Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Star of India

In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was grief-stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, one year after her death. The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:

Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.

The total cost has been estimated to be about 32 million Rupees during the years 1632-1653. Converting that to today's American dollars gives the Taj Mahal a cost in modern American dollars of $1,062,834,098.

During Obama’s 10-day trip to the Orient – including India, Indonesia, China, South Korea, and Japan – he will be accompanied by majority of the White House staff, taking up all 800 hundred rooms of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, with the overflow staying at the Hyatt. They will be equipped with a complete communications set-up and the nuclear button, just in case the Taj’s concierge can’t locate one for him.

He will be protected by a fleet of 34 warships, including an aircraft carrier, which will patrol the sea lanes off the Mumbai coast during his two-day stay there beginning Saturday. The measure has been taken as Mumbai attack in 2008 took place from the sea on the very hotel in which he will be staying.

Two jets, armed with advanced communication and security systems, and a fleet of over 40 cars will be part of Obama's convoy.

The President will have a security ring of American elite Secret Service, which are tasked to guard the President, along with National Security Guards (NSG) and personnel from central paramilitary forces and local police in Mumbai and Delhi. Similar arrangements will be in place in Delhi, with Air Force One to be kept in all readiness throughout Obama's stay here from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning.

The Maurya Hotel in Delhi has already been swarmed by American security personnel and protective measures have been put in place. Security drills have already been carried out at the hotel as well as Rajghat, where he will visit.

Sources said 13 heavy-lift aircraft with high-tech equipment, three helicopters and 500 U.S. security personnel have arrived in India ahead of Obama's visit. The U.S. security has also brought interception and obstruction device, sniffer dogs, rescue equipment.

Apart from Obama's Air Force One, a few private luxury jets carrying top American corporate leaders, who are part of Obama's entourage, are also expected to accompany him. All high-rise buildings in the vicinity of Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel and Delhi's Maurya Sheraton hotel, where the US President will stay, are being sanitized and security personnel will be positioned on rooftops to prevent any air-borne attack.

The Ridge area - opposite Delhi's Maurya Sheraton hotel - has been illuminated by floodlights as part of the heightened security drill. The Home Ministry has already issued an alert for Mumbai and Delhi asking authorities to take extra precautions during Obama's visit as well as on Diwali (The Festival of Lights) on Friday.

A top official of the Maharashtra Government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit has reckoned that a whopping $200 million per day will be spent by various teams coming from America in connection with Obama's two-day stay in the city.

White House officials have dismissed the claim made of $200 million per day as “wildly inflated.” The official estimate is $2 million per day. That makes us feel oh so much better.

In one final security measure, all coconuts around Mumbai's Gandhi museum, are being removed. Obama, still smarting from heavy losses in the midterm elections, has already been hit on the head by political reality. If it still hasn’t gotten through to him, a conk on the head by a stray coconut might help.

If he and the missus visit the actual Taj Mahal will all the sins of Obamacare, the Stimulus, and financial reform, and the wasting of $20 million in taxpayer money on this trip, to visit countries to which our jobs have emigrated (one of the Indian newspapers shows a photo of the welcome mat literally being laid out for him), be washed away?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Partying Like It's 1994

Yesterday was my brother’s 55th birthday. He was born in 1955. Imagine the possibilities since that song came out, “Party Like It’s 1999.” At age 15, in 1930, my father could have partied like it was 1915. I’m not quite sure how they partied in 1915, of course. I think they were doing some dance called “The Cakewalk” back then. In 1948, my mother could have partied like it was 1924. She and her friends could have dressed like flappers. They could’ve done the Charleston.

A friend who was born in 1936 could have partied like it was 1936 in 1968. Of course, 1968 was a very different time than 1936. They did a lot of partying in 1968 – big time. I don’t think anyone was partying much in 1936, though.

1955 would have been a great year for partying, though. Rock Around the Clock, poodle skirts, ducktails, great cars. My former editor’s year is coming up soon – I think it’s 1956 or 1957. Now there’s a great year for partying like the year.

As time goes by, the partiers are going to get older and older. The youngest member of our department was born in 1981. He’s going to have to wait a long time to party – 2062. By that time, he probably won’t have the energy to disco like it’s 1981.

The Republicans are partying like it’s 1994. Sixteen years ago, they took over the House. Their party was short-lived though; they couldn’t get anything past the Democrat Senate and President, a problem today’s Republicans share.

But this year, we took the House in numbers not seen in 70 years and took an admirable portion of the Senate as well, not to mention governships and state legislatures. Even New Jersey managed to flip a Blue district Red. But we’re determined not to party and celebrate too hard, the way we did in 1994.

