, listening to the rain. A pair of whitetail deer grazed nearby.

This morning, of course, Americans are swelling with patriotic pride and celebrating the long-awaited assassination of an infamous Islamist butcher. Beyond that, for practical purposes, little has changed.

(Well, actually, I do need to find a new rifle target.)

The so-called "War on Terror," at least as we've known it, may be over, but the threat of terrorist attacks remains. In fact, the threat is greater now than it was yesterday -- we can expect bin Laden's disciples to see him as a martyr and seek retribution.

Perhaps that danger will ease over time, but it'll never, ever go away. Terrorism is not a specter -- it real and it's here to stay.

We will be attacked again.

The American populace soon will resume its trademark complacency, retreating into the arrogant illusion of safety. Our nation again will become an easy target.

Some of us, on the other hand, will never forget. We know that vigilance is Liberty's guardian, and we will never forget.