A couple of things.

Katelyn update. Katelyn came through surgery and the doctors were thrilled about how it went. They were able to repair the damage and rebuild a valve using some of her own tissue, which will be much lower-maintenance than an artificial valve.
The roller-coaster ride probably isn’t over yet, but one can hope.

Thanks for your prayers.

Daniel Pearl. As a professionally-trained journalist, you knew I’d talk about this at some point. This is a work hazard. I know about those. I’ve been on crime scenes before the suspect was apprehended. I’ve received telephone threats. When you cover such topics as crime, war, or terrorism, you take a certain amount of risk–risks that a sportswriter doesn’t. You accept those risks, or you get out.

I decided I didn’t love journalism enough to have to take those risks. I became a magazine feature writer (better suited for my talents anyway), then I took a job in another field.

Daniel Pearl took the other route, which left him chasing down people in Pakistan with ties to a known terrorist. He knew what he was getting into. But he smelled a story. I know that feeling. I’ve done it too. I once drove out to what I believed was a compound, hoping to talk to a militant separatist in person. But I didn’t go alone. And the reporter I went with happened to be an ex-Marine. I liked the odds and wanted the story.

You’ll notice there isn’t a mass exodus of journalists leaving Pakistan. Certainly some have left. But many have stayed behind. That’s where the stories are. Sure, it’s risky. Will there be more kidnappings? Absolutely. Is Daniel Pearl dead? Probably not yet. He’s not worth anything to them dead. Now if they take a second hostage and then give a 24-hour ultimatum, he’s finished.

The public outcry on this should be tremendous. I’ve lost a tremendous amount of respect for Pakistan. And I’m going to call a duck a duck. Islam is a cult. Yeah, like Jonestown. Meanwhile there are people talking about U.S. atrocities at Guantanamo Bay–the people there live under conditions our soldiers wish they could live under, so if the United States is mistreating anyone right now, it’s our own soldiers–and public school districts teaching proselytizing Islam in some parts of the country. That has to stop. It’s unconstitutional. Unfortunately, it’s also trendy. Don’t expect to hear a peep from the ACLU. Muslims don’t oppress. If you ask the politically correct, that is.

Daniel Pearl knew what he was getting into. That doesn’t justify his kidnapping. I don’t blame Geraldo Rivera for carrying a gun as he reports. I don’t blame the journalists who leave. I don’t blame the journalists who stay. I admire their courage.

There’s not much I can do. I’m not going back into reporting. I’m certainly not going over there. I don’t have the skills to be an effective soldier or reporter over there.

There’s one thing I can do. And I will. The lease on my car is up in just over a year. It’s a Dodge Neon, hardly a gas-guzzler. But it gets 26-35 miles to the gallon. There are cars out there that use less gas. Honda makes some. Toyota makes some. Volkswagen makes some.

Honda and Toyota make hybrid cars. Bill Maher bought one and advocates others do the same–why support our enemies? He surprised me. I have newfound respect for him. I weighed the pros and cons of doing the same. I concluded that a VW Jetta would actually be more economical for me, based on the amount I drive.

But I’m torn. I can pay more money to the Japanese, so I can avoid paying more money to the Middle East.

A month ago I’d have decided I was doing enough by buying a German car that got 30+ MPG in all conditions. Now I don’t think so. Now I’m mad enough to pay extra, just to avoid supporting people like the buttwipes who kidnapped Daniel Pearl.

It’s been said that economically, the Japanese never stopped fighting World War II. They rarely buy our products, and they flooded our marketplace with theirs, first making their stuff cheaper than ours, then making it cheaper and, in most cases, better. They couldn’t conquer us militarily, but if they didn’t conquer us economically, they sure changed us irreversibly.

It’s time we follow the Japanese lead and fight with our dollars. Where do terrorists get their money? Ultimately, it originates from oil. So if we stop buying their oil, they’ve got nothing to use to fight against us. The best way we can start is by trading in our SUVs for hybrid cars, even if that means swallowing hard and paying more for a hybrid than we would for a conventional car. And even if that means not buying American. (I never thought I’d say that.)

Sending our soldiers isn’t enough. This country didn’t win WWII by sending out soldiers and acting like nothing else happened, other than waving U.S. flags and checking CNN.com a few times a day. We won WWII by fundamentally changing our way of life. Some of the changes were temporary. Some of them were permanent.

If we don’t want another Vietnam or Somalia, we’re going to have to remember what total warfare is, grit our teeth, and take it like men.

So don’t do it for the planet. Do it for our troops. Do it for hostages like Daniel Pearl. Do it because you can’t shoot Osama bin Laden or Richard Reid in the teeth. Do it for Todd Beamer and the rest of the people on those planes and in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Do it for the people they left behind. Do it for the countries that rallied to our side.

Use some of the money you save on gas and on car payments to pay down those credit cards. And rest easier knowing that airplane you see overhead isn’t going to explode, or crash into something important.

See you later. I’m going to war.

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