We’ve learned a thing or two since then, particularly about Moderates and Independents. They tend to vacillate. We also have to start preparing for the party sooner. You just can’t throw something together at the last minute, after all. We need to prepare our candidates for the tough road sooner, build up their political resumes, get them used to swimming with the sharks.

Writing is about the only way I can help The Conservative Cause. I'm no salesperson and therefore no politician. When I was a Brownie Scout selling Girl Scout cookies, people used to slam the door in my face! I'm really brave at the keyboard but an awful coward on the phone, and not pretty enough for face to face encounters, though I'm no one's doormat, either.

Roland Straten, a civilian in the world of politics, was a good candidate in a brutal district. He’s had enough of partying. No one can blame him for wanting to retire from this nasty business and so we have to keep an eye on our local races to see who's fit to run. We have to make a stronger effort to get behind and get the vote out on local races. People tend to ignore them, thinking they're unimportant. But that's how Sarah Palin got her start - pulling her two young toddlers behind her as she went door to door, campaigning for a seat on the town council. The local races are the political nursery. We can guide them along and urge them not to do stupid things, like smoke dope, pose nude, wreck their marriages, join covens, or accept bribes.

Somewhere out there, there's a young candidate running for a local office who has the potential to go far. I'd like to see someone run who's not a lawyer. An engineer like Straten, or entrepreneur (again, like Straten). Or a doctor. Or an insurance agent (most of them don't like this Obamacare thing). Someone with real-life experience. We have to get over this idea that the ideal candidate is a lawyer or career politician. Well - having some political experience prior to a very high office like the Senate or the White House would be helpful.

New Jersey’s Jay Webber, who ran Gov. Christie's campaign, is a good example. But still. Sarah Palin, in her younger days, was fishing in Prince William Sound - or one of those Alaskan bays. She's not a stupid woman. She went to a less elite school because that's all she could afford.

The political machine tends to get behind its own. The voters go along with it, thinking well, they're politicians so they must know what they're doing. Trouble is, we don't. Or we didn't until the Tea Parties came along.

Now’s the time to demand more of our representatives than pork and earmarks and an occasional photo op. The Tea Parties need to stay out in the open. Their indoor meetings are fine. But other people need to see them, if not to join, to at least keep up the hope that we can manage our representatives. We have to think of the future now, before we’re robbed of it.

We need to Tea Party like it’s 2088.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Our New Best Friends

Now that the Mid Term Election of 2010 is over and the Republicans performed the greatest exchange of House of Representatives seats in about 70 years, Obama and the Liberals are eager to make friends and engage in some bipartisan legislation with their “former” adversaries.

“Let’s Make A Deal.” They want to negotiate over the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts. However their deal sounds an awful lot like a threat. The lame duck Congress, with the Wicked Witch of the West Coast, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will be responsible for whether the tax cuts are extended. Being that the House kind of fell on her, like in The Wizard of Oz, it will be one of her last acts. The Democrats say work with them, limit the tax cuts to taxpayers making under $200,000 ($400,000 for couples), and they’ll be our friends. The Republicans say, “Nope. It’s all or nothing. Tax cuts for everyone, no matter what your income is.”

Already, we have RINOs stepping up to the microphone, declaring that are some things we have to compromise on. So, in other words, either the rich get soaked with higher taxes, or everyone will. That’s some deal.

In a way, this embracing of words like “compromise” and “negotiate” are job security for members of the Tea Parties. Don’t put your signs away just yet. We must remain vigilant. Congress, it seems, is now divided into thirds – Liberal Democrats, RINOs, and Conservatives. Beware of politicians who want to build political bridges; that’s what got us into trouble the last time Republicans ruled the House and Senate. But there no Tea Parties, then.

Voting a politician into office is somewhat like renting your house out to strangers. Even if you vet them carefully, you can’t be sure what they’re really going to do. They may be honest, hard-working tenants who will maintain the property, keep the house in good order, and pay their rent on time.

Or they may be unemployed slackers, with ten unruly children, chickens, goats, and bloodhounds, a criminal background, bad credit, and refrigerator filled with booze. The grass may grow a foot high until you have to mow it yourself and their kids will let the bathtub overflow, leaving you to deal with the insurance company and the mess.

Our elected officials need to remember that they’re temporary workers. They occupy the Capital Building – and the White House – but we, the taxpayers, own the buildings. Right now, our buildings, our structure, is in very poor condition after their marauding, wild spending sprees, and general irresponsibility. Some of them are outright criminals.

