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Ticket to blog traffic: Mom?  
Friday, July 25, 2003 8:06:26 PM EDT

I've noticed an unusual surge in traffic to Quit That! over the past couple of days. Checking my logs I discovered that most of the hits were coming from search engines. Curiously, they were all searching for the now infamous photos of "Ouday" and "Qusay" Hussein. I thought that was odd, since I hadn't said much about them other than what every other blogger on the planet did. But then I discovered that most of the search requests were being targeted at my Mom's post from a couple of weeks ago, where she happened to slightly mangle the spelling of their names. Of course, I've seen all kinds of variations of spellings on various blogs and media sites, so who really knows how they're spelled. Apparently however, quite a few people spelled them the same way my Mom did. I'm officially number 5 on Google for photos of the Saddam's demon spawn...and I didn't even have them. Sorry folks if you've been let down (you can try the link above now though)...oh and hey Mom, thanks for the traffic!

Meanwhile, Ravenwood notes that he's Number 2 on Lycos for "Hunting for Bambi"...heh.

Posted by: Marc  

Decisions, Decisions  
Thursday, July 24, 2003 8:00:19 PM EDT

Bigwig finds himself in a quandry as to what brands of beer to take on his upcoming fishing trip with the guys. In fact, there are so many beers and so little time that he's decided to turn the whole decision making process over to his ever-lovin' readers. I think that was a bad choice myself. I have a feeling they'll be drinking PBR the whole damn time! Oh wait, that one wasn't on the first poll, so maybe he's safe after all. At any rate, as usual he exhaustively deliberates over every element of the proper beer and accessory selection ... right down to the finest detail, such as whether or not to buy a rod holder that also includes its' own beer holder. Though I may not be much of an expert on all of the various barley and hops drinking apparatuses out there, on that one component at least, I can offer a professional ABSOLUTELY! In fact, I'd highly recommend my personal favorite. I never leave home for a fishing trip with the guys without it, and I always get invited back!

Posted by: Marc  

Flick a booger at SPAM  
Thursday, July 24, 2003 7:24:55 PM EDT

I hate SPAM, but almost just as bad are the websites that sell my email address to spammers in the first place. I've always kept a yahoo email account just for those websites that require an email address for gaining access to their sites. Of course the account is perpetually full of spam, because they just turn around and sell your address. But now, there is a way to exact revenge on them. Mailinator gives you an easy way to use a bogus email account for a just such a site. Simply pick a name ie. and it handles the rest. You can even go to mailinator's site to retrieve any confirmation emails if necessary. But you don't have to give mailinator any information at all. It's a slick idea and a very much needed service.

Posted by: Marc  

Top 5 men I'd like to sterilize  
Thursday, July 24, 2003 7:14:56 PM EDT

Mr. du Toit has a list of the top 5 men he'd like to kick in da balls and that sounded like pretty good blog fodder to me, so here we go:

1. Michael Moore - then again, I don't even think he HAS any balls. But I'll kick him anyway
2. Robert Fisk - And afterwards, I'm sure he'll just blame himself for it.
3. Robert C. Byrd - Just because I'm tired of him taking all of my tax dollars to West Virginia and having everything in the state named after himself.
4. Saddam Hussein - Just a couple of times...PLEASE? Before you put a bullet between his eyes.
5. Jacques Chirac - If for no other reason than because he's a self serving, sniveling hypocrite.

Posted by: Marc  

Random Linkage  
Wednesday, July 23, 2003 9:44:18 PM EDT

Lost my lunch over at The Ville today.

Charles of Dustbury fame made the heroic journey to Floyd's dwelling in the peaceful Virginia countryside.

Acidman pondered his gender and decided that it's probably all for the best anyway.

Woundwort, at Silflay Hraka made a pretty well educated guess, in my opinion, as to the truth behind the the latest fall guy in the Bush State of the Union fiasco.

Jay's having trouble keeping his perishables cold, not to mention a suitable roof over his head.

Oh, and dammit, Dawn went and invited all the all the other cool Ohio bloggers over to "eat, drink and be merry", but of course failed to invite me. Well, I shouldn't be discouraged I guess, she is the coolest blogger afterall.

