Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day, 2011

Today is the day we honor those who put their lives on the line for our country and freedom.  They’re the ones who came back, who lived to tell the tale.  They’re the ones we get to thank in person.  This is an interesting day, because it’s November 11, 2011.  The eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year.

Some of them may be missing an arm or a leg.  Others are whole on the outside, but haunted on the inside with memories of the brothers and sisters-in-arms they left behind.  To the surviving veterans, those who didn’t return are the true heroes.

Nevertheless, we owe them our gratitude for all the freedoms we enjoy – and are throwing away carelessly.  They are generally a diffident group.  They would much rather shut the door on the ugly memories of battle – the rain of bullets, the exploding grenades, the blood and the gore.  The K-rations.

We honor this holiday to remind ourselves and our children of the price of freedom.  Some must live to return to remind us.  Nothing need be said about battles and long marches.  A hug, if it’s someone you know, will do.  A thank-you will suffice to the veteran on the street.

We owe them that much at least, as well as a free country to which veterans can return after the war is over.  They’ve done the hard part.  The least we can do is stand up for the conservative values the U.S. Constitution enumerates, protect those who would tinker with it, and defend it from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Too bad all those who didn’t vote on Tuesday – especially in New Jersey – didn’t think of that when they decided they had something better to do than go to the polls, or that the elections weren’t important.  The right to vote was important enough for our men and women in the armed forces to risk their lives defending.

My mother, the bus driver, on a trip back from Florida up I-95 years ago, was on the CB with some yokel truck driver bashing the United States of America.

“Listen!” she cried.  “My cousin was a U.S. Marine who fought on Iwo Jima and survived.  He still has the bullet holes in him.  He told us how so many men died on that miserable island.  They fought to get that flag up there, and then they still fought on for months after that, dying by the hundreds.  They died for you so you can trash our country on this radio.  And do you want to know something?  You weren’t worth it.”

Hoo-rah, Cousin Frankie (he died some years ago)!  Hoo-rah Dad (Army) and Uncles Arthur (Army – he’s still alive) and Tom (Navy)!  Hoo-rah to my brother’s friend, Dave (Army)!  Hoo-rah, Mom!  Hoo-rah to all our veterans in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Merchant Marines.  We haven’t forgotten you and we won’t ever forget you.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Tannenbaum Tax

The National Christmas Tree Association “requested” a 15-cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees in order to promote, research, and evaluate the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace?  This, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Any sensible business owner or economist will tell you that if you want people to buy more of your product, you don’t raise the price or ask the government to place a fee on that product or service.  That is what a monopolistically competitive industry, in cohoots with the government would do.  Government monopolies are all about producing as little as they can and charging as much as they can. 
White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told ABC News that despite some media coverage, “I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama Administration is not taxing Christmas trees. What’s being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign.”

The industry and the government underestimated the intelligence of the American public and their own powers of pernicious propaganda.  There’s just so much politically-correct, green-tinted, anti-Christian government overreach the public will digest in any given period.  The administration and the Department of Agriculture have backed off on the Christmas Tree fee – for the time being.  The spin meisters were sent back to the shop to re-message this latest piece of bureaucratic manipulation.
White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told ABC News, “The USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action.”  They must have gotten word that Santa is revisiting his naughty and nice list.
People love their live Christmas trees.  My supervisor’s parents had a Christmas tree farm and one of my co-workers married into a Christmas tree farm family.  When S.D. and her husband built their house in upstate New York on her parents’ property, her husband was going to take down the king of the Christmas trees on the former farm.  S.D. said, “No way are we cutting that tree down.  Move the house.”  Her husband, being a smart man, redrew the plans for the house.
We’re in a bad economy, as David Addington, a former top aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney noted.  This is not the time to be placing extraneous fees on anything.  The fresh-cut tree market does have competition in the form of artificial Christmas tree makers.  They have the advantage of not dying.  They last longer and you’re spared the task of throwing your beloved Christmas tree out to the curb with the garbage.
Still, leave the fresh-cut Christmas tree lovers to celebrate the Yule as they will.   The trees, whether live or artificial, are expensive enough.  This is an unseasonable economic time to be taxing their trees.   As for the White House, the USDA, and all the Greenie tree-huggers, Santa should leave a coal-powered energy plant in their stockings.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Trial by Mire

The U.S. Constitution guarantees every American the right to a trial by a jury of their peers.  In recent years, we’ve been following the Old World system, where an accusation was enough to condemn the accused to death.  “J’Accuse!”  Americans can hardly be blamed for harboring worried doubts in the trial by fury of presidential hopeful Herman Cain.  Four, and possibly five, women have accused Cain of sexual harassment while he was president of the National Restaurant Association.

