Friday, February 25, 2005

Ladies & Gentlemen.....Madame President!

Hosted by

As Ann Althouse said "these boots were made for running for President".

For some reason, this picture just gives me goosbumps. Dr. Rice looks so amazing, powerful, feminine and confident. I would love for her to be the presidential role model for my daughter and son. Just for good measure (and for Mr. Texasbug,!), here's another one:

Here's What the U.S. is Up Against....

I found this article at MEMRI, hat tip to American Dinosaur. The following are excerpts from two speeches by Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Al-Manar TV aired these speeches on February 18 and 19, 2005:

Speech One

Hassan Nasrallah
:"Israel is our enemy. This is an aggressive, illegal, and illegitimate entity, which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our motto: 'Death to Israel.'"

Crowd:" Death to Israel"
"Death to Israel"
"Death to Israel"
"Death to Israel"
"Death to Israel"

Hassan Nasrallah: "The American administration is behind Israel. I must clarify that when I say 'America' I do not mean the American people, most of whom are distant and ignorant of what is going on in the world, and of what its government and army are doing in the world. Nevertheless, we consider the current administration an enemy of our [Islamic] nation and of the peoples of our nation, because it has always taken a position of aggression, of occupation, and of supporting Israel with weapons, airplanes, tanks, money, as well as political support, and unlimited protection.

"We consider it to be an enemy because it wants to humiliate our governments, our regimes, and our peoples. Because it is the greatest plunderer our treasures, our oil, and our resources, while millions in our nation suffer unemployment, poverty, hunger, unmarriagability, ignorance, darkness, and so on. America… This American administration is an enemy. Our motto, which we are not afraid to repeat year after year, is: 'Death to America.'"

Crowd: "Death to America"
"Death to America"
"Death to America"
"Death to America"
"Death to America"
"Death to America"

Hassan Nasrallah:
"Some people may wonder and say: 'Is there no end to this hostility?' Yes, there is an an end. If the Zionists leave our lands and holy places and give them back to their owners, this conflict will come to an end. If America stops interfering in our countries' and nation's affairs, stops its aggression, stops its occupation, stops it's plundering of our resources and treasures, we will have no problem with it. We don't want to go to Washington to fight America. We are defending our countries and our existence.

"Any rift, civil strife, disintegration, or dispersion in any Arab or Islamic country, or in the entire nation, serves our Zionist enemy and its plan of hegemony, and serves the Great Satan – the American administration, whose main concern is to control our oil, our treasures, our resources, and our markets. [They want us] to become millions of slaves who eat and drink but are living dead, devoid of honor, respect, and existence."

Speech Two

Hassan Nasrallah:"How can death become joyous? How can death become happiness? When Al-Hussein asked his nephew Al-Qassem, when he had not yet reached puberty: 'How do you like the taste of death, son?' He answered that it was sweeter than honey. How can the foul taste of death become sweeter than honey? Only through conviction, ideology, and faith, through belief, and devotion.

"We do not want to live merely in order to eat, drink, and enjoy life's pleasures, and leave our homeland to Israel so it will slaughter it upon the altar of its aspirations, desires, hate, and historic vendettas. Therefore, we are not interested in our own personal security. On the contrary, each of us lives his days and nights hoping more than anything to be killed for the sake of Allah.

"The most honorable death is to be killed, as the Leader Imam Al-Khamenei said when 'Abbas [Musawi] was martyred. He said: 'Congratulations to 'Abbas, congratulations to 'Abbas.' The most honorable death is death by killing, and the most honorable killing and the most glorious martyrdom is when a man is killed for the sake of Allah, by the enemies of Allah, the murderers of the prophets [i.e. the Jews]."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Stay Extended for Terri Schiavo!

Thanks to Hill Country Views for leading me to the following article at World Net Daily today:


By Art Moore
© 2005

After a flurry of legal maneuvers, a Florida judge extended a stay preventing the husband of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo from removing the feeding tube keeping her alive.

Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer had ordered an emergency stay yesterday after Florida's 2nd Court of Appeal allowed another stay – husband Michael Schiavo's last legal obstacle – to expire.

Greer extended the emergency stay to 5 p.m. Friday so he can determine whether Terri Schiavo needs additional medical tests. Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, had filed a motion to seek tests, utilizing new technology, to support their claim Terri's condition can be improved with physical therapy.

The Schindlers also want to remove their son-in-law as her guardian.

Additionally, family spokesman Gary McCullough told WorldNetDaily the state Department of Children and Families, which probes abuse of disabled people, gave notice of its intent to intervene in the case due to allegations of abuse against Terri Schiavo by her husband.

Greer did not comment, but noted the request had been filed.

Michael Schiavo claims his wife had told him she would never want to be kept alive in such a state. She issued no written directive, but Florida law allows admission of alleged oral statements.

The estranged husband is living with another woman with whom he has two children but refuses to give up guardianship and divorce Terri, as the Schindlers have requested.

Noted "right-to-die" attorney George Felos, who is representing Michael Schiavo, argued in court today that the question of guardianship was irrelevant, because regardless of who had that role, the court has ruled that Terri's wishes were that she not live in her current condition.

The Schindlers argue Michael Schiavo has prevented his wife from receiving therapy that could enable her to eat without the feeding tube. Terri breathes on her own and appears to be responsive to people and her surroundings in photographs and videos released by the family.

McCullough, who attended the hearing, said the Schindlers are "thanking God and all the people who have been praying," for the additional 48 hours in which their daughter's life is "not going to be at risk."

The Schindler family says there is evidence Terri's sudden brain injury Feb. 25, 1990, resulted from trauma at the hands of her husband.
Michael Schiavo claims is wife collapsed due to a potassium imbalance – likely triggered by bulimia – that caused her to suffer cardiac arrest.

