Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Magnificus Exitus

For the last ten years (14, if you were also a fan of the Harry Potter books), we’ve been enveloped from year to year in the adventures of the Boy Wizards and his classmates from Hogwarts School of Magic. The final picture, to use Harry Potter’s favorite word, is “brilliant.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is the finale to the series and what a finale it is. Part 1 set audiences up, with a lot of exposition and explanations that had a beginning, but obviously no ending, or it was a cliff-hanger ending: stay tuned for Part 2.

Part 2 is here and it is exciting, terrifying, heart-breaking and satisfying. Harry, Hermione and Ron continue the quest for the horcruxes (not to be confused with the Deathly Hallows of the title), the containers of Lord Voldemort’s fragmented, evil soul. Destroy the horcruxes and they can destroy this magical villain.

But the young wizards, now all grown up, must figure what and where the remaining horcruxes are. They must also prevent Voldemort from getting his hands on the Deathly Hallows, three devices which will confer immortality upon their owner by enabling them to cheat death. One is Harry’s invisibility cloak and another is the Elder Wand, the most powerful of all magic wands.

The Magical World is on the brink of war, as Voldemort’s power increases. The battlefield is Hogwarts itself. The only wizard who can destroy Voldemort is Harry himself. Essentially, he must give up his own life in order to accomplish this feat.

Meanwhile, many other brave wizards make the ultimate sacrifice to guard the castle and keep Voldemort from overpowering the magical world. Many beloved characters return, some from beyond the grave, others return in life only to be sent to their graves.

As always, the three young leads, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are wonderful. Secondary cast members put in magical performances as well, including Maggie Smith, who finds herself headmistress of the decimated Hogwarts and Alan Rickman was the much-maligned Snape, whose long and well-kept secret is revealed.

The ending is bittersweet and just wonderful. The Harry Potter series has been such a phenomenon; we’ve watched its three young actors grow from adorable children into sophisticated actors. All children must grow up, as every parent knows, and it’s a wrench to have to let them go.  But we always have the home movies to return to when we’re nostalgic for childhood.

Well done, Gryffindor.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What Did Glenn Beck Know, And When Did He Know It?

Anyone who reads the New York Post knows the only decent sections of the paper are its sports section and its largely Conservative opinion page.  The rest of the paper is an embarrassing collection of tawdry photos of scantily clad starlets, gossip pages, and a smatter of local news.  The Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

They’re in hot water in England and trouble is coming to their operations here in America over a scandal involving the hacking of 9/11 families’ phones and message machines.  As John Batchelor notes:

The Murdoch inquiry turns dark as dried blood as Rupert Murdoch -- whom the doomed Conrad Black calls "like Napoleon, a great bad man' -- mocks the facts and calls the accusations against him and New Corps "total lies."  The game is afoot, as the US starts inquiries with the FBI, the Congress, the SEC and likely the FCC.  Spoke Felix Gillette, Bloomberg Businessweek, who spoke to an expert on the FCC re the "good character" clause of the FCC licenses.  The aim is to break News Corp in London and Washington; and the Murdochs have handed their enemies the weapon.  What did Rupert and James Murdoch know, and when did they know it of the hacking of mobile phones,…
By John Batchelor | July 15, 2011 2:31 AM (0)
All of which makes Glenn Beck’s departure from Fox News very interesting.  Was the cash cow pushed out, or did it runaway to find greener, safer pastures?  Meanwhile, the Fox News team is put in a very precarious position regarding their credibility, which up until now has been quite good.  Will our one and only source of Conservative news be tarnished, by association, out of existence?  They must be worried.  (One thing they might want to consider is putting their pretty female anchors in more modest clothing.)

Did Glenn Beck know that this mess was floating across the Atlantic like the Great Plastic Island?  Did he get out when the getting was good?  He may have also known about The TV Everywhere project, which is a collaboration of cable service providers, content providers (corporate networks), content producers, and advertisers.  Rather than operating in the risky free market, they plan to collude – with the government’s assistance – to thwart the new internet TV technology.

