Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kansas Killer Practices Retroactive Abortion on Tiller

George Tiller the baby killer was shot dead, murdered while attending morning services at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas where he served as an usher.

Few figures ignited more passion and anger in pro-life supporters since Dr. Tiller openly practiced late term abortions on what many consider very tenuous grounds for clients able to pay the $5000 fee. His advocacy and practice made him a lightening rod in the abortion debate.

The reaction to his murder will be intense and highly politicized. Consider the difference in emphasis between the coverage both sourced as A/P stories between how The Wall Street Journal and USA Today report the murder;

Wall Street Journal
Prominent late-term abortion provider George Tiller was shot and killed Sunday in a Wichita church where he was serving as an usher, his attorney said. The gunman fled but a city official said a suspect is in custody.

USA Today
Late-term abortion doctor George Tiller, a prominent advocate for abortion rights wounded by a protester more than a decade ago, was shot and killed Sunday at a church in Wichita where he was serving as an usher and his wife was in the choir, his attorney said.

What makes Tiller a particularly compelling figure in the abortion debate is that he operated one of three medical practices in the country that provide abortions after the 21st week, five months into pregnancy. An additional political element to Tiller’s practice is his political involvement having donated thousands to former Kansas Governor, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, now confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Obama Administration mindful that as a State Senator in Illinois, Barack Obama stood in contrast to that body favor provisions allowing viable babies to be murdered, destroyed in the act of an intended abortion, though found as viable at the time the termination was instigated.

Dr. Tiller’s activities drew intense legal scrutiny. Late term abortion candidates require second opinions to validate conditions that would provide legal justification that an abortion is medically required. Prosecutors contended Tiller referred patients a doctor employed by Tiller, not an independent source as required by Kansas law. Though acquitted by a jury of such charges, Tiller’s adversaries contend that any woman who can pay the $5000 for his services can obtain a late term abortion.

While the abortion debate remains intense and highly polarizing, a growing consensus of Americans steadfastly opposes late term abortions particularly partial birth abortions where labor is induced while the baby is mutilated to complete the termination. Furthermore, as ultrasound technology becomes more advanced providing much sharper imagery of the fetus functioning in its prenatal environment, mothers are able to see a real baby too tiny and not adequately defined yet to join the real world. These issues have contributed to a growing trend toward polls showing more and more Americans identify themselves as pro-life.

Be clear on this, if a person believes life begins at conception, there is no compromise position. Any termination of pregnancy is murder. In cases of rape and incest, the child did not choose his or her parents. A child cannot be killed for the sake of situations beyond its control. Only in the case of demonstrable threats to a mother’s life where her survival is weighed against the life of an offspring are there grounds for debate. Therefore, any allowance for pro-life positions are a matter of defending murder.

George Tiller’s murder will create a political firestorm. Within the next couple of news cycles, there will be righteously-toned editorials and commentary condemning this assassination and as the media mindset so often presents, rather than holding the criminal himself responsible for his crimes, blame will surely fall on their most outspoken political adversaries who are the most vocal in their opposition to abortion and who have specifically identified Tiller as a major player practicing the most objectionable forms of abortion.

Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Newt Gingrich, among others, will be targeted for their rhetoric directed against Tiller’s activities. In the committed left-wing perspective of the mainstream media, such figures will be prosecuted and convicted in the media circus as accessories to this murder. One should not be surprised if somehow their influence will be worked in to help build the killer’s defense as being some kind of obsessive person, he then found moral license to murder Tiller based on the views of talk-show hosts he faithfully supported.

The left will come close to making a martyr of Tiller using his death as a rallying point for abortion rights, gun control, and the fairness doctrine as there should have been, in liberal ideology, immediate voices countering the anti-abortion positions aired by some of the country’s most popular talk show hosts.

Viewing his life’s work since going into the abortion business in 1973, George Tiller is a particularly villainous figure for pro-life believers. That he sought to eliminate all impediments to unrestricted abortions make him a hero to the so-called pro choice viewpoint.

That Dr. Tiller expedited the ease of securing a legal late term abortion against babies perhaps only days away from being ready for life in the outside world for the sake of mothers, who apparently could come up with psychological causes as justification for their medical reason to abort, is quite simply a moral atrocity. While we would prefer less inflammatory rhetoric, at what point do such justifications become the grounds for genocide against the unborn?

Doctor Tiller’s murder does nothing to advance resolution of this debate which must result into a higher respect for life and encouragement of more responsible behavior regarding everything that leads to the possibility of considering destroying babies.

The exact moment in the process from when sperm enters egg and develops toward a living baby becomes uniquely a human life, a soul, is a subject theologians and philosophers can possibly debate for eternity. Regardless of whether some argue there is a little window of time allowing for second thoughts about bringing a child into being, our own eyes can tell us what our hearts should feel, fetuses are being destroyed well beyond the point at which a collection of cells have multiplied and specialized into becoming a human life.

Society must evaluate the entire series of issues that lead up to the possible decision of ending a pregnancy. This includes teaching responsible sexual behavior and clearly indentifying some forms of behavior as wrong. Since the birth control pill provided for much more active sexual behavior while at the same time traditional values concerning sexual behavior and life have been reduced to relativity, society is suffering the consequences of such rampant permissiveness. Abortion is but one issue. Millions of children born without any paternal involvement other than serving as the sperm donor in the sexual act contributes to poverty, failing schools, and urban violence. The link between single parent children and a myriad of social problems is undeniable. Such behavior is glamorized by Hollywood sluts and their partners-du-jour. They might have the financial ability to provide for their children though their mental bankruptcy is subject to our criticism.

No debate is more polarizing that the issues regarding abortion but irresponsible sexual behavior is the underlying issue no one wants to talk about. Doctor Tiller is dead, but the debate surely will only get uglier, more emotional, more divided, and other tragedies beyond the babies being killed are a certainty.

Be clear on one thing, it is easy for white middle class men to categorically oppose all forms of abortion as they will never become pregnant. For their daughters, it’s a different matter entirely.

Susan Boyle; It Could Only Be Worse in Cleveland

Kate Smith (left), Susan Boyle (right) -- how times have changed.

Susan Boyle and this writer have much in common. We’re both Scottish, ugly, and some would say we make a joyful noise, though “yours truly” can’t sing a note. We are intrigued by her phenomenon, but also realize it probably would not happen in the USA on “American Idol” as Americans are so much more image and appearance obsessed that our British cousins who many stereotype for their pasty complexions and bad teeth.

It’s only natural to see the underdog get attention, and given all other considerations to see a person’s ability to maximize one’s gift can gather much favorable attention. As is so often the case, that which gives one day, takes away the next. Such is the case in the fickle world of the pop culture. Sadly, Ms. Boyle destroyed her innocent church lady persona when accosted by the hateful celebrity stalkers and paparazzi in London. She responded with some spicy language, not the kind of seasoning used in a good old Scottish meat pie, and the damage was done. Had she kept her mouth shut and hauled back and decked one of the sons of bitches, she’d probably have reached even a higher level of celebrity.

She’ll surely land a record contract and produce an album. The novelty of it should mean huge sales in the United States probably more so that Great Britain. Undoubtedly, she’ll have little input on the album’s content. It will be the domain of a record company promoter looking for an angle to maximize initial sales which translates into very crappy music. For decades, such producers have been the bane of true quality in music.

A year from now, she’ll be forgotten or touring on some evangelist’s crusade if she can be roped into that calling. Her fifteen minutes are almost up. The show biz rags and television shows will surely hype her album when it’s released and she’ll be yet another flavor of the month, gone and forgotten.

Her music’s not fitting this writer’s taste, but her story deserves a little perspective. We think of broader things how a person’s appearance and fashion sense has so much to do with the public’s reaction and how in the music industry, it’s all about having the “look” that goes along with the sound. Would Kate Smith have become such a giant star had her career not started in the days of radio when 78rpm records were often sold in brown paper sleeves? Anybody can identify a mindless fluff who has the “look” but little else, zero musical talent and an absolutely forgettable voice who can at best follow a producer’s instructions in the studio. Case in point, hello Britney Spears.

This is life in the television and video age. Think back to the Kennedy/Nixon debate in 1960. Those who watched the debate on television though John F. Kennedy won convincingly. Those who listened to the debate on radio were equally convinced Nixon won. That's back when television was still largely black and white. Today, we have high definition TV that reveals every zit and imperfection, all kinds of news and entertainment options on cable television, not to mention all the means of exposure on the Internet.

One last note to Susan Boyle’s brief moment in the spotlight, she was identified as “the woman who shut up Simon Cowell.” That’s a good thing.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sprint Cup 2009, Race 13: Reuty-Toot-Toot

Life is good for David Reutimann!!!
Determined to show his victory in Charlotte on Monday wasn’t just being a lucky dog, David Reutimann sits on the pole for Sunday’s race with Kasey Kahne, a driver much in need of a little boost for his season on the outside of the front row. However, the #9 team is not the only member of Richard Petty racing to start off against the monster way up front, Reed Sorenson, #43 registers a 4th position, A.J. Allmendinger, #44 checks in at 7th and the final Petty Dodge, Elliot Sadler secured 10th. All four Petty Dodges starting in the top ten. Also needing to build some positive momentum, Juan Pablo Montoya puts his #42 Chevy in 3rd for Earnhardt-Ganassi. Greg Biffle tops the Ford and Roush effort in 5th, but for all the joy the fellows earning top spots can celebrate for their fine starting spots, along with Brian Vickers in 9th, they only need to survey the top ten and see Kyle Busch in 6th and Jimmie Johnson in 8th, two drivers who could make it a long miserable afternoon for fellows who haven’t been as successful roughing up the concrete monster.