The Schindlers' attorney, David Gibbs, has said he plans to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on religious liberty grounds, asserting Terri's rights as a Catholic would be violated by forcing her to starve to death.

In October 2003, Terri went without food or water for six days before a new state law allowed Gov. Jeb Bush to order the tube reinserted. "Terri's Law" later was struck down by the the Florida Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

This afternoon, Bush told reporters he's exploring options to block removal of the tube.

"I can assure you, I will do whatever I can within the means, within the laws, of our state to protect this woman's life," he said. "I won't go beyond that."

Bush noted he's received thousands of e-mails and phone calls from backers of the Schindlers.

"People with deep faith and big hearts are concerned, as I am about the circumstance that Ms. Schiavo is in," he said. "I want them to know I will do what I can, but there are limits to what any particular person -- irrespective of the title they currently hold -- can do."

The Schindlers asked pro-life activist Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, to lobby the governor and legislature in Tallahassee to pass legislation that would require courts and doctors to give food and water to an incapacitated patient unless the patient had requested otherwise in an advance directive.

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Baxley is in the works, according to the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.

"I feel like we're at a juncture where all of the legal options need to be looked at," Baxley said.

Terry led picketers today in a protest at the home of Michael Schiavo. The activist at one point had a brief conversation with Schiavo as police looked on, according to the Associated Press.

"I just spoke with him very briefly and asked him to please let Terri live, give her back to mom and dad," Terry said. "He said, 'Mr. Terry, I don't want to talk to you. I don't want you on my property. Good day.'"

The Schindlers, including Terri's brother and sister, have begun a 24-hour prayer vigil, along with pro-life advocates, outside the Woodside Hospice in St. Petersburg where their daughter lives.

If Terri Schiavo's feeding tube is removed, she is expected to die in about seven to 10 days.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Critical :Situation for Terri Schiavo

Today, the courts rejected the pleas of Terri’s parents to stop her husband, Michael, from withholding food and water from her. He has promised to begin starving her tomorrow at 1 pm.

Most of you are aware that Terri is not a "vegetable" or "brain-dead" as Michael and his lawyers claim, but responds to others and is aware of her surroundings. She laughs, smiles and, according to her nurses, has a small vocabulary.

Terri is not on life support and is healthy. She needs help eating and is fed through a tube (helping someone eat and drink who is impaired has never been considered artificial life support).

While Michael asserts he is carrying out Terri's wishes, he waited until after he received a large sum of money from a lawsuit against her doctors before making this claim . During the lawsuit, he alleged negligence and motivated a financial award with the potential cost of Terri’s rehabilitation.

However, Terri has been denied rehabilitation that experts testify could allow her to eat and talk. The courts in Florida have consistently blocked appeals to give Terri proper tests and therapy that would improve her life.

Terri may not have the capabilities she once had, but she is no less valuable and no less a person.

Here is what you can do to help Terri:

Pray for Terri and her family.
Blog - communicate the truth about what is going on and rally support for Terri and the Schindlers.
Visit Blogs for Terri ( for information and to join the team of blogs for Terri.
Deluge Gov. Jeb Bush with emails and phone calls. He has the power to intervene. Here is his contact information:

Governor Jeb Bush
850 / 488-4441
850 / 487-0801 (fax)

Support HB701click here.
Important - Bypass the Mainstream Media - Pledge support a paid advertisement in the St. Petersburg Tribune to inform its 450,000 paid subscribers about what is really happening to Terri. Blogs for Terri
Your participation in help is desperately needed.

Local Friendswood, Texas Government Corruption

Boy it's getting crazy here. It seems local officials in Friendswood have taken it upon themselves to lobby AGAINST a property tax cap, all the while enjoying a lack of increase in their own property taxes because their homes mysteriously do not increase in appraised value like everyone else's. Sound fishy? That's what most other Texans think too.

The following is an article copied in it's entirety from Lonestar Times

Tuesday, February 22, 2005
EXCLUSIVE: Friendswood officials fight lower tax caps while avoiding appraisal increases
by David Benzion | 02/22/2005 7:00 am

A investigation has determined that many of the Friendswood-area officials using taxpayer resources to argue in Austin against a reduction in annual appraisal caps have themselves avoided any increase in their property tax burden in recent years.

LST’s review of Galveston County Appraisal District records revealed that during a period when the average Friendswood homeowners tax appraisal increased by 32%…

* Councilman Jerry Ericsson’s increased by only 9%;
* Mayor Kimball Brizendine’s increased by just 6%; AND
* Councilmembers David Smith, Laura Ewing, and Mel Measeles saw no increase whatsoever in their appraised property taxes (0%).

Measles, in addition to serving on City Council, is currently the regional president of the Texas Municipal League, a highly influential special-interest group comprised of government officials and bureaucrats. The TML is a key lobby group in Austin fighting against a reduction of property tax appraisal rates from 10% to 3% annually.

LST’s research also revealed that Friendswood City Manager Ron Cox’s property tax burden did not increase by a single penny in the past three years.

Cox recently testified in Austin on behalf of the Texas Municipal League that, in regard to the appraisal system, "I personally don’t think it’s broken."

UPDATE– A knowledgeable source in Friendswood city government informs us that although councilman Tracy Goza and Mayor Kim Brizendine live in the same subdivision, Goza’s appraisal has gone up in proportion to the average Friendswood homeowner’s, while the Mayor’s has not.

Councilman Goza– 8.3% annually, 33.2% 2000-2004
Mayor Brizendine– 1.6% annually, 6.3% 2000-2004

Goza does not support the Mayor’s legislative agenda to oppose a reduction in appraisal caps from 10% to 3%.

