6/30/08

Wanted by the police

Two men wanted by La Junta police

On Friday, June 19, officers from the La Junta Police Department responded to a fight in progress on Twelfth Street and Bradish Avenue. As a result of this fight Martin Torrez, 18, was cut in the face with a bottle, said Sergeant Richard Romero.

Police are looking for two suspects in the case. Raymond Hernandez, 24, is wanted for second degree assault and Monze Alvidres, 27, is wanted for felony menacing.

If anyone has information on the whereabouts of these men, contact the La Junta Police Department at (719) 384-2525



Monze Alvidres




Raymond Hernandez

6/27/08

Democrats and oil

From Red Planet:

Postal Crazy

An excerpt:

Engineers recently perfected refining solid shale rock into diesel or gas, which may amount to the largest oil supply in the world – perhaps as much as 1.8 trillion barrels in the American West. That’s enough to meet current U.S. oil demand for more than two centuries. Yet as late as 2007, Democrats attached a rider to the energy bill that prohibits leasing the federal interior lands that contain at least 80% of America’s oil shale. The key vote was cast by liberal Senator Ken Salazar from Colorado, of all places.

"...woman’s incapacity to coolly assess a situation..."

Or...how about a little whine with that cheese?

Barbara Goldsmith posts an interesting article here:

Whining Female Democrats

about...whining female Democrats.

6/26/08

Dobson vs Obama: The Christian Right's irresponsible behavior

From the God's Politics Blog

Dobson and Obama: Who is Deliberately Distorting?

by Jim Wallis

Some excerpts:

"James Dobson, of Focus on the Family Action, and his senior vice president of government and public policy, Tom Minnery, used their "Focus on the Family" radio show Tuesday to criticize Barack Obama's understanding of Christian faith. In the show, they describe Obama as "deliberately distorting the Bible," "dragging biblical understanding through the gutter," "willfully trying to confuse people," and having a "fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

The clear purpose of the show was to attack Barack Obama. On the show, Dobson says of himself, "I'm not a reverend. I'm not a minister. I'm not a theologian. I'm not an evangelist. I'm a psychologist. I have a Ph.D. in child development." Child psychologists don't insert themselves into partisan politics in the regular way that James Dobson does and has over many years as one of the premier leaders of the Religious Right."

"James Dobson is insinuating himself into this presidential campaign, and his attacks against his fellow Christian, Barack Obama, should be seriously scrutinized. And because the basis for his attack on Obama is the speech the Illinois senator gave at our Sojourners/Call to Renewal event in 2006 (for the record, we also had Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republicans Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback speak that year), I have decided to respond to Dobson's attacks. In most every case they are themselves clear distortions of what Obama said in that speech. I was there for the speech; Dobson was not."

It's a good editorial. I don't particularly care for Obama but I care even less for the brainless attacks being made on him by the Christian Right. I suppose that means I like the Christian Right even less than I like Obama. Yes. That's a fair assessment. In today's mail bag, we had a letter from Focus on the Family. Plastered on the front of the envelope: "Judicial Tyranny and California Lunacy", in which Dobson shares his 'views' with us. So we sent FoF a letter telling them to get us off their mailing list. Enough is enough.

There is another good article about the Christian Right and its Ann Coulter-ish rhetoric here:

A call for Evangelical rhetorical accountability

by Brian McClaren, in which McClaren discusses what might easily be considered "The Seven Deadly Sins of Religious Rhetoric". Dobson would do well to read McClaren's article.

Where is Sean Penn? Where are the Dixie Chix?

Where are all the Hollywood celebrities holding telethons asking for help in restoring Iowa and helping the folks affected by the floods?

Where are all the media asking the tough questions about why the federal government hasn't solved the problem and where the FEMA trucks (and trailers) are?

Why isn't the Federal Government relocating Iowa people to free hotels in Chicago?

When will Spike Lee say that the Federal Government blew up the levees that failed in Des Moines?

Where are Sean Penn and the Dixie Chicks?

Where are all the looters stealing high-end tennis shoes and big screen television set?

When will we hear Governor Chet Culver say that he wants to rebuild a 'vanilla' Iowa, because that's the way God wants it?

Where is the hysterical 24/7 media coverage complete with reports of cannibalism?

Why aren't the people declaring that George Bush hates white, rural people?

How come in 2 weeks, you will never hear about the Iowa flooding ever again?

Piñon Canyon Cattlemens' Power Plant

We had moved our discussion about Piñon Canyon Uranium Futures LLC to The Holy Land's Quickee's. It was much cooler and there were fewer mosquitoes, though we couldn't watch the swallows wheeling about, nor could we enjoy the bucolic view. On the other hand, the mouth-watering odor of frying burgers and onions was almost overwhelming. Tookie was almost literally drooling. Tookie is not a vegetarian. She is a Republican.

"They could call the nuclear power plant down on the Purgatoire the 'Piñon Canyon Cattlemens' Power Plant'," she said, already thinking deeply.

DinkyDau Billy was setting up his laptop. There was an unsecured wireless connection nearby, because he was always able to get an Internet connection in Quickee's. "They's awready a power plant down there," he revealed, "I gots some pals who got a aerial shot of it. Gimme a minnit and I'll show you."

We were dumbfounded.

"Billy! We're dumbfounded!" we chorused.

"Ain't that the truth," he agreed, "but gimmee a minnit. The yourainyum contamination prolly comes from that ree-ackter."

"So why is McKinley making such a stink over it?" Tookie asked, "wouldn't that kind of blow the lid off The Secret?"

"He don't know about it. You an me and the rest a the voters ain't the only unwitting tools around here."

"Wow!" We continued to be dumbfounded.

"Way I hear it," Billy shared, "is that the PCCPP is in cahoots with summa them ARPA people, maybe from down in Raton, and that's why summa them is feets-draggin', you see," Billy went on, sharing his latest conspiracy theory. We really didn't see, but perhaps, being unwitting tools, we were blind. A bit of "Amazing Grace" flitted through my mind, along with quite a lot of other mental flotsam.

Tookie, however, was clearly on board. "What they oughta be thinking about," she told us, "is slipping that light colonel up at Fort Carson a few shares of PCCPP under the table with the understanding that he will pull some strings to kill the expansion."

"That might be difficult," Billy disagreed, "ain't he a West Pointer? I ain't sure. But them West Pointers gots some strange ideas. Sumthin about 'duty, honor, country'. So if yer gonna bribe him, make it a good one. That 'duty, honor, country' stuff usually carries a pretty high price. Wait. Here's the pitcher."

And here it is:



We were dumbfounded. All this was going on right under our noses, and even Wes McKinley didn't know about it.

"Lookit," Billy pointed out, "you can see how they pull water in from the Purgatoire, cool the reactor, then put it back into the river. Ain't that great? They use the river water to cool the newcleer reactor, then use the water for irrigation. Multiple uses of a nacherul resource. Them ranchers is nacherul stewards a our nacherul resources. I feel pretty good about this."

"What about all those cattle and sheep that were down there?" Tookie asked.

"Oh, they gots them as nacherul lawn mowers around the containment building and other areas on the grounds,"Billy explained, "you see, they eat all the weeds and keep the fire danger non-existent."

"So it's unlikely that there would be a range fire down there?" Toot Sweet wanted to know.

"Impossible. Wes McKinley and his sidekick Sal Pace said so," Billy emphasized.

"How did your pals get this picture?" Leece queried.

"Easy. They rented a helicopter up in Colerader Springs, painted it black with some waterpaints so they could wash it off quick, and flew down there. They fit right in. It helped that the pilot dressed up in a alien Halloween costume. Nobody even looked twice at 'em."

"I gotta ask," I said. "What's 'PCCPP'?"

"Oh. That's 'Piñon Canyon Cattlemens' Power Plant', a course," Billy revealed. Billy was in one of his Revelation moods today.

Our Juan Diego burgers were ready. The way things were going, mine would have an image of the Virgin Mary baked into the bun. What the hey. I could always auction it off on eBay.

Related posts:

Wes McKinley, champion of the people!

U Who?

