Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Are the Odds?

The chances of being hit by Nasa’s six-ton UAR satellite - about the size of a bus - were 1 in 22 trillion. You’re 700,000 more times likely to be struck by lightning. The odds of getting hit by a bus are one in 500,000. Unluckily for a 15 year-old student in West Milford, the odds were against him.

A heavy fog on Friday morning on busy Macopin Road increased his odds. He was hit by a school bus on its way to West Milford High School when the student crossed in its path. The driver subsequently suffered chest pains. Then the first ambulance dispatched to the scene got into a fender bender in the fog, and a second ambulance was sent out. When the second ambulance arrived, the medics determined the boy’s injuries were severe enough to warrant rescue by helicopter.

Only the fog was so heavy, that the helicopter couldn’t make the flight. The boy was taken to Morristown Memorial Hospital where he is presently in stable condition. The bus driver was taken to Chilton Memorial Hospital and admitted for chest pains. The name of the driver has not been released. The accident is still under investigation but the police are reportedly not considering charges at this time.

We live in a dangerous world, some of us on dangerous roads, and all of us under a debris-laden sky. We face dangers from terrorists, diseases, and weather. The bus-size satellite was scheduled to land in the Atlantic yesterday, along a corridor of highly-populated cities; instead, it seems to have landed somewhere in the less populous regions of Alberta, Canada. There are no reports of injuries.

Instead an unlucky student, having missed his own school bus, darted across a fog-covered, busy road yesterday and got hit by another school bus, instead, sending him and the unlucky driver to the hospital.

All you can do is prepare as best you can for the unexpected: make sure you get up in time to catch your school bus rather than being hit by it, slow down on foggy mornings - most school bus drivers are extremely cautious, especially when they have kids on board; most commuter drivers, on the other hand, don’t slow down for anything – fog, rain, sleet, snow, school buses, pedestrians, ambulances.

With the falling space debris, now not only do we have to look both ways in traffic, but we have to look up.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Filet Mignon in Every Pot

GOP candidate Mitt Romney said in the Republican debate last night that he wants everybody to rich.  It’s not enough anymore to just have a chicken in your pot, to have a job that will pay for the basic necessities of life.  Now, everyone has to have an HDTV, an X-box, an IPAD, a new car, a no-money down mortgage on a McMansion, a computer with Internet access, and free health care.

The trouble with a Utopia is that it’s a utopia – it’s not for real.  Utopia is a place someone cooked up in their imagination.  Wouldn’t it be great if none of us had to work for a living and yet had everything our hearts desired?  I’d have a little house with a yard where my two cats could chase butterflies in the summer and leaves in the autumn, I’d have a dog, and I’d never have to listen to my bellowing new neighbor ever again.  In fact, I’d have my loud-mouthed neighbor’s glossy black Lab.

But thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s glossy black Lab.  Those are the rules.  Someone has to do the work and you can’t expect them to do it for nothing.  That’s not called “volunteerism” or “charity” – it’s called “slavery.”  If I didn’t have deadlines for my company’s website, I’d be doing a number of things.  I’d be working on my Greatest Books for Conservatives megalist.  Owing my employer a day’s work for a day’s wages, I’m obliged to type it at home.  I’d be working on my own future novels and films about freedom.  I’d be writing speeches for Tea Party candidates.  Oh, the things I could do if I didn’t have to work for a living.

Soon enough – all too soon – I will have all the time in the world.  But I won’t have all the money in the world.  Comes March, I’ll be unemployed.  My severance pay and unemployment will carry me for awhile, but I’m far from being so independently wealthy that I can afford to remain in that state of freedom indefinitely.  By this time next year, I will be obliged to sell my time, if I’m lucky, to another employer with deadlines.  The Greatest Books list at least offers me one useful solace – it’s improving my typing speed and accuracy.

Up until the creation of the Great Society, we had a reasonably balanced society economically. Blacks needed to be allowed to work.  Once that huge mistake was corrected, our economy hummed like a well-oiled machine.  Sure, there were socialist cranks squeaking their wheels because Capitalism was flourishing and socialism wasn’t.   But who cared?

