Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Closing of the Borders

In 48 B.C., after Julius Caesar set fire to his ownships to thwart Achillas’ attempts to raid the city of Alexandria, the city’s Royal Library of Alexandria, constructed in the 3rd Century B.C., was accidentally burned down.

In 793, the Vikings burned the monastery at Lindisfarne (an island off the northeast coast of England) including its library.

During World War II, Adolph Hitler held bonfire burnings of books considered antithetical to the Third Reich. began to change the way people bought, and eventually read books. Borders Books initially had a deal with Amazon to sell books online, but something apparently went wrong and the store launched its own e-line. Meanwhile released its first generation of the Kindle e-reader in November 2009, marking a milestone in the way people read.

For whatever reasons, whether it was because they got too late into the e-reading game, they had too many stores, or their prices were too high and couldn’t compete with Amazon, Borders is going out of business.

Borders has been around for a long time. Waldenbooks was around longer, until Borders and K-Mart bought them out. Business is just that way; the bell-curve simply doesn’t allow for business eternity anymore than it allows all students to go home with perfect report cards.

Still, the disappearance of this brick-and-mortar, ink-and-paper bookstore is disturbing. Not just because the economy is in dreadful straits. People already aren’t reading. They’re not certainly can’t afford to buy books with the unemployment rate skyrocketing.

Electronic books appear to be the wave of the future. You can pull up any of 100,000 books from Wattpad for free. A great way to read Obama’s self-promotion books without paying for them. For people who want their homes clutter-free, the e-book is a space-saving device.

At the same time bookstores like Borders are going under, so are some public libraries. Due to lack of funding, they’re closing their doors and casting off their books. To those keeping their eye on library close-outs, this is a boon. To those, however, who can’t turn their home into a library, the public library has been a safe repository for history.

How long will that last, however? With brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries closing due to financial problems, we book lovers depend on the online bookstores. The prices are fantastic but you have to hope you have a big enough house to hold them.

As with all technological advances, the e-book is a fantastic invention. But it has its drawbacks and a potential for an unfortunate transformation to all-electronic books. What happens if a future government pulls the plug? Or a provider, like a library (and it has happened) decides it doesn’t pay to carry a particular genre (like Conservative Politics or the French Revolution)? In Borders this morning, there was nary a sight of book on the history of the French Revolution – not even an empty space on the shelf where such books might have been. They also only had one of the main mainstay books of Conservative thought on hand.

No Milton Friedman (Hayek was there) or Whittaker Chambers. Probably they’re available online. But will the public library or the college library have some of the history books Ann Coulter cited in Demonic?

The way our history is going, if there are no libraries, or only selective libraries that exclude certain genres, we bookworms will be reduced to becoming Book Ladies, with aisles of books cluttering our homes. My brother has a great big, empty house, occupied only by him and my 23 year old nephew, on his way to a graduate engineering degree, but really pining to study history and politics, so I know where my books will be going. They often see the books I have, ask to take them, and never return them, so I won’t even have to beg them to store the books.

History and knowledge of Western civilization as we know it are in grave danger of being thrown on the ash heap of history. The day may not be far off even when the Book Police will raid our houses for "subversive" Conservative materials.  Like the Vandals of old, Progressivism is slowly closing the borders of our minds to the truth and returning us to that savage state where only the priests of state are privy to the wisdom of the ages and the illiterate masses must take their word for everything.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Debtly Peril

Pundits this morning are agog and aghast at what they perceive as Conservatives’ stubborn ignorance regarding the debt ceiling.  Any compromise they feel is better than having the country default on its debts.  Conservatives are the last people in the country who approve of defaulters.  They consider failing to pay the bills an extreme dishonor.  That’s been our whole point since we started the Tea Parties.

The pundits fear not only the economic consequences of not compromising with the Democrat Congress and President, and not raising taxes, the debt ceiling and allowing them the future privilege of putting us into even deeper debt in order to solve the short-tern crisis, but the political ramifications of belling the Democrats as well.  Here’s what some of the pundits had to say this morning:

John Podhoretz:  Podhoretz says that the debt-ceiling crisis is a man-made political disaster, with both parties caught up in a self-made whirlwind.  He points out, rightly, that we Conservatives thought we could strong-arm the Democrats into spending cuts, but as we only control one chamber, we only have one arm.  He says the arm isn’t that strong.

He recognizes that the Democrats are using the crisis “to repeat the dynamic of 1990, when they got GOP President George H.W. Bush to agree to tax hikes -- a move that fractured the right and led to divisions that helped doom Bush to a single term.”

Where he’s wrong is in claiming that both Conservatives and Liberals sought a fight that’s harming the whole nation.  Basically, that’s just saying that we should be like sheep and let the wolves eat us.  Republicans, particularly the moderates and RINOs are sheep.  Conservative Tea Partiers are the sheep dogs, the border collies that nip at the heels of the herd.  Sometimes the herd can intimidate a poorly trained dog, especially if the herd is the Media.  We didn’t create this mess.  We protested it, if the pundits will recall, only no one listened because they thought we were just meek, easily dismissed suburbanites carrying cute little signs.

Podhoretz suggests agreeing to the short-term fixes – raising taxes and agreeing to a limited raising of the debt ceiling.  The trouble is, the Democrats are liars and have never kept one promise they’ve made.  Give Obama and the Democrats that inch and they’ll remove the ceiling entirely.

He castigates Conservatives for rejecting Sen. Mitch McConnell's compromise proposal -- no cuts, no tax hike and three debt-limit increases through 2012.  No tax hike is a poor concession to the taxpayers when there are also no spending cuts, and three debt ceiling increases.   Just what kind of deal is that?  Then Podhoretz says that we will find ourselves facing the "Gang of Six" whose plan vastly more injurious to our convictions than McConnell's.

