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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Is anyone surprised?

Now fate has given Obama a chance to be presidential rather than pretend. Taking advantage of the Olympic distraction in Beijing, the Russians invaded South Ossetia, a territory on the north side of Georgia, a democratic U.S. ally. Out of the blocks, the Russians bombed civilians, rolled tanks across an internationally recognized border and threatened to launch an all-out, destabilizing war. Now it looks as if their army has cut Georgia in two.

Moreover, Russian bombs reportedly targeted the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which runs through Georgia on its way to the Mediterranean -- the only oil pipeline in Central Asia not under Russian control. Russia is tightening its chokehold on oil and gas at precisely the moment energy costs have become the paramount domestic issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Obama's response?

First, late Thursday evening, he gave a conventional written statement calling for calm, U.N. action and "restraint" from both sides -- followed an hour later by a slightly stronger condemnation of Russian aggression and a call for a cease-fire.

The invasion of Georgia elicited a wan written communique instead of the sort of exciting rhetoric we've come to expect from his make-believe presidency. But he did make it in front of the cameras the next day for a rally celebrating his vacation in Hawaii. He promised "to go body surfing at some undisclosed location."


That he doesn't find the situation serious can be no plainer.

The lack of experience of Hussein has been debated endlessly, but never denied. Instead we have been repeatedly told that it makes no difference.

Most of these idiot claims have come from the "food is" generation. Never wanting for anything necessary for comfort, much less survival, this group of over educated and under talented people immediately bought into the fiction that because Hussein claimed he could solve the race problem in the US it was true and meaningful in the wide world we live in.

The difficulty is, of course, that the race "problem" in the US is meaningless to Russia, OPEC and other enemies and semi enemies of our country. The blackness of Hussein is worthless in stopping Russian tanks and terrorist plots.

His energy policy won't repair the destroyed pipelines and it certainly won't allow the President to be able to take our oil off the world market declaring that "We have stopped all exports until the world situation becomes stable."

What a cheering statement that would be if we only had drilled here and drilled now. That we didn't is a known fact. That we must do so is also known, but not by Hussein and his minions who lovingly accepted Hussein's edict to solve the problem by inflating their tires.

There is a difference between conserving oil that we have and conserving oil that we do not have.

Perhaps the reality of that statement will come to Hussein as he body surfs. But most likely not. Having never faced harsh reality he is totally unequipped to do so now.

LATimes



Ben Stein's Last re Morton's

The following was sent to me by Jimmy M. Bein Stein wrote it but I have no idea who sent it to Jimmy or who orginally published it. But they all have my thanks. This is worth a read.

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today’s World?


As I begin to write this, I “slug” it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is “eonlineFINAL,” and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.

It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world’s change have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton’s, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton’s is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today’s world, if by a “star” we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails.

They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.

A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him.

A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.

We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton’s is a big subject.

There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament...the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.

Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of a real hero.

We are not responsible for the operation of the universe, and what happens to us is not terribly important. God is real, not a fiction; and when we turn over our lives to Him, He takes far better care of us than we could ever do for ourselves. In a word, we make ourselves sane when we fire ourselves as the directors of the movie of our lives and turn the power over to Him.

I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin...or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.

But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister’s help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.

Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.

By Ben Stein