10:58 a.m. UPDATE– Councilman Goza has agreed to come to the live broadcast with Dan Patrick and Edd Hendee at Friendswood’s DoubleDave’s Pizza at FM 528 and 518 (behind the Texas First Bank building) today at 4 p.m. to address this controversy.

As promised this morning, he will receive free breadsticks. The offer remains open to all other councilmembers, as well as city manager Ron Cox.

The public is encouraged to attend as well.

For more information on the property tax cap proposal, visit Clout Texas.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Death Penalty

Anselm, over at Hill Country Views posted about his views on the Death Penalty, and I completely concur. What do you think?

Friday, February 18, 2005

US escalates tensions with Syria

President Bush says US relationship with Syria is deteriorating and Dr. Rice says while the US favors using diplomatic pressure, force has not been ruled out.

Anyone care to make a prediction?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Videos Clips of Terry Schiavo

There's quite a flurry of activity around the blogosphere regarding Terry Schiavo, especially since the recent story in the news of another brain-damaged patient speaking after years of silence.

Terry's husband, Michael Schiavo, wants to have her feeding tube removed which will result in her death by starvation. Not a pleasant, peaceful way to go.

Is Terry in such a vegetative state that improvement is impossible? Here are some video clips that may help you decide: (hat tip to Hyscience)

Terri Responds to Father
Terri Watching a Balloon
Terri's Alert Eyes
Terri Responds to Cold
Terri Responds to Her Mom
Terri Responds to Music (and laughs!)
Terri Reponds to Touch

So why is she not improving at a faster rate? The following questions & answers were taken from

If Terri hasn’t recovered after all these years of therapy, why not let go?
Terri hasn’t had meaningful therapy since 1991, but many credible physicians say she can benefit from it.

Why can’t Terri just divorce?
Terri’s husband/guardian speaks for her. She cannot divorce without his permission

Does Terri have an advanced directive or any wishes about her healthcare?

Terri never signed any directive or living will and there is no evidence that she foresaw her present situation.

Why do Terri’s family fight to keep her alive? Shouldn’t they let her husband decide?

Terri’s husband has started another family and probably has gone on with his life. Terri’s family want to provide her therapy and a safe home.

Is Terri receiving life support?

Not in the traditional sense. Terri only receives food and fluids via a simple tube.

Isn’t removing her tube a natural and dignified way to die?
No. Dehydration and starvation cause horrific effects and are anything but peaceful.

If, after reading all this, you are convinced that Terri is about to be wrongly killed by her husband, here's you can contact to do something about it: (hat tip to My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy)

Florida Attorney General’s Charlie Crist, AG Citizen’s Services & Office
1-850-414-3990 / 850-414-3300

Bernie McCabe, State Attorney Pinellas and Pasco Counties

Gov. Jeb Bush

St Pete Times President -

Customer Service -

Letters to the Editor -
Letters to the Editor
P.O. Box 1121
St. Petersburg, FL 33731

Mr. Bill Levesque -

Monday, February 14, 2005

Troops Find Major Weapons Cache

I received this via an email alerting me to this discovery that did NOT make the MSM news....big shock. It's truly fascinating as to the amount of weapons found and destroyed by our troops.

Here you will find a URL to the Fox news website. If you open your windows
media player (found on the start menu)
choose file, open URL and paste this URL into the box; you will be able to
see the news report by Geraldo.


OR you can go there directly by clicking here

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Fireant's Bookmark Meme

Eric, over at the Fireant Gazette posted this meme and I thought it was a good idea, so here goes:

1. Open the bookmarks list in your favorite web browser and note the bottommost entry (which may or may not be the last one you added), even if it's inside a folder. Copy the bookmark title, along with the URL, into a post or comment.

2. Count up your list from there, and select every fourth bookmark, until you've picked another four. Add them to your post or comment.

3. Publish the list of five bookmarks and wait for the world to marvel at your eclectic and sophisticated interests!

Here are my answers:

1. Clear Creek Community Church
2. Houston Beagle Rescue
3. Identify Feeder Birds
4. Contact Your Congressman
5. Google Catalog Search

Apparently the above have no relation to each other, whatsoever. :-) Can't wait to see yours....

Are You Ready for an IRS Audit?

Well maybe you should be, according to an article at the Washington Times. This was also a topic discussed at my recent CPE conference as well. Apparently the new IRS Commissioner, Mark Everson, has promised to step up the audit efforts.

So who's at risk of being audited? According to the Times, taxpayers who make more than $100K have a 1 in 20 risk of being audited. How do you prepare for the possibility? In a word, have your receipts in order. And here's what the article suggests:

To prepare for a possible audit, "Make sure that you have included all of your tax reporting and income documents, such as W2s, 1099s, etc., in your return and retain those records," said Gloria Huffman, analyst for Liberty Tax Service. "Keep a logbook of any business mileage and expenses to substantiate any deductions."
After an audit, defending against an IRS inquiry is more complex but still manageable, according to tax preparers.
"There are no sure-fire ways to avoid an audit," said Mark Steber, vice president of tax resources for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.
He offers the following tips to anyone who is audited:
•Always provide clear, concise answers and documentation. Include copies of your documents.
•Never send in originals without making copies.
•Be timely with your response. Most notices and inquiries from the IRS have a deadline. It is important to be aware of that deadline and respond promptly to prevent an escalation.
•Consider using registered mail with your responses to document your communications.
•Be aware that the IRS usually is looking for simple answers to simple questions. It is often easy to provide the information and resolve the matter quickly. For more complicated situations, it is best to hire a professional.

Of course, I would suggest hiring a tax professional no matter what. In every audit in which I've represented a client, the IRS worker has been less than knowledgeable about the applicable tax law. In each case, it was up to me to prove the legality of my clients' case. Without such a representative, the client's would simply taken the IRS employee's word as to what was allowed and what wasn't and would not have known that IRS employee was mistaken. I'm just saying.....