Aw I'm all depressed.

Posted by: Marc  

Carnival #44  
Wednesday, July 23, 2003 7:45:21 PM EDT

I'm not sure if my post (directly below this one) wasn't worthy, or if DaGoddess just didn't get my email, because my submission didn't make it. But Joanie's hosting the 44th Carnival of The Vanities and it's still jam packed anyway with hot fresh blog just awaiting your consumption.

Posted by: Marc  

It's The Economy Stupid  
Tuesday, July 22, 2003 7:45:54 PM EDT

"We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed
enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too
much." - Ronald Reagan
It seems lately that liberals everywhere claim that George Bush should be concentrating not on foreign wars or even foreign affairs, but rather the state of our beleaguered economy. The same one that he inherited when he came to office that they will also weakly argue was his fault to begin with. I won't go off on how I feel about his policies on the issue too much here, but rather I would like to point out an irony that seems lost on liberals completely. That is, that their policies are only making it worse.

I'll use California as an example, not because I don't think it's a wonderful state, but because I think that it's decades long heavy handed liberal tactics have created an enormous and real quagmire. Things are apparently so bad, that over a million and a half California citizens have already signed a petition to evict current governor Gray Davis. I don't think the blame rests entirely on his shoulders myself, but he certainly has propagated poor policies that have been accumulating for some time. California has rapidly assumed a posture that looks suspiciously like outright socialism, incessant tax raises, massively increased spending for social programs and horribly mismanaged energy policies have all been contributors to the problem.

What big government liberals tend to forget is that governments don't earn money, they take it. They take it from hard working taxpayers and more importantly from businesses - the same ones that employ the taxpayers in the first place. A thriving business environment is vital to any economy for that reason, but socialist style governing is the surest way to crush business incentive, hell any incentive. And it doesn't take long before a wise businessman figures out that if his competetion is paying less to its' respective government in taxes, workers compensation, health care or various other benefits for its' employees, that he's got no other choice but to move to a more competitive locale. California, being one of the largest democratic strongholds in the country has effectively caused just such an exodus to occur, losing over 289,000 manufacturing jobs alone over the past 2 years. This didn't happen because of anything George Bush did. It happened because California (as well as many other states) got overzealous with spending their windfalls during the boom years of the late 90's and have now found themselves in the unpopular position of having to rein in all those wonderful social programs they've initiated and even raise taxes again, in California's more pressing case, forcing taxpayers to revolt and businesses to bolt.
"Scores of the small businesses that form the backbone of California's economy are moving either jobs or headquarters out of state. Buck Knives is going to Idaho, and Coast Converters, a bagmaking company, to Las Vegas. Taylor-Dunn, a manufacturer of cartlike vehicles for airports, is expanding in Ohio and Missouri. Though Countrywide is growing rapidly, Mozilo is shrinking operations in California and shifting all expansion to low-cost states like Texas. By his estimate, the flood of new legislation will increase Countrywide's cost per worker by $4,000 to $5,000 a year."
Liberals like to point out the huge number of businesses that are moving some of their operations overseas, or neighboring countries, but seem to fail to see that the reason is that it simply costs too much to do (some) business in America anymore. In a free market, this is an unfortunate truth, you simply have to be competitive. Your place of employment should not be forced to pay you a wage and offer benefits which can be purchased at a fraction of what its' worth elsewhere. When you reach that point where the business can no longer compete, that's when the train really comes off the rails and businesses fail, or move, and the jobs are suddenly paying zero. This just crushes everyone - workers, businesses AND government. I feel that California may be becoming precariously close to just such a disaster.

To me, this concept seems so blatantly obvious that I am constantly amazed at the entitlements that some people have come to expect, no less demand. But if politicians want to appease their constituents over the long haul, it's time to take the tough stand on spending cuts, stop cowering to those oft times ridiculous notions, and assume some responsibility. This also means it's time to quit that blame game against the Bush administration for problems they and their constituents have created and get serious about takin' care of business.

It's OUR economy stupid!

UPDATE: More on entitlements - Colby Cosh offers up an enlightening perspective (an exclusive!) on how labor unions often don't help matters either.

