Somebody Better Tell Joe Biden

November 1, 2011

UPDATE: MSNBC beclowns itself while attempting to make a fool out of Sherriff Wright.

You all may remember that  in mid-October, Vice President Joe Biden was in Flint, Michigan, speechifyin’ to police, firefighters, and members of the public. During his no doubt almost presidential eloquence, VP Biden made a dire prognostication about the safety of Flint’s citizens:

“In 2008, when Flint had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city. In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65 and rapes–just to pick two categories–climbed to 229. In 2011, you now only have 125 shields. God only knows what the numbers will be this year for Flint if we don’t rectify it.”

Fortunately for Flint, the Veep’s figures and conclusions were a bit off, and Flint is still as safe as it ever has been recently. But Joe is firmly convinced that the only way to keep the folks safe is Obama’s jobs bill.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, one Sherriff is recommending that the citizens arm themselves. In response to an attempted rape in a local part, Sherriff Chuck Wright said:

“Our form of justice is not making it… Carry a concealed weapon. That’ll fix it.”
 
The sherriff also displayed  a pack in which a gun could be carried by a jogging woman. Here’s a lawman who wants to keep people safe. And he understands that the police can’t always be there
“I’m tired of looking at victims saying, ‘There’s life after this’ … I’m tired of saying, ‘We’re sorry, we can’t keep them in jail.’” Wright said in his view, gun control is, “How fast can you can get the barrel of your gun back on the target?”

Wright said the attack is not the fault of Millken Park. He said, “It’s a nice place for families.” He said officers patrol the area all the time and respond to various calls there. He said, “Don’t blame anyone for having an animal on their property … We can’t get it all.”

He ended by saying again, “I want you to get a concealed weapons permit. Don’t get Mace. Get a firearm.”

Sherriff Wright clearly understands the old adage, ” When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” It’s too bad Joe Biden doesn’t get that.
 
Stoutcat

In Other News Today

September 15, 2011

Astronaut and blogger Ron Garan is coming home after nearly six months in space. Reflecting on his preparation for his trip,  he writes:

“As I prepared to leave for final launch preparations, I experienced an interesting phenomenon. Realizing that leaving Houston starts me on a journey that will take me off the planet for six months, I started to take note of things that I will not experience for half a year. Whether it’s a flock of birds against the sunset or early morning mist on the water of Clear Lake, or a million other things that define the beauty of life on our planet, I experienced a profound appreciation for the gift of the beauty of our world. I will miss a great many experiences that I normally take for granted, but I also look forward to the new experiences that define the beauty of life off the planet.”

Not only does Mr. Garan write a fascinating narrative, he also posts some gorgeous photos of Earth from space. Like this one:

Dancing lights near Tasmania 11:00am GMT September 14, 2011

For a refreshing change from AttackWatch, rising unemployment numbers, thug tactics, and the like, check out Mr. Garan’s blog. And you can follow him on Twitter at @Astro_Ron, where he just posted this gorgeous shot.

Stoutcat


From Ground Zero Japan: A Moving Display Of Loyalty

March 17, 2011

There are some who just don’t get the bond between a man and his dog. But even I was unprepared for the level of “humanity, compassion and loyalty” within the canine community you’re about to witness below.

It’s a video that will move any animal lover to tears: Rescuers searching the remains of the debris that was once a seacoast town in the Arahama area of Japan come upon a dog that has somehow managed to survive the earthquake and the tsunami that followed. The animal is clearly in shock, disoriented and in distress.

The workers attempt to get the dog to come to them so they can take it for food, water and medical treatment. But the dog steadfastly refuses to leave with them. He turns and walks away, walking in a stagger that seems to confirm the exhaustion and confusion that has engulfed it.   

As the rescuers watch the dog walk away, they discuss his plight:

We are in Arahama area. Looks like there is a dog. There is a dog. He looks tired and dirty. He must have been caught in the tsunami. He looks very dirty.

He has a collar. He must be someone’s pet. He has a silver collar. He is shaking. He seems very afraid.

Then, they notice why the dog has walked away from them. There, some 50 feet away from them, another dog lies in the debris motionless.

