Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Midwest Versus the Mideast

Here’s a presidential quiz. You’re the President of the United States. A major river, the Mississippi, has overflowed its banks. The levees couldn’t hold the water and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to release the flood waters, flooding thousands of acres of homes and farmlands, to save the big cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans from even worse damage. Gigantic tornadoes have ripped up the Midwest from Minnesota to Alabama. They may even tear up upstate New York before this night is over. The Federal Emergency Management Association is out of money and hurricane season begins next Wednesday.

But you’re not here in the U.S., overseeing the horrific damage. You’re at the G-8 conference in Normandy, France, shilling for the Arab countries. They want billions of dollars to behave themselves and pretend they love freedom (which they don’t) and democracy (which is against their religion).

What’s more, our national debt, is at $14 trillion and climbing, $4.5 trillion of which we owe to other countries. Our “official” unemployment rate is holding at 9 percent, and experts say the rate is actually much higher but that the media cheerleaders aren’t announcing through their megaphones. You’ve usurped one-sixth of the U.S. economy through your health care plan, and intend to deal with that deficit by raising taxes on consumers who already owe nearly $800 billion on their credit cards and $13 trillion on their mortgages. “For Sale” signs are up all over the country but no one is buying. We have nearly $114 trillion in unfunded liabilities – that’s $1 million every taxpayer would have to cough up to pay the bills just for Social Security, Medicare, and prescription drugs

So where do you want to send the U.S. share of the billions of dollars? Joplin, Mo. (whose county you lost in the 2008 election)? Or to the emerging Arab Spring nations to help develop a system of government they don’t believe in?

If you guessed reallocating the funds to domestic emergency assistance, you were wrong. But you’d probably make a better president than Obama. Remember how the Media criticized Pres. Bush for not immediately flying to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (he sensibly delayed the trip so as not to get in the way of the rescue workers and sensibly held back the money until the damage could be assessed). The thing about a hurricane is you have plenty of warning and plenty of time to get out of the way. You may not have a home when it’s all over, but you presumably have someplace to go until your insurance is settled.

You can’t hide from a tornado. Some towns got a lucky break this year; they had 20 minutes warning. But you still can’t be sure exactly where the finger of God is going to touch down. Even if you do, though, where are you going to go? Emergency experts recommend the basement. Only, you run the risk of having the whole house crash down around your ears. You can try an inner room of your house and hope the walls don’t cave in (which happened during this outbreak and at a high school a few years ago). You can’t really make a run for it because the tornado is faster. Forget about your car. Hiding in overpasses don’t do much good, or gullies; the winds will just suck you up and spit you out. About the only thing that will protect you is a concrete shelter or building (just watch out for the roof.

If I were a Midwest resident, I’d be thinking about building concrete storm cellars right about now. The Middle Eastern countries will not be putting our hard-earned tax dollars to any other use than to overthrow the West. They’ll use our own money against us. Iran’s nuclear capacity is frighteningly threatening.

The tornado shelter you build now will be a solid investment for the future. (Our neighbors to the North build entire malls underground because of the cold weather.) We’re going to have to start depending on ourselves and each other because our own president and government are selling us out.

Let’s just hope we can trade him in in 2012 before those doomsday movies become a reality.

RIP RGGI: Not in Our Backyard

Yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put the nail on the coffin of the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in New Jersey, declaring that the initiative is a “failure.”

“RGGI has not changed behavior and it does not reduce emissions,” the governor said at a Trenton news conference. “RGGI does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses, with no discernable or measurable impact upon our environment.”

New Jersey is the first state to opt out of the program. Liberal environmentalists fear New Jersey’s withdrawal could serve as a model for other states to withdraw. According to the Bergen Record “similar efforts in New Hampshire, Maine, and Delaware were met with resistance in recent weeks.” The Record is unclear who put up the resistance in those states: the environmentalists or the Tea Party activists.

