Monday, October 29, 2007

Project VALOUR-IT 2007 Fundraiser

Project VALOUR-IT helps to provide voice-activated laptops to severely injured troops who wouldn't otherwise be able to communicate with family and friends using a computer.

Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops

In memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss

"At that time I had no use of either hand. I know how humbling it is, how humiliating it feels. And I know how much better I felt, how amazingly more functional I felt, after Soldiers' Angels provided me with a laptop and a loyal reader provided me with the software. I can't wait to do the same, to give that feeling to another soldier at Walter Reed."

--CPT Chuck Ziegenfuss, on the inspiration for Valour-IT

It's that time of year again - time to raise money for Project VALOUR-IT. I've signed up with the Army Team. First team to raise $60,000 wins bragging rights until next year's competition.

Want to sign up to help with the fundraising? Go here.

In addition to making a donation, there is also an auction set up to benefit this project.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pepper's Purple Heart: A Veterans Day Story

Pepper's Purple Heart: A Veterans Day Story was the first of Heather French Henry's books I bought and was the first of Mrs. Henry's books to be published. I was in the children's section at Barnes & Noble just looking to see what was there when I found it.

Claire wakes up to sunshine and puppy kisses. Then, her best friend, Robbie, wearing his dad's Army helmet and a camouflage t-shirt, knocks on her window and urges her to get out of bed. With a stick propped against his shoulder, he marches through the yard. Mom comments she doesn't like it when they play soldiers, but Claire reminds her, "Did you forget, Mom? We're going to march in a parade for soldiers. It's Veterans Day."

Claire comments that Pepper will march in the parade, too, but first, she and Robbie will rescue Pepper "from the enemy - like Robbie's dad did with real soldiers in Viet-raq." Mom clarifies: "He was in Iraq, not Vietnam. They are different countries, dear."

Claire dresses herself, and gives Pepper a "uniform" of an olive drab bandana. They join Robbie outside. After Pepper is tied up to the picnic table, the children decide their mission will be in Vietnam, not Iraq, since the yard has lots of bushes, more like the jungles of Vietnam than the deserts of Iraq. In the process of completing their "rescue mission", Pepper gets loose and runs out the gate the children left open while they were playing Army. Before Claire can tell Mom what happened, Pepper is hit by a car.

The neighbor, Mr. Jones agrees to watch the "little soldiers" while Mom takes Pepper to the vet to get patched up. Mr. Jones says he knows "all about soldiers." Over milk and cookies, Claire confesses to Mr. Jones that Pepper got hurt because she didn't make sure the gate was closed, like Mom told her. Mr. Jones reassures her: "Rescue missions are always dangerous. Let's wait and see what the medic says about that leg."

Mr. Jones then tells the children that he was a Marine (I'll forgive the "m" in the text...) in Vietnam and had been a prisoner of war. He also lets them know that not all veterans fight in wars, but everyone who serves in the military is considered a veteran. Robbie inquires about the cane Mr. Jones uses when he walks. "I got wounded in the leg, just like Sergeant Pepper."

A part of the book that was very refreshing to read:

"I'm going to be a soldier, too." Robbie tapped his helmet.

"It's important to serve your country, Robbie. But you have to be very alert," warned Mr. Jones.

Robbie teetered on one foot and spun around on the cane. Tumbling off the bottom step, he landed in a heap on the grass. His shirtsleeve had ripped at the seam. "I guess I'm not quite ready to be a soldier."

Mr. Jones laughed and said, "First, you have to go through Basic Training, Private Robbie."

Claire doesn't think she can be a soldier because she's a girl. Mr. Jones sets her straight: when he got out of the prison camp, he went to an Army hospital, where an Army nurse took care of him, and he married that nurse! Robbie says women are always nurses, but Mr. Jones sets him straight, too: his daughter served in Iraq, and she's now a sergeant, and she trains soldiers.

Mom returns with a patched up Sergeant Pepper. It's time to get ready to go to the parade, and the children are still in their dirty and torn play clothes. Mr. Jones comes to the rescue, and lets the children wear some of his old fatigue blouses from Vietnam. Mr. Jones had also changed into what he would wear to the parade: he's in a fancy blue uniform with 4 stars on the epaulettes. It's supposed to be an Army uniform because Mr. Jones was in the Army after the Marine Corps, but it looks more like a Marine evening dress uniform than an Army mess uniform... Mr. Jones then shows the children his medals: a Vietnam service medal, a Prisoner of War Medal, and the third, he lets Pepper wear: "Every wounded soldier gets a Purple Heart."