Posted by: Marc  

News from Iraq  
Tuesday, July 22, 2003 4:34:19 PM EDT

It has been confirmed that Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay have both been killed near Mosul, Iraq yesterday.

Posted by: Marc  

Midnight Mule ride  
Monday, July 21, 2003 8:00:55 PM EDT

I had a fun day yesterday. The weather was great and I took the Supra out for a spin. Late in the afternoon, I stopped at a friend's house who has a large farm with several horses and mules (including one mule that we own together). He suggested we go for a ride, which sounded about perfect. We saddled up two mules and headed out to the "back 40". It was already starting to get dark however and by the time we got to the woods you couldn't see a thing. The mules of course know the terrain like the back of their hooves and we just set them on autopilot and kicked back for the ride. We ended up racing back, and I could hardly see anything except for a dust cloud in front of me. Yep, I lost. But the mule that beat me also happens to be the fastest mule in 3 states that we know of (he races in Ohio mule races routinely). It's quite an adrenaline rush to gallop along when you can't even see, but that's one thing about mules, they've got a strong sense of self-preservation and won't do anything that might get themselves hurt. I trusted "Kate" to know when to stop and she did. It was a fun ride.

Posted by: Marc  

Blonde moment  
Monday, July 21, 2003 7:29:26 PM EDT

You know, I've heard about people doing this before, but had never seen it. I stopped for gas after work and just as I was beginning to fuel up a young woman and a group of her friends were just finishing up and leaving. As she drove past me I could see that she had left the gas nozzle in her tank. Oops! Thank God for those breakaway hoses the newer stations use these days. It worked like a charm, and no real damage done, but the girl was pretty well humiliated by it nonetheless. She even said she worked in a gas station...And yes, she was blonde.

Posted by: Marc  

Step aside Barney  
Friday, July 18, 2003 8:07:25 PM EDT

Zookeepers in Argentina claim medication caused this Polar bear's unfortunate condition. I, however, have it on good authority that it's really the brainchild of one N.Z. Bear. Evidence indicates that he did this as a practical joke on one of his 'ol college buddies. Good one N.Z.!

Posted by: Marc  

Got Milk?  
Friday, July 18, 2003 7:58:31 PM EDT

You know, whenever I call a "call girl" I ask this question and the answer is always no - until now. No really, that's all I'm interested in. Oh, and I only read Playboy for the articles too.

Posted by: Marc  

Some anti-SUV ammo  
Friday, July 18, 2003 7:27:02 PM EDT

You can be sure California and Massachusetts will be using this and this to justify the new SUV bans they are considering.

Posted by: Marc  

More Puritanism on the Coasts  
Wednesday, July 16, 2003 6:19:34 PM EDT

Ed. Note: We are experiencing technical not adjust your set.

Sorry, about lack of blogging the past couple of days. I was called out of town on Monday on a work related emergency and have had very little time to blog. I did start a post today that I never finished thinking through completely. But it's late, I'm tired and it's all I got at the moment. So I'll just wing it out there in spite of its' lame self.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming...

It seems that SUV owners in California and Massachusetts are the target of initiatives in those states to outlaw SUVs. If this isn't puritanism at its' worst, I don't know what is. You can get a sense of the kind of personalities that think this way by reading some of the responses from people at the end of the above linked article:
"I'm a professional field biologist, and I often have to take lengthy trips into the backcountry of the Appalachian mountains. I drive a certain station wagon that was made popular by a well-known Australian celebrity, and I have found that I can go anywhere that I went in an older American marketed SUV, at about twice the fuel efficiency. There is sufficient room for all of my gear, another person, and my 95 pound Labrador Retriever. Wake up America, and smell the emissions.
Dan Jones, USA"
I suspect that those who are pushing this type of legislation are a lot like good 'ol self-centered Dan here, who for example, doesn't even bother to consider all the families that have purchased an SUV for pulling a camper, or a boat, or a horse trailer etc. which can't exactly be towed around by your average Subaru. Doesn't matter to him though, he obviously doesn't pull a trailer.
I live in Ohio, which is basically devoid of hills, much less mountains. I understand why someone in a mountainous area would have the need for an SUV vehicle. However, the influx of Hummers and other SUVs in Ohio and other areas of flat terrain is wasteful and absurd.
Ryan Snyder, USA
Apparently, Ryan here doesn't get out too much, because the entire southern half of Ohio is very decidedly not flat. But again, he doesn't care anyway, to him it's a matter of being wasteful if you happen to be driving an area without hills, with no regard for the fact that perhaps people bought their SUV for reasons having nothing to do with hills in the first place.
Excepting the small number of drivers who actually make practical use of the space, SUV ownership ranks with speeding and yakking on the cell phone while driving. People know it's wrong, but they do it anyway. I'm impressed with the political courage of those behind the ban.
Tim Adams, USA
Our friend Tim here just thinks it's politically incorrect to drive an SUV and so one should just plain not do it! Now why does that sound so familiar to me?