The memories of Bill Clinton wagging his finger at the American public, crying angrily, “I did not have sex with that woman!” still linger in our minds.  John Edwards protested his innocence until DNA proved that he’d fathered a child by another woman other than his dying wife.  Clinton, darling of the media, was let off easily; he should have been thrown out of office.   The public was not so forgiving of Edwards.  If you cheat on a healthy wife who can deal with it, they’ll let you slide.  Cheat on a sick woman, and you’re history.
A troop of beautiful women came forward to accuse Clinton, while he was still a candidate.  The beauteous Jennifer Flowers was proof against the charge; a clement American public elected him away, dismissing the affair as a matter between Bill and Hilary.  The women tried to tell us, but the public wouldn’t listen.

The media is in a quandary with the charges against Herman Cain.  Which minority should they side with?  The black, but Republican, male candidate?  Or the rather long-in-the-tooth women?  The oldest charges are 14 years old.  All the women appeared to have “settled.”

Fourteen years ago, we only had a liberal media that serves as the Democrat/Progresive Propaganda Machine.  Now we have Fox News, the Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others giving us the rest of the story.  According to Fox:  “A woman who settled a sexual harassment complaint against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain in 1999 complained three years later at her next job about unfair treatment, saying she should be allowed to work from home after a serious car accident and accusing a manager of circulating a sexually charged email, The Associated Press has learned.”

“Karen Kraushaar, 55, filed the complaint while working as a spokeswoman at the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Justice Department in late 2002 or early 2003, with the assistance of her lawyer, Joel Bennett, who also handled her earlier sexual harassment complaint against Cain in 1999.  Three former supervisors familiar with Kraushaar's complaint, which did not include a claim of sexual harassment, described it for the AP under condition of anonymity because the matter was handled internally by the agency and was not public.

“To settle the complaint at the immigration service, Kraushaar initially demanded thousands of dollars in payment, a reinstatement of leave she used after the accident earlier in 2002, promotion on the federal pay scale and a one-year fellowship to Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, according to a former supervisor familiar with the complaint. The promotion itself would have increased her annual salary between $12,000 and $16,000, according to salary tables in 2002 from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Kraushaar told the AP she considered her employment complaint "relatively minor" and she later dropped it.
She left her job at the National Restaurant Assn. in 1999 after she complained of harassment by Cain, who was the association's chief executive from 1996 to 1999. At the time, she received a $45,000 settlement from the restaurant group, which agreed to pay the claim without acknowledging its validity.

“’The concern was that there may have been discrimination on the job and that I was being treated unfairly," Kraushaar said.

“Kraushaar said Tuesday she did not remember details about the complaint and did not remember asking for a payment, a promotion or a Harvard fellowship. Bennett, her lawyer, declined to discuss the case with the AP, saying he considered it confidential. Kraushaar left her job at the immigration service after dropping the complaint in 2003, and she went to work at the Treasury Department.

“Details of the workplace complaint that Kraushaar made at the immigration service are relevant because they could offer insights into how she responded to conflicts at work. She now works as a spokeswoman in the office of the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration.

“Kraushaar's complaint was based on supervisors denying her request to work full time from home after a serious car accident in 2002, three former supervisors said. Two of them said Kraushaar also was denied previous requests to work from home before the car accident.

“The complaint also cited as objectionable an email that a manager had circulated comparing computers to women and men, a former supervisor said. The complaint claimed that the email, based on humor widely circulated on the Internet, was sexually explicit, according to the supervisor, who did not have a copy of the email. The joke circulated online lists reasons men and women were like computers, including that men were like computers because ‘in order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.’  Women were like computers because ‘even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.’”
That’s it; that’s Kraushaar’s “evidence” against the immigration service.  Evidently, the joke about the women was right on target; here it is years later, and we discover that her complaint was based on a joke that was more offensive to men than to women.  What’s more,

Since 2010, Kraushaar has served as a communications director at the Inspector General’s Office of the Treasury Department, making her a part of the Obama Administration.

The next accuser is Sharon Bialek, the Chicago woman who says she was groped by Cain when she met with him in 1997 to ask for help finding a job.  Cain said when he watched her news conference Monday, he did not even recognize her, and that her account of inappropriate sexual conduct “simply didn't happen.”