Robbie knows he isn't ready to be a soldier yet, but he wants to "do something to serve our country." General Jones invites the children to come with him when he visits the VA hospital - he goes twice a week to serve meals, and he says the soldiers would love to met them. After that, it's time to go for the parade. The final illustration shows General Jones, Claire's parents, Robbie's dad and the children marching in the Veterans Day parade. As with the other two books in the Claire's Holiday Adventure Series, Mrs. Henry includes "A Brief History of Veterans Day" on the last page.

As with the other books in this series, this one is recommended for children ages 5 to 9. Unlike America's White Table, this book about Veterans Day may be much better suited to younger readers who aren't yet mature enough to comprehend some of the harsh realities of war, such as those who do not return from it. Pepper's Purple Heart: A Veterans Day Story would be a lovely addition to any children's library, and helps to connect children with an important American holiday.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lakeway Patriot Committee Supports Our Troops

I was watching the Red Sox beat the crap out of the Indians (unfortunately...) tonight in Game 6 of the ALCS. When the game was over, I didn't get around to changing the channel. The local news came on after all the post-game hoo-ha. A story about the Lakeway Patriot Committee and their Patriot Fest held this weekend caught my attention. I invite you to watch the story for yourself.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Some idiot professor thinks we should scrap the Constitution and start over...

Ran across this article over at this evening. Matt Mayer's "Larry Sabato Doesn’t Understand the Constitution" is an interesting read. For anyone a little rusty on their Constitution (I know I'm more rusty than I should be, although I am, sadly, much less rusty than the average American...) or ignorant of some particular historical perspective, it's a good review, and an intelligent dissecting of Sabato's foolish arguments:

In support of his call to redo the Constitution, Sabato trots out a quote from Thomas Jefferson positing that a constitution is only good for nineteen years. The quote comes from a letter Jefferson sent to James Madison on September 6, 1789. In his response, Madison raised several fundamental flaws to Jefferson’s (and Sabato’s) reasoning. The one most applicable to our times is this one: “Would not such a periodical revision engender pernicious factions that might not otherwise come into existence, and agitate the public mind more frequently and more violently than might be expedient?” Does Sabato really believe that in 50-50 America, we would have any chance at compromising on a new constitution? After all, each side will try to inject its own solution to the “intractable challenges” that Sabato laments.

You think Washington is in a sorry state of affairs now? Just imagine the mess we'd be in if, in addition to fighting Islamofascists, and a Democrat-controlled Congress seemingly intent on legislating defeat in Iraq for their own political gain, we were also in the middle of a very messy, extremely partisan Constitutional Convention? Go read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ASP reports: Mending Owwies

CJ over at A Soldier's Perspective posts a wonderful photo and the story behind it. The little girl wouldn't let go of the captain who picked her up after she'd been knocked down by a crowd. Go check it out.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Home of the Brave

When Home of the Brave: Honoring the Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror by Caspar W. Weinberger and Wynton C. Hall was released in May 2006, I bought a copy for my father for his birthday. It being bad form to read the book before giving it as a gift, I only just recently read it (after reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a couple of months ago). I've been busy with other things, so I only just finished reading it today. If you aren't already familiar with it, here's the synopsis from the book jacket:

They are nineteen of the most highly decorated soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines in the United States military, and yet most Americans don’t even know their names. In this riveting, intimate account, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Wynton C. Hall tell stories of jaw-dropping heroism and hope in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Based on candid personal interviews, and other sources, Home of the Brave takes readers beyond the bullets and battles and into the hearts and minds of the husbands, fathers, and brothers who are fighting terrorists overseas so that America doesn’t have to fight them at home. These are the powerful, true-life stories of the hopes, fears, and triumphs these men and women experienced fighting the War on Terror. But more than that, these are the stories of soldiers who risked everything to save lives and defend freedom.

*Lieutenant Colonel Mark Mitchell, the Green Beret leader whose fifteen-man Special Forces team took five hundred Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, and posthumously repatriated the body of the first American to die in combat in the War on Terror, CIA agent Johnny “Mike” Spann.

*Army National Guard Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester, the first woman ever to be awarded the Silver Star for combat, whose sharp-shooting and bravery played an enormous role in fighting off over fifty Iraqi insurgents while her ten-person squad protected a convoy of supplies on the way to fellow soldiers.