Saturday, February 12, 2005

On a Personal Note

I don't do personal posts often, but today I'm's my birthday! Yes, I share the day with Abraham Lincoln, a fact I've always loved. What do I want? First, exactly what I got....2 precious homemade cards from my 3 & 4 year old featuring birds and flowers. They know what Mama likes!

Second, I would like for every reader (and I wish there were 10,000 today!) to go to and send a package to the troops this week. Or, if you can't afford it, send a letter. Or become and email penpal...there's something for any budget.

Changing the subject, I just finished 2 days of Continuing Professional Education on the new Tax Law for 2004 tax returns. Yeah, tax season is upon us and the hubby and I share this glorious career. There's a lot of new stuff, mostly beneficial tax cuts, so make sure you know what you're doing or consult a professional if you own your own business this year. Also, for individuals who itemize, make sure you understand the new sales tax deduction. Please note...this blog does not constitute professional tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor.

Alrighty, well, I'm off to enjoy the day with my family. Have a great one!

Operation I CAN

"OPERATION I CAN” is not just another clever Army acronym; it’s short for “Iraqi Children Assistance Network.”
I CAN connects thousands of Iraqi children to people throughout the world who donate school supplies. Thanks to deployed Soldiers, these supplies reach schools in villages and cities throughout Iraq.

Many donors have implemented the project in their local neighborhoods, lobbying for support from others.

Individual donations of $3.59, a small amount by U.S. standards, pay the average cost of one Arabic schoolbook and have significantly increased Iraqi children’s opportunities to learn.

You can buy books directly from

You can read more about the origins of the opearation here

Hat tip to American Dinosaur

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Hakeem Olajuwon's Mosque Donated to Terror Fronts

The following story is from, a local Houston television station's website. Because it's a registry site, I've just copied the entire text for you here:

Olajuwon's mosque donated to alleged terror fronts

01:59 PM CST on Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A mosque established and funded by basketball star Hakeem Olajuwon gave more than $80,000 to charities the government later determined to be fronts for the terror groups al-Qaida and Hamas, according to financial records obtained by The Associated Press.


Olajuwon told the AP he had not known of any links to terrorism when the donations were made, prior to the government’s crackdown on the groups, and would not have given the money if he had known.

“There is no way you can go back in time,” Olajuwon said in a telephone interview from Jordan, where he is studying Arabic. “After the fact, now they have the list of organizations that are banned by the government.”

A Treasury Department spokeswoman, Molly Millerwise, declined to discuss Olajuwon’s contributions but said, “In many cases donors are being unwittingly misled by the charities.”

Federal law enforcement officials said they were not investigating Olajuwon, a 7-foot center born in Nigeria who played 17 seasons for the NBA’s Houston Rockets before retiring in 2002.

Olajuwon, who became a U.S. citizen in 1993, was known as “The Dream” and won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in 1994, when he led the Rockets to the first of back-to-back championships.

The Olajuwon-founded Islamic Da’Wah Center gave more than $60,000 in 2000 and $20,000 in 2002 to the Islamic African Relief Agency, the center’s tax records show.

The government shut down the relief agency in October, saying it gave money and other support to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

But the agency and its possible ties to terrorism had been in news stories years earlier, before Olajuwon’s contributions:

· The U.S. Agency for International Development cut off two government grants to the Islamic African Relief Agency in 1999, saying funding the group “would not be in the national interest of the United States.”

· A former fund-raiser for the relief agency, Ziyad Khaleel, was named in a federal trial in 2001 as the man who bought a satellite telephone that bin Laden used to plan the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

· Numerous news organizations reported shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks that the relief agency was among more than two dozen Islamic charities under scrutiny for possible terrorist ties.

Olajuwon also participated in a 1999 celebrity bowling tournament for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which the U.S. government shut down in 2001, accusing it of sending money to Hamas. The Islamic Da’Wah Center gave more than $2,000 to the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation in 2000, according to its tax returns.

At the time, Olajuwon was vice president of the mosque—which was named after him—and provided more than three-quarters of its money. Olajuwon heads the separate foundation that now controls the Islamic Da’Wah Center.

All the donations came before the government designated the Holy Land Foundation and the Islamic African Relief Agency as terrorist fronts. Vipul Worah, an accountant for Olajuwon’s charities, said U.S. authorities have never asked about the contributions.

Olajuwon, who is married with four daughters, became a Muslim during his professional career and was known for playing in key games while observing dawn-to-dusk fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Tax returns for Olajuwon’s Islamic Da’Wah Center show it gave the Islamic African Relief Agency $61,250 in 2000 and $20,000 in 2002.

Those donations accounted for 2.2 percent of the $2.8 million the Islamic African Relief Agency received during 2000 and 1.4 percent of the $1.4 million it raised in 2002, records show.

Olajuwon said the donations came after fund-raisers from the Islamic African Relief Agency visited Houston. He said the group told him donations would help the needy in Africa.

“They came and approached us and everything was legitimate. I had no knowledge of their activity,” Olajuwon said.

The Treasury Department alleged in October that several top officials of the group’s branches overseas are al-Qaida members or associates and the group gave bin Laden hundreds of thousands of dollars in 1999.

The federal government says the Sudan-based Islamic African Relief Agency’s U.S. branch is IARA-USA, based in Columbia, Mo. That group has challenged the terrorist designation in court, saying it is separate from the Sudanese group.

Shereef Akeel, a lawyer for IARA-USA, acknowledged the U.S. group and the Sudanese group “may be in a partnership together” and some people with links to IARA-USA have terrorist associations.