He notes that Obama is no great position, but neither are we.  Then he throws in the panic attack bomb:  “Some advance a position that makes no sense, arguing that we don't need to raise the debt ceiling when the certain result of not doing so now will be a worldwide financial panic.”  We never said we don’t “need” to raise the debt ceiling; we shouldn’t raise it.
“Even those who acknowledge the debt ceiling must be raised act as though they'll somehow be able to get Obama and the Democrats in the Senate to go along with serious spending cuts without tax hikes -- even though they surely know that's not going to happen either,” Podhoretz writes.  Well, no kidding. 

He considers the Gang of Six plan arrant nonsense that asserts but doesn't explain where or how it will cut spending or by how much.  But it is specific in one area, according to the budget expert Keith Hennessey: The "plan raises taxes $830 billion more than would President Obama's February budget . . . It's a huge hidden tax increase."

He concedes no one has any idea what to do.  “There's no workable conservative or Republican plan. The Gang of Six plan can't work. There's no White House plan; as press secretary Jay Carney said in a revealing moment the other day, "leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down.”

“So, unless a miracle occurs, and miracles rarely happen in politics, the final deal will please no one and anger everyone. Activist Democrats and Republicans will believe their leaders sold them out.  With ordinary voters, the damage is already done. Even if they're satisfied with the result, the spectacle of the last four weeks will only confirm the highly negative view of politicians that has resulted in see-saw national results -- Republican successes in 2002 and 2004, Democratic triumphs in 2006 and 2008, Republican tsunami in 2010.”

Charles Krauthammer favors the Half-Trillion plan, which raises the debt ceiling by that amount in return for an equal amount of spending cuts. At the current obscene rate of deficit spending - about $100 billion a month - it yields about five months respite before the debt ceiling is reached again.

The McConnell plan essentially punts the issue until after Election Day 2012. A good last resort if nothing else works.  The G6, he explains, proposed by the bipartisan Gang of Six senators, reduces 10-year debt by roughly $4 trillion. It has some advantages, even larger flaws.   

Krauthammer feels the Half-Trillion is best:  “It is clean, straightforward, yields real cuts, averts the current crisis and provides until year-end to negotiate a bigger deal. At the same time, it punctures President Obama’s thus far politically successful strategy of proposing nothing in public, nothing in writing, nothing with numbers, while leaking through a pliant press supposed offers of surpassing scope and reasonableness.”

Obama had threatened to veto any short-term debt-ceiling hike, he writes, revealing Obama's most vulnerable point. Is the catastrophe of default preferable, Krauthammer asks, to a deal that gives us, say, five months to negotiate something more significant - because it doesn't get Obama through Election Day?

Obama is already in retreat, he claims, citing WH press secretary Jay Carney’s statement  that the President would accept an extension of a few days if needed to complete an already agreed upon long-term deal.  “Meaning that he would exercise his veto if that larger deal required several months rather than several days? Call his bluff,” Krauthammer urges.  “Let the House pass the Half-Trillion. Dare him to put America into default because he deems a short-term deal insufficiently grand. After all, it dovetails perfectly with parts of the G6, for which the President has expressed support and which explicitly allocates roughly the same amount of time - six months - to work out the grander $3-$4 trillion deal.

He goes on to explain, “The G6 conveniently comes in two parts. Part One puts immediately into effect, yes, a half-trillion dollars in cuts, including a more accurate inflation measure (that over time greatly reduces Social Security costs) and repeal of the CLASS Act (the lesser-known of the two new Obamacare entitlements, a fiscally ruinous, long-term care Ponzi scheme).

“Part Two of the G6 is far more problematic, mandating six months of committee negotiations over the big ones - Medicare, Social Security, discretionary spending caps and tax reform.  Unfortunately, the Medicare and Social Security parts are exceptionally weak - no mention of any structural change, such as raising the eligibility age to match longevity. As for the spending caps, I wouldn't bet my dog's food bowl on their durability.

“On tax reform, the G6 calls for eliminating deductions, credits, exclusions and exemptions to reduce rates across the board. The new tax rates - top individual rate between 23% and 29% - would bring us back to Reagan levels (28%). This would be a good outcome, but the numbers thus far are fuzzy and some are contradictory. Moreover, those negotiations have yet to begin.
“In principle, however, if the vast majority of the revenue raised by closing loopholes goes to rate reduction, and if the vast majority of the net revenue raised comes from the increased economic activity spurred by lowering rates and eliminating inefficiency-inducing loopholes, the trade-off would be justified. We shall see.

“What to do now? The House should immediately pass the Half-Trillion plan, thereby putting something eminently reasonable on the table that the President will have to address with a serious counterproposal using actual numbers. If the counterproposal is the G6, Republicans should accept Part One with its half-trillion dollars in cuts, CPI change and repeal of the CLASS Act, i.e., the part of the G6 that is enacted immediately and that is real. Accompany this with a dollar-for-dollar hike in the debt ceiling, yielding almost exactly the time envisioned in the G6 to work out grander spending and revenue changes - and defer any action on Part Two until precisely that time.

“The Half-Trillion with or without the G6 Part One: ceiling raised, crisis deferred, cuts enacted and time granted to work out any Grand Compromise. You can't get more reasonable than that.
“Do it. And dare the President to veto it."

Krauthammer’s arguments sound reasonable and soothing – he’s someone who talks sense.  However, we are, as Podhoretz pointed out, a one-armed party at this point, dealing with an untrustyworthy, lying, devious adversary who has no reason in the world to compromise.  There are too many “if’s” in his arguments.

Bill O’Reilly lashes out at the Tea Party for being ‘hysterical’.  “From the beginning,” he said on Fox News, “I have supported the Tea Party because I believe it empowers individual Americans, which is always a good thing. Also, the Tea Party wants fiscal responsibility and a smaller federal government. Again, those are good things as well.