Bialek has been described by associates as a ladder-climber.  They’ve asserted that she’s ambitious and pushy, and was in the habit of outspending her income, when she had one.  She also received a payoff for her allegations. She’s a self-described Tea Party member, and met up with Cain at the Tea Party Con, where observers described her manner as friendly and even flirtatious, hugging Cain when she greeted him.  Cain claims he doesn’t even remember her.

The other two accusers are still anonymous, but this is the information out on the Internet about them:

Accuser 2:
•Was in her mid-30s at the time of the incident.
•Incident occurred during a night of heavy drinking after work.
•Left the National Restaurant Association in 1998.
•Received $35,000 in a settlement.
Sources: The New York Times, Politico

Accuser 3:
•Worked at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s.
•Made "sexually suggestive remarks or gestures" to her at that time.
•Alleged the harassment included a "private invitation" to Cain's corporate apartment.
•Did not file an official complaint.
•Has not come forward for fear of losing her current job and damage to her reputation.

Meanwhile, a more serious trial is going unheeded by the American public:  the Congressional hearings on Attorney General Eric Holder and his involvement in the Fast and Furious scandal, where the American government sold guns to the Mexican drug cartels.  Later, a border agent was murdered by a cartel member with one of those guns.

We’re being distracted by a carnival sideshow, while a real crime is in danger of being whitewashed.  But hey, it’s only about drugs, which Americans will eventually vote in favor of decriminalizing, and a dead border agent who would’ve been out of a job anyway, once illegal immigrants are granted immunity from prosecution for crossing our borders illegally.  Why, one day, there won’t be any laws to break, anyway.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Vote, Not Smote

Okay, New Jersey – this is your big chance.  This is your moment.  Sick of the Occupy Wall Street protesters occupying your television screens?  Tired of the antics?  Disgusted by their behavior?  Well, now you can show them how adults behave:  get to your voting booth and show the whole world how America does things.  The right way.  The Constituional Way.

Today is what the U.S. Constitution is all about:  voting for your representatives in our federated republic.  Our representatives take the greater burden of running our country off our shoulders for us.  In order to do that, we must remain informed in order to hold them accountable for their actions.  All it takes is reading the local newspapers and the candidates website, then going to the polling place and making your choice.

The other “choice” which Occupy Wall Street is giving us is to take to the streets 24/7, live in tents, befoul the streets, threaten innocent passers-by, and ruin businesses all because some investor was smarter than you about money and rides around in Mercedes-Benz.  In truth, most billionaires came by their billions honestly, like Steve Jobs.  Only a minority are manipulative crooks and we have the Security & Exchange Commission to deal with them.

Don’t be fooled about who’s responsible for the banking crisis: it began in the Jimmy Carter era with the Community Reinvestment Act, putting people into homes who couldn’t afford them.  Someone ultimately had to pay the bill, and the payers turned out to be us.  If the Progressives fully realize their plan, there will be a total transfer of power until the poor, with their larger families are living in your houses and you’re living in the housing projects.

Countering this trend takes more than mere voting; it requires education, organization, determination, and faith in the American way.  That’s what it takes to present a suitable candidate for office so that when you get to the voting booth, you’ll know for whom your voting and in whose hands you’re placing the fate of our country.

This is no time to push the button or pull the lever with your eyes closed.  Read the names on the ballot and memorize them.  You’ll be seeing the names of the winners again someday.  Make sure that they’re names of honor.

Katie Cole for Mayor of Pompton Lakes.  Good luck, Ms. Cole!  Take that, Occupy Wall Street!

Monday, November 07, 2011

One Day Left

New Jerseyans, you have one day left to decide.  Tomorrow are the state and local elections.  This may be your last chance to enjoy a government of, by, and for the people.  For the last 40 years or so, we’ve been slowly abrogating that right.

Enervated by a left-leaning, propagandist Meda, intimidated by guerilla theater tactics, brainwashed by a corrupted school system that owes its legacy to the teachers’ riots of the 1930s and their pact to inculcate future generations in the glories of communism and collectivism, disgusted by the attendant political corruption, dithered by drugs, and lured by the joys and material possessions of the comfortable life our parents left us, we have no “taste” for politics.  We “hate” politics.  We don’t want to have anything to do with politics.  We don’t even want to be bothered researching the politicians for whom we’re casting votes.

