Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Huzzah for Bill and Mary Beck

On Thursday, Glenn Beck revealed an interesting and amazing bit of his personal history. A second-hand clothing store owner in Washington returned to him a Revolutionary War uniform coat, handmade for his father, Bill, by his mother, Mary.

Glenn says that they originally lived in Mount Vernon, Wash., where his father owned a bakery. A mall opened up and the town’s business district was dying. The Beck’s discovered another town called Leavenworth, in the Cascade Mountains, that was modeled like a German village. It was love at first sight.

Bill Beck knew that his town had to change the way they did business. He decided that Leavenworth was a great town of people and had done a terrific job of preserving their heritage; why couldn’t Mount Vernon? The state of Washington didn’t know much about Colonial history, but it was named after the first President’s beloved home, Mount Vernon.

This was in 1973, Glenn notes; the Bicentennial was coming up. Bill thought they could make something really unique since the bicentennial was coming up, people were thinking about the history of our country, and they were in the state named after the great president, in a town named after his home.

“Why not brick the industries and put in, gas lamps and make the town into a little colonial town, a little Williamsburg?” Glenn relates.

That was his parents’ idea. About half the town liked it. The rest of the town didn’t. “Oh, we don't need to do that.”

“I remember my father standing in his shop over the bakery bench in the back with flour and icing all over him,” Glenn says, “and he would look at the jeweler and he would look at the guy who ran the Varsity Shop (the tailor?) and he would look at these guys and they would be, ‘Bill, Bill, it's temporary. It's not that bad. The mall is a fad.’”

But Bill Beck replied, “Things have changed. We're in this together. If we don't change, if we don't do something different, we're not going to survive.”

So the Beck’s formed a Colonial marching unit. Mary Beck made their uniforms by hand and they would march in parades.

“We marched in the Rose Bowl Parade in 1976. We were the first non-band marching unit ever to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade,” Glenn notes.

Glenn’s story stopped there. He promised he would finish it the next day. He may have told the amazing second half of the story on radio. But since I’m unable to listen to his radio program and he didn’t mention it on TV, I went to his bio to fill in some of the blanks.

What he said further was that the Militia Unit was the reason he discourages the Tea Parties from dressing up in costume. I can only read his transcripts, but it sounds like he was disparaging the notion. Born in 1964, he would have been 9 years old when his parents formed the unit, and 12 years old during the Bicentennial, on the brink of adolescence. Kids don’t like to dress up other than on Halloween. It doesn’t sound like he enjoyed it or understood it. We all know how kids that age are – they want to fit in. And authentic Colonial costumes are generally woolen. Think very hot on a summer’s day.

Apparently, according to the bio, the marching unit brought the Becks together, but the mother’s alcoholism drove them apart. Bill Beck filed for divorce in 1977, when Glenn was 13. Two years later, his mother was boating on Puget Sound with another man when something went wrong and they both drowned. Initially, the police ruled it an accident. But a later investigation raised the suspicion of suicide. Glenn himself believes it was a suicide.

Glenn broke his promise that he would never tell the Tea Parties again what to do. But the story may shed some light on why he’s so unhappy about Colonial uniforms and the notion that Tea Party people would don them.

I remember watching that Rose Bowl Parade and I distinctly recall the announcer stating it was the first time such a unit was admitted into the parade. I was instantly inspired, as I suspect many other Americans were. Glenn’s father was a true American hero, patriot, and leader. That is not the sound of a fan sucking up to a celebrity; it’s the truth. He saw something that had to be done to preserve America, and he did it, changing his town’s look and putting his best foot forward (and his kids’) to demonstrate that love of country.

Perhaps it seemed silly, even mortifying, to the 13 year old Glenn. But to those of us with fresh memories of the Sixties and then the early Seventies, it was an inspiration. Bill Beck, though no one knew his name, was an American hero, and so was Glenn’s mother. He knew something had to be done to preserve our country, its heritage, and its future. Putting his best foot forward, Bill, with his family and friends in tow, demonstrated their love for America.