             Oh, there is another dog! I wonder if he is dead.

Where?

Right there. There is another dog right next to the one sitting down. He is not moving. I wonder. I wonder if he is alright.

The dog is protecting him.

Yes. He is protecting the dog. That is why he did not want us to approach them. He was trying to keep us at bay.

I can’t watch this! This is a very difficult to watch.

Oh… Look! He is moving!  He is alive! I am so happy to see that he is alive!

Yes! Yes! He is alive!

He looks to be weakened. We need to them to be rescued soon. We really want them rescued soon.

Oh good. He’s getting up!

Let me assure you, that there IS a happy ending to this story: Both dogs have now been rescued and taken for treatment and are recovering.

In the military, soldiers take a great deal of pride in “never leaving a  brother behind…”

It would appear that’s true also in the canine world.

I hope, for some of you, watching this video will bring you one step closer to understanding that there’s no such thing as “just a dog.” They come from God, like us, equipped with a heart that is capable of loving, with the courage to defend that which he/she believes in and the compassion and loyalty to NOT leave a friend behind to die alone.

Do they have the same reasoning power of humans? That is, perhaps, open to debate. But they share the basic elements that supposedly make us “human.” They know joy. Sorrow. Happiness, Contentment, Fear, Anger. And for those of you who suffer from one form of depression or another, dogs also share that state of mind.

Watch the video and you’ll witness a prime example of canine loyalty.

Then, to put it into some perspective, think about how many other humans, dogs and other assorted pets didn’t make it through or, worse, made it through but are in a place where time will run out before they are rescued. Welcome to the real toll in terms of human and animal life.

H/T Theblaze.com

Gerry Ashley

Addendum: Having a better understanding about the loyalty of dogs and their ability to experience confusion, disorientation, loneliness, loss and depression, now think about the dogs  who sit in shelters waiting for someone to give them a new lease on life. If you are in a position to provide a home for such a loving animal, I hope this video will move you to do so. I did three years ago last month and my life is forever changed for the better because of it.

If you are not in a position to do that, however, a donation to your local humane society or no-kill shelter is always put to good use.

As for the two dogs in this video… well, I certainly believe in the power of prayer. And that doesn’t cost a dime.


The President’s Christmas Eve Speech

December 24, 2010


As usual, the President did a superb job delivering his annual Christmas Eve speech; his love of country and his pride in our military shines through his every word. Clearly he believes in what we are fighting for, and it is evident that he holds our troops in the very highest regard.

In case you missed it, here is a small clip of his speech; I think you will agree that it is inspirational, reverent, and entirely appropriate.

Of course, it’s not our current president who gave this heart-felt oration; it is the speech President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave on Christmas Eve in 1943, during the depths of World War II.

The audio and transcript of the entire speech can be found here.

We at Grand Rants wish all our readers and everyone everywhere a joyous Christmas.

Stoutcat


Everyday Heroes: Paying Homage To 1st Responders

October 4, 2010

This past week,  Congress passed (and President Obama signed) H.R. 3978 which is also known as the “First Responder Anti-Terrorism Training Resources Act.” It is essentially, “… An act to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to accept and use gifts for otherwise authorized activities of the Center for Domestic Preparedness that are related to preparedness for a response to terrorism, and for other purposes.” Source: govtrack.us

The new law expands the ability for first responders to train under more realistic conditions so that in the event of such an attack, they are better prepared to successfully provide critical care at a time when desperately needed.

However, mention the term “First Responder” to many people and you might just be surprised at the look of confusion in their eyes. It’s not a term we use every day. And, sadly, it seems that the only time we pay much attention to first responders is when a tragedy befalls one (or more) of them. Our friend, Canadian Singer/Songwriter Dave Carroll (of United Breaks Guitars fame) has set out to change all that in a big way. More on that in a moment. But first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page:

Who are “First Responders?”

They are the men and women of our local communities who put their lives on the line for each of us on a daily basis by responding to emergency (911) calls. They are Firemen, Police, EMTs and others who have promised each of us that no matter what the emergency, they will be there for us. And it’s a promise they keep every day of their (and our) lives.

