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    Thursday, December 31, 2009

    2009: My Year in Review - Forever Young

    Where did this year go?

    In 2009, I began the year with my January 13th birthday. Turning 31, I declared at my birthday party that "31 is the new 21." By year's end, that little joke would turn out to ring true. I got more competitive on the tennis court, I partied with musicians and attended many more musical performances than I had in years, and in Tallahassee, I helped organize thousands of people to come together to take on the forces of big government in a series of "tea parties." So here's a little run through some of the more memorable moments of my year:

    In January and February, I saw my Terps and Canes basketball teams come to town. One advantage living in Seminole country is that my ACC teams play here often. Unfortunately, I saw them both lose to a pretty good FSU basketball team. The year was redeemed for me on Labor Day night with a classic Miami win over FSU, decided on a last second play. It was one of the best football games I've ever been to, with a constant back and forth in the score and with my Canes prevailing. Perhaps the neatest thing was seeing more than 20,000 Miami Hurricane fans don the orange and green in Tallahassee and attended a pre-game UM celebration.

    In February, I took a trip to Washington, D.C. to see a lot of friends and timed my trip perfectly with the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. This was my fifth time attending CPAC in the past 6 years. During that week, I also attended the first round of tea parties of 2009 and the first tea party (we know of) that took place outside the White House on February 27. About 300 patriots came together that day and my friends Brendan Steinhauser, John O'Hara, and J.P. Freire were the primary organizers. I stayed with Brendan while I was in D.C. and got snowed in for two days. During that time, I plotted and planned with him and was determined to bring the "tea party" movement to Tallahassee. While "snowed-in in DC," I also gave a short lecture at the Heritage Foundation during a special "Conservatism on Tap" event.

    Upon my return to Tallahassee, I had two goals: have a tea party on St. Patrick's Day (March 17) and try to get 300 people there. Then, use that as a jumping point for a Tax Day Tea Party (April 15) and get 1,000 people there. The first goal was nearly accomplished, with about 225 people attending and plenty of media attention. But that generated the momentum for April 15. Somehow, someway, we organized well and on April 15, more than 2,000 people showed up to the grounds of Florid'as Historic State Capitol. I was the primary organizer of the event and I also served as the event's emcee, which was really cool. To look out and see that many people - to rally that many people - for the cause of liberty, was an incredible feeling.

    More than 1,000 such tea parties were held simultaneously across the nation that day. We helped create a movement - and are now part of the biggest push back against big government perhaps since our nation's founding and the first tea party of 1773.

    The tea parties were a reaction to the gigantic growth in government over the past two years, between the "Bush-Obama" bailouts, and now they continue to be a force to fight against the continued government intervention in the economy - whether that be in the area of health care, energy policy, or other regulatory and reckless spending. We cannot push our country any further into debt than it already is. I believe we've reached a breaking point, and the tea party movement has come about to say "enough is enough." Throughout 2009, the Tallahassee Tea Party persisted and has become a large part of the tea party movement.

    I did some other traveling this year - mostly related to my job as Director of Development at The James Madison Institute as well as opportunities to come together with others in the conservative movement. (It's hard to believe I'm now wrapping up my full second year with the Institute!)

    In late March, I drove over to New Orleans for annual national meeting of The Philadelphia Society, an intellectually conservative group of which I am proud to be a member for the past few years. At that meeting, scholars discussed the future of conservatism and how to bring conservative principles into the 21st century.

    In September, I drove to Charleston, SC - my first time there - for a Development Director's retreat hosted by the State Policy Network. I got together with my colleagues in the state-based free-market movement and discussed how to raise more money and grow our organizations' capacities. In November, I traveled with 4 of my colleagues to Asheville, NC and attended the annual meeting of the State Policy Network. More than 600 people attended this year, representing every state think tank in the country. This meeting is always really neat because there is someone from every state in the Union represented. We share best practices and learn from one another about what is working (and what isn't) for free-marketers in the various states.

    In August, I traveled to Maryland for a special retreat for about 50 young professional conservatives across the country. I then visited my friends and former colleagues at my old job at ISI in Delaware and then hung out in D.C. for a few days, getting the opportunity to watch some high quality professional tennis at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic - we saw 7 of the top 20 players on the same day, including Fernando Gonzalez, Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling, Fernando Verdasco, Tommy Robredo, and Lleyton Hewitt, among others.