Pinon Canyon Uranium Futures


Pinon Canyon Uranium Futures, LLC

We were sitting on the bridge rail just north of The Holy Land. We were contemplating the flow of the river, much as more learned philosophers contemplate the Flow of Life. We were also nibbling Mississippi Muds.

"Hey. Hey. Didja see the one comment by that guy in the Pebbler Chieftain?" asked DinkyDau Billy, "the guy who went on about the new nacherul resource down in Pinon Canyon?"

"Oh yeah," said Tookie, "the guy who thinks that if the uranium is a man-made contaminant, we owe Wes McKinley a debt of gratitude, while if its natural, we still owe him a debt of gratitude for finding this new resource that can be exploited."

"Yes," noted Leece, "I guess they can set up a uranium mine down on the Pinon Canyon ranchlands, and the ranchers can benefit from that."

"Interesting, isn't it?" I observed, "how on the one hand the Army is going to destroy all those archeological and natural treasures, but 'exploiting' the uranium won't?"

"I think they should set up a newcleer power plant down there, right next to the Pinon Canyon Yoorainyum Mine," declared Billy, "and the ranchers can become Real Heroes by helping to relieve the fuel crunch."

We sat there thinking of those big cooling towers and pond down along the Purgatoire River, with strip miners cleaning up on the natural uranium deposits, and ranchers laughing all the way to the bank.

"I think that's called 'having your cake and eating it too'," shared Tookie.

"It makes as much sense as anything else that's coming out of that outfit these days," Billy said.

The Mississippi Muds were very good.

6/24/08

More of this evening's weather: Cheraw

Photo by Ark Valley Independent


Photo by Ark Valley Independent


Photo by Ark Valley Independent

Weather in The Holy Land

From this afternoon's storm:


Photo by Andrew Gossman


Photo by Andrew Gossman

Photo by Andrew Gossman

Rotation? Looking almost straight up from 3rd and Reynolds (right next to the tornado siren):

Photo by Andrew Gossman


Photo by Andrew Gossman

Photo by Andrew Gossman

Playing the race card...

This weekend's races out at the Industrial Park:






The racers and crews were friendly. Motels and restaurants in town seemed to benefit from the races this past weekend.

Promises, promises...



6/23/08

Endorsements

Well, Fidel Castro endorsed BarryO, as did Quadaffi. Now the demonstrably sociopathic...or would he be psychopathic...leader of North Korea has endorsed Barack Obama. From One Free Korea, a translation from the Chosun Sinbo:

"The Chosun Sinbo, the mouthpiece of North Korea’s Japanese front organization Chongryon and often for the North Korean regime itself, has announced its preference for Obama over McCain, whom it calls “a variant of Bush” and “nothing better than a scarecrow of neoconservatives,” which is a bit odd considering that the Bush Administration’s giveaway diplomacy is better for Kim Jong Il than even Clinton’s awful performance."

The quote:

" We will see a better relationship between the U.S. and the Korean Peninsula with Obama, who sternly criticizes Bush and who would meet the leader of Chosun without pre-conditions, than with the “Bush clone” and scarecrow of the neocons McCain."

Obama gets another unwanted endorsement

Witless tool of the establishment

It is interesting to me how the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition can use rumor and innuendo to try to make their point. It's interesting to me how our elected representative, Wes McKinley, can use rumor and innuendo to make his point.

But what is really interesting is how they all go on about the Constitution, and property rights, and individualism, and whatever other attributes they have assigned themselves...yet they resort to the same shoddy tactics as they accuse the Army of using.

To top it off, it's quite clear that they are relying upon the electorate to remain ignorant, and to react to emotion rather than informed awareness.

It is possible to be an unwitting tool to be used to achieve political agendas. But an electorate that makes no effort to inform itself, and simply goes along with whatever emotional pukery is pushed out by special interest groups and vote-pandering politicians is not an 'unwitting tool'. It's a 'witless tool'. That's far worse.

6/22/08

U Who?

Tookie was sitting at The Holy Land Quickee's with DinkyDau Billy as we rode up. She was enjoying a Mississippi Mud. Billy was slurping a diet Dr. Pepper. It was hot. Africa hot. And humid. We were soaked. It had been a good ride, however.

We got ourselves a couple of cold ones and plunked our butts down next to Toot Sweet and Billy.

"Hey. Hey. Wutcha think a Brother Wes tootin' his horn over the uranyum thing down in Pinon Canyon?" Billy asked.

"Not much at all," I responded, "for one thing, he made the rather stupid statement that the Army was keeping additional firefighters out of Pinon Canyon because of uranium contamination. He has presented nothing to support that allegation. He has presented nothing to substantiate any claims or supposition that there is a hazardous level of uranium down there, much less that the Army has created it. Yet he panders to the hysteria and general paranoia over the Army and Pinon Canyon. It's an election year. Being a Champion of the People has to be a vote-getter no matter the reality of the champion-ship."

"His lab report doesn't support any claims of hazardous levels down there," Toot Sweet added, "and there are at least three naturally-occuring isotopes of uranium, plus several more that are man-made by irradiating other materials. His report doesn't tell us diddly squat about what they found, other than some level of 'uranium'. "

"And his methodology was highly questionable," chimed in Leece,"since he and those who were with him at the time have a real stake in the Pinon Canyon outcome, either politically or realty, he is hardly unbiased."

"You mean 'reality'?" I asked.

"Nope. If you are going to eavesdrop, then listen. I said 'realty'," she kicked back.

"It's real interesting that they got those samples last year, and waited a while before having them analyzed," Tookie observed, "and then sat on the results for six months or so before releasing them. I have to wonder about salted sampling grounds."

"You mean planted 'specimens'? I asked.

"Yep."

"Huh. The one that gets me is how they waited the six months, then sprang it on everyone in a strategically timely manner in an election year. How can they go on about 'health hazard' and 'environmental hazard' and express concerns about health and welfare of the public, of the constituency, of the Army troops, having sat on the report for six months?" I mused.

"Hypocrisy, pure and simple. They whine about the Army being less than truthful, about the Army being less than forthcoming, and then they pull the same kind of crap themselves," Tookie commented, taking a nibble of her ice cream.

"They think we's all stoopid. The ranchers think we townies is stoopid, and Wes McKinley apparently thinks everyone is stoopid," said Billy, "that's downright insulting."

"You gonna vote fer the guy?"

"When pigs fly," I said, "not after this nonsense."

Wes McKinley, champion of the people!

Pinon Canyon Uranium Futures

Pinon Canyon Cattlemen's Power Plant

6/20/08

Tomato-gate

Or, "Lou Dobbs has lost his mind - again".

Lou Dobbs, another Champion of the People, wants to impeach George Bush over the salmonella outbreak.

“You know, I have heard a lot of reasons over the years as to why George W. Bush should be impeached,” Dobbs said. “For them to leave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in this state, its leadership in this sorry condition and to have no capacity apparently or will to protect the American consumer – that is alone to me sufficient reason to impeach a president who has made this agency possible and has ripped its guts out in its ability to protect the American consumer.”

What a whackjob.

Wes McKinley: Champion of the People, or Panderer for Votes?

Wes McKinley has certainly put himself into the news lately, ever since the Bridger Fire got to be A Big Deal.

He's been going on about how the Army has not 'managed' the land properly. How it was all weeded up, all that tinder. About the damage done to the property down there, by the fire. McKinley's mantra seems to point toward duplicity and mismanagement and incompetence on the part of the Army. Huh.

OK. But if he is going to take that position, what about the ranchers and farmers of southeastern Colorado, who continue to ignore high winds, and red flag warnings, still setting fires? How many grass and range fires have our firefighters responded to that were the result of set fires?

Has the Army killed any firefighters because of fires down there on Pinon Canyon?

Where is the outrage, where is McKinley's outrage, over the Ordway fire? Or is the Ordway fire OK, because it was set by a Son of the Soil rather than The Evil Army?

And then there is the 'uranium contamination'.

McKinley did his so-called 'sampling' last year. He had the results last November. If this 'uranium contamination' is such a big deal, such a threat to the health and welfare of his constituents, why did he wait until now to release it?

It wouldn't have anything to do with the upcoming election, would it?