Needing some tangible progress to begin the second third of the season, three of the remaining Roush-Fenway cars start in the top 20: Edwards – 13th, Kenseth -14th, and McMurray in 18th. David Regan still needs some solid results to turn his season around way back in 26th just ahead of another Ford driver who needs to get a break, Bobby Labonte in 27th.

Several of the drivers who’ve been living high and happy recently will face a tough start on Sunday with Mark Martin way back in 28th and Tony Stewart in a miserable 31st. Even worse, points leader Jeff Gordon wrecked during qualify and will have to roll out a backup car starting in next to last. Brad Kesolowski couldn’t qualify the #25 Hendricks Chevy for the field. He’s the only competitive driver sent home. Richard Childress’s gang continues its run of falling short with only Casey Mears breaking the top 20 in 17th. Clint Bowyer starts 25th, Jeff Burton – 32nd, and Kevin Harvick, 35th as his season continues to unravel.

Joey Logano takes his first start in 21st – not bad for a rookie at one of the toughest tracks to manage for a good hot lap.

If change brings fortune to the #88 team, qualifying doesn’t show the winds of change have done much more than stir up the same old kind of dust with Dale Junior beginning the next chapter in his career in 22nd. His nephew, Jeff, Kerry’s son, wrecked trying to qualify for the Nationwide event just missing the field. The 4th generation, Earnhardt, though obviously nervous and shaken after his wreck bore a haunting resemblance to his famous grandfather.

What a lively weekend of racing as the engines roar in the battle between the bays Saturday afternoon with the Nationwide fellows starting their engines at 2:00 pm on ABC. Trucks slam the pedal to the metal on Speed TV at 6:00 pm. Fox broadcasts its last race of the season starting at 1:30, Sunday.

Kyle Busch will start all three races while other drivers seek double duty possibilities. Brian Vickers, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Mike Bliss, Scott Speed, and Tony Raines attempt Nationwide and Sprint Cup. Mike Skinner attempts Camping World Trucks and Sprint Cup. Dennis Setzer, Johnny Chapman, Scott Wimmer, and Terry Cook attempt Nationwide and Trucks. Given how physically demanding the Monster Mile is, are these fellows brave, crazy, or lots of both?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Phil Spector: Da Doo Gone Gone

Phil Spector was sentenced to serve 19 years to life for his second degree murder of struggling actress, Lana Clarkson. The murder conviction carries 15 years to life. Four years are for a weapons charge. Additionally, Spector will pay restitution for funeral and other expenses. At 69 years old, the sentence all but should guarantee life in prison for the fallen mad genius of pop music trading in his famous wall of sound for the walls of California state prison.

In an earlier posting, we chronicled Spector's gigantic influence on pop music, also aspects of his bizarre personality. While the press will no doubt publish this as the personal tragedy of a fallen genius, and all the "how could this happen" grief, our true feelings should be directed to the tragic loss of life and its impact on the Clarkson family.

The loss isn't of Spector's freedom or any possible creative contributions he had left, but the loss of a human life. Somehow, in the celebrity obsessed world of mass media, something that basic, a real moral truth gets lost in the glitter.

Sprint Cup 2009, Race 13: Dover -- the Monster Speaks

Good bye, Gopher -- hello MONSTER!!!

It's sentimental tear-jerker race coverage viewing it’s the last race on Fox, no more “Boogity-boogity-boogity, let’s go racin’ boys,” no more of little Digger’s antics, no more jokes about Dr. Dick Berggren being so old he called Roman chariot races, and no more Hollywood Hotel. Fans can at least ease the transition to the cold professionalism of ESPN’s team in late July knowing Larry MacReynolds plays a major role as cutaway car specialist and tech analyst for the upcoming six broadcasts on TNT, and they do have a cartoon figure, the racing “Buddy.” For all their gimmicks, blatant self-promotion, and side-shows, Mike Joy is as good or better than Dr. Jerry Punch as the play-by-play man, and Darrell Waltrip, continuing to live up to his old driver nickname of “Jaws” is surely one of the best color analysts in the business particularly now that John Madden will no longer be in the NFL booth. Love him, hate him, or just tolerate him, Ol’ DW knows his stuff and captures the most important part of a race, FUN. With all the rain delay time last weekend, race fans probably got a little too generous a serving of the Fox race crew, but they did what they could to fill in the dead time.

The Monster Mile at Dover is a race that pretty much broadcasts itself. All the viewer needs is some information to sort out the numbers on the sheet metal flying across the track in wreckage and keep track of the leader board. There is seldom a lull in the action in the Delaware madhouse. Some might describe it as a giant Bristol, twice as long, but it’s a track that provides for tons of excitement, close racing, and thoughtful strategy a great introduction to those who can’t understand why anyone would want to watch cars just driving around in circles.

Eyes will be on the #88 team to see if some new energy from a new crew boss can turnaround one of the most disappointing performances by a top driver in a long time. (Well, that’s the official media spin on it – we remind our readers Kevin Harvick’s situation is similar.

Dover is upgraded over last year with some substantial improvements over what was one of the worst pit areas on the circuit. There will now be 43 complete pill stalls and other improvements to improve entrance and exit. It’s never good to have a race decided because of some tangle, bump, or grind off the main action.

Forty nine drivers are entered to compete in Sunday’s Autism Speaks 400. Of the drivers who must qualify to make the field include Talladega winner, Brad Keselowski, who’ll be in the #25 Hendricks car this weekend. It will be Mike Skinner’s first race with Tommy Baldwin racing as that independent team attempts to find something to build on to become a competitive team. Derrike Cope, who scored one of his two Cup victories at Dover almost 20 years ago seeks to make the field so he can take the green flag and find a parking spot. Other mystery men include Max Papis, #13; David Starr, #06; and Tony Raines, #37. the 09 entry for James Finch can hardly be called an odd-ball team given their finish at Charlotte last week and stunning victory at Talladega. Clearly, there’s a pit crew there that can take on the best. J.J. Yeley was to have raced for a Mrs. Jeremy Mayfield entry in car #41 while suspended owner/driver attempts to come up with more convincing defense to his drug test failure. The last reason was something like his shaving cream and breathe mints combined to cause a false positive for a date rape drug or something??? The team withdrew its application to start. Dave Blaney in #66 is another candidate to try to make it and park it. Regan Smith will attempt to qualify the #78 ride for Furniture Row Racing – take a few laps, sell a few sofas, all in a day’s work. Finally, of the contenders racing to get in, Joe Nemechek, now racing for a team owned by his mom, has some sponsorship for this race. One has to wonder if this fellow would be better served taking his family resources to the Truck series where they could, quite possibly have the right stuff to win on a regular basis.

Among the big guys, surely Richard Childress and Jack Roush will try to get their drivers in better shape to use the long haul of the season to prepare them for that fateful night on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay in September when the field for the chase will be chosen. Will Joey Logano keep moving up as he has in recent weeks to where a top five is now in reach?

We know the focus will inevitably be on the workings of the #88 team, but Mike, DW and the rest of the broadcasters can’t let discussing the political upheaval in Junior Nation to distract from what’s going on with forty two other cars.

The real story is this is Dover, this is the Monster Mile, and some drivers are going to leave very angry while but a select few will improve their fortunes. The forecast calls for sunny weather around 80 degrees perfect for murder and mystery in broad daylight.

The Orioles: Change Fans Can Believe In

The Orioles of today ready to become the Orioles of tomorrow: Are you ready?

Orioles history, two nights in a row, as David Hernandez debuts giving up one run in his first start one night, with the best prospect in baseball ready to debut, as Matt Wieters joins the team for Friday night action.

The move toward this moment has been underway for several weeks. First Lou Montenez arrived to continue on what he started as a late season call-up last year. Then Brad Bergensen joined the rotations, and the armada of talent from the Orioles minor league system was sailing up the Chesapeake Bay as the trip from the far reaches of the mid-Atlantic in places like Bluefield, WV; Aberdeen, MD, and Salisbury, MD lead to the roundabout journey from Frederick to Bowie south to Norfolk then to the big times in Baltimore. Nolan Reimold was smacking the baseball like a Canadian clubs a baby seal to earn is spot to compete for the starting job in left field, then the starting rotation demanded more attention as Cubs’ outcast Rich Hill then Jason Berken joined the starting rotation, and David Hernandez just put away the Detroit Tigers in his first start with the Orioles.

Tomorrow night Orioles fans and the baseball world await the most celebrated prospect to come up through the Orioles farm system since 1981 when a young man from Aberdeen, Maryland joined the team after the end of the midseason strike to add a little deep depth to Earl Weaver’s lineup. When Doug DeCinces was traded to the Angels, Cal Ripken appeared to be the 3rd baseman for the Orioles future, but that was not to be. Ripken would be the Orioles starting 3rd baseman for a few weeks, but he’d not become the Orioles permanent 3rd baseman until 1997. Weaver moved him to short, the streak was underway, and he played his way into Cooperstown, the most famous Oriole ever retiring after 2001.