*Sergeant Rafael Peralta, a Mexican immigrant, enlisted in the Marines the same day he received his green card. Wounded from enemy fire, Peralta used his body to smother the blast of an enemy grenade and gave his life so that his marine brothers could live.

These real-life heroes remind us of American history’s most enduring lesson: Ours would not be the land of the free if it were not also the home of the brave.

This book attempts to help fill the void left by mainstream media reporting: for the most part, the MSM doesn't tell the stories of these heroes unless those same heroes can be portrayed as victims. Also, Mr. Weinberger and Mr. Hall give a shout-out to milblogs, specifically Blackfive and Mudville Gazette, among others. I can't get close to doing this book justice. All I can do is highly recommend you take the time to read it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Writing my Senators: The Law of the Sea Treaty

Here's my letter to my two senators, in regard to the "Law of the Sea Treaty":


I am very concerned the Senate with ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) this fall. Everything I have read about it tells me ratification would subjugate the United States Constitution as being the supreme law of the land. Ratification would make the United States no longer a sovereign nation. I urge you, and all senators, to vote against ratification of this disastrous treaty. Reagan was against this treaty in 1984. It was rejected again in 1994. This treaty would be detrimental to the United States' security and sovereignty. You have no choice to vote against it if you are truly doing what is best for the citizens of Texas and the rest of America.


Miss Ladybug

For more information, you can read here or here or here or here.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella

All I really knew about Roy Campanella was that he was on a U.S. Postal Service commemorative
"Baseball Sluggers" stamp along with Hank Greenberg, Mickey Mantle and Mel Ott.

Then, I found Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Gordon C. James. As I almost always do before purchasing a new picture book, I'll read it in the store to decide whether or not I think it's a keeper. Before reading this book, I had just assumed that Ray Campanella was Italian American. I was only half right...

The book begins with the L.A. Dodgers game on May 7, 1959, when each ticket proclaimed "I was there the night they honored Campy."

For Roy Campanella, their beloved "Campy", it was a long journey to that night of tribute..

We learn that Roy was born in 1921 in Homestead, Pennsylvania to an Italian American father and an African American mother. In 1928, the family of six moved to the Niceville area in Philadelphia, which, in the segregated 1920s was actually "a mixed community, a comfortable place for the Campanellas." Mr. Campanella was a produce vendor, and Roy would help his father, even after getting a job, at age twelve, delivering milk.

Roy liked to play stickball with his friends after school, and he would sometimes get to watch the Philadelphia Athletics from the roof of a house outside the ballpark. Roy decorated his room with pictures of his baseball heroes, including Josh Gibson, "the black Babe Ruth".

Roy played baseball on a boys' team sponsored by a local newspaper, and eventually began playing on men's teams - he was, after all, "big for his age and a good athlete." Roy was a catcher, just like his hero, Gibson.

Campy reminds us that baseball was a segregated sport in the 1930s. Roy joined the Baltimore Elite Giants, part of the Negro Leagues, in 1937 at the age of 15. He lived baseball the entire summer, playing "as many as four games a day" and living on the team bus. The day after his 16th birthday, on November 27th, Campy quit school.

"To do that," he later wrote, he knew he "should at least be grown-up enough to go into the world and earn his way." Campanella felt he could do this, as a full-time professional baseball player.

He played over the next several years on the Elite Giants, and on teams in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Cuba.


After the 1945 season, Roy Campanella met with Branch Rickey, president of the all-white Brooklyn Dodgers system. "Your record is good...a hard worker who loves baseball, a man who gets along well with people," he told Campanella. "Play for me."

Campanella thought he was talking about creating a new Dodgers team in the Negro Leagues, but he wasn't. He meant one of the many white Dodgers teams in the Minor Leagues, maybe even its top team, the Major League Brooklyn Dodgers.

One week earlier Branch Riley had signed another African American, Jackie Robinson. Rickey wanted to get the best players he could for the Dodgers, no matter what their race. And he wanted to end the segregation of baseball.

In March 1946, Campanella signed with the Dodgers.

One of the Minor League teams refused to take him because of his race.

But the one in Nashua, New Hampshire, was glad to have him.

Roy Campanella love baseball. He didn't pay attention to the ugly racial shouts from players on other teams or from people in the stands. Words didn't upset him. He just enjoyed the game. But physical attacks did bother him. When one player threw dirt in his face, Campy warned him to stop or "I'll beat you to a pulp."