A shop owner out in Washington recently sent Glenn an e-mail with a picture of the uniform coat Mary made for her husband.

“Dear Mr. Beck,” she wrote, “I don't know if this is yours or not, but it has your father's name on it. It says Bill Beck inside, and it says Mt. Vernon, Wash., and I happened to have found it. I'm in the vintage clothing business, and I happened to be going through all of these clothes to see what I was going to buy or not for my shop. I didn't really look at it. I just picked it up and I thought, ‘Wow, this is really unique. What is this?’ I looked at the stitching on it. I looked at the way it was done and I thought somebody really spent a lot of time on this and this was really made with love and it was made by hand. So I threw it into a big bag and when I got home and I was going through it for my shop, I really looked at it and I was looking at the stitching. I opened up the inside and the label said: ‘For the wardrobe of Bill Beck; The Varsity Shop.’”

The vintage clothier returned the jacket, free of charge, to Glenn.

Looking it over, Glenn says, “This was taken from one of my father's jackets. My dad only had one suit. My mother took the label out of the suit jacket and sewed it into the Colonial uniform jacket. This jacket was made by my mother. She took and she made the patterns. She was so amazing. She made the patterns. She looked at books and looked at old colonial uniforms and made a pattern and then made this by hand and she made all of the uniforms for this little colonial militia thing that my parents started.”

Glenn stopped his story there, saying that he was flying the shop owner into New York next week to finish the story, which he promises is already. That “little thing” was a pebble thrown into a water that created wide rings, in my humble opinion.

“It's a teaching mechanism. It's to show you what Obama is doing,” he says.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s me. I think it already is an amazing, inspiring story, without Obama and whatever he’s trying to do. I’m more impressed by what Bill and Mary Beck did, and Glenn did, reluctantly.

Three cheers for Bill and Mary Beck (RIP)! Average people with an enormous amount of courage, determination, and love for their country. If we have anything to “learn,” it’s by their example.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Social Justice is Done

Hooray! The first civilian trial of a Guantamo Bay detainee has concluded and social justice has been done! Ahmed Ghailani was found not guilty on all but one charge Wednesday by a civilian jury in New York City. Somehow the New York State jury, fresh from voting in Liberals from Buffalo to Bohemia, could not see Ghailani’s role in more than 280 charges in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, including one murder count for each of the 224 people killed, as other than an Al Qaeda sidekick, just a stupid dupe caught up in events he couldn’t understand. But he was found guilty on one charge - conspiracy to destroy government buildings. A true crime, that.

Some see this as a major blow to the Obama administration’s determination to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian Federal court, mere blocks from Ground Zero. As Conservative critics predicted, Ghailani was released when crucial evidence was declared inadmissible. Liberals crowed that it was not only a victory for American justice – “the system works” – but a repudiation of interrogation tactics, such as not allowing them access to a computer, that Liberals deem “torture.”

According to the Associated Press, the judge had earlier decided that a star witness would not be allowed to testify because the witness was identified while Ghailani was held at a secret CIA camp that used harsh interrogation techniques. It is unknown what effect this witness would have had on the case.

Prosecutors charged that Ghailani helped an Al Qaeda cell buy a truck and components for explosives used in a suicide bombing in his Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998. That attack and a nearly simultaneous bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

The day before the bombings, Ghailani “allegedly” made a one-way trip to Pakistan under an alias. While on the run, he spent time in Afghanistan as a cook and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden and later as a document forger for Al Qaeda. In 2004, he was captured and held at a secret overseas camp. In 2006, he was transferred to Guantanamo and held until the decision last year to bring him to New York.

Other witnesses described how Ghailani bought gas tanks used in the truck bomb with cash supplied by the terror group, how the FBI found a blasting cap stashed in his room at a cell hideout and how he lied to family members about his escape, telling them he was going to Yemen to start a new life. The defense never contested that Ghailani knew some of the plotters. But it claimed he was in the dark about their sinister intentions.

