Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Driving While Under the Influence of Obama

Teenagers in New Jersey are up in arms over a new law that forces young drivers with provisional licenses to put a decal on their license plates alerting other drivers on the road that an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel (and to run for their lives).

Some students and their parents complain that, while this new law (named “Kyleigh’s Law” for 16 year-old Kyleigh D’Alessio who was killed four years ago in an accident in which another teen driver was behind the wheel) might save lives, it also amounts to age profiling, putting the “Scarlet A” on their license plates when they haven’t done anything wrong.

The law certainly subjects the student drivers to stricter rules like curfews and passenger limits. They even rallied in front of the offices of N.J. legislators who hosted the bill. No good Liberal deed shall go unpunished.

But the howler is the picture CBS News used in their article to illustrate the placing of the decal. It’s on their website; here’s the link:

You can’t see it entirely, but apparently there’s a pro-Obama bumper sticker on the car. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s an anti-Obama bumper sticker (one can only hope). But given that WCBS-TV New York is such a liberal station, it’s probably Pro-O.

A car with a Pro-O bumper sticker needs no provisional decal, indeed. That bumper sticker tells you exactly who’s behind the wheel of that car. It’s someone who’s young, has poor judgment, isn’t paying attention, is probably doing drugs, and has the rock music cranked up too high on the car stereo.

It’s the same as having one of those triangle signs saying, “Idiot on Board” or a bumper sticker that reads: “I Brake for Illegal Immigrants.” On the converse, we Conservatives could have a bumper sticker that reads: “I Brake for Legal Immigrants”. Just imagine the possibilities with that one.

They’re very likely to follow the same careening course as their fearless leader. If they’re a follower of his, it follows that they’re probably a dangerous driver who couldn’t care less about the rules of the road. He sure doesn’t. He’s the very role model of a dangerous driver.

That bumper sticker tells you exactly where that young driver’s head is at and to steer clear of them because sooner or later they’re going to veer off the road, possibly broad-siding you. They’ve carelessly broad-sided the country, sending us to the brink of political, financial, and moral bankruptcy.

Too bad there isn’t a provisional license for voting. A young voter’s voting rights would be limited until they could prove they were responsible enough for the privilege.

And if they voted for someone who doesn’t believe in the U.S. Constitution, wants to open America’s borders to illegal immigrant locusts, and believes in redistributing wealth, they could be charged with Voting Under the Influence of Obama.

Friday, May 14, 2010


“We are American; leave us alone!” cried the Pakistani immigrants to the CBS-TV news crew that had come to Centereach, Long Island to report on the FBI’s early morning raid of house in a solidly middle-class neighborhood.

The owner had rented his basement apartment out to suspects in the Times Square bombing plot. Well, you know, renting out basement apartments just isn’t something that generally is done in suburban middle-class neighborhoods.

It’s more of a blue-collar town type of thing. Neighbors in the Watertown, Mass., neighborhood where another suspect lived noticed that the house kept changing hands frequently. Another thing that just doesn’t happen in home-town America.

With satellite images, such as Google Sat, you can now find out what’s on the other side of the fence, what’s in your neighbor’s backyard.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” the owner of the house in Centereach declared.  If he doesn't know what's going on in his own house, then who does?

Another neighbor said, "I never knew of anything strange going on but obviously something pretty big happened," said one resident.

They didn’t think it was strange that their neighbors were renting out the basement of their $300 to $400K home? Maybe that kind of thing happens in Hempstead. Brentwood. Centereach is on the North Shore. Mark Tree Road. Not the road these people lived on, but boy, not exactly the wrong side of the tracks, there.

In Centereach, only about 12 percent of the residents rent. By the way, Brookline, Mass.? Sound familiar? Birthplace of President John F. Kennedy. Not exactly slumming.  If your neighbors are turning their single-family homes into apartment houses, you need to find out what's going on with your zoning board, look into what sort of crazy ordinances they're passing.

Camden and Cherry Hill, N.J. Well, they’re another story. I’ve been in Camden. My company sponsored a garden event in a Camden neighborhood. The police had to come protect our volunteers.

If the owner of that Oxhead Road house and his neighbors had looked at their neighborhood on the Google satellite map, they’d know what’s going on in their own backyards.