We’re so divorced from politics, as we are from the traditional American culture and work ethich that made our country great, that only a small percentage of voters goes to the state and local polls.  Like indifferent fans of football or baseball, we only pay attention to the Super Bowl or the World Series.

The OWSers are agitating for a collectivist, “democratic” state.  Are they kidding?  This generation of couch potatoes take government into their own hands?  They won’t even go to their own kids’ school board meetings.  The only citizens willing to take an active role in preserving the United States of America are its senior citizens, who made up the majority of the tea party membership.

But the Progressives have a plan to take care of them.  They’re called “Smart Communities.”  Even now, newspapers like The Bergen Record are softening up the families for this eventual transfer of property.   Get those old people out of those big houses, which you adult children have to help them care for.  Put them into local senior housing, where they’ll be closer to public transportation, which doesn’t exist in the suburbs – yet.  But once they do, you’ll be putting plenty of unemployed people to work in union-organized and government subsidized positions.

It’ll be better for everyone?  Except for the older people, who won’t get the full generational value of their homes and property.  That means you adult children will have less of an estate when the time comes.  But those houses will be freed up to fill with the sizable inner city families who can’t afford homes of their own and must rent apartments in the city.  Well, what if they changed places?

Oh that sounds so logical doesn’t it?  Of course, there is the little matter of defining a “senior citizen.”  A senior citizen is a retired person, usually about 65 years old or so.  For government employees, especially teachers, it’s 55 – and their children have already left the nest.  However, these junior senior citizen still have plenty of life in them to enjoy their property. 

Big brother generously offered his home, the Milton Hilton (a section of Oak Ridge) as we call it, as a place of residence if I can’t find further employment and can’t afford to live in my condo.   I warned him that with the coming insurrection, he may be the one looking for a place to live.  Divorced, and with a son who’ll be graduating from graduate school in the spring, his Milton Hilton is going to be a very tempting target for progressive-minded socialists to seize. 

‘You’ll come home one day,’ I warned him, ‘and find these people on our doorstep, demanding to see the deed to the property and other such papers that prove ownership.  And you won’t be able to provide them with that proof because it’ll be inside the house, which they’ll have barred you from entering.  And even if you can produce the evidence of ownership, they’ll still argue that you’re one person living in a huge, 4-bedroom house that can accommodate at least 8; or 16, if they live there in shifts.  They’ll declare that you’re committing an injustice and send you to some blighted city to live in a cramped apartment because they’ll claim that’s all you need.’

He thought I was full of it.  He thinks the Tea Party is a joke.  He’s also of the philosophy that you can’t fight City Hall.  In short, while he works hard, he’s politically lazy.  However, I must give him credit for keeping up on local politics.  During the last election, he found himself, for the first time, voting Democrat locally because he said the Republicans were an even bigger bunch of crooks.

Don’t be too distracted by the OWSer puppet show.  While the left hand is doing its song-and-dance routine, the other left hand is picking your pocket, brainwashing your kids, and selecting new curtains for your house.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Here's Our Hat; What's Our Hurry?

Obama has set a deadline of Dec. 31st, this year, to withdraw all our troops out of Iraq. He hasn’t said anything about the troops in Bosnia, Germany, Japan, or any of the other countries in which our troops were stationed.

One country he isn’t in as much of a hurry to leave is Afghanistan. Even though he got the Gold Ring – Osama Bin Laden, our troops still there. One reason is that the Taliban hasn’t quite been routed. But there’s another reason: there’s gold in them thar Afghanistan hills.

That had to figure, being so mountainous and otherwise worthless, except for growing opium, that Afghanistan had to have some redeeming value. According to Scientific American’s contributing editor, Sarah Simpson, “An astounding variety of minerals is liked buried in Afghanistan, including seven world-class mineral deposits. Based on recent science, senior officials think mining could make the country economically stable and cut its heavy dependence on foreign aid and illicit opium trade. Outside nations have already invested in two site, and six more are scheduled for auction; infranstructure will have to be improved, however. Production at a single large mine could provide jobs for tens of thousands of Afghans.

“China currently provides 97 percent of the world’s rare-earth supply [of critical elements for such industries as the electronics industry], which makes other industrial countries nervous.”

