Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Waaaah! Why Do We Have to Have a Royal Wedding?!

What's all the fuss?!

Photo: George Pimentel, WireImage

Princess Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was everything a royal bride should be: elegant, dignified, composed, confident, demure. For a commoner, she was surprisingly regal. Some people are born into royalty. Kate was obviously born with natural royalty.

As she walked down the aisle, having won the heart of her prince, her carriage, her poise, her confident air, proud but not haughty. William’s was beautiful, too, though, much younger. She looked like a fairy princess on her wedding day. Her daughter-in-law looked like a queen (with all due respect to Queen Elizabeth, and Camilla who are next in line). She looked exquisitely beautiful in her simple, but elegant gown and slim, white veil. She was perfection. When the couple came to the door, you just knew: here was a future Queen of England.

There were a couple of fun and funny moments during the wedding. Prince Harry could be counted on to save the ceremony from too much pomp. Then there was the moment when William struggled to get the ring on Kate’s finger. Well, what doesn’t slip on easily, won’t slip off easily, either.

The howler was the balcony kiss, though. As William and Kate kissed for the first time, the crowds in front of Buckingham Palace roared their approval and the RAF sent jets and planes overhead.

Three year-old bridesmaid Grace Van Cutsems was not amused. The little scene-stealer, William’s goddaughter, clamped her hands over hear ears just as the royal couple took a second kiss.

Finally, Kate and William, instead of leaving the palace in a limousine, departed in a convertible by themselves, like any normal couple. The car was festooned with ribbons and a license plate that said “Just Wed.” It was a smart, strategic move on their part, said to be William’s idea.

Across the pond, here in America, grumpy Americans were complaining about the extravagance and the hoopla. Why should we care about a royal wedding? Indeed, the two receptions are estimated to cost approximately $600,000. The wedding cakes cost $40,000 a piece. Kate had three dresses. The ceremony dress, hand embroidered and hand laced cost $41,000.

That’s to say nothing of the security, transportation, flowers, music, and the honeymoon. Why couldn’t they just get married like everyone else? Charles and Diana had an expensive wedding, and looked what happened there. What a waste that was. The only good things their union produced are William and Harry (and some people aren’t so sure about Harry. Some people just need to get a sense of humor.).

The contrast between their wedding and that of their older son is striking in everywhere. Kate and William were a love match. Diana was 20 when she married; Kate is 29. Diana came from a broken home. The Middletons appear to be happily married. Charles was in love with a woman he wasn’t permitted to marry because his grandmother objected. Some relative in Camilla’s distant past was the mistress of the king. They wanted to marry, but Camilla told him she just couldn’t wait around anymore for him to stand up for himself – she wanted to get married and have children - and she married someone else.

Reports are Queen Mother Elizabeth ruled with an iron glove. She finally suffered the divorce when it was clear poor Diana was so desperate to get out of the marriage, she would do just about anything, even damage the royal reputation, to break free. I lost sympathy for her, though, when she continued to pursue her course of vengeance after the divorce.

Once QME passed away, and then Diana died in the accident, Queen Elizabeth finally gave Charles and Camilla permission to marry. What a mess.

That’s not likely to happen in this case. The Bishop of London instructed the couple, and the congregation, to remember Chaucer’s admonition about mastery in marriage:

“Marriage,” he said, “should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:

“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon,
Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”

That sermon alone was worth the $41,000 dress, the $40,000 cake, all the hoopla and media attention. If married couples have learned that lesson and taken it to heart, then it was worth every pound the British spent on this royal wedding.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Carnival is Over (We Hope)

If Donald Trump was the carnival barker in this birth certificate circus, who was Obama? The Single-O? It was his birth certificate, it was his duty to produce a satisfactory document that actually had a signature on it and told us who his parents were and where they came from - before the election.

The whole thing was whipped up by the Liberal camp during the Democrat primaries. After he was elected, Hawaii passed a ridiculous law that stated even the subject of the birth certificate could not receive a copy of their long-form certificate.

The Birthers have changed their tune as much as the Liberals have. Originally, the complaint (from the Democrats) was that the short form certificate didn’t show his middle (I’m not certain now whether it did or not and I don’t care enough to Google it to check). Then the Birthers insisted that it was a forgery; that Obama was born in Kenya.

