With Christmas nearly at the door lot’s of us telephone each other. I didn’t receive any of the pre-Christmas visionforum emails but they were forwarded to me. I’ve read Phillips doesn’t celebrate Christmas. For a man who doesn’t celebrate this wonderful holiday he sure makes a living at promoting it! What a phony. On a related “front” there are a number of folk telling Mark Epstein he needs to take his blog down because Phillips feels defensive. Oooooooohhhh, poor baby. What a joke. Phillips is as OFFENSIVE as anyone can be. Guess he only wants life to work one way. Welcome to your “reality check” Duggy. Mark assured me this morning his blog stays. Good show chap! Don’t give Duggy Wuggy any quarter. Take no prisoners from the rabble at the Kool-Aid parlor in Waring. And don’t forget to flash bang the duggy-wannabes shilling for him before you give them some “300″ treatment. Mark. Don’t forget to wish your enemies a very Merry Christmas. ;-o
December 24, 2007
December 11, 2007
Note to CF: Your BT blog is okay, but you need to take down PS or your “soft answer” will be exposed for what it is…another DP “shill” lie. Don’t think M&J will appreciate knowing who you are. Just a word for the wise. Hope “wise” applies to you.
“…offering Doug and BCA any further apologies is analogous to those in Hell receiving ice water - it just isn’t going to happen!” Mark Epstein
Victory for the church triumphant! Mark Epstein will continue writing about Doug Phillips and his “actions.” Bravo! All will look forward to reading your next post. May God bless you!
Sic Semper Tyrannis!
December 10, 2007
Can it be? Have the Epsteins “wimped out” in their fight against ecclesiastical tyranny? Are they planning to allow the “girlie boys” at Tired of the C*** and Still Fed Up and the sissy Matt “Independent Investigator” Chancey to win one for the wimp? Or is it truly all about grace? (see Jen Epstein’s latest post and apology) Let’s hope not! The most “merciful” thing we could witness is the coup de grace quickly applied to Phillips’ empire-in-the-making.
Regardless of what the Epsteins do or do not do, this blogger will continue unabated.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been researching the Perez family. Yes, the same Mr. and Mrs. P. who defamed a man they don’t even know! Over the past few days I found the latest attack/hate the Epsteins blog to enter the fray to bear all the tell-tale signs of a specific authorship. Do the initials CF mean anything to anyone?
The “war” is not over Phillips. Show some humility or continue reaping what you’ve sown. These really are your only choices.
Todd aka “The Moderator”
November 18, 2007
The following article is taken from OnPoint whose writers highlighted this chapter from James Brady’s latest book. It is well worth the read.Todd
“Why Marines Fight”
11-16-2007, 08:26 AM • by ON Point
Not everything I write has to do with Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan; today’s feature article contains excerpts from James Brady (Parade Magazine, former Marine, and Bronze Star awardee in Korea ) newest book.U.S. Marines are known the world over as among the most dedicated and courageous soldiers ever to have engaged in battle. Author James Brady, who is regarded as a hero by many who have donned the uniform, explains what makes Marines so tough in “Why Marines Fight.” Here are excerpts:Chapter 1Hear them, listen to the voices: These are the Marines, the hard men who fight our wars, unscripted and always honest.Except, of course, when we lie.Half a dozen wars ago, in France, on June 2 of 1918, Marine gunnery sergeant Dan Daly stepped out in front of the 4th Brigade of Marines, mustered for another bloody frontal assault on the massed machine guns of the Germans that had been murderously sweeping the wheat fields at Belleau Wood. Death awaited. And the men, understandably, seemed reluctant to resume the attack. But old gunnies like Daly aren’t notable for coddling the troops, for issuing polite invitations, and Dan was having none of it. Nor was he much for inflated oratory or patriotic flourish. Instead, in what some remember as a profane, contemptuous snarl, and loudly, Gunnery Sergeant Daly demanded of his hesitant Marines: “Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?”Is that why we fight? Because we’re cussed at and shamed into it? Was that what motivated the men of the 4th Brigade in 1918 who went into the deadly wheat field? Do today’s Marines who take out combat patrols in Anbar Province and hunt the Taliban somewhere west of the Khyber have the same motivations as Dan Daly’s men? Or the Marines who once waded the bloody lagoon for General Howland M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith at Tarawa, scaled Mount Suribachi, defied the Japanese at Wake Island, fought the Chinese in the snows of North Korea, and fought