You can see, for instance, that Oxhead Road is kind of main drag. Starting in the south, near Rt. 25, the houses are small and modest and get substantially larger the farther north you look.

Farther south, there appear to be family-sized swimming pools on the somewhat small lots (this is Long Island, of course, and your property is either the size of a postage stamp or the old U.S. Post Office in NYC – a full city block long).

There are some old, beat-up cars in one backyard, a pleasure boat in another. Again, that’s Long Island for you. Oxford Road appears to be busier, however, than the typical suburban cul-de-sac. People of less-confident means tend to buy along such roads.

And they rent out their basements to terrorist guys.

We’re supposed to put up fences to guard against intrusion by nosy neighborhoods. It’s a long-standing custom in suburban America. You frankly don’t want to know if your neighbor is engaging in nude sunbathing over the fence there.

Making bombs to blow up in Times Square, on the other hand.

Well, sometimes fences don’t make such good neighbors….

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bonds of Freedom

[“Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears; the evil that men do lives after them. To be or not to be, that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and so be done with them.”]

If President Obama were in an orchestra, to paraphrase the Georg Von Trapp character in the movie, The Sound of Music, he’d be “the entire trumpet section.” He’s busy ad-libbing legislation, policy, and history, and appointing Supreme Court nominees who will do his bidding to essentially destroy our founding legal document.

The way the U.S. Constitution is being hacked up and re-written almost qualifies for copyright infringement. The Founding Fathers ought to sue.

Years ago, I wrote a newsletter for my community band. This was in the days before the Internet. I had a computer and could even do some limited design work on the newsletter, but that was about it.

Our band director at the time had just purchased a copy machine. He was already down in the basement when I arrived. His wife and I could hear him industriously copying away. She and I looked at each other and laughed. She opened the basement door for me and I went down.

He was copying parts for some march or other, the chief reason for having the machine. He apologized and said he’d been finished in a few minutes. But the project was taking longer than he anticipated. I offered to help him. He was doing some sort of cut and paste job.

“What I need you to do is cut the top of this piece and glue it to the bottom of that one,” he said, “while I finish copying the parts.”

We were taking the first two strains of one march and melding it to the end of the other?!


He had copied two marches, "Free World" and "Bonds of Unity", both Karl King marches. King was a prolific march composer universally revered among marching band musicians. We play many of King’s more sedate – by comparison – street marches, but to average Americans, he’s best known for his “screamers”, wild and crazy circus marches, a blast to play and hear.

There were other famous circus march composers, chief among whom is Henry Fillmore, a name better known to the general public (“Rolling Thunder”). You may not recognize King’s name or the title of his most famous “screamer” – Robinson’s Grand Entrée – but if you’ve ever been to a circus, you’ll know it as soon as you hear this most popular of circus marches.

Karl Lawrence King, a native of Paintersville, Ohio, grew up as a self-taught musician with very little schooling of any kind. At eighteen, he began a career playing in and directing circus bands, including those of Barnum and Bailey, Robinson Famous Shows, the Sells-Floto Circus, and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. King settled down in Fort Dodge, Iowa in 1920 and for the next fifty-one years conducted the city's municipal band, which featured future ABA president Joseph Hermann on clarinet.

King the composer published more than 300 works: galops, waltzes, overtures, serenades, rags, and 188 marches and screamers. He seemed to like composing under pressure and often composed in tight spots (such as by oil lamp in cramped circus tents). His name appeared on the sheet music as Karl King, K. L. King, and sometimes Carl Lawrence.

(If you want a great sampling of circus marches, get “Screamers: Circus Marches” put out by Mercury Living Presence.)

Anyway, our director then took the trio (that is, the third and last section) of Bonds of Unity, and attached it to the main portion of Free World march to create a hybrid march.

I was Dr. Frankenstein's assistant.  All that was missing were the eerie bolts of lightning.

“You can’t do that!!” I exclaimed. “You can’t just go around inventing your own marches!”

“Why not?” he responded mildly.

“What about the copyright?”

“What about it? It’s on there. I haven’t put my name on it or anything [he might as well have]. No one will know the difference.”

He kept the title of the one march, "Free World". He should have changed it to “Bonds of Freedom” or “Free Unity” or something. The next Tuesday, he passed his Dr. Normalstein creation out to the band.