Dave Carroll knows a lot about this from first-hand experience. He’s been a volunteer fireman in his home town of Waverly, Nova Scotia while building his musical career. His brother Don (who shares singing roles with Dave in the band, “Sons of Maxwell“) is a full-time fireman in that same town.

Over the past two years, I’ve written several articles about tragedies that have taken the lives of a number of these hometown heroes. Fortunately, these are not every day occurrences. However, the emergencies in our communities that expose first responders to the danger of accidents, fires, violence, disease (and now, sadly, terrorism) happen on a daily basis. While writing this article, there have been several separate occurrences of sirens screaming past my home. The first was a police car and, later another police car followed by a firetruck and ambulance. None of these first responders know what awaits them, yet they respond without hesitation when needed.

It’s important that we never allow ourselves to forget how fortunate we are that whenever someone is in peril, there are men and women who are our friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters professionally trained in emergency procedures  keeping that promise to “be there” when needed.

Even though the heroes are the first responders, YOU and I play an important role as well: Whenever you’re driving, if you see an ambulance, fire truck or police car with emergency lights flashing in the rear-view mirror, pull over as soon as possible to let them pass. Someone’s life is in the balance and, most likely, seconds count.

Dave Carroll has written and recorded a new song in tribute to First Responders. Appropriately entitled, “Everyday Heroes,” it’s sponsored by Intrado Inc., in Longmart Colorado. For over 30 years, Intrado has been a pioneer in the development of enhanced 911 services used throughout the United States and, now, Canada.  While the song speaks for itself with Dave’s usual musical excellence, the story of how Intrado got involved with him is a fascinating one, best told by Dave himself.

So in another Grand Rants First, here’s Dave Carroll to introduce his tribute, “Everyday Heroes”:

And here’s the video:

Dave’s project to help spread awareness and to pay homage to First Responders is just beginning. Stay tuned for more on this as it develops throughout the US and Canada.

Gerry Ashley


Lest We Forget What’s Really Important

September 8, 2010

If it seems to you there’s been a lack of input from me lately, it’s not your imagination. Perhaps it’s been a lack of mine. The promise of Grand Rants is to discuss our world, not just politics. Unfortunately, the most important news over the past 2 years has been political in nature. And make no mistake: We intend to cover political issues as needed. Expect a lot of it from now until the mid-term elections.

But every now and then, I need to step away from the sewer of politics and just breath in the beauty of life itself. And the older I get, the more beauty I discover. Some of the most special moments can be found in the examples some people give us of their selfless devotion to causes. Sometimes it’s just a touching moment or lyric that makes me realize the beauty of a phrase or a simple act of kindness. These moments are easy to miss if we are so steeped in the argument of politics that we close our eyes to the awareness of that which sometimes surrounds us. I needed to open myself up to an awareness of these things, and so I stepped back from the body politic for a brief period in an attempt to bring something a little more uplifting and positive to the table.

I believe my efforts have paid off.

Meet Kristian Anderson, from Australia. Last October, Kristian was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Because he waited so long to be tested, he discovered it had also spread to his liver. Anderson, 35, is married and the father of 2 little boys. He’s not ready to leave his two children fatherless, so he’s stayed positive with the support of his wife Rachel. Together, they are fighting the disease.

Recently, with her birthday coming up, he wanted to make it very special… and he chose a very special way of accomplishing that goal: In addition to a surprise party, he created a video birthday card for her. Through a local radio station, he was able to get actor Hugh Jackman to make a cameo appearance and, because his wife is from New Zealand, Andeson managed to get New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to appear also.  The video has found its way to youtube and I predict it will go viral. I hope it does, because in the four minutes it takes to watch, it acts as a reminder to us all of just how important it is to get checked periodically for any unusual health issues that might benefit from early detection. And it also teaches us how important it is to stop and smell our own roses:

Kristian has kept a blog to chronicle his journey since becoming diagnosed with cancer. It’s called “Days That Matter.” I invite you to follow his journey. Something tells me that as this video goes viral, he and his family are going to have the prayers of a lot of people pulling for him.

