Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Knowing Where the Bodies Are Buried

Most mother-daughter teams enjoy spending a Saturday afternoon together shopping at the local mall.  They’re completely indoors, as far from the natural world as they can possibly get.  They’re surrounded by marble fountains, cosmetic shops, dress stores, and more shoes than Imelda Marcos could have dreamt of in a lifetime.  Women are in their natural element at the mall.  Something about the nesting instinct.

They’ll stop a center bistro to rest their feet and let their charge cards cool down, while they sip at a latte and nibble at a salad.  Their bags bear only the best names:  Lord and Taylors, Bloomingdales, and whatever stores are in fashion these days.  I haven’t been to a mall in at least ten years.

Mom decided she wanted a mother-daughter day today.  While most mother-daughter teams don’t have to worry about the weather, we did.  Our itinerary included the bargain Entenmann’s shop, Harbour Freight Hardware and Tools, a stop at Boston Market, and our final destination, Laurel Grove.

No nail polish and updated coiffures for this mother and daughter team.  Actually, I just chopped all my hair down into a pixie cut.  Thick head, thick hair.  People probably think I’m a cancer survivor or something.  Fortunately, I just suffer from an excess of excrescence.

Entenmann’s Discount Store is a great place to go to buy all those things you shouldn’t eat, like Vanilla Bean Cake and cinnamon crumb doughnuts.  Cinnamon crumb doughnuts are the best doughnuts ever.  We also picked up various danishes and whole wheat English muffins, to balance out the naughty side of our purchases.

Then it was on to Harbour Freight.  We’ve seen their circulars before, but heretofore their stores were located in Untouchable Cities, where ladies dare not go.  Their newest store is in Clifton, which isn’t too bad of a place.  It’s fairly easy to get to and has enough parking, though not as much as it should.

Harbour Freight is the place to go when you don’t want to pay Home Depot’s prices.  You can get all sorts of tools there, though not hardware (nails, screws, wingnuts and so forth).  This place has all the tools to put something together, but you still have to go to your local hardware store to get the hardware to put it together with.

Mom, ever the daughter of a GM mechanic, was in her ecstasies.  Rotary saws.  Electric drills.  Something called a “rounder.”

“Yeah, but what are you going to do with that thing, Mom?”

“Oh, you don’t understand!   You can cut plastic with it, ground down cement, plane wood!  It’s amazing what you can do with this.  I had one, but one of your brothers stole it.”

Mom was so excited she had to tell all the other customers how wonderful the store was (and what hooligans my brothers are).  I had to explain to them that Mom was just 88 and ranting.  Once they understood that, they laughed and said they felt the same way about their sons.

My mother didn’t raise any hothouse orchids.  I could appreciate some of the finer things at Harbour Freight, like the small dolly for $7.99, or the magnesium fire starter.  I was also in need of a four-outlet power strip, which I bought for the very hand price of $2.99.  Things don’t disappear from my condo, but they do have a tendency to rust, so I bought a new knife sharpener.

Of course, no Geek Girl’s emergency toolbox is complete without a magnesium fire starter.  After the Iraniums blow out all our electrical sources, we’ll need a way to start a fire when the matches run out.  I also finally got a tool I’ve been wanting for the longest time:  a bolt cutter.  They come in very handy when you want to trim artificial flower stems, open locks you’ve lost the keys to, or cut into the barbed wire fence surrounding the bank where the government is keeping your money.

The Progressives have declared a revolution and I’m prepared for it.

Finally, we stopped at the cemetery to tend to the graves of my father and maternal grandparents.  My father actually has two graves:  the place where his marker is and the place where he’s really buried.  They’ve moved his marker so many times that even the V.F.W. couldn’t find him anymore.  Fortunately, I have a friend who volunteers now to place the Memorial Day flags since the vets are too few and too old to do it.  She also put a flag on Grandpa’s grave for us.  Even though he didn’t fight during World War I because he missed the draft by about a day, and he was teaching at the Merchant Marine Academy in World War II, he performed enough of a patriotic duty at the Academy that they agreed to put a flag on his grave.

It’s surprising how few people tend to their relatives graves.  We’ve been tending my father’s for 35 years now.  This year, I’m my mother’s age when he died.  Other graves from that time period are completely grown over now.  So we trimmed the markers and I replaced the little flags I put on my father’s grave with the standard 8 x 12 inch flags (one for him and one for the guy he’s buried with, just in case he’s a vet, too).

Mom didn’t want Big Brother’s gal pal to come.  I thought that was kind of mean of Mom.  She does that some times.  She’s a stickler for protocol.  For GP to be invited by Mom, she’d have to be married, or at least engaged to my brother.  GP is willing, I think; it’s BB who’s gun shy.  Next Saturday is the actual 35th anniversary and I think I’ll suggest to BB brother, as the future matriarch of the clan, that we go with GP and make the observance.  I think the Nephew will be home from his world tour by that time, and my prospective future niece-in-law may come, too, if she wishes.  Without Mom’s knowledge, of course. 

The reason is that Lord knows when He might decide He wants a face-to-face meeting with me, and I have to let these other characters from the future generations know where the bodies are buried now.  Ten years from now, God only knows where they’ll have moved my father’s marker.

What Mom doesn’t know won’t kill her.

Bush Whacks Obama

Former Pres. George W. Bush’s portrait was placed in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.  Even though the White House promised the event would be non-political, Obama still managed to blame Bush for the bad economy.