Brad Wieters joins the team tonight as a switch hitting catcher. He was the O’s 2007 first round draft pick from Georgia Tech, and instantly showed his potential beginning as the most dominant hitter in advanced A in Frederick, then heading down I-270 to the eastern DC ‘burbs in Bowie to continue his advancement. This year provided a bit of a false start in Norfolk nursing a hamstring injury, but the time is now. The player considered by many to be the best prospect in all the minors joins the Orioles for some Friday night magic. The expectations will be high, but this kid shows incredible composure for a kid his age.

The Orioles now have a four game winning streak and have won six out of seven, a feat not accomplished for way too long. This is the perfect time for Matt Wieters to enter the picture when the team is on an upswing.

Two outfielders and three starting pitchers are currently with the big club with their most prized prospect ready to take his first bow under the big city lights on a Friday night. A face full of shaving cream should be just around the corner.

This will not mark the beginning of a pennant run or anything like that. The Orioles still have much work to do that will require lots of patience and practice, but they are clearly on the road to being a substantial team once again.

It wasn’t that long ago, one rap on the Orioles was their inability to develop a first class offensive player since Cal Ripken Junior. In truth they did with Steve Finley but they traded him away in the horrible Glenn Davis deal. Now the Orioles have one of the best second basemen and leadoff hitters in the game as their most established vet with Brian Roberts while Nick Martakis is knocking on the door of stardom. Meanwhile, the clubhouse door on Camden Street is wide open for the Norfolk and Bowie express to bring the champs of tomorrow to Orioles Park.

Finally, it is a good time to be an Orioles fan.

Sprint Cup 2009, Shake Up for 88 Team

A move that seemed inevitable became essential after Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 40th place finish. Tony Eury Jr. was dismissed as crew chief for the #88 to be reassigned to another post within Hendricks Motor Sports. Most fans probably wonder, what took so long.

Communications foul-ups and pit row blunders had become all too frequent as was radio chatter indicating problems with the car setup as the driver struggled to work with his equipment. While other teammates, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Mark Martin prospered, Dale Earnhardt Jr. could barely be seen as producing even average middle of the pack results.

This is not the first time that Earnhardt and Eury had issues. When they were teamed together at DEI, Theresa Earnhardt removed them assigning Eury to Michael Waltrip's #15 team for most of the season, but when the changes did not benefit either the #8 or #15 team, Eury and Earnhardt were reunited. The team finished in 19th.They would only have one more victory together at DEI in 2006 and would continue winless until last year at Michigan last June. After making the move to Hendricks, the #88 team began to show promise, but by late summer, the team’s performance was plunging just hanging on to make the chase and have not raced competitively in a points race since.

Coming to the hottest pit 100 feet higher than hell will be Brian Whitesell as crew chief this weekend. Lance McGrew will pilot the efforts as interim chief after that. McGrew has worked in a number of positions in the Hendricks organization leading the operation when part-time rookie, Brad Kesolowski runs with the team. He's also served as chief for Hendricks rides in the Nationwide series driven by Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch, Ricky Hendrick, and Junior himself. Whether he is the long term solution remains to be decided, but he is familiar with the Hendricks operation and its drivers.

Dover will be no easy test. It's one of the toughest tracks on both driver and crew. Pocono and then a much friendlier Michigan track await. Still, expectations run high and the Hendrick organization and fans alike will expect to see the #88 Chevrolet make a serious move toward being included in the chase.

As gut check time for Junior, it's time for him to think very seriously what would his daddy do. Even in the worst of times, the elder Earnhardt never let up and was always scheming what would it take to win. Junior must to the same or he'll follow in the footsteps of the only other son of a seven time champion to race in Sprint Cup, Kyle Petty. While Kyle did many great things for the sport, he could never be taken seriously as a possible champion. Folks will draw the same conclusion about Jr. soon if things don't improve.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Idiot 911 Call: Do They Vote?

These kind of stories have been mounting up lately. Just how fucking stupid can some folks around us be? There was recently a case from Michigan where a girl called 911 for her father's chest pains, "Send me a fucking ambulance!" However, just as insane are the disastisfied fast food customers, as is the case here, believe the police should arbitrate their customer service concerns. While we will grant you many junk food dealers are a few fries short of a happy meal, one's bad service does not equal a community's emergency.

Fortunately, so far, it appears local public safety officials have no tolerance for this ingorant behavior and deal with these "me-me-me' callers firmly. However, we're just waiting for one who is able to lawyer up, make it a big court issue, and then what?

Here's a case from Oregon, meet Raibin Raof Osman, a real class act.

a sure first ballot selection to be in the loser's Hall of Fame. Even more interesting is how the jerk responded after his abortive call.

Can't we just shun these morons, give them a couple happy meals and leave them in the middle of the Mojave desert in the dead of night?
Shouldn't these jerks be on Jerry Springer?

Rolling Stones -- Universal Begins Rereleasing Classic Albums

Universal Music Group has begun its rollout of the Rolling Stones albums released from 1971 forward starting with the albums released on Rolling Stones records, an attempt by the Rolling Stones to launch their own record label which would then be distributed by a major record company. This is the third attempt to release the Stones catalog from Sticky Fingers forward, so the question is, does the Stones switching distribution (and manufacturing) of their portfolio create any new value for Stones fans to justify buying these remastered CD’s. We can simply say, with some definite qualifications, MAYBE.

This month, Sticky Fingers (1971), Goats Head Soup (1973), It’s Only Rock & Roll (1974) and Black and Blue (1976) were reissued. Absent from the sequence is the Stones’ masterpiece, Exile on Main Street (1972), which supposedly will get its own special launch later this year.

The first CD release of these albums by CBS/Sony, Columbia records was generally an outright disaster. The audio quality was terrible and the packaging incomplete. Listeners who have these recordings and enjoy the albums would be well advised to replace them. In 1994, in support of their Voodoo Lounge tour, the Rolling Stones had signed over their catalog to EMI/Virgin. Much effort was put into upgrading these CD’s. The project team apparently consulted with Stones’ fans and carefully poured over both US and European LP’s to get a feel of the albums’ sound and worked to recapture the feel of these records. The results paid off. The new CD’s were at least as good or improved over their vinyl equivalents. Any weakness in the overall sound would go back to the original studio recordings prior to the phase a digital master would be created. Such annoyances as the RIAA curve were eliminated, tape noise kept at a minimum, and the overall resolution much clearer. The 1994 releases also provided much better packaging giving the customer most of the original albums’ goods. The EMI/Virgin recordings are at very least satisfactory so replacing them is more problematic. The CBS/Sony discs should absolutely be replaced. If the CD has red on white print on the sides of the jewel cases for these albums, they’re the inferior first generation CD’s. They’ll also be indentified on the side spine as either CBS or Columbia.

The Universal releases are definitely louder than the EMI/Virgin recordings, but the EMI/Virgin releases weren’t exactly soft or washed out sounding. Generally, the instruments, especially acoustic instruments, guitars, and bass seem clearer. However, some keyboard tracks seem at least as buried as they did on the 1994 releases – case in point, Nicky Hopkins’ piano on “Fool to Cry” from Black and Blue. How much of the improvement is from the initial sense of brighter sound from being louder is hard to tell, but the acoustic guitars have much more presence. Electric guitars have more bite. The listener can actually detect a true bass guitar playing on many more cuts rather than just a thud-thud-thud in the low register. Drums might sound slightly more percussive. As far as saying we hear more nuances and expression in Jagger’s singing, do we really need to go there? Stones fans have learned to put up with him or love him through the ages. He’s always the same old Mickster. For his most emotive singing – the vote goes to “Wild Horses,” for pure Mick madness – “Fool to Cry” or “Melody” from Black and Blue.

Assuming the listener is already familiar with these four albums and has some fondness for them, if you’ve never purchased these albums on CD, what are you waiting for? They are not maximum priced albums any longer. If you have the CBS/Sony CD’s, replace them even if you think you’ve tired of those albums over the years, it could be because those horrible CD’s just didn’t have the punch you remember from the old days especially if you listened to LP’s not crappy cassettes, or God forbid, 8-tracks. Those owning the 1994 EMI-Virgin recordings, it’s all a matter of how much of a perfectionist you are with one big caveat. If you’re a fan of “Star Star” on Goats Head Soup, be forewarned that Universal, for some inexplicable reason in the error of “gangsta rap” where anything goes lyrically, they hauled out the original American LP master of this song which has a stupid overdub to obscured the “lick your pussy clean” line from the same song which repeats on and on “Star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star….” Sure, the song is called “Star Star” but you’d have to be a naïve idiot to think dirty old Mick with his lips so thick is singing, “Star fah, star fah…etc.” Yes, there’s too much vulgarity and all that in pop music, but then look at all the Republican looking yuppie baby boomers with their eight year old children and grandchildren at Stones concerts. The bad boys of rock & roll had to do some silly things to live up to their reputation back in the day, right?

Reviewing the original albums briefly, there’s no question Sticky Fingers is the true masterpiece in this collection. Critics and long-time fans describe the four album run from 1968’s Beggar’s Banquet, through Let it Bleed (1969), this album in 1971, and finally Exile on Main Street as the Stones “classic” phase. Any serious rock music collection will include all four albums and the listener will be familiar with just about every track.