and died on the Perfume River at Hue and in a thousand other bloody places?The Marines in this book answer those questions; each in his own way attempts to say why we are drawn to the guns.Dan Daly had his methods: Curse the sons of bitches and lead them into the field. The men were impressed, by the man if not by his shouting, knowing Daly as a legend, with two Medals of Honor already. But was Daly’s leadership and their own training all it took for Marines to get up and run at the machine guns of Belleau Wood? It became a question I kept asking.General Jim Jones, tall and tough, a former commandant and more recently NATO commander, has a mantra: “Sergeants run the Marine Corps,” he told me once on a rainswept drive from Quantico to the Pentagon. Jones wasn’t just blowing smoke, keeping up noncom morale when he said that. He was attempting to tell me what he believed differentiates the Marine Corps from other military arms. Without its seemingly inexhaustible supply of good, tough sergeants, the Marine Corps would be nothing more than a smaller version of the army. Most Marines, officers or enlisted, would agree. They’ve had their own Dan Dalys. We all have.I found mine, thirty-three years after Daly, in a North Korean winter on a snowy ridgeline, the senior NCOs of Dog Company, a couple of blue-collar Marine lifers, hard men from the South Pacific and up through the ranks, one hard-earned noncommissioned stripe after another, who tutored me about war, not off their college diplomas but out of their own vast experience of service and combat, and incidentally about life, women, and other fascinating matters. These were the professionals; I was the amateur learning from them, not in any classroom but in a quite deadly field.Stoneking, the platoon sergeant, was a big, rawboned Oklahoman maybe twenty-eight or twenty-nine, who drove a bootlegger’s truck back home and was married to an attractive brunette WAVE who sent him erotic photos of herself. He had been a Marine eight or nine years, had fought the Japanese, and was in the bad Korea fighting. The men knew that if it came to that, he would (against the rules) strip his blouse and fight another enlisted man who was giving him angst. Stoneking was a cold, distant man with little regard for me or for most people (I don’t believe he really gave a shit about anyone), although for forty-six consecutive nights that winter he and I slept head to toe in our sleeping bags in a stinking, six-by-eight-foot bunker with a log-and-sandbagged roof so low it had to be crawled into and out of. That miserable hole was where we lived like animals and where from Stoneking I began to learn what it was to be and to lead Marines. Once when I’d been in a shooting and crawled back late that night into our bunker to tell about it, Stoneking wasn’t much impressed. “So you got yourself into a firefight,” he remarked, and rolled against the dirt wall to get back to sleep. “Yeah,” I said deflated, and got into my own sleeping bag.A pivotal event in my young life meant nothing to a hard case like Stoney.The right guide, our platoon’s ranking number three, was the more affable Sergeant Wooten.We weren’t supposed to keep diaries (in case we were captured or the damned things were found on our bodies) but I wanted one day to work on newspapers and write about people and things, so, to keep a record and get around the diary rule, I wrote long letters home to family and girlfriends for them to save. The mail back then wasn’t censored. Wooten might occasionally have composed a postcard, and little more, but he enjoyed watching me scribble away, marveled at my industry. “You are a cack-ter, suh.” Cack-ter being his pronunciation of “character,” in Wooten’s mind a compliment. He was leagues less surly than Stoney, so I occasionally lured him into deep, Socratic conversation.“It ain’t much of a war, Lieutenant,” Wooten would concede, having listened to me blather on, and then patiently explaining his own philosophy to a young replacement officer, “but it’s the only war we got.” He had other, maturely and placidly thought out commentaries on life and the fates, remarking with sly, rural witticisms on the nightly firefights and their bloody casualty rolls, “Sometimes you eat the bear / sometimes the bear eats you.” Or declaring as an unexpected salvo of enemy shells slammed into the ridgeline, scattering the men in dusty, ear-splitting, and too-often lethal chaos, sending us diving into holes amid incongruous laughter, “There ain’t been such excitement since the pigs ate my little brother.”You rarely heard a line like that back in Brooklyn.I ended up loving these men, as chill, as caustic, or as odd as they may first have seemed when I got to the war, an innocent who had never heard the bullets sing, had never fought, who yet, by the fluke of education and rank, was now