“But now the Tea Party has come to a crossroads. Some of its members simply do not want to raise the debt ceiling, and that could be catastrophic. Thursday, Standard and Poor's met with Republicans in the House to tell them there is a 50/50 chance America's Triple A bond rating will be cut if no debt compromise is reached.

“The goal of any legislation should be to strengthen the country. And there is a way to raise the national debt ceiling while at the same time drastically cutting federal spending and reforming the unfair tax code. If America starts to spend responsibly the national debt will come down and there will be no need to ever raise the debt ceiling again.

“So the Tea Party people should reassess the issue. I mean, when you have a senator like Tom Coburn, a very staunch conservative and fiscal hawk, when you have him willing to compromise, you have to take notice. In addition, the Tea Party should be looking out for itself.

He goes on to point out that we could become irrelevant, like the Hippies of the Sixties.  They’re not so irrelevant as he seems to think:  they’re in the White House, Congress and every federal agency.  They’re the reason we’re in this mess.

“Most Americans do not like extremism in politics. We need a sane compromise and tough economic reform in this country. I hope the Tea Party will be a part of it.”

Americans tolerated Liberal extremism in the Sixties, whether they liked it or not.  They allowed their children to be drugged and brainwashed into reciting the Progressive mantra.  What Americans don’t like is getting involved and they don’t like people who do.  They’re afraid of the Liberals and castigate Conservatives because Tea Partiers are the easier target for cowards to censure.

As for compromise, the tax hike issue might be easier to swallow if the Liberals hadn’t ruined the economy.  Fannie Mae was far more ruinous to the country, as Ann Coulter has pointed out, than the War in Iraq was.  The Democrats want to tax people who have no jobs?  Does Bill O’Reilly believe that that’s a sane policy? Is it sane to hand a Democrat Congress and a Socialist president a blank check, a credit card with no limits which they will never hand back?  Limitless power to spend; that doesn’t sound like much of a compromise to this “cymbal-clanging”, “hysterical” “activist” Tea Partier.

Finally, Speaker of the House John Boehner called Rush Limbaugh’s show yesterday to explain his position.  Here is the transcript:

Rush Limbaugh:  We're so happy to have with us the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. I'm glad that we had a chance to talk to you here, Mr. Speaker, because people are confused with all of these leaks as to what's going on.

SPEAKER BOEHNER: Well, Rush, there is no deal. No deal publicly. No deal privately. There is absolutely no deal. Our focus --

RUSH: Are you talking about a deal, though?


RUSH: Are you talking about a deal in secret?

SPEAKER BOEHNER: Our focus right now is getting the Senate to follow us in the House and pass Cut, Cap, and Balance. I believe that we've got to act to prevent a default and to prevent a downgrade of our nation's credit rating, and the best way to do that is to enact Cut, Cap, and Balance. But let me be clear: I believe that is the best course of action. I've said all the way along that we've gotta keep the lines of communication open. That's why Leader Cantor and I have talked with Mitch McConnell. We've talked to Nancy Pelosi. We've talked to the president. We talked about fallback options if in fact Cut, Cap, and Balance does go down; and I do think it's our obligation to have a fallback plan if that doesn't work.

RUSH: Well, but that's what everybody is worried about: What is the fallback plan? A congressional aide is out there today saying that the deal's been struck. He's unnamed, he's on Fox, he's saying, "It's $3 trillion of cuts with no tax revenue." National Journal says three trillion in cuts with "insignificant" tax revenues. So a lot of people out here are of the opinion that Obama is the one who ought to be caving. He's the one that doesn't have a plan. He's forcing you to compromise with yourself. He's done great damage to the economy, and people want it to stop.

SPEAKER BOEHNER: I understand. I'm concerned about the nation defaulting on its credit rating. I'm concerned about us not doing anything about our debt, which will cause our credit rating to fall -- and which then would mean everybody's interest rates go up. I think that's irresponsible. Frankly, we've looked at a half a dozen fallback plans. None of which, none of which, are all that appetizing. That's why we continue to support Cut, Cap, and Balance.

RUSH: So you're convinced that a default would make us unable...? We were to be unable to service our debt if there's a default?

SPEAKER BOEHNER: I'm concerned that we're getting into uncharted territory that could wreak great havoc on our nation, and I don't think it's necessary to get into that unknown zone and take the chance -- and I, frankly, believe that we've gotta find a way to cut our budget deficit, cut our debt, and balance our budget.

RUSH: Why is it not Obama's responsibility to do that? He's the one that's put us in this position.

SPEAKER BOEHNER: It would have been nice if the President would have put a plan to the table months ago, but the President has refused to put any plan on the table. It's obviously been driving me right up a wall.

RUSH: He wants you to take the heat for whatever happens.

SPEAKER BOEHNER: Yeah, but I think at the end of the day he knows that he's the commander-in-chief, he's the president of the United States, and HE will take the heat.

RUSH: Well, a lot of people are concerned that you are his lifeline to reelection and that that's how he sees you, and that if he can get you to act in any way that can be portrayed as a cave that he wins, and that's what people are deathly afraid of.

SPEAKER BOEHNER: Rush, I'm trying to do what I taught my kids to do; the same thing my parents taught me to do: You do the right things for the right reasons, good things will happen.

RUSH: All right, Speaker Boehner thanks much.

We owe Rush a debt of gratitude for stating our genuine – not hysterical – concerns about what’s going on and having Boehner on his show to tell us something, even if it’s not exactly what we want to hear.  At least Rush questioned him (gently), instead of bleating like a lamb.  Frustrated as we are, we do have to take into account that where politics and politicians are concerned, things are not always going to go well, and that games are being played.

Roland Straten, our candidate in N.J.’s 8th district in 2010 and an economist, spelled out plainly, regardless of what anyone proposes, what our representatives duty under the law is:

“Under current law, the government cannot spend any more money. [The deadline is Aug. 3].  It cannot raise taxes and it cannot borrow more money, unless the smaller smarter government group allows it to do so.  The smaller government group has, in the past, succumbed to the tactics that the tax-and-spend group has used against them and ‘compromised.’”