The Stones never do a concert without playing “Brown Sugar” the first single from the album which along with “Bitch” are the two genuine rockers on the album. “Wild Horses” could be the best ballad the Stones ever recorded. It has a country feel without resorting to any kind of gimmicks or pandering reflecting their association with country pioneer, Gram Parsons. Maybe showing some influence of Carlos Santana, “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” is one of the few Stones’ songs through the years that features an extended instrumental jam. The song opens with signature rough Keith Richards riffs set to a slightly Latino beat. Jagger screams out some silly lyrics. “Ya gat cocaine eyes…., Ya gat speed freak jive…” so many drug references on this album as a document of its time. Soon the song transitions into its instrumental phase with great solos from Keith Richards, Billy Preston on organ, Bobby Keys on sax, and finally a timeless beauty of a guitar solo that Ronnie Wood has been struggling to capture for decades from Mick Taylor. The sax solo and Taylor’s guitar are what make this song an everlasting classic.

One of the album’s most interesting songs is sandwiched between “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses,” “Sway” is the first Stones song which specifically credits Mick Jagger playing guitar. Keith is reduced to a cameo roll on backing vocals. The song opens with Jagger pounding out the power chords on his guitar, raspy and rocking. His singing provides some of his most dramatic and emotional singing for a Stones hard rocker even though after four decades we still haven’t a clue what the lyrics are supposed to mean. This is the only track on the album on which pianist, Nicky Hopkins makes an appearance as he was off on the west coast and Hawaii with Quicksilver Messenger Service, but his keyboard work on this tune gives it the texture to smooth it out and help bridge the rough rocking opening to the virtuosic finale with another brilliant guitar solo from short-term prodigy, Mick Taylor, made even bolder with the orchestration explosion from Paul Buckmaster, most noted for his work on the most orchestra-laden tunes of Elton John’s early albums. What concluded side one back in the old LP days is a fine attempt at blues authenticity, playing Robert McDowell’s “You Gotta Move’ with absolutely dynamite blues slide guitar, Keith on acoustic and Mick Taylor on electric. “Bitch’ then opens side two with one of the most memorable and powerful horn riffs ever in rock music with the combo of Jim Price and Bobby Keys at their best perhaps foreshadowing their work on Exile on Main Street. Before Otis Redding’s untimely death in 1968, the soul of soul music and the British bad boys seemed to have a transatlantic love affair for each other’s music where Redding did a marvelous version of the Stones’ classic, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” While the Stones performed songs that Otis Redding made famous like “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” “Pain in my Heart” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” Perhaps as tribute to their soul inspiration, the Mick and the boys produced a tune almost as faithful to an Otis original as any band short of Booker T and the MG’s could perform with their original composition, “I Got the Blues” so evocative of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” with Price and Keys playing note for note the exact same kind of soulful horns of their brethren, the Memphis Horns, while Billy Preston and the band faithfully emulate Cropper, Dunn, and Jackson. Mick Jagger fans will proclaim his soul-singer style pure genius while Jagger cynics might see this as pure Jagger excess.

“Sister Morphine” is the most blatantly controversial song on the album. The instrumental arrangement with Keith Richards on acoustic guitar, and guest performers, Ry Cooder on slide guitar and Jack Nietzsche on piano lay down a haunting and eerie nightmare soundtrack quite befitting the title of the song. The vocals, performed in full melodramatic mode, provide a horrific narrative of what truly sounds more like a bad acid trip than what one might experience from an opiate, but is this a song that shakes a scolding finger at the dangers of hard drugs, dramatizes them, or is just another example of Jagger being Jagger, we’ll gladly try to keep the debate fired up.

The Stones transition into a more fun mode approaching the home stretch on this fine album with a playful up tempo country influenced gem, “Dead Flowers,” a witty little ditty about a spurned lover but in keeping with the times has a naughty drug line, “I’ll be in my basement room with a needle and a spoon…” Is that what it takes to make a great beer drinking/pot smoking anthem?

Sticky Fingers concludes with a dreamy dramatic ballad “Moonlight Mile” that with its yearning lyrics, haunting strings, and gentler tempo almost serves as a much deserved lullaby after a busy day of work and play exhibited on the rest of the album. If you’re between 30 and 70, and somehow missed this album, what’s your excuse? If you’re under 30 and have not hung with the crowd who’d turn you on to good classic rock, here it is. Listen up and enjoy. This is the music that guys like Guns and Roses and White Stripes cut their adult teeth hearing. It’s a timeless classic despite some of the druggy lyrics that seem so cliché in the new century.

Goats Head Soup took a pounding for not living up to the Stones’ previous four albums, but it’s not half bad, in fact, most of it’s pretty darned good. If the druggy stuff on Sticky Fingers wasn’t way out there, can anyone explain the album’s opener, “Dancing with Mr. D?” We’ll assume that Mr. D. is not Mr. Dylan as in Bob Dylan. Could “D” stand for devil? Oh, by then the moralists of the planet knew with certainty Mick and Keith were Satan’s dynamic duo of earthly disciples. After the tragedy at Altamont and all the excesses of their summer 1972 backing the release of Exile on Main Street, Goat Head Soup could be seen as a feckless attempt to cash in on that image. Keith Richards and Mick Taylor on guitar with Nicky Hopkins on piano lay down a familiar formula from the previous album from which to build their standard rockers handing the rest off to Sir Mick to do the rest, vintage Jagger on display.

“100 Years Ago” is an overlooked Stones classic which blends a country type mood with some true funk essentials best demonstrated by Billy Preston’s electric clavinet which paces the instrumental arrangement. There’s no way this song could be used as documentation the Stones are slipping a little on this album. In fact, most of what was side one on the album could be a 5th Stones masterpiece as they cover much ground and the songs are all solid in their own way, but the next tune is surely the refrigerator or potty break tune to those who don’t appreciate the Keith Richards tunes on Stones albums. “Coming Down Again” is a strange one which anyone who claims to understand the lyrics is lying, but egads, what an incredibly fine haunting tune which, on one hand, highlights a certain musical style and mood Nicky Hopkins carries with him to work with other artists including “I’ll Take a Melody” with the Jerry Garcia Band or “Long Haired Lady” by Quicksilver. Add to that some very strange sax exchanges between Bobby Keys and Jim Horn and slippery spacey rhythm guitars, the recipe is served as an offbeat creative joy.

“Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” is Stones rocker refitted to the hit making sound of 1973 with its blatant attempt to incorporate funk from its electric keyboards, wah-wah guitars, and fat horn section. Jagger matches some urban crime drama lyrics to finish off the effort. This doesn’t make it a bad tune, quite the contrary. Mick Taylor contributes a soaring, sharp guitar solo that alone sets this song apart.

Side one concludes with the classic ballad, “Angie,” which has for decades been subject to speculation on the identity of the real Angie, thought to be Angela Bowie as in the former Mrs. Angela Bowie while rumors abounded she, David, and the Mickster maintained a three way bisexual relationship, but didn’t Mick marry Bianca during the recording of Exile as if any of this soap opera stuff matters aside from the conversation it helps build about the albums of the time. “Angie” is a nice tune. Opening with one of Keith Richard’s finest in a long line of acoustic intros, the song builds into a strings and piano driven ballad typical of the era perhaps developed best by Elton John. Lover boy Mick is all over the place from dramatic whispers to all out bold pleading in his vocal delivery while Nicky Hopkins accompanies with neoclassical piano styling interlocked with Keith’s acoustic guitar work.

“Silver Train” opens side two sounding like an outtake from Exile on Main Street. The tune is anchored with Mick Jagger on rhythm guitar, Keith playing more melodic bass than what Bill Wyman would generally contribute, and some fine boogie-woogie piano from their long-time sidekick, Ian Stewart. All this and even Jagger’s frolicking vocals serve to showcase Mick Taylor’s workout on slide guitar, a style he perfects during his brief tenure with the Stones.

“Hide Your Love” is filler that helps pull the album down from potential classic status. It’s formulaic blues and nothing more driven by Mick Jagger on piano demonstrating clearly why the Stones utilized their buddy Ian Stewart or hired Nicky Hopkins or Billy Preston to do the honors on their records. Sure Mick Taylor plays some scorching lead guitar riffs, but it’s all wind up and play purely mechanical stuff the Stones, individually or collectively could play in their sleep.

The album ascends back into high gear on another ballad, “Winter,” which perhaps builds from the “Moonlight Mile” template with much more artful and complex piano from Nicky, gorgeous guitar leads, while ol’ Mick perhaps exhibits a trick or two from the school of Van Morrison. It’s a great tune perhaps a little underrated because of where this album fits into the Stones’ overall repertoire.

“Can You Hear the Music” is another lesser tune anchored by a lead guitar enhanced by a Leslie tone cabinet while flutes, congas, and bongos attempt to create a “world” music feel. The horn and piano breaks provide what could have been a great building block for a better song, but at best this tune sounds awkward and contrived.

The album ends with one of the Stones most controversial tunes that Universal has lots of explaining to do for censoring it all of a sudden in the permissive age of 2009. “Star Star” is Rolling Stones excess through and through celebrating the decadent rock superstar lifestyle calling out and ridiculing groupies while namedropping show biz big shots who might be on Sir Mick’s celebrity calling list. It’s dirty, naughty, but generally harmless because mama if you don’t know it, kids talk this kind of talk by the time they first spend some time in the locker room in middle school. By 2009, parents should be wise enough to know they don’t have to cover their children’s ears for this one. Why Universal would dig up a miserable censored recording only issued on the US Atlantic records distributed release of this album sure seems odd so anyone who replaces this album for better fidelity which at times is noteworthy should definitely keep the EMI/Virgin release of this disc hoping that Universal will correct its error as EMI did when releasing the Beatles, The Capitol Albums, Vol. 2 containing some unfaithful mono recordings that were simply flattening the stereo version not releasing the original mono master. If EMI would replace a four CD boxed set, Universal should recall and replace a single CD!