McKinley cites rumors of radioactive waste dumping from Rocky Flats, decades ago. He has no proof of it, but he has no compunctions over working the rumors. Such rumors are easy to believe, about a government that back in the fifties used soldiers as human guinea pigs during the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in Nevada. It's easy to believe those rumors, given the government that managed to contaminate most of southern Utah with fallout from the Nevada testing.It's easy to believe those rumors, after all the government's lies and denials about Agent Orange. After the lies and deceit about Rocky Flats. But McKinley is our elected representative. I don't want rumors from him, nor do I want election year posturing and pandering from him. I want the truth from him. I want responsible behavior from him. I want it from someone in our government. Otherwise, there is no difference between our elected officials and the spokespersons pimping for the Army.

From the Pueblo Chieftain, today:

"Officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said that McKinley's samples did not indicate a dangerous level of uranium on the ground. They said natural outcroppings of uranium and uranium dust can have much higher concentrations than McKinley's samples.

"Uranium ore has a concentration of about 50,000 parts per million, so soil contamination of about 60 parts per million is not really a health concern when it comes to exposure," said Steve Tarlton, who heads the radiation management unit of the health department. "The only real health risk at that level would be if people were inhaling it over a period of time."

State officials said they did not have the authority to investigate contamination at Pinon Canyon and that it would be up to the Defense Department or the federal Environmental Protection Agency to do so.

McKinley said he gathered the samples a year ago but did not inform Fort Carson officials of the results until the press conference this week. Efforts to get the state health department or the EPA interested in investigating also failed, he said."

Is the Colorado Department of Public Health in cahoots with the Army? McKinley talks about 'efforts to get the state health department...interested in investigating also failed." Failed. Strong word, that. In the context of his statement, it indicates disinterest. Indifference. Possibly incompetence. Yet, 'natural outcroppings of uranium and uranium dust can have much higher concentrations than McKinley's." McKinley presents rumor of Rocky Flats dumping, totally unsubstantiated, and then blows up his lab findings as significant despite counterstatements from the Department of Health.

You can find the report here:

http://www.rmpjc.org/

Attachments and click on the labreport.pdf link.

Notice how RMPJC talks about 'uranium and other radioactive contaminants".

What kind of uranium? What isotope? Natural, or man-made? Isotopes of uranium used in weapons or fuel production? What 'other radioactive contaminants'? The lab report only addresses uranium, a naturally-occurring element. It neither addresses nor mentions any other 'radioactive contaminants'. Have they found any isotopes or 'contaminants' associated with nuclear weapons? Nuclear fuels?

The Army and the government obviously think we are stupid sheep.

Does that go for McKinley and RMPJC as well? Does it go for the opponents of the Pinon Canyon expansion? Or are they willing to feed us some of that copious supply of bovine intestinal excrement they have down there on their rangelands? It's kind of like how all of a sudden the Army was going to deprive the public of access to all those archaeological and natural treasures down there...as if the ranchers ever allowed access.

So far, McKinley seems to be posturing and pandering. Perhaps time will prove otherwise, but I don't think so.


U Who?

Pinon Canyon Uranium Futures

Pinon Canyon Cattlemen's Power Plant

Floods: U.S. 'deserves this type of response'

Sounds kind of negative, doesn't it? I can picture some Islamic whackjob shrieking into a microphone in front of a crowd of Islamic fundies, going on about how The Great Satan is getting its just deserts, and the crowd going completely nuts (not a difficult task) and burning US flags.

Au contraire, mes amis!

Check this:

Tad Skylar Agoglia and his First Response Team


Helping Heroes Be Heroes

The Academic Jihad

There is a good editorial over on Red Planet about this. Here are some excerpts:

"With fatal terrorist attacks on the decline worldwide and al Qaeda apparently in disarray, it would seem a time for optimism in the global war on terrorism. But the war has simply shifted to a different arena. Islamists, or those who believe that Islam is a political and religious system that must dominate all others, are focusing less on the military and more on the ideological. It turns out that Western liberal democracies can be subverted without firing a shot.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the educational realm. Islamists have taken what’s come to be known as the “soft jihad” into America’s classrooms and children in K-12 are the first casualties. Whether it is textbooks, curriculum, classroom exercises, film screenings, speakers or teacher training, public education in America is under assault…"

and one of several examples given:

"As reported by the Cabinet Press, a school project last year at Amherst Middle School transformed “the quaint colonial town of Amherst, N.H., into a Saudi Arabian Bedouin tent community.” Male and female students were segregated, with the girls hosting “hijab and veil stations” and handing out the oppressive head-to-toe black garment known as the abaya to female guests. Meanwhile, the boys hosted food and Arabic dancing stations because, as explained in the article, “the traditions of Saudi Arabia at this time prevent women from participating in these public roles.” An “Islamic religion station” offered up a prayer rug, verses from the Quran, prayer items and a compass pointed towards Mecca. The fact that female subjugation was presented as a benign cultural practice and Islamic religious rituals were promoted with public funds is cause for concern."

We already know that a good many politicians will bend over backwards to smooch the butts of the Islamists, in the name of 'cultural diversity' and 'tolerance'. We already know that Islamists are among the most intolerant and violent and oppressive people that live on the planet. Just Google the text string "muslim riots" if you don't think so. So why are public school systems exhibiting such pathetic bowing and scraping behaviors?

The Academic Jihad

6/19/08

Colorado Rural Development Council Hosting Entrepreneurship Event

Contact: Julie Worley, jworley ci.rocky-ford.co.us, Phone: (719) 254-7414
Michelle Alcott, malcott@ruralcolorado.org, Phone: (303) 934-9117
John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1010


La Junta – The Colorado Rural Development Council (CRDC) is collaborating with the Center for Rural Affairs to host the first ever "Colorado Entrepreneurship MarketPlace". This exciting event will be held on October 10, 2008 on the campus of Otero Junior College in La Junta Colorado. MarketPlace will stimulate small business development and rural community growth throughout rural Colorado.

"I have long been convinced that the most significant way that CRDC can help to create jobs and improve the economic viability and prosperity for rural Colorado is through entrepreneurial development. The Colorado Entrepreneurship MarketPlace is the right tool and at the right time," commented Clarke Becker, President/CEO of Colorado Rural Development Council.

According to Becker, small business development drives job growth and economic development in rural areas. The MarketPlace event will offer training, networking, and professional development opportunities for startup and existing small businesses, service providers, rural communities, and family farmers and ranchers.

High-profile entrepreneurs who started small and have successfully grown their businesses will be featured keynote speakers.

Colorado Entrepreneurship MarketPlace is modeled after two similar events held annually; North Dakota's "MarketPlace for Entrepreneurs" and Nebraska's "MarketPlace: Opening Doors to Success".

MarketPlace will feature up to 40 booths filled with successful small business men and women, service providers, and other conference sponsors. Attendees will be able to meet with these folks throughout the day to ask questions, gather information, and make connections.

Professional development will be enhanced through a series of teaching tracks – 35 training opportunities including topics on financing, marketing, community capacity, agriculture, business development, technology and policy/trends. Experts in many fields – attorneys, CPA's, web designers, etc. – will be available throughout the day to answer participant questions.

Building a strong rural America requires more than a strong business sector, that's why MarketPlace will also focus on Entrepreneurial Communities – what they are, why they are important, and how to become one. Being an entrepreneurial community is an important component in successful small business development, yet the capacity to be successful is often lacking.

Agriculture is another critical component for rural health and vitality. Ag entrepreneurship is on the rise, and examined will be some of the best opportunities for family farms and ranches to be profitable.

Vendors will have a unique opportunity to showcase their products at the Marketplace store "Colorado Corners". The store is designed to be a showcase of Colorado products from all over the state.

Exhibiting at the MarketPlace is an excellent decision to reach a professional audience seeking opportunities to grow their businesses. The exhibit hall at the Marketplace will be filled with vendors and entrepreneurs. Booths are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis. Exhibit space is limited; therefore, early reservation is important.

For further information on available booth space and rental fees or submitting your product to be sold in the Marketplace store, contact: Julie Worley, Event Coordinator, jworley@ci.rocky-ford.co.us, (719) 254-7414. Or visit, www.ruralcolorado.org

You can find more information on La Junta, including area accommodations and maps, by contacting the La Junta Chamber of Commerce at 719-384-7411.