I know he’s got mine.

Gerry Ashley


Can Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Be Saved?

July 6, 2010

Before NASA rushes to expand its horizons to include reaching out to Muslims (see Doug Powers article over at MichelleMalkin.com) as ordered by the President (or is it Ayatollah now?), it might be more productive to stop and realize just who we’re getting into bed with. Literally.

While we were celebrating our independence here in America over the weekend, a mother of two is expected to be executed soon in Iran, in as horrific a fashion as one can imagine. It’s a death sentence ordered by the Muslim judicial system, stuck on 14th century barbarism.

Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani

42 year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to be stoned to death, could have her execution carried out at any time.  She had been interrogated in 2006 for her husband’s murder. In May of that year,  branch 101 of the Criminal Court of Oskoo in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan (in northwestern Iran) sentenced Sakineh to 99 lashes for committing adultery even though there was no proof or evidence to support it.  She reported that she was forced into making a confession during the punishment. This is not an uncommon event according to prominent human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei (who, himself, is at risk for torture due to his efforts regarding human rights and amnesty in Iran).

Regardless, Ashtiani was lashed 99  times, a horribly painful experience and one that scars you both physically and mentally for life.

Four months after her lashing, a different court (branch 6 of the Criminal Court of Azerbaijan) sentenced Ashtiani to death by stoning for the same offense.

According to the web site Women Living Under Muslim Laws:

Sakineh’s case, like others pertaining to stoning, has some serious errors and objectionable problems. For example, two of the five judges, Kazemi and Hamdollahi, presiding over the case in branch 6 of the provincial Criminal Court, believed in her acquittal.

In an interview with Rooz, Mohammad Mostafaei, Sakineh’s laywer, stated, “When two, or even one of the magistrates presiding over a case in the Criminal Court, believe in an acquittal and find errors in the presented evidence, then the defendant should not be sentenced to death. When the life of a human being is in question, there must be more hesitation and contemplation. One’s life should not be taken away so easily or be subjected to [excruciating] death.”

But apparently three out of the five Muslim judges disagreed. According to the Islamic Penal Code, four fair witnesses are required to have seen the act first-hand, in full, and from close up. In this case there are no witnesses, but that does not matter to the judges: without the four witnesses required, they still imposed the sentence of death by stones.

Source: missionfreeiran.wordpress.com

The execution is done in barbaric fashion as described by Amnesty International: The woman is bound and covered with a shroud. She is then buried up to her upper chest so she cannot move and her head  is exposed. At that point, small rocks – small enough not to kill on their own, but large enough to inflict horrific pain, are hurled at her until, eventually, she dies from accumulative wounds.

Her two children have turned their appeal to the world. In an open letter, they write:

Today, we stretch out our hands to the whole world. It is now five years that we have lived in fear and in horror, deprived of motherly love. Is the world so cruel that it can watch this catastrophe and do nothing about it?

We resort to the people of the world, no matter who you are and where in the world you live. Help to prevent this nightmare from becoming reality. Save our mother…

We are unable to explain the anguish of every moment, every second of our lives. Words are unable to articulate our fear.

What You Can Do To Help Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani:

While several amnesty groups are trying to save Sakineh, their efforts may fall on deaf ears unless those with the power to stop the execution see how much support there is for amnesty throughout the world.

But time is absolutely of the essence. If you would like to help push for amnesty in what is clearly a case of barbarism, please click HERE and follow the instructions. Political and public pressure is about all Sakineh has left to hope for.

Gerry Ashley


Calderon Gets Well-Deserved Smack-Down

May 21, 2010

 

Let’s hear it for Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) for his stirring rebuttal to Mexican President Calderon’s shameless (and shameful) address to Congress yesterday. This made me want to stand up and shout “Hurray!”

Thank you, Rep. McClintock, for saying to Congress what so many of us were shouting at our televisions and computer screens yesterday.