Yeah, this is the sort of mindset that thinks banning SUVs is a good thing. It's called "it's all about ME!".

Take note pickup truck, ATV, boat owners, it's only one small hop to include your vehicle of choice in legislation like this.

Posted by: Marc  

Woody tells it like it is  
Monday, July 14, 2003 8:18:13 PM EDT

I sent my favorite Blog Dog, Woody, an email last week linking a story I ran across about a pooch that got hit by a car and then checked himself into the hospital. Being the good blogger that he is, Woody offers us an enlightening dog's perspective on it in his post called Braveheartworm. Oh and he also correctly points out that he has been talking about cat fishing for sometime now.

Woody, you're a hoot!

Posted by: Marc  

Don't let the trial lawyers see this  
Friday, July 11, 2003 3:10:24 PM EDT

...or they will most assuredly use it to justify somebody's claim that McDonald's food is addictive and causes people to become hideously obese. These two boys are just 5 years old and you just know that girth was caused by all those Big Macs they couldn't stop eating.

Posted by: Marc  

Eyes on The War  
Thursday, July 10, 2003 8:36:31 PM EDT

There is a fantastic collection of photos from the war at The Washington Post called "Eyes on The War", featuring photos from 12 photojournalists who were assigned to the conflict. Each series of photos includes a voiceover from the photographer that took it on their thoughts while they were there. It's a very moving display. I highly recommend that you check it out.

[via Walker New York: Photo]

Posted by: Marc  

Things that make you say hmmm....  
Thursday, July 10, 2003 06:56:00 AM EDT

Mr. Kim du Toit, known in the blogosphere as the "go to guy" when it comes to firearm knowledge and expertise also happens to be a native African, but has been a US citizen since 1989. In his own words he calls himself "a White African-American with a girl's first name and a French last name". But don't let the name fool ya, he's my kind of American.

While he loves to talk guns, and knows more about them than all of the rest of us bloggers combined will ever know, he also knows a thing or two about the real humanitarian quagmires in Africa. In this post he (politically incorrectly) talks about the fact that although AIDS is a big killer in his homeland, the real problem is Malaria, which in 2000 killed more than 1 million people and "according to Professor Wen Kilama of the African Malaria Vaccine Testing Network in Tanzania, ' is equivalent to crashing seven jumbo jets filled with children every day'." Ironically, we already have a cure for this disease. It's called DDT or Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, a tremendously potent insecticide, long banned in the US.

But DDT is a dirty word to environmentalists, and consequently politicians, around the globe, thanks largely to Rachel Carson's 1962 book "Silent Spring". A book which "eloquently questioned humanity's faith in technological progress and helped set the stage for the environmental movement". The "environmentalist movement" found a truckload of ammunition against the use DDT within its' pages and used it to effectively completely eliminate the use of it, in spite of its' benefits. So, as a result of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we have a problem far more serious than those on the agendas of "humanitarians" everywhere.

I didn't know that. Did you?

Update: 100 things you should know about DDT

Posted by: Marc  

Wednesday, July  9, 2003 8:48:04 PM EDT

It apparently originated in Italy. Now you know why they call them catfish.