So, this is the pickle barrel in which America finds itself.  The smaller, more responsible Conservative party is at a numerical disadvantage, facing a Democrat majority and an arrogant President who hold most of the economic cards, and can and will not only reject compromises not to their liking, but break the agreements once it’s convenient for them to do so, threatening us with financial ruin and calamity if Conservatives don’t compromise and sealing our doom if we do.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Give Speaker Boehner a Wake-Up Call

It's been reported that Speaker Boehner is calling a 9 a.m. conference tomorrow morning of all Republican House members. It is believed that a compromise on the debt limit will be presented and recommend to them. It's reported that the Speaker has been overheard saying that the more conservative members of Congress need to start compromising in order to get a deal.

It sounds like what we feared is now happening ... that when push comes to shove, the Republican leaders will buckle because they care more about re-election than doing what's needed and right for America's future. If you agree contact the Speaker's offices and let him know your position. CALL TODAY!! CALL NOW!! NO MORE DEBT!!!

Compromise? Does he mean the way George H.W. Bush compromised in 1990?

George H.W. Bush made a campaign promise of No New Taxes – that was his whole campaign platform, in fact. He famously said, “Read my lips: No New Taxes.” It was his mantra. So then he was elected. The Democrats in Congress insisted that they had to have more revenue and offered a “deal” to H.W. saying that if he would allow them a very moderate raise in taxes, they would pass the Ominbus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990.

Well, there went George’s promise to the country of no new taxes. Congress convinced him to break his no new taxes pledge to the country. Our honorable and trusted H.W. got snookered. Is this the same garden path that Boehner is being led down? Or is he leading us down that garden path filled with snakes.

History is repeating itself. George H.W. caved on his most important campaign promise because of the same henny-penny, the-sky-is-falling arguments. We’re being given the same henny penny spiel as we were given when his son caved on TARP – with Obama at the table, no less. The “experts” foretold all sorts of disasters would befall us if TARP wasn’t passed. We were on the brink of disaster, they claimed. Then there was Obama’s Stimulus Package. The economy would be in ruins if we didn’t bail out General Motors and all the other unionized companies. Where is G.M. now? Gone with the windbags.

They’ve been blowing the horn for nationalized health care for ages. If we don’t bail out Medicare, if we don’t bail out social security, if we don’t have nationalized health care, millions, particularly the elderly, will suffer.

How many times do the RINOs and the Liberals think they can go to the same well before someone stands up and says, “Enough!” We didn’t send this guy to Congress to play patti-cake with the Democrats. If he doesn’t have enough weight to plant his boots in the ground and push back against their agenda, then he’s the wrong person for the job.

The Gang of Six hasn’t come up with one sentient reason for raising the debt limit – only inane arguments that it’s not a big deal because the government can print all the money it wants. That’s some hell of a reason for bankrupting the country.

The American people are tired of the lies, broken promises, and collusion that goes on in the halls of Congress. When the alarm clock rings and the cock crows tomorrow morning, America has to wake up early and catch these worms before they raise the debt ceiling and totally ruin the country.

Bastille Day Bash

Ah, summer in the Hamptons.  East Hampton, Westhampton, Bridgehampton, Hampton Bays, and of course, Southampton, where the hoi polloi of New York elite celebrities, politicians, and billionaires summer, calling for the cabin boys to bring their exotic drinks while they admire the ocean and Gucci fireworks over Gardiner Bay, work on their tans, and network on how to bring America to her knees.

Summer in the Hamptons wouldn’t be complete without Bastille Day, the celebration of the July 14, 1789 Paris riot, where the mobs broke down the gates of an already-empty prison.  In East Hampton, the farthest Hampton on Long Island – almost closer to Newport, R.I., than New York City – developer and restaurateur Ben Krupinski held a Bastille Day bash at his waterfront “cottage”.  Among his invited guests, according to an exclusive report by New York Post reporters Selim Algar and Chuck Bennet, was Cathie  Black, former chairwoman of Hearst Magazines and ousted New York City schools chancellor.

The report says that as she was backing out of the driveway, she bashed practically every tree in her path.  Finally, one of the other guests stopped her and drove her home to her mansion in Southampton.  Her publicist insists she was not inebriated; she was simply unfamiliar with the driveway.

Whatever.  She was well enough to attend the Nelson Mandela Day luncheon at the Four Seasons in Manhattan on Monday.  Black spent all of 95 days as Schools Chancellor before Mayor Bloomberg finally had to expel her.  If the swells vacationing out in the Hamptons think Bastille Day is something to celebrate, they need to go back to school.  Or at least read Ann Coulter’s new book, Demonic.

Coulter is fond of giving her tomes one-word titles, and posing in form-fitting cocktail dresses (and she’s in great form) for the cover just to drive her critics into a frenzy.  She’s brash and funny, and extremely intelligent.  Demonic isn’t merely some invective against Progressive Liberals; it’s about setting the history record straight about mob-rule.  Her research is impeccable, her writing very engaging, and her information, invaluable.

She treats many historical subjects, but the real story of the French Revolution is absolutely blood-curdling.  Coulter compares the American Revolution with the French, and demonstrates how there’s absolutely no comparison.  Her source for the study is LeBon’s The Crowd:  A Study of the Popular Mind.

Coulter explains how the crowds in Paris initially received the young, newly-minted Queen Marie Antoinette with great favor.  She was beautiful, sociable, kind, and generous.  “She was not given to excess, avoided ostentation in her decorating style, and was compassionate toward the poor,” Coulter writes.  She also “never uttered the words ‘Let them eat cake.’  Fittingly, that phrase came from the revolutionaries’ philosopher Jacques Rousseau, who claimed he overheard it on the lips of some nameless princess.  This was written in his Confessions, sometime before 1769,” when Marie Antonia was still a child in Austria. 