Consumers will be forced to purchase their cable television providers’ internet mechanism.  The content providers’ programs will be coded so that independent internet TV devices can’t override the signal.  If you’re a fan of, say, American Idol, an apolitical program under the parentage of AT&T, you will have to have AT&T’s technology to watch it on the Internet.  Content producers of programs have been ordered not to make their programs available on the Internet.

A report on TV Everywhere notes that the cable and telephone cable companies are running scared over the threat of this new technology, the same way the broadcast networks saw the arrival of cable television as the sky falling.  Their collusion over cable – with the help of local municipalities, cable companies were allowed monopolies over towns, destroying the possibility of competition and of consumers’ right to choose programming – has brought them tremendous profits and gouged prices for consumers.

Along comes the government, ostensibly to the rescue, with the Net Neutrality Bill.  They’re not much better.  They promise completely free cable and internet television.  As we all know, there’s no such thing as a free TV program.  We’ll all be paying for more Liberal propaganda programs through our taxes, in addition to the bureaucratic fees that make up part of our cable bills.  No one wants to be robbed, but decent people understand that companies have to make a profit in order to stay in business.  If they can’t make a profit, they’ll become dependent on government subsidies and that will be the end of freedom of speech.

Cable TV, broadcasting companies, content producers, advertisers, and government bureaucrats see the writing on Glenn’s chalkboard.  The only people who haven’t seen it are television viewers, happily glued to their sets, afraid to cut the cable for fear they won’t be able to watch American Idol, NCIS, The Simpsons, or, God help us, The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

They don’t want to “pay” to watch television.  They seem to think they’re getting something for free with their $150 to $200-plus a month cable bills, complete with advertising and hidden costs.  My Roku is on its way.  Fearing just what I would read a day or two later, I went the extra bucks and bought their wireless version (the standard Roku box was sold out).

I don’t know about you readers (I know you don’t like the “I” word – but I can only speak for myself on this matter), but I’ll be doggoned and hornswaggled before I’m going to let anyone trap me into pre-programming, telling me what I can and can’t watch, and making me pay for Liberal propaganda garbage that makes my hair stand on end.  I’ve been waiting for a chance to ditch cable and its prison programming.  That day may just have arrived with technology like Roku.

Hopefully, other companies will follow suit.  Maybe I won’t be able to watch History Channel anymore.  Happily, Roku is affiliated with NetFlix, so movies are no problem.  But maybe a producer is out there, with an alternative to History Channel, just waiting to find someone (like Roku) who will carry it, no strings, propaganda – or cables – attached.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pouting POTUS Needs Time-Out

You know you’re in an Entitlement Society when the Congress, which is in charge of spending, tells the President of the United States that his credit is no good, and he walks out in a sulk, declaring:  enough is enough” on debt talks Wednesday, demanding that congressional leaders find common ground by week's end.

According to a Republican aide, Obama walked out of the negotiations declaring, "I've reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I won't yield on this."  He then stormed out of the room, according to the report.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reported, “He became very agitated, claiming ‘Ronald Reagan wouldn't sit here.  You either have to compromise on the dollar figure or the grand bargain. Don't call my bluff. I'm going to the American people on this.’”

Cantor called the president’s exit from the talks “abrupt,” and added that the two sides are “very far apart right now.”

Sounds like somebody didn’t get his afternoon nap.  This is why we need to elect adults to run our country.  So if our Congressional representatives refuse to raise the debt ceiling, will Obama hold his breath and turn blue?  One can only hope.  Clearly, someone read him Keynesian economic-theory bedtime stories when he was a little boy.  Hooked on these economic fairy tales, Obama apparently thinks he can just spend America into prosperity.  Or he wants us to believe this nonsense.