Having seen the certificate, which they’re still not convinced is authentic, the Birthers are trying to make the case that since his father was born in Kenya, Obama is not a natural-born citizen. Will the absurdities never end? His mother was born here and he was born here. Even though the Founding Fathers initially intended that “natural-born” meant that both parents had been born in the United States, all sorts of legal difficulties cropped up and the Supreme Court ruled that if the parents were naturalized citizens and a person was born here, that person was an American. If the parents were foreigners, but the U.S. born person came back to live here before age 25 and remained in America for at least 14 years, they then ruled, that person was a citizen.

Eventually, the Supreme Court decided if you were born here, no matter what your parents’ citizenship was, you were an American. Absurdity from the left. Absurdity from the right. But the Birthers had a problem with the fact that Obama was born in Hawaii, but then went to live in Indonesia, where he was adopted by his step-father.

He came back to live in Hawaii with his grandparents and graduated from high school and college here.

That should now be it. End of the birth certificate conspiracy. I looked closely at the long-form certificate, and it sure looked like it was typed on a manual typewriter to me. Still, there are yahoos who are howling about “layering” and that if you examine it on Adobe Illustrator, you’ll see it was a pieced together business. The hospital name is also wrong, they claim.

Have mercy. Do these people not want the Republicans to win in 2012? Don’t they realize that someone could have just as easily have scanned the long-form, broken it up in Illustrator, and then put it back together to make it look fake? Give it up, you guys. By the time you figure it all out, he’ll be out of office (God willing). If you don’t give it up, he may just win in 2012, and then we’re going to have to listen to another four more years of your whining.

Some say Obama gave in because the polls showed that Americans were beginning to doubt his citizenship, especially after Donald Trump went after him. I’m glad he did; it was a marvelous performance. But Obama would have come out with it as an October surprise, either this year or next year. The first deadline for submitting an application for a primary ballot is in October.

However, I think that before Trump pulled his ace, Americans were less interested than ever in that birth certificate. They were starting to listen to commentators like Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter others who were saying, “Knock it off. He was born here. Let it go.” Obama had to do something or he’d lose his ammunition against the Conservatives and the Tea Partiers. He’d lose his best weapon for making his opponents look foolish. Stop now and people won’t remember much about the birth certificate by this October and will have no memory of it by next October.

Trump has made the grand sacrifice. He’s such a force of nature that he simply declared himself the victor. You have to admire Trump’s guts and gusto. Many Conservatives do right now. It’s those pesky independents we have to worry about from this October till the next. The Media will make great hash of the fact that Trump was the Birther Champion and the Independents will turn their dainty little noses up at him.

However, this happened early enough before the declaration of any other candidacies so that it will be hard for the Media to hang the ignominious title of “Birther” on any other candidate. Mercifully, they’ve mostly been silent on the issue. I believe Sarah Palin has been recorded as asking whether the certificate is, but no one else.

Demanding that a president provide satisfactory proof of his citizenship is not unreasonable. Americans shouldn’t be made to feel like lunatics for expecting a candidate for the office of President of the United States to abide by the law. The reason it seems that way is because he drew the battle out for so long, hoping to hang those Tea Partiers on their petards. For my part, I only believed it in the very beginning, or should I say, became concerned and did some research to find out the truth. After that, I had absolutely no doubt of where and when he was born.

Still, there was a point at which the Birthers had to cease and desist, and that time was right about now, if not sooner. He’s produced it now – belatedly, as he knows very well – which I don’t think he would have done, otherwise, and now it’s time for the Birthers to bury the hatchet and the birth certificate issue.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

KSM and the 9/11 Mystery

All right, boys and girls. Apparently, you weren’t paying attention months ago when we discussed the Islamic concept of As-Sirat, the Islamic Bridge to Paradise. Not one pundit mentioned it in connection with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any of the terrorist attacks. Not even the inestimable Andrew McCarthy.

I’m so disappointed. With gas prices soaring, the dollar plummeting, and the Royal Wedding approaching, we must rehash KSM and 9/11. You’re still trying to connect the dots, after I told you the Big Connection is As-Sirat, the bridge.

Thanks to Wikileaks, you now know something went wrong on 9/11. Two hijackers, instead of going to their assignments, took a plane to London, instead. Why? Now we’re told KSM mentioned the ancient Brooklyn Bridge caper, a fantastical plot to cut the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge with blow torches. But that’s old news. You remember the Detroit truck driver. This is almost as tiresome as the birth certificate issue.