However, a crop failure caused by a hailstorm threatened the country with famine and poverty, and the crowds, never great on reason (LeBon says it simply is not in the nature of a crowd to think; they can only react emotionally to non-verbal images), turned on the king and queen.

They also turned on aristocrats, the nobility, then the middle class, and finally one another, even guillotining their own leader, Robespierre.  Coulter describes the senseless, brutal murders with the “National Razor.”  The French citizens, urged on by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which essentially stated that since there was no need for God, there was no need for priests, bureaucrats, nobility, or monarchs - off with their heads, took matters into their own bloody hands.

No one was spared by these vicious mobs.  The men would kill the victims and their wives, the women, would defile, desecrate, and consume (!) the bodies and organs.  The mob beheaded one of the Queen’s favorite attendants and bobbed the head up and down outside Marie Antoinette’s prison window.   At first, Robespierre’s mobs held show trials, but figuring they were a waste of time since the criminal was already assumed to be guilty, charged the victim and beheaded them the same day.

Marie was charged with all manner of heinous sexual crimes, which she defiantly denied to the very end.  Sick with tuberculosis and hemorrhaging, she wasn’t even allowed to clean herself and appear dignified in her last moments, Coulter tells us.  She was battered with jeers and garbage on the long way to the guillotine.  When she was beheaded, the crowd yelled, “Vive Le Republique.”

Coulter says that it is to such rampages and violence that today’s Liberal Progressives are heir.  France’s revolutionary ideas spread to Germany and then to Russia, where their various mobs gassed millions of Jews and murdered the Imperial Family – and personal freedom.

Racism, she notes, was not a Republican invention – Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and sacrificed millions of lives to free the slaves – it was a Democrat invention.  The Democrats saw voter blocs in the ignorance and violence of the Southern slave owners, with their tendency towards lynchings.  Democrats were responsible for blocking every Civil Rights Act since the Civil War up to and including the Civil Rights Act of 1965.  The Democrat Party opposed the integration of schools and the rights of blacks to vote.  Only when the blacks won the right to vote and became a major force, did the Democrats suddenly switch sides to carry the banner for civil rights.

Racism was institutionalized through Democrat bureaucracy.  The mayor of Birmingham, who enacted the segregation of the city’s buses, was a Democrat.  Every Congressman who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1965 was a Democrat, including Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson.

Southampton held a Fourth of July parade, which included Tea Party members proudly bearing (if somewhat improperly) the American flag.  Although two recent studies have shown that the sight of the American flag “biases” people towards Conservative ideals, apparently the sight of the flag had no effect on Cathie Black.  Maybe she was just too drunk to see it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Change Gang

Obama’s knighting of The Gang of Six is verbally and visually troubling.  This is actually the second “Gang of Six”; the first were charged with ganging up on the American public to beat them into submissive acceptance of health care in 2009:  three Democrats:  Max Baucus, Mont., Jeff Bingaman, N.M., and Kent Conrad, N.D.; and three quasi-Republicans:  Mike Enzi, Wyo., Chuck Grassley, Iowa; and the notorious RINO, Olympia Snowe, Maine.

The 2009 Gang of Six consisted of six members of the Senate Finance committee.  They attempted to negotiate a compromise to pass the health care reform bill.  Among the bills under consideration at the time were the United States National Health Care, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, the Healthy Americans Act, and the America’s Healthy Future Act.

Two years later, we have another Gang of Six, led by Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Saxy Chambliss and four members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform: Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kent Contrad (D.-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).  Coburn defected but was later returned by the OGB.

This Gang of Six has been charged with proposed a solution to the U.S. Debt Ceiling crisis.  Their “compromise,” praised by ringmaster Obama, would cut the deficit by $3.7 trillion over ten years.

So what’s the catch, we ask?  When a President of the United States speaks in terms of “gangs” (please somebody give him a copy of Le Bon’s The Crowd:  A Study of the Popular Mind!), it’s a problem with a big catch.  The word “gang” conjures up notions of bullies, riots, and prisons. 

His political jargon also conjures up Mao Tse Tung’s infamous Gang of Four and the notorious Cultural Revolution from 1966-1976.  They were a political faction of four Chinese Communist Party officials, one of whom was Mao’s last wife, Jiang Qing.  Their backgrounds were similar in that prior to 1966 all four were low- or middle-ranking officials who lacked leverage within the existing power structure. Shared traits included their ability to manipulate the mass media, their good standing with Mao, and their dislike of and subsequent desire to overthrow moderate government officials who clustered around Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping.

The group came into prominence in 1965 when Wu Han’s play Hai Rui Dismissed from Office was banned as a direct result of an investigation by Jiang into its political character, which resulted in a published denunciation of the play by Yao Wenyuan, a Chinese literary critic and politician. This case set a precedent for radicalizing the arts and, in effect, signaled the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

Wu Han, who wrote the play, was a historian who focused on the Ming Dynasty.   He wrote an article portraying Hai Rui, a Ming minister who was imprisoned for criticizing the emperor, as the hero. The article was later adapted into a Beijing opera play, having its first performance in 1961. The play was initially praised by Mao.

However, at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, Yao Wenyuan published an article criticizing the play as an allegory of Mao's dismissal of Peng Dehuai at the Lushan Conference in 1959 (Peng had expressed reservations about Mao's Great Leap Forward policy). Hai Rui was identified as a representation of Peng, with the emperor being Chairman Mao. The theatre play became an instrument for radical Maoists to attack the “rightist pragmaticians” in the politburo in 1965. Wu Han became one of the first victims of the Cultural Revolution and died in prison in 1969, only to be posthumously rehabilitated in 1979.