Here in New Jersey, we know who put up the resistance: Steve Lonagan and the Americans for Prosperity group. Everyone who was worried about their electricity rates skyrocketing this summer, from businesses to senior citizens facing the prospect of having to shut off their air conditioners, owes Lonagan and the AFP a debt of gratitude. Whew!

New Jersey was put on the RGGI hot seat in 2008 by former Gov. Jon Corzine. RGGI is a cap-and-trade program the Garden State participated in with nine other Northeastern states. The goal is to reduce carbon emissions 10 percent by 2018. Just how they figured on accomplishing that goal by shutting off air conditioning for the elderly and for people working in office buildings with no windows that open is the stuff of fairy tales.

The way RGGI works is that each power company must buy a carbon “allowance” from the state for every ton of carbon it emits. The allowances are purchased through periodic auctions, and the rate fluctuates based on market conditions – and weather conditions. Combined, the states have “earned” more than $860 million through the 11 auctions held so far. New Jersey has earned $102 million.

The Record complains that under state law, those revenues are supposed to be used for greenhouse gas emissions programs, such as those that promote energy efficiency, reduce electricity demand, and preserve forest and tidal marshes. You must be blinking your eyes by now. Save forests and marshes (which breed mosquitoes)? But only $30 million has been spent on clean energy, while Gov. Christie used $65 million in RGGI funds to balance the state budget.

That sounds pretty “green” to me. Good for Gov. Christie. Now that’s the way to govern. Of course, the Record and the environmentalists tried to portray themselves as victorious, with 12 projects geared towards helping businesses install solar panels. My brother’s company has installed solar panels, although I don’t know whether his company invested their own funds in the project, accepted a tax break (which would be okay), or whether they accepted actual money. But it sounds like greenmail to me.

The Sierra Club insisted the cap-and-trade scheme would only result in a one percent increase in electric rates. There is of course a “villain” in their version of this “scheme” – David Koch (pronounced “coke”), an owner of Koch Industries, Inc., a private energy conglomerate that specializes in refining petroleum. According to the Record, RGGI’s defeat in New Jersey is the “fault’ of Koch’s $2.7 million contributes to 26 AFP chapters in New Jersey in 2009.

This victory for Christie puts more pressure on him to run for president in 2012. He keeps refusing, modestly, saying that he has to fix New Jersey. He’s been succeeding and the more he succeeds, the more appealing he is as a GOP presidential candidate, especially against a field of, for the most part, weaker or not-yet-ready for primary time players.

What can a guy do? If you’ve got the right stuff, Gov. Christie, you’ve got the right stuff. Don’t hide your light under a bushel of modesty. You must have the right stuff if Obama's henchman are looking for the "wrong stuff" on you.  If you do run and are elected, you might want to think about Mr. Koch as your Secretary of Energy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Succeed at Starring in a Broadway Musical

Like the character he plays in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Daniel Radcliffe has made his way up the acting ladder with a lot of charm, talent, and hard work. Detractors during his early Harry Potter years sniped that he needed acting lessons (he seemed okay to me). So he took some, as well as singing and dancing lessons, and they’ve more than paid off.

My parents saw the original “How to Succeed,” which debuted in 1961. That was in the days when a couple could go to dinner and a Broadway show without having to take out a second mortgage. I remember them saying how funny it was. I ponied up the $167 ($142 for the ticket, $18 RT for the bus – I was wearing my ‘grandma pants’ because my cat had thrown up on my last pair of clean jeans, so the bus driver was about to give the senior discount until I corrected him – and $7 for a Diet Coke, because my throat was parched). I wanted to know a couple of things: a) was the musical as funny as my parents seemed to think; b) would it be as funny 49 years later; c) could Dan Radcliffe pull it off?

The answer was yes to all three, and more. The whole cast, not just Dan, was wonderful. My particular favorite was Ellen Harvey as Miss Jones, the president’s secretary. Christopher Hanke pulled off the character of the villainous Bud Frump with style and great humor. No sulking in the corner for this nephew-in-law of the president.