    In the past few years, I have been playing more tennis than I have since I was a junior player. This year, I really stepped it up more by playing more and I competed once again in the USTA's 4.5 league here in Tallahassee. This year, our regionals was held in Tallahassee and I had to play 4 singles matches in 3 days - I won 3 of them - all tough matches. Down two players, our team tied for first with the Jacksonville team, yet it wasn't enough. When they went to the "tiebreaker" we lost one more set than Jacksonville, and weren't able to advance. However, I really proved to myself that I could play 4 tennis matches in the same 3 days and play at a high quality level - in July! I was even filmed for a spot on the local Tallahassee news, which showed some of my points.

    As I write this, I have just went out and visited my old training ground at Bill Clark's tennis academy in Cooper City, FL. I was out there this week - at the age of 31 - training with some top college and junior tennis players and hanging in there. (And hey, they don't have full time jobs)

    My year was also defined by music. I attended the Rock By The Sea charitable music festival on St. George Island. I had never been to SGI before, but this year I made it there 4 times. My first time was for the festival at the end of March. Beautiful weather, great music, good times. I was introduced to some great bands: Sam Thacker and Wideawake becoming some of my friends - and Sam Thacker (and his crew including Michael Westbrook) becoming good friends in the process. I hung out with Sam and his crew 4 different weekends on SGI this year, rocking out at Harry A's, getting in some good beach time, and sleeping it off at the unique beach houses on SGI. One of those weekends was for Rock By The Sea "Lite" in the fall, which benefits Sister Hazel's "Lyrics for Life" charity.

    Speaking of Sister Hazel, I got to meet them too. Sam opened up for them in November in Tallahassee. And, my brother Manny (who had just returned from Kentucky was on his way back south on his move back to South Florida) and I found ourselves at the bar with all them later, with Sister Hazel buying us drinks. Pretty cool. Just weeks before on Halloween, I dressed up as a "rock star" and saw Sam open for Corey Smith at Potbelly's in Tallahassee. Even got to hang out with Corey Smith after. Yea, I felt like a rock star all year long - from the tea parties, the tennis competitions, and hanging out with musicians. So I thought, why not just dress up the way I feel?

    And how can you not feel like a rock star when you have 250 plus followers - on Twitter that is. I joined this new social networking device and it's become the new way I get almost all my news, at least initially. I first found out about the death of Michael Jackson and the hysterics of "Balloon Boy" on Twitter. Politically, I share lots of information on Twitter and get a lot of updates from the 75 or so people I follow - all via my mobile device. At the end of 2008 I had purchased the Blackberry Storm - my first blackberry ever - and it definitely has "altered" my life in new and interesting ways in 2009 - still not sure its always for the better. What happened to the phone call? It seems all we communicate over now is texts and tweets.

    This past August, my paternal grandfather passed away. Due to traveling at the time of his passing (and the insanely fast turn around on his funeral arrangements) I wasn't able to get to his funeral. But a few weeks later I visited his grave in Miami with my grandmother, who survives him. She is the last grandparent I still have alive. His death, at the age of 89, reminded me of all the sacrifices he made for his family - bringing them from Cuba in 1960 and starting a new life in a country. It reinforces for me why I do what I do - promoting liberty and a free economy. He sacrificed so much for it - and thought more about the next generation of his own family.

    Well as the year draws to a close, I am writing this blog from my parents home in Delray Beach, FL. I feel like I have spent so much more time in South Florida this year than I have in perhaps as many as 8 years. For six and half years (2001-2008) I lived outside Florida (in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania). Since moving to Tallahassee, I find myself all over the state and the ability to get back to South Florida for work and to visit my family is a bit easier (despite the 6 and a half hour drive each way). But this year, I spent almost a week here during Thanksgiving and now I'm down here for two weeks for Christmas and for some JMI events.

    As we look towards 2010, we have a hopeful year ahead at JMI - we are contracting to buy a new building and have a downtown Tallahassee headquarters, we are putting up a new website (any day!) and we will be hiring new staff to help us do more on behalf of the principles we believe will help our state during these challenging times and in the future.