Spectators on the street, the kids waving American Flags and so forth, don’t care what the marching band is playing. But musicians know their music the way literature majors know their Shakespeare. Some musical sections, like the clarinets, will play anything put in front of them, one run being pretty much like another.

Percussionists don’t even bother to read street march music. The lower brass, particularly the tubas, keep their ears open to everything going on because they have to be able to blend in.

The trumpets, though. You can’t fool a trumpet player, whose business is the melody line.

Taking the first part of one march and pasting it onto the trio of another is like piecing together Marc Antony’s eulogy of Caesar and Hamlet’s soliloquy. The trumpets got to the trio of the march and their lips spluttered on their mouthpieces. Meanwhile, Dr. Normalstein stood at his podium, waiting patiently.

“What the-?” one trumpet player exclaimed.

“This isn’t Free World!” another observed.

“What is this?” They looked back and forth to one another, trying to solve the enigma. Musicians don’t necessarily need to play the music to know what something sounds like. Some can “sight-read”, hearing what the music sounds like simply by reading the notes in their heads.

One trumpet player who was a music teacher studied the music for a moment.

“What trio is it?” they asked him. “National Emblem? No, wrong structure and wrong composer. The Alamo? Queen City?”

“No, no, no,” the music teacher said. “I recognize it. I’ll get it in a moment.” Indeed, a second or two later, he had the answer.

“Bonds of Unity!” he exclaimed. “It’s the trio to Bonds of Unity.”

“But what’s it doing in Free World?” They looked to Dr. N. for the answer. His lips were firmly sealed, though. Watching with amusement from my bell station at the back of the room, I told them the tale of the night this musical monstrosity (actually, it sounded pretty good) came to life.

Although Dr. N. has gone on to other things, the legend of Bonds of Freedom lives on. It’s still in our street march folder and still baffles musicians new to our band and music-lovers alike.

Even parade spectators know something is wrong. Marching bands have their favorite marches, the way teenagers have their favorite rock bands, and sometimes tend to play some of the same marches.

A band ahead of us would play Bonds of Unity. Then we would come along, playing this “obamanation” of Free World and spectators scratched their heads. At one parade, we were at parade rest and I caught a conversation between two guys:

“Didn’t that other band just5 play the same march? No – this was different. Yeah, but it sounded the same. I’m sure it was the same song. At least it was in the beginning. No – the last part was different. Well, I didn’t see them switch their music.  Look - they've still got it up.”

Dr. Obamastein and the Liberals/Progressives/Communists are busy reconstructing our U.S. Constitution in much the same manner and leaving Americans scratching their heads in confusion, too.

It’s not simply a case of them tearing it up, destroying it. That would be bad enough.  They’re cutting and pasting from the constitutions of other governments, laws that would outrage any freedom-loving American, and slapping the title of “U.S. Constitution” at the top of this monstrosity. Making things up from the Supreme Court as they go along and tacking it on.

My favorite has always been the “separation of church and state.” The Liberals cite many authorities for this restrictive law, even some Founding Fathers, and amazingly, the Russian Constitution. There was no consensus about it, however, and it never made it into the Constitution.

Another “edit” reserved more of states’ rights for the federal government. Yet another Congressional amendment overturned earlier wisdom to limit the number of immigrants into the country, lest we be overwhelmed by a swarm of welfare-hungry parasites.

Legal? Technically, yes. Fair? Not on your tintype.

It was the Supreme Court, not Congress, that declared prayers in school were “unconstitutional,” that abortion was legal, and some lower court that decided a cemetery out West couldn’t erect a cross on its grounds.

The American people may not be Constitutional scholars, any more than they are musicologists. They may not be able to put their finger on it, but they know when something doesn’t sound right to their ears.

Still, if we don’t want to find ourselves marching to Obama’s tune for years to come after he’s stepped down from his podium, we have to do something. Fortunately, we have constitutional scholars and lawyers like Mark Levin to let us know when something’s amiss.

If we don’t pay attention, we could find “Bonds of Freedom” (just think about that very apt and ironic title for a moment and what it imports) a permanent part of our canon.