Stoutcat

H/T: AoSHQ


Need Inspiration? See “Letters To God”

April 17, 2010
“Letters To God” – Possibility Pictures

Earlier this week, I attended a private screening for the movie “Letters To God.” There was no lavish party, however. When I say “private screening,” I’m using irony… you see I was the only one in the theater. As the movie was about to begin, I thought, “Great! No pesky ‘talkers, coughers, texters, crying babies and those who feel the darkness of the movie theater is the perfect place to catch up on their tweets.

By the end of the movie, however, I wished every one of the above had been there. THIS is the kind of movie we need more of. It is about hope, redemption and seeing the good in those who can’t find it themselves.

Based on the true story of a young boy battling brain cancer, the film covers his journey… and how his faith and willingness to accept that which he cannot change inspires others in need of serious re-evaluation of their own lives.

There was a time when simple stories of honorable people was enough to bring people to theaters. Sadly (and governing by box office receipts), this no longer ranks anywhere near the top – or middle – of people’s “must see” list, unless it features stars with the clout of a Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep. And that’s sad. While I am a fan of the work of each of the afore-mentioned actors, I’d like to think a good story still can find its audience.

The movie can only be found in the larger cineplexes with a dozen or more screens and, given the limited audience it’s getting, will probably be gone in a week or two. Movie theaters are restricted to a numbers game like so  many other businesses. If a movie isn’t bringing people to buy over-priced refreshments, it’s quickly reduced to matinee only performances, or simply pulled in favor of the latest flick featuring aliens, mass-murder slasher films or inner-city twaddle that only succeeds in lowering the standards our children learn to strive to underachieve.

I would recommend that all people of ANY religious background or conservative group (are you listening fellow tea-partiers?) get off your duffs and get out to see this movie. If you’re not happy with what Hollywood drivel is being shoved down our throats (and the throats of our children), get your church, civic or social groups together and make a night of it. You will be inspired and refreshed to know there are people and families out there like this. There really are. More than likely, YOU are a part of this group if you are reading this. These movies don’t come along very often. It’s time to put your money where your values are. And trust me… it’s no donation to charity. You will leave the theater refreshed and filled with hope.

One caveat: Bring tissues with you. There are numerous points in the film where you will find yourself relating to some of the scenes…

Letters To God: Don’t let it be sent back to the producers marked “Return To Sender… Addressees Unknown.”

Gerry Ashley


Hell In Haiti – How You Can Help

January 13, 2010

“Complete And Utter Chaos!”  - Eyewitness

Update: According to a Red Cross official, Haiti’s devastating earthquake has left an estimated 3 million people in need of emergency aid. Much of the world is putting aside political differences and rushing to help. Countries pledging their immediate support in terms of personnel, cash and supplies to Haiti include the United States, Iceland, Britain, France, Canada, Germany, China, Mexico and Venezuela. 

The Face Of Haiti - Source: AP

Once again, natural disaster has brought its wrath to Planet Earth; this time it is Haiti that must bear the brunt of nature’s fury. An earthquake registering 7.0+ on the Richter scale has devastated the tiny Caribbean country. Once again, America’s heart opens to the victims. We will respond as we always do: with compassion and utter disregard for politics.

As demonstrated by the diverse countries responding, this is no time for politics. These are innocent people who are suffering now.  Children, babies. Parents, the elderly. Hospitals and clinics where they might seek medical treatment have vanished into the debris.

The call has gone out to the world for help. As is usually the case in times of turmoil, America will lead the way in aid to Haiti. And President Obama has stepped up to pledge assistance from the American Government.

Still, it is often the private sector from which much of the aid comes. We are Americans… it’s what we do.

If you’re asking, “How can I help?” the following is a list of various organizations whose charters are to provide aid and comfort. I would advise you to look at each one before determining, for yourself which organization is likely to have the most direct impact on the people in Haiti who can only turn to the outside world in this time of utter need.

Click on the following links for more information on each organization:

International Medical Corps
Direct Relief International
World Vision
International Relief Teams
Yéle Haiti
American Red Cross
Operation USA
CARE
Catholic Relief Services
World Food Programme
World Concern
Save the Children
UNICEF USA

List source: CNN.com

Keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers in this time of need and desperation.

Gerry Ashley


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