The following season, in 1947, Jackie Robinson was promoted from the Dodgers' Minor League team in Montreal to the Major League Dodgers in Brooklyn. Campy was promoted to the Montreal team.

In 1948, Campanella began the season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but was moved to a Minor League team in the American Association, to break the color barrier. Later that season, he was sent back to Brooklyn. At that time, in July, the Dodgers weren't doing well. But Campy played well, the team began winning and finished third. In 1949, they came in first in the NL.

Campy was a great player on one of baseball's very best teams.

He was chosen the league's all-star catcher eight years in a row. In 1951, 1953, and 1955, he was chosen as the league's Most Valuable Player. In five of the ten years Campy played for the Dodgers, the team finished first in the National League. Each time they faced the New York Yankees in the World Series.

Knowing he wouldn't be able to play ball forever, Campy made plans to support his family after baseball by opening "a wine and liquor store in New York City" in 1951. In the early hours of January 28, 1958, tragedy struck.

"I was tired and it was cold and late, but I drove carefully," he later wrote. "There were big patches of ice in the road....I suddenly lost control. The car wouldn't behave....I fought the wheel. The brakes were useless....I saw this telephone pole right where I was headed....I just did hit it....The car bounced off and turned completely over, landing on its right side."

He viewed those days immediately after the accident as the worst of his life, and he thought he "was a goner."

He couldn't walk or hold a ball, and at first, he didn't want to see anyone, not even his children. Soon, though, his attitude changed. He compared the fight ahead to baseball. "When you're in a slump, you don't feel sorry for yourself...You don't quit."

Campy never walked again, but he still loved baseball. He was able to watch TV from his bed. He watched the Dodgers. He called Charlie Neal, a friend and former teammate, and gave him batting tips. Neal listened and starting hitting better. Campy had a new job: as a spring training coach for the Dodgers.

Even though Campanella was confined to a wheelchair, that didn't stop him from living a full life.

He had a radio program, Campy's Corner, and his own television show, and he held baseball clinics for teenagers.

"He was still Campy," Yankees catcher Yogi Berra later said, "still a special person. He'd always have that big smile despite what happened to him."

Roy was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. He became a role model for how he dealt with his disabilities. He wrote he had "a life such as few people have been fortunate enough to live."

One of his legacies is the Roy and Roxie Campanella Physical Therapy Scholarship Foundation, which he set up with his third wife. "It provides equipment, support, and encouragement for people with disabilities like Campy's and help for people studying to work with the disabled."

Roy passed away on June 26, 1993. At his funeral, Tom Bradley, the Mayor of Los Angeles, said "He had the force of personality to influence us all. Each of us will be bigger, stand taller, reach a little higher because we knew Roy Campanella."

The back of the book contains important dates in Roy's history, as well as citations for the quotes included in the book and a list of suggested reading about Campanella.

Campy is recommended for children ages 6 to 9. While this book does address some of the racial injustices he faced, unlike Jackie's Bat, that is not the primary focus of the story. Through Campy's life story, children can see how the disabled are capable of living full and rewarding lives. Even if you're not a baseball fan, this would be a nice addition to your children's book library.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Why the Rockies should win the World Series

I mentioned in my post last night that my family is rooting for the Rockies. Good news now is they are up two games to none against the Phillies in their first playoff series. Then, I get an email from my sister with the subject line "Another reason to like the Rockies". It was a link to this article at

Manager Clint Hurdle revealed Thursday that the team [ed. - as in the players, not management] last week voted a full playoff share to Amanda Coolbaugh, whose husband, Mike Coolbaugh, was killed when hit by a foul ball while coaching first base for the Rockies' Double-A Tulsa squad on July 22.

I'm not completely sure what a "playoff share" is - I assume it's whatever "bonus money" goes to the players for reaching each separate post-season playoff series. Assuming this, it is very generous to remember Coolie's family, and to help them out in this way.

Update 10/8/07:

The Colorado Rockies remembered Mike Coolbaugh at Game 3 of the NLDS on Saturday, October 6th. Mike's brother, Scott, accompanied his nephews to throw out a first pitch before the game.