Still, the Socialists persevered in their designs to upend society.  Thanks to Obama’s “transformation” our economy has been upended.  Thanks to all the entitlement programs, the money is not only flowing downhall to the dregs of society, but it’s draining right out of economy altogether.  If something is done to correct the many problems, the American engine will seize up and break down entirely.

The present GOP field is not encouraging.  Romney is Obamacare lite.  Perry doesn’t care that illegal immigrants are flowing over our borders.  Social Security is a Ponzi scheme that holds our senior citizens – and the politicians for whom they would vote – hostage.  None of these candidates can or will do anything about it.  Bachmann needs to polish her image.  Ron Paul is a Truther.  Palin is pro-union.  Christie is a moderate.  Yet we must put one of them in office. 
Bachmann at least has all her conservative ducks in the right row.  Like Palin, she may be too much of a lightweight, though.  The heavyweights, unfortunately, are overweight from too much compromise and Kool-Aid drinking.  Unless there’s a Conservative Superhero waiting in the wings to announce their candidacy, we’re in trouble.

If the Socialists win in 2012, we’ll be lucky if we have a pot left in which to put our poor, scrawny chicken, much less filet mignon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Classless Clown

You’d think we’d all be used to Obama and his faux pax by now.  Bowing to Middle Eastern potentates.  Insulting the Queen of England and her country by returning a bust of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  Declaring that the automobile was invented in the United States, of which he claims there are 57.  Stuttering through numerous speeches.  Some president of the United States he is.

Just when you think he can’t get any worse – he does something to top the last humiliation.  On Tuesday, he was part of a photo op at the United Nations.  Behaving like the class clown, he put his hand up in front of Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj's face as the camera flashed.  Photographers are used to this sort of nonsense, although they expect it of school kids, not world leaders.  Still, put people in a group and a class clown usually turns up.  Sadly, for the United States of America, that clown turned out to be our president.

The photographer took other photos, but of course it was the picture of our president making a fool of himself that made the papers, websites, blogs, and Twitter.  Nothing like a little adolescent humor to distract everyone’s attention from the fact that the Arab world is hell-bent on wiping Israel out of existence.

Obama, the sophomore, is wise enough to know that he must vote against recognizing Palestine as a state if he doesn’t want to alienate the solidly Democrat-voting American Jewish demographic.  Goodness knows why.  To hear crooner Tony Bennett – who left his mind as well as his heart in San Francisco – sing it, the United States is to blame for the 9/11 attacks by supporting Israel and “occupying” the Middle East.  Never mind that Saudi Arabia requested our help to fend off Saddam Hussein’s depradations.  Never mind that a war in Iraq was preferable to a war in Afghanistan’s trackless mountains, a scenario Osama Bin Laden favored.  According to Bennett, he lent Bush his ear, into which Bush whispered his regret that we’d ever gone into Iraq.

Wars are costly affairs, indeed.  That’s why we should go in as quickly and with as much firepower as possible, win it and put an end to it.  Neither of the Pres. Bushes created the modern nation of Iraq.  That nation’s creation goes back to the World War II era and beyond.  Israel was the price Europe had to pay for centuries of mistreating the Jews.  As for the Muslims – tough luck; the Jews were there first.  They built Jerusalem, not the Palestinians, a minor tribe the Jews conquered centuries ago.

How long is the West going to allow itself to be held hostage to Islam’s revisionist history of the world?  Palestine has not agreed to a single term of peace with Israel.  In fact, Israel has surrendered far more than it ever should have in the constant wars with its Arab neighbors.  Palestinians want recognition for themselves, yet refuse to recognize the existence of Israel.  Abbas’ single term for peace is the annihilation of Israel. 

Finally, in this week of absurdities, New York City is “celebrating” the opening of the Ground Zero Mosque (a.k.a. as the Islamic Center), right around the corner from the finally-built World Trade Center memorial.  Manhattan’s considerable Jewish population has absolutely no problem with this.  In fact, they decry out-of-town protestors who object to the building of this mosque, a la the al-Aqsa mosque (which Muslims are demanding to be “returned” to them).  Observant Jews say that these Metro Jews care nothing for the religion, that they’re non-practicing Jews – JINOs – Jews In Name Only.  They care only for power, politics, and profits from a one-world government.  Israel means nothing to them at all.