It’s Only Rock & Roll could be the weakest of these four albums. It has some great songs but just does not hold together well as an album and fades more and more into Stones obscurity over the ages despite being quite popular at the time. The album also marks Mick Taylor’s swan song as a band member and his work is highlighted throughout. The album opens with “If You Can’t Rock Me” a formula driven rocker if there ever was one though it has become one of Keith’s favorites to play in concert since it surely does have some nice guitar chops. It’s followed by a nice but way too predictable cover of the Temptations’ mighty classic, “Ain’t to Proud to Beg” In the Stones’ hands, it is likeable but forgettable.

The next track is the second of two Stones’ anthems in this four album release played in every concert they’ve ever done, or at least so it seems. “It’s Only Rock & Roll” started with the tape of a jam they recorded with Ronnie Wood and Kenny Jones never knowing that Ronnie Wood would be the 5th Stone within the year. The song perhaps is more appealing to the casual fan than the real Stones’ junky. It has that nice “sing and stomp along” feel for a concert classic, but its pretty predictable and about as unique as a Big Mac from the Golden Arches.

“Till the Next Goodbye” is a fine ballad perhaps obscured by its placement in song sequence on this album. Keith Richards shines again on acoustic guitar, the driving instrumental engine for the song. Great Nicky Hopkins piano and powerful Mick Taylor guitar solos fill out the song.

“Time Waits for No One” is one of the most artistically sophisticated songs the Rolling Stones, so much so, it hardly sounds like the Rolling Stones at all. Vaguely borrowing the formula of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” starting off with Keith’s licks and Mick’s vocal passages then it evolves into extended instrumental territory. This number also has a slight jazz feel to it as well, but goes as close as the Rolling Stones would ever go toward the art rock that was starting to peak in popularity around that time – a song that would be more compatible with Genesis or Yes than Muddy Waters or Otis Redding. The instrumental part of the song is truly Mick Taylor’s glorious swan song built around a soaring long guitar solo counterbalanced by elegant piano work from Hopkins again where the guitar solo eventually transitions into a powerful piano passage similar to but much more complicated than the finale from “Layla.”

The record version, side two opens with one of the album’s most appealing songs, “Luxury,” that takes the basic Stones rock formula adding some Caribbean and Mexicali influences centered on two lead guitars and piano interlacing to provide a lively romp for Jagger to develop a song loosely based on Latino immigrant exploitation.

A gorgeous but familiar sounding ballad is sandwiched between two assembly line Stones numbers. “Dance Little Sister” is the simple Stones rocker formula and nothing more built on Keith Richards tempo setting guitar riffs and elevated with lively lead and solo slide work from Mick Taylor. “Short and Curlies” better known as “She’s Got You by the Balls” is more a boogie woogie number that benefits from Ian Stewart’s laid-back always likable piano playing, where like “Little Sister” is the music equivalent to “paint by numbers.”

In between is a glorious ballad that will leave most listeners thinking, “Haven’t I heard this before?” The answer is pretty much yes, “If You Really Want to be my Friend” is more or less a sequel to “Let it Loose” from Exile on Main Street. The classy horn arrangement is replaced by the rich soul harmonies of Blues Magic, but it also draws from a similar Telecaster played through a Leslie system propelling the song supplemented and supported by similar Nicky Hopkins’ piano techniques.

The album finishes with a song that has not aged well, “Fingerprint File.” This is a number that tries to draw on the political paranoia of the era, surveillance, wiretaps, and other such intrusion with lots of keyboards mostly electric and synthesized, wah-wah and disco-funking guitar work. All supporting some of the silliest vocals the Mickster has ever performed. It’s also one of the longest studio tracks the band ever recorded.

It’s Only Rock & Roll is an album that never really captures fire surrendering the raw power of recent predecessors for sheer professionalism. While most of the songs are relatively likeable, they are equally forgettable. Alas, as the title opines, it’s only rock & roll but we like it. Of the four albums, this is the one that benefits the most from the remastering treatment. The sound is much more direct and clearer where previous versions sound unfortunately washed out and muffled.

About a year and a half later, Black and Blue hit the racks with a new attitude and a new band member. As much as this album would seem on the surface to have plenty of reasons to be labeled a real stinker right down to only having eight songs, it’s actually a very likeable album even though it captures a band in transition from having had to work fast to find fill-in’s for the recently departed Mick Taylor to finally integrating Ronnie Wood as the new #2 guitarist taking that role in a very different direction than the stoic, detached approach of Taylor.

The Stones were bracing for a fight for raw meat rock & rollers with the opening track on the album, “Hot Stuff,” which would be far more at home at Studio 54 and the disco dance floor than good old rockin’. The rhythms are pure funk with Keith Richards and guest guitarist, Harvey Mandel cranking out the guitar jams while Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts assimilate the four on the floor rhythm expertly.

Track two, “Hand of Fate,” is the album’s true all out rocker. It follows the classic elements of Stones rockers from this era but exchanges Nicky Hopkins for Billy Preston and Mick Taylor for studio whiz, Wayne Perkins who cranks out absolutely wicked guitar solos that stand up among the best on any Stones’ album. Ol’ Mick adds some new vocal tricks practically growling some of the lyrics.

Up until Black and Blue, the Stones flirted with reggae and Caribbean sounds such as “Under My Thumb” and “Sweet Black Angel” but here they cover a genuine reggae classic, Eric Donaldson’s “Cherry Oh Baby.” It’s silly and cheesy but real reggae, a fun listen as long as listeners take it for fun and don’t get too serious.

The first half concludes with a long epic ballad about life on the road by a band that’s starting to tack on some miles. The instrumental arrangement of Mick playing a simple acoustic piano, Keith Richards on electric piano, Billy Preston on synthesizers, and the hired guns, Perkins and Mandel on guitars, Harvey Mandel getting the leads creates just the right atmosphere for a tune that Mick and Keith swap singing solo with some great four part harmonies adding Ronnie and Billy for the breaks. It’s a powerful song, the real production number for the album.

Act two starts off with a rather offbeat goofy rocker, “Hey Negrita,” which fully integrates Ronnie Wood into the band sliding all over the soundscape with his slippery Stratocaster lead slide guitar with Billy Preston doing the setup work on piano. Jagger’s singing is the kind of silliness only the Mick can perform so slick.

“Melody” is Billy Preston’s showcase through and through playing lively piano and Hammond B-3 organ singing a foot-stomping, toe-tapping, duet opposite Mick the quick. Another song not to be taken too seriously, it’s pure fun theatrics and can be enjoyed accordingly.

“Fool to Cry” on the surface seems just too damned silly not to be an automatic activation of the skip button on the old CD player, but skipping this tune would be the listener’s big mistake as it is actually one of the best songs from all four of these albums. On one level, it’s another entry into country territory albeit including string synthesizers. It could be a soul number too. What makes it is the creative instrumental arrangement, a mixture of guitars and keyboards, to accompany Jagger’s melodramatic yet genuinely passionate vocals right up to the “boo-hoo” or whatever it is segments. The song’s over 33 years old and will still grow on a good Stone’s fan with each listen.

“Crazy Mama” closes out the album as its second real hard rocker with layers and layers of guitars galore creating a wall of jamming guitars much like from Exile on Main Street. Instrumentally, this song is Keith’s show place right down to a fine rhythmic piano, simple, direct, and forceful. Over top of it all, mean old Mick snarls, growls, and generally pumps out pure attitude before the song ends with an all out guitar barrage with one guitar part coming one right after another creating another long classic Stones’ fade.

No one would call Black and Blue one of the Stones’ masterpieces as in the big four from 1968-1972 or Some Girls, their next effort, nevertheless, it’s always a good listen that for this reviewer is his second most played Stones’ album second only to Exile on Main Street. With so much left to loosely constructed songs centered on jams and riffs, and a sense of incompleteness awaiting on Ronnie Wood getting his bags unpacked and fully integrated into the band, it might not have seemed nearly the effort of its predecessor, It’s Only Rock & Roll, however, over time, Black and Blue stands up much better always worth a quick spin even if the listener chooses to skip a track or two. Regardless, “Hand of Fate” is one of those addicting tunes that almost certainly tempts the listener to crank it up just as “Fool to Cry” forever prompts more curiosity.

These four albums covering 1971-1976 mark the transition from the Stones being the dark and devilish true bad boys of pop music into true showmanship though some of Mick Jagger’s antics on stage were still along way off from the kind of family entertainment their concerts are today. Unquestionably, Sticky Fingers is the best of the bunch and belongs in all rock libraries. The remaining three albums are sure essentials for even a casual Stones’ fan, but for other listeners it’s more a pick and choose proposition from the dark indulgence Goats Head Soup to the last stage of the Mick Taylor era with It’s Only Rock & Roll or to the riffs and rhythms that dominate Black and Blue. In the five years measured here minus their epic Exile on Main Street, we see the Stones go from flipping off the establishment to becoming the establishment. Such are the burdens of the label, “The World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

At the One Third Mark Where Does Sprint Cup Stand?