Updated 10/28/07:

Change of Seasons Mandy Coolbaugh used to look forward to October. Then her husband, former Express star Mike Coolbaugh, was killed last summer on the baseball field. (Austin American-Statesman 10/27/07)


In memoriam: Mike Coolbaugh (7/23/07)
Mike Coolbaugh: The Tributes (8/11/07)
Round Rock Express' Tribute to Mike Coolbaugh (8/26/07)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jackie's Bat

Since it is October, and the playoff have begun (our house is rooting for the Rockies, since they have several former Express/Astros players that my sisters also know), I thought I'd do reviews on a couple more baseball books. The first one is Jackie's Bat by Marybeth Lorbiecki and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

Jackie's Bat is the story of Robinson's first season, in 1947, with the Brooklyn Dodgers through the eyes of a fictional bat boy in the Dodgers' clubhouse. This book doesn't speak today's PC language - I think it stays true to what it was like back then, long before the term "African-American" was conceived.

A new player comes in.
I ain't ever seen him play,
but I've heard all about him.
He's Jackie Robinson.
He looks around for a locker,
but there aren't any more.
I do what the manager told me
and point to a folding chair and a nail on the wall.
I don't think any other player had to start with a nail.
But Robinson ain't like any other player-
not in either of the leagues.
He's colored.
In spring training, a bunch of the guys on the team
said they didn't want to play with him.
But old "Leo the Lion" Durocher
just chewed their rear ends
and said Robinson was staying.
Anyone who didn't like it could leave.
No one did.

I ain't leaving either.

Robinson looks at me.
"Hey kid," he says, all smiles and friendly-like.
I don't know what to say.
Pops says it ain't right,
a white boy serving a black man.
So I turn and get to work.

The bat boy admits he cleans all the players cleats until they shine. "All except for number 42's." Before Jackie plays in his first game, the bat boy sees "a mob of colored fans waiting for Robinson", and he seems surprised because "He hasn't even done anything yet!"

Jackie asks the bat boy his name and then asks for a pen, but a fan offers one up while the Joey pretends not to hear the request. He goes about helping the other players but avoids Robinson.

The players are announced and the fans all cheer.

But when Robinson's name
comes over the loudspeaker,
the Negroes jump to their feet,
waving signs like crazy.
You'd think President Roosevelt
came back from the dead.
But they're not the only ones excited.
Everybody wants to see
if Robinson can really play ball in
the big leagues.
Even Pops!

After the game, Jackie speaks to Joey, first commenting that Joey missed his cleats... Then:

"You know, Joey," he says, putting a foot on the bench,
there's people out there who don't
treat me as a man 'cause my skin is black."
His voice is strong, like a line drive.
I don't say nothing.
My eyes are looking at everything but his eyes.
"You know what I've found out about them?"
he asks, almost like I was a friend
he was telling a secret to.

"No," I say.
Normally I'd say "No, sir" to a player.
I couldn't say it now, but I do look up.
I expect his eyes to be angry.
He just looks tired and sort of let down.
"They don't know what a man is," he says.
Then he pulls himself tall and walks away.

Joey worries Jackie will tell the manager he hasn't been doing his job, and he'll get fired, so he cleans the cleats, "but they don't shine."

Jackie gets 5 hits and a home run against the New York Giants, and even Joey cheers. Robinson gets fan mail, but Pops tells Joey that Jackie won't make in "the big leagues," but Joey's not so sure about that.

On the road, Jackie is the target of derogatory comments from the players on other teams:

"Why don't you go back to the cotton fields?"
"They're waiting for you in the jungles, black boy."
A bunch of the players aim their bats at him like guns
and shout the n-word.

I can't believe it!
This is baseball, for crying out loud.

Through it all, Jackie just plays ball, but he makes his first error. The next game, it continues.

But then, at the start of the third game,
our second baseman, Eddie Stanky,
stands and roars, "You yellow-bellied cowards, why don't you yell at somebody who can answer back?"
Everybody knows Robinson promised
he won't make no trouble-no matter what.

Then another Dodger hollers, "If you guys played
as well as you talked, you'd win some games!"

"Yeah!" I shout like the rest. "Shut your faces!"

Jackie suffers a batting slump. On the first of May, he gets a hit. After the game, Joey congratulates Jackie, but feels like Jackie looks at him like he's one of the hecklers.

Jackie isn't living on easy street yet.
Pitchers aim for him-he gets hit six times.
Runners slide into first and try to spike him.
On the road, he can't stay
at the same hotel as the rest of us,
or eat with us, or use the swimming pool.
Letters start coming in so full of hate
the police have to guard him.