Osama can’t be in fear of these people, who are his solid supporters.  Strangely, he’s more fearful of a small minority of observant Jews, and their much larger, Christian backers who are appalled at the notion of this tiny but democratic country being wiped out of existence.  Though it might seem odd, in Israel, American Christians see the writing on the Wailing Wall.

If Israel goes, we’re next.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eliminating the Competition

Obama and the Liberals are still following their progressive agenda of spreading the wealth, making things “equal” for everyone, eliminating all sense of competition.  In their utopia, everyone will just feel so good.  Everyone will be a winner.  There will be no “losers”.  Or more, to the point, everyone will be a loser, like in the Great Depression.

Well, here’s what’s wrong with that:  The Bloomingdale Cornet Band has been participating in the N.J. Firemen’s Convention Parade for 27 years.  In the early days, we had plenty of competition.  We didn’t win first place in the beginning, but we were game for the competition for Best Senior Band.  In fact, it took us a couple of years to get to first place.

The first year was rainy, wet, and very windy, just like this past weekend.  I can’t recall whether we had jackets or not, but it didn’t matter; they got soaked through.  We still had our old, long-sleeve shirts, of varying shades of faded blue.  Yet, just as we got to the judging line, the sun came out and shone on us.  When we learned we’d won second place, among quite a number of larger bands, we were ecstatic.

As we kept winning, our band grew and grew.  At one point, we had 45 musicians, 20-some color guard, and our drum major.  We were awesome.  Those were the band’s glory days.  Every year, we found something new that we could do better.

Good times never last for long, though.  A couple of things happened.  The other bands got tired of always coming in second-place and so they stopped coming to the parades.  We were dismayed.  As officers, we even tried to hint to the judges that it would be all right if they notched us down a little and let the other guy win.  But they said they couldn’t do that; if we were the best band, then we were the best band.

Being the best band is no fun if you’re the only band on the street.  Inevitably, politics also interfered.  We began to lose musicians both to boredom with always winning in Wildwood with no competition and to infighting.  Other people wanted to be officers and have the glory of leading the best band in New Jersey.  One of the political battles was over giving participation money to the musicians in Wildwood, based on attendance, something I always maintained was a bad idea.  The trouble began when a young high school musician demanded his attendance money even though he wouldn’t be going to Wildwood.  The money was for the purpose of defraying the ancillary costs of going to Wildwood (gas, tolls, dinner, amusement park rides, arcade games and so forth).  Technically, we are a volunteer, non-paying band.

Our musicians were getting older, too, and retiring.  Young people weren’t as willing to play with a community marching band.  The high school bands were having their own problems getting kids to buck the new counter-culture grain and learn traditional music.  Some played with us for awhile during their high school years.  But hardly any New Jersey students actually go to New Jersey colleges.  Once they went off to school, they were gone for good.

Younger kids are no longer interested in serving on our band front, either.  They’re too busy playing soccer where they earn free “participation awards.”  The daughter of one of our musicians (musicians are invited to bring their families down to Wildwood), when the former band front advisor asked her if she’d like to carry a flag, haughtily told the woman, “I have better things to do than march with the band.”  When the new officers took over, the kids on the front demanded new uniforms.  They were literally wearing the uniforms their mothers wore.  However, those uniforms were quite attractive; the new replacements, not so much.  To young ladies, appearance is everything.  The old uniforms, bright and colorful, attracted many new recruits to the front.

That’s the way the band was in the 1960s and it seems we’re back to those bad old days again, where we have barely enough musicians to put on the street.  We’re really desperate for tuba players.  Our most faithful tuba player is 75.  He’s a youngish 75, but his ankles are starting to bother him and there’s no young tuba player to take over his spot, or at least help him out.

Finally, 9/11 affected us, in an indirect way.  In the post-9/11 age, volunteer firefighters are required to take more training, which eats into their volunteer time.  Between training and fighting actual fires, they have little time for fund-raising and parades.  They can barely afford to hire us, even at a lower rate, much less host a full-scale parade.  Many of the parades we used to do 30 years ago have been cancelled altogether.  In any case, we don’t have enough musicians to cover an 18-parade schedule.

