Thursday, June 30

PRESIDENT BUSH OWES US A SPEECH ON BORDER SECURITY AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

I won't go into the litany that Liberal Democrats, such as Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer, among others, tirelessly cite in demanding a timetable from the president for troop withdrawal from Iraq. That litany is known by all and it's careworn and, for the most part, trite, and it little serves the interests of the nation in combatting Islamic Jihadists and the terrorism they espouse and carry out worldwide. The President is going to see the thing through "on his watch" and that is that, good polls or bad polls.

Where the Democrats are really dropping the ball and what far too many Americans continue to remain indifferent about is the security of our nation's borders -- borders that are egregiously porous -- and the huge security threat that they pose for us. This should be Issue One -- right up there on the front burner in Congress and in the White House and the next time around in the voting booths.

Forget the issue of a link -- real, perceived, or apocryphal -- between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. That's been beaten to death. Let it go!

The bigger issue, the one that could put a legitimate test to President Bush's claim that his Number #1 priority is to protect Americans from acts of terrorism here at home, is that he's knowingly permitting millions to enter our country illegally, mostly across our contiguous southern border with Mexico. It's disgraceful, it's harmful, it's costly, and the day will come when it will be the genesis of and indeed the route taken to another major attack on this country. It is just a matter of time. It's becoming an inevitability. And it is here that the President's dog don't hunt, as they say here in Texas -- the notion that his Administration's strategy is to fight terrorism overseas, away from American soil, and not on the ground of the terrorists' choosing.

Read the following from the "New York Times" (courtesy of a link at the "Drudge Report") and tell me why it is that Republicans, the opposition Party, and concerned Americans across this land of ours are not insisting on a major Presidential Address on the state of our borders, the threats to us from illegal immigrants and the human trafficers who bring them here, and immigration reform sans amnesty?

I'm telling you whether you support the war in Iraq as I do or you're adamantly opposed to it, the effects of unfettered illegal immigration will be more long-lasting and have far greater consequences for this country than the war we're engaged in in the Middle East.

The Democrats decried Karl Rove's remarks and continue circling their wagons around the war in Iraq. I think it's high time they and Americans everywhere align those wagons along this nation's southern border and demand real answers and action from President Bush. If anybody and his uncle can cross into the United States at will from the Mexican side, then it doesn't take a genius to know that terrorists will make good use of those corridors to breech our borders, set up their cells, and eventually strike us.

I support the President in most areas. I voted for him twice. But I'm tired of hearing the same justifications for our war in Iraq over and over again. What I want -- what all of us, regardless of Party affiliation, should be demanding of the President -- is a "State of the Borders Address" and some genuine candor as to why his Administration, this Congress, and the tax-gobbling Department of Homeland Security are not stopping the influx of illegals and only proposing amnesty for the 10 to 20 million illegals already afoot in our land.

Stop the invasion, Mr. President! It's your obligation as President and Commander-In-Chief.

YOUR TRIPS TO MEXICO CITY DID A LOT OF GOOD, MESSRS. JACKSON AND SHARPTON

El Presidente Vicente Fox is up to his old tricks again, this time having his Mexican government issue postage stamps with images of "dark-skinned, Jim Crow-era cartoon characters," as the "Houston Chronicle" (registration required) reports this morning.

Mexican postal officials said the five-stamp series features Memin Pinguin, a 1940s comic-book character, because he is beloved in Mexico. A spokesman for the Mexican Embassy described the depiction as a cultural image that has no meaning whatsoever and is not intended to offend.

"Just as Speedy Gonzalez has never been interpreted in a racial manner by the people in Mexico," embassy spokesman Rafael Laveaga said. "He is a cartoon character. I am certain that this commemorative postage stamp is not intended to be interpreted on a racial basis in Mexico or anywhere else."

But the leaders of the NAACP, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League denounced the image in strong terms, calling it the worst kind of black stereotype.

"It is offensive," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, who like other leaders called on Mexican President Vicente Fox to apologize and stop circulation of the stamps.

It was the second time in seven weeks that Jackson called on Fox to apologize for a racial offense. In May, Fox apologized for saying that Mexican migrants in the United States work jobs that "even blacks don't want," a comment he said was taken out of context.



Seems neither Jesse Jackson, nor Al Sharpton, accomplished much when each scurried down to Mexico City to grandstand over some ill-considered remarks President Fox made about Mexican illegal emigrants to the United States being willing to do jobs that poor American Blacks were unwilling to do.

The two self-styled civil rights leaders are more into photo-ops and headline-grabbing, than in accomplishing anything substantive. And, frankly, in fairness to them, no one in this country is able to accomplish much of anything with the corrupt Mexican government and its leadership anyway. Even Mexicans have a struggle in doing so.

Alternate Source: Michelle Malkin

"MAD COW TRACED TO WACO"

The headline of this post is in quotations, as it's the front page, top-of-the-fold headline in this morning's print edition of the "Houston Chronicle." I wonder if the headline writer was having some fun with the readership that resides outside of Texas?

Waco is a city in north Texas and its name is pronounced with the long vowel sound for "a," as in "wade." Oftentimes, however, innocently or otherwise, people from outside of Texas see the printed "Waco" and presume it has the short vowel sound for "a," as in "plant." Stand-up comics have had fun with the word "Waco" for years by purposefully mispronouncing it.

If you read the headline with the short vowel sound for the "a" in "Waco," the headline can take on any number of meanings, some of them rather bizarre!

For example, is Waco a mad scientist working in an underground laboratory; or a Swedish immigrant turned Texan, perhaps, who has jettisoned his former passion for horseflesh and turned instead to dalliances with bovines? Or is Waco just some goofy redneck hiding a diseased cow behind a U.S. Army-issued camouflage tarp in his carport?

The mind can conjure up so many images provided you pronounce "Waco" with the short vowel sound for "a!"

POSTSCRIPT: As Paul Harvey would say, here's the "rest of the story":

Mad cow traced to Waco

The animal, born and raised in Texas, was sent to a pet food plant

GIANT CATFISH CAUGHT IN MEKONG RIVER IN NORTHERN THAILAND

You've got to see it to believe it! (Courtesy of the Associated Press)

Wednesday, June 29

HOUSTON'S VERSION OF "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND"

The "Houston Chronicle," in a story reported by Peggy O'Hare and Mike Glenn, tells the foolhardy tale of a high school chemistry teacher whose quid pro quo for giving passing grades to two failing chemistry students was that they must torch her automobile in an insurance fraud scheme. One student received an "80" final exam score and the other a "90" as rewards for having burned up the teacher's 2003 Chevrolet Malibu, so she could collect insurance money.

Now both students are to be arrested on arson charges and the teacher, still at-large, is being sought on charges of insurance fraud and arson.

There was obviously some bad chemistry at work when this scheme was concocted.

TEXAS BBQ BRISKET -- A TRIUMPH !!!

The brisket was an absolute triumph -- moist, flavorful, and delicious beyond my expectations. Forgive me, but I must toss modesty aside. I nailed it.

With all due respect to the BBQ establishments I've been to over the years (and they are legion), this was the best damn brisket I believe I've ever eaten. My wife agrees!

I began carving at the "toe" or thin end of the brisket, which is usually subject to drying out in the cooking process. But, from the first slice I had moisture in the meat. And, oh, that "bark" -- it was the consistency of a heavy paste (probably owing to the mustard) and ever so spicy and flavorful. The amount of cayenne I used in the dry rub recipe turned out to be just fine.

Here's a photo of the finished product:



And here are some slices from the thin end of the brisket, so you can see the dark outer layer of "bark" and the pink "smoke ring" around the periphery of the meat. My goodness is it tender and moist.



Just know this, Dear Readers: you can't take shortcuts. Great BBQ is an art and a science; but, most of all, it demands unwavering patience. You must do it "low-n-slow" and never rush the cooking time. If "Q" is worth doing, it is worth doing right.

By the way, as I slice towards the "heel" (the thicker end) of the brisket, it's only going to get better!

TEXAS-STYLE BRISKET: THE CROWN JEWEL OF "Q"

The brisket came out of the smoker at 8:45am CDT this morning -- a full 23 and 1/2 hours after it went in to the cooking chamber, and after it had reached an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.

I then placed it in a tight wrap of double aluminum foil and placed it in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees F. for 1 and 1/2 hours to let the meat "rest" and assure that its moisture is not just at the surface of the brisket.

It is now 10:15am CDT -- 24 hours to the minute since I placed the brisket in the smoker's cooking chamber yesterday morning. It is now ready to be carved and my wife and I have postponed breakfast in the interest of each of us enjoying a thick, meat-piled-high, barbecue brisket sandwich. We'll be using regular hamburger buns and for condiments hamburger-style dill chips and pickled Jalapeno slices. We'll top off the brisket and condiments with some Cattlemen's Smokey barbecue sauce.

I'm just waiting for my wife to conclude her morning exercises, so I can begin slicing the brisket and ultimately render her morning work-out useless!