It’s time to look at the first third of the Sprint Cup season, but we must mention surely something’s cooking with the NASCAR brass calling a summit meeting to owners and drivers only to discuss the state of the state of the sport. Certainly economic pressures, resent controversies involving Carl Long and Jeremy Mayfield and miserable television ratings are giving the NASCAR heavy-weights a bad case of the jitters. Hopefully, they will have a frank discussion and see what they can do to win back the casual fans that seem to have abandoned the sport in 2009.

The 2009 season is highly competitive at the one third mark with the top seven drivers within 184 points of first place and four drivers within 100 points from being in the all-important top 12 Chase qualifiers. Beyond Clint Bowyer in 17th, 109 points separated from the 12 place driver, the remainder of the field has much more ground to make up. A handful of familiar drivers have much to accomplish to get into chase consideration.

NASCAR responded to the economic squeeze on many levels but the most noteworthy ruling was to ban testing all NASCAR sanctioned tracks for Sprint Cup competitors. While that helps even things up between the rich and the poor where wealthy teams can deploy cars across the country to run tests but some of the lesser teams struggle to have enough cars just to cover the races on the schedule, the wealthy teams are also much more able to run sophisticated simulations and find other facilities where they can conduct tests. Consider the impact on rookie drivers. Joey Logano and Scott Speed will see some tracks for the first time as their cars unload for that week’s competition.

Perhaps the most radical responses to the failing economy were the ones in the offseason when Chip Ganassi and Theresa Earnhardt combined operations to from Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. Petty Enterprises joined Gillette-Evernham racing, essentially selling out the Petty legacy to new hands with Richard as a lesser partner. However, in respect to the “King” and the better branding possibilities, the new operation would be named Richard Petty Racing. Hall of Fame Racing had maintained a loose association with Joe Gibbs Racing but entered into a relationship with Yates Racing that was all but a merger, hiring former champ Bobby Labonte as driver to work with former champion crew chief Todd Parrott taking owner points from the former #38 operation. Paul Menard joined the team from the former DEI operation. Travis Kvapil started the season without permanent sponsorship in the #28 Ford. Not locking into the top 35 in owner’s points after this year’s results took effect, the team was disbanded. Meanwhile, the Earnhardt-Ganassi garage, lack of sponsorship and struggles on the track led to disbanding the #8 team with driver Aric Almirola. The realities of 2009 Sprint Cup racing could mark the beginning of the end of one of NASCAR’s most historic teams, the “legendary” Wood Brothers. With tech support and engines from Roush-Yates and former champ, Bill Elliot, once again postponing retirement, the #21 Ford has only appeared in a select few events but Awesome Bill did manage a 10th starting spot for the Coca Cola 600.

Against that backdrop, since the green flag dropped to start the Daytona 500, most of the attention focuses where it should be, on racing. Two scandals of lesser teams have arisen in the last three weeks. First, veteran driver and team owner, Jeremy Mayfield was dealt an indefinite suspension for failing a drug test. The results of the test indicating what substance tested positive have not been released. Itinerate owner/driver, Carl Long suffered a long suspension and huge fine for running an oversized engine. Message to drivers and owners, don’t mess with NASCAR’s rules. They don’t politic around or engage in legalistic niceties enforcing their rules.

Competition in the first quarter generally brings together the usual cast of characters, drivers, owners, and teams. Despite winning the first two races with the #17 Ford driven by Matt Kenseth, 2009 so far proved tough for the Roush teams with Carl Edwards, last year’s muscle man, struggling to stay in the top 12. Kyle Busch leads with three wins. Matt Kenseth’s former co-owner and mentor, Mark Martin, returning to full time action for Hendricks is the only other repeat winners. This year’s most unexpected surprise must belong to part-time rookie, Brad Kesolowski winning for James Finch whose team races Hendricks prepared Chevy’s when Kesolowski drives but Dodges for other drivers. This young driver’s win was no accident but his move to beat Carl Edwards at Talladega caused the most dangerous accident in competition in a long time when Edwards’s car lifted off the track sailing into the retaining fence approaching the finish line injuring several fans one of whom sustained a broken jaw. This event will ignite more attention to making restrictor races safer. Today, showed another first time winner to victory lane with David Reutimann scoring Michael Waltrip Racing’s first victory, was also the first Toyota win for a team other than Joe Gibbs, in a significantly shortened Coca Cola 600.

Surely the success story of the year has to be how quickly Stewart-Haas racing became a chase contending operation for both Tony Stewart’s #14 and Ryan Newman’s #39. Stewart won the Sprint All Star race while Newman nailed down the team’s first pole for the Coca Cola 600 as both drivers show steady progress with each race. Scarier to think is that Tony Stewart has always been known as a second half driver. If that’s the case, he could dominate the second half of this season. Stewart stands in 2nd place 44 points off the lead with his teammate in 7th place 184 points down. Fans should keep in mind, the Stewart operation runs Hendricks equipment and Tony Stewart is no rookie as a team owner running successful USAC and World of Outlaws operations as well as operating the Eldora Speedway and having co-owner stakes in two other tracks. Fans surely would find it difficult to bet against the dynamic Stewart/Newman duo.

Mark Martin’s return to full-time racing piloting the #5 Kellogg’s/Carquest Chevy for champion owner Rick Hendrick is another one of this season’s great success stories. Despite being tested with some of the worst luck imaginable finishing in 40th place in the 2nd and 3rd race and 31st in Atlanta, then Martin caught fire tallying four top ten finishes culminating with a win at Phoenix. Talladega appeared to derail Martin’s amazing senior tour finishing in dead last, but that setback would be short term finishing 5th at Richmond and winning the Southern 500. Today’s rain shortened event yielded a so-so 17th finish but Martin currently stands in the all important top 12.

Kurt Busch’s revival provides another real triumph for the first quarter. Not a single Dodge performed in last year’s chase, and only one Dodge competed for top honors in 2007 when Busch was also the lone Dodge driver in the chase. So far in 2009, the #2 Miller Lite Dodge stands in 3rd with one win in Atlanta, 3 top 5’s, 6 top 10’s, and only one finish outside the top 20, 23rd in Vegas.

Our last positive entry in the 2009 ledger goes to Jeff Gordon who despite dealing with on-going back trouble leads the points and secured his first win after going winless in 2009, his first winless season since his rookie year. The four time champ has six top fives and eight top tens to go with his victory in Texas.

The most talked about negative is the continued futility of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and team #88. Today’s Charlotte race pushed Earnhardt back another position to 19th with another miserable finish, 38th. One top five and only three top tens does not show a driver even remotely ready to push for a Chase slot. Driver errors, communications issues, and mistakes on pit stops are all regular setbacks for a team clearly going nowhere in 2009. Surely fans must question if the continued partnership of Dale Earnhardt Jr. with crew chief, Tony Eury Jr. is the right combination for championship racing. While the cousins experienced success together at DEI, they also had some infamous fallings out which resulted in Junior’s team swapping with Michael Waltrip’s team for part of a season. The Hendricks operation is a new world for Junior. Does the Earnhardt/Eury combo know how to take advantage of the endless resources they have available to them? Do they partner with garage mates from the #5 car? Surely, Mark Martin could set the perfect example for how to maintain the discipline and conditioning to ready for each week’s race. While Dale Earnhardt Junior is a much more outgoing fellow who would never antagonize others the way his father did, the sport’s most likeable driver is another iron head in stubbornness. Rick Hendrick is a great motivator but he’ll keep his efforts private and not publicize how he’s working with the #88 team to get on course. However, Dale Earnhardt Junior is the face of NASCAR in the media, Sprint Cup’s most popular driver, at what point does his promise become promise broken? We’ve already contrasted his career with Kyle Petty who remained popular despite becoming a quite ineffective driver for most of his career from the early 90’s forward. There are no better circumstances for a NASCAR driver to have all the right ingredients to compete for the championship. However, week after week, the race is barely a quarter completed before something comes up with the #88 ride giving fans that uneasy, “here we go again” sensation.

While Earnhardt’s failures standout so conspicuously, the driver who replaced his father at Childress also struggles. Kevin Harvick stands in a miserable 23rd position with only two top fives as his only top ten finishes this year. His struggles have run the gamut from being caught in the big wrecks to equipment failures, still it’s hard to believe a talented driver with one of the premier organizations behind him can be so snake-bitten.

Carl Edwards concludes Charlotte languishing in 11th place with two top fives and five top tens. After being part of last year’s three driver shoot out for the championship, in 2009, Carl Edwards finds wrecks on the track as if drawn in by a powerful magnet. His final lap flight into the fences will live on as a video of one of NASCAR’s most chilling crashes, but Afflac duck feathers have been set flying through out the season. Still, a little success could put Edwards right on track to where he needs to be.

Edwards’s difficulties reflect a generally mediocre season for the Roush/Fenway blue ovals. Matt Kenseth – two wins, three top fives, five top tens sits in ninth. Greg Biffle is next in line in tenth with no wins, three top fives, and six top tens, before reaching Edwards in 10th. Last year, David Ragan was knocking on the door to compete in the chase but is in a miserable 32nd right now with only one top ten. Jamie McMurray jumped up three spots to 21st after his Charlotte performance, but has no top fives and just three top tens. Something is amiss in Jack Roush’s shop, but his operation is capable of midseason corrections as shown the first year the “Car of Tomorrow” was introduced. They struggled horribly early on, but became much more combative as the year progressed. Dover, Pocono, and Michigan await them, all three tracks where Roush drivers have excelled.