Were it not for the costumes and hairstyles and some of the humor about secretaries (“A Secretary is Not a Toy”), you’d hardly know this was musical is set in 1961. I went to the Wednesday matinee because I just didn’t care to go to an evening performance alone. As a result, there were a lot of “Harry Potter” fans. They were a bit aghast at his appearance in the marquee over the theater. They feared their hero had become Pee Wee Herman.  They just didn't understand the dress code of c. 1961 - clerks wore bow ties, executives wore neckties.

He won them over in the very first number, though, “How to Succeed” with Anderson Cooper of CNN doing the narrative honors. Rest assured, Dan has a strong voice, which will no doubt get even stronger with more time and even more confidence. He met the challenge of playing J. Pierrepont Finch with plenty of confidence, enthusiasm, and charm, winning his way into the mailroom of World Wide Widget company.

John Larroquette plays the company president, Mr. Biggley, and just won the Drama Desk award for the role. He wisely allowed the young company to do most of the hard work dancing. Bonnie Scott is a sweetheart as Rosemary Plinkington, who has ambitions of her own regarding Finch and New Rochelle, N.Y. Another interesting cast member is Michael Park who plays Brett Bratt, the Human Resources director. He bears a fascinating resemblance to one of my company’s executives. Every time he came on stage, I just imagined our own Mr. Bratt singing and dancing away.

In fact, any one of them could be any one of us who works in an office. The times and technology may have changed, but office people have not. “Coffee Break” and “Company Way” point to the timelessness of office life. The line about the company magazine was particularly amusing, as the mailroom clerks danced their way over boxes of company magazines.

The only problematic moment in the whole musical comes not from relative newcomer Dan Radcliffe, but from the staging of Rosemary’s number, “A Paris Original.” Rosemary changes into her dress for the company party right on-stage. She’s strategically covered up in front, but the producers apparently didn’t take into account matinee shows filled with schoolchildren, clamoring to see their idol, Daniel Radcliffe, sitting in the orchestra side-sections. Their teachers and parental escorts were a little dismayed at the sight of Rosemary in nothing but her corset. Given that this is 1961, and Rosemary’s supposed to the “nice girl”, it was a bit unseemly. The producers might want to consider producing a dressing screen for Rosemary, at least for the matinees.

Yes, How to Succeed is just as funny as it must have been in 1961. I laughed so much I nearly hyperventilated. The “Old Ivy” and “Brotherhood of Man” numbers give Dan a chance to show what he can do on his feet. He’s nimble and athletic. The choreography for “Old Ivy” was clever and inventive, giving a nod to modern times. Dan handled his solos extremely well, particularly “I Believe in You.” He sings like he’s six feet tall.

The kids in this audience loved the whole thing. They may have come to see Harry Potter, but they came away loving J. Pierrepont Finch and the entire cast of How to Succeed. If you can keep in mind that you’re back in 1962, with the concomitant humor, and if the Paris Original number can be a little more discreet, definitely find the funds (or stand in line for three hours for the $30 RUSH tickets) to take your kids – or your co-workers - to see How to Succeed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

GUV - Government Ukase Vehicle

Ukase – [Russian] 1.  A proclamation of a czar having the force of law.  2.  An authoritative order

Officially, when the President of the United States is riding in it, it’s called “Cadillac One.”  The Secret Service calls it “The Beast.”  No, not the biblical beast!  The Presidential limousine and it’s reported to be the laughingstock of the diplomatic world.  Or at least it is now.

Cadillac One got stuck on a ramp as it was exiting the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Ireland.   There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Obama was actually inside “The Beast” at the time. The Independent, a paper out of Ireland and the one you would expect to provide the most reliable information, reports that the president and first lady were indeed inside the limousine.