We managed to evict some of them, but not all. Some of the worst criminals were voted right back into office again. They’re still there, ready to rob the safe again. Somehow we’re going to have to change the combination on the safe, and once we rout out the bad elements, change the locks so they can’t get back in again.

The trouble is the Moderates, are like very elderly senior citizens, ripe to fall for any scam. The younger Moderates are no better than foolish adolescents, as vulnerable to predators as the elderly. Therefore, we must be the adults and maintain an unceasing vigilance on our government.

After Jan. 1st, we’ll be holding the cards, and we must say “No deal” to compromises and tear up their credit cards.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wednesday Morning in America

Republicans experienced a swift and considerable triumph in yesterday’s Mid-Term elections, particularly in the middle section of the country. They reclaimed the House of Representatives in historic numbers. In fact, it was a nearly total flip from the 2008 election. Before the election, the number was 256 Democrats, 179 Republicans. According to CNN’s estimate, it will be 243 Republicans, 184 Democrats. Maybe.

The Republicans fell short of regaining the Senate – but not by much. Some races are still in contention, but at this time, the Democrats won 51 seats, the Republicans, 47. Even though they didn’t succeed in their senatorial ambitions (maybe if they’d swallowed their everlasting pride and supported Christine O’Donnell, they’d have won Delaware), the Republicans increased their presence in the Senate by a considerable number.

This was a great election for Republican governors, particularly in the mid-section of the country. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Wyoming all flipped. Only two Republican states – California and Hawaii – flipped to blue. Maine, Minnesota, Vermont, Connecticut, Illinois, and Oregon are still sorting things out.

California voted against Proposition 19. They weed-whacked the legislation to legalize marijuana. That means there’s still hope for our country. That won’t stop the idiots but at least they know the public isn’t completely zoned out and aren’t going to tolerate reckless behavior.

Locally, New Jersey managed to flip one district red, District 3 in southern New Jersey. Jon Runyan beat the Democrat Incumbent Adler 50 percent to 47 percent. Way to go, Southern and Western New Jersey Tea Parties! Sometimes change comes in small increments, although District 3 is quite a broad band.

Our candidate here in District 8, Roland Straten did not win. The final tally was Pascrell 63 percent to Straten, 36 percent. Though it was a loss, it was a decided improvement from Straten’s last run. He had a lot of enthusiastic support from local Tea Party Groups and local Republicans, though not a dime of help from the GOP, who consider District 8 a lost cause.

District 8 is a tough district for Conservative Republicans. For 14 years, Pascrell has had Big Labor, Big Cities, and Big Pharma on his pockets, making sure he’s flush with cash. District 8 Conservatives shouldn’t feel too bad about their loss. After all, New York City’s Charlie Rangel won by 100 percent, and he’s facing all sorts of ethics charges. He’s a complete crook. It makes one wonder what that says about the people who vote for someone like that.

The Republicans still have their work cut out for them. The fact that they supported Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski as a write-in candidate rather than the official Republican candidate, Joe Miller, who had Tea Party backing, says they still don’t quite get it. We’re going to have to make sure they do.

In fact, they hardly supported any of the Tea Party candidates. The GOP considers them monkey-wrenches in the political machine. It’s going to be a face-off in the Senate, with the Democrats holding a slight majority, while the Republicans now control the House. If they think the American people are going to stand for compromises with 10 percent unemployment, an un-Constitutional socialized medical care plan about to go into play, and a $13 trillion deficit, they’d better wake up now while there’s still time.

We haven’t put away our Tea Party signs.  This is only Round One.  Big Labor, Big Cities, and Big  Corporations (including Big Pharma) may be in their pockets.  But we're going to be in their faces.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

This is It

Election Day has arrived. This is the do-or-keep-doing moment for Tea Partiers, Conservatives, and every American who truly cares about freedom. We’ve worked hard these last 18 months, standing up for our convictions that the principles set down by our country’s Founding Fathers have truth and meaning.

Now we find out how many of our fellow Americans share those convictions and how many of them are Americans-in-Name-Only, standing by those privileges granted to them by the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, the American flag, and the blood of all those who died to preserve the freedom set forth in those documents and symbolized by that flag, yet despising that very freedom that singles America out from every other nation on Earth.

Was it all worth it? Or are there only weeds in the brains of the garden of humankind? An animal avidity for the material, for what they can get for nothing, what they can manipulate, what they can steal? Freedom is a privilege, not a right to be granted without loyalty to the country that bestows it, allegiance to the flag that champions it, or gratitude to the God whose grace permits us to live in peace and freedom.