As the Cultural Revolution intensified, the members of the Gang of Four advanced to high positions in the government and the CCP.  Manipulating the youthful Red Guards, the Gang of Four controlled four areas: intellectual education, basic theories in social sciences, teacher-student relations and school discipline, and party policies regarding intellectuals. After the initial turmoil of the Cultural Revolution subsided in 1969, the Gang of Four maintained their power through control of the media and propaganda outlets and by their seeming adherence to Mao’s policies and wishes.  With Mao’s death in 1976, however, the Gang of Four lost their remaining power and were imprisoned and later tried in 1980–81 for their activities during the Cultural Revolution. Jiang and Zhang both received suspended death sentences (both reduced to life imprisonment in 1983); Wang was sentenced to life imprisonment, and Yao to a 20-year term.

The Gang of Four effectively controlled the power organs of the Communist Party of China through the latter stages of the Cultural Revolution, although it remains unclear which major decisions were made through Mao Zedong and carried out by the Gang, and which were the result of the Gang of Four's own planning.

The removal of this group from power is sometimes considered to have marked the end of the Cultural Revolution, which had been launched by Mao in 1966 as part of his power struggle with leaders such as Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and Peng Zhen.  Mao placed Jiang Qing, who before 1966 had not taken a public political role, in charge of the country’s cultural apparatus. Zhang, Yao and Wang were party leaders in Shanghai who had played leading roles in securing that city for Mao during the Cultural Revolution.

With all that in mind, one has to wonder one kind of “gangs” Obama has created.  First it was czars and now we have “gangs” of senators.  Can the Shutzstaffel (German for “protection squadron”) be far behind to enforce Obama’s national health care, redistribution of wealth, and decimation of the U.S. economy?

Stop the Music!

In the absence of our director, who is seriously ill, our community band has been limping along, conductor-less, trying to play the music without a leader.  No one has quite had the gumption to say, “Okay.  I’m going to put down my instrument and lead the band until the director returns.”  Musicians love the life of a musician.  They love to play, not lead.

After listening to them careen all over the musical landscape last night, everyone playing at a different tempo, I finally got up and confronted them.  This situation was totally intolerable.  Someone had to make the sacrifice and lead the band!  Immediately, they complained that they came to play, not direct.  The only musician we have willing and able to direct the band is the political opponent of the conductor.  For better or for worse (and he’s okay; I have nothing against him, not even his absence, except that he’s appointed no one who’s willing to put down their instrument in his absence), the band elected the guy who’s MIA.  The rules are the rules – we have an actual Constitution – and the director selects his assistants or replacements.

Still, the minority must speak up and not just pretend, like the majority, that the empty podium has a leader waving a baton.

Roland Straten ran for Congress in New Jersey’s 8th district and lost to Bill Pascrell.  Though he didn’t have Pascrell’s political credentials, he did have experience as economics major, an engineer, and an entrepreneur.  Even though he wasn’t elected, some of us still consider him the best authority on the state of our economy.  Last night, he wrote us in urgency:

This is by far the most critical message of my short political career.

The main reason I ran for Congress after 40 years as a successful businessman is that I believed in Smaller, Smarter Government. Our representatives, both Republican and Democrat, were by and large Big Government tax and spenders.  Bill Pascrell was one of the most egregious tax-and-spenders.

Government was and still is too big, spending too much, over regulating, and taxing too much.

I clearly believed that this has hurt the standard of living in the USA by diverting resources from private enterprise, which makes things and provides productive work, to government, which doesn't make anything and restricts productive work.  I really cannot say it any simpler than that.   Unfortunately, the people of New Jersey chose not to send me to Washington.

Fortunately, the people of the United States chose to send approximately 80 freshmen Congressmen to Washington who agree with me. While I cannot vote, I can implore the 40 percent of the people in the district who voted for me to take action.  Now is an extremely critical time. We are seeing the battle between those who want to cut spending and those who want to tax and spend coming to a climax.

This tax-and-spend group, with President Obama and the so-called Mainstream Media serving as his lackeys in the forefront, has pulled out all the stops. They know that this is an epic political battle between us, the producers, and them, the parasites, moochers, and looters.

The tax-and-spend group wants to take from the producers and give to the non-producers. The smaller government group wants to allow producers to produce and be rewarded for their hard work.

While the issues are clear-cut, it is not so simple in Washington. We have been here before. We have had this debate numerous times. The tax and spend group say we must "compromise;" that is raise taxes and cut spending. In the past, the smaller government group always gets snookered. They accept the compromise and one year later, taxes stay high and spending increases.

But the 80 freshman Congressman who campaigned on this issue and got elected along with the 40 or so Congressman like Scott Garrett realize exactly what happened in the past. They are on to the tax and spender's game. And right now the small government guys have a very big hammer to control spending. That hammer is the vote on the debt limit.

Under current law, the government cannot spend any more money. It cannot raise taxes and it cannot borrow more money, unless the smaller smarter government group allows it to do so.  The smaller government group has, in the past, succumbed to the tactics that the tax-and-spend group has used against them and "compromised."

You only have to turn on the national news programs to see the tactics, the half-truths, and the attacks against those who want to cut spending. The main attack is the accusation that the smaller government group, by not allowing the debt ceiling to rise, will cause an economic collapse of epic proportions because people will lose their faith in our government's ability repay its debt. The truth is that people will lose their faith in our government because we spend too much and the debt has risen to a point where we cannot pay it without some serious belt tightening.

It is absolutely critical that our smaller government legislatures hold the line.  That is why this is the most important email I have written.

This is the battle I fought when I ran for Congress!!
I lost, but the country won!!
The tax and spend guys have launched an all-out war on our guys!!
Our guys need your support!!

That is why I am sending this email to every address I have. If we raise the debt limit without seriously substantial cuts in spending, this country is in deep, deep trouble.  Even if the smaller government guys are not in your district, write them, call them, fax them, e-mail them and tell them to hold the line. They need your encouragement against the onslaught of the liberal tax and spenders.  Write everyone you know and explain how important an issue this is.