CRDC is a private, nonprofit organization committed to influencing positive economic change in rural Colorado. For more information, please visit the CRDC website Colorado Rural Development Council.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

Jesus loves you, and even Bart Campolo

Here is one of those Greybloke videos:

Jesus loves you

I got it from Bart Campolo's blog, which may be found here:

Bart Campolo.

For those not familar with him:

Bart Campolo is a veteran urban minister and activist who speaks, writes, and blogs (www.bartcampolo.com) about grace, faith, loving relationships, and social justice. Bart is the leader of The Walnut Hills Fellowship (www.thewalnuthillsfellowship.org) in inner-city Cincinnati. He is also founder of Mission Year (www.missionyear.org), which recruits committed young adults to live and work among the poor in inner-city neighborhoods across the U.S., and executive director of EAPE, which develops and supports innovative, cost-effective mission projects around the world.

"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your drives straight..."

The "Fairways to Heaven" Golfer's Bible is out:

Fairways to Heaven

complete with a bonus Evangaballs offer.

Lest you think this is just puerile satire, check:

Gospel Golfballs.

Holly loo ya.

Moses and the Burning Bush

6/18/08

Juan Diego

So who is "Juan Diego"?

Well, locally, he is famous as the namesake for the Quickee's grills throughough the lower Valley. Juan Diego's grill undoubtedly has "the best burgers in town". In the case of The Holy Land, they are the only burgers in town, but that's another story.

Juan Diego burgers are not frozen patties, protein hocky pucks that clatter when they hit the grill. No, they are freshly made, thick, juicy, and slathered with real mayo and other choice condiments.

The other Juan Diego, is this guy:

Juan Diego

Is the Quickee's Juan Diego named after this guy? If so, is it likely that we will see visions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, especially in The Holy Land Quickee's?

Only time will tell...

6/16/08

Updated services and info pamphlet

Jan Schooley has prepared an updated version of the City Services and Information pamphlet.

You can view it or download it here:

City of La Junta

The download link is right next to the city seal.

Lest we forget: Robert Stetham

One of the early casualties in the War on Terrorism:

June 16, 1985 - Steelworker 2nd Class Robert D. Stethem of Underwater Construction Team 1 was killed by militant Shi'ite hijackers of TWA Flight 847. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism. In 1995 USS Stetham, an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer, was commissioned by the US Navy.

TWA Flight 847

SW2 Robert Stetham, USN

Note that Hezbollah was behind the highjacking and subsequent murder of Robert Stethem. Hezbollah. Not Al Quaeda. They are all part of the same Islamic fundamentalist infection. You cannot separate them.

BarryO and the Internet

DinkyDau Billy was sitting at his favorite table in The Holy Land Quickee's, snuffling a Juan Diego burger as we sat down with him.

"Hey! Hey!" he hollered, mouth full of juicy grilled animal flesh. Leece looked a bit queasy at the display. So did I. Billy apparently picked up on it, for he looked sheepish and swallowed, and said, "Scuse me, I was just glad to see youse gice."

How can you hold bad table manners against a guy who tells you that?

"Hey! Hey!" he went on, "looks like Barry is kickin' Big John's butt when it comes to usin' the Innernet."

"That's true," agreed Leece, "he is. The Repubs are so far behind the power curve on this one they'll never catch up."

"It's a good example of the 'oldness' of the thinking of the Repubs," I added, "they just don't understand the power of the 'net, or of social networking tools available on the 'net."

"It's kind of like when television first became a political tool, way back in the fifties," said Leece.

"And, the self-styled 'conservatives', if not the actual Republican party, are wasting a whole lot of time and energy by sending out all those stupid forwards. You know, the ones about Obama is a Muslim; Obama won't say the pledge of allegiance, all of that. The only ones who care about that or who buy into it are other 'conservatives' afflicted with the same ossified thought processes. I don't see them as any kind of threat to Obama in particular or the Democrats in general," I shared.

"Yes, but it makes them feel good. It accomplishes nothing useful, but it gives them a 'So there!' jolt," Billy said.

Our Juan Diegos were ready, so I fetched them while Leece got us a couple of fountain drinks. We sat down to snuffle with Billy, and ponder the ignorance of so much of the so-called 'leadership' of the country.

BarryO and Che Guevara

The Obama campaign has come up with a new poster of Barack "BarryO" Obama. It's a dramatic production, well done, with overtones of those leftist propaganda posters of yore.

Che Guevara was Castro's henchman, an Argentine import into the Cuban Workers' Paradise. He was a medical doctor. While Rebels Without a Clue world-wide have popularized him and made him into a kind of hero, others who experienced his bloodlust hold a different view.

Here is but one of many websites that deal with Guevara:

Murdered by Che

"Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!"

"Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become..."

- Che Guevara

What does this have to do with BarryO? I'm not entirely sure. But the similarity of style to the posterizations of the old Korda photo of Che really seems to stand out. And then we have the Che posters and flags up in the Obama campaign offices in Houston:

BarryO and Che Gueverra

No, I don't think BarryO or his campaign workers are going to run amok and start whacking people. But the characterization of a murdering psychopath like Che Guevara as a hero by the useful idiots of the Obama campaign leaves me feeling rather cool toward The New Messiah.



"To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary...These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the The Wall! (El Paredón)" --Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

So much for Constitutional values. Does the Obama campaign really believe that Guevara is a Man of the People? Does BarryO really endorse such thinking? Is this what the Democratic party believes these days? Do they really think the Constitution and Rule of Law is an 'archaic bourgeois detail'? If not, then why do they display Guevara's image at Obama campaign sites?

Here is the Obama Poster:

"Change" by Shepard Fairey

This poster is by Shepard Fairey. It really is quite well done. It has been sold out. You can see the similarities between the posterized Korda image and the Fairey poster.

Fairey also founded the Obey Giant website. At first glance Fairey's political bent is attractive. I like much of what he 'says' with his artwork, but on closer inspection, he goes way too far to the left for me.

6/15/08

Today's photo bag

From down by Timpas:





6/13/08

The Westboro Baptists

We've all heard of the two girls who were shot and killed as they walked along the road near their Oklahoma home.

The Westboro Baptist church announced that they would protest the funerals of the girls, citing 'the sins of Oklahoma' as reason.

"Amid speculation that a Kansas church planned to protest the funerals of two girls killed in Okfuskee County, police in a small Oklahoma town set up barricades and warned mourners.

However, protestors from the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church were not present for the funeral of Taylor Dawn Paschal-Placker, 13, which was held Friday morning at the Dewar First Baptist Church in Dewar, a small community east of Henryetta in Okmulgee County. The church had disseminated faxes threatening to protest the girls' funerals for "the sins of Oklahoma," according to a news report on the Web site for Oklahoma City radio station KOKC."


The Westboro Baptist church, good Christian men and women all, has a website:

God hates fags

On their website, among other things:

"Thank God for the deaths of 4 Boy Scouts at the hands of an Angry God". That's in reference to the Scouts who were killed during the tornado in Iowa.

Westboro Baptist Church. Christian fundamentalism at its worst.

A matter of perspective

So this morning over at Loaf and Jug, a couple of local stalwarts were going on about how the Army is a bunch of thugs, thieves, scumsuckers, and generally not very nice people. The reason for this tirade? "They are letting Pinon Canyon burn! They should be horsewhipped!"

It's interesting, isn't it? Local sentiment, at least some of it, seems to be that 'the Army' should be drawn and quartered for the fire down in Pinon Canyon.

Has anyone been killed down there? Has anyone lost a home?

Yet in the aftermath of the Ordway fire, we aren't hearing a whole lot about the decision not to prosecute the buffoon who a) disregarded fire warnings, b) started a fire despite the winds, c) failed utterly to put the fire out when he d) left it unattended.

All of that spells 'negligence'. Negligence that caused the fire that resulted in the death of two firefighters and the destruction of a number of homes and the subsequent displacement of a number of people.