KSM claims that he was planning post-9/11 attacks in a post-9/11 America, even though he proudly announced that on 9/11 he had planned to “land” a plane in Lower Manhattan (yeah – good luck with that), jump out, proclaim his loyalty to Islam, then set off a bomb.

Instead, he somehow escaped to Pakistan. The Feds say he was never here in the first place. But then that’s what they said about Mohammed Atta, until they learned he’d been right there in New York City, at the Twin Towers, mere weeks before 9/11.

The Brooklyn Bridge is the most iconic of New York’s hundreds of bridges. But not necessarily the most strategic. The Brooklyn Bridge was not first on Sheikh Abdel Rahman’s list of targeted infrastructure. Incidentally, as Andrew McCarthy can attest since he was the prosecuting attorney on the case, Rahman is serving a life sentence for attempting to blow up New York’s Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the Federal Building, the United Nations, and a bridge the Feds are loth to discuss – the George Washington Bridge.

The terrorists had intended to cut or blow up the GW’s cables, too, but found they were much too strong. McCarthy, in his book, “Willful Blindness, dismisses the attempt on the GW as too far-fetched and beyond their capabilities at the time. If you didn’t think it was possible on the GW, why would you think they’d succeed on the Brooklyn Bridge? Still, one should never underestimate the determination of the Islamists, especially when it comes to bridges.

It was on account of that bridge – and the tunnels (evidence concerning the Holland Tunnel convicted Rahman) that Rahman was sent to prison. The Islamists, particularly the Egyptians (Rahman was Egyptian and spent time in jail with Al-Qaeda No. 2, Zayman Al-Zawahiri), weren’t too happy. This week, the Eyptians held a protest demanding Rahman’s release.

So let’s go over again what As-Sirat means to the Islamists. According to Islam, As-Sirat is a bridge as narrow as a pencil and sharp as sword which every person must pass on the Yawm ad-Din (Day of Resurrection) in order to enter Paradise. Below this bridge, are the fires of Hell, into which sinners fall. The faithful, who performed good deeds in life, are transported across, where they’re led to the Hauzu’l-Kausar, the Lake of Abundance.

So let’s say it a few times so we don’t forget – As-Sirat, As-Sirat, As-Sirat. The next time you see or cross a bridge, say to yourself “As-Sirat.” Visual images are said to aid memory. One thing we don’t ever want to do is forget.

So what went wrong, you might ask. Well, it’s possible only two people ever actually knew the answer to that question, and KSM wasn’t one of them. He was in the dark. That’s why he can’t tell the Feds any more than what he already has, because he doesn’t know any more. If you recall 9/11 history, KSM and Osama Bin were said to have been surprised when they saw the planes plow into the Twin Towers. Why? Wasn’t that the plan, after all?

KSM – or maybe even Bin Laden himself – may have called the whole thing off, but apparently Mohammed Atta didn’t get the memo. Or did he ignore it? Why would he have done that, the Feds might want to ask themselves? What would have dissuaded Osama Bin Laden himself, but not Mohammed Atta? Was he simply “braver” or did he know something they didn’t? If so, why didn’t he tell his boss?

You may not be able to answer the questions. But you might want to think about asking them, because asking questions is the only way you’re going to get questions answered. Or are you afraid of the answers you might get? Until you can say, “As-Sirat,” you’ll simply be repeating only what you already know, like an old-fashioned record-player whose needle is stuck in a groove.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Obama Misses the Message

“And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Pretorium, and they called together the whole band.  And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, and began to salute him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’  And they smote him on the head with a read, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees, worshipped him.  And when they had mocked him, they took off the purpose from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.”  Mark 14: 16-20

Apparently, Obama didn’t get the good news on Easter Sunday:  Christ is risen.  Not only did he not get the message, but he didn’t bother to put it out, either.

On Good Friday, he also neglected to put out a message – about Good Friday, that is.  However, last Friday was also Earth Day (April 22) and he was all over the Earth Day message.  He wasn’t about to let those deceitful Christians sack the holy day of the Earth.

Funny, because that’s exactly what the early Christians did:  they transformed the pagan holiday of Ostre, a spring festival, to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from death.

The modern English term Easter developed from the Old English word Ēastre or Ēostre which itself developed prior to 899. The name refers to Eostur-monath (Old English "Ēostre month"), a month in the Germanic calendar attested by Bede, who writes that the month is named after the goddess Ēostre of Anglo-Saxon paganism. Bede notes that Ēostur-monath was the equivalent to the month of April, yet that feasts held in her honor during Ēostur-monath had gone out of use by the time of his writing and had been replaced with the Christian custom of "Paschal season".