As a note to a friend who reads this blog: I even found a definition for this - it’s called colligation – bringing isolated (or seemingly unrelated) observations together by an explanation or hypothesis that applies to them all. I was searching yesterday for an alliterative companion to “compliance” and stumbled across this word instead. Hey – wait. I guess I also found what I was supposed to be looking for… which means my blog just indirectly helped me with my paying job… and I guess vice versa – “The Quarterly Compliance Companion."

Save the People!

The people have been saved! Responding to a last-minute plea for clemency, my editor granted a stay-of-editorial-execution this morning to my article subjects.

The article is still only one page, and the four of them will be squished together on the page rather like the villains in the early part of the Superman movie, their noses flattened against the glass panels of the extra-dimensional prison.

But at least they’ve survived the editorial process. Alas, Captain Kirk has been permanently exiled to the Planet Gorn, marooned there forever, unless he can literarily be rescued for some future episode of Belle of Liberty’s Blog.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

It’s worse than I thought…

Not only did I have to jettison poor Captain Kirk from my magazine article, but I had to give the very people – note that operative word, people – my article on People Development was supposed to be about the heave-ho.

It was another howl-at-the-moon afternoon.

Were this an article about investigating, say, fraud in Brooklyn, I could understand these strictures about not focusing on the people in the article, but rather on the business practices they employ doing their job.

Great! Fine! I’d be cool. Cool beans. I’d be on board. I’d be on the same page as management.

If it were a people development (business education) piece about a particular educational class – Detecting Auto Fraud (how can you tell a car has been in a flood – the rusted metal and the musty odor of mold) - hey, that’s great! I’m all for that.

But evicting the people in a story about People Development because they’re people, not just cogs keeping the machine going, that just boils my tea kettle.

People are everything. They can be rude, arrogant, mean, cruel, selfish, stupid, lazy. They can be a royal pain in the butt. But they’re what it’s all about. That’s why God put Man at the top of the food chain (if Man doesn’t watch himself, God could change that order).

My first lesson in photography came not from my journalist parents, who were also excellent photographers, and not from my eminently helpful colleagues who taught me the difference between an F-stop and a bus stop, but from my piano teacher when I was a teenager.

Mrs. S. was old. Her memory dated back to the previous century. She remembered when my band and her father’s band were first formed, when the two bands were rivals.

We had taken a vacation out West to the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains. Proudly, I showed her my landscape photos of the majestic mountains and the sweeping vistas of the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon.

She looked through them and nodded politely. When she was finished, she said, “Well those are very nice, dear. But where are the people?”

“What do you mean, Mrs. S. (there were a few photos of my family, but I was chiefly interested in photographing the scenery)? These are the Rocky Mountains! That’s Pikes Peak and there’s the Colorado River!!”

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, dear!” she replied. “You’re very proud of your photos. But those are just mountains. Rivers. Trees. When you get right down to it, they’re all very much the same.

“But people!” she went on. “People are always changing. No two are ever exactly alike, not even identical twins. They’re as unique as their fingerprints. There’s always something new to see and learn about people. You never know what they’re going to do (or why).”

You can take a picture of a tree, and the change of seasons notwithstanding, the tree will be the same year after year. But people grow and change. They’re full of varying moods. The same person’s face will change from moment to moment and year to year.

How can that ever compare to a tree, she asked rhetorically. I wound up applying that lesson not only to my photography, but my writing as well.  Photos are one thing; but a story without people is static, lifeless, and dull.  I enjoy taking nature photos, but people pictures are my real passion, photographically speaking.

Still, I believe in balance and have pictures on two of my cubicle walls. One wall has soothing photos of flowers and lovely trees in bloom. The other, photos of various people – a baby having a bad hair day, an American Indian in full regala, my nephew, graduating from high school.

The environmentalist wackos seem not to understand or appreciate the importance of people except when they’re looking for votes. Then they trot out the violins and start hugging trees and babies. They denounce big companies as heartless and impersonal (an argument hard to refute sometimes…).

But they’re not doing people any favors, either. One minute they’re bemoaning the plight of the poor, and the next, accusing people of being the worst thing to happen to Planet Earth since the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

So ends my people rant. I must remain faithful to whatever readers I have who come to my blog seeking conservative inspiration. Tomorrow, it’s back to defending the country.