Surely, 2009 finds RCR falling below expectations. Jeff Burton stands in 8th place, but between his 8th position and Kevin Harvick’s embarrassing spot, Clint Bowyer started off great but has fallen terribly recently losing four spots in the standings from Charlotte, now down to 17th. He’s earned four top tens three of which were in the top five. Newcomer Casey Mears stands one spot above, teammate Harvick, in 22nd with only one top ten. Richard Childress responded with some crew changes swapping the 07 and 29 crews to attempt to get the Mears and Harvick efforts moving. Moves of that scale in the heart of the season never spells a healthy garage, but Richard Childress has made such moves in the past with bigger players than these racers and succeeded. He’s one of the sports’ best strategic minds.

Though some might scoff at how it was accomplished, David Reutimann’s win today shows Michael Waltrip racing is coming of age and becoming a competitive operation. Reutimann has skirted the top 12 all season with another top five to go with three top ten finishes but is becoming more consistent when not getting caught in wrecks.

The one other major story has been watching the youngster, Joey Logano, emerge in Sprint Cup having just turned 19 years old this weekend. Clearly, he was escalated to the highest level a year ahead of time and looked way out matched in his Sprint Cup efforts in his few attempts last year. This year started out rough young Logano barely made the cut to be in the top 35. He showed his first flash of big time talent in Vegas with a 13th finish but starting with Talladega has finished 9th, 19th, 9th, and 9th, three top tens in four races while staying above 20th in all. He’s on his way.

The 2009 season shows NASCAR’s fan base reached a plateau and television ratings are slipping. Surely, a season that starts with a Daytona 500 interrupted by rain delays doesn’t make for a good introduction to the season or take the just concluded Coca Cola 600, hours of delays on Sunday before the race was called, then the race was postponed until the next day. Monday, more rain delays.

Fox’s coverage is okay but way too loaded with gimmicks. That had a cute, funny thing going with the gopher cam, where an animated gopher or ground hog pops his head out after shots from a track mounted camera, screams and pops back into his burrow. Well, that was just too good to be true. In 2009, Fox advertises its “Digger gear” and most races show a short cartoon segment about Digger and his pals. This is the same network that presents Jillian Reynolds and Frank Caliendo as of their pregame show’s slapstick.

All-in-all, Fox’s TV coverage is good. Mike Joy is a highly professional, knowledgeable play-by-play announcer and few color analysts are as entertaining yet insightful as Darrell Waltrip. Larry McReynolds knows his stuff too but surely must have English teachers pounding their heads against the wall for his butchery of Standard English. The pit reporters do their jobs well. The Hollywood Hotel coverage is perhaps overkill when the regular broadcast booth is in very capable hands, though Jeff Hammond does have plenty of knowledge to impart. We sure don’t need the pseudo-American Idol style country theme song, “Let’s Go Racin’ Boys” by Toby Lightman, an adult pop singer, hardly a Nashville Sensation.

The racers themselves might be part of the television trouble. Dale Junior is an interesting fellow to the casual fan, but this year there are no good Junior stories. There don’t seem to be any red hot rivalries. Kyle Busch is too much an immature smartass to make a compelling villain. The Mark Martin age defying saga is probably a tale more interesting to the real hard core race fans.

Perhaps NASCAR needs to look the format for some of its races and gear the content to more appealing television programming. Clearly, 500 miles is too long for Pocono for instance. These races could be reduced to 300 miles as these races don’t televise well and take up way too much time. Reducing races to three hours especially for night races would make it easier for fans to sit through a whole race. Keep the Coke 600 as the yearly marathon, but when the Dover races were reduced to 400 lap affairs, no one was complaining.

This fan is not complaining. For a long time NASCAR fan, this year’s competition is quite satisfying. However, hard core fans will watch races casual fans will stiff. Television coverage has never been the same since EPSN lost its coverage to the big TV deal starting the 2001 series where Fox split the coverage with NBC and TNT. Bob Jenkins, Ned Jarrett, and the late Benny Parsons with Dr. Jerry Punch as the lead pit announcer provided just the right tempo and the right balance between racing and story telling. Those simpler days seem so long gone.

The long summer stretch is at hand. It’s a long way to Richmond in September when the Chase field is set. We’ll be watching and sharing our thoughts.

Sprint Cup 2009: Race 12 - Charlotte Super Soaker

Coca Cola 600, the Joy of Seeing a New Winner Gets Lost in Two Days of Rain Delays

Congratulations to David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip for the 00 Aaron’s Dream Team Toyota victory. It’s Michael Waltrip racing’s first win in the organization’s 3rd year. So what if the win resulted from not going into the pit for service as a caution flag fell for rain that ultimately signaled the end of the day’s competition. A win is a win is a win.

It’s just what fans had to sit through on Sunday night and all afternoon Monday to get to the final result of race barely run to the halfway point. Both Dale Earnhardt Junior and Kevin Harvick continued their seasons of futility with Earnhardt having equipment trouble and Harvick smacking the wall early. It’s interesting that other Hendricks cars don’t have the mechanical issues the #88 car has. Whether it’s Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon or Mark Martin racing for Team Hendrick or Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman running Hendrick gear.

Ryan Newman finished second, Robby Gordon – third, Carl Edwards – 4th and Brian Vickers 5th rounding out the top five. Kasey Kahne jumped into the top 10 in 7th and Juan Montoya nailed down 8th spot while rookie Joey Logano continues to grow with another 9th place finish.

The Coke 600 was a miserable affair for Richard Childress with his steady man Jeff Burton only managing a 25th finish, but it only got worse from there with Casey Mears in 33rd, Clint Bowyer in 36th, and Kevin Harvick two spots above last place possibly ahead of start and park entries.

In the legends department, Bill Elliot in a cameo roll for the Wood Brothers finished a respectable 15th for a part time ride.

Aside from Michael Waltrip racing fans, this will be a weekend to forget. The weather prevented any true racing momentum to develop though when Kyle Busch had all things working, he clearly appeared to have the dominant ride in the race.

Winners and losers in the points standings showed modest good fortune for Roush-Fenway drivers Kenseth, and Edwards who each gained a spot. Jaime McMurray gained three spots. However, David Ragan broke even while Greg Biffle dropped a spot. The big points winner was Joey Logano gaining five positions up to 25th. Reutimann’s victory advanced him two places to just six points out of the all important top 12.

Clint Boywer was truly the day’s big loser dropping further from the case down four spots to 17th. While Michael Waltrip can smile as an owner, as a driver he lost three spots in his #55 ride. Driving home the futility suffered by RCR, both Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick dropped two spots as did Elliot Sadler for Richard Petty Racing. It goes without saying, Dale Earnhardt fell back too, but only one position, hardly a moral victory never showing a hint of competitive ability in the Charlotte soaker.

The season is now on third complete with one more race on Fox. The NASCAR caravan heads to Dover, Delaware for hopefully drier conditions on the Monster Mile. While Thursday and Friday show a chance of thunder storms, the long range forecast calls for mostly sunshine for Saturday and Sunday with temperatures right around 80 degrees, great weather for the fans in the stands.

Monday, May 25, 2009

...Known Only to God.

Here Rests In Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but To God"

reads the inscription on the tomb of the unknown soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

While groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) maintain their constant attacks on our national security and our country’s inspiration, that they are able to wage their irrational nonsense is doable because of the very United States Constitution whose meaning they twist and obscure to justify their treachery while the ground on which they stand is protected by the soldiers they seek to embarrass and defile through such actions as revealing confidential photos that could be easily misinterpreted by those who would harm our republic.

Our nation was founded on the belief, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We repeat this notion often for it is the essence on which our country was founded and the framework for our government was established. The Declaration of Independence further asserts, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This defines the source of government’s power. It does not empower judges, political parties, or Presidents to do so except as consented to by the public at large.

To ensure our government would operate in accordance to these simple principles, the United States Constitution and its subsequent amendments were enacted to create the legal and moral framework from which our government could operate. In translating how the Constitution should impact the citizens, the First and Second Amendments helped define specific freedoms the government could never deny:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment to the United States Constitution)


A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed .(Second Amendment to the United States Constitution)

As simple and essential as these concepts are, our citizens face constant challenges to these basic principles often using a bloated and over reaching judiciary that sets its own agenda and twists Constitutional concepts, out of context and against the spirit of the documents themselves, to create an imposing agenda that ever increasingly asserts the role of an all-powerful government as if their position appointed by the executive and approved by the legislative is to set forth the role of the government regardless of how at odds their notions are to what the American people would ever give their consent.

Witness the merciless attack on the open expression of public recognition of God in the workplace or in any assembly where the government plays a role or are held on property of the state. Displays of the Ten Commandments, Christmas decorations, or items which express individual affirmation of faith are routinely banned and those bans are upheld by the secular tyranny of the court.

Clearly “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” was written to assure that the newly developing national government and individual states would not establish an official religion for its citizens mindful that the Church of England was a product of the British crown and that many colonists fled Great Britain specifically to escape from persecution against their practice of religion. Some colonies were centered on the faith of their founding settlers whether it was Catholics in Maryland, Quakers in Pennsylvania, or Puritans in Massachusetts. While recognizing the contribution the pursuit of religious freedom played in the establishment of the colonies that would form the original states, such founding should never turnabout to create environments of faith-based colonies that recognize one faith to the exclusion of others. Our founding fathers obviously accepted the roll of our Creator despite vastly differences of what kind of figure that creator was among the gifted minds who developed the core philosophies from which our government emerged.