(disclaimer: No kittens were harmed during the filming of this blog post)

Posted by: Marc  

Welcome to the Blogosphere  
Tuesday, July  8, 2003 5:15:11 PM EDT

USA Today had an interesting article in the print version of their newspaper ("Life" section) today. Of course, they went to "the go to guy" for an interview, along with several other people who I hadn't heard of before. Not that that surprised me.
Blogs started appearing in the late 1990s, but "in a way, blogs are very old-fashioned," says Glenn Reynolds of Knoxville, Tenn., who hosts InstaPundit, a popular current events and opinion blog. "Blogs are reproducing something people thought for a long time we had lost, the discussion in the public sphere by the ordinary people."
Nice to see blogs getting all this mainstream media attention eh?

Posted by: Marc  

This is tragic  
Tuesday, July  8, 2003 1:53:11 PM EDT

Sadly, the two conjoined Iranian twin sisters, Laleh and Ladan Bijani, have died following an unsuccessful attempt to seperate them in a complicated and risky surgical procedure.

Read the letter they wrote to all of their supporters last week.

Posted by: Marc  

Sports Photographer Wannabe  
Monday, July  7, 2003 9:00:42 PM EDT

Warning: If you aren't into photography, this post may bore you to tears.

A good friend of mine called me the other day to ask if I wouldn't mind bringing my camera gear to photograph his 15 year old son Dan, who was pitching in a city championship baseball tournament yesterday. I've photographed Dan pitching before, when he was much younger and was playing in the little leagues. I took it from our conversation that this game was a pretty big deal in Dan's baseball career, as it was being held at the new Ohio State baseball facility, Bill Davis Stadium. A sweet venue for kids that age to play ball in, trust me.

He thought he'd add some extra incentive by saying that if I took pictures of all of the kids (or as many as I could), that he was sure their parents would buy pictures from me. Something that in this case, really didn't matter for me to make my decision to say "sure".

Typically, I don't shoot too much in the way of sports and to be honest, my digital camera is known to be more at home as a studio camera and not so hot for fast action, unless you focus for yourself, which I had to do all day. My best telephoto lens is also only 200mm, which I thought might be kind of weak for getting "up close and personal" in a stadium of that size, so I equipped it with 1.4x extender. The combination gave me the focal length I needed, but adding the extender slows the camera down (even more) by two F stops, so I was sort of walking a fine line as far as capturing good, crisp action, and I knew it. I was shooting at 750th sec most of the day at F4, which is wide open when using the extender, and even with a monopod, it's too slow for baseball I've discovered. But the great thing about my camera is that it can hold about 750 images on its' 1Gig MicroDrive and the batteries will last through it all, so I had no shortage of shots to practice with. I ended up shooting 345 images and was actually pretty happy overall. Some were flat out unusably soft and others were fantastically sharp, but boring because I had anticipated action that didn't occur when I tripped the shutter (ie. a batter doesn't swing). Still, there were some good sharp action shots too.

The important thing though is that I did get several nice shots of Dan, (as well as several other kids) and really that was all that mattered. Next time though, I'm going to make a few minor adjustments to my gear beforehand.

Click the photo above if you want to see the larger version of it. I've cropped it quite a bit to save bandwidth, but you can see the softness that I'm talking about. Even this one is usable though...Photoshop is an amazing tool for amatuer photographers!

Posted by: Marc  

Happy 4th of July!  
Friday, July  4, 2003 10:49:21 AM EDT

Ok I suck. I know I said I'd have my first photo essay started by yesterday, but to be honest I'm still not happy with my layout, so I it will be somewhat delayed. This weekend perhaps?

In the meantime, I hope everyone out there has a safe and fun-filled 4th of July weekend!

(I shot the photo at Columbus' "Red White and Boom" display a few years ago)

Posted by: Marc  

There Goes The Neighborhood  
Wednesday, July  2, 2003 5:47:33 PM EDT

I am fortunate in that I live only five minutes from my office. Consequently, I tend to eat lunch at home on most days. Today was one of those days and shortly after I came home during my lunch hour, I started hearing sirens going past my house. This was somewhat unusual, especially since there were several sirens, as I live in the country and tend to hear only an occasional police car going by if anything. Today there were at least five in a row that went by and I went out on the front porch to see what all the fuss was about. I could see that they were fire trucks and that they were stopping at a house just two doors down from me!