And the people who love her.

Nose to the Fake Grindstone

It’s a golden rule of blogging that unless your company is paying you to write a blog for them, you never mix business with personal blogging. In this day and age of privacy issues, it’s an unwise blogger who refers to their job even obliquely.

My company’s communications are scrubbed so squeaky clean you could run your finger along them, listening to that squeaking sound. I have no problem with being appropriate, but I do mind the crushing of imagination.

That’s one of the reasons I haven’t moved beyond the position I first took on ten years ago this month. I love writing. I never, ever mind writing about the activities in my market area or its employees.

But I do find myself wistfully wishing for more. And yet, I know it’s not going to happen. I would love to be working on social media communications, on a regional level, not corporate. I’m not “politically” connected, though, and have never been much of a boot-kisser.

Thus, I sealed my own fate.  My experience has been, if there's something you really want to do, that you have a passion for, the surest way to make sure it never happens is to tell your superiors that that's what you'd like to do.

I’ve been assigned to write an article about business education, something in which a particular vice president is interested. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s write – and take pictures. And recognize the bigger picture.

Yet, I’m stymied by this corporate, nose to the grindstone mentality. I’ve been tasked with explaining, in this article, why business acumen is important. I can explain it perfectly, in a way my readers will understand and appreciate, and yet I won’t be allowed to do so.

What comes to mind is the episode of the old Star Trek series where Captain Kirk is brought to an alien planet to do battle with some creature called a “Gorn.” Neither he nor this Gorn are given any weapons with which to fight. The aliens tell them both, “You’re on your own.”

“What I wouldn’t give to have a good phaser in my hand,” the frustrated Kirk laments in soliloquy. The answer is all around him (as he later discovers), but he can’t see it. All he sees is a barren landscape of rock and sand.

Eventually, Kirk figures out that the materials are present to create gunpowder and he defeats his enemy.

The scenario for the importance of business education is right there in that dusty, alien scene, disguised in the form of a silly science fiction television show, with its fake boulders, rubber-suited aliens, and rube Goldberg weapons.

My editors and our executives will not be able to see the lesson in all this for those fake boulders that the Gorn uses to menace Kirk. They won’t see the lesson-within-a-lesson when the good captain realizes the materials he needs are right there in the dust.

Our company’s future leaders await in humble guise, sorting mail, settling claims, inspecting property damage. From the seeming dust of lower level positions, with education they’ll rise up to solve the company’s future problems.

If the current leadership can recognize them, that is. Without a proper education program, they wouldn’t be able to develop these employees’ potential and prepare them for distant battles with competitor Gorns.

Luckily, our company has an excellent business education program and it’s my job to promote it.

My lead will be too “imaginative” for them, though. They will suffer no nonsense. My editor will very quickly remove this “distraction” from the article, until the story is reduced to the dust from which it sprang.

(I shouldn’t really say that, because I did some of the “student” interviews yesterday. The Class of 2010 has it all together.)

Nothing but the grist would remain, the husk of a very dry, uninteresting lead they’ve probably read before and won’t bother to read again. Nor am I particularly motivated to give them an interesting lead they'll only reject. Give them what they want. That’s the long-standing homily.

Meanwhile, my more savvy co-workers will give leadership the dry dust they crave and be well-rewarded with future plumb assignments and lucrative bonuses for writing nothing more than advertising copy.

Hey, it’s a living. And another clichéd platitude. I’ll shrug and go home. The next morning, I’ll awake either to the scratchy static of my clock radio (the daily wake up call from the Coast to Coast crazies) or my cat barfing on my rug to get even with me for not rising earlier to feed him.

Whichever comes first. Those are negative things to get a rise out of you in the morning to be sure (Coast to Coast can be funny at times, but rather grim with its end-of-the-world diatribes).

What does get me up in the morning is my blog here. It may not pay the bills. I may not have many readers and I’ll never get a raise for writing it. But it’s all mine.

My own professional development, ironically, is sadly lacking. I’d sooner my bosses pulled out my fingernails than send me to a night class.

Even if I took classes, got an MBA, what would that degree avail me, if, like our leaders and our editors, I became so “focused” I couldn’t see the dynamite for the fake boulders? For better or worse, my job isn’t to process insurance claims day in and day out.