Yet we aren't hearing any rants about that. Nope. Apparently it remains the God-give right of local 'agriculturalists' and ranchers to burn whatever they want, whenever they want, and damn the consequences of their stupidity.

But 'the Army'now...let's git 'em.

When we lived way up in northern Maine, we'd spend a lot of time camping in The North Maine Woods. Yes, there is such a place. It's magnificent. One of the reasons it stayed magnificent was the warning of dire consequences, such as civil suit and criminal charges, for fires started through negligence. Such as ignoring Smokey the Bear's pleas to make sure it was 'dead out'.

What is it about the southeastern Colorado agricultural mindset that completely fails to grasp what seems to be a very simple point, one driven home by decades of Smokey's warnings and innumerable forest and range fires caused by carelessness, negligence, and indifference?


The North Maine Woods

Smokey the Bear

Fire jumps to Comanche National Grasslands

6/12/08

Porn king runs Bible Society website

While the right wing Christian fundies are chortling in their righteously non-alcoholic cups over the recent exposé of the head cheese of BarryO's Veep head-hunting team, and flapping their jaws in gleeful anticipation of the video in which Michelle Obama allegedly makes comments about 'whitey'...the American Bible Society has suspended its two top dogs. Why?

It seems that ABS' website is being run by Internet pornster Richard J. Gordon.

The organization has reportedly paid in the neighborhood of $5 million to Gordon.

It would appear that BarryO is not the only one capable of a 'foopah maximum'.

An E-commerce empire: from porn to puppies

Marketing Sensations

"Hey! Hey!" shouted Billy, oozing exuberance all over the place as he waved from his favorite bench in front of Ringo's. He had his laptop out and was banging away at the keys. He was tapped in to the Woodruff's wireless.

"Hi Billy," Leece returned cheerfully, "it's good to see you smiling again."

"You betcha," our stalwart enthused, "I'm just waitin' to see if I kin git WondeRoast from the temp storage with the new owners in charge."

'Temp storage' is DinkyDau Billy's euphemism for the dumpster behind the store.

"Hey. Hey. Wutter they doon about marketin' The Smile Hi City an heritage tourism an all that?" he asked.

"I guess they're doing quite a bit. Looks like SECORHT is pushing out brochures and ads, and getting responses," Leece replied.

"Have they considered marketin' their 'product' with a company that has been very successful at that?" he asked.

"I don't know," she told him, "what do you have in mind?"

"I wuz up in Eagle and Vail the other day. I hitched a ride in a pickup and took the Litespeed up to do sum hill climbs," he revealed. We had missed his presence in The Smile Hi City for a few days, but Billy is prone to take off with no notice and reappear with no fanfare.

"And?"

"Well, I come across this outfit, 'Say No More Produckshuns', what's owned entirely by wimmin and what has a purty innerestin' and high falutin' customer base. Maybe the honchos should consider sumthin like that to git the ball rollin'," he said.

"Hmmmm...I don't know, Billy, they're pretty traditional around here. Despite that there's a number of women who are the brains of some of these outfits, few men will admit that, and besides, they're stuck on all that Western mentality...you know...all that manly macho stuff, like, "Ramrods" and "Mavericks" and "Ride for the brand" and "Hey there, you cute little filly" and that sort of thing. I think they might have a few decades to go before they come into the last century, much less The New Millennium." Leece can get a bit testy at times.

"Well. It's sumthin to think about," he said, "I'd like to see it."

Billy is very cutting edge in his social thinking.

"Well, I'm gonna go check an see if there's any WondeRoast out back," he announced.

"I don't see how you can do that, Billy," Leece told him, her nose wrinkling in disgust.

"Seein' ain't got nuthin ta do with it," Billy explained, "it's all olfaktry. Anybuddy kin git stuff out'n the dumpsters in the winter. In the summer, you gots ta have some good olfaktry sensations."

"Senses. You mean 'senses'," Leece argued.

"Uh uh. You gits a whiff a sum WondeRoast wut's bin in there overlong, and you gits a real olfaktry sensation," Billy countered.

Leece turned a kind of greenish color at the thought. She's a cute little filly when that happens.

6/11/08

OJC to offer a course on the historical Santa Fe Trail

OJC to offer a course on the historical Santa Fe Trail

June 23 and 24 at Boggsville Historic Site

LA JUNTA — Otero Junior College will be offering a unique two-day course on June 23 and 24 that will explore the historical Santa Fe Trail. “Along the Santa Fé Trail: A Survey of the Archaeology & History of Southeastern Colorado” (HIS 275001- 1 credit) will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., June 23 and 24 at the Boggsville Historic Site, located 2 miles south of Las Animas on Colorado Highway 101. Instructors for the two-day course will be John Carson and Richard Carrillo. Cost of the course is $65.00 (includes material fees).

The course will provide educators and interested members of the public with a detailed historical and archaeological examination of man’s experiences in southeastern Colorado since the arrival of the first groups of people to the area. Special emphasis will be placed on the events, personalities, and developments along the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fé Trail and at the settlement of Boggsville. This two-day course will include discussions on the history of all of the groups of people who played a role in the development of southeastern Colorado, the Santa Fé Trail and Boggsville from the earliest Native arrivals through the early twentieth century. A slide presentation and tour of the Boggsville site will introduce the participants to the reasons for and the development of the early settlement. A disk containing general cultural history and the chronology of southeastern Colorado and Boggsville will be provided.

The Bent’s Fort Chapter of the Santa Fé Trail Association will provide a limited number of scholarships to cover the tuition for educators who make use of this class’ information for students in their classrooms. For more registration details contact OJC Student Services at 719-384-6831.

For Further Information Contact:

Almabeth Kaess
Otero Junior College Marketing Director/President's Assistant
1802 Colorado Avenue
La Junta, CO 81050
719-384-6821 (phone) 719-384-6917 (fax)
almabeth.kaess at ojc.edu

Blue Angels

The Blue Angels at MCAS Cherry Point this past weekend:

Cherry Point Airshow

Photo by Louie Piner, Davis, NC


Photo by Louie Piner, Davis, NC


Photo by Louie Piner, Davis, NC


Photo by Louie Piner, Davis, NC

I like animals. They taste good.

"Hey! Hey! Howzitdoon?" DinkyDau Billy asked, as he parked his Ghisallo on the back porch and sniffed the air like a dog. He smiled appreciatively at the smell of grilling bratwurst in the backyard. It was a PETA nightmare come true.

"Pretty good, dude. Didja bring some St Pauli Girl?" I asked. This earned me a dig in the ribs from my Conscience.

Billy snickered. "Naw. I brung some diet Dr. Pepper, though." He plunked his butt down on the concrete steps.

"Hey. Hey. You gice goin' up to the Dem convention in Denver?" Billy was curious.

"We might be, Billy," Leece replied, "we've been thinking about it. We can go up as media maggots. You could go too, and between the two of you, you could keep an army of Secret Service agents busy following you around."

"Uh uh. Not me. No way. I ain't goin' up there and eatin' none a that foo-foo stuff them moonbats is servin' up as food," he told us.

"Whatcha mean, man?" I asked.

"Have you read the Denver Post article on what kind of food is being allowed at the convention?" Billy queried.

"I've heard rumors. I thought that article was a spoof. Satire. You mean it was for real?"

"Yep. You can take it to the bank," he said.

The Democratic National Committee continues to wrestle with such vital issues of the day as this:

"Compostable products, such as forks and knives made from corn starch, are often imported from Asia, delivered to the U.S. in fuel-consuming ships. But some U.S. products are made from recyclable pressed paper. Which decision is more environmentally sound?"

Here is the entire article:

Caterers find eco-standards tough to chew

6/10/08

Ringofish and The Gas Price Crisis Solution

DinkyDau Billy was sitting in front of Ringo's. He was looking more cheerful than we had seen in several days...well...since he had discovered that Ringo's was closing and there would be no more WondeRoast or Ringofish.

"Hi Billy," greeted Leece, "you're looking quite cheerful this morning."

"Yeah. Yeah. Hey. Hey. They gots a buyer for Ringo's. It ain't gonna close."

"Really? Does that mean the WondeRoast will stay? The Ringofish?" she asked.