anointed the commanding officer of hardened veterans of such eminence and stature. Maybe I could better explain about such men and why Marines fight and generally fight so well if only I were able to tell you fully and precisely about combat as my old-timers knew it, and how it really was. And how I would have to learn it.It’s difficult unless you’ve been there.War is a strange country, violent and often beautiful at the same time, with its own folklore and recorded history, its heroes and villains. It is as well a profession, strange and sad, poorly paid but highly specialized. Cruel, too. War is very cruel. And surprising, in that it can be incredibly thrilling and rewarding, though not for everyone. There is a sort of complicated ritual to it, a freemasonry, a violent priesthood. Only fighting men are qualified to exchange the secret fraternal handshake, the mythic nod and wink of understanding.Not all men are meant to fight in wars and fewer still do it well. Others, revolted by its horrors, its sorrows and pity, yet hold dear its memories, the camaraderie, its occasional joys. I have even heard men admit, without shame and rather proudly, “I love this shit,” speaking candidly about war and their strange passion for it. There are such Marines, plenty of them, men hooked on combat. They love it the way men love a woman in a relationship they suspect will end badly. Others are honest enough to admit they hate and fear it but go anyway. Their reasons may be strangely inspiring, or murky, puzzling.A few Marines can’t or won’t go to the battle, and they don’t last long, not in the infantry, not in the line outfits. They are transferred out to someplace less. They may still be fine men but they are no longer Marines.I never knew better, truer men than in the rifle company ranks in which I served, bold and resourceful Americans, beautiful men in a violent life. What each of them was and did later at home and at peace, having let slip the leash of discipline, I can’t always say. But in combat such men, even the rogues and rare scoundrels, were magnificent, hard men living in risky places. In this book, I write about some of them. Forget my commentary; hear the Marines, listen to their voices.The third platoon’s right guide, Sergeant Wooten, that salty career man, was a crafty rifleman who knew a little about demolitions. He once volunteered in North Korea to blow a Fox Company Marine’s body out of the ice of a frozen mountain stream; using too heavy a charge, he got the guy out, but in two pieces. When he came back to us at Dog Company he looked terrible, like a man after an all-night drunk. “You okay, Wooten?” “No, sir, I ain’t.After I got that boy out that way, I threw up on the spot.” A three-striper who had fought the damned Japanese for three years, all across the Pacific, Wooten took a drink. He’d been up and down the noncommissioned ranks, as high as gunnery sergeant and then broken back to buck sergeant, a lean, leathery, drawling rustic maybe fifteen years older than I was and lots wiser. Sometimes Wooten lost patience with those who were critical of the Korean War we were then fighting. He was pretty much enjoying himself and thought those people ought to shut the hell up and cut the bitching. As, giving me that flat-mouthed grin of his, Wooten declared with professional regret: “It’s the only war we got.”Excerpted from “Why Marines Fight” by James Brady © 2007 James Brady. All rights reserved. Excerpted with permission of St. Martin’s Press.
September 1, 2007
In addition to the Emerald City writer, a leading UK military leader has come out against President Bush’s post-war plans for Iraq. No surprise here.
Saturday , September 01, 2007
The head of the British Army during the invasion of Iraq has condemned America’s postwar policy in the country as “intellectually bankrupt” and “very short-sighted”.
In an unprecedented attack, General Sir Mike Jackson, former Chief of the General Staff, said that insufficient troops were deployed to control the country after Saddam Hussein’s downfall, and he criticised the decision to disband the Iraqi Army and security forces.
Sir Mike blamed Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Defense Secretary, for much of the fiasco and said that his claims that American forces “don’t do nation-building” were “nonsensical”.
He criticised the Bush Administration for handing control of postwar Iraq to the Pentagon, and claimed that Mr Rumsfeld discarded detailed plans for post-conflict administration that had been drawn up by the State Department. “All the planning went to waste,” he said. Mr Rumsfeld, who he labelled “intellectually bankrupt”, was “one of the most responsible for the current situation in Iraq”.
Sir Mike added that Washington relied too much on military power rather than nation-building and diplomacy in fighting global terrorism.