My abilities would be wasted forcing my nose to the grindstone, trying to prove I can “focus”, trying to be “serious”. My other job, as a company photographer, has taught me, oddly enough, not to focus but to see the bigger picture.

It’s not enough, indeed, to take pretty pictures but to understand their import, and I do. Far better than I’ve been given credit for. As a photographer, my job is to hone my technical accuracy, to focus on the details.

As a photographer, it’s my job to make sure that my pictures tell a story. As a writer, it’s my job to make sure my words paint a picture. As long as that picture doesn’t include Gorns or fake boulders. Nothing imaginative, that would make the lead stand out.

My editors have urged me not to include unnecessary details in articles. But in a photograph the details are everything.

I have three lenses on my camera: a medium range lens, a wide angle, and a telephoto. Turns out the medium range takes exactly the ordinary photos you would expect. Nothing extraordinary about them.

It’s the telephoto lens that brings far distant objects into view and the wide angle that permits a broader focus that allow the most creativity and generally make for the best pictures. When my equipment was stolen (it was my property, because our department managers couldn’t understand the necessity of these “extraneous” lenses), the editors complained bitterly about the lack of creativity in my photos.

I was finally able to replace those two essential lenses, and my photographs are back to their old, superior quality. The editors are happier now, and so am I. It’s another lesson in not limiting yourself, only focusing on the basics, pressing your creativity to the grindstone until it’s worn away.

They would never listen to me, not even my kindly present manager. They didn’t listen when I told them we needed to purchase these lenses. It was one of my co-workers who finally convinced them. But they may yet rescind the order to purchase them. Financially, these are hard times and the economic landscape is barren.

Like the camera, the blog is all mine and I’m not sorry to possess either of them. That I suppose is the true advantage of liberty and freedom. I wouldn’t trade my freedom for all the letters of recommendation in the world.

In their quest to find out everything about their employees they were afraid to ask, perhaps my company will stumble across my blog and learn what they don’t know about me and in their ignorance, never bothered to look into, discover the potential they’ve overlooked.

So, spy away, company. Invade my privacy. I beg of you. Please!! Maybe you’ll LEARN something!!!

God knows, every other way has failed. Meanwhile, it’s back to my magazine story on business education and how to make it as dry and uninteresting as the Planet Gorn.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Try It, You'll Like It

The most useful thing about young, useful idiots – the kind that are useful to the Communists – is that all the Communists’ old tricks are new again with every succeeding generation.

Every Generation X, Y, and Z plus one to infinity presents a new opportunity to deceive and mislead with utopian ideals and corrupt politics.

The history of the Internet is a technically complicated narrative, but one that goes something like this:

Before the wide spread of internetworking (802.1) that led to the Internet, most communication networks were limited by their nature to only allow communications between the stations on the local network and the prevalent computer networking method was based on the central mainframe computer model.

Several research programs began to explore and articulate principles of networking between physically separate networks, leading to the development of the packet switching model of digital networking.

These research efforts included those of the laboratories of Donald Davies (NPL), Paul Baran (RAND Corporation), and Leonard Kleinrock at MIT and at UCLA. The research led to the development of several packet-switched networking solutions in the late 1960s and 1970s, including ARPANET and the X.25 protocols. Additionally, public access and hobbyist networking systems grew in popularity, including unix-to-unix copy (UUCP) and FidoNet.

Now that last reference, to UUCP, sounds like my brother’s friend, D., who was a genius. He could speak seven languages (including Unix), play the piano by ear, beat everyone at chess, and graduated near the top of their high school class. He was involved in the development of a unix-based public access/hobbyist networking system.

Unless you were an egghead like D., the Internet was comparable to my grandfather’s old radio set of the 1920’s, a mail-order contraption he built from a kit which took up their whole kitchen table.

The Liberals have discovered that we’re not only onto them but have breached their Internet wall. We’ve belatedly discovered that we can just easily get our message out as they can.

They have to do something - quick!

So they trot out the Net Neutrality bill, a Constitution-defying piece of bureaucratic regulation that under the guise of consumer protection and faster Internet speeds, will assure that, with lightning-speed, you’ll only be able to pull up the propaganda the government wants you to read.