"Dunno. Dunno. Maybe. But at least it will stay open and if nuthin' else, they should have Mississippi Mud and Turtle bars," he mused.

We can only hope that the WondeRoast will continue. The Ringofish, too. Perhaps by another name, but still the same goods. And we won't have another building, empty windows staring out at the street like the unseeing eyes of an economic corpse.

"Hey. Hey. Didja see them big tanks goin' down Barnes an out to the highway?" Billy asked.

"Yes, we did. What do you know about them?" Leece replied.

"I heard they is containers for new-clear bombs," he confided.

"Nukes? Nukes? Are you nu...kidding?" You have to be careful in your references to Billy's mental state.

"Nope. Nope. I done heard Loaf and Jug bought a cuppla nukes from the Russian mafia. They's gonna put 'em in those big tanks, and berry 'em about five miles under the Rockies in the oil shale. When they sets 'em off, they's gonna blow a big cavern, and the oil will rush in, and they's gonna pump it out and send it to refineries in Chiner cuz we ain't got no refiner space here, and the Chinee gonna keep ten percent and send the rest back as gasoline. Loaf done become their own supplier! How smart is that!" Billy was quite excited.

"Pretty smart, I think," I said, marveling at the entrepreneurial power of corporate America.

"Yeah. Yeah. We ain't gonna have to worry 'bout no gas for a long time," Billy said.

We contemplated the wonder of it all. Hooda thunk Loaf and Jug was so cerebrally avant garde?

Ekermomik stimulus

"Hey! Hey! Wutsup!" Dinkydau Billy shouted cheerfully as he slid to a stop in front of The Holy Land Quickee's. We were sipping our morning cappies and munching Granma's fudgie cookies.

"Not much," I replied, "we're still waiting for our economic stimulus check so we can stimulate the economy."

"You ain't gotcher ekermomic stimulus yet? That's the gummint fer ya. By the time you gits it, the economy will have collapsed and da peeps will be doin' food riots in the streets. Powah to da peeps," Billy chuckled. Sometimes Billy sounds like he's never read a book in his life. Other times, his education shows through and he sounds like a professor. A '60's Berkely polysci professor to be sure, but a prof nonetheless.

"Well, the price of gas is killing 'the little people'," Leece threw in, "look at the guys who are working at the hog farms in Las Animas. Even car-pooling they are going in the red with every fill up. It isn't much better for the people who drive in from Rocky Ford and Las Animas to work at the Industrial Park. There's some places, like down South, where people are doing better by just tossing in the towel and staying home."

"You mean on unemployment?" Billy asked.

"Yep."

"I'm afraid our economic stimulus check is going to mostly go to the Arabs," I mourned, "with a small tidbit to Juan Diego for that romantic dinner here at Quickee's."

"BarryO wants to shove another $50 million...or is it billion...into the economy," Billy advised.

"Where's he going to get it? Out of his butt?" Leece asked.

We both stared at Leece. That was a very unusual comment for Leece. The political activist seemed to be stirring.

"I dunno. It was another BarryO soundbyte. It doesn't have to have any substance. It's what people want to hear."

"Our local politicians were going off again about people on fixed income," Leece added.

Billy snorted some cappie up his snoot and choked on his cookie chunk, laughing like a crazy man. Well, he is kind of crazy, but not certifiably so.

"Who isn't on fixed income these days?" Billy asked, "When is the last time anyone you know here in The Smile Hi City has gotten a raise? Some people don't even get a cost-of-living raise. At least Social Security got one of those. It was more than the military's COLA, too."

"I thought active duty COLA depended on location of the duty station," Leece pointed out.

"It does," Billy said, "But I done run a buncha figgers, an overall, it's close, but no cookie for the military. Or just the crumbs. Now the Congressional COLA, that's a different story."

"Um hmmmm...and those Congress critters all go to whatever hospital is the best, on our dime. For the rest of their lives, too," Leece pointed out.

"Perhaps that is where BarryO is going to get the additional economic stimulus money," Billy suggested, "perhaps he is going to do away with free Congressional health benefits and make them buy their own like most everyone else."

"You'll see that happen when those pigs over in Las Animas fly bodily to Washington and vote Republican," Leece rather emphatically stated.

We pondered that mind-boggling thought. Everyone knows pigs generally are very liberal.

6/9/08

Health care for illegal aliens



Is it possible that this might at least in part explain why health costs are so high? Is it possible that this might be at least in part why health insurance is so high?

Obama rides again

If Obama is after the Jewish American vote, he certainly has a strange way of doing it. The page was removed after being discovered by Little Green Footballs (blog). The pages were taken down after LGF's discovery today.


At the official Obama website: How the Jewish lobby works

This garbage was allegedly published by one Nathaniel Kapner. Here is more from "Brother" Kapner:

Real Jew News

6/7/08

Drill here. Drill now. Pay less.

Here is a good post on oil and the stupidities of the Democratic Party in regards to domestic oil and gas supplies:

Drill here. Drill now. Pay less

Note also the additional links below the main comments.

Tree hugging is fine. I'm all for tree-hugging. I like bird-watching. I like certain types of fishing. I like cycling. I like a lot of things that require protection of the environment. But there is more to it than simply halting domestic oil production. I suppose I can always rig up a windmill in the backyard and pipe in a hot air supply from DNC headquarters, and invite Barack Obama over to share a cuppa coffee and listen to him mouthing catchy but otherwise useless soundbytes. No...never mind. Barry doesn't have time for me. I'm an embittered white boy who clings to my guns and religion...or at least some semblance of religion, so long as it isn't Christian Fundamentalism.

6/6/08

National Weather Service: Flood warning for Arkansas River at La Junta

FLOOD STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PUEBLO CO
0730 PM MDT FRI JUN 6 2008

THE FLOOD WARNING IS CANCELLED FOR THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN COLORADO...
ARKANSAS RIVER AT CANON CITY AFFECTING FREMONT COUNTY.

THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN COLORADO:

ARKANSAS RIVER AT LA JUNTA AFFECTING OTERO COUNTY.

THE COMBINATION OF SNOW MELT IN THE MOUNTAINS AND RELEASES FROM THE PUEBLO RESERVOIR HAVE CAUSED WATER LEVELS IN THE ARKANSAS RIVER TO RISE. THE WATER LEVEL AT LA JUNTA WILL CONTINUE RISING TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND IS EXPECTED TO REACH FLOOD STAGE EARLY SATURDAY EVENING.

SAFETY MESSAGE:

DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE OR WALK INTO AREAS WHERE WATER COVERS THE ROADWAY. THE WATER MAY BE TOO DEEP TO ALLOW YOU TO CROSS SAFELY. AS LITTLE AS 6 INCHES OF WATER MAY CAUSE YOU TO LOSE CONTROL OF YOUR VEHICLE. TWO FEET OF RUSHING WATER CAN CARRY AWAY MOST VEHICLES INCLUDING SUVS AND PICKUPS. NEARLY HALF OF ALL FLOOD FATALITIES ARE VEHICLE RELATED. WHETHER ON FOOT OR IN A VEHICLE.FIND HIGHER GROUND DURING HIGH WATER SITUATIONS. KEEP CHILDREN AWAY FROM FAST FLOWING WATER.

COC089-071328-
/O.EXT.KPUB.FL.W.0002.080608T0000Z-080609T1200Z/
/LXHC2.1.DR.080608T0000Z.080608T0000Z.080609T0000Z.UU/
728 PM MDT FRI JUN 06 2008

FLOOD WARNING EXTENDED UNTIL MONDAY MORNING

THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE ARKANSAS RIVER AT LA JUNTA:

* FROM SATURDAY EVENING TO MONDAY MORNING...OR UNTIL THE WARNING IS
CANCELLED.

* AT 6:15 PM FRIDAY THE STAGE WAS 9.5 FEET.

* MINOR FLOODING IS FORECAST.

* FLOOD STAGE IS 10.0 FEET.

* FORECAST...THE RIVER IS EXPECTED TO RISE TO NEAR FLOOD STAGE EARLY
TOMORROW EVENING.

* IMPACT...AT 10.0 FEET...MINOR AGRICULTURAL FLOODING OCCURS.