This, after insulting adult Americans everywhere by saying:  “Let me distinguish between professional politicians and the public at large," the president said, emphasizing that lawmakers, not the American people, were “paid to worry about” the debt limit.  The public is not paying close attention to the ins and outs of how a Treasury (bond) auction goes.  They shouldn't,” he said. "They've got a lot of other things on their plate. We're paid to worry about it.”

And then, he threatened to withhold Social Security checks, if he didn’t get his credit limit removed:  I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue, because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.  These are veterans’ checks, these are folks on disability and their checks.  There are about 70 million checks that go out.”

Translated, what he said was, “If you don't allow us to continue bankrupting the nation, senior citizens, disabled people and veterans is where we will stop federal payments first!”  In other words, bureaucratic blackmail.

The reason for credit limits is so we don’t overextend ourselves.  Credit card companies don’t want to be liable for our excesses.  The limits are there for our own protection.  The lower your credit limit, the better.  Another barrier to excessive spending is high interest rates.  That means telling your kids – and sometimes yourselves – “No, you can’t have that.”  We all know what happens when we tell our kids, “No” – they put on an amazing display of bad temper, kicking, screaming, crying, prostrating themselves on the floor and pounding their fists.  The wise parent does not give in.

Nor should the wise citizen.  Obama told Congress he was going to tell on them, did he?  He’s going to go to the American people, is he?  Well that’s why kids put on public temper tantrums – to embarrass their parents into caving.  Nevertheless, with our country trillions of dollars in debt, we must pay back what we owe before we spend money on anything else.  We must cut out the extravagances and pay only the necessities.

Instead, Obama wants that pretty Socialist balloon, burgeoning with special interest hot air.  But it’s a might expensive and extravagant balloon.  We don’t need it and he can’t have it; that’s all there is to it.  Congress told him so, and he stormed out of the meeting.

‘Ronald Reagan’s mommy would have let him have the balloon!!’

Oh no, she wouldn’t.  Our credit rating is now in danger and we need to stick a pin in that balloon of his.  He’ll cry and scream.  We may have to send him to his room.  But he’ll get over it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Army Ranger Gives U.S. A Hand

Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor yesterday at the White House for grabbing a live grenade before it could explode and kill a fellow Ranger – Pfc. Lucas Robinson.

According to the USO website report, Petry is the second living Afghanistan war hero to receive this recognition.  He and Pvt. Robinson were on duty and already wounded in the firefight on May 26, 2008 in the Paktia province.  They were participating in a raid to capture a suspected terrorist and wounded by insurgent gunfire.  An enemy grenade landed near them.  Petry picked up the grenade and tossed it aside just before it exploded.
“I actually didn't think it was going to go off,” Petry told the Army News Service.  “I didn't really feel much pain.  I didn't know it had gone off and taken my hand until I sat back up and saw it was completely amputated at the wrist.”
The New Mexico-born Ranger's first concern was calming the stunned soldiers around him, who were still in great danger.  They took shelter behind a chicken coop, watching blood pour from Petry's devastated arm.
“The younger guys next to me were kind of still in shock and awe,” Petry said.
His right hand gone and shrapnel digging into his skin, Petry radioed for reinforcements.  When the ferocious battle was over, a fellow Ranger was dead, with several other Company D, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment soldiers wounded. 
“We were under fire and he was shot through both of his legs,” Robinson told Gaston Gazette reporter Wade Allen.  “He grabbed (the grenade) and threw it away from us.”
A father of four children - Brittany, Austin, Reagan, and Landon, and husband to wife, Ashley,  Petry regards the soldiers he serves alongside as his "second family."
“They're my Ranger brothers,” Petry said.  “They're great guys, all of them.”
Pfc. Robinson wants to make sure the Ranger who made the ultimate sacrifice during the same battle, Spc. Christopher Gathercole, 21, isn't forgotten.  Sgt. 1st Class Petry agrees.
To see Christopher Gathercole's name at the White House, all Robinson must do is look at Petry's new hand.  There, the man who saved Robinson's life engraves the names of fallen 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment warriors, to make sure America never forgets.
After countless surgeries and infinite courage, along with the astounding skill of Petry's caregivers, the wounded warrior has a new right hand.  He uses the state-of-the-art mechanical device every day, whether to high-five his kids or salute the President of the United States.
“I could shake people's hands today,” Petry said.  “I'm meeting people all the time.  It feels great to actually shake their hands with my right hand.”
Every time Pfc. Robinson shakes the hand of America's newest Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, he knows it is a privilege.
Every American owes Sgt. Petry a round of applause, as well as all the other warriors who have given their all – hands, legs, arms, feet, even their lives – to insure that we can enjoy freedom in peace and prosperity.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Preparing for the Unexpected