The decision will be made in the next few weeks. Either our government will cut spending or the smaller government group will make a ""compromise" (read capitulate) to the tax-and-spend guys like Bill Pascrell.  The next two weeks will be an epic period in the history of the United States. We will turn the corner and be a great country or we will continue the disastrous slide to mediocrity.

Roland Straten
Box 43254, Montclair, NJ 07043
Be the leaders.  Take the stage and let our representatives know the sky is not the limit when it comes to government spending.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What a Headache!

The Media Hounds have found their new rabbit – Tea Party Republican Michele Bachmann. Now that they know she suffers from migraine headaches for which she must take medications, they’re already writing her political obituary. Incapacitated. Unable to fulfill the duties of the office of President of the United States.

Listen, if Pres. Clinton could talk with a cabinet member on the phone with Monica Lewinsky under his desk, Michele can certainly manage to perform her duties as president with an ice bag on her noggin. You’d think the Media had never heard of FDR. Or Pres. Eisenhower, who suffered a stroke during his tenure. Pres. Kennedy did it with a bad back, for which his doctor prescribed highly addictive medications. Woodrow Wilson clung to life and his presidency after suffering a stroke, with his wife standing in for him.

Being president is a tough job, guaranteed to age a person at least ten years. A candidate has to be tough, too, up for the race and the job. Especially if you’re a Republican (RINO, Conservative, Tea Party or some other variation). Republicans have to be hardier if they’re going to beat the opposition – and the Media.

Evidently some Doppelganger on her campaign staff – a former member with an apparent grudge – revealed that she suffered from such debilitating migraines that she had to be carried from events and sent to the nearest walk-in care facility. According to this Judas, she can’t travel without the pain medication.

And Pres. Clinton couldn’t travel, evidently, without an emergency sex kit.

Today’s WSJ/NBC News Poll ought to make her feel better: she is now in second place among Republican primary voters, just behind Gov. Mitt Romney. The other candidates have been sliding down the poll, putting Michele in the run for the lead. None of them, as the Media likes to put it, have “caught fire.” Of course, the Media also does everything it can possibly think of to douse the fire by throwing the cold water of doubt on any potential candidate.

Sarah Palin was red-hot. Like Sarah, Michele is a relative newcomer. Not only must she defeat the Democrat Media Machine, but factions within the Republican Party itself who like things just the way they are.

She’s just got to stop having headaches, that’s all, so she can get rid of the damning pills. Millions of people suffer from these headaches. Like the Democrats, they can be defeated and pushed back. What you have to do is marginalize them. Don’t let them become a bigger problem than they need to be. Don’t magnify their significance.

You have to be positive. These things will pass and life will return to normal. The more positive you are, the more quickly they’ll fade into history. The first battle is the hardest, but once you win it, the struggle is no longer gut-wrenching and nauseating. Your hearing is the first to clear and not suffer any longer. What the Democrats say isn’t as important as you thought it was. With your hearing restored, comes the dissipation of nausea. Since you hear no bilious rumbling, your stomach no longer turns.

The flashing lights are more difficult to subdue. I once came down with a migraine headache on the way home from a photo shoot in the City. Right there on Route 80 (hadn’t eaten beforehand). Did I head to the nearest walk-in facility? Not a chance. I knew where I was going and steered around the blind spot until I could get home. Just think to yourself, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” Pretty soon, the dizzying lights fade (with the help of some aspirin) like a paparazzi’s flash.

There are some tricks to preventing the headaches from occurring in the first place. First of all, don’t use salt – on anything. That same mineral that causes high blood pressure and strokes causes migraines. But that doesn’t mean don’t eat. Eating is the second must-do. Don’t skip meals. If you have an event, eat something ahead of time. Eight o’clock is too late to be eating dinner. Having already eaten, Mr. or Ms. Politician will have more time for handshaking and back patting.

Thirdly, get enough rest. Let those treacherous flunkies who’ve volunteered for your campaign – and probably your opponent’s - do the heavy lifting and running. As for your campaign managers and assorted bean-counters, remind them that you’re the king or queen and that when it’s time for them to shut up, it’s time for them to shut up and stop harping. Tomorrow is another day. At least it will be if they leave you alone.

Finally, soothing music always helps, along with a nice cup of tea. At the end of the day, it is what it is. Try to let it go, if you can. Tie whatever mistakes you’ve made that day to the tail of an imaginary kite and then let it fly away. Or tell the mistakes to take a number and wait in line; the complaint window closes at 5.

We fellow migraine sufferers empathize with Rep. Bachmann and encourage her to hang in there: plop, plop, fizz, fizz, whatever it is, it is….

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Long, Long Recession

In 1953, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, thriving in the midst of their success with the I Love Lucy radio and television shows, decided to make a movie called, “The Long, Long Trailer.”  Essentially, they reincarnated their popular characters into the movie, with slightly altered names – Tracy and Nicky.  The movie was directed by Vincente Minelli.

They played a newly-married couple who decide to buy a trailer instead of house.  Nicky wants to do the prudent thing and save their money to buy house.  The addle-headed, live-for-the-moment Tracy wants to buy a house trailer and tour the country on their honeymoon.  The result is a very funny movie about their adventures in the movie.

Tracy is a rock-hound.  She collects rocks from every place they visit, so that when they settle down someplace, she can create a stone path out of her souvenir rocks.  Nicky tells her to get rid of them.  They’re about to cross the Continental Divide and their car, big as it is, can’t pull a trailer full of rocks over the high pass.

However, she can’t bear to part with any of her precious stones.  She unloads whatever other items she can and hides the rocks within the trailer where Nicky can’t find them.  As the car continues upward – like our debt – all they see past the hood of the car is sky.  Meanwhile, the car is obviously struggling.