Ēostre derives from Proto-Germanic *austrō, ultimately from a PIE root *aues-, "to shine" and closely related to a conjectural name of Hausos, the dawn goddess, *h2ausōs, which would account for Greek Eos, Roman Aurora and Indian Ushas.

The modern English term Easter is the direct continuation of Old English Ēastre, which is attested solely by Bede in the 8th century. Ēostre is the Northumbrian form while Ēastre is West Saxon.   Bede states that the name refers to a goddess named Ēostre who was celebrated at Eosturmonath, one of the months of the Anglo-Saxon calendar.  In the 19th century Hans Grimm cited Bede when he proposed the existence of an Old High German equivalent named ōstarūn, plural, "Easter" (modern German language Ostern). There is no certain parallel to Ēostre in North Germanic languages though Grimm speculates that the east wind, "a spirit of light" named Austri found in the 13th century Icelandic Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, might be related.

Using comparative linguistic evidence from continental Germanic sources, the 19th century scholar Jacob Grimm proposed the existence of a cognate form of Ēostre among the pre-Christian beliefs of the continental Germanic peoples, whose name he reconstructed as *Ostara.  Since Grimm's time, linguists have identified the goddess as a Germanic form of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn, *Hausos and theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs (including hares and eggs) have been proposed.

Modern German features the cognate term Ostern, but otherwise, Germanic languages generally use the non-native term pascha for the event.

According to reports, when White House press corps reporters asked White House spokesman Jay Carney why President Obama had not released an official statement commemorating Easter, the press secretary laughed at them and mocked their line of “important questions.”  

The White House also failed to release a statement marking Good Friday.  However, they did release an eight-paragraph statement heralding Earth Day. Likewise, the president's weekend address mentioned neither Good Friday or Easter.

"Ha ha!” Carney laughed, “You know, the President went to church yesterday, it was well covered, I'm not sure if we put out a statement or not ... "

A surprised reporter noted that Easter was the holiest of Christian holidays and asked Carney, “You don't KNOW if you put out a statement?”

Carney snickered again, bowed his head, and retorted, “I'm glad you're asking me these important question, guys."

Christ, we’ve been told, was born to transform the world, not Barack Hussein Obama.  The early Christians transformed the Roman holiday of Saturnalia into a celebration of Christ’s birth.  They transformed the German pagan holiday of Oestre into a celebration of His triumph over death and our salvation from sin.  We owe Jesus Christ everything – our unspeakable remorse, our everlasting gratitude, our joy at His resurrection, and our prayer of thanks for a debt that can never truly be repaid.

What do we owe Obama, besides eternal taxes?  Who will celebrate Aug. 4th?

Alas, I did not write a message on my blog on Easter, either.  I, too, had done so last year.  This Easter, my mother and I were watching the various Hollywood versions of the Easter story.  In any case, after reading the Four Gospel accounts of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I just felt I couldn’t improve on the Bible and Jesus’ own words.  After all, you can’t improve upon perfection.  Who cares about Obama’s message, anyway?  I had a much better one in front of me.

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.  And when they say Him, they worshipped him.  But some doubted.  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.  And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Amen.’”  Matthew 28:16-20

Monday, April 25, 2011

Update on Emma's Dilemma

The latest update on Emma "Hermione" Watson is that she has officially dropped out of Brown.  "Rumors" and they're only rumors - are that she's considering a NYC school, possibly NYU or Columbia.  Looks like she may have heeded my final FB post to her which basically said, "Whatever you do is your own business, but you might want to contact your spokesperson because this story is in the NY Daily News, the largest paper in NYC - and that's a LOT of readers."

Going to school in NYC - or London or Paris or wherever she wants to go, meaning a large city makes a lot more sense for this young lady than being out in the middle of nowhere with a long commute to the nearest city. When you think about, would it make much sense for a girl who had the guts to cut her hair and begin a fashion design venture let herself be bullied out of school? If she had then she might as well give up show biz altogether, because the paparazzi are no better.

Just a Normal Student

Actress Emma Watson – “Hermione” in the Harry Potter films – enrolled at Brown University in Rhode Island in Fall 2008, with the notion of studying liberal arts (being that Brown is a liberal, Ivy League school, she couldn’t have picked a better place to study “liberal” arts).