The big questions: will it slice easily, will the meat be moist, and did I overdue the dry rub recipe with too much cayenne (or will the "bark" have a good kick to it)? I'm not worried in the least about having good smoke penetration and a nice smoke ring.

Next post will advise on whether or not I hit a home run and there should be a photo or two for you!

HOUSTON CHRONICLE'S CRAGG HINES MISSES THE POINT ON PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS TO THE NATION

The "Houston Chronicle's" Washington D.C.-based political columnist Cragg Hines claims the central purpose of President Bush's address to the nation last night from Fort Bragg on the war in Iraq was to rally the Republican Party's conservative base.

Bush's setting may have been Fort Bragg, the big, war-ready base in North Carolina, and Bush's audience may have been assembled troops, but the president's target, however, as it has been throughout much of his tenure, was his political base, which he needs to rally. If Bush bought his policy some more time with the public at large, all the better for his purposes. But the main aim of the speech was to address recent eruptions from conservatives.
Hines' liberal bent is the catalyst for his disengenuous claim, as are the pontifications of the ranter incarnate, James Carville.

A better, more forthright statement would have been that Bush hadn't a chance in hell, no matter how eloquent, on point, and truthful as to the facts, of dislodging the hardwired, anti-war bias of liberal Democrats in this country. The president's address was to the nation and to its military, but only the military and Bush's conservative base seem to ever get it -- that terrorism must be defeated and that you cannot do much better than to have the enemy coming to you in droves on foreign soil.

True, there were no WMDs in Iraq. The original justification for invading Iraq was ill-founded and based on egregiously faulty intelligence. Better now, however, as a response to the human slaughter that was "9/11," is the fact that Islamic terrorists are being drawn to Iraq like moths to a flame and that if we only stay the course we can kill a good many of them and kill or capture their leaders. Better to deal with insurgents and car bombs over there than terrorist-spawned murder and mayhem in our own city streets.

TEXAS BBQ BRISKET IN THE HOME STRETCH

If you followed my live-blogging yesterday in multiple posts about doing an 18-pound brisket Texas-style in my smoker, then you may be wondering if and when it will be done and with what kind of results. Well, the internal temperature of the meat is presently sitting at 180 degrees F., so there are just 5 more degrees to go! We're in the home stretch and nearing the Finish Line! This large piece of meat has been slow-cooking in the cooking chamber for 22 hours and 30 minutes now.

Once the brisket reaches 185 degrees F., I should be able to stick a fork in the meat and easily rotate it. That's how tender this otherwise toughest among all the cuts of beef should be if I've done everything correctly. I'll then wrap it in foil and let the meat "rest" in a warm oven for a minimum of one hour.

I'll get some photos posted for you once it's completed.

I'm presently debating whether I want sliced, BBQ brisket and scrambled eggs for breakfast or a BBQ brisket sandwich and a cold beer. Either choice is a good one provided the "Q" is top-notch.

PEGGY NOONAN HITS THE BULL'S-EYE

Take the time to read Peggy Noonan's latest "OpinionJournal.com" column in its entirety and see if you agree, as I do, that far too many politicians are too full of themselves these days and strut about like pampered peacocks. Senators John McCain (RINO-AZ) and Robert Byrd (D-WV) are two that immediately come to mind, although Ms. Noonan doesn't specifically cite them. She does, however, point to Freshman Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), who I similarly covered in this post.

I, too, was offended at the Clinton's grand-standing at the Reverend Billy Graham's New York crusade, said to be his last. As Peggy Noonan writes:

And there are the Clintons. There are always the Clintons. The man for whom Barack Obama worked so hard in 1992 showed up with his wife this week to take center stage at Billy Graham's last crusade in New York. Billy Graham is a great man. He bears within him deep reservoirs of sweetness, and the reservoirs often overflow. It was embarrassing to see America's two most famous political grifters plop themselves in the first row dressed in telegenic silk and allow themselves to become the focus of sweet words they knew would come.

Why did they feel it right to inject a partisan political component into a spiritual event? Why take advantage of the good nature and generosity of an old hero? Why, after spending their entire adulthoods in public life, have they not developed or at least learned to imitate simple class?

How exactly does it work? How does legitimate self-confidence become wildly inflated self-regard? How does self respect become unblinking conceit? How exactly does one's character become destabilized in Washington?

Tuesday, June 28

SAME SEX MARRIAGE IN CANADA

Figures.

Hope there's a mass migration north.

UPDATE: "Q" SCHOOL TEXAS-STYLE

"Q School" in golf means the grueling competition to earn a PGA card. Here in Texas it means knowing how to slow-cook a good-size piece of tough meat and make it damn near melt in your mouth. Well, I'm a little past the half-way point in trying to accomplish just that. I put an 18-pound brisket in my smoker at 9:15am CDT this morning and in a matter of minutes 12 hours of cooking time will have elapsed. The meat needs to get to an internal temperature of 185 degrees F. and I want to get that reading in the thicker "heel" end of the meat. I'm sitting at 130 degrees F. presently. I'm using a digital read-out cooking thermometer and this is the first time all day that I have checked the temperature of the meat.

I'll tell you this: the brisket smells wonderful. But, patience must prevail. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

My goal? I want to end up with a "60-mile BBQ brisket sandwich."

"What's that?," you ask.

Well, Dear Readers, that's a sandwich so damn good that you'd be willing to drive 60 miles to eat one (or two, or three)! And those are one-way miles!

POETIC JUSTICE FOR EMINENT DOMAIN RULING? (LET'S HOPE SO!)

Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter may be on the receiving end of his own majority view -- and let's hope so! After all, what goes around, comes around.

That would be poetic justice! Can you believe the "Just Desserts' Cafe?" (Do read the link).

HAT TIP: Matt Drudge

UPDATE ON THAT 18 POUND HUNK OF BRISKET I'M WORKING ON!

It's approaching 5:30pm CDT, as I write this. The brisket went into the smoker at 9:15am CDT this morning, so it's been cooking "low-n-slow" for 8 and 1/4 hours now at just shy of 250 degrees F.

You can see the "bark" beginning to develop nicely now -- i.e., the crust on the meat formed by the mustard and the dry rub, and being kept moist by the "mop" I've been using.

The offset firebox is to the left of this photo of the cooking chamber, so, as you can see, I continue to keep the thicker end of the brisket, known as the "heel," nearer to the opening to the firebox. You "Q" artists will note I'm not only beginning to see some shrinkage in the brisket, but I've also cocked it so the "heel" is no longer quite as close to the firebox as it was this morning.

It appears to be coming along nicely, but there's a long way to go yet! My guess is the first barbecue brisket sandwich will be eaten tomorrow morning for breakfast. But more on that later.

Anyone out there beginning to drool yet?

WRITER SHELBY FOOTE WILL BE MISSED

His books grace the bookshelves of my library and have been some of the most satisfying reads I've enjoyed over my lifetime, with his trilogy on the Civil War my favorite among them. Indeed, it was Foote, long before Ken Burns' documentary on the Civil War gave him celebrity, who fostered my abiding interest in the War Between the States.

Now Shelby Foote is dead at age 88. He will be missed.

In "Booknotes: America's Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas" -- a compendium edited by Brian Lamb -- Shelby Foote wrote:

I have a strong belief that novelists have a great deal to teach historians about plotting, about character drawing, about other things, especially the concern about learning to be a good writer, which many historians don't bother to do.

I suspect I like to think of myself as a novelist because that's what I was for most of my life and that's the way I thought of myself, and I haven't changed. It pleases me when someone tells me what they like best is my novels. But I've faced the fact that I probably am more apt to be known for writing the three-volume history on the Civil War than for anything else.

On his craft:

I've always worked in the room where I usually sleep, so that I sleep near my desk, and the typewriter's over here. There's something about it. When I go somewhere else, like in the summer I'll go down the coast or something, I can't work away from home.

I'm not like D. H. lawrence, who could write anywhere and, in fact, never had a home. But to me it's a very deliberate thing. Five or six hundred words is a good day for me.

I write with a "dip pen," which causes all kinds of problems -- everything from finding blotters to pen points -- but it makes me take my time, and it gives me a real feeling of satisfaction.

But a dip pen, you have to dip it in ink and write three or four words and dip it again. It has a real influence on the way I write, so different not only from a typewriter but from using a pencil or a fountain pen.

After it's written, the 500 words every day, I set it aside to dry; then copy it off on a typewriter, make a typewritten copy of it, and then recopy on that until finally the day is over and I'm all the way satisfied with it, and I put it on the stack -- make a clean copy and put it on the stack. That way I don't have to engage in something that to me is a particular form of heartbreak, which is revision. I don't do that.


The day and his life are now over. Shelbe Foote died yesterday. I suspect neither his writing, nor his life, needed revision. I will miss him; but he lives in the books he wrote and they are his gifts to the nation.

POSTSCRIPT: Shelby Foote buried.

UPDATE ON TEXAS-STYLE BRISKET

The brisket has been in the smoker for six (6) hours now. I just mopped it and the color of the meat is beautiful at this point, in part owing to the mustard I coated it with earlier this morning before applying the dry rub. In time, however, the outside of the meat will become very dark, indeed almost black.