Finally, they get caught on a switchback turn.  After burning a lot of rubber to get the car going, Nicky grows suspicious.  He opens the trailer and an avalanche of rocks comes tumbling out.  Furious, he tosses the rocks over the cliff edge.  They continue on their way, not speaking to one another.

If Nicky thought the uphill ride was a dilly, the downhill ride would have been a disaster.  His brakes would soon have given out and they’d have gone careening down the other side of the mountain, out of control.  Just like our economy.

That is essentially the state of our national economy at the moment.  At the end of the movie, Tracy demands a divorce because of Nicky’s “insensitivity”.  Speaking to the buyer of the trailer, he asks the older man if he and his wife have ever had an argument.  The man replies, “Nope.”  To which Nicky says, [paraphrase] “Don’t worry; you will now.”

Arguments like these have ended more marriages than anyone can count.  Writ large, it’s about to end our country as we know it.  The Liberal Democrats are the hare-brained housewife, with no clue about how to economize.  Imbued with the nesting instinct, they only know how to spend.  The Conservative Republicans (and there are precious few of them) are the more sensible husband, not wanting divorce, but not wanting bankruptcy, either.

In our feminist culture, with a sympathetic, feminist court, the woman always wins.  After all, it’s another way of “redistributing the wealth.”  The Liberals are casting aside the more necessary items and loading up our trailer with rocks.  They think it’s getting us up the mountain, but it’s breaking our economic engine – capitalism – and eventually when we go down the other side – and we will – our brakes will fail.  We’ve already been warned about our national credit rating.

Most people think that Obama is just some sort of funky Lucy Ricardo, dim-witted and clueless.  However, he and his Progressive Proselytes know exactly what they’re doing.  They know how the Capitalist engine works and they know what kind of stress it takes to burn out the engine and the brakes.  They know they’ve overloaded our economy with unsustainable entitlement programs and have borrowed recklessly.  They’re like teenagers on a rollercoaster ride, knowing that they’re approaching the peak and the car will soon be racing down the other side, out of control.

We need to elect a responsible Congress and President who’ll toss these useless rocks out of the car before we descend down the other side.  This is not a movie where the Progressives and the Conservatives can kiss and make up.  If you believe in fairy tales, you can think that the two sides will come to some sort of consensus.

If you believe in reality, you know the people behind the wheel right now have rocks in their heads and we need to toss them over the side.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Long Live Harry Potter!

Spoiler alert: Harry Potter lives! This last movie in the eight-series franchise, despite its bittersweet ending, will leave you waking up with a smile on your face – unless you’re a Death Eater fan who enjoys mocking movie stars who wear conservative suits and beautiful dresses to their premieres instead of ill-fitting suits, no socks, and mismatched orange shoes to complement the purple streak in their hair.

Even though it’s the end, the movie leaves you with such a good feeling, especially for the trio of young stars who grew up filming the series. You have a good feeling for all the young supporting cast stars and their characters – the ones who survive and the ones who don’t. Luna Lovegood (my particular favorite), Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley. The adult characters, too – Prof. Lupin (who doesn’t make it), Sirius Black (ditto – although both he and Lupin’s characters are “resurrected”), Prof. McGonagall and the best Mom since June Cleaver, Mrs. Weasley. Although Mrs. Weasley uses a word that would make Mrs. Cleaver blush, she does so in service of her daughter. Mrs. Malfoy is a close second. (Yes, Draco has a mother – thank goodness.)

And then there’s Prof. Snape.

Moral relativism plays very little, if any role, in these films. Except for Prof. Snape and Draco, the characters are pretty much black and white. In the fight of good versus evil, good must win, or the world is doomed. Courageous people must stand up for what is right, no matter the cost. Harry is that special everyboy who finds himself thrust into the van of the battle. The road is tough, he’s not always sure of himself, but endowed with the love of his parents, the loyalty of his best friends, Ron and Hermione, and guided by his instructors and mentors, he finds the courage to see that good triumphs over evil.

J.K. Rowling wrote a series of very compelling children’s stories. So compelling that adults wanted to read them, too. She was (is) famous for planting clues in her novels about what’s ahead. Before the films came out, legions of Harry Potter fans would test one another on their knowledge of Quidditch, the paintings, and who said what when (i.e. what's the translation of Hogwart's Latin motto?  "Never tickle a sleeping dragon.")

Prof. Snape was the greatest puzzle of all, and Alan Rickman’s performance, delivering his lines with delicious deliberation (something the American Media has a problem understanding in our mini-sound byte world), is worthy of at least an Oscar nomination. Early on, Rowling charged him with Snape’s secret and to his credit, he never betrayed it. Once you’ve seen this last movie, you’ll look back on the previous films with new insight.

Children grow up and stories end, sometimes all too swiftly. Too us adults, it seems like only yesterday Daniel Radcliffe was that round-eyed little boy in the glasses, Emma Watson was the little know-it-all with the mass of hair, and Rupert Grint was the eternal little brother, following in his many brothers’ footsteps.

Now they’re grown up and the story has ended. Yet it hasn’t. The young actors will certainly go on to other projects – Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, equaling one another for photogenic appearance have already moved onto other projects. Both have wound in, or on the covers of, every major fashion magazine. Rupert has yet to make up his mind.

Harry Potter is destined to be a literary and film classic. Our sorry age is very short of courageous heroes. We’ve had to go back in time to resurrect them – Superman, Batman, Spiderman. Although endowed with magical powers that come in handy when battling magical villains, it’s still that mugglish, down-to-earth quality, that sense that it’s not about talent or heritage, but determination, valor, and a belief in doing the right thing that makes the hero.

Good luck to the young stars of Harry Potter – Dan, Emma, and Rupert - and long live Harry Potter!  And many thanks to J.K. Rowling, for bringing magic back to children's literature.