The current attack on religion clearly takes aim at “the free expression thereof” not by denying such things as mandatory school prayer which would impose some prayer developed by the state on school children, but instead censoring the open expression of religious faith by teachers, public employees, or even those in the private sector where the government believes it has a controlling interest, an interest that is growing more and more as the government is now in the banking and automotive industry advancing issues of more instances of government action contrary to Constitutional guidance on contract law and financial independence.

Court cases are in various stages toward rulings on whether “one nation under God” is state imposition of religion on school children or is simply recognition of that which our founding documents clearly recognize. If the secular extremists are successful in using the radicalized court to win that battle, is the next battle front “In God we Trust” being removed from our money. When one looks at the genesis of the nation’s current economic crisis, perhaps it is valuable to be reminded our trust in God remains because we’ve seen where our trust in government has led us. The warning signs of financial meltdown were everywhere to be found, but when President Bush sent members of his economic team to warn of an impending mortgage meltdown resulting from the lending practices Congress enacted in the name of “affordable housing” as part of the oversight function of government, they were promptly blown out of the hearing room by Democrats such as Barney Frank who decried their insensitivity toward those struggling to own their first home while the Republicans, then the majority party, lined up in “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” position not wanting to generate any bad news when the cha-ching of legitimate cash transactions were ever increasingly being replaced by the clicks and beeps of electronic transactions using credit cards and loan agreements that hold no trust for anyone but clear assertions what happens if the borrower defaults on his obligations. “In God we trust” quickly turns to “Lord have mercy” on those who could not or would not fulfill their responsibilities.

From the actions of the Bush administration in the early stages of the bailout program and instituting the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to the massive socialist intrusions of the Obama regime, constitutional wisdom falls by the wayside to a misguided sense of immediate urgency.

All the while, our courts and government organizations go way overboard to accommodate and not offend members of the Islamic faith giving them the kinds of specific accommodations the courts have yanked away from less demanding Christians and Jews from enjoying while radical members of the Islamic faith sworn enemies to our freedom, core beliefs, and all we hold dear conspire to attack our way of life killing 3000 Americans regardless of faith or nationality on 9/11/2001.

Our system seems more worried about the so-called rights of the plotters and planners or terrorism than making sure those whose lives were destroyed by the Islamic terrorists’ treachery struggle to seek just compensation for their losses.

Soldiers stand guard in Iraq and Afghanistan in two wars. Servicemen are stationed around the world and on and below the high seas ready for action whether it’s a full fledged military operation, dealing with pirates, or possibly just providing food and comfort for victims of a natural disaster. Others work in bunkers, offices, on airplanes, and ships in front of computers and other technological equipment monitoring the activities of nations like Iran and North Korea for their acts of treachery.

The silent hills of Arlington, Virginia and veterans cemeteries around the world tell the tale of those who gave all they had for the sake of our God-given freedom. As we write this knowing the inscription, “Here Rests In Honored Glory an American Soldier Known But To God,” we recognize the revulsion those who subscribe to the ACLU world view must surely feel at a state facility, the resting place for fallen servicemen, daring to provide such obvious recognition to our creator as what is inscribed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Suppose an unknown soldier might be an atheist!!! If true, so be it. He is still unknown to all but God regardless.

We pray for our soldiers who stand watch to protect our freedom and thank our creator for the great opportunities we share as Americans. The events of 2009 provide each citizen ample opportunity to reflect on the remarkable wisdom providing every one of us the liberties we celebrate on this special holiday observance.

Let us not let the corrupt and misguided politicians and judges who’ve lost sense of the meaning of what the American experience is all about cloud our vision of they are employed and sworn to protect our liberties and that they serve us, not vice versa.

North Korea Tests Nukes and Missile -- The Road to no Return

North Korean mad man, Kim Jung Il.
Shocked and surprised, phooey!!!
Do you remember the Hilary Clinton campaign ad about the phone call at 3:00 am in the morning, something’s happening somewhere in the world and a phone rings in the White House? While America slept celebrating a holiday weekend supposed to honor those members of the armed services who gave their lives to protect our freedom, North Korea not only a nuclear bomb but also launched more missile tests. The ball is in President Obama’s court. The message Hilary Clinton, ironically now Obama’s Secretary of State, was chillingly clear. How might a President Obama with zero international experience steeped in so much radical influence handle a national security emergency?

His record so far says, horrifyingly poorly.

Consider just one issue, closing the terrorist detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay. President Obama issued an executive order within hours of taking office to close that facility within one year. He made this commitment without having compiled an implementation plan or having shown any notion of how he planned to accomplish that goal, but he still had a budget figure in mind which he expected Congress to fund. Even our spend-crazy legislators balked at this proposition – offer up Federal money without knowing what their authorization was for.

The Obama administration’s stance on North Korea has been vague and lacking any kick. Is this another example of where Barack Obama, in his extreme vanity, has convinced himself that all will be well once he has the chance to talk with the mad dictator? Surely KIM Jung Il got his feelings hurt by the previous administration. He has never been reasoned with the way a self-confident Barack Obama could show him the way. The administration’s smugness and lack of a sense of urgency in the face of constant threats from this renegade state should have every American or world citizen who could be the target of a North Korean, Iranian or any twisted nation capable of buying arms from Jung Il absolutely mortified of the possible consequences.

Now it’s time for the civilized war to respond…

North Korea is a pathetic mess. A nation of 23 ½ million people, the vast majority of its population lives in severe poverty starved by a corrupt, tyrannical dictator whose erratic mad behavior threatens the world’s safety. Few things tell the story of North Korea better than nocturnal satellite imagery which shows a lit up South Korea after dark with thriving active cities after dark while its orphaned sister nation languishes in virtual darkness. The other frequently showed images are from the center of its capital city, is of massive military expositions where thousands of stone faced robotic soldiers march in zombie like precision reflecting the total control and lack of individuality in this horrific terrorist state. To further drive home how isolated the North Korean culture is, only 1.18 telephones, all on a crude land line system, are in use.

Calling their dictator KIM Jung Il a mad man is a worn out understatement. The danger his behavior poses the rest of the world is as undeniable as it is unpredictable. What could be more terrifying than a nation detached from the world economy offering virtually no in demand commodities for the world economy shopping its military hardware to the highest bidder?

Enter the other country with an equally mad dictator, Iran, hell bent on massive armament seeking its own nuclear weapons and strategic missile program. That these two countries should be developing such a cozy relationship should stimulate pure terror in the rest of the world as no country within the range of their potential weapons delivery range can find itself safe.

The world community must respond NOW. There can be no wiggle room. A deranged dictator cannot spread his influence too far without outside enablers and clearly KIM Jung Il’s enabler is the totalitarian regime of Red China. What North Korea can’t provide for itself in food and energy is provided generously by the Beijing potentates. Clearly, if China saw Korea as a threat and sought to rectify troubles in the small country on its southeastern frontier, it could do so with the snap of a finger.

Clearly, the Chinese government feels it has something to gain propping up KIM Jung Il’s mad regime. While the rest of the world scrambles to respond to the North Korean threat, China consolidates its gains and counts its money. If the world is going to succeed in bring this bizarre dictator to his knees, they will have to do so through China, and so far China has acted like it could care less.

Just how much negotiations capital does the United States have to compel China to support the civilized world’s desire to eliminate the threat of a possible North Korean nuclear arms and long range missile market? Clearly the answer is very little since China is one of the largest investors in buying American debt. On one level, the Communist Chinese own us. They knew darned well they were buying our debt knowing they were also buying influence.

The North Korean menace must be met head on right NOW. It doesn’t matter how much the rest of the world waffles, it is gut check time where the United States, Japan, and South Korea must lead the world’s response to eliminate the North Korean threat. Not only is South Korea’s thriving industrial economy at stake with its capital city, Seoul just a shot away from the North Korean border, Japan sits across a short expanse of water increasing more in range of the madman’s power of destruction.

The civilized world under the leadership of the United States and Japan can take no option off the table and cannot rule out any kind of response including direct strikes to wipeout Korean weapon making capability.

Estimates indicate the bombs tested possessed the power of the ones used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, bombs that could obliterate a modest sized city.

What Korea could do with this power is frightening enough, but today it’s North Korea, tomorrow it’s Iran, and in those hands with their stated intention to wipe Israel off the map, the world’s safety and stability is in the gun sight of an Islamic extremist who sees world events in such bizarre divine sanctioned terms.

What the Obama mindset refuses to understand is that our rhetoric, our brilliantly composed diplomatic and legal briefs are of no consequence to KIM Jung Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Anything short of guns trained on their foreheads are seen as laughable signs of weakness versus their wicked designs.

Anyone who thinks KIM Jung Il has any moral reservations against selling his weapons to Iran or even the Taliban or Al Qaeda is sorely mistaken?

While our liberal leaders are more upset about a known conspirator with the blood of 3000 Americans on his hands getting a little bit of water shot up his nose, that same mindset refuses to recognize that there is real evil in this world. These dictators are not misunderstood or simply reacting against what they perceive as unfair treatment by western exploitation. They are genuinely pure evil. They are a threat against all life within their range. They understand brute strength and little else. They must be ruthlessly destroyed before their capacity to deliver their amassing powers of mass destruction.

We have no confidence Barack Obama has the intellect or will to effectively deal with this undeniable threat. He cannot sweet talk or campaign his way out of this one. A loaded teleprompter is no substitute for a loaded cruise missile – destination North Korea.

The future is now. The time to act decisively is now. There is no wiggle room.