However, a report in Car Advice, which quotes Secret Service spokesman Robert Novy, claims that Obama and his wife were not in the impeded limo. However, other reports contend that the president and first lady had to get out of the limo and get into a second one to take them to their destination, a waiting helicopter that was to whisk them away to Obama’s ancestral home in the afternoon.   If you were in the crowd outside the U.S. embassy in Dublin yesterday, you would not have the escaped. The Secret Service drove a big van in front of the stuck limo so that they could get it moving again without the crowd seeing anything.

“The Beast” debuted in January 2009 as the president’s official ride.  This is a car that has everything and serves as a symbol of our bloated government.  The million-dollar plus GUV (Government Ukase Vehicle) has 8-inch armor, 5-inch thick glass and weighs 3 tons.  Fitted with every conceivable defense mechanism from bulletproof glass to tear gas canisters and shotguns, the car even carries a supply of the president’s blood in case he’s wounded and needs emergency treatment.

This ultimate Caddy has state-of-the-art technology, including a laptop, wireless internet, and a satellite phone.  The back windows do not roll down, although the driver’s window will open a crack if the driver needs to speak to someone outside.  In addition, the car has night-vision cameras and run-flat tires.  There’s an oxygen supply in the sealed environment in case of a chemical attack, an armored gas tank, and a reinforced chassis.  It even has a panic button (in case Obama needs to send the economy into an emergency).

Yet the car got hung up on a bump in the sidewalk.  Terrorists, take note.  Guess the engineers forgot to install hydraulic jacks into the chassis, front, rear, and center.  Because of its weight, the car can only do about 60 m.p.h.  The driver is specially trained in emergency maneuvers, however.  He must be pretty good to be able to execute a jackknife turn in a car that heavy.  Still, it must make for a smooth ride for a smoothie president.

The real laugh in the end, though, is the Secret Service’s name for the car – “The Beast.”  It’s truly a car of biblical proportions.  What an exact representative it is, also, of our Big Government.  Expensive, bloated, and slow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Citizen Show

Recently, in the National Review Online, Ben Berger, an associate professor of political science at Swathmore College had an excellent, well-researched article on television and its effect on politics in America.

“Television,” he wrote, “makes us fat, lazy, inattentive, unsociable, mistrustful, materialistic – and unhappy…  It cheapens political discourse, weakens family ties, prevents face-to-face socializing, and exposes kids to sex and inures them to violence.”

But does it cheapen and weaken?  We Tea Partiers knew that Americans were becoming ever more distant from the political process.   Television was a medium the Liberals, with their ties to Hollywood, were experts at manipulating.   Television did, indeed, put a greater divide between Americans and the politicians they elected.  But newspapers and the radio had already been doing that for a century before TV became the most popular medium.  Did it weaken Conservatives, or did Conservatives just make weak use of television?

The same can be said of family relationships.  In my speech to the Tea Party, I warned that the key to Conservative power was the mothers of America.  They rule with iron rolling pins.  Moms decide when and where Dads, the more politically active of most couples, are going to spend their spare time, and usually the backyard lawn or the garage or the roof wins out over political meetings.

Couples with children are limited in their activities, unless those activities are child-oriented, such as soccer games.  Particularly on school nights, there’s really no place parents can go.  Would it be better if they read a book?  Certainly.  But a family is a social compact, and social groups frown on such individualistic activities as reading which takes the reader’s attention away from the social interaction.  Watching television, now that it exists, is something the family can do together.

Television, dominated by the Liberal Media, is a mighty foe that has succored at least three generations to its banner.  Not only is television the new family activity, it’s the great social connector on college campuses and workplaces.  American Idol and Dancing with the Stars are the prime-time conversation topic during breaks and lulls.  Let’s face it; it’s a lot safer to talk about who Simon gave the boot to than it is to talk about Obama giving Israel the boot.