It's quite hot here (and has been all of June). I suspect temperatures are in the 97 - 100 degrees range in our immediate area today. Accordingly, I've had trouble keeping the temperature in the cooking chamber at the 225 degrees F. level, which is optimal. Instead, it's generally held at 240 - 250 degrees F. As I wrote earlier, I just don't want to get above a 250 degrees F. threshold.

In the next several hours, I'll get a photo of the brisket for you. I have a feeling this is going to be exceptional "Q" when I'm done with it. I'd guess at this point that it'll be slow-cooking for another fifteen (15) to sixteen (16) hours. An 18 pound brisket should take 1 and 1/4 hours per pound minimum, which would require twenty-two (22) hours or so. I'll be up most of the night tending to this beauty! Hope the beer holds out.

Great "Q" requires patience!

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA OBVIOUSLY NOT WELL-SCHOOLED ON ABRAHAM LINCOLN

The freshman Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama (D-IL), needs to go back to school on this nation's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, as quotes attributed to him by "Time" magazine, and as reported in this Associated Press (AP) story, suggest he's either ignorant of Lincoln's positions vis-a-vis slavery and human rights or he's trying to take a page from the book "Historical Revisionism For Dummies" and attribute to himself the best of Lincoln's personal attributes and strength of character, while decrying Abe as more rank pragmatist on the issue of slavery, than moralist and natural law advocate.

To wit, Senator Obama is quoted as saying:

I cannot swallow whole the view of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator.

As a law professor and civil rights lawyer and as an African-American, I am fully aware of his limited views on race. Anyone who actually reads the Emancipation Proclamation knows it was more a military document, than a clarion call for justice.
The problem here is that the Illinois Democrat, either through ignorance or by design, is pointing exclusively to the Emancipation Proclamation to make such an ill-founded assessment of Lincoln's views on slavery.

I suggest he read a seminal work by an eminent Lincoln historian: "A New Birth of Freedom" by Harry V. Jaffa. Jaffa focuses on Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," providing a commentary on Lincoln's "acceptance of the idiom of natural rights and natural law" and pointing to a speech in which the 16th President betrays his dedication to "the proposition that all men are created equal" -- indeed to "an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times."

Perhaps, to quote the Senator, Lincoln had indeed "limited views on race." He didn't see an issue of Negro Slavery, as much as he saw in any form of slavery of any kind of race a violation of the transcendant order of nature and of nature's God.

As Jaffa writes:

Implicit in everything he (Lincoln) says (in the Gettysburg Address), however, is the thesis that the benefits of a free society cannot be long enjoyed by those who would arbitrarily deny them to others. Like fidelity in marriage, that is the one inescapable 'cost' that the 'benefit' of freedom entails. Hence the underlying question remains: Can those for whom slavery is a 'positive good' or those who are indifferent to slavery love the Union as do those for whom the Union is the practical implementation of the principles of human freedom embodied in the Declaration?

LAST PHOTO IN PRIOR POST IS A TEASER

That last photo in the prior post is just a teaser! Do keep the lid down while cooking and as much as possible avoid the temptation to look at the meat. If you're maintaining a low temperature of 225 degrees F (remember: no higher than 250 degrees F.), you really should be only lifting the lid to apply your "mop" -- about every hour and a half, Folks!

Besides, with a chunk of brisket the size of the one I'm doing, there's no point in getting antsy, as it'll be an all day, all night, 20 - 24 hour project of love anyways.

SO CHILL !!! Listen to Merle Haggard and enjoy yourselves.

LIVE-BLOGGING A TEXAS-STYLE BBQ BRISKET

I'm always so serious in my posts. Well, almost always (it's a serious world). So I've decided that today is the day to be light-hearted and to showcase my barbecue talents to native Texans (and those of you who wish you were), since while I live in the Houston area and did an 80s' stint in Dallas-Ft. Worth as well, I do not hail originally from these parts. Texans are friendly sorts and will give you the shirts off their backs, but they do not cotton to pseudo Texans. So, I want to make this abundantly clear at the onset: I'm a "Yankee" by birth and I'm devoting this day and this night -- likely a 20 to 24 hour turn -- to doing a Texas-style brisket in my offset-smoker (and knocking back a few beers and a shot or two of Tequilla along the way), recognizing, to be sure, that this is an aquired talent of mine and not something intertwined in my DNA chain.

Hope you'll enjoy the journey with me!

I rose early this morning and began work on what is termed a "packer trimmed" brisket -- i.e., a whole brisket, as opposed to those little guys that women like to do in their crock pots. The one I bought is just shy of 18 pounds and it was a challenge to close the refrigerator door when I first brought it home.

I began by paring excess fat off the brisket with a sharp knife, particularly the heavy layer of fat you find on one side towards the heel or thicker end of this large piece of tough meat. I left about a 1/2" layer around the heel and did little removal of fat at the slimmer, "toe end" of the brisket, which tends to dry out if you're not careful.

I then coated the entire brisket, front and back, with mustard. The mustard will not impart any mustard flavor to the meat, but will help it maintain moisture, cook evenly, and, best of all, the dry rub adheres to and remains on the meat better. By the way, you want your brisket out of the refrigerator for at least one hour before placing it in your smoker. You don't want too much cold in the meat, as this delays the front end of the cooking process. And, too, you want your fire already working for at least a half hour in the firebox before beginning the cooking!

For my dry rub I used equal parts of:

black pepper
white pepper
kosher salt
cumin
paprika
cayenne
garlic salt
brown sugar

To this I added a half equal part of:

onion salt

Mix it all up in a bowl and then use a flour sifter to remove any hard lumps. Then sprinkle the rub heavily onto the mustard coating front and back. Some will challenge my use of so much cayenne, but I like some bite in my bark! (The "bark" is the outer spicy crust that will form on the meat over time as it slow cooks).

So here's what you end up with ...



Note the greenback my wife placed at the top of the photo to give you an idea of the sheer size of this brisket. The "toe" of the brisket is on the left side of the photo (note how much wider it is) and the "heel" of the brisket is on the right side (narrower, but at least twice as thick and with more fat inside of the meat, as well as on the outside, and even after trimming). The trick is not to overcook and dry out the "toe" end.

Here's the brisket placed in the cooking chamber of my smoker at 9:15am CDT this morning:



That's an aluminum pan half-filled with water at the right end of the cooking chamber. That's to add some moisture to the chamber. At halfway through the cooking process, I'll move that pan to the left side, nearer the offset fire box.

I start the meat with the fat side down for a couple of hours to ensure good heat and smoke penetration on the "meat side" of the brisket. (PS: Never have the thin "toe end" of the brisket nearest the firebox!). Then I'll flip it so that the fat side is up. Before I do this flipping of the meat, I'll give the "meat side" a good dose of "mop."

My "mop" recipe for adding moisture to the meat through the cooking process (applied at 1 to 1 1/2 hour intervals):

12 ounces of beer
1/2 cup of cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon of dry rub

Keep this refrigerated when not using!

So, at 10:45 am CDT, here's where I'm at: time for the first "mopping." I'll turn the brisket over to the "fat side up" at about 11:15am -- two hours into the cooking. By the way, cooking temperature is being maintained as close to 225 degrees F. as possible. DO NOT exceed a temperature of 250 degrees. I'm using Kingsford charcoal briquets and chunks of hickory.

Good "Q" is all about "low and slow."

Monday, June 27

THE KORAN IS SACROSANCT AT GITMO, BUT SCHOOL PRAYER AND THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ARE UNCONSITUTIONAL IN THE UNITED STATES!

The Liberal Left in this country had a manic fit over the possibility that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet at GITMO, but they'll be enraptured that hanging framed copies of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky courthouses has been ruled unconstitutional, just as it was ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court years ago that they could not be displayed in public schools either.

The Liberal Left in this country hailed the Supreme Court decision eliminating prayer from public schools, but they also hail the GITMO practices of providing suspected Islamic terrorist detainees with Qur'ans, praying mats, regularly scheduled prayer times, and stenciled arrows pointing in the direction of Mecca.

The Liberal Left viewed it as a landmark victory when the U.S. Supreme Court ushered in an unfettered genocide in its Roe v. Wade decision, but was apoplectic at the thought that GITMO interrogators might be using loud rap music and chilly holding cells to unnerve suspected Juhadists, making them uncomfortable. Seems late-term abortion is not torture, but what we're doing at GITMO is.

The Liberal Left is predictably silent on the government's condemnation proceedings -- supported in full by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision -- against non-blighted, single-family residences in New London, Connecticut (a full-scale assault on the rights of property owners in this country), but fall all over themselves to ensure that illegal aliens get mortgage financing and free education and healthcare, and amnesty.

Their hypocrisy is an outrage and their leadership divisive to the best interests of the country and the ideals of its Founding Fathers.