“Just because someone traveled in the same circles, just because one employee was at the same conference as someone who supported terrorism, doesn’t mean the organization sponsors or condones acts of terrorism,” Akeel said.

The Holy Land Foundation was shut down in December 2001. Federal authorities say it was the main U.S. fund-raiser for Hamas and sent $12.4 million to the Palestinian terrorist group from 1995 to 2001. Hamas has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings in Israel that have killed scores of people, including Americans.

The Holy Land Foundation and several leaders are awaiting trial on criminal charges of supporting terrorism—charges they deny. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the group’s 2002 lawsuit challenging its terrorist designation, ruling federal officials had “ample evidence” of financial support for Hamas.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said in July that an indictment against several officers was “neither a reflection on the well-meaning people who may have donated funds to the foundation, nor is it a reflection on the Muslim faith and its adherents.”

In 2000, the year after Olajuwon participated in the Dallas bowling tournament for the Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic Da’Wah Center gave the group $2,430, tax records show. That money was a tiny fraction of the $13 million the foundation raised that year.

Olajuwon said the bowling tournament was one of many charitable events he has attended.

“I get all sorts of requests from charitable organizations,” Olajuwon said. “It was a bunch of kids and I gave them autographs.”

Revocation of Marines' Medals Adds Insult to Injuries

The following article is reprinted from the Kansas City Star website:

ATCHISON, Kan. (Feb. 9) - Nearly two years ago, Marine Cpl. Travis Eichelberger watched as his commandant pinned a Purple Heart to his hospital gown at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Now the same commandant, Gen. William Nyland, is revoking that medal and removing it from Eichelberger's record because he was run over by a tank driven by an American.

Eichelberger, 22, of Atchison, is one of 11 Marines who have received "letters of error" within the past two months telling them that they were given their medals by mistake.

Nyland said it was necessary to revoke Eichelberger's medal because his injuries weren't "caused directly or indirectly by enemy action."

"I'm disappointed," Eichelberger said Tuesday. "I don't understand how a mistake like that could happen."

Eichelberger was sleeping in a shallow foxhole in the sand of Iraq when he was run over by a 67-ton Abrams tank.

It was mid-March 2003 after he and the rest of the 200 Marines in his unit crossed into Iraq from Kuwait on their way to Baghdad.

"I laid there and saw my pants and other clothes twisted (around my body)," Eichelberger told The Topeka Capital-Journal in March 2004. "I didn't feel severe pain. I was in shock. I was paralyzed from the chest down and started dragging myself on my hands."

He suffered a crushed pelvis, shredded internal organs and legs that were swollen to twice their normal size.

After being dismissed from the hospital, he came home to a hero's welcome, complete with an outpouring of support from his community and extensive media coverage.

But now that his medal has been revoked, he said, he feels kind of awkward.

"I got injured, my hometown rallied behind me and helped out my family," he said. "To have (the Purple Heart) taken away, it makes you feel like you're a liar."

Charles Mugno, head of the Marine Corps Awards Branch, said the 11 injured Marines were among the first wave of casualties to return from Iraq and there was a rush to honor them.

Mugno said the Purple Heart errors were caused by confusion over the circumstances of how the Marines were injured, adding that there's a difference between being wounded in a combat zone and being wounded by hostile action.

Officials said they had to revoke the medals after they realized the mistake.

"The most important point is that the revocation was the right thing to do in order to maintain the sanctity and the specialness of the award," Marine spokesman Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson said. "You don't want to be identified as someone wearing their medals incorrectly, or worse, wearing something you don't deserve."

Eichelberger said, "If I really don't deserve it, I don't want it. But the problem is that they (military commanders) decided to give them to us. ... Get it right next time."

Eichelberger will receive a medical discharge from the Marines later this month. While he doesn't want people to think he's complaining about losing his medal, he doesn't want any other soldiers to be put in a position of explaining why they've been stripped of a military honor.

"What am I supposed to tell my town?" he said.

You can read more here

Monday, February 07, 2005

Anheuser Busch - More Than Just a Superbowl Commercial

I wasn't even going to mention my favorite SuperBowl commercial because it kinda goes without saying. However, it seem Anheuser Busch is thanking the troops in another way as well. They offer free admission to any of their parks for active duty, active reserve, ready reserve, or National Guardsmen. What a great program! The parks include Sea World San Antonio, Sesame Place, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Sea World Orlando, Busch Gardesn Tampa Bay and Sea World San Diego. Check it out!

Hat tip Blackfive.

My Hero Bracelet Arrived Today

I ordered a Hero Bracelet a few weeks ago and it arrived today. I am honored to be wearing a bracelet in memory of Master Sgt. Kelly L. Hornbeck, who was killed in action on 1/18/04.

A few notes of interest: Master Sgt. Hornbeck was injured by an IED on 1/16/04, and then died from the injuries on 1/18/04, which happens to be my wedding anniversary. He and my husband are the same age and from the same graduating year of high school. Incidentally, on our anniversary in 2004, our then 3 year old fell and broke her arm and was in the hospital having emergency surgery. It was a day that will always stand out in our memory....even before I received the bracelet today.

Without further ado, here's his story:

Master Sgt.

Kelly L. Hornbeck

sustained injuries on

January 16, 2004

when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle

Died of those injuries

two days later on

18 January 2004

Special Forces Soldier killed in Iraq

While in South America fighting drug dealers for the U.S. military, Master Sgt. Kelly L. Hornbeck flew a Texas flag over his camp.

When asked by a friend, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Callahan, why the banner was chosen, Hornbeck replied: "When those guerrillas attack, I want them to know there's a Texan here."

Hornbeck, 36, was wounded Jan. 16, 2004, when an explosive device hit his vehicle near Samarraon. The soldier, who was stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., died two days later.