    In 2010, we must win our country back. JMI does not get involved in the direct political process (candidates or lobbying, etc). But as for me, the number one man of the year I'll be supporting is Marco Rubio to represent the state of Florida in the U.S. Senate!

    Next week at this time, I'll be boarding my first cruise ever - The Rock Boat! It's a 4-night Carnival cruise that will take us from Tampa to Cozumel. The added bonus: there are like 25 bands coming with us and there will be wall-to-wall concerts and fun all day and night. It's going to be nuts. 2009 ended with me feeling that 31 is the new 21 ... and we're bringing that rock star status right into the new year.

    Let's see if 2010 can live up to all the hopeful expectations. But thanks 2009 - you wore me out at my ripe old age of 31, but you made me feel young again. Thanks for the memories!

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Caught the Spirit of the Suwannee

    Yesterday, I spent the day at the Magnolia Music Festival, held at the "Spirit of the Suwannee" state music park. It couldn't have been a more heavenly day - clear blue skies, temperature in the mid 70s, dropping to the mid 60s at night. Like much of northern Florida, the park hosts many live oak trees with Spanish moss - and probably not coincidentally the park itself is actually situated in the city of Live Oak, FL.

    There were more than 30 bands on hand on four different stages, with bluegrass as the predominant style of music, but not the only style of music. My favorite band, Scythian, is an Irish/Celtic band with a modern edge. Then there was Tornado Rider, whose lead singer plays an electric cello as if it were an electric guitar. He also likes to climb things. What a storm of songs he took us through! Almost all had to do with animals (songs about hyenas, falcons, and even dinosaurs!) And Donna the Buffalo topped things off late at night with some classic bluegrass grooves .

    Throughout this great day of music, however, I couldn't help but notice some of the religious undertones to much of the music. And the crowd didn't necessarily appear to be your typical church-going folk.

    I am a fan of Seth Walker's blues - this is now the third time I've seen him in northern Florida in the past two years (despite the fact he's from Austin, TX). Like many bluesmen, his lyrics and sound sometimes seem to morph into gospel at times. This is particularly the case in the song "Lay Down (River of Faith)" on his new "Leap of Faith" album. I found a video clip of him performing the song from another show here:

    The lyrics begin... "Lay down my soul....I got to lay down...and fly right through heaven's gate...through heaven's gate...I got to lay down."

    He played his Saturday afternoon set on the Meadow stage, only a few hundred feet away from the legendary Suwannee River. The lyrics in his song continued, "I'm washing off my hands in the sanctifying water...I'm washing off my hands in the river of faith." As he evoked these words, I felt I needed to go take in a view of the Suwannee River after his set, as water is both purifying and magnificent, especially the great Suwannee River.

    Seth's gospel-like blues continued in his lyrics, "Darkness came over came over me...I got to lay down. The devil put tempt in me, put tempt in me...I got to lay it down...What's buried inside of me...inside of me...and I got to lay it all down. Worship a higher love...a higher love...and I got to lay all it down."

    Lay it down we must.

    Later in the evening just as the sun was setting,, Scythian took the Meadow stage. I have seen them more than a dozen times and know them well. Two of the musicians in the band, Dan and Alex Fedoryka are sons of Ukranian Catholics. There are always good strong messages in most of their songs - from songs of courage like "I Will Go" to adventurous songs such as the "Gypsy Fiddle." They have even made the accordion sexy again with the hip "technocorrdion" song. However, they chose to close with a new song, called "Santa Maria." And I found a video link to them playing this song earlier this month at the Catholic school that Dan graduated from, Franciscan University:

    The lyrics feature a fast, repetitive chorus, "Santa Maria, Santa Maria, Santa Maria... save our souls." It was fantastic and beautiful at the same time. The message of the song was to ask "Santa Maria" (St. Mary) for guidance in seeking salvation. And as my friend Heather said, Scythian is not just a great band, but they play with such "joy." Indeed. I've always described them as simply a "fun" band. It's impossible not to have fun at a Scythian show - and nearly impossible not to dance.