Our Constitution notwithstanding, there’s an unwritten social rule about discussing politics, religion, or sex in public, especially in the workplace.  Average citizens sit stubbornly (or timidly) in their corners, unwilling to risk censure or open warfare and upset the status quo.   They have yielded to the recipe for boiled Americans:  inoculate them with entitlements like Medicare and Social Security (the Liberals know that the elderly are particular vulnerable), reassure them that it’s their own money that they’re getting back, indoctrinate the young in the glories of communism, add a dose of young pepper sprouts to mock, through the Media, any Conservative ideas, then throw in a healthy dose of intimidation through union thuggery, turn up the heat on violent demonstrations, then let the citizens stew until they’re tender and malleable and are too afraid to care what happens to their country.
Summer is coming and there are some simple things conservative citizens can do to help keep the tide turning in America’s favor.  Those who have the wherewithal to do so, like the Morristown Tea Party, can continue to hold public rallies, encouraging citizens to come out with their signs.

Families going on vacation with school-age children can choose to visit historic sites like Williamsburg, Gettysburg, and Washington, D.C., with all its museums.   If you’re in the Northeast, you can take your children to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell, Boston and its environs to see the old North Church, the U.S.S. Constitution, and Plymouth Rock, as well as Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.

New York City, of course, is filled with history, starting with one of the most famous of all the symbols of freedom – the Statue of Liberty.  You can take the kids to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and Federal Hall, where George Washington was first inaugurated as President of the United States.  And, of course, there’s also Ground Zero.
In the Midwest and West, you can take your children for wagon rides along the Oregon Trail, see the St. Louis Arch, and Springfield, Ill., where Abraham Lincoln practiced law.  If and when the flooding subsides, you and the kids can go for a ride on a paddle-wheeler and see how important the Mississippi was, and is, to America’s industry.  Or take a steam train ride into the Rocky
Mountains or climb Pikes Peak.

There’s also the Gold Rush country of eastern California.  The redwood forests of This Land is Your Land fame are just north of San Francisco, as is the wine country.  Yosemite National Park is a tourist-attraction favorite, and of course, there’s also Hollywood which, while grossly Liberal, has a history that’s pure made-in-America.

Parents must learn to become storytellers – American history storytellers.  You must be able to tell your kids the story of Paul Revere’s ride with drama and passion.  Take them to the Lincoln Memorial or better yet, the battlefields of Gettysburg and read the Gettysburg Address to them.  Or if they’re old enough, have them read it and look across that very wide field and imagine the battle on that hot, July day, countrymen versus countrymen, bullets flying and men dying for freedom.

Show them the U.S.S. Constitution and tell them the story of the Mayflower and the Speedwell.  Let them think over the dangers of making an ocean crossing in such a small vessel.  Tell them of everything the Pilgrims left behind and what dangers they faced as they stand at the lapping shore.

You don’t have to unplug the television from the wall, but you do need to unplug your kids from the television, the computer, and the Ipod once in a while and show them real life and the real America.  They may not like it.  They’ve been taught to regard history as irrelevant and uncool.  It’s up to you to reconnect them to reality and citizenship.

Meanwhile, creative conservatives have to do something about recapturing the medium from the enemy.  Rush Limbaugh has retaken radio.  Glenn Beck followed in radio and then retook television, at least for a while.  There’s also the new medium of the Internet.  With technology advancing, it’s possible for us to lasso this newest medium to our advantage with creative programming that will get the attention of young people. 

That is, if we can conquer our ephebiphobia.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Day After

Rapture Day came and - nothing happened. Well, not exactly. No one was “raptured” yesterday. But I can’t helping thinking we here in my town were “warned.”

Saturday was just the most beautiful day imaginable, especially after all the rain we’ve had. We had so much rain, in fact, that Mom and I postponed our Friday evening Rapture Eve celebration and scheduled for yesterday instead.

On Friday, in between formatting photos and writing up stories for the website at work, I was checking the weather report. We were supposed to have nice weather for the weekend (the Rapture, notwithstanding). I also have some vacation time this week and I wanted to check the long-range forecast to see how I would be spending.

That afternoon, I looked at The Weather To my shock, we were on the northern, inner rim of a perfect circle of heavy rain and thunderstorms, just the kind of weather pattern that produces tornados. I jumped up and ran to the window to look at the clouds circling around. I could see the whole circle from where our office stood.