His outspoken attack, made in his forthcoming autobiography Soldier and reported in The Daily Telegraph, highlights the tension between British commanders and the Pentagon in the run-up to war and its aftermath in 2003. It is likely further to inflame tensions between Britain and the US over the war.
August 30, 2007
If ever there was a “physical” and “blatant” example of what the southern invaders from Mexico intend and the analogous spiritual, emotional, and intellectual abuse Phillips engaged in during his unbiblical excommunication of the Epstein family, then this video is it!
Watching a bully get taken to the woodshed is one of the most enjoyable things a person can witness. Second only to that is to watch the unfolding of a tyrant’s demise - in this case, a tyrant that prides himself on defining the argument, but who is increasingly in a reaction mode. The evidence for this is what Nathanael noted about Doug Phillips’ four blog articles this week; articles that were Phillips’ most transparent attack on Jennifer Epstein since the sordid behavior on Phillips’ part began.
What’s really amusing is to see (once again) Kevin Swanson attempting to rescue Phillips from his detractors. Coming to Doug’s look-alike’s defense, Swanson does some very interesting mental gymnastics as he attempts to give Bill Gothard a pass. Although Kevin “Yellow-bellied Blogger” Swanson may be able to charm a few folks, this writer isn’t buying. Gothard and Phillips teach the same nonsense and they are both charismatic enough to delude many God-fearing Christians, which simply illustrates the “milk” American Christians still feed upon instead of eating theological “meat” (so they are prepared to give an apologia).
Besides Swanson’s attempt, Goeff Botkin weighed-in earlier this week with a pathetic example of running interference for Phillips. One really has to wonder why intelligent men follow the half-baked, wanna-be shepherd Phillips, when all Doug is is a poor excuse for an attorney (opinion) and an “in the red” businessman (ask Doug about Vision Forum’s pre-Epstein excommunication ink color). Hmmmm, Doug, according to the OT that you are hung-up on, your “red ink” is indicative of a less-than-godly-pleasure with you…at least so say the Pharisees and rabbis charged with interpreting The Law.
Although Jennifer Epstein takes the position that Phillips and his BCA congregants are not a “heretical cult,” there is disagreement on this point. Mark Epstein takes a much harder line and, along with Joe Taylor, actually question Phillips’ regeneration. Considering the entire body of “knowledge” surrounding Phillips’ activities as a so-called “shepherd” these past few years, I am inclined to disagree with Jennifer Epstein and far more inclined to agree with her husband and Mr. Taylor. You can judge this for yourself at Jen’s latest article titled “Is Doug Phillips a Cult Leader?”
For another perspective, you can read Mark Epstein’s article titled “Is Boerne Christian Assembly a Cult?” Regardless of which view one agrees with, there can be no argument that Phillips and his “leadership” (is this a joke?) are far outside the boundaries of orthodox Christianity they claim to represent and adhere to.
Lastly, let’s take a look at Doug’s own reaction. In all the months Mark and Jen Epstein blogged about Phillip’s ecclesiastical tyranny, there have only been two times Phillips became “visibly” shaken by what appeared in print. The first time was the email a number of homeschool organizations received and the second was the issue of being labeled a cult. In both situations, Phillips orchestrated a response laced with attacks and “shoot-the-messenger” tactics. Yes, once again we are witness to Doug and Company engaging in a very anti-biblical method of discrediting the messenger instead of addressing the issues raised by thoughtful Christians. If this isn’t a red flag to those who claim Christ as Lord and Savior, then I do not know what it will take to waken the slumbering idolaters among us.
August 29, 2007
There is quite a conversation occurring at Jen’s Gems regarding how Doug Phillips is in the “react” mode once again, and finds the need to indirectly attack Mrs. Epstein. Gee, Doug, did you forget your own axiom (”he who defines, wins”)?
What Phillips, his shills (the girlie men who authored Tired of the Crap and Still Fed Up), and his proxies (e.g., Geoff Botkin, Kevin Swanson, et. al.) don’t understand is that they can never prevail against the Epstein family within the extended church family or in the secular courts. What follows is “WHY” Phillips and his idolatrous cohorts will never see victory.