KENTUCKY COURTHOUSES DID IT WRONG; TEXAS CAPITOL DID IT RIGHT

Apparently the truth is in the mind of the beholder, provided the beholder is wearing a black robe and sitting on the United States Supreme Court. SCOTUS ruled 5-4 that the Kentucky courthouses had no right displaying framed copies of the Ten Commandments, but SCOTUS also ruled 5-4 that the Texas state capitol in Austin had every right to exhibit a granite monument of the Ten Commandments on its grounds.

The split personality decisions appear to revolve around whether or not such displays promote religion or certain religious views (i.e., "having a predominantly religious purpose") or are merely grounded in an historical context. They will apparently beg that question every time the ACLU gets its secular nose out of joint at anything it perceives as being in violation of the separation of church and state, such as the Christian cross on the Los Angeles County seal.

The High Court appears capricious, not quite certain just how far to go in further offending Christians and contorting the United States Constitution in the process.

You can't display the Ten Commandments in a public school or in a Kentucky courthouse, but you can on the grounds of the Texas capitol, provided they're sufficiently sanitized of religious overtones by being placed among a veritable dog's breakfast of other historical exhibits.

The Supreme Court has no quarrel with abortion, but apparently finds considerable nuance in the degree to which a Ten Commandments display is sufficiently obscured from God's original intent.

SOURCES: Bloomberg and Yahoo News

SECULARISTS' VICTORY: SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF GOD'S LAWS

Moses can bring the tablets bearing God's laws down from the mountaintop, but he had better not put them on display in any U.S. courthouse or other government facility. So sayeth the Secularists; so sayeth the ACLU; so sayeth the United States Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision issued this morning with Justice Sandra Day O'Conner the swing vote for the "Liberal" majority.

"Thou shall not kill" is apparently patently offensive and inappropriately insinuates itself into the world that must be rendered unto Caesar, rather than unto the Lord Our God.

Meanwhile, "Roe v. Wade" trumps God Himself in an America that's taking on the aspect of secular Europe more and more each day, as its government countenances the slaughter of millions of innocents, while eschewing the original Ten Commandments.

The unborn are no longer safe, private property is no longer safe, and the seminal antecedents of our body of law are no longer safe from the long reach of the United States Supreme Court and the Liberal zealots who seek to remove any traces of Christianity -- its ethos, philosophy, theology and symbols -- from the public domain.

The United States government is being scrubbed clean of the guiding Hand of The Lord, as if its greatness never depended upon Divine Providence.

SOURCE: Associated Press (AP)

UPDATE: Cybercast News Service

Saturday, June 25

U.S. GOVERNMENT PROTESTED AGAIN OVER VIETNAM!

As protestors marched back and forth by the hundreds outside the grounds of the White House this past Tuesday, I had meant to publish a post on the supreme irony of watching these protestors on the nightly news trumpeting their concerns on the day Vietnam's Prime Minister Phan Van Khai visited with President George Bush. I was struck by the scene and asked myself if the protestors appreciated, as they marched carrying their protest signs and placards, what surviving members of the Johnson and Nixon administrations must have been thinking. It was an incongruous sight, indeed.

Seems it would have been more appropriate if John Kerry and Jane Fonda and others of their ilk had been herded into a large Woodstock type farm field so these protestors last Tuesday could have the right people assembled in full view as the object of their concern and their scorn, rather than President Bush and his White House staff. After all, it was Kerry and Fonda and thousands of others like them who ensured that a Communist regime would rule Vietnam and engage in the oppressions that these new-age protestors are now fretting about.

The reason I'm writing today is I just watched a portion of a CSPAN broadcast in which I listened to the importunities of Minky Worden, Media Director, Human Rights Watch, and Helen Ngo, Board member, Committee For Religious Freedom In Vietnam, as each testified before the House International Relations Subcommittee. Between them, they offered a litany of the human rights abuses and hard-edged intolerance for religious freedom that abound in Communist Vietnam today.

Yes, it's a sad commentary on what happens to people caught in the grips of repressive, totalitarian regimes, but then just as with LBJ and Richard Nixon, now George W. Bush is being hampered in his determination to bring freedom and democracy to such peoples by people in this country who, in their convoluted thinking, think all war is bad and needless, and that you can negotiate tolerance by being tolerant of anything and everything. They didn't support our government and military back then and they do not suport them now.

The infamy of the Fall of Saigon is on them, on the peaceniks and flower children and all the misguided, naive souls who let subversive organizations and an arrogant mainstream media manipulate them into chasing two presidents -- a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican -- from the White House. What Vietnam is today is what they helped wrought and it ought to keep them awake at night.

Thursday, June 23

A MAN'S HOME IS HIS CASTLE; BUT FIVE "SUPREMES" HAVE CROSSED THE MOAT AND SIEZED THE KEYS

The United States Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote today, upended one of the most fundamental and sacred rights of any citizen in a democratic republic -- the right to own and keep property and have it protected against unlawful seizure by the government. As Walter Lippmann wrote: Private property was the original source of freedom and its main bulwark.

But, in the United States of America, a man's home is apparently no longer his castle. "Rent, don't buy!" So sayeth the United States Supreme Court.

This is a decision that should unite an otherwise divided, red state/blue state, country, as it confers on the government an overweening, virtually unlimited right under a re-written Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- one that the Founding Father's never envisioned -- to seize your home and property on the pretext that any city and its public officials know best what is best for the common good of the community. And that good is no longer necessarily a public highway, or a bridge, or tunnel, or a school, but now perhaps a privately-held shopping center or mall or industrial complex or office center.

Eminent domain has, in the process, become a virtually unchecked, unrestrained right of the government to seize private property and disrespect the private citizen.

If the notion of an out-of-control Federal judiciary has escaped the grasp of many citizens up until now, particularly Liberal Democrats, those folks ought to begin re-thinking their positions with this egregious decision by the black robes.

But, it should really come as no surprise: after all, unborn babies can be murdered at will in this country via the quiet efficiency of abortion mills, and without the father having any "choice" in this matter of life or death, so it's not a large leap in judicial purview to rule that local government can seize private property and toss property owners out on the street.

This is what our Supreme Court has wrought. A once venerated institution of American democracy has brought shame on itself. The highest court in the land has sunk to its lowest level since Roe v. Wade. It has put the president, the Congress, and the American citizen in checkmate. It rules the roost. There are no checks and balances for an American homeowner.

The economists have been fearing a "housing bubble." Well, one just burst in Connecticut and the stage is now set for many more to follow. This is not what the United States of America is supposed to be all about; but it is where we have arrived and still the Democratic Party remains intent on filibustering to ensure more Liberals on the Court!

So the question now becomes will there be the equivalent of a Boston Tea Party or just more of the same -- the silence of the lambs -- in a country that looks the other way at the mass slaughter of millions of unborn Americans while letting 10 - 20 million illegal aliens walk and work the land unimpeded and with more of their ilk breeching our porous borders daily.

The law is what the government says it is and that same government can choose to ignore those laws it determines are not worthy of enforcement. The individual gets lost in the shuffle.

Ronald Reagan would be livid. So would John Adams.

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. -John Adams-


PELOSI AND KENNEDY RANKLE; BUT WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has declared the war against terrorists in Afghanistan over. I'm sure all those who have devoted themselves to undermining the U.S. military's war on terrorism will take heart in Pelosi's misguided declaration. Indeed, the left-of-Left Liberal appears more concerned with purported detainee abuse than with the dead of "9/11" and the ongoing threat to this country's security from radical Islamic terrorists, their organizations, and the countries who sponsor and/or provide sanctuary for them.

From the "Washington Times" article I linked to:

On Tuesday, Mrs. Pelosi and three other top Democrats called for a commission to investigate reported abuses of detainees from the war on terror. Mrs. Pelosi said it is past time that the administration established a policy on determining the fates of the detainees at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arguing that most are from Afghanistan and that the conflict there has ended.

"I assume that the war in Afghanistan is over, or is the contention that you have that it continues?" she said to a reporter.

A few moments later, she said: "This isn't about the duration of the war. The war in Afghanistan is over."
Were that not enough, the Left Coast Democrat is also attempting to force the end of the war in Iraq through the so-called Pelosi Amendment. Her rhetoric is as unconscionable, as it is inflammatory, but is emblematic of a Democratic Party leadership that is anything but. What must the troops think?

Then we have the irrepressible Ted Kennedy calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation and characterizing the war in Iraq as a "quagmire," while accusing Rumsfeld of "gross errors and mistakes." Seems Kennedy is more than familiar in his own life with "gross errors and mistakes," so he must regard himself as a ranking authority on identifying stupidity, misconduct, and errors of omission.

Hang in their Mr. Rumsfeld. Just consider the source.

DAY LABORERS WITHOUT IDENTIFICATION

Anne Linehan at "blogHouston.com" links to this "Khou.com story" about the Houston Police Department beginning to crack down on day laborers who gather and mill about in parking lots and on street corners, oftentimes trespassing on private property, harrassing passers-by, particularly females, while usually not carrying any personal identitification, suggesting some or most may be illegal aliens looking for work. This, of course, makes police work more difficult in responding to citizen complaints and, of course, and as this blogger has previously reported, Houston is a so-called "Sanctuary City," where police are precluded from being able to question an individual whether or not he (or she) is an illegal alien or, if so suspected, from reporting that individual to Federal immigration authorities.