* FLOOD HISTORY...THIS CREST COMPARES TO A PREVIOUS CREST OF 10.0 FEET ON JULY 23 1951.

6/5/08

The Church needs to turn things around

Leece has a commentary up on gay marriage and the Christian church:

The Church needs to turn things around

West Point Commencement Address

This is Secretary of the Army Pete Geren's commencement remarks to the West Point Class of 2008, given on May 31:

"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" "Then, I said," "Here am I; Send me." Isaiah Chapter 6, verse 8.

Today we gather to recognize the cadets of the Class of 2008, men and women who, in the spring of 2004, answered the call of our nation, a nation at war-, "Here am I. Send me." This afternoon, they will be commissioned as Second Lieutenants. And over the next year, our Army will send them around our Nation and around the world to one of 80 countries where American Soldiers are serving the cause of freedom.

General Hagenbeck, General Finnegan, General Linnington, Congressmen Pete Sessions and Jeff Fortenberry, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen...and the Class of 2008, what a profound honor it is to share this occasion with you. And humbling--as a civilian in the presence of those who have answered our nation's call.

I came to work for the Department of Defense in early Fall 2001 and was at the Pentagon when the terrorists struck and killed 184 people, including 69 Soldiers and Army civilians. That day I watched Soldiers go to the sound of the explosion. And, for the past 6 ½ years, I have watched Soldiers go off to war. And watched their families stand with them. I have been inspired by the service of our Soldiers and humbled by the sacrifice of their families. From the bottom of my heart -- cadets and families, thank you for your service -- thank you for your sacrifice. I stand before you as a grateful citizen representing a grateful Nation.

General Hagenbeck, faculty, and staff, thank you for the work you do for our cadets, our Army and our Nation. I know you look across this assembly of graduates with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. Congratulations to each of you.

Let me begin with a little official business-meaningless to most but most important to a few. By the authority conferred on me by the Secretary of Defense, I grant amnesty to all cadets whose antics led to minor conduct offenses. And, if he or she ever gets caught, this includes the cadet who took a detour in his land navigation course in the summer of 05-and returned with buffalo wings for his buddies.

With that response -- a wiser man than I would say thank you, congratulations and sit down -- you will not be so lucky.

2008--What a class--academic and athletic excellence--great leaders. A Rhodes Scholar, Fulbright, Truman and Marshall Scholars, All Americans--academic and athletic, and a National Championship in boxing, just to mention a few of the highlights.

Today I will be speaking mostly to our cadets, but before I do, I want to address the parents and family members who are with us.

Parents, thank you for molding your sons and daughters into men and women of courage, character, and accomplishment. And thank you for entrusting them to us. As we honor them, we honor you.

And to the sweethearts who will become Army husbands and wives over the coming days, some this afternoon at the Cadet chapels, we welcome you into the Army family and thank you for your partnership in service to our nation.

Parents, as you look across the sea of white and gray uniforms and find your child, you must be filled with an extraordinary sense of pride. But I know too, the concern that you also carry in your heart--behind your pride. For we are a Nation at war, and your sons and daughters have chosen to be Soldiers.

Over the weekends of this spring, hundreds of thousands of parents across America gather as we do today, to celebrate the graduation of their children--celebrating with none of the ambivalence that may tug at your heart--and many unmindful of the debt they will owe to your children-so much owed, by so many, to so few.

Your sons and daughters are among our Nation's very best. They could have gone anywhere to college and had their choice of careers. Today they could be accepting a diploma and lucrative job offer instead of a commission in the United States Army. But they chose the path of Duty, Honor, and Country.

The service our nation is asking of your sons and daughters is important work for our country--for the free world--for liberty loving people every where. It will change our nation and the world for the better. And, your sons and daughters are ready--well-prepared for the tasks ahead of them.

When I reflected on these cadets and West Point and what is at stake in this war, my mind turned to Thomas Jefferson. Presidents Washington, Adams, and Jefferson all understood the need for a military academy--Jefferson acted on the need and established West Point.

We needed strong and capable leaders for our Army in 1802, but even more so today. We need men and women of immense talent and character--men and women like your sons and daughters.

And, perhaps as no other Founding Father, Jefferson would understand the threat we face today--tyranny in the name of religion. Jefferson knew history and he understood human nature. He devoted much of his life's work to the advancement of individual liberty and religious freedom, freedom that could spare our Republic the religious strife that, over the centuries, had soaked the soil of much of the world with blood-the blood of those who shared much-history, tradition and even Family--and differed only in their religious beliefs.

Jefferson considered his contributions to the cause of religious freedom among his greatest achievements. He wrote the epitaph for his gravestone--dictated that it would say the following, "and not a word more":

"Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, of the statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia."

The Declaration of Independence and the University of Virginia need no explanation. The statute for religious freedom is known to few, but speaks powerfully to us today.

Let me read from it:

"[N]o man shall he be compelled to support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be ... molested or burdened ... nor shall suffer on account of his religious beliefs ... [A]ll men shall be free to profess ... their opinions in the matter of religion."

Jefferson's ideal of religious freedom and individual liberty stands in stark contrast to the malignant vision of religious oppression and the murderous practices of the Taliban and Al Qaida -- to the hatred that murdered 3,000 people on 9/11 and continues its butchery today.

Two hundred years after Jefferson penned these words, your sons and daughters are fighting to protect our citizens and people around the world from zealots who would "restrain", "molest", "burden" and cause to "suffer" those who do not share their religious beliefs, deny us whom they call "infidels" our unalienable rights: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Your sons and daughters--our Soldiers-- stand against a threat to liberty and life that is as old as civilization, in a cause that shaped the foundation of our Nation, and against an enemy that seeks to take us back to the future, and establish an old world order of darkness and oppression. Thomas Jefferson would not be surprised.

Mark Twain told us that history does not repeat itself, but that it does rhyme.

And for American Soldiers, the mission and the threat are not abstract. They know why they are fighting. An Army Captain recently described his service in simple terms--Just as our grandparents joined the Army to ensure that our land would never suffer another Pearl Harbor, I joined to ensure we never suffer another September 11.

And our mission goes beyond the security of our own people. The United States always has stood as a beacon of hope for those yearning to live free. Over the past 6 years, our military has liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan from brutal dictatorships and awakened hope in a region that has known little but oppression and despair.

Our Secretary of Defense reminded us recently, "[O]ur responsibilities to the world-to freedom, to liberty, to the oppressed everywhere-are not a burden on the people or the soul of this nation. They are rather, a blessing."

And as we make the world safer for democracy--and more dangerous for terrorists--we are making our world safer for Americans. Your sons and daughters are well-prepared for the challenges ahead of them. Most importantly, they are men and women of character--they came that way to West Point.

Our Nation has you to thank for that. Character, as Joshua Chamberlain told us, "is formed in the silent and peaceful years by the mother's knee and the father's side."

No matter how old, your son or daughter is forever your child. And I know when you look at him or her, your mind recalls a scrapbook of memories--a kaleidoscope of life experiences, from the cradle to this graduation day--you remember their first steps, their curiosity, their mischief, their successes. You know their strengths and their frailties.

But West Point knows your sons and daughters well now also. For the last four years, the United States Military Academy has taken them on a journey through the crucible of the most demanding academic, physical, and military curriculum in the world. Your sons and daughters have met the highest standards of learning, living, and performance.

As they leave West Point today, know that they are well prepared to meet the challenges of their future missions and commands.

Today they join the best led, best trained and best equipped Army on the face of the earth. And they are ready to be leaders in that extraordinary Army.

For these remarkable men and women, the Class of 2008, "no mission too great," is more than a motto.

And now I will speak to them, the cadets of the Class of 2008. You who will extend the Long Gray Line another generation into our Nation's future-a Long Gray Line that stretches back to 1802, to, "Those cadets of an earlier day," sinewy threads that are woven throughout the rich tapestry of our Republic's history, giving it strength, character, and resilience, in times of peace and war.