I couldn't immediately see the fire, but I could see that the firemen were unrolling hoses and hauling them up to the house, which to me meant that there was a fire somewhere. I grabbed my camera and went to the neighbor's house between me and the one that was on fire and took a few pictures. My neighbor told me that she had heard two explosions just prior to the fire starting, which by this point had engulfed most of the house.

Fortunately, the house had long been unoccupied due to damage that it suffered from a previous fire a couple of years ago. Frankly, I always thought it was an eyesore anyway and that the owner should have torn it down long ago.

We can only speculate what caused the explosions, which according to my neighbor were "loud and scary". Even though the house had been condemned, it apparently still had electricity, which seems odd. I'm wondering if it still had gas too?

Oh well, I just hope the owner cleans up what's left of it this time (which isn't much), otherwise it's going to be an even worse eyesore than it was before.

Posted by: Marc  

Back to work  
Tuesday, July  1, 2003 8:00:48 PM EDT

I took a week of vacation from work last week and it ended yesterday. I didn't go to some exotic locale, but instead opted to stay near home and catch up on some things I'd been meaning to for a while. I also forced myself to step away from the computer as much as possible and spend as much time outside as I could, since it was the first really beautiful week we've had so far this year. It only rained once, and that was at night.

One of the things I thought I'd do, which I've been meaning to do ever since I started this blog was to start compiling scans of my rather large and unorganized collection of photographs I've accumulated over the years. That was the original idea behind the currently barren Quit That Photo page. I dove into my collection of slides negatives and prints and realized what a daunting task I was facing. I guess I've known that all along though, which is why I've procrastinated as long as I have. But the time has now come.

I want the photo page to be series of essays rather than just a run of the mill photo gallery. A large proportion of my collection were taken with a specific goal in mind, which will become apparent as the page progresses. But since it will take some time to compile these essays, I thought the best way to do it is as it happens. In other words, rather than make you wait until an individual essay is completed, I'll let you see it as I post it. You know, kind of like a blog. In that respect the idea to do it this way seemed appropriate. Besides, some of them are going to be rather large. Especially my first one, a month long camping vacation I took with my brother during the summer of 1993. Perhaps my most cherished vacation ever. I've got a ton of shots from that trip and some good stories to go along with them.

Thinking about the photo page got me to playing around more with my camera gear during my holiday too. I sort of became reinvigorated to put more effort into my photography hobby, which I've really neglected over the past several months. That's a good thing. In fact, I'm even thinking about taking part in the 26 Things photography scavenger hunt which starts today and lasts until August 1st. I used to enjoy taking the weekly assignments over at Fred Miranda's excellent and very popular photo site. I even managed to make the finalist's cut on a couple of occasions with my photos. Maybe I'll enjoy doing the 26 things project just as much.

At any rate, I'm going to make my '93 vacation photo essay the priority over that, but will still procure new photos over the coming month for the scavenger hunt, starting today. Look for the beginning of it here tomorrow.

Posted by: Marc  

An Email From Mom  
Friday, June 27, 2003 09:40:47 AM EDT

I'm posting this email I got from my Mom today, because I'm actually on vacation number one and as many people have certainly noticed by now, terribly deficient in the blogging department. But my Mom seems to be in a fired up rage against a Catholic Nun! Now that's worthy of a blog post! (Thanks mom!) Here, she tells of a sister's rant against our recent actions in Iraq and her own response to it. Read in its' entirety and you'll understand just one reason why I love my mom.

Mom's email message (body) to me this AM:
Hi Marc,

This is long, but I thought you might appreciate the arguments I posed in response to an article forwarded to me from a friend of Mother and Daddy's (ed note: her parents, my grandparents). The author is a Catholic sister, and the article appeared in the
National Catholic Reporter. My response to her follows. Also including my latest picture!

Here is the article she mentions:
"Is there anything left that matters?
By Joan Chittister,OSB

This is what I don't understand: All of a sudden nothing seems to matter. First, they said they wanted Bin Laden "dead or alive." But they didn't get him. So now they tell us that it doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man.

Then they said they wanted Saddam Hussein, "dead or alive." He's apparently alive but we haven't got him yet, either. However, President Bush told reporters recently, "It doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man."

Finally, they told us that we were invading Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction. Now they say those weapons probably don't exist. Maybe never existed. Apparently that doesn't matter either.