Born in Selma, Ala., Hornbeck graduated high school in 1985 in Fort Worth, and left Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, after a year to join the military.

"Dad was a great friend," one of Hornbeck's daughters, 11-year-old Jacqueline McCall, said at her father's funeral. "He died for his country and he was the best soldier because he was brave."

Master Sgt. Kelly L. Hornbeck sent signals to his parents when he went on a classified mission.

Once, through a vague letter, Hornbeck let them know that he would be out of touch for a while but that they should not worry and that he loved them very much.

"My training is not only limited to that which has been bestowed on me by the mightiest military in the world but also by the greatest set of parents in the world," the 36-year-old Special Forces soldier wrote to his parents, Jeff and Camille Hornbeck of Fort Worth.

"I am who I am because ya'll made me that way, and for that I thank you." Kelly Hornbeck's parents learned late last week that their only surviving child had been gravely wounded in Iraq. The Defense Department later reported that an explosive device struck his vehicle on Friday while he was on patrol with his unit south of Samarra. He died two days later at a hospital in Baghdad.

On Wednesday, his parents spoke about his life, their loss and their love of country.

"He was doing a job he was called to do," Camille Hornbeck said during a news conference in the front yard of their southwest Fort Worth home.

"We just want to celebrate Kelly's life as a hero and to let the world know he is a special young man."

Kelly was buried with full military honors. He leaves behind two daughters, Jacqueline McCall, 10, of Frederick, Md., and Tyler Rae Hornbeck, 7, of Lumber Bridge, N.C.

On Wednesday, the Hornbecks offered thanks for the support they have received since learning of their son's death. They also wanted to speak out in support of the soldiers in Iraq and to remind Americans to be patient.

"We feel it is important to support the guys still doing their job," said Jeff Hornbeck, a retired Air Force major.

"It is a very difficult task to build a democracy," he said.

Kelly Hornbeck was born in Selma, Ala., but he lived around the world while his father -- a pilot and a Vietnam veteran -- served at several military posts. The family moved into and out of Fort Worth, returning to stay in 1983.

Hornbeck graduated from Paschal in 1985. He attended Tarleton State University for one year, playing on the college's football team, before enlisting in the Army in 1987.

At first he trained as an infantryman, but he was eventually promoted to drill sergeant. He volunteered for duty with the Special Forces in 1990 and served as a combat diver, a free-fall parachutist and a jump master.

It was a dangerous way to make a living, his parents said.

"You knew you had to function, so you put it in another place," Jeff Hornbeck said about his knowledge of the perils his son faced daily. "There was a lot of denial that something may happen.

"They were always where the pot was bubbling," he added.

In recent years, Kelly Hornbeck did one tour of duty in Afghanistan and was serving his second tour in Iraq when he was killed. His friends said he didn't talk much about his work during visits home.

But Graves and others said they began corresponding with Hornbeck and members of his unit in Iraq. Graves said it was a grassroots effort to show support for the military's work through letters and "goody bags."

Camille Hornbeck, an English teacher at Daggett Montessori School, said students sent seven big boxes of items after her son mentioned that Iraqi children didn't have soccer balls.

Daggett Principal Judy Seymour said the students are dealing with Kelly Hornbeck's death "pretty well."

"Even though we have a heavy heart, we are ready to celebrate the wonderful life of a wonderful soldier," Seymour said.

During the news conference, the Hornbecks repeatedly said that they endorse the work being done by armed forces in Iraq and that they will say so again today during a memorial service for their son at Fort Carson.

Many soldiers at the base are either returning from or leaving for Iraq.

Jeff Hornbeck said the family wants to "encourage the soldiers who still have a job to do."

Those sentiments are echoed in the letter Kelly Hornbeck wrote that his parents made public Wednesday.

"If ya'll are reading this, then I am on my way to help do my part to ensure the future security of our great nation," Hornbeck wrote. "I don't take this charge lightly or with a cavalier attitude, rather with a resolute heart and a clear conscience.

"I am strongly convinced that what we are doing is just and worthy of all that could be spent in the effort. I am not afraid and neither should either of you be."

He ended the message with thoughts of his family.

"If anything untoward should befall me please insure that the qualities you raised me with get passed onto my children," he wrote. "I love you both very much and intend to see you soon!"

He will be buried next to his older brother, Kurt Lee Hornbeck, who died more than 10 years ago.

In addition to his parents and his daughters, survivors include his grandmother, Camille Lee, and an uncle, Dr. Bill Lee, both of Fort Worth.

Hornbeck funeral

The funeral for Army Master Sgt. Kelly Hornbeck was at 2 p.m. Saturday at Travis Avenue Baptist Church, West Berry and Hemphill streets. Burial followed in Greenwood Cemetery.

Kelly Hornbeck's letter home

Here is an undated letter from Kelly Hornbeck to his parents:

Dear Mom and Dad:

If ya'll are reading this, then I am on my way to help do my part to ensure the future security of our great nation. I don't take this charge lightly or with a cavalier attitude, rather with a resolute heart and a clear conscience. I am strongly convinced that what we are doing is just and worthy of all that could be spent in the effort. I am not afraid and neither should either of you be, for I trust in my God (Psalm 23) and my training, two powerful forces that cannot be fully measured.

My training is not only limited to that which has been bestowed on me by the mightiest military in the world but also by the greatest set of parents in the world. I am who I am because ya'll made me that way, and for that I thank you.

If anything untoward should befall me please insure that the qualities you raised me with get passed onto my children. I love you both very much and intend to see you soon!

You can read about the fiancee' he never returned to here.

UPDATE: Robbie of UrbanGrounds also received hero bracelets and wrote about them here

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Be Back Soon....