"Call him a fall guy. Call him a pawn," lawyer Peter Quijano said in his closing argument. "But don't call him guilty."

If the jurors didn’t think that the gas tanks, blasting caps, and other accoutrements were not the stuff of bombs, then what did they think it was? Stupidity, ignorance of the law, is not a defense. Except in Liberal New York, where jurors generously grant murderers and their accomplices the benefit of the doubt, and are willing to throw criminals in jail for trying to blow up government buildings, but not for successfully murdering 224 people with the same materials. The poor bloke. How was he supposed to know people would be killed when his cohorts blew up that building. The naughty boy – he’s going to have to go to jail, but let’s have mercy on him.

However, the single count upon which Ghailani was convicted included a subsection, according to the Associated Press, that asked jurors if the defendant's conduct caused death of persons other than his co-conspirators -- and the jury said "yes."

The prosecution was allowed to refer to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, in the same a jury in the 1920s might have mentioned Al Capone and The Mob. But when all was over, the prosecution congratulated the jury for letting this killer go lightly.

“We respect the jury's verdict and are pleased that Ahmed Ghailani now faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and a potential life sentence," the Justice Department said in a statement. We’ll have to see what happens at his sentencing.

“You have reason to feel proud," said Judge Lewis Kaplan. "You have all done your duty. Our nation is a better place. I and everyone else have been struck by the way you did your duty. You reviewed the evidence with great care.” All except the evidence they weren’t permitted to review.

Lewis Kaplan knows from hardened criminals and knows about letting them go. He was nominated to the Southern District of New York by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1994. He was judge in a number of federal racketeering cases involving Mafia members, whom he set free, particularly John Gotti, who evaded charges three times. In April, Judge Kaplan was assigned to preside over the cases of 14 Gambino crime family members arrested on charges, among others, of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, witness tampering (in the 1992 trial of John Gotti), and sex trafficking of a minor.

Kaplan has presided over a number of notorious cases at the district level and was equally notorious in his judgment in these cases. Little wonder then that he saw to it that Ghailani, a Muslim mobster, was let off so lightly. Yes, Ghailani could serve up to 20 years, or life. Or the judge could commute his sentence to the time served in Guantanamo, the poor lad.

What effect will this have on KSM’s trial? It’s hard to say; right now, he’s in limbo. Obama has decided, at least for the time being, to leave him there and bequeath him to some future president. But the 9/11 survivors and victims’ families deserve to know that he was tried in a military tribunal, even if a person of KSM’s character actually deserves to be relegated to obscurity. His crime was too monstrous, though, to be passed off in that way.

The military tribunal is the answer. Evidence can be presented without endangering national security or revealing intelligence operations, witnesses can be called with relatively little fear, and KSM can pull all the theatrics he wants; no one will ever see them. All we need are representatives with the will to give the order.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Naked Truth

“Why do airline pilots need to be scanned? They’re already in control of the plane!” Glenn Beck

Truer words. But then of course, we’re talking about our bureaucratic government, who wouldn’t know the truth if it passed through one of their scanners. Never mind the inefficiency of scanning thousands and thousands of airline passengers every day. Never mind the cost of these machines that have made George Soros a trillionaire (he just dumped the stock).

Never mind the inconvenience to the passengers and the delay. If the only way the government can guarantee catching Muslim terrorists trying to board our planes, without injuring Muslim sensibilities, is to examine every grain of sand, rather than sifting it for the suspect grains, then by golly, that’s what they’re going to do. On the taxpayers’ dimes.

We’re paying to have our sons and daughters patted down and x-rayed down to the bone. We’re paying the price for caution (a public pat-down is actually better than a private one in reality – the private version lends itself to almost instant abuse) via public humiliation.