But after the first semester in her sophomore year, she went on leave of absence.  She claimed – and it’s really not hard to believe – that she had career commitments.  The Harry Potter films were finished, but the studio was probably expecting her to do promotional tours for the last two films.  The last film won’t be out until July.

Additionally, the young lady caused a sensation by, a la Irene Castle and Mia Farrow, lopping off her long tresses, revealing a beautifully structured face.   Fashion magazines and cosmetic companies went gaga.  She also began a fashion design venture with an experienced fashion designer.

When she cut her hair, movie producers warned her that she’d also cut her film options and she promised them she’d grow it back.  What?  No one makes wigs anymore?  Ah, well, that’s this young lady’s business.  Long hair, short hair, her fans still love her and so does the camera.

But then rumors began to fly about troubles at Brown University.  The New York Daily News followed up with a story, dated last Thursday, by an anonymous source, that she was being harassed and heckled by other students for being “too active” in class, answering all the questions (correctly), and having bodyguards.  In other words, she was too smart for the slackers at Brown.  At least that’s the “rumor.”  According to the Daily News gossip section, Ms. Watson’s publicist did not respond to calls ‘in time for the story.’

In my world, you don’t report the story until you have all the facts.  In my department, we’d have our monitors handed to us – and that’s just for internal stories.  Many times, reporters have called our department at 7 in the morning, long before our public relations specialist to ask questions.  Not being authorized to answer their questions, I’d tell them the specialist wasn’t in yet, that I was the company photographer.

The reporter would print the story (whatever it happened to be), stating that our spokesperson was “unavailable for comment.”  After that, our department manager gave the reporters the specialists’ cell phone numbers.

I’ve checked out the young star’s Facebook page from time to time.  Mostly it consists of the typical gushing love posts from admirers and posts from people she knows, mostly her own age.  No place really for a 52 year-old.  But I do enjoy watching the budding of her career, like a spring flower opening up.

Fortunately, there was another motherly type on the FB page and we got to chatting.  She sent me the link to the Daily News’ story and we speculated on what it all meant, wondering whether she might benefit by taking the CLEP tests (saving time which the young lady admits herself she doesn’t have) and what it must be like for a young celebrity to enter a college environment like that.  The other lady was surprised at the behavior of the Brown U. students; I was not.  Someone broke in to tell us, essentially to mind our own business, but we figured the conversation was so far embedded into the FB we didn’t think anyone would notice, least of all Ms. Watson.

We were wrong.  The next thing we knew, there she was, not exactly scolding us, but declaring that these stories about Brown were all rumors (even the fact that her BF – never mind who – was not enrolled at BU, even though both her FB page and his listed BU as his school as well).

So I apologized to her, because it really wasn’t any of our business, we were just chatting.  But I also posted the links to the stories about the high school girls from Minnesota who, that very day, had joined in a suicide pact due to bullying, Tyler Clementi, and Phoebe Prince.  I said that bullying was a serious issue here in the states, and that even if she could handle it, what the Brown students did was wrong (assuming, for the sake of argument, that the stories were true.).

We are America; we’re not supposed to worship royalty.  And yet we do, every day, in the form of movie, TV, and sports stars.  Emma Watson had an expectation of being treated as a normal student.  She should have been.  But that comes with the celebrity package.  She just has to learn to deal with it.

The bigger problem was her classmates’ resentment of her outperforming them (assuming that, also, is true).  Underperformance isn’t a malady that afflicts only urban high schools or colleges and universities lower in the academic spectrum than Brown.  If this young, British woman was excelling, it doesn’t speak at all well for the intellectual capacity of even our best (or at least, wealthiest) students.

Did Watson run afoul of American adolescent culture, shaped by decades of socialist instruction that says no one must be better than anyone else?  That raising your hand and answering questions – correctly – in class is considered “showing off”?  Excuse me?

She told us that she expects to return to Brown, that she’s happy there, and all the rest are just rumors.  Really, I can’t imagine someone ambitious and daring enough to cut off all her hair, start a fashion design venture, and answer questions on her own Facebook page, would be daunted by envious classmates.  I think she was telling the truth all along – that she’s just too busy being successful to go to school right now.

When she does return, she’ll be returning a few more years older than her classmates.  The intellectual and maturity divide will be that much more drastic and pronounced.  But we expect great things from Ms. Watson.  Great things – and wonderful things.  Good luck to Ms. Watson!