First, Phillips conducted an unbiblical excommunication. He denied the accused due process - period. Americans, whether saved or unsaved, understand the need for courts to act impartially. Phillips could not act impartially (no matter how far he distanced himself from the “dirty work”) because he crafted the entire contemptuous and despicable proceedings. Can anyone say “duplicitous”?
Secondly, Phillips chose to give RC Sproul Jr. a “pass” for his misbehavior, even though it far exceeded any allegations against the two Epsteins. Can anyone say “major hypocrite”?
Third, Phillips has ensured the idolaters at Boerne Christian Assembly shun the Epstein children, despite the very public writings claiming only the parents were in sin. Can anyone say “hate monger”?
Fourth, Phillips allows the legal scholarly-challenged Bob Renaud to write a treatise on a Texas Supreme Court decision that Renaud did not even (1) realize was not a precedent and (2) failed to realize the decision was a double-edged sword. (Note to Doug: Perhaps you should rethink your mentoring skills.)
Fifth, regardless of what is alleged about Mark Epstein speaking with anyone about his wife’s pre-conversion sin, the ethically and morally-challenged girlie men at TOTC and SFU are liable for what they wrote. There is no clergy privilege extended to them, which is why they lurk in the shadows and refuse to identify themselves. Furthermore, since Doug Phillips or one of his deacons relayed some details to the boys at TOTC/SFU, which were not known by the church membership at large, Phillips and/or his deacons are no longer insulated by clergy privilege, as indicated by the very same Texas Supreme Court decision that Renaud worshiped ad nauseum. Now does everyone understand why these punks won’t “man up”? It’s because Phillips has his carnitas on the line! Yes, legal discovery is a beautiful thing, and Phillips is a moral coward as much as he is a bully and ecclesiastical tyrant.
Sixth, Phillips has consistently attempted to intimidate the Epsteins (and others) with his legal gamesmanship. Unfortunately for Doug, there are a number of lawyers in this country with far superior legal skills who would be more than willing to take Doug on in the court room. For example, Phillips can make any allegation he wants concerning “tortious business interference,” but if Vision Forum was already in the “red” before the Epsteins began blogging, too bad, so sad, Phillips has no case. Yes, once again, discovery is a beautiful thing. Can anyone say “disbarment proceedings should be initiated”?
Seventh, the only people who have shown restraint are the Epsteins. This is evidenced in their writings that are dominated by a spirit of love for Phillips and the members of BCA, while we see the very opposite (hate) from all of those associated with the Phillips camp. The Epsteins also know who all the authors are at TOTC/SFU, and they have refrained from suing them and Phillips. Mark has also asked me not to reveal their identities, as I originally planned to do on Labor Day 2007.
Eighth, Phillips is now taking flak from other Christians about his unbiblical “tenets of patriarchy.” Contemporary orthodox members of the Reformed community view adding to, subtracting from, dividing, and multiplying as the basic lens through which we view and identify cults. Since Phillips’ tenets of patriarchy are unsupportable biblically, then we can only conclude that Phillips adds to the Holy Scriptures. Thus, if the cult shoe fits, Phillips needs to wear it.
Ninth, hiding behind others and their attacks on the Epsteins is the mark of a political operative, not a Christian shepherd. Phillips still must wear the moniker of “self-proclaimed” as it refers to his pastoring of BCA, and he still must wear the badge of shame associated with operating a dirty political smear campaign that targeted the Epsteins. Those who support Phillips ought to hang their heads in shame as well. Can anyone say “Phillips and the membes of BCA need to repent”?
Lastly, Phillips and his hate mongers will most likely never repent. Thus, we turn them over to God for His righteous vengeance on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Epstein, their children, and the many others Phillips has trampled upon over the years. And, whether or not we see His judgment and punishment in this lifetime, we can all rest assured that Doug and Beall Phillips, Matt and Jennie Chancey, Geoff Botkin, Kevin Swanson, the girlie men at TOTC/SFU, Bob Renaud, the voting members of BCA, Bob Welch, Richard and Reba Short, the unnamed “supreme court justice,” Chris Ortiz, James MacDonald, certain elders at Faith Presbyterian Church, Little Bear Wheeler, the co-elders of Living Water Fellowship, Wesley Strackbein, Gavino and Ruth Perez, the “christian” attorneys involved with the Joe Taylor “mediation,” and others who will remain unnamed (at this point) will receive their due from an infinitely Holy and Just God.
