People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Move Over, Norman Mailer

Roanoke firefighter (and area blogger of note) Lt. Rhett Fleitz has come out with a new book about ... Firefighting In Roanoke.

He also gains a modicum of celebrity by being featured in this morning's Roanoke Times:
Firefighter bridges time
A new book follows the evolution of services in Roanoke from an all-volunteer group in 1882 to the Fire-EMS department in 1995.
Amanda Codispoti, The Roanoke Times

During the first few decades of firefighting services in Roanoke, firefighters such as Howard Dowdy drove and washed the horses that pulled fire wagons.

More than a century later, Dowdy's grandson, Bev Mitchell, would drive and wash the gray, and later red, fire engines.

"I imagine we respond a whole lot quicker now than we did then," Mitchell said, chuckling. The evolution of the department, from an all-volunteer organization in 1882 to the Fire-EMS department in 1995, is documented in a new book, "Firefighting in Roanoke."

The book, compiled by Roanoke firefighter Lt. Rhett Fleitz, includes more than 200 pictures that illustrate the changes in Roanoke's firefighting services, which began almost 125 years ago. (link)
For those of you who are interested in purchasing a copy of Rhett's fascinating book, run over to First Due Gear (*), a retail outlet "geared" toward firefighters, EMT's, paramedics, and technical rescue teams, located at 1806 Thompson Memorial Drive in Roanoke, or give them a call at (540) 375-8850. Ask to speak to the owner, Jarrod Fuhrman (who in his other life is a full-time Roanoke firefighter/paramedic). Tell him Jerry Fuhrman sent you.

If you haven't yet found the perfect Christmas gift for that firefighter son, daughter, husband or father, what a neat idea!

Now if we can get Lt. Rhett to schedule a book signing at the store ... ahem.

(*) Yes, it's a shameless plug for my son's business.

(**) Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

They Stand Guard ...


The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,

My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,

Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,

So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,

But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,

A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,

Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,

Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,

You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,

Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light

Then he sighed and he said "It's really all right,

I'm out here by choice.
I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"

Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,

But my wife sends me pictures. He's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,

The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,

Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,

Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.

Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "and harbor no fright.
Your family is waiting, and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least?
Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,

And for being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled,
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq.

About That 'New Beginning' Thing

It was noted many times during the runup to the election that the Democrats were offering no alternatives - no new ideas - to that which was being done by the then-ruling Republicans. Now that they are in charge, those same Democrats are beating the bushes, trying to find something to accomplish and, so far, have treated us to underwhelming proposals to raise the minimum wage, which will impact perhaps 0.5% of us, and to temporarily increase so as to decrease the number of troops in Iraq.

Even the lefty blogosphere that was so hell-bent on Democratic victory is muted ... or has moved on to the 2008 campaign. It was all in the winning for them apparently.

This being the case, the focus of the 2007 Congress should surprise nobody:
Incoming Chairmen Ready to Investigate
Democratic-Led Panels to Probe Administration's Actions in War and Counterterrorism
By Charles Babington, Washington Post Staff Writer

Incoming Democratic committee chairmen say they will hold a series of hearings and investigations early next year to build the case for their call for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and for possible action against defense contractors found to have wasted billions in federal funds.

The emerging plans to grill administration officials on the conduct of the war are part of a pledge for more aggressive congressional oversight on issues such as prewar ... (link)
New ideas? Forget it.

The Democrats figure it was criticism that got 'em there. And it's criticism that'll keep 'em there.

Not There? Or You Just Don't Want To Look?

Say What?

Crichton concedes the case for global climate change.
Waldo Jaquith

Early this year, Washington journalist and Yale alum Michael Crowley wrote an article explaining why Michael Crichton’s global warming denials were inaccurate. Crichton was left without any counterarguments, so he threw a tantrum:
Crichton includes a Yale educated Washington journalist of the same name and same age as a character in his new book, describing him as a “dickhead,” small-penised, child rapist. Global climate change deniers, like holocaust deniers, simply don’t have facts or logic on their side.
1) Michael Crichton admits that his views relating to the science and politics of global warming theory have been wrong (the dozens of scientists he cited in his book, State of Fear, notwithstanding) and we know this because he used the name Mick Crowley in his new book, Next. Huh?

2) Regarding that "Global climate change deniers ... simply don’t have facts ..." contention: Because Michael Crichton and most scientists agree that the planet has indeed been experiencing (a cyclical) warming in recent years (at least 1ยบ thus far), but deny that it is being induced by human activity, I can only assume that it is the causal relationship that Waldo is referring to. If he were to look, he'd find a growing mountain of skepticism, including this in today's news:

The cows missed the movie
By Debra J. Saunders, The Washington Times

Two British news reports could not have come at a better time for Fred Singer, a scientist and global-warming denier, who has incurred the wrath of global-warming guru and former Vice President Al Gore.