Unfortunately, a client data disk has rendered my laptop useless until "debugged" by the computer guy this weekend. Hopefully I'll be back up and running by Monday, but in the meantime please go read some of the awesome blogs on my blogroll!

Be back soon!


Thursday, February 03, 2005

About Me

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Operation Photo

Hat tip to Sgt. Missick for this information about Operation Photo. Please help by sending your old digital cameras. They are trying to complete the project (10,000 cameras) by Valentine's Day!

Hosted by

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

State of the Union

I love PowerLine's liveblog on the address.

Obviously, I thought the most moving part by far was the long-lasting hug between the Iraqi woman and Mrs. Norwood, mother of a fallen hero from the Iraq War. How symbolic can you get! Even the husband teared up (mine, that is!).

I love the Social Security ideas. I can't believe the Dem's booed when he stated that SS will be bankrupt by a certain date. Hello! It's not like he wants it to be....he's the one trying to prevent it! They want to continue denying the crisis of the situation because they want to keep the fund "raidable" for all the assorted programs and entitlements. Sorry, but I call 'em like I see 'em. I loved the way he told Congress they had to deal with it and not pass the buck to the next generation.

I also love it when he said every nominee deserves a vote. No more filibustering!! (I only wish that would make it true)

Now on to foreign policy. Wow, he came out swinging on this! He said to the Iranians "as you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you". Ummm....that's no idle promise. He just lowered the Guantlet on Iran.

Money for the Palestinians? That almost made my dinner make an encore appearance. Sorry, but I'm not convinced that anyone in that area is interested in democracy or freedom. They seem to thrive on the opposite. Don't think I'm ever going to forget the live broadcasts of the Palestinians dancing in the streets after 9/11. Not happening.

I love the continuance of support for faith-based programs that work. I mean, this is who should be helping those with aids, preventing gangs and all the other social programs mentioned tonight. Let's face it - those who are motivated by their faith to help others or far MORE motivated than most seculars and they do a great job. If you're not religious and you're bothered by this....start up a secular charity and do the same thing. I just think communities, local & national charitable organizations and especially churches, etc. ought to be the ones working in acts of compassion, etc. to help their fellow citizens, not the government.

OK, that pretty much sums up the highlights for me. Feel free to add you own...

Letter from a Marine's Dad

Major hat tip to Smoke Signals for posting the following email he received:

Darrell's message:

My Marine son, Adam called me a few minutes ago. For the first moment or two I didn’t recognize his voice; it was raspy, tired and older than when I spoke with him last. I suppose that is to be expected. One doesn’t endure the hell that he has and go on with business as usual.

“Son, are you okay? “ I asked quietly. The response was forced. “I’m not sure,” he said.

“Adam, I’m so sorry. I am so very sorry,” I struggled to get the words out.

His whispered voice screamed with pain. “Dad, I was supposed to be on that helicopter. That should have been me.”

As most Americans know by now, we lost 31 of our boys last Tuesday when the CH-53 Sea Stallion they were flying in went down in an Iraqi field about 200 miles west of Baghdad. When the incident first crossed my news wire I was only seconds from going on the air. It took my breath away and I prayed a quiet prayer for all of the families but, to be honest, I never even considered that Adam, a Lance Corporal in the Corp, would be in that part of the country. Days earlier he told me his team would be moving out but even he was uncertain where they would land.

As the day progressed and the news said the guys were from Charlie Company I became even more concerned. My wife, Laurie, and I awaited word but it didn’t come. As the minutes ticked into hours every devastating thought a person can have ran through my mind. As Laurie paced and emailed, I sat in my office working on the next show. I had to stay busy. I had to keep my mind off the “sandbox” and the tragedy that had just changed families’ lives forever. Finally, 17 hours after the accident we heard from a source that our son had been spotted on the ground and that he was okay. We breathed for the first time all day.

I’m a pretty strong soul and a man who doesn’t often express emotions, but since that fateful day I find myself tearing up as my mind races to that point in time. Today, though, was the worst. Today, I heard the full story. It broke my heart.

“Dad, I was the last guy on that helicopter. I stowed my pack and was inside when an officer from the other copter yelled out my name. ‘Ankarlo, jump out of there and climb into our copter. We need you to be stick man’.” Two of Adam’s good buddies were sent to take his spot.

The night was windy. It was draped in a heavy desert fog but still the Stallions had to fly. Charlie Company had just received their security orders. And so, off they went. Our helicopter pilots have to fly their crafts close to the ground, with few lights on, to avoid enemy fire. They stay low so the surface-to-air missiles won’t blow them out of the sky. In fact, at this low altitude the enemy fire actually bounces off the helicopters before they can explode.

“I am so numb dad. I’m just numb. I saw an explosion and looked out a side window but wasn’t sure if the flash came from the other chopper or not. To avoid fire our pilot swerved back and forth and finally shot straight up. We actually lost power for about 15 seconds and were plummeting back to the ground when he finally regained control. We were sure we were all gonna die but we thought the other copter was okay,” he explained in an honest but devastated tone. “It wasn’t until we landed that we were told it had crashed. At first we were told a few guys had died, and then it was 10; then it was 20 and finally the whole group. Dad, I knew every one of those guys. They were my friends. Now they are all dead. Dad, they’re all dead.” A long paused followed. He was in too much pain and I didn’t have a clue what to say. What does one say to a guy who just saw all his friends get wiped out? A tired cliché would be the worst route. We sat in silence.

“Dad, why am I alive? I was strapped in and we were taking off. Why was I yanked off that copter?” His hoarse voice strained to say more but he couldn’t. I cried with Adam for a moment. “Son, who can explain this? I certainly can’t. I will tell you that thousands of people are covering you in prayer and I don’t doubt that played a major role; but your pop can’t explain the questions you are asking. Only God can do that, and He may choose never to do it,” I offered the only comfort I knew.