“Preparing for the unexpected” is part of my company’s mission statement.  In a further conversation with my colleague, J.D., it seems that no one (except possibly my mother) expected Derek Jeter to hit a home run.  J.D., a diehard Yankees fan and my expert on all things baseball and company-related, said that Jeter isn’t known for his home-run.  Everyone was prepared for him to hit that 3,000th ball as a single, not a home-run.  No one was prepared for it, not even Jeter himself, who’s seen running to the outfield to retrieve his ball, which the fan who caught it graciously returned to him.

Even though it’s part of our motto, we were no more prepared for this ballplayer to hit that ball into the stand (right on top of our sign) that anyone else was.  In this life, you must be prepared for the unexpected – the Hurricane Katrina (how much more of a sign did people need than a hurricane the size of Florida?), the terrorist who gets “lucky”, the tornado that drops out of nowhere, or a government that votes in secret to create bureaucratic, life-altering rules?

We must be prepared to do the unexpected as well.  Probably no one was more surprised to see that ball head for the outfield than Derek Jeter himself.  When we least expect it, we succeed at doing the most amazing things that we never expected to do.  Years ago, a local man was working on his car.  The jack slipped and the car fell flat on top of him.  His mother, all of about 120 pounds, ran out when she was what happened and lifted the car off him so others could pull him out.  She strained some disks in her back, but saved her husband’s life.

We have this tendency to think that the government is too big and all-powerful for us.  That’s certainly what the Progressives would like us to think.  But we’d be wrong and so would they.  There’s nothing we can’t do armed with enough determination and faith in that Invisible Hand that guides us down the right path.

We don’t have to sit passively in front of our televisions while our nation’s fate is decided for us.  We can do any number of things to proactively save our nation from ruinous debt, corruption, immorality, and malaise.  Even if you think you can’t make a difference, take a swing at the ball anyway.  Don’t bench yourselves, waiting for the other guy to win the game.  We have what it takes; it’s our turn at bat and we can hit a homerun for freedom and liberty and America right into the stands.

My company wants to dispense with regional photographers.  The Progressives want to dispense with dissenting opinions.  Nobody believed Jeter could hit a ball so far out.  They were all wrong.  Conservatism, though a political underdog, will win the game in the end and the crowds will cheer.  All you have to do is believe.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Get the Picture!!!

To: J.D. and S.D.
From: B.L.
Date: Right Now
Subject: Getting the Picture!!!!

As you know, J.D., Derek Jeter hit a baseball milestone on Saturday on  his 3,000th hit (or was it 4,000th?). I’m no baseball fan, but I saw the clip on the news. Did you? Did anyone in our company? Because I sure couldn’t tell by today’s company headlines!!

Was anyone paying attention to the still photograph? Did anyone, besides our friend Borenstein, bother to even look for it? My mother called me right afterwards to let me know about it, just as I was watching it on the news.

“Did you see that? Did you see Jeter’s ball go right over your company’s great big sign?” she asked.

“Yes, Mom.”

“Well somebody better DO something about it!”

“Yes, Mom.”

I did what I could. I immediately went to my Facebook page and there it was; Borenstein had shared it. You see, I’m smart. I know enough to put everyone from our area on my Facebook so that if it something important happens, especially visually, I’ll know about it right away.