The Independent reported Sunday that a new U.N. report found livestock is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gases. In other words, in the universe of global-warming alarmism, cow gas does more damage to Mother Earth than SUVs. (American cars are responsible for some 6 percent of greenhouse gases.)

The Sunday Telegraph reported the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is downgrading its predictions as to how much sea levels will rise due to global warming. The IPCC lowered its upper estimate for sea-level rise by 2100 from 34 inches to 17 inches.

In "An Inconvenient Truth," Mr. Gore warned that global warming would cause sea levels to rise by some 20 feet. "I claim that Al Gore is a contrarian because he disagrees with the IPCC," Mr. Singer said, as he smiled. Mr. Singer was in town to speak at this week's meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Mr. Gore also spoke the group about global warming on Thursday.

"Well, which is it?" Mr. Singer asked. If there is a consensus, there should be no deniers. (
For more nonfacts from those holocaust global climate change denying nonscientists out there, go here, here, here, here, here, here, here ...

Beyond the fact that there are plenty of accredited scientists who find much to doubt about global warming theory, there are many underlying theories that are in dispute. Hurricanes will become more powerful, or not. Glaciers are melting, or not. Global warming will cause massive flooding and widespread drought. The planet is warming but Antarctica is cooling. A rise in CO2 emissions is the direct result of human activity, or not.

On and on.

On top of all this, nobody is certain that global warming is even a bad thing.

Waldo reminds me of the rabid fundamentalist who is confronted with a fact that suddenly disturbs his established orthodoxy. His immediate reaction? To deny and to accuse others of being deniers.

Don't believe me? Check it out.

It's Been Tried

Former President George H.W. Bush has offered up a unique strategy for bringing Hillary Clinton to her senses. He thinks he should take her out back and beat the hell out of her:
I'd 'Beat The Hell Out Of' Hill: Bush Sr.
By Maggie Haberman, The New York Post

December 16, 2006 -- Former President George H.W. Bush may be pals with Bill Clinton, but he waded into dangerous territory talking about his wife, saying he'd try "to beat the hell out of" Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton if she runs for president.

If New York's junior senator campaigns for the White House in 2008, as is widely expected, "I'll be back on the other side [of politics], and I will be trying to beat the hell out of her, if I possibly can," a grinning Bush said yesterday during a trip to Tokyo, where he spoke at Waseda University's school of sports and science. (link)
Beating Hillary. A provocative - and alluring - idea. I'm just not sure it's allowed by law though.

Besides, rumor has it that old Bill tried it more than once and Hillary summarily pummeled him into submission.

Still ...

Color Me Skeptical

I doubt that sending tens of thousands of new troops to Iraq will do any great good because the generals in charge of the war have made it clear that they have no use for them.

I doubt that sending tens of thousands of new troops to Iraq will do any great good because Donald Rumsfeld recently warned that if they had no clear military objective, they become nothing more than additional targets.

I doubt that sending tens of thousands of new troops to Iraq will do any great good because Silvestre Reyes, the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman, who doesn't know his ass from his elbow and who wants our troops withdrawn from Iraq, recently said he favors sending thousands more in ... before bringing them out (John Kerry must be advising him).

I doubt that sending tens of thousands of new troops to Iraq will do any great good because John McCain, politician, has been advocating such a move for years and has whined and pouted about being ignored ... for years.

But John Podhoretz thinks we should listen to all the politicians who support our sending tens of thousands of new troops to Iraq because ... well, because the generals aren't to be trusted:
Pentagon Wonks
By John Podhoretz, The New York Post

December 15, 2006 -- The word from Washington is that everybody in and around the Bush administration agrees the new strategy for Iraq requires a surge of U.S. troops. Everybody, that is, except the military leadership at the Pentagon - which reportedly doesn't want more troops committed to Iraq.

For the past 31/2 years, [the Pentagon's position] has been the trump card when it comes to the war in Iraq. Properly fearful of repeating the calamitous micromanagement mistakes of Vietnam - when President Lyndon Johnson sat in the Oval Office picking targets in the North - President Bush ceded the war to the generals and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. What they've asked for, they've gotten. They have the troop levels they want. They have had the strategy they have preferred.

And they've failed. (link)
Is there anyone out there who believes the Pentagon has run this war without plenty of guidance and supervision from those Podhoretz wants to entrust the war to at this late hour?

Beyond that, the question I've asked more than once in recent years (since McCain began whining) continues to go unanswered: What is this influx of new troops supposed to accomplish?

If Podhoretz thinks the military has been running this war (or has run any war since the days of Hannibal and Alexander), he's wrong.

And to start ignoring practical advice now from those closest to the battlefield will only make matters worse.

So consider me skeptical.