I wanted to call my friend, the facilities manager, to make sure he knew, but he was off on Friday. His assistant didn’t know what to make of it. My co-worker is the emergency writer. “Isn’t anybody paying attention!” I cried. He said he only wrote what people told him to.

According to the Weather Channel, the “Perfect Low” would collapse into a mass of ordinary rain clouds and move on. The clouds hung very low, almost to the treetops in places. During lunch we were amazed at the continuous rainfall. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any heavier, it did.

But then it was over and by the next morning, we woke up to beautiful blue skies on Saturday. Mom and I decided on pizza for our last meal. The pizza parlor is just a walk way and I decided to leave my car behind for the short jaunt.

“You’re going to walk?!” my mother said. “But it’s almost 6 p.m.!” I just laughed.

Only, I’d forgotten my credit card. As I walked back home, minus to pizza pie and rented movie, I saw some ominous storm clouds approaching from the northwest, a typical weather pattern for our area, at that time of day. This time, I’d have to get my car, though.

By the time I got my car and returned to the shopping mall, the skies were quite dark and the wind didn’t know which way it wanted to blow as it tossed whole trees back and forth. It was one minute to six when I got to Blockbusters and checked out the movie. One of the clerks fretted nervously. She was looking at the dark sky and the wind.

“I’m so afraid!” she said to her co-worker, biting her nails. “What if this is it?” Her friend laughed, the man checking out my movie was too busy trying to figure out my address, and I told her that the rest of the world had somehow made it through. This was just a rainstorm.

“But what if it isn’t?” she asked, her eyes round and wide with terror.

My next stop was the pizza parlor. I had parked next to an expensive-looking convertible, a sporty two-seater with its top town. I told the manager he might want to speak to his customers to find the owner so they could put the top up. Someone ran out and I left with my pizza.

I came back home and announced that I had the pizza. Mom didn’t move from her chair.

“Well, come on, Mom!” I said. “Here’s the pizza.” She was looking at the trees blowing to and fro.

“It certainly is blowing out there,” she said in a low voice. I just shrugged and got the paper plates and a knife to cut the pie. I don’t know why I wasn’t the least bit afraid. I probably should have been. But I think I was just too hungry at that point to care.

I certainly wasn’t worried about my mother. Mom meets all the Big Ten requirements. She honored her mother and father. She refused to bear false witness against her father when her mother wanted her to testify that he pulled a gun on another relative. She never killed anyone, stole anything, coveted anyone else’s property, or lied. She was a faithful wife (married to a faithful husband). She’s never taken the Lord’s name in vain. After a fashion, she observes the Sabbath. She considers every day to be the Sabbath and thinks those who go to church on Sunday and figure they’re done are a bunch of hypocrites.

She’s kind to animals and to people in trouble. She hasn’t just donated her money to “causes”; she’s actually gone out of her way to help people in trouble, particularly one divorced man with no family who was dying of cancer and couldn’t afford hospital care.

Mom is everything you could want in a mother and more. Courageous, honest, loyal, outspoken, literate, shrewd with finances, fair-minded, and an all-around good Christian, even if she doesn’t believe in going to church.

She was worried about being “raptured” but I don’t know why. If I understand the phenomenon correctly, you’ll be carried up to God by a whirlwind, directly. No death or suffering from disease or injury. In one whoosh, there are you with God, worthy enough to bypass the Judgment Seat. ‘Your room is ready, ma’am!’ What more could a good person ask for?

I said that God wasn’t going to give anyone any warning beforehand. But what do I know? I think He did give us a warning, at least here in this area (even the Bergen Record noted it – the reporter happened to be in this town at 6 p.m.) that the storm is approaching and that we’d best take shelter and not be caught out in it, walking along cavalierly, thinking the sun will always shine, taking God's good humor for granted. The storm will come upon us swiftly and darkly. We’d best pay attention to the signs.

There, I hope I got His message right.