I asked him who took it but when I looked at it more closely, I could see it was taken by a wire service. It’s a fantastic, one-in-a-million photo, with the crowd – including Jeter – running towards the outfield, their hands outstretched – and the fans in the seat directly above the sign reaching for the ball, which the photographer had conveniently halted right between the letters of our company name, dead center in the photo.

Isn’t it just too bad that we didn’t have our own photographer to take it!? Not necessarily me, but somebody! Where were our marketing people? Where were our agents? Everyone knew about the importance of this game for days and days beforehand. Plenty of time to arrange for someone with a camera.

Or as it happens, to ask this photowire service, which specializes in sports photography and will assign a photographer for a company or organization, to do the job. I called them this morning. They said they’d be more than happy to oblige us with permission to use the photo, undoubtedly for a fee, but for a photo that good, it’s well worth it.

Still, I had to call Debbie in Marketing who had to send a message to our MLB contact out in Corporate who has to make sure it’s okay with the MLB, who are famously fussy about permission to use pictures of their teams. Wasn’t THAT guy paying attention to the game? Didn’t HE see where the ball went?! Why wasn’t he on the phone immediately to our media people to find out if any pictures made at least into the broadcast media? Obviously, it did; that’s where I believe Borenstein found it. What were our social media people doing out there in the cornfields? Barbecuing?

Of course, we could count on the Media not to use that particular photograph, although I’m sure they could have. Why use a sensational, dramatic photo of a fan catching the ball, when you could use a photo of the batter which looks like him on just about any other day of the baseball week? Or better, yet the victory grip (gripping the ball that is) and grin that they did use of the fan that caught the ball?

Don’t tell me you were there at the stadium, J.D., and didn’t think to bring a camera? No – you don’t like taking photos. If you were there, you may have been in the wrong spot anyway (I wouldn’t have been). I had a little talk with our marketing about it, though. I think next time they know an important marketing event is going to happen they’ll be a little better prepared!#

And I’m not even a baseball fan, readers. But I do believe in telling your own story. Because no one is going to do it for you. That’s why Glenn Beck has launched his own internet TV show. The Media sure isn’t going to give Conservatives any airtime anymore than they’re going to give what they consider “free advertising” to my company. They’ll cut off their noses to spite their faces, and not publish a fantastic photo, rather than promote a “capitalistic” company.

I’m grouchy and grumbly, but even though I might be out of a job by January, I still support my company and believe in their story. They’re a VERY good company but they’re much too slow and diffident about promoting themselves. They don’t even have an office in NYC. Well not yet. We’re hoping that’s going to change soon.

I also believe in the Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Conservative American stories. The Liberal Media clearly does not. Right now I’m reading a book called Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV.” [J.D. I’m finished with The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind; I’ll bring it into the office tomorrow for whenever you get back.]

Ben Shapiro talks about the new Hollywood Blacklist of Conservative writers. Their numbers are few and hiding in the shadows of the Hollywood sign. A conservative must be very daring to state their political views in public at all, at say, some Los Angeles bistro. If they’re working, they don’t dare openly debate politics in the writers’ rooms of the television shows. Writing their views into their scripts will get the script automatically rejected, and they’ll be immediately fired from the set.

Shapiro gives a history of liberalism in television from Sid Caesar’s Show of Shows to the current comedies (I’m just starting on the section about dramas). The Liberals are blatant about their intent to “lead” society rather than “reflect” and dismiss ratings as nothing more than chasing the almighty dollar.

What an insult to American television viewers. Shapiro makes a lot of excuses for the shows and why Americans watch them. He cites the classic line many Conservative writers whom he interviewed (incognito): “Some of their best friends are Liberals.”

Yeah. Right. Shapiro feels that, thanks to the First Amendment, no one can really tell Liberals that they can’t write about what they believe, but that Conservatives should have more equal time on the air. This was in the comedy section. What can you do if the shows are funny and witty, he asks? He feels it’s unrealistic to expect America – especially young America – to turn the shows off.