Praise be to God!
Todd “The Moderator” Cates
August 28, 2007
ON Point has re-published a NY Times article that is worth repeating.
As discussed on this blog previously, the post-war occupation led by President Bush’s “pals” was a colossal failure. Dismissing low-level and mid-level Sunni Baathists, as a modern day attempt at de-Nazification, was stupid - plain stupid. Even the Allied armies post-VE Day did not de-Nazify to the level that President Bush’s civilian braniacs said was necessary.
The unfortunate reality is this: This administration’s neo-con thinkers, in their unrelenting globalism, have made more mistakes than are acceptable. The level of fantasy and myopic vision are unequaled in recent memory. America and its future are in the process of being sold to the highest bidder (China? Iran? Saudi Arabia?) and, despite the tough talk, this group of wannabes are little more than “girlie men.”
May God save us from President Bush’s “able” cabinet and appointees - including the rampant croynism that subverts the political process and allows buffoons into positions of power.
New York Times
August 28, 2007
By Stephen Farrell
BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 - Hours after Iraq’s political leaders declared a deal to return former Baathists to government jobs, Iraq’s most senior Sunni Arab leader said Monday that it was too small an olive branch for Sunnis to rejoin the government.
The Sunni leader, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, welcomed the “great achievement” of a compromise to ease measures imposed by the American occupation authority in 2003 to stop Saddam Hussein loyalists from returning to senior posts. But Mr. Hashemi said nothing had changed regarding the Aug. 1 decision by his Iraqi Islamic Party and others, which make up the Iraqi Consensus Front, to quit the government.
The announcement on Sunday has been hailed as evidence of movement toward national reconciliation by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s widely criticized Shiite-led administration, which is under intense international pressure to address the concerns of Iraq’s disaffected Sunni minority.
The chief measures sought by Sunni leaders are laws to ensure fair distribution of oil revenues and tougher steps to curb Shiite militias closely linked to parties within Mr. Maliki’s governing coalition.
Another suicide bombing was reported Monday, when a man blew himself up in a mosque in Falluja, west of Baghdad, Reuters reported. Ten people were reported dead and 11 wounded.
The de-Baathification breakthrough was announced jointly on Sunday by Mr. Maliki; Mr. Hashemi; Adel Abdul-Mehdi, a Shiite who is Mr. Hashemi’s fellow vice president; and the country’s two most senior Kurdish leaders, President Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq. They also reached agreement on holding provincial elections and the release of prisoners being held without charge.
President Bush called the Iraqi leaders from Air Force One as he flew from his ranch in Crawford, Tex., to a fund-raiser in New Mexico. In a brief statement at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, he welcomed the agreement that included steps that are among the benchmarks outlined by Congress to measure political progress.
The White House has been eager to demonstrate improvement, especially on the political front, in advance of the progress report the administration must submit to Congress by Sept. 15.
“While yesterday’s agreement is an important step, I reminded them, and they understand, much more needs to be done,” Mr. Bush said of his telephone conversations.
Mr. Hashemi, whose party is a key member of the Iraqi Consensus Front, the largest Sunni bloc, confirmed that Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish party leaders have reached consensus on the “major issues” surrounding the return of former Baathists to government jobs, although the proposed legislation has still to be sent to Parliament for discussion and approval.
Mr. Hashemi forecast that the legislation would allow less senior members of the Baath Party to return to government jobs.
But he said the Iraqi Consensus Front would not rejoin the government until other key demands were met. These include amnesties for prisoners, revising the Baghdad security plan and curbing militias.
Mr. Hashemi did offer a compromise solution, saying that if some demands were immediately met, others could be postponed for one or two weeks, or left to committees to find solutions later. But others in his party cautioned that de-Baathification was a relatively minor issue compared with their other grievances.
“There are more serious issues, such as the security portfolio, reconciliation, militias, constitutional amendments, a ministerial reshuffle and defining terrorism, resistance and who is the enemy out there on the streets,” said Omar Abdul Sattar, a lawmaker.
“We live in a crisis,” he said. “Do you think the de-Baathification law and the provincial elections are accomplishments? This is a wedding without a bride.”