Except that it does matter.

I know we're not supposed to say that. I know it's called "unpatriotic." But it's also called honesty. And dishonesty matters.

It matters that the infrastructure of a foreign nation that couldn't defend itself against us has been destroyed on the grounds that it was a military threat to the world.

It matters that it was destroyed by us under a new doctrine of "pre-emptive war" when there was apparently nothing worth pre-empting.

It surely matters to the families here whose sons went to war to make the world safe from weapons of mass destruction and will never come home.

It matters to families in the United States whose life support programs were ended, whose medical insurance ran out, whose food stamps were cut off, whose day care programs were eliminated so we could spend the money on sending an army to do what did not need to be done.

It matters to the Iraqi girl whose face was burned by a lamp that toppled over as a result of a U.S. bombing run.

It matters to Ali, the Iraqi boy who lost his family and both his arms in a U.S. air attack.

It matters to the people in Baghdad whose water supply is now fetid, whose electricity is gone, whose streets are unsafe, whose 158 government ministries' buildings and all their records have been destroyed, whose cultural heritage and social system has been looted and whose cities teem with anti-American protests.

It matters that the people we say we "liberated" do not feel liberated in the midst of the lawlessness, destruction and wholesale social suffering that so-called liberation created.

It matters to the United Nations whose integrity was impugned, whose authority was denied, whose inspection teams are even now still being overlooked in the process of technical evaluation and disarmament.

It matters to the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world, both now and for decades to come, perhaps.

And surely it matters to the integrity of this nation whether or not its intelligence gathering agencies have any real intelligence or not before we launch a military armada on its say-so.

And it should matter whether or not our government is either incompetent and didn't know what they were doing or were dishonest and refused to say.

The unspoken truth is that either as a people we were misled, or we were lied to, about the real reason for this war. Either we made a huge and unforgivable mistake, an arrogant or ignorant mistake, or we are swaggering around the world like a blind giant, flailing in all directions while the rest of the world watches in horror or in ridicule.

If Bill Clinton's definition of "is" matters, surely this matters. If a president's sex life matters, surely a president's use of global force against some of the weakest people in the world matters. If a president's word in a court of law about a private indiscretion matters, surely a president's word to the community of nations and the security of millions of people matters.

And if not, why not? If not, surely there is something as wrong with us as citizens, as thinkers, as Christians as there must be with some facet of the government. If wars that the public says are wrong yesterday as over 70% of U.S. citizens did before the attack on Iraq suddenly become "right" the minute the first bombs drop, what kind of national morality is that?

Of what are we really capable as a nation if the considered judgment of politicians and people around the world means nothing to us as a people?

What is the depth of the American soul if we can allow destruction to be done in our name and the name of "liberation" and never even demand an accounting of its costs, both personal and public, when it is over?

We like to take comfort in the notion that people make a distinction between our government and ourselves. We like to say that the people of the world love Americans, they simply mistrust our government. But excoriating a distant and anonymous "government" for wreaking rubble on a nation in pretense of good requires very little of either character or intelligence.

What may count most, however, is that we may well be the ones Proverbs warns when it reminds us: "Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks the truth." The point is clear: If the people speak and the king doesn't listen, there is something wrong with the king. If the king acts precipitously and the people say nothing, something is wrong with the people.

It may be time for us to realize that in a country that prides itself on being democratic, we are our government. And the rest of the world is figuring that out very quickly.

From where I stand, that matters."
Mom's perfect response:
"Dear Sister Joan,

Having just read your May 27th article in the National Catholic Reporter titled "Is there anything left that matters?", I feel compelled to respond.

Yes, it does matter! It matters to the women of Afghanistan that they can leave their homes now without fear of being accused of some "horrible" crime and stoned to death in the soccer stadium. That they can, if they choose, forego the "veil" for less restrictive dress. That their little girls can now go to school. That they can get a job for which they were trained before the Taliban took over that country. All this matters, to them.