That’s what happens when you eliminate competition, give everyone a “participation award” (all marching units receive one in Wildwood), and try to “spread the wealth” around; it just doesn’t work.  Manners go right out the window.  The fresh little girl who denounced the idea of marching is no match in manners for her counterpart on the band front.  In fact, she and her friends, also musicians’ daughters, as well their brothers, would benefit from the discipline our band front members learn out on the street.  How to stand at attention, focus on what’s ahead and not be distracted; how to take orders; how to work as a team; how their individual contributions adds to the group’s spirit; how to respect the American flag and how to respect others as well. 

Whatever it is those spoiled little boys and girls learn at their soccer games and cheerleading practices and so forth, good manners and respect aren’t among them.  A generation of youngsters is learning they can get something for doing something totally useless like kicking a ball around a field, admiring sports heroes, while our band front kids spent this weekend honoring real life heroes – the firefighters of New Jersey.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Turban Terror

Guess the Danish cartoonist who portrayed the Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban with a fuse can be let off the fatwa hook now.  Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, a leader in the Afghan peace council, was killed in his home today by a terrorist who hid a bomb under his turban.

According to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, two suicide bombers, “feigning a desire to conduct reconciliation talks, detonated themselves.”  The attack occurred when a meeting scheduled between Rabbani and a Taliban delegation representing the insurgency was due to meet.  Four other people were wounded, according to CNN’s report, including one Rabbani’s key advisers.

Current Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, whom Rabbani opposed, cut short his visit to the United Nations to return home.  The English translation of Taliban, or Taleban, as the current spelling goes, means “student militia” or “student group.”   According to Michael Scheurer’s book, Osama Bin Laden, this uniting of Muslim student groups was long in planning and a great dream of Bin Laden’s.  He had called for student uprisings all across the Muslim Middle East.

The long-delayed war in Afghanistan was also something Bin Laden had hoped for.  He poured a great deal of money into Afghanistan’s insurgent Taliban and into the country’s infrastrure, building roads and hospitals, and an army to repel whatever Western super power had the temerity to cross its borders.  After 9/11, we only spent two months in Afghanistant before Pres. Bush turned our attention to Iraq, greatly disappointing Bin Laden by not engaging in a mountain war which we could not win, and mounting a desert war, which we certainly could.

The militants consider any Muslim who tries to broker a deal with the West an apostate who deserves death.  Anyone who thinks the Taliban or any other Muslim student militia desires peace with the West is dreaming.  The freedom they want is, first, to rule the Arab world, and secondly, to spread their belief from there.  Scheurer argues that Osama never wanted to dominate the world, only to deliver the Arab world from the Great Satan.  With the West’s open borders, however, that is a specious argument.  If Muslims so hated the West, they would shun us, as the Pennsylvania Dutch avoid contact with the modern world.  They wouldn’t even be here.  Yet the U.S. Muslim population is said to be exploding.  Why are they here, since they clearly don’t believe in freedom?

If the Muslim people are innocent, it is only because Islam holds a dagger to their throats.  They have no choice in the Arab world but to submit, or die.  It’s not much of a choice, worship Allah or die.  So, their young men drink the Kool-Aid, in great guzzling gulps, until they’re driven so mad, brainwashed with such zealotry that they fly planes into buildings or place bombs in their turbans to kill anyone who doesn’t “share” their faith.

Zealots and communists blame America for centuries of madness and for denying a baseless land claim by a tribal people driven not by heritage but religious insanity.  The Palestinians don’t wish to create and claim Palestine for Palestinians, but for a worldwide Islamic state that recognizes no leader at all but a violent camel rider dead these many centuries.  Were a caliphate to be reinstated, Palestine’s boundaries would immediately vanish into the desert wind.  Their only purpose in trying to create a Palestinian “state” is to drive out what they consider an infidel invader – Israel.

Anti-semitism is alive and well 66 years after Adolf Hitler’s death.  A new Aryan leader has taken up Hitler’s banner and his call to wipe the Jewish people (and any other infidels) off the face of the earth.  The Jewish people have been betrayed by their own children, who care nothing for being God’s Chosen Children.  They follow a new, base and unholy faith led by corrupted government servants.  They crave power for themselves; they certainly don’t wish to worship the power of God, that invisible (to them) being who takes all the fun out of life.