But, and that major issue aside, other cities, unlike Houston, are encountering difficulties in dealing with the vexing issue of day laborers congregating in public places. Glendale, California, as an example, has had a local ordinance over-turned in the courts. And, even more telling than the matter of judges legislating from the bench is the fact that many liberal do-gooders seek to eliminate or impede round-ups of loitering day laborers suggesting that such round-ups violate human rights and free speech and oftentimes ensnare legal citizens along the way.

And then, too, you have the altogether ridiculous situation of organizations in this country that ally themselves with illegal alien day laborers and become, in the process, advocates for their rights, as if they were in fact citizens of this country. A case in point:

A judge in Prince William County Small Claims Court has ruled in favor of five day laborers who sued contractors they say cheated them out of their hard-earned pay.

The Washington Post reports the judge ruled their employers owed them more than $5,000 in wages and court costs.

The workers are all immigrants from Mexico and were represented by the Woodbridge Workers Committee, which advocates for day laborers who wait for odd jobs at a 7-Eleven in Woodbridge, Va. Advocates say many laborers do not come forward when they are owed money because of their immigration status and the belief they can't win in court.

Shouldn't the issue be that if illegal aliens come before any judge demanding wages from an employer, that both the illegal aliens and the employer ought to be arrested, and the illegal aliens deported? Don't we have laws on the books and shouldn't those laws be enforced? The situation is beyond ludicrous! It's criminal.

And get a load of this:

Panelist Chris Newman of the Los Angeles-based National Day Labor Organizing Network ripped a bill signed by Governor Janet Napolitano last month that prohibits public funding of labor centers that cater to undocumented immigrants. He called the move "misguided, bizarre and counterproductive."

"It's the first law of its kind in the nation," Newman said. "It endorses the vigilante viewpoint and is counter to national trends," he said.
And there's that euphemism undocumented immigrants again. The only legal immigrant to this country is a properly documented immigrant. What Chris Newman is talking about and advocating on behalf of are illegal aliens who have no business being in this country if the President of the United States, Congress, and the Department of Homeland Security were doing their jobs.

And lastly, and as the "Khou.com" article informs, most of these day laborers fail to carry proper identification (and you don't have to be a genius to understand why). Between that fact, the ridiculous "Sanctuary Laws" that exist in far too many American cities, and the fradulent documents that many illegals are able to secure in this country, law enforcement is pretty much rendered useless. Frosty Woolridge provides the tale of the tape in this excellent, but disturbing piece on this very subject that I encourage you to read in its entirety.

You do understand, do you not, that a "day laborer" could in fact be a convicted felon, here in this country illegally, and carrying a dreadful, contagious disease? Trust me, the liberal do-gooders are doing neither you nor this country any good!

HOUSTON'S INSUFFERABLE AFRICAN SUMMER

The "Houston Chronicle" memorialized in an article in yesterday's edition what Houstonians and those of us like me who live in the suburbs outside of Harris County know all too well -- it's too damn HOT already and we're hardly into what is known down here as the extended African Summer.

Wildebeests on the Serengeti plain are more comfortable right now than we Houstonians have been in June. As "Houston Chronicle" reporter Eric Berger wrote yesterday:

Indeed, with no more rain this month -- and chances are close to nil for at least the next several days -- Houston would set a record for the driest June since annual data collection began in 1889.
Reporter Berger goes on to write that no more rain than the thickness of a nickle has fallen on our area this month, and I'll report to you that each and every day seems dreadfully the same: highs of 96 degrees; "Real Feels" of well over 100 degrees; lows barely into the 70s; and with Houston's customary insufferable humidity only ameliorated by scant rainfall and precious little cloud cover. We're not even having our late afternoon cloud bursts, as there are no afternoon clouds willing to burst.

Your choice is to remain indoors in the air conditioning or to venture outside at your own risk. Goodness, our swimming pool isn't even a relief from the grinding summertime heat, as the pool water is akin to being dropped into a lobster pot.

Even the birds are panting and begging to be let indoors.

Wednesday, June 22

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON FLAG DESECRATION INCOMPLETE

Given President Bush's and Congress' inaction on dealing effectively with this country's porous borders, misguided immigration policies, and 10 - 20 million illegal aliens afoot in our land (and in no near-term risk of deportation), it would appear to me that the Constitutional amendment against flag desecration just passed in the House is flawed in its omission of any reference to the flag of Mexico.

If you think I'm just being sarcastic, read the following, or look at this photograph, or read this or this.

It's nuts, it's multi-culturalism run amock; but, sadly, it's the real world.

It's El Plan de Aztlan, pure and simple, and it's coming to your city or town, and even if you do not live in a border state!

Tuesday, June 21

DURBIN CROSSED THE LINE ... NO IFS, ANDS, OR BUTS ABOUT IT

Senator Durbin (D-IL) apologized today, as the Associated Press (AP) reports, for his outrageous remarks drawing parallels among the U.S. prison camp for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Soviet Gulags, the Nazis' death camps, and the killing fields of the Cambodian Pol Pot regime.

His apology was directed at those who may have thought his ill-thought, mean-spirited, remarks "crossed the line."

Well, Senator Durbin, they did cross the line and without any room for doubt. You meant what you said and you're apology is belated and comes now only as a result of intense pressure directed at you.

But, alas, you apologized. Others in your Party who remained mum in the wake of your scandalous comments still have some explaining to do.

BRENNAN HAWKINS -- MISSING 11-YEAR OLD -- FOUND ALIVE

This is such happy news that I felt compelled to post it on my blog.

The media, area authoritites, emergency responders, and many, many volunteers are to be applauded for this successful search in Utah.

Brennan obviously has true grit and tremendous courage.

This writer is relieved for the family members and most grateful to God.

POSTSCRIPT: MSN story providing photo of Brennan and more details regarding his rescue and physical condition. He's a nice looking youngster.

ILLEGAL ALIENS WORKING AT SENSITIVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS SITE

Recall this post of mine about two dozen illegal aliens being employed as contract workers (i.e., leased employees) at Houston-area refineries and with a total of 80 across the country arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in similar positions at refineries and power plants?

As I wrote back on May 20th:

This dispels the notion that illegals strictly work in low-paying jobs, typically in agriculture.

It also dispels the notion that illegals, pouring into this country across the porous, southern contiguous border with Mexico, cannot present a clear and present danger from a Homeland Security perspective. If they can gain employment at oil refinereries and chemical plants, even with poor and/or forged documentation, then they could, were they terrorists, engage in serious sabotage with deadly consequences.

Houston and the entire south-central Gulf Coast region of the United States comprise one of the largest petro-chemical manufacturing regions in the world. This is a target-rich environment for terrorists and there's ready access to the region from nearby Mexico.
Well, now comes this alarming report today from CNN's Washington Bureau that 16 illegal aliens were able to secure employment last year at a nuclear weapons facility near Knoxville, TN.

When is President Bush going to wise up that pororus borders and 10 to 20 million illegal aliens afoot in this country present a clear and present danger to this nation's Homeland Security?

And when are American citizens going to insist with their votes that this issue be brought front and center, while chasing from office pusillanimous politicians (among them Senator John McCain, RINO, AZ) cowering under the pressure of activist groups bent on this country's transformation into a Nation of Aztlan.

MICHAEL SCHIAVO -- AN EGREGIOUS ASS IN PERPETUITY

Michael Schiavo has staked a claim that he never committed adultery, never had two children by another woman while his hapless, cognitively disabled wife lay alive in a hospice bed. But how did a man who was living with another woman for all the world to see while his wife was still breathing register such an outlandish claim to moral fidelity? Leave it to the likes of Michael Schiavo to do the thing he chose to do: to show on his dead wife's headstone not the date on which she legally died (March 31, 2005), owing to court-ordered starvation and dehydration, but rather the date on which he decided, and for reasons not even accounted for in his wife's autopsy report, that she first fell into a persistent vegetative state -- February 25, 1990. How convenient for him. And how sanctimonious to indicate on the headstone that Terri Schiavo only found peace once she had been dehydrated-to-death.

Is there a lower animal form than Michael Schiavo? Leave it to Michael Schiavo to cast in marble apocryphal facts to vindicate in his own twisted mind the reprehensible deed he committed through the courts.

He kept his promise all right. He kept his promise to himself and to his ghoulish attorney to have his brain-injured wife killed in an inhumane, protracted way, rather than simply returning her to her parents and siblings who sought to care for her until her natural death. The pseudo promise this bully claims to have kept was revealed so belatedly that it merits disbelief from reasonable people.

He confined her to a hospice cell when she wasn't dying and now confines her mortal remains to a gravesite under which his contorted view of his own eminent self-worth is memorialized for the ages. Terri Schiavo, according to him, was a loving wife, but apparently not a loving daughter. And her memory is used only to portray himself in the best possible light, while once again shooting arrows through the hearts of her mother, father, sister and brother.