How many of us will exercise that one right we possess, as a civilized nation, to determine our destiny. We each have a choice, for right or for wrong, and there is right and wrong in this world. The wrong way is tyranny and oppression, punishing success, legislating away liberty, and silencing criticism. The right way is freedom. Understand that one word, and you understand everything. Dismiss it, mock it, abuse it, ignore it, destroy it, and you’re no longer a true American; it’s that simple.

Make your choice today, and best of luck to those candidates who are champions of freedom.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Brought To You By

Bayer Corp., Becton Dickinson & Co, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Boehringer Ingelheim Corp, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Consumer Healthcare Products Association, Genentech Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, Hearing Industries Association, Hoffmann-La Roche, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Company, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Corp., Novo Nordisk, Pfizer Inc., Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Sanofi-Aventis US, and Wyeth.

That is the list of pharmaceutical companies which have contributed to Congressman Bill Pascrell’s campaign to be re-elected to New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District. At their last debate, his opponent, Roland Straten, read the list off. But by the time he got to Millennium Pharmeuticals, the timekeeper called time.

Pascrell failed to answer or address any of Straten’s main points. Instead, he reverted to the classical Democrat playbook – mocking his opponent, cavalierly dismissing arguments, calling him a liar, and violating the debate rules by engaging a member of the audience.

He had no answer to Straten’s position that the stimulus package was a failure and that we need to allow the free market to operate, to make the tax cuts permanent, and reduce regulation on small businesses. Pascrell claimed that he had made a proposal to extend the tax cuts for up to five years and had voted for small business tax breaks. He left out that these “special”tax breaks were so full of rules and regulations to make them almost worthless.

He had no answer to any of the statistics on national debt or unemployment that I presented. His anger showed when I listed the names of the Pharmaceutical corporations who had contributed to his campaign. After the debate his son verbally attacked me and Bill even made physically aggressive moves toward me only to be thwarted by the police officer standing next to me.

The debate clearly showed that the people have an extremely clear choice this election between a career politician who has done nothing but advance his own career and a businessman engineer who knows how to make things work and wants to make life better for the people of the district.

It just so happens that some of Pascrell’s corporate “sponsors” are among the 20 top employers in New Jersey: Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Company, and all stand to benefit from Obama’s Health Care program. Pascrell was among those loyal voters.

The other companies are all Big Corporations, too. Big Government and Big Corporations tend to make deals. Big Government gets the money, Big Corporations get exonerated from annoying legislation and excessive taxation. Guess they check off that box on their tax returns, asking if you want to donate to a presidential campaign.

Only six of the 20 employers mentioned are non-union. Maybe the pharmaceuticals make so much money their employees don’t need to worry about unionization. The retailers employee many part-time employees. However, there are many roads to corruption and Bill Pascrell and his master and mistress, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi promise the picture will improve. It hasn’t so far.

With downsizing in industries such as retailing, New Jersey’s unemployment rate reached a high of 10.1%, in Dec. 2009, making it higher than the national average for the first time since 2006. Healthcare, the only source of steady job growth, is expected to continue expanding; however, the high unemployment rate will decrease healthcare coverage and possibly slow recovery gains. Despite mounting foreclosures, the housing market has started to improve. Fast household formation and weak residential construction has helped lower the number of unsold houses, and prices have started stabilizing. However, the greatest job losses in New Jersey were construction (-13.6 percent) and manufacturing and transportation/utilities (-5.8 per cent each).

New Jersey’s unemployment rate was at 9.7% in July 2010 and at 10.1% in Dec. 2009, the highest it has been in the Garden State in 33 years.

                                            Average Unemployment Rate 2002 – 2009

Ten percent unemployment is an outrageous number, considering how well our economy had been doing. With this election, our ship may come in. Remember to vote tomorrow. If you’re in N.J.’s 8th Congressional District, vote for Roland Straten. If you’re a resident in some other district, vote for the Conservative who will restore and preserve our American values, reduce the size of our government, and remember who the people are.

The USS Pyro

Roland Straten for Congress

In the tradition of great newspapers of the past, the Belle of Liberty/Letting Freedom Ring blog endorses Roland Straten for New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District.

Straten is the man for the job.  An economist with an MBA from Darthmouth University’s School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Duke University, he is not a career politician, but an economist, engineer, and entrepreneur with firm roots in the 8th District.

He then served as an officer in the Navy aboard the USS PYRO stationed off the Vietnamese coast.  He was a deck officer aboard the Pyro, which was an ammunition ship.  He says that all the ammunition ships were given either fiery names or named after volcanos.