President Obama paternally advises the public to try reading “the other side.”

He and his information technologists must really think we were born yesterday to fall for that piece of corny, condescending advice. They scruple not to make it sound as though in the vast universe of political ideas  communism is the tiny voice crying in the wilderness, hoping to be heard above the common clamor of conservatism and capitalism.

Who do they think they’re kidding? Well, it must be the young people, who can be very indignant at the sound of any voice but they’re own. Children automatically resent the voice of wisdom and experience. They want to find out for themselves and usually must, because they’re blockheads.

Really. There’s this block of mental cement between their two ears that doesn’t get blasted away until their own teenager cranks up the volume on the car radio a little too high one day and the one-time teenager realizes they’ve become their parent.

And the Liberals know they’re blockheads. Useful idiots (commonly attributed to Lenin, sometimes in the form “useful idiots of the West”, to describe those Western reporters and travelers who would endorse the Soviet Union and its policies in the West).

They use this same sales pitch to advocate the use of marijuana, as though they’re trying to get a young child to eat green beans.

Read our websites. Go the Huffington Post or the Washington Post. Read us, they genially urge the young. It won’t kill you. You won’t instantly turn into a Liberal. Or a communist. Oh, that’s just the nattering of those conspiracy-theory Conservatives. They’re so old. Don’t pay attention to their warnings – it’s just senility.


The U.S. history teacher in high school tried that approach only to have us tell him what he could do with his history. That was precisely his intention, to lull his victims into complacency, until they were nodding like bobble-heads.

Young people are very easily swayed into compliance by peer pressure. A little condescending talk here, some jibing there, and you’ve got your Junior Trotsky right where you want him.

Oh, just take another drag on that blunt, there. Have another beer. Just drink a little more of that Kool-Aid. You’ll be one of us in no time, and you’ll feel so much better. Say, where’s your Che Guevera tee shirt? We’re all getting together tomorrow to agitate for the illegal immigrants. You gotta put on your Che! He’s so chic.

Be there or be square, dude! You want to be left out?

What? What are you talking, George Washington?  Died of syphillis. Thomas Jefferson? That old slave owner? Benjamin Franklin? Dirty old man, all those friendships with those French and English ladies.

What, what? What do mean, he was well-respected by the French, that they revered and admired him? You’ve been reading too many history books, friend. We’re talking about France, here. Hello? France, dude? Paris? The Lost Generation?

You know, Ho Chi Minh, the Ayatollah Khomeini? Those were the true revolutionaries of Paris, not that fat old fogey in the spectacles.

Madame DeFarge? Yeah, well, okay. That’s good, women’s rights. I don’t remember reading about her suffrage protests, but if you’re into her, that’s good. If you liked her, maybe you can get a tee shirt of her.

Oh. You’d rather wear a sweater in her honor? That’s a little weird, dude. Oh wait, what was she, like a symbol of sweatshop labor? That’s cool, then. If it’s for the cause, you know, evil, capitalist pigs exploiting the lower classes, go for it!

Viva le revolution! Liberte, fraternite, egalite, and all that stuff.

Knit, knit, knit.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Truth is a Distraction

President Obama, delivering a commencement speech at all-black Hampton University in Virginia, opined that in the era of I-Pad and X-Box, information has become a diversion that imposes new strains on democracy.

Translation: “I didn’t think anyone over 25 knew anything about technology, or that they’d use the very technology that got me elected against me.”

The fact that he compared the I-Pad and the X-Box is a red flag. The X-Box has about as much to do with the dissemination of information as my old Viewfinder. Nor is it much of an arena for exchanging political ideas.

If you want to get to the next level of Dungeons and Dragons, you use the X-Box. If you want to play Guitar Hero, follow the adventures of Rocket Knight, or personally duke it out with Ivan Vanko in Iron Man-2, you need to become an X-Box Expert.

If you want information at your fingertips on how to join the Morristown Tea Party, you hone your skills on the latest Apple creation to fall from the tree – the I-Pad.

No wonder the students looked at him like he had two heads, when he compared the two. He said he wasn’t very adept at X-Box (years ago, my nephew tried to get me involved, too). But maybe he should get his daughters to tutor him. The X-Box website lists this intriguing advertisement:

Tips for Aspiring Dictators

Get your island started in Tropico 3.