    Speaking of dancing, we saw a lot of dancing among many of the "hippies" and other folks who come to the "Spirit of the Suwannee" music park. It seems they are trying to get away from the regular lives and embrace a "hippie culture" once again. Some were dancing by themselves, some with others. And some were performing dancing moves I've never seen before (and wouldn't mind not seeing again). But dancing is also an expression of a longing within one self, and is usually done with music invokes something deeper within, perhaps towards something greater above - as Seth Walker might say, toward a "higher love." It almost looked like a religious experience for one man who we saw dancing out in the middle of the crowd.

    The songs, dancing, and heavenly setting at the beautiful "Spirit of the Suwanee" state park had much of us catching the spirit indeed.

    I will be posting pictures and possibly more commentary in the coming days. But, be sure to join us at the park for Springfest. Mark your calendars now for March 26-28. I think we'll be going for more than one day then and take in the camping experience as well. Then we will see bonfires, sunrises, and breakfast come into play as well.

    Monday, May 04, 2009

    Music, Tennis, and the Unseriousness of Human Affairs

    The last two weeks have been incredible and has made me thankful for all the blessings God has continued to shower down on me. First, there is the gift of family and friends that I am always thankful for.

    But, let me get a little "unserious" for a minute. And I say "unserious" because I am going to go from talking about God, His blessings, our gifts to... tennis and music. How serious is playing (or watching) tennis? Or playing or listening to music? Well, as a tennis player and a fan, and as one who is a fan of great music, the last two weeks have given me some further insight into how we each use our gifts and talents in creative ways.

    We can't all be as great of tennis players as I witnessed at the 2009 Tallahassee Tennis Challenger. These guys were good. While I am sometimes playing tennis - in the heat of the competition - I often forget about all else that is going on in the world, even in my world. It just becomes about the competition of the sport, about perfecting your shots, about moving fast, and tracking down the shots your opponent is hitting back at you. When you hit a great forehand or a great serve, or a backhand you didn't know you had, you feel a sense of glory, as if all the practice and competition came together for that moment.

    Then, you go watch some professional players at a tournament like the Tallahassee Challenger and you wonder what sport you thought you were playing. These guys are hitting some sick shots, and they are good. And, the field is LOADED with talent. There's not much of a difference between a guy ranked number 120 and a guy ranked in the 400s. A few points maybe. But they are out there working hard every day trying to get themselves better and trying to compete against the stacked competition. But what they give each of us fans back is a sense of INSPIRATION. I know I am never going to be THAT good (especially at this age), but watching their talent in action INSPIRES us to play on and dares us to dream that we can.

    Speaking of a field loaded with talent - I spent the last two weekends listening to some great musicians perform on St. George Island. One weekend had a plethora of great, mostly young, bands at the Rock By The Sea (RBTS) charitable music festival. And this past weekend, one of those bands, the Sam Thacker band returned to perform two more times.

    After watching four of their performances in 10 days, I kept thinking to myself, "why aren't these guys bigger yet? And why did I just find out about them?" I mean they're very talented. But then you come to realize there is so much talent out there in the music industry as well, and it's all going to be about what sells and what gets your attention. Like tennis players, they are competing in a field loaded with talent. And these days, its tougher than ever with all that "free" music out there.

    But there is something more here - whether its Sam Thacker or some other musicians out there that I have yet to hear play, they are all offering their talents to the world and they are allowing us to partake in their creativity. What gives the artist his ability or his drive to "create"? What gives the tennis player the will to go on and perfect his game?

    Well this makes me reflect back to Edmund Burke's phrase, "Art is man's nature." This first means that nature is where we see God's art, God's creation. Man was made in the image of God, and God was the first Creator. So all of us each have some drive inside of us to create something. We create and express ourselves through "art." It is the spark of the divine within us that gives us our ability and our drive to create.

    And I would argue tennis, or any sport really, is an art in this sense. As Father Schall outlines in his book, On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs, we don't just create a sport, but we work to professionalize it, to perfect it. When you watch the NFL, it didn't start that way, so professionalized and nearly perfected. It started out with someone creating a weird looking ball, then throwing it around, the designing rules, uniforms, and then one day, it was professionalized.

    When you look out on a beautiful beach like St. George Island, or up at the heavenly hosts that dot that landscape late at night, you see God's art - nature - staring back at you, aweing you. On a human level, we can be "awed" by each other's creation as well. Whether that is a song, a talented musician, a tennis player, or the spirit of competition, our drive to create goes on. And that drive to create and the creation itself are inspired by something greater. We all can't sing a song like Sam Thacker or hit a tennis ball like Jean-Yves Aubone, but we CAN be inspired by how they use their talents, how hard they work to perfect them, and then be inspired to join them and partake in creation.