How they can be so blind as to the horrors of life under totalitarian Muslim rule can only be attributed to a lifetime of brainwashing and drug use.  What price are they paying to throw Israel, the only democratic nation in the Middle East, under the steamroller of progressive totalitarianism?  What will be left of their souls and our lives and world, when they finally accomplish their mission?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Raining On Our Parade

Our band was looking forward to the annual N.J. Firemen’s Parade in Wildwood this past weekend. Initially, the forecast was for very pleasant weather. Sun, low humidity, temps in the lower seventies; perfect parading weather.

By the time we got down to North Wildwood, the weather and the forecast had changed. The wind was starting to blow a gale, the temperature was only in the high sixties, dark clouds were approaching, and our spare rain jackets were back in the storage facility up north. Corps rules: if one member is missing a jacket, everyone has to go without a jacket.

By the time we took our annual group photo, the first raindrops were beginning to fall. One here. Another there. Pretty soon, they were joined by their fellow raindrops. As we got to the line-up street, the drops were increasing and by step-off, it was a genuine show. This wasn’t one of those gentle, summer showers though; the wind was blowing stiff and the rain ate right through our skin down to our bones. We’ve marched in cold rains before, but not without our jackets.

Our very first Firemen’s Convention parade taught us the value of having jackets. We were way down south in Wildwood Crest by the bay, about as far back in the line-up as we could get; the place of honor for new parade participants. We huddled up against a fire engine and the larger men (and women) surrounded us as a windbreak. That night, we all went to the boardwalk, had clam chowder and bought cozy Wildwood sweatshirts.

This year, by the time we got back to our hotel, where we do our traditional two-block triumphal march, our hands were so frozen, musicians in each section had to take turns playing while their partner warmed up their hands.

There was a lot of excitement, too. On Friday night, the North Wildwood F.D. was called out, in earnest, no less than three times. Each time, they came charging up our street (23rd Street). The first time, we learned later, was for a stabbing murder(!). The second time was at 2 a.m., when the company responded to a boardwalk fire. Someone (rumor has it a car was seen with Pennsylvania plates) set fire to Go-Kart garage on one of the amusement piers. Another set of engines came charging up the road a short time later, which means a second alarm. The authorities have been mum about how this fire was set.

Most, if not all, of the northern counties were missing out of the parade. The fire apparatus must be absolutely spotless in judging, and word is the northern fire companies just couldn’t be bothered trying to make their trucks ready for the white glove inspection. Since 9/11, additional mandatory training requirements have doused the enthusiasm and time volunteer firefighters have for such things as parades.

Wildwood built their new convention center in better times, before September 11th and before this permanent recession. Residents were assured the local tax increase would only be temporary. But the giant new hall sits empty, for the most part. Corporations prefer the adult amusements of Atlantic City to the family-friendly fare of the Wildwoods.

At least, the Wildwoods are trying to keep their boardwalk family friendly. The teens and twenties gangs who roam the boardwalk have different ideas. The shops offer an infinite variety of tee shirts from the merely vulgar to the downright profane and sexually explicit. The activity keeps the Wildwood boardwalk police busy.

My “gang” and I had stopped at Kohler’s Custard stand. We stood on the south side of the building to get out of the wind. I have an American flag pin that says, “I Am A Proud American.” Walking along the boardwalk, I noticed the cops giving me queer, angry glances. Now, at Kohlers, a pair of them joined us. My friends thought it was to get out of the wind. However, the first thing they did was read my pin. They didn’t say anything though. Once they got a good look at, they must have realized it was inoffensive and didn’t look again.

There attention was soon claimed by a group of teenagers who demanded an apology for their First Amendment rights. One of them was wearing a profanity-laced, sexually explicit hoody. The cop was very terse. “I don’t care,” he said. “Take it off.”

The teens simply laughed and skipped away into the midst of the boardwalk crowd, filled with parents leading little tykes in search of kiddie rides that were actually open and running. How to explain all the lewd and profane apparel to a four year-old?

“Mommy, what does F&*@ mean?”

“It’s Greek for 'idiot', dear.”