As our fledgling democracy sought to explore, survey, and subdue a vast continent, West Point officers led the way. West Pointers harnessed the awesome power and bounty of our continent. They tamed rivers with dams and levees. Built our nation's roads, canals, harbors, bridges, and railroads. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Erie Canal to the Panama Canal, you see the great peace-time handiwork of West Point graduates-- Goethals, Bonneville, and Young to name a few-- some famous, some forgotten--the Long Gray Line has shaped the destiny of America.

In time of war, West Point graduates have filled our history books and our national consciousness. As we survey the halls, grounds, monuments and statues around us, we cannot escape their history nor their gaze. Much of the history you studied here was made by those who studied here before you: Grant, Lee, Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur, today Petraeus, Odierno, Cody, Austin, and Rodriguez--the honor roll will go on forever. Today you join their ranks.

Now, no graduation speech would be complete if I did not attempt to leave a few lessons behind. You enter our Army at a dynamic period in the history of our service-in the history of warfare--policy, doctrine, training and equipping are adapting rapidly to a constantly changing threat--an environment where our Soldiers must hold and build, as well as they clear. You have learned how to "eat soup with a knife" and other important lessons about leadership in your 21st Century Army.

For the lessons I want to leave with you, I will borrow heavily from a man who has spoken here before, as I could not improve on his prose and I share his vision for your service. He summed up succinctly a day in the life of an American Soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan today. He told your predecessors:

. "Your military responsibilities will require a versatility and an adaptability never before required in either war or in peace." . They will "involve the command of more traditional forces, but in less traditional roles ... risking their lives, not as combatants, but as instructors or advisors." . "This is another type of war, ...-- war by guerillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins. War by ambush instead of by combat ... seeking victory by eroding and exhausting [us] instead of engaging [us]." . "The non-military problems which you will face will be most demanding: diplomatic, political and economic." . "You will serve as advisors to ... foreign governments." . "You will need to ... understand the foreign policy of the United States [and] the foreign policy of countries ... that 20 years ago were the most distant names to us." . "You will need to give orders in different tongues;" . "You will be involved in economic judgments which most economists would hesitate to make." . "You will need to understand the importance of military power and also the limits of military power..."

Perhaps most importantly, he told your predecessors: "Your posture and performance will provide the local population with the only evidence of what our country is really like."
And, in closing he said: "[Y]ou have one satisfaction, however difficult [your] your days may be: When you are asked by the president of the United States or by any other American what you are doing for your country, no man's answers will be clearer than your own."

History does rhyme. These words were spoken 46 years ago by President Kennedy, standing here, speaking to the graduating Class of 1962.

Let me add a duty or two to President Kennedy's list. Creighton Abrams, Class of 1936, told us that people are not in the Army, people are the Army. And your Army is different today than any Army in our history or any Army so long at war. It is an All Volunteer Force--and over half are married--with over 700,000 children in the Army families--Volunteer Soldiers--Volunteer Families.

The all volunteer force is a national treasure, but it can be squandered.

To sustain our Army, we must provide Army families a quality of life equal to the quality of their service. As Army leaders, you must take care of Army families--must make Army families a priority in your service.

And one more--most importantly: Before the sun sets today, you will take the oath of a second lieutenant--regardless of how long you wear the uniform, one thing never will change--you are a leader and the well-being of Soldiers will be in your hands. You will be judged by how you discharge that duty--for if you strip away everything else about your Army, at its core, that is what the Army is all about, Soldiers take care of Soldiers--in the barracks, on the battlefield, or in the hospital. That is what Soldiers do.

You should count your career a success if you never earn more than the single gold bar you will get this afternoon, if one of your soldiers writes a letter about you like the one I am about to read from a Soldier somewhere in Europe in 1945:
"Dear Mrs. Troby, ...the gents that I speak of down here are usually known but to a few - and ask no publicity. [They] are some of the officers and NCOs who live down there in hell - just a few miles from here - and they stay there days, weeks, and months ... There are just a few. They teach men, feed them, protect them, and lead them ...These men are loved with a kind of love that exists no place but on the battlefield - and it is never talked about. [They] go for days without sleep, give away their clothes, go without food, keep going when they are sick, perform miraculous feats when they are wounded, and take the suicidal details rather than ask someone else to do it. They are never afraid, they are never cold, they never complain, and they spend all of their time trying to think of ways to help their men - and to save them. I don't know if they are happy - but if it isn't selflessness I never hope to see it. Surely they must be God's people.... I'm sure they swore and drank and did a lot of other things - but I am sure God got them when they went away..." Signed, "Whitney."

Soldiers take care of Soldiers.

We are here to celebrate with the Class of 2008, but it is fitting that we stop and remember the sacrifices of those who have gone before.

Over the past year, since you gathered here last May, 11 West Point graduates have given their lives for their country. There is always a personal cost in your profession of arms. It is your willingness to bear that cost that ennobles you, your calling, and this gathering.

Earlier this year, Captain Andrew Pearson, Class of 2001, serving in Baghdad, joined the ranks of the fallen. Captain Pearson began his career as an enlisted man before entering West Point. In his year book, he chose this quote from President Kennedy to accompany his photo: "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from the responsibility-I welcome it."

Captain Pearson's ashes now rest in Arlington Cemetery. His father summed up Captain Pearson's life and legacy: "He believed in what he was doing and gave his all for America."

So moving in their simple dignity, these words are an inspiration for the living as well as an epitaph for the fallen: "They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, not the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them." --Laurence Binyon

When I went to work for the Secretary of Defense now nearly seven years ago, my office looked to the northeast across the Potomac River, to the Capitol and the National Mall.

In the summer months, the sun comes up directly behind the Jefferson Memorial. And just as the sun edges past the memorial into the morning sky, for the briefest moment, a sliver of golden light crowns the graceful dome. There were days when the early sun would burn through the morning clouds and wash the Capitol and Washington Monument in shades of pink, purple and gold.

You could not look away until the color drained from the sky. To the west, beyond my view, stands the Lincoln Memorial, serving as a bookend for the Mall, just up from the Memorial Bridge, leading to Arlington Cemetery.

For me, at that time, and for most Americans I suppose, the landmarks that frame our Mall tell the story of the foundation of our Nation.

But when I came to the Army in 2006, my view changed. Out my window I now face Arlington National Cemetery, and the waves of chalk white headstones that line the rolling hills and mark the graves of generations of Americans who have served our nation in peace and war. Out my window, every day, horse drawn and flag draped caissons carry our Nations' heroes to their final resting place.

The Custis-Lee mansion, home of Robert E. Lee, Class of 1829, stands a commanding presence on the ridge line. It was built with slave labor by Martha Washington's grandson, and serves as a constant reminder of the contradictions and cross-currents that tormented our young republic, and of the strife that gave birth to Arlington National Cemetery and filled the first and so many of its graves.

A short distance to the south along the ridge, Soldiers guard the Tomb of the Unknowns every single day and around the clock. Arlington is a place where the dead find their final resting place, but where the animating spirit of America lives.

Historian Rick Atkinson captured the spirit of Arlington. It is, he told us, "...a shrine to valor and sacrifice, to service and fidelity. Those interred here tell a story not just of the Republic in war and in peace, but also of a transcendent ideal, conceived in liberty and reconsecrated with every new grave dug, every benediction murmured, every commitment into the hallowed ground." "A transcendent ideal."

Since coming to the Army, it has dawned on me that it is Arlington, not the Mall's monuments and memorials that tells the story of our great nation. Were it not for that "transcendent ideal" - that has inspired the American Soldier, "on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn," there would be no monuments, no Capitol, and no Mall.

Today we gather to honor young men and women who in a moment will swear an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies - not defend our shores, not defend our people, but defend our Constitution - defend a transcendent ideal - against all enemies- "from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn" - a revolutionary ideal that calls out to people the world over who yearn to be free.

A transcendent ideal that led these men and women of the Class of 2008 to choose to be Soldiers, American Soldiers, with America at war.

Class of 2008, take pride in your record here at West Point. Take great heart in your bright future, and take competent and compassionate hold of the responsibility that awaits in your service to Soldiers, to their Families, and to the Nation. Our Nation needs you. We salute you and your families for your collective courage and commitment, and we wish you Godspeed in your journey- for duty, honor and country.

"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And you said, "Here am I. Send me."

Thank you. God Bless you