    After all, these are the "unserious" things that make us human and help us tap into something greater than ourselves. It is not in our work, in our economy, or in our politics that we find humanity. It is, as Father Schall says, in the "unseriousness" of human affairs.

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    Tallahassee Tea Party

    I've been busy helping organize the first Tallahassee Tea Party, in response to the federal bailouts. So, sorry I've been slacking on my personal blog. But check out the Tallahasee Tea Party blog.

    We had more than 225 people at the first Tallahassee Tea Party on March 17th, St. Patrick's Day. It was a blast.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Oust Charlie Crist

    This is the end of the line for me with Florida's Governor Charlie Crist. Although, there were plenty of other reasons not to like him or even consider voting for him again, this crosses the line. Crist will introduce President Barack Obama today in Fort Myers, Florida.

    Now, there's nothing wrong with a Governor courteously welcoming a President to his home state. But the problem is - Crist supports Obama's massive socialist welfare spending bill. This bill will not only put us in debt, but it has spending for may liberal special interests. I hope today is the beginning of the end for Charlie Crist.

    While Crist has been a "good Republican" on some issues: he favors government transparency (wait, so does Obama, right?) and he has refused to raise taxes and mostly supported many of the major spending cuts (though, he did veto some of the cuts Florida's conservative legislature passed during a special session on Florida's economy). He's also been pretty good on schoo choice (but not nearly as good as Jeb Bush, but who can be that good?) So, even on those issues, he's not as perfect as this conservative would like him to be.

    But then things get far worse. Crist has imposed massive government regulation over the property insurance industry - a plan which has reduced competition and forced more Floridians to carry Citizens (the state's insurance company), hich will leave all of Florida's taxpayers on the hook should just one hurricane hit Florida.

    And it gets worse. His Governor's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change is setting up to dole out oppressive government mandates and caps on carbon emissions. And now, he is at the trough begging for a stimulus from America's favorite socialist.

    I announce a clarion call to all conservatives inside and outside of Florida: let's oust Crist from the Republican Party. Don't give him a platform. The only one he wants is the platform of popularity. Today, Governor Crist put his finger in the air and went where the wind carried him: to the same stage as Barack Obama, calling for the same massive socialist welfare spending program.

    Never forget.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    Republican Party will be Strong as Steele

    Last week was a great week for the Republican Party, as no single member of the Republican Party in the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the $850 billion spending bill (the one being touted as a "stimulus" package). They held the line and even brought over 9 Democrats with them. Their vote was bipartisan while the socialists who voted for the spending bill were completely partisan.

    But a bigger point of elation for the Republican Party was when Michael Steele was picked to be the new RNC chair. He is exactly what the party needs and I've been saying for a while that the party needs to find a place for Michael Steele.

    He is as conservative as they come and represents all the branches of conservatism - fiscal conservative, social conservative, and strong national defense. And he is a great communicator/defender of our ideas. And perhaps his being African-American will help him appeal to other segments of our society where conservatism has not always ventured into. But I also think the fact that he is from Maryland, which is a pivot point between the South and the Northeast, really works well regionally for the future of our party.

    I campaigned for the Bob Ehrlich-Michael Steele ticket back in 2002, when I was a College Republican at the University of Maryland. I was a bit uncomfortable backing a pro-choice candidate like Bob Ehrlich, but everything else about him screamed conservatism, and in Maryland (a state where 2/3 of the population are registered Democrats) it is almost understandable why Ehrlich had to run as a pro-choice candidate for Governor. But not Michael Steele. He stood boldly pro-life. As Lt. Governor, he even attended pro-life candlelight vigils.

    Unfortunately he lost a close election for the U.S. Senate in 2006. But since his departure from politics, he has done well as a TV commentator, even taking on the likes of Bill Maher from time to time. I met Steele several times in 2002 and 2004 and he was a real class act, very genuine about why he is in this race. And he is also a Catholic, which is even more appealing to me. It was back in 2002 that I learned that he had actually once entered seminary to become a priest. But apparently it was around that time that he met his future wife, and instead ventured into a career in law, and eventually politics, and found his true vocation.