The grave marker is an ignoble act of rank hypocrisy: it befits a man who promised to love, honor, and cherish his wife all the days of their lives, but chose instead to have her life extinguished. After all, it has always been about Michael Schiavo and his needs, never about his wife's.

This is a mean-spirited, base, and selfish man -- a man that no self-respecting Christian can abide.

Monday, June 20

SOUTH TEXAS LANDOWNERS UNPROTECTED BY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The plight of Texas landowners along the contiguous border with Mexico is the subject of an article by Edward Hegstrom in today's edition of the "Houston Chronicle" (registration required) and, after reading it, one must surmise that the preamble to the United States Constitution doesn't apply to Americans who own land that illegal immigrants choose to use for crossing corridors into this country.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

If you're a landowner in southern Texas, your rights to justice, domestic tranquility, a common defense, general welfare, and the blessings of liberty have been forsaken by an American government content with under staffing and under funding the U.S. Border Patrol and reluctant to move troops to the border to protect your constitutional rights. Indeed, the rights of illegal immigrants almost always come before yours.

... the ranchers said they're fed up with the destruction and occasional violence caused by illegal immigrants crossing their land. They said the problem has worsened in recent years, and they want to draw attention to the issue.

"Sometimes I wonder if the rest of the country understands what's happening on the border," said Fred Schuster, a vegetable farmer along the Rio Grande. "As someone who was born and raised here, I can say it is out of control."

As Edward Hegstrom continues:

South Texas also has a long history with Mexico. Most of the Texas ranchers speak Spanish, and some of them acknowledged that it used to be common to put the illegal immigrants to work.

But they said immigrants now are sometimes violent, and they worry especially about the increased presence of immigrants from other nations. The illegal immigrants beat up ranchhands, scare landowners, steal vehicles and break into homes, said Lavoyger Durham, one of the ranchers present.

And another story by Ioan Grillo in today's "Houston Chronicle' must come as a source of tremendous reassurance for these American landowners in south Texas, particularly for those in proximity to Laredo, Texas, and its sister city on the Mexican side, Nuevo Laraedo:

It was a gangland murder crime scene in Nuevo Laredo.

In a high-profile operation, the government of Vicente Fox last week sent in about 300 commandos, paramilitary police and federal agents to police this dangerous border city where two drug cartels are fighting for control of smuggling routes into Texas.

But so far, the array of officers apparently has done little to contain the brazen violence, which has claimed the lives of more than 70 people this year.

Two more men were killed over the weekend, one in broad daylight outside city hall in apparent drug-related violence. There were also several shootouts, including one in which gunmen with automatic rifles and grenades attacked residents at a motel . The residents fled and have not been seen since.

"There were a lot of nice images of the troops coming in for the television cameras," said Raymundo Ramos, head of the Nuevo Laredo Human Rights Committee. "But we are not seeing an effective coordinated operation to root out the drug traffickers."

Must be a wonderful feeling to be impacted daily by a corrupt, ineffective government to the south of you that willfully exports its poor, its criminals, its unhealthy, and its drugs, meanwhile being woefully under-protected by your own government whose president and Congress seem more concerned with amnesty legislation for illegals, than in protecting the rights of its own citizens and property owners along the border.

Maybe had President Bush bought a big ranch in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, rather than in Crawford, the problem would be contained, rather than out of control.

"It's almost like it's every man for himself," said Mike Vickers, a rancher and veterinarian in Falfurrias.
Our elected public officials ought to be ashamed of themselves that any American citizen can say such a thing with complete candor and legitimacy. The situation is disgraceful and American voters had better insist on Constitutional protections for citizens of this country whose land and well-being are being violated by 10 - 20 million illegal immigrants on the loose in this country.

OSAMA BIN LADEN SHOULD BE CAPTURED REGARDLESS, MR. GOSS!

The Associated Press (AP) reports that CIA Director Porter Goss, in a "Time" magazine interview to be published in its June 27th edition, has stated that he "has an excellent idea where Osama bin Laden is hiding," but that capturing him is complicated by the United States' "respect for sovereign nations."

Now just what in God's name does that mean?

The mastermind behind the dastardly "9/11" attacks that left nearly 3,000 Americans dead on their homeland soil should be captured or shot dead regardless of where he is hiding. This isn't a matter for quiet diplomacy or sensitivity to sovereignty. The United States is at war. And last time I checked we're the most powerful nation on Earth.

In a stirring address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, in the aftermath of the "9/11" terrorists' attack on this country, President Bush said:

Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.


And most pertinent in the context of Porter Goss' comments to "Time" magazine, President Bush declared that night:

Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
How does this unequivocal message from the President of the United States square with Porter Goss' confident knowledge of Osama bin Laden's location, coupled with the outrageous claim that going in after him is complicated by issues of sovereignty?

If Goss is being quoted correctly, the man needs a sobering, no-nonsense meeting with President Bush to set the record straight on the United States' war posture.

This country and its citizens have been compromised by wholesale intelligence failures. If the CIA has an excellent idea of where Osama bin Laden is hiding, then it had better go in after the sonofabitch or have its agency dismantled and an effective one put in its place.

In the minds of most Americans then and in the minds of most Americans now, Osama bin Laden was the man responsible for "9/11"; it was not Saddam Hussein. Goss' ill-chosen remarks will infuriate many Americans and appropriately so.

Sunday, June 19

MICHAEL CAMPBELL WINS THE U.S. OPEN -- MAKES NEW ZEALAND PROUD!

If Goosen-Gore was an improbable final pairing for the 4th round of the U.S. Open Championship, as I wrote this morning, then Michael Campbell winning it all seemed every bit as unlikely at the start of the day. But when all was said and done, the 80th player in the world ranking finished 2 strokes ahead of the world's #1 player, Tiger Woods, finishing at even par for the Championship; and, to be sure, the man from Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand, did it in style, showing grittiness and determination, and at times playing with such aplomb that he appeared on auto-pilot. His was a splendid 4th round. He's every bit a champion!

For Goosen, the wheels came off early and in a big, uncharacteristic way. Indeed, he and Jason Gore combined in the final round for 25 over Par! Who would have ever thought?

The last New Zealander to win one of professional golf's Majors was Bob Charles in 1963 (he won the British Open that year). So, do you think they're celebrating in New Zealand? You bet they are!

ROE V. WADE OBVIATED "FATHER'S DAY" FOR MILLIONS

47.9 million unborn human beings have been aborted since the fateful "Roe v. Wade" U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1973. That means nearly 48 million fathers have had only the terrible legacy of an aborted child to mark what should have been for them a joyful "Father's Day." After all, the Roe v. Wade decision upheld a woman's right to choose -- fathers were afforded no such comparable constitutional "choice" in the matter. In turn, that means approxiamtely 24 million unborn baby boys never had a chance at life, growing into manhood, and the opportunity to give life and enjoy the special rewards of fatherhood and this day set aside in their honor.

As a father of three sons, two of whom have become fathers and who I have observed firsthand taking absolute delight in their own children, it pains me to know that "fatherhood" gets lost in the legal equation in an age in which the mother, rather than even God Himself, oftentimes determines whether or not a child will even be born into this world.

This is a day in which men ought to think long and hard on what the United States Supreme Court did to them in rendering its majority view on January 22, 1973 -- a dreadful decision that truly lives in infamy!

FATHER'S DAY BLESSING -- MY GRANDSON AUSTIN

This is my son Joe's boy -- my second grandson, Austin Burgess Higgins.

Austin is 6 1/2 months old.

He's the perfect baby -- cute as punch, perpetually happy, and pure joy for his parents, Krissy and Joe.

I recently visited family in Kentucky and got to spend three days at Joe's and Krissy's home "bonding" with my newest grandson, and the memories of those wonderful moments together are a source of real joy for me today.

I'm very proud of my two sons and two grandsons, and feel very blessed. As my sons were for me when they were little years ago, Matthew and Austin have become my "little men." They'll carry on the name; they'll be my immortality.

Grandpa Higgins loves you, Austin!

FATHER'S DAY BLESSING -- MY GRANDSON MATTHEW

This is my son Jim's boy -- my first grandson, James Matthew Higgins. He'll turn 6-years old in just a couple of weeks! This picture doesn't do his size justice. He's tall, broad-shouldered, and a very good athlete for his age (and quite handsome, wouldn't you agree?). He does well at golf, baseball, basketball, and swimming. I suspect when he's old enough, he'll enjoy football, too.

He'll start First Grade in the Fall.

In July, he's coming for a two week visit and his Texas' grandparents cannot wait!

Grandpa Higgins loves you, Matthew!