Ask the Iraqis with relatives whose bodies were unearthed from mass graves if it matters that we Americans were there. Be sure to ask them when those relatives disappeared if they felt sure that Saddam would take good care of their loved ones. If you could, it would be enlightening to ask the young girls that Ouday Hussein kidnapped and tortured, raped for days, and finally killed, if they felt that the U.S. "pre-emptive" strike mattered. If it were possible, it would be interesting to listen to the Kurds who were gassed by Saddam to see if they would condemn the American government's intervention in their country. I seriously doubt it.

Weapons of mass destruction? Yes, it matters that in October of 2002, ALL of the nations of the Security Council of the U.N. agreed that Saddam possessed them. I don't believe that anyone has said that they probably don't exist. We've been in Baghdad less that three months and already the "peace and love" folks are screaming because our search teams haven't found them .yet. These are the same people who wanted to give the U.N. inspectors as long as a year to find them, so maybe, just maybe, that matters too.

Yes, it matters that some of the infrastructure of Iraq was destroyed, and we are working very hard to repair and restore full functionality to the country. And by the way, it has been reported that most of the antiquities that were supposed to have been stolen, were in fact hidden by the museum curators for safekeeping. Most of the Iraqis who are chanting the anti-American slogans are either Saddam loyalists (and yes, I'd be anti-American in that case too!), or are Iranian fomenters of war.

In the 1500's St. Augustine wrote a theory about a "just war". Papal biographer George Weigel summarized St. Augustine's theory this way: "military action is justified as a last resort under certain circumstances: when there is a reasonable chance of success and the good likely to be achieved outweighs the harm that will result if nothing is
done. It also demands civilian immunity and the use of no more force than necessary." It seems to me that pretty much is what our American government's plan of action followed. We spent more than six months trying diplomatic solutions, U.N. resolutions, negotiations, and inspections, so we were down to the last resorts. And WMDs or not, the good that we are doing there likely will far outweigh the harm that was done. Yes, it matters that there were some civilian casualties and injuries, but our military zealously tried to avoid the civilian populations, often at great risks to their own lives.

Yes, it matters that the citizens of this country of ours are being asked to sacrifice. After 9/11, how many U.S. taxpayers would say, "Keep my neighborhood safe, but don't expect me to pay for it!"? In the dark and immoral world of terrorism, pre-emption and strength are the only qualities that will keep us safe from harm. There is a price to pay for that, and it matters to most Americans. When you attack Americans on American soil you can darn well expect there will be retribution. And we'll pay for it.

Yes, it matters that most of the "new European" countries are now our allies and agree 100% with our policy of pre-emption. They know what dictatorships and repression can do to a people. And no, it DOES NOT matter that our "reputation" is on the rocks with the French, who are an ungrateful nation where 56,000 of our liberating U.S. forces are buried. And we should care what they think? I think not!

Unlike the previous administration, this president tells it like it is, and the majority of American people trust him. Believe it or not, it does matter when you lie to a grand jury, regardless that it's a question about "private indiscretions". To me, it matters that Bill Clinton sold classified information to China for campaign contributions. It matters that he schmoozed North Korea and thought they would not engage in nuclear proliferation because he was so charming and asked them not to. Looks like they laughed all the way to the reactor! It matters that he launched a pre-emptive strike against an Iraqi aspirin factory to deflect attention away from his "Monica problem". It matters that he gave last-minute presidential pardons to convicted drug dealers, thieves and fugitives. It matters that he and his wife took gifts intended for the White House when they left, and trashed the image of the office of the president in the eight years they were in the White House. It mattered.

And lastly, it matters that never before in the history of the world, has a country with the awesome power and might of the United States of America been used for so much good in the world. We are a nation of compassionate people, and we care about our neighbors, both those who live next door, and those who live across the seas. We open our hearts and our wallets to help someone in need. We donate food for famine-stricken people, and send relief workers to help with victims of floods and earthquakes. We send our young people to Third World countries to teach other people's children how to read and write. We adopt the orphans of war from foreign lands.

And it still matters that we believe in God. This country was founded by men who prayed to and believed in a Power greater than themselves. And, I'm pretty sure if you could ask them if they believed, like St. Augustine, in a "just war", they would answer YES! Because it matters for the survival of a civilized world.


Jackie (Ed note: proud Marc's Mother)
Columbus, OH"

Posted by: Marc's Mom  

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