    Conservatives can take heart today. It is a great time to be a conservative, where we stand by our principles, despite the prevailing winds of opposition. And, with Michael Steele at the helm, conservatism will once again be "Strong as Steele!"

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Tim Tebow Believes

    No matter if you are a Florida Gator fan or not (and I'm not - although my brother did go to school there, so I did cheer for them to beat Oklahoma), you have to admire Tim Tebow. Some say, you just have to admire him because he's a "good guy." And I agree. But really, you just have to admire him all levels of what we've come to know about him.

    If you watched the national championship game against Oklahoma, you saw something amazing. At some point during that game, Tim Tebow just decided he was going to win it. Yes, there may have been more than 100 other players on that field between the two top ranked teams in the nation, but there was one player on that field (some call him "Superman") that just took matters into his own hands. On some big third down plays in the second half, Tebow just took off for first downs. Anyone watching had to have the feeling that number 15 just "willed" his way towards first downs and touchdowns.

    Stepping back from the high drama for a moment, we know it is a bit "easier" for Tebow, as this guy is a big dude. That strength allows him to do what he does best. While good genes helps, strength just doesn't land on a person. Rather, it takes hard work to get big, strong, and powerful. Physical and even mental preparation is a key ingredient in just about every sport or competition. But then, with Tebow there is more. He truly has the belief instilled in him that he is going to succeed.

    Tebow gets this belief first and foremost from his Christian faith. He is not just one that reads the Bible and practices his faith in worship, but he also allows that faith to flow to other areas of his life - whether that is serving as a missionary in the Philippines, participating in prison fellowship programs, or serving the needy in his own community. He even uses his fame not to draw attention to himself, but to draw the attention towards a higher purpose.

    On game days, Tebow often reminds his fans with a Bible passage written on his face paint: Philipians 4:13, which says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Tim Tebow believes. He knows his ultimate strength - strength of spirit, mind, and character - comes to him from God. It is that firm faith that roots the heart and soul of this incredibly talented athlete who presses forward with the belief that we must all be grateful for the talents God has given us. Tim Tebow teaches us that when we put those talents to proper use, we can achieve great things - on and off the field.

    In an era where many are cynical about the youth, particularly young men, Tim Tebow should give us all hope and perhaps lead us to the one God that gives us our true strength.

    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    Real Change Requires Revolution - Website Launched!

    Young Americans for Liberty just launched the Real Change Requires Revolution website.

    Here's why:

    On January 20, 2009... Campuses nationwide will declare that one day of Obama is enough. It's time for change.

    America is suffering from unending war, growing debt, reckless monetary policies, and a depreciating economy. Our country desires a new direction and fresh ideas. Barack Obama brings a message of "hope" and "change" and understands the captivating power of words and appeal. His victory was historic, but it was not by chance. A well orchestrated plan executed by top marketers, Internet strategists, and campaign consultants put him in the White House. Americans demanded change, and he supplied an answer.

    But, what is that answer? What is this so called change?

    The mainstream media has extended its honeymoon with the new administration; even as scandals, bailouts, proposed federal works programs, a falling economy, and questionable cabinet appointments take place.

    Many Americans say, "Give him a chance. He can fix our problems." But, why be fooled again?

    Government is limited by the United States Constitution for a reason. Society is a responsibility of the people, not the government.

    We already know the real Barack Obama. We know his cabinet appointments; we know his voting record; and we know his beliefs. He promises more foreign intervention, more socialism, more restrictions on our civil liberties, and a greater disregard for the Constitution. Rather than wait for another politician to disappoint the American people, let's stand up as patriots and say one day of Barack Obama is enough. It's time for real change.

    Sunday, January 04, 2009

    Pro-Hamas Demonstration in Fort Lauderdale: The War is Here

    Tom Trento recorded this video, which warns of the growing radical Islamic force in South Florida – the video is a recording of the pro-Hamas demonstrations in Ft. Lauderdale on December 30, 2008.

    Don’t think this is happening only in the Middle East, Pakistan or in Paris or London and Holland. It is right here. The war has reached the homeland, including my hometown of Fort Lauderdale.