“It was a busy and responsible position,” he says.  “But we still weren’t being shot at like the poor boys out in the jungle.  We weren’t in that much danger, although if we had taken a hit, you’d have seen some impressive fireworks.”

After being honorably discharged from the Navy, heworked for the Foxboro Corporation in New York as a sales engineer and for the Union Camp Corporation in Wayne as a financial associate. He went on to earn an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and joined the family business, Associated Fire Protection in Paterson.

He is a licensed professional engineer, a licensed electrical contractor, and a certified fire protection contractor.  He was an officer of the New Jersey Chapter of Fire Protection Engineers, served as President of the New Jersey Association of Fire Equipment Distributors, and served as a Commissioner on the New Jersey Fire Commission.  During that time, he was instrumental in drafting and passing the New Jersey law that governed the licensing of fire protection contractors.

In Paterson, he was an active member of the Paterson Rotary Club as well as the Paterson Education Fund.  He also served as Chairman of the Paterson Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Paterson Economic Development Corporation, and chairman of Memorial Day Nursery. He served on the Board of Directors of St Josephs Hospital in Paterson.

Straten has lived in Montclair with his wife, Susan, since 1969.  They raised three children and now has four grandchildren. Always actively involved in the community, he served as Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 13 and as Vice-Chairman of the Montclair Redevelopment Agency. During the very difficult times of the early nineties, his skills were key in getting the Montclair affordable housing projects completed.

In his last debate with his opponent, Bill Pascrell, Pascrell violated the rules of the debate by engaging a member of the audience, an Iraqi war veteran.  Straten, meaning no disrespect to the veteran, objected to Pascrell’s violation.  After the debate, Pascrell physically threatened Straten and the police had to intervene and physically restrain Pascrell.

At a Rally for Freedom in West Orange, Straten reminded the assembled crowd that the state’s motto is “liberty and prosperity.”  He pledged that a vote for him will be a vote to preserve political and economic freedoms: freedoms that are slipping away because of massive debt, deficits and government controls imposed by Bill Pascrell and his fellow Democrats in the 111th Congress.

The values page on Straten’s website says a good deal about him:

Core Values

Core values are an individual’s set of standards and beliefs. My core values guide me through tough times and influence every decision I make.  Anyone running for public office has an obligation to let the voters know what there core values are.  These values are the core of my ethical and moral character:
·               Give more than your receive.
·               Be honest — to yourself as well as others.
·               Honor commitments.
·               Do what is right regardless of consequences.
·               Respect others. Act in a manner so that others will respect you.
·               Be a team player.
Based on my experience in the Navy, in business, and in community service, I have developed a set of general beliefs. These beliefs will guide me when making decisions in Washington.  I believe that:
·               Government should be as small as possible.
·               Government action should be taken at as low a level of government as possible where people have more control.
·               Each individual should be given the right and the responsibility to live life as he or she sees fit. Government regulations and mandates should be reduced to a minimum.
·               People, as opposed to government, should make decisions for themselves. I believe that the people know better than bureaucrats about how to live their lives.
·               Liberty should prevail over government control.
·               Most of the world’s problems can be solved by honest, hard-working people, willing to dedicate themselves to the common good. I do believe, however, that those who hurt others by stealing, lying, killing, and doing unethical things should be punished.
·               The United States is the best country in the world.  I am very lucky to have been born here when I was.  No other country, no other system, no group of people or government has done so much for the average person as the United States of America.  No other country has given its citizens, regardless of race, religion, or origin, so much freedom and opportunity.  No other country has increased the average standard of living as we have.  No other country has fought wars and laid down the lives of its young men and women for the freedom of others as much as the United States.
America has been betrayed by career politicians who are knowledgeable about very little besides the working of the Washington nuclear core.  Roland Straten is a man with a plan.  He knows business.  He knows economics.  He knows engineering.  He knows how to devise a plan, measure all the factors, and make the plan work.  As a benefactor of charities in Paterson, he also knows how to make the human factor, and even the environmental factor, part of the equation.
Straten is not one to simply throw money at a problem.  He will study the issue carefully, like a good engineer, come up with an efficient, economical, and productive solution like a good economist, and make sure it benefits the entire community, like a good entrepreneur.
Whenever a piece of infrastructure breaks down, like a bridge or a dam, engineers must always be brought in to solve the problem and make sure it doesn’t happen again.  The failure is always found to like in false economy, poor planning, and corruption.  Like a badly repaired bridge, America is on the brink of failure and we need a representative like Roland Straten to fix it, properly, securely, and safely.
Vote for Roland Straten for Congress.