PROFESSIONAL GOLF'S EQUIVALENT OF "ROCKY"

At 3:00pm EDT this afternoon, one of championship golf's most improbable pairings ever will set out on Donald Ross' masterpiece of golf course architecture --Pinehurst #2 -- with one of the gentlemen, South Africa's Retief Goosen, likely to enter the record books as one of only five men in the history of the game to win three or more United States Open Championships and with the other, Jason Gore, likely to win over our hearts for finishing bloodied, but unbowed. This is Apollo Creed versus Rocky Balboa, but with Rocky this time around in the Triple X Sansabelt slacks!

Hard to imagine that it has come to this, but a no-name golfer ranked 818th in the world is in the final pairing of the day, just three strokes behind the man leading the tournament, the man he'll keep company with for 18 holes of grueling championship golf -- a man who already has two U.S. Open Championship trophies on his mantle and is currently ranked 5th in the world of professional golf. Oh, to be sure, Jason Gore has won before -- he won the Albertson's Boise Open on the Nationwide Tour in 2002 (professional golf's equivalent of the "Minor Leagues"). Now there's a bit of trivia for you! But, seriously ...

Can you believe this?!?!

Like Rocky Balboa, all Jason Gore is asking of himself this afternoon is that he doesn't embarrass himself and let Pinehurst #2 and its slick, mushroom-cap greens deliver a knock-out punch.

The unflappable defending-champ Goosen is no surprise whatsoever, precision ball striker and putting artist that he is, but one would have expected Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh or Phil Michelson to be teeing the ball up with him at 3:00pm today, not a round-belly guy who drove to the tournament in a car without air conditioning and had his and his wife's clothing, along with his car stereo, stolen along the way. They even stole Jason's underwear, which he laughed about saying the thieves would find his size boxer shorts a bit disappointing. Were that set of circumstances not unsettling enough, his 8-month old son has infections in both ears! Have you ever been out-of-town with a sick baby on your hands trying to find a doctor who will make a house call to a Best Western motel? Talk about being up against it.

Truly, this is one Gore who when he loses the Big One today will have actually won something -- something big and terribly important: the knowledge that he gave it his all and with a dignity and self-deprecating style that won over every no-namer in the gallery and in the television audience who ever dreamed of just one special moment in the sun. No hanging chads for this Gore; and let's hope no hanging putts either.

Jason, take dead aim!

FATHER'S DAY VERSUS MOTHER'S DAY -- AN INVIDIOUS DISTINCTION?

I called my Father earlier this week to alert him that I had sent him a small carton via UPS for "Father's Day" and to be looking for it to land on his front entranceway by no later than Friday; and, in the context of that phone call, the two of us got into a bit of a discussion on "Father's Day" versus "Mother's Day." This, I should add, is not the first time (nor will it be the last) that my Father has pontificated on the subject.

He told me he had been listening to Rush Limbaugh and that Rush was throwing out some compelling statistics to prove that fathers invariably get the short end of the stick in terms of these two days of parental recognition. I don't vouch for the following, but my Dad quoted Rush as saying that Mother's Day shopping generates something like a billion dollars in additional retail sales for the national economy, while Father's Day barely makes the cash register ring above the norm. Rush was also quoted as saying that Father's Day generates the highest number of "collect calls" placed of any day of the year! We were laughing over the latter (or at least I was) and calling to mind that while the ramp up to "Father's Day" generates the inevitable television commercials and Leno/Letterman monologue jokes about the garish, unstylish ties fathers oftentimes receive that go into the drawer never to be worn, "Mother's Day" provokes instead a reverential seriousness.

Well, I'm not so sure about all of this. My Dad must have forgotten that one year when I was growing up at home I gave my Mother one of those silly, green-plastic putting machines that shoots the ball back to you if you roll the golf ball across the floor and into the cup. She wasn't terribly impressed, as she wasn't a golfer at the time and didn't own a putter! But if I failed her in terms of the practicality of the gift, I can tell you it became quite the conversation piece over the years. Seems no loving sentiment ever expressed in a Hallmark "Mother's Day" card I gave her quite rivaled her recollection of that ridiculous gift. Whenever the subject came up my sisters, brother and I would laugh heartily about my curious choice of gifts, while my Mom would look annoyed and irrevocably hurt.

But my Dad's clincher (this coming not from Rush) in making his case of the invidious distinction between the day set aside to honor mothers versus that for fathers was that no matter where you try to take your wife and the flock on "Mother's Day" -- whether it be out for breakfast, brunch or dinner -- you inevitably encounter long lines and long waits to get a table and that you simply don't confront anything akin to this on "Father's Day."

Well, Pop, there's probably a reason for this that isn't quite so bleak. Women prefer a day spent out of the kitchen and having someone else waiting on them for a change. Men, by contrast, would rather put a steak on the Weber grill (or some babyback ribs in the smoker) in the middle of June then to fret about getting dressed up, putting on that ugly tie, and sitting in a half-empty restuarant! Besides, the big screen T.V. beckons, as does Pinehurst #2 and the final round of the U.S. Open!

Thursday, June 16

IRAQ PULL-OUT MEASURE SUPPORTED BY TWO REPUBLICANS AND TWO DEMOCRATS

"Yahoo News" has just posted this report of a resolution supported by four House Congressmen -- Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC), Ron Paul (R-TX), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) -- calling on President Bush to begin a troop withdrawal from Iraq by no later than October 1, 2006, with a formal withdrawl plan developed and communicated by year-end.

If this resolution gains traction in Congress, the insurgents will be celebrating in the streets. A published timetable would play right into their hands and end the uncertainty over whether or not the United States will stay the course until al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist organizations are defeated.

It would appear even more incumbent upon the President of the United States to begin now what he should have begun many, many months ago -- namely, regularly held briefings (e.g., bi-weekly) for the American people on the status of the war in Iraq and the overall War On Terror. In this regard, he has been anything but the "Great Communicator." Into such a vacumn of information and the altogether unexplainable absence of an ongoing justification for these wars slips the likes of these four "cut-and-run" advocates who would undermine our troops, the genuine advances made by our country and its allies (principal among them Iraq itself) in the Middle East, while rendering useless the sacrafices of life and limb made by our brave and noble fighting men and women following the "9/11" terrorist assault on our country.

We have not had a terrorist attack in this country since "9/11." Who would have thought that possible? In that regard alone, the Bush Administration ought to have credibility with the American people, if not with the mainstream media and the Democratic Party's contingent of handwrnging Liberals. That said, however, the president must understand that with any difficult enterprise, there must be ongoing factual communication!

SHAMELESS COWARD, MOHAMMED KHALAF SHAKAR, CAPTURED

The right-hand man to Al-Qaeda's Abu Musab al-Zarkawi -- Mohammed Khalaf Shakar -- has been captured by U.S. and Iraqi troops this week. Despite his claim that he would never be taken alive, Shakar was captured without incident. The same Al-Qaeda leaders who brainwash zealous Islamic fanatics to fly commercial aircraft into high-rise towers, themselves go quietly into the night, cowards one and all. Indeed, Shakar put up no fight whatsoever and is said to be cooperating with interrogators.

They can run, but they can't hide -- not forever, anyway. Thank God if "9/11" was an inevitability that it happened on President Bush's watch and not on President Clinton's. The scorecard to date in tracking down and capturing or killing al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders has been impressive. We have President Bush's leadership to thank for avenging the victims of this horrific, unprovoked series of attacks on American soil. He didn't waver; he didn't defer to the United Nations; he didn't shrink from his responsibilities as Commander-In-Chief.

Reference: Click here.

THE SLINGS AND ARROWS OF OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE AT GITMO

Did you read the horror story that dunce-incarnate Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) entered into the "Congressional Record" Tuesday of this week, according to this column of James Taranto, published yesterday in WSJ's OpinionJournal.com? The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that captured terrorists have been forced to endure at Guantanamo, Cuba, have been revealed now for all the world to see and, indeed, it is a story of outrageously abominable acts perpetrated against the hapless wards of the notorious Gitmo -- the U.S. prison Senator Ted Kennedy and former president Jimmy Carter insist must be closed.

Imagine the following:

On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold.
Oh, the horror ... the horror of it. I have no doubt that the air conditioning units are probably able to pull the temperature in a cell down to, say, at least 68 degrees on a hot, smoldering day in Cuba. That's got to be tough on a shoeless prisoner. I have no doubt that temperatures never got that low in Russia's Siberian Gulags -- the Communists no doubt invested heavily in coal-fired furnaces to keep their captives comfortable and the ambient temperature of their carpeted cells pleasantly habitable!

Worse, imagine this:

On another occasion, the (air conditioner) had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees.
Now I'm sure such torture methods at Gitmo -- with either its frigidly cold or swelteringly hot accomodations -- are a far cry from luxuriating in canvass tents in Afghanistan, where summer temperatures reach 120 degrees F. and winter temperatrures descend to lows of 15 degrees F.

Goodness, I can relate. I recall a Boy Scout camping trip I went on years ago with my father in the high desert of southern California. We were burning up by day and at night it got so cold that we either huddled up in automobiles to preserve body heat or, Jackson-style, slept two to a sleeping bag in an effort to keep warm. Each morning the potable water was frozen solid and we'd have to wait until late in the morning before we could drink the water we needed so desparately to endure the rising ball of fire in the eastern sky.

