5-25-2004 Moore or North? North in a landslide


Folks have been calling for an audit in the city for quite some time now and it appears on the surface that it would be a good idea. However, I think the only person with a chance of figuring out the finances of the city over the last eight years would be Inspector Clouseau. It would take that sort of mind to figure out where all the “money” went-if we ever got it at all.

I think resources would be better spent auditing here and now. It seems to me that the current administration has pulled a few bone-headed moves, a few closed door decisions, a few weird hiring moves, but nothing Earth-shattering or major blunders like we had. “That WAS a priceless Steinway!”

The biggest thing they need to resolve is the firehouse situation. They have got to get this resolved and fast. If it means locking themselves in a room for three days, do it. We are coming into fire season. Fortunately, we have has a good amount of rain with these pop-up thunderstorms. But it seems as if we missed Spring and bounced into Summer, at least temperature-wise.

It is time to get the guys together, cover the walls with paper, do some root cause analysis, and prioritize some actions to get to the goals. This is not something that can simply be swept under the rug. Concessions have been made by lots of folks, cuts have been made, people have been ticked off, but none of that matters. Time to get the thinking caps on and get some out of the box ideas going. How about cross-shifting? Take a handful of guys that can be split across two normal shifts. I’ve done this before and it works well. The guys doing the cross-shift work should be those without families if possible and perhaps a bit of cabbage as an incentive would help. But whatever the solution-DO IT NOW, before someone pays the ultimate price-fireman or citizen. Mayor Leighton, the hose dudes and hose chicks support you, time to roll up the sleeves.

Sad to think that all those years I spent running through fountains or playing in wading pools have killed me. Yep, I’m actually not alive right now. Every year my kids spend countless hours in the public pools and fountains up at Oswego, NY-our summer get-a-way. The parents do the policing, and of course there are life guards, and so far, so good. I swim twice a week at the YMCA-should I stop? Can’t imagine what is in the water, and I probably do swallow some of it over the course of 50-70 laps. The folks that swim there are some of the best conditioned folks I have ever seen, young and old. Hey knuckle-heads, here’s a message:


I saw something completely disturbing yesterday. The prisoners were lined up in front of three burley looking guys. They were forced to do exercises, stretching, arm circles, running in place. Then finally, they were told to put their arms stretched out horizontally and the one that kept their arms up the longest would get a “special prize.” I watched in terror as one after another succumbed, their arms dropping to their sides. Finally, there were three left, none of which would give in. Pained expressions on their faces. Two minutes, then three. Finally, one of the burley guys said, “Okay we have a tie between Emily, Olivia, and Andrew-you three get to bat first.” Smiles and cheers ensued.

I told one of the coaches, that sort of treatment would get you court-martialed at Abu Ghraib. By the way, Emily is mine-way to go kid.

Good segue into the Don North story. We get so many pointy-headed intellectuals and high-brow socialists, basking in their own aura of self-aggrandizement at Cannes, and Socialist in Chief Moore winning some trophy for bashing Bush, when the real story about the US and our people was actually captured by Mr. North. Mr. Moore is screaming about not getting his hastily-made-just-in-time-for-election-season movie covered or shown in the US. Why does it need to be seen? For eight months now we have been hearing all the ridiculous diatribe from these folks and their message can be summed up easily. “Bush lied.” There, your message is out again.

Now, onto a real story, based on real facts, with real people that experienced real pain and real torture, and that shows the REAL AMERICA:

***May 15, 2004 — Basim Salman Al Fadhly never thought the day would come — but it did this past week when he walked into a building on the south side of Houston to get fitted for a new right hand.

He had lived with the shame of losing his right hand for almost 10 years. No one in Iraq could help him, and he lost all hope until the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime last year. But on Monday, Al Fadhly and six other Baghdad merchants will walk out of a Houston prosthetics clinic with fully functioning hands for the first time since the mid-1990s, when Saddam Hussein's government hacked off their natural hands.

Saddam’s Punishment

In 1995, Saddam's secret police pulled Al Fadhly and other Baghdad merchants from their beds in the middle of the night and accused them of dealing in foreign currency. Their trials lasted five minutes, and all were convicted. The sentence was that their right hands were to be cut off, crosses would be carved in their foreheads and they would serve a year in Abu Ghraib prison.

Abu Ghraib — now known as the site where the American military abused Iraqi prisoners — once held 25,000 prisoners who were considered enemies of Saddam Hussein, including Al Fadhly and the other merchants who were being blamed for the bad economy. Their story was well known in Baghdad, but not widely know outside of Iraq until the fall of Saddam a year ago.

Secret Video

The story would have ended there without Don North, a documentary filmmaker who stumbled onto it while in Iraq last year. What North found started a chain of events that brought hope to the men who lost their hands.

"I met a filmmaker in Baghdad who had a copy of this incredible video," North said. "One night Saddam's secret police came to him and asked him to make 10 copies of a tape. He secretly recorded an 11th copy and hid it."

The tape showed the preparations for surgery, and the doctor amputating the right hands. It can be painful to watch, to see the severed hands lying on the operating tables.

"The brutality of what I saw on this tape was overwhelming," North said. "That this could be done with such cold-blooded deliberation was frightening."

American Help

North got help for the men from a contractor from Houston who referred him to Marvin Zindler, the consumer advocate for KTRK-TV, the ABC-owned station in Houston. Zindler and his producer, Lori Reingold, were able to use their contacts to cut the red tape to get help for the merchants.

Continental Airlines flew the men to Houston.

Dr. Joe Agris and Dr. Fred Kessler of Methodist Hospital of Houston provided the medical care the men needed to get ready for prosthetics.

Dynamic Prosthetics of Houston took on the daunting task of building seven prosthetic hands with the help of Otto Bock — a prosthetic manufacturer who donated the prosthetics — that would give the seven men functional hands again.

The Institute for Research and Rehabilitation is teaching the men how to use their new hands. The generosity of so many people in the United States moves Al Fadhly and his friends to tears. "Why they should help us, strangers, I do not know," he said, "but their goodness I will never forget."

Supports Iraq War

There is no doubt in Al Fadhly's mind about the rightness of the decision to invade Iraq. He is surprised at criticism of the war — and changed mosques in Houston when one mosque leader lectured him about the American presence in Iraq.

"The coalition doesn't need to find weapons of mass destruction of justify the war," he said. Holding up the stump of his right hand he continued, "Doesn't the world community consider this an act of brutality? May this never happen to another human being again." ***

GOD BLESS AMERICA. And perhaps it’s time that America blesses God. Bang, Marky, Bang!! And what about those evil corporations that donated their time and resources. Will they get a sales bump from this? I HOPE the hell so, but so what! The fact remains that this nation is the most generous on God’s green Earth, and that we can do what other nations only dream about!

See you at the fountain. Charlie and I will be the two fools singing religious tunes.
Keep the faith.
Private Sector Dude.