Around Christmastime Adam sent us some movies he had taken of his pals. There is serious war footage from the day they took Fallujah but there was a lot of time devoted to guys in their twenties just cutting up and having some fun. “Dad, almost all the guys on those tapes…” his voice trailed off. He didn’t have to say another word. I knew where he was going. It was just too surreal. The next pictures I will see of them will include their families crying around their flag-draped coffins. War hurts.

After a few minutes Adam wanted to share a few more details, “We went back to the wreckage but the biggest piece left was only about four feet in diameter. Everything was torn to bits,” he explained. “I looked for my pack but it was incinerated. Every letter, every thing I have over here was burned. Dad, your book, the one you wrote and that I have shared with about a hundred guys over here, is nothing but ash. I should have been with that pack.” I finally jumped in, “No you shouldn’t have. You are suffering from something called Survivor’s Guilt. Why them and not me? It’s a natural emotion and you have to work through this, but in the end, if you believe in God and know that He’s looking out for you, then you have to believe He knows what He’s doing. I don’t understand it but that’s all you have to hold on to.” We prayed a short prayer and choked back the tears. “I’ve gotta go dad. They just called us back to action. They are loading us on to another helicopter. We’ve got a mission to do before Sunday’s election.”

As he started to go I whispered, “Stay safe.” It sounded so trite when it fell off my tongue. “Stay safe,” what kind of advice was that I wondered? “I’ll try. I love you dad.” For the first time, he sounded like he really was on the other side of the world and with that, the call disconnected.

For the longest time after our conversation, I sat quietly; privately. While staring at a darkened room I realized in the deepest sense of the term what the ultimate price of freedom is. My son, America’s son, painted its picture in stark detail. Its color is red and it has stains that flow like rivers. Those rivers came when a few Marines and God Himself poured out their tears like rain to create a priceless portrait of sadness and hope.

Help urgently needed for combat Marine veteran - Liver Donor Needed

This article at Hyscience has all the details.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

What if Bush Has Been Right About Iraq All Along?

The following piece written by columnist Mark Brown speaks for itself:

What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?

February 1, 2005


Maybe you're like me and have opposed the Iraq war since before the shooting started -- not to the point of joining any peace protests, but at least letting people know where you stood.

You didn't change your mind when our troops swept quickly into Baghdad or when you saw the rabble that celebrated the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue, figuring that little had been accomplished and that the tough job still lay ahead.

Despite your misgivings, you didn't demand the troops be brought home immediately afterward, believing the United States must at least try to finish what it started to avoid even greater bloodshed. And while you cheered Saddam's capture, you couldn't help but thinking I-told-you-so in the months that followed as the violence continued to spread and the death toll mounted.

By now, you might have even voted against George Bush -- a second time -- to register your disapproval.

But after watching Sunday's election in Iraq and seeing the first clear sign that freedom really may mean something to the Iraqi people, you have to be asking yourself: What if it turns out Bush was right, and we were wrong?

It's hard to swallow, isn't it?

Americans cross own barrier

If you fit the previously stated profile, I know you're fighting the idea, because I am, too. And if you were with the president from the start, I've already got your blood boiling.

For those who've been in the same boat with me, we don't need to concede the point just yet. There's a long way to go. But I think we have to face the possibility.

I won't say that it had never occurred to me previously, but it's never gone through my mind as strongly as when I watched the television coverage from Iraq that showed long lines of people risking their lives by turning out to vote, honest looks of joy on so many of their faces.

Some CNN guest expert was opining Monday that the Iraqi people crossed a psychological barrier by voting and getting a taste of free choice (setting aside the argument that they only did so under orders from their religious leaders).

I think it's possible that some of the American people will have crossed a psychological barrier as well.

Deciding democracy's worth

On the other side of that barrier is a concept some of us have had a hard time swallowing:

Maybe the United States really can establish a peaceable democratic government in Iraq, and if so, that would be worth something.

Would it be worth all the money we've spent? Certainly.

Would it be worth all the lives that have been lost? That's the more difficult question, and while I reserve judgment on that score until such a day arrives, it seems probable that history would answer yes to that as well.

I don't want to get carried away in the moment.

Going to war still sent so many terrible messages to the world.

Most of the obstacles to success in Iraq are all still there, the ones that have always led me to believe that we would eventually be forced to leave the country with our tail tucked between our legs. (I've maintained from the start that if you were impressed by the demonstrations in the streets of Baghdad when we arrived, wait until you see how they celebrate our departure, no matter the circumstances.)

In and of itself, the voting did nothing to end the violence. The forces trying to regain the power they have lost -- and the outside elements supporting them -- will be no less determined to disrupt our efforts and to drive us out.

Somebody still has to find a way to bring the Sunnis into the political process before the next round of elections at year's end. The Iraqi government still must develop the capacity to protect its people.

And there seems every possibility that this could yet end in civil war the day we leave or with Iraq becoming an Islamic state every bit as hostile to our national interests as was Saddam.

Penance could be required

But on Sunday, we caught a glimpse of the flip side. We could finally see signs that a majority of the Iraqi people perceive something to be gained from this brave new world we are forcing on them.

Instead of making the elections a further expression of "Yankee Go Home," their participation gave us hope that all those soldiers haven't died in vain.

Obviously, I'm still curious to see if Bush is willing to allow the Iraqis to install a government that is free to kick us out or to oppose our other foreign policy efforts in the region.

So is the rest of the world.

For now, though, I think we have to cut the president some slack about a timetable for his exit strategy.

If it turns out Bush was right all along, this is going to require some serious penance.

Maybe I'd have to vote Republican in 2008.

We would welcome you, Mark!