That’s probably so. But we can sure give it a try. I intend very soon (I’m getting up my nerve) to cancel all but my basic cable, which contains the news and weather stations). Shapiro advises us not to shut off our televisions and “read.” Rather ironic advice, since I shut off my television to read his book.

Maybe that’s exactly what we need to do, though. We need, at least to change the way we watch television and where and how we watch it. Glenn Beck’s GBTV is a good start. In fact, there’s a whole market of internet subscription television, most channels for a very nominal fee per month. A few channels are even completely free.

We say we’re not about to pay for television. But we are paying for it, in every product we purchase. Cable television was supposed to be free of advertising, but it isn’t. Our cable subscription money and our product advertising dollars mostly pay for subversive, anti-American garbage, morally corrupt, offensive and not even funny. I banned The Simpsons in my home when my nephew was a child and would come to visit. With so much garbage on so many channels, it’s not worth the $85 a month I pay past the basic cable to turn on the few shows I do watch.

The Internet television people know the tide is about to turn and are providing the service, for the moment, at a reasonable rate. More producers like Glenn may be able to tell their stories. Eventually, we might receive better programming. We need to tell our story. I don’t know anyone as of yet who’s better at telling that story than Glenn Beck. We can play it cheap and listen to the Liberal Show the rest of our lives.

Or we can support those who’ll tell our story; it’s not going to happen any other way. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, free television, or free freedom.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Say "Nuts!" to ACORN

Squirrels gather their acorns in the fall and bury them so they’ll have a store of food during the winter. Sometimes they bury more than they need or they forget where they buried, and lo! and behold – a tree springs up.

Legal watchdog group Judicial Watch unearthed one of ACORN’s (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) acorns buried under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD issued a $79,819 grant to an ACORN offshoot, Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA).

Fertilized by taxpayer money, this offshoot received its grant through “ACORN Housing Corporation, Inc.” Which means despite a law defunding the organization, ACORN is still receiving taxpayer money. Ostensibly, HUD issued the grant to “educate the public and housing providers about their rights and obligations under federal, state, and local fair housing laws.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told The Daily Caller this newly-discovered grant appears to be in violation of an October 2009 law President Obama signed banning all funding of “ACORN and any ACORN-related affiliates.”

Fitton says that more grants like this one will turn up. “ACORN basically reorganized under a different name,” he said in a phone interview. “I don’t think this happened by accident. They’re all the same people still involved just working for organizations with different names.”

He thinks it’s likely that HUD employees, whether political appointees from the Obama administration or career staffers, knew they were giving money to ACORN-affiliated organizations. Obama administration HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has a documented past with ACORN. In 2009, The New York Times reported that Donovan worked “particularly closely” with ACORN while working for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Times story also documents Donovan’s ties with ACORN’s chief executive, Bertha Lewis. HUD contends that isn’t enough to qualify AHCOA as ACORN-affiliated.

“In April, HUD awarded a $79,819 grant to AHCOA to provide fair housing and fair lending information and assistance to at least 35,000 minority, non-English speaking and immigrant households in the Miami-Dade metropolitan area,” Brown said. “After the award of the grant, AHCOA submitted its tax identification number which was entered into a government database, which still associated the number with the organization’s previous name.”

Laundering the taxpayers’ money to a discredited, blatantly biased organization through subsidiaries is a tried-and-untrue political tactic. If you plant an acorn, you’re going to get some type of oak tree, not a weeping willow or a palm tree. Subsidizing this organization is like planting an acorn under a concrete foundation. The tree will eventually break through the foundation of our economy and bring our house down.

Someone needs to get a message through to the squirrels in Washington that they’re not planting solid oak trees, but an invasive species of clinging vine. They need to cut it off at the root now before we find ourselves ensnared in a tangle of poison ivy.