But who were the first bidders for gold and these rare-earth mineral despoits were confirmed, way back in 2007? China Metallurgical Group was one and China’s Aynak was close behind. “Afghanistan’s most potentially lucrative stash: iron concentrated in Haji-Gak, mountainous terrain about 130 kilometers west of Kabul (and conveniently close to the planned railroad northward from Aynak). Estimated at a whopping $420 billion, the source could bring in $300 million in government revenue each year and employ 30,000 people, according to the Afghan ministry.”

Thanks to the 2001 U.S. “invasion”, the Afghanistan Geological Survey got the authorization, the funds – and the protection – to develop the sites. Chasing out the Tablian is critical to the mission. When the U.S. Geological Survey visited the site of the AGS’ offices in Kabul, they found a bombed-out office. Their scientists needed to be brought up to speed on computer technology, though. According to Simpson, “one Afghan chemist recoiled when someone pulled out a laptop. She wouldn’t touch it because she was afraid she’d be electrocuted.”

Nor were they educated on plate tectonics. But they learned quickly. Thanks to the $8.7 million dollars, to say nothing of the U.S. military personnel assigned to make sure they succeed. At the beginning of the article, we’re told: “The scene at first resembles many that play out daily in the war-torn Red Zone of southern Afghanistan: a pair of Black Hawk helicopters descend on a hillside nearly the country’s border with Pakistan. As the chopper lands, U.S. Marines leap out, assault rifles ready. But then geologists sporting helmets and heavy ceramic vests jump out, too. The researchers are virtually indistinguishable from the soldiers except that they carry rock hammers instead of guns. A human chain of soldiers encircles the scientists as they step forward on the dusty ground.

“’The minute you get off, you go into geologist mode,’ says Jack H. Medlin, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s activities in Afghanistan. ‘You forget, basically, that these guys are around – unless you try to get out of the circle.’

Medlin’s team has flown many missions, each one limited to an hour so that hostile forces do not have time to organize and descend. Sixty minutes is a stressful, fleeting instant to geologists who would typically take days to carefully sample and map a site.”

“The latest of these gutsy excursions revealed a superlative cache of rare-earth elements – a coveted subset of critical minerals that have become essential to high-tech manufacturing and yet are in short supply in the U.S. and many nations. The prized Afghan deposit is comparable to the premier site mined in China.”

Yet, a major Chinese major mining company has laid claim to a huge copper despoit, while U.S. interests have invested in gold, while India and are nations are eying Afghanistan’s iron mines.

So it seems U.S. aid and military might are paving the way for China – which already has 97 percent of the world’s known rare-earth to deposits – to claim a complete monopoly on all rare-earth deposits. Does anyone want to bet that China will sit on these rare-earth deposits, while raising the price on its own? Yes, the mining operations could drive out the need for opium growers – and create another communist colony for China.

China is everywhere – up in space, toying with a new space station, out at sea, creating a brand new shiny naval fleet, spying on our industries, manufacturing everything the West goes into red ink consuming, sucking up the world's oil supplies, cheating the international firms that try to do business in China, and buying up the debt of every insolvent nation, including the United States.

Mineral deposits, particularly gold and silver, have always been a thorn of contention between China and the West. The trade imbalance is as old as the Opium Wars of the 17th Century. Meanwhile, for the past 40 years, we’ve been playing the Zero Population game, reducing our population and our future workforce. Honestly. Hasn’t anyone ever read Adam Smith and his theory on the importance of growing a working force?

Instead of a native-born population with a vested interest in the welfare of the country, we’re importing an illegal population with a vested interest in the welfare state, and exporting our skilled jobs to foreign shores. The temptation of cheap labor and lower Corporate tax rates are just too great for any company to be inveigled to remain here.

Don’t start packing your bags for that slow boat to China just yet, though. Keep in mind that their daily newspaper, The Beijing People’s Daily, has a daily section on its web page called “New of Communist Party of China.” Everyone is looking to China right now with starry eyes, but it would do well to remember the Wendy’s hamburger chain’s tv spot from the 1980s, depicting a Russian fashion show. In their hearts, the Communists don’t believe in product differentiation; they consider it inefficient. They seem to have taken up – or at least stolen – Western ways. In the commercial, Russian communist models come out in their plain grey suit. In one take, the model has a flashlight. “Evening wear,” the announcer says. Another model appears wearing the same jumpsuit and a rubber ducky. “Swimwear.”

When we were young, we used to laugh that everything we bought bore the label, “Made in China.” Nothing has changed in 40 years – except American attitudes about success. Oh we have posters about achieving success on our office walls.

But they’re made in China.