Now, then, I have no doubt those Japanese prisoner-of-war camps in World War II were far more humane than what the United States has constructed at Gitmo. I'm sure much as I have, you've read endless accounts of the Bataan Death March and how well the Americans and Phillipinos were treated. Indeed, there was nothing untoward in the treatment of wartime adversaries in the movie, "Bridge Over The River Kwai."

But the following that Senator Durbin pointed to is terribly troubling and appropriately should be a source of outrage for all thinking, moral Americans:

On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before ...
Anyone who has raised a teenager can relate to this form of unconscionable torture. I have only to recall a Metallica, heavy-metal, boom-box phase one of my sons went through in high school to shudder at the thought of a Taliban terrorist recoiling in his cell at the amplified sounds of 2Pac or Ludacris. I'd recoil too!

But in all seriousness, Dear Readers, isn't this sort of unadulterated crap from a United States Senator thoroughly over-the-top? Doesn't it get your patriotic blood up, as it does mine? Where does Senator Durbin get off saying that the United States' detainee facility at Guantanamo, Cuba, is akin to the worst nightmares perpetrated on humanity by Nazis Germany, Communist Russia, and the Pol Pot regime in Communist Cambodia? Each effected genocides on a scale unimaginable! That sort of misplaced, ill-considered diatribe borders on being treasonous. At the very least, it suggests the democratic Senator flunked World History 101.

We would all do well to remember the nightmare that was "9/11" in the context of these ridiculous claims of inhumane treatment and to put things in proper perspective. To do otherwise is to discount the unimaginable hardships our troops are facing each and every day of their brave service on behalf of all of us here at home.

FOLLOW-UP: Here is the White House reaction to Senator Durbin's outrageous remarks.

OPRAH'S A ZULU; WARD'S A CHEROKEE; I'M A DESCENDANT OF BERNARDO O'HIGGINS!

If Oprah is a Zulu and Ward is a Cherokee Indian, then, Folks, I must be the proud descendant of the "Liberator of Chile!"

Apparently, everyone needs a claim to fame -- apocryphal or otherwise -- in this day and age of self- absorption and perpetual preening.

(By the way, if my readers won't accept the Bernardo O'Higgins' claim, then I'll gladly settle for being the Alpha Male descendant of an Etruscan King!).

Leave me a "Comment" and tell me what your Oprah-Ward-style Claim To Fame is -- let's have some fun with this. Don't be shy -- showcase your robust ancestry!

JENNIFER WILBANKS SHAMEFULLY PARLAYS HER ECCENTRIC BEHAVIOR

I had some sympathy -- apparently misplaced -- for Jennifer Wilbanks when she emerged in Albuquerque, New Mexico, having disappeared from her hometown of Duluth, Georgia, on April 26th, leaving her husband-to-be, in a manner of speaking, standing forlorn at the altar sans wife-to-be. While I didn't abide her cock-n-bull story about being abducted, I felt she had some serious emotional problems to contend with and, after all, she has the right as an adult to venture anywhere she likes in this country, to be capricious, and, alas, rude and inconsiderate, if that is her bent. Such character flaws are not against the law. That a huge search was conducted almost immediately following notification of her disappearance had a lot to do, I think, with the fact that both hers and her fiance's families are prominent in the area and that pressure for action must have weighed heavily on local authorities, who were quick to conclude that something untoward had happened to Jennifer. Then, of course, the media siezed on Wilbanks' disappearance, dubbed it the "Runaway-Bride" story, and the 24/7 cable talking-heads gave it legs with endless "what-if?" analyses and incessant reiteration of the few facts known at the time. Indeed, they beat the "Runaway Bride" story to a pulp, no doubt hoping that a body would be discovered and a gruesome tale of abduction unfold. When she appeared alive to the patent consternation of much of the media, the talking heads savaged her; and, in turn, the Gwinnett County District Attorney, basking center-stage in his newfound glory, demanded his pound of flesh for the costs of the extensive local search and for her guileful tall tale.

But now I read this CNN report that Ms. Wilbanks has inked a deal with ReganMedia for the rights to her story and that of her fiance, John Mason, and I find myself beginning to loathe this woman who felt compelled to cover her head and hide from the glare of worldwide attention, as she made her embarrassing journey home from New Mexico, but now purposefully plans to step unshrouded into the center ring of a full-scale media circus in order to parlay financially her character flaws and disturbing psychological profile. That her ever-loyal, puppy-dog-compliant fiance has now revealed the true underpinnings of his fidelity -- the love of the almighty buck -- makes the entire matter all the more distasteful and repugnant.

I suspect now there will never be a church wedding. They'll probably get hitched on the "Jerry Springer Show" and honeymoon on "Larry King Live." I understand now why Jennifer's eyes are so large and owl-like -- they're in search of fool's gold.

Wednesday, June 15

PARENTS, MORE THAN MICHAEL JACKSON, MUST MODIFY THEIR BEHAVIOR

If Michael Jackson is a pedophile, as I believe him to be, than he will not modify his behavior, as his shameless "spriritual advisor" (and erstwhile self-promoter) Jesse Jackson claims he will. The demons of depravity that live inside Mr. Jackson will continue to drive the pleasure he takes in bedding little boys and in pornography.

What must change are the actions of thoroughly misguided adults -- the parents who willingly turn their children over to the effete pop star and toss their children's fate to the wind. It's incomprehensible that any parent would do so, but then the fawning, star-struck, supremely naive legions who have been complicitous in Michael Jackson's unseemly predilection for playing Peter Pan at Neverland prove that not all parents are deserving of their children or able to conduct themselves responsibly.

In the court of public opinion, Michael Jackson has not been acquitted and nor should the parents be who wittingly played into his hands for the sake of their own ego-gratification and self-aggrandizement, thus putting their children into harm's way.

TERRI SCHIAVO -- HOW CAN "MANNER OF DEATH" BE UNDETERMINED?

Dr. Jon Thogmartin, the Florida medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Terri Schiavo, has pronounced that her manner of death is undetermined. In forensic science, the term "manner of death" describes four categories or scenarios: 1) natural death; 2) accidental death; 3) homicidal death; and, 4) suicidal death.

How convenient a conclusion! How neat and tidy. Categories #1, #2, and #4 are definately as inapplicable, as they are indisputable.

As a practical matter, her husband, Michael Schiavo, with complicity from the courts, and Florida Circuit Court Judge George Greer in particular, secured a court order allowing that his directive be followed by medical doctors and hospice staff where she was being confined: namely, that her feeding tube be removed and she be denied hydration and nutrition, resulting in her death.

Under the rule of law, this court mandated death that went unreversed in the higher courts cannot be adjudged "homicidal death." But that doesn't make it any less an immoral death. Terri Schiavo, according to the autopsy report released today, died from dehydration. She would not have died from dehydration had it not been for the fact that her husband wanted her dead and his attorney, George Felos, was able to secure the complicity of the courts in that death.

The courts made their decisions and so Terri is gone from us. In time, however, Michael Schiavo will be judged by a higher, transcendant law that upholds the sanctity of life -- and by God Himself.

BAPTISM -- THE BIRTH OF A CATHOLIC'S LIFE OF FAITH

So why have I not been blogging? Where have I been since last Thursday?

My wife and I made the trip north to attend the Baptism of our youngest grandson, 6-month old Austin Burgess Higgins.

In the photograph, you see our lovely daughter-in-law Krissy holding our grandson Austin, with our youngest son Joe -- the proud father -- peering over Krissy's shoulder at their firstborn. The priest performing the blessed Sacrament of Baptism is "Father Jack." The godparents looking on are Jennifer and Kevin.

Ironically, the priest's middle name is "Austin," as is the writer's (yes, me -- the happy, proud-as-punch grandfather). My grandson was given my middle name for his first name and my daughter-in-law's father's first name, Burgess, for his middle name.

The Sacrament was performed during a late afternoon Mass on Saturday, June 11th. Along with me and my wife, in attendance for our family were my son James and his son -- the older of our two grandsons -- James Matthew, who will soon turn 6-years old, as well as my wife's mother, Jean. The rest of our family resides on the West Coast and could not attend. Krissy's family, most members of whom live in the Louisville area, was well-represented, among them her mother Hilda and her grandmother Sesselja.

Krissy and Joe hosted a cookout at their home following Mass and the Baptism, and Father Jack was kind enough to join us all to meet family and friends. Father Jack has an engaging personality and was a lot of fun.

For a Catholic, Baptism is the first of three Sacraments of the Church (the other two being Confirmation and Holy Eucharist) that introduce a new member to the Catholic Church and set him or her on the pathway to Christ and a life of faith. It is this blessed Sacrament that removes all vestiges of original sin and infuses the baptized with a spiritual mind and spirit. Thus my grandson Austin can now obtain spiritual salvation and has been received into the Body of Christ.

It was a happy, blessed occasion, and Cathy and I wouldn't conceive of missing it or the time spent with our "Kentucky" family.