Obama is worried. He figured he’d ridden the crest of new generational divide: the electronic wave.  The Internet surfers.  His propaganda machine proudly boasted how he had an I-Pod, which the Secret Service promptly confiscated.

He whined like a 9 year-old whose parents took away his favorite toy.

Maybe very senior people like mother (we don't dare describe her as old) aren’t technically adept, although she’d be willing except that she doesn’t want to spend the money. We’re not our father’s old-fogey generation.

The Late Baby Boomers are perfectly comfortable with technology. Despite what the Lamestream Media might tell you, we’ve never needed our kids to program our remote controls for us. Or our Blackberries. Or our I-Pods.

My older brother knows as much (or more) about his computer as his 21 year-old mechanical engineering student (who’s considering MIT as a graduate school). I have a My Space page (which I admit I haven’t used in years), a Twitter account, and a Facebook Page (sorry, friends only).

Even Mom has a cell phone.

Obama has discovered we’re perfectly capable of networking via the latest technology. It’s how the Morristown Tea Party formed after its official online organizer vanished, never to be heard from again.

The Morristown Tea Party, I’m so proud to say, didn’t just curl up and disappear in a cloud of futile smoke. The participants used the social network on the Internet to discuss the next steps, what to do, and how, when, and where to do it.

This was a national network and apparently other would-be tea party patriots were watching and also took up their banners on their own. I wish someone who’s an official media member – in the Conservative Camp – would post that bit of news online.

It’s all very well that the Tea Parties have official organization now and official representatives. That wasn’t the case in the beginning, though. There were no politically-savvy operatives of one ilk and another keeping it going (in fact, I was opposed to people like that being involved at all), dispensing political activist advice (some worth following, some not), and holding conventions.

It was just us, average Americans somewhere out in the Internet wilderness, isolated, abandoned, and cornered. The well-heeled activists who’ve taken control of the Tea Party movement sniff at the original Tea Party participants as though they wear coonskin caps, breeches, and leather stockings.

So uncouth. Well, who cares, as long as the Tea Parties keep going. We’ve got Obama on the run.

Put that on your I-Pad and poke it.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Making Mom Happy on Mother's Day

Some mothers get elaborate Mother’s Day cards, bouquets of flowers, and the night off from cooking.

But some mothers just have to be different.

For years, our mother has complained about Mother’s Day cards. She grew up during the Great Depression. At a time when shoe leather had to stand in for steak, paying five or ten dollars – or even the 1930s rate for greeting cards – was unthinkable.

To Mom, it’s still an unthinkable and unnecessary expenditure. There was nothing that made Mom more unhappy than getting a Happy Mother’s Day card, with a lovely picture on the front, some poetic sentiment about motherhood in the middle.

And an obscene price on the back.

Finally, we just gave in. She said she would pick the card she liked best from the ones we’d given her over the years, and set it out each year to admire it. That’s all she wanted.

As a result, Mother’s Day is a much happier occasion for my mom. When I called her up, she exclaimed, “Thank you for my card!! It’s sitting right here on the table!!”

I had to stop and think, “Wait! What?! I didn’t send her a card because she didn’t want one.”

Then I remembered.

This year, we rode up to my older brother’s house, where he was wrestling with a giant, 90-foot oak tree that landed on his doorstep yesterday. No one was hurt, and there was no structural damage to the house.

However his power was out, and being such a cold, windy day for May, his house was freezing. So except when she ventured out to check on the progress, she sat in my toasty warm car instead.

At lunchtime, we ordered pizza. I allowed my brother the honor of the driver's seat so he could sit next to the guest of honor. We had quite a picnic of it.

The neighbors, friends of ours and some former in-law relations of my brother's, thought it was rather strange and invited Mom to sit in their palatial new house, which she hadn’t yet seen but wanted to, so she accepted the invitation, where she savored a steaming cup of hot coffee.

Still, it was a cozy Mother’s Day picnic we had. Not one we’d want to repeat. But one that will certainly go down in our family’s annals.

(Mom is seen here giving a tour of the house and the tree that came to dinner.  She wouldn't be happy about her picture appearing online.  Happily, she doesn't want to spend the money to get a laptop computer, so she'll never see it!)