If Joey weren't seeing it all for himself, he wouldn't believe it. Jackie gets on a streak, with doubles and homers, and stealing bases so much the pitchers can't pitch for trying to watch him. Joey is doing his best for Jackie, "but I still feel like we're in two different dugouts, and I'm the one who put us there."

The season takes the Dodgers to St. Louis, with the Cardinals only four and a half games back. The Cards resort to dirty tricks to try to get to Jackie.

It's the eighth inning of the last game.
One of the Cardinals hits a foul.
Jackie leaps from first to catch it.
Jumping Jehoshaphat, he's going to crash
into the dugout!
Then suddenly Ralph Branca, our pitcher that day,
is in the air like Superman.
As Jackie catches the ball, Ralph catches Jackie!
Holy Joe! A white man holding a black man!
That takes the gobble out of the Cardinals' turkeys!
The batter's out,
and we go on to win the game 8-7.

The Dodgers win the Pennant, "and Jackie is the first ever Rookie of the Year! September 23, 1947, is Jackie Robinson Day at Ebbets Field."

Joey gets there early because he wants to speak to Jackie before going to sit with Pops.

A bunch of colored boys yell to me from the fence:
"Could you give something to Jackie for us, please?"
A boy about my age hands me a package
and a homemade card.
Jealousy rips through me.
I wish the present was mine.

Joey gets up the courage to interrupt Jackie with all the reporters and gives him the gift. Jackie opens is to find a Louisville Slugger with a wood-burn that reads "OUR MAN JACK". Jackie tells him thanks. Joey wants to take credit, and to apologize for how he's acted.

But then the words come tumbling out:
"It's not from me, Mr. Robinson. I wish it was."
I'm so nervous I think I'm going to pee.
"It's from some other boys," I add.
"Here's their card."

My eyes go to the floor.
I want to melt into the floor like the witch in Wizard of Oz.
"I don't have any bat to give you," I mumble,
"but I want you to know
I got what you mean about what a man is."

Jackie then tells Joey he looks good because he maintained his composure and the Dodgers won the pennant, but someday he's not going to play well, and he'll start defending himself from the hecklers: "What'll you think of me then?"

It's a test, Joey realizes, and he knows it's deserved: "Well, you didn't take nothing from me before," I say, "and slumps and Dodgers go together-they don't mean nothing."

A laugh erupts from him at that,
and I can see in his eyes
that I just grew a few feet.
He offers me his hand to shake-
one Dodger to another.
When I grab it,
I feel the tight grip of a friend.

The Afterword gives more details about Jackie Robinson's life. There is also a Note from the Author, noting that while Joey is fictional, the things he sees and hears are true. "These descriptions and quotations are all based on historical accounts." On the back cover, Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife, has a note which concludes "Congratulations... for celebrating Jackie's life and legacy so beautifully."

While the book is recommended for ages 5 to 8, because of the sensitive topics addressed in the book, you should make the judgement about whether or not your kids (either your children or your students) are mature enough to deal with them. Beyond the portrait of life for a black man in pre-Civil Rights era America, this book can be used to teach other life lessons: how should you treat someone that you've just me and decided you don't like? what is it like when you are confronted with your own wrong-doing? if you realize you have treated someone poorly when they haven't deserved it, what should you do? I think this is a great book, and would be a wonderful addition to your children's book library, especially if there are baseball fans around.

Too ironic...

H/T Instapundit

From Talking Points Memo:

Rep. Darrell Issa went on CSPAN's Washington Journal this morning and had this to say about the House oversight committee's investigation of Blackwater (via Atrios):

If Henry Waxman today wants to go to Iraq and do an investigation, Blackwater will be his support team. His protection team. Do you think he really wants to investigate directly?

They've got accompanying video.

Are pundits wrongly writing off Fred Thompson?

I was looking over items at Instapundit (again, for items for The Victory Caucus) and came across an item at American Thinker. Near the end of the piece:

After a recent Thompson speech in Iowa a member of the audience called out: "Kill the terrorists, secure the border, and give me back my freedom." Thompson replied "you just summed up my whole speech."

No other candidate could have carried off that quip because no other candidate is capable of delivering a convincing speech focused on those powerful themes.

I have not yet made a decision about who I will vote for in the primary - just those I know I won't vote for - so I try to learn as much about the other candidates as I can. I recommend you do the same. Go read the whole thing.