To x-ray the airline workers – the pilots, the crew, the cabin stewards, even the cleaners – is inviting a tremendous future health care liability. Not to mention all those frequent flyers who will be frequently x-rayed. “Would you care for a leaded apron, sir?”

The latest rumor is those sensitive Muslims, particularly the women, will be given a pass on the x-ray scanner and, probably, the TSA will have to hire Muslim female patters to do the bypass operation.

What parent in their right mind is going to allow their child to be x-rayed or patted down? “Anyone who thinks they’re going to pat down my kid won’t live to tell about it,” is what parents are currently saying among themselves – and good for them. “We simply won’t fly, that’s all.”

That should put enough pressure on the airline, travel, and resort industries to find another solution to this problem. Maybe the parents of America will put an end to this politically correct nonsense of not “targeting” certain groups. Not only should identifiable groups be targeted, but they should have their own separate lines so the rest of the passengers can board and the flight can take off on time.

Mohammed Atta and Company got through because the screener was afraid of losing his job. So instead of screening the most suspect passengers, we’ve lost our minds, instead, and are forcing innocent people to take off their shoes and now, in a virtual sense, their clothes.

This is one idea that ought to have been grounded a long time ago before it got into the air.

By the way, I wonder how many hits I'll get from the Moron Mob simply because this entry has the word "naked" in it?  Get a life, people!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Price of Beans

Adam Smith, in his book, The Wealth of Nations, goes on at length about the importance of the price of corn. His concern for the price of that particular vegetable overrides his interest even in the price of silver or gold. He tells us we can do without fancy linens or impressive equipage. Without food, particularly this food, though, Western Civilization, as we know it, would end. (In the Far East, the crop of choice is rice).

Towards the end of Bill Clinton’s second term, I began to notice that my grocery bills were increasing at an alarming rate. “Inflation,” I said. Oh no, others told me. On television, the experts said, oh there’s no inflation. Yet I was paying more money and coming home with fewer bags of groceries. The price of staples like bread and milk, that had been a lower price just a few weeks earlier, had risen astronomically.

Now, 12 years later, I’m noticing the same alarming inflationary rate. Only this time, the experts are willing to admit it. I went to buy a semi-generic brand of deodorant that had cost 99 cents only a year or so ago - retail. Now I had to pay the exorbitant sum of $2.69 to be hygienically acceptable.

The week before last, my grocery bill was an unbelievable $150. While it’s true I hadn’t stock shopped in awhile, I still couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the cash register LED. Nor even when I looked at the register receipt in my hands. I thought perhaps it was simply the amount of goods I purchased. I had coupons, but they didn’t make much of a dint in the bill.

This is what happens when the government starts printing paper money like it’s monopoly. Stewart Varney, talking on Fox News, said there was no going back to the gold standard now, that only chaos would ensue – and I suspect he’s right. I can’t imagine where in the world the government would find enough gold to pay the debt we’ve fallen into.

Maybe the government needs to try alchemy, because the tax-and-spend-then-print-more- money method is pure economic voodoo.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Do You Want?

The battle is now joined between Conservatives and Liberals, Republicans and Democrats, and the Moderates in the middle. We each have a choice to make, for good or for evil; which route do you choose? As we move forward, you need to ask yourselves, what do you want:

• Liberty or License?

• Freedom or a Free Lunch?

• Employment or Entitlements?

• Enlightenment or Empowerment?

• Constitution or Conquest?

• Peace or Appeasement?

• Survival or Submission?

• Success or Subsidies?

• Opportunity or Oppression?

• Responsibility or Rage?

• Respect or Revenge?

• Industry or Indolence?

• Rules or Rulers?

• Hope or Dope?

• Work or Shirk?

• Duty or Dues?

• Charity or Charter?

• History or Herstory?

• Truth or Truncheon?

• Independence or Incumbrance?

• Integrity or Intimidation?

• Patriotism or Patronage?

• Tolerance or Tyranny?

• Principles or Princes?

• America or Amelioration?

Make your choices, then be prepared for the consequences.