The months before I took the oath of office,” he said, “were a chaotic time. We knew our economy was in trouble, our fellow Americans were in pain, but we wouldn't know until later just how breathtaking the financial crisis had been." George, you went out of your way to make sure that the transition to a new administration was as seamless as possible.  President Bush understood that rescuing our economy was not just a Democratic or Republican issue."

Still, Bush took the jibes in stride.  After his portrait was unveiled, he said,  “Maybe now sometimes you'll look up and ask, ‘What would George do?’”

We don’t know what George would do, but we certainly know what Obama has – and hasn’t done.  One year after signing the stimulus, not only did we not have the 3.5 million jobs he promised, but 2.8 million were lost.  The unemployment rate reached a height of 9.7 percent, with the rate calculated at 16.5 percent when underemployed and discouraged workers are factored into the equation.  334,000 Americas have given up looking for a job since the Stimulus Package was signed.

Since then, 47 states have lost jobs, and10 have moved to double-digit unemployment.  440 nonexistent Congressional districts received $6.4 billion in Stimulus funds.  The unemployment rate has lowered somewhat, but only because the government itself is creating jobs, particularly newly-minted IRS agents to collect money for Obamacare.  The only other states that have created jobs are those that are engaging in shale oil drilling.  Those states are booming.

The Stimulus website,, cost taxpayers $18 million to redesign.

Pres. Bush may have presided over a flailing economy, but he didn’t create it.  Our economy is the product of Progressive Democrats and Republicans and their cronies who have long since fled the scene, leaving a new party of Progressives to use the bad economy to greenmail us into Socialism.

Eventually, a portrait of Obama will be placed in the East Room, if there is, in fact a White House and a United States of America, by the time that happens.  Let’s hope the artist has a proper sense of perspective when he or she paints it.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ad Nauseum

Ever since advertisers discovered the efficacy of the broadcast medium to ply their wares, we’ve been subjected to a broad spectrum of radio and television advertisements.  Some are wonderfully memorable – the Choo Charlie and Chevrolet’s See the U.S.A. television ads from the Sixties.  Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin and Where’s the Beef from Burger King.  There are the not-so-memorable television ads – Sierra Mist’s Bagpipe Kilt Marilyn Monroe spoof, Holiday Inn’s Sex Change ad, the Visa Card ad where a cash-paying customer ruins everyone’s day.

Radio spots don’t endure in the memory as well.  One unmemorable spot is family legend, way back from the Sixties that simply involved a maniac laughing.  My mother hated it so much that we never forgot it.  The best national radio ads were probably the Club Med ads.  If you went to a Club Med and could actually sing their song (and everyone could), you got a special citation.  And of course, who can forget “I’m an Oscar Meyer Weiner”?

WEAF of New York is credited with airing the first paid radio commercial, on Aug. 28, 1922, for the Queensboro Corporation, advertising an apartment complex.

Over the decades, advertisers have become more sophisticated in their audience tracking.  The feedback they get from advertisers is more timely and efficient.  If they discover an advertisement is unintentionally offensive, they can yank the spot fairly quickly. The last thing a company wants to do is offend potential customers.

Not so the United States government.  Now that they’re almost completely in the business of running our lives, they’re playing advertisements to make sure we know it.  Two PSAs – Public Service Announcements – are particularly obnoxious.

The first is a partnership with the Ad Council.  The commercial features a young father explaining Swiss cheese to his three year-old.  So, what parent hasn’t engaged their kid at the supermarket?  No one, you would think, by the sound of this advertisement.  You’d think that it was a completely new idea from Michelle Obama’s Nabob Squad.

It’s not that the father is really objectionable, although in the first few seconds of the spot, he sounds more like the Geico Gecko and you think you’re about to sold insurance rather than Swiss cheese.  Except for that bit of confusion, the Dad is okay.  The dialog is kind of stupid but all right.  Hey, he’s talking to a 3 year-old and the kid is cute; the first time she speaks, she sounds smarter than her father.

It’s the Mary Poppins announcer.  In the voiceover, she deigns to explain to us the obvious – that a father is teaching his kid about Swiss cheese.  Well, if that just isn’t what we all need, especially parents -  Nanny State Poppins teaching us how to talk to three year olds, and talking to us as though we were three year olds.  It’s one of those commercials that you just can’t reach the control panel fast enough to turn off.

The other commercial is for Food Stamps.  This is actually a pair of commercials.  In the first commercial, Marge tells us not only how food stamps help her make ends meet economically, but actually assists her in nutrition.  You may laugh, but that’s because the Food Stamp program has a grocery list; there are only certain foods you can buy with the stamps.

That wasn’t always the case.  The food stamps go back to the mid-1960s and welfare people on Food Stamps can and did buy the most amazing food items:  filet mignon, lobster, potato chips, Kool Aid, Lucky Charms, Coca-Cola, Chips Ahoy.  My father made minimum wage.  We were not on food stamps or any other public assistance.  My mother bought milk, hot dogs, ground beef, beans, spaghetti, tomato sauce.

Now Food Stamp recipients are required to buy only the best.  Only fresh fruits and vegetables will do.  Do you know how much those fresh fruit and veggies are costing us per pound (especially when they’re out of season).  No macaroni and cheese for our poor people.

No wonder the pair in the companion commercial, observing their friend Marge’s excellent health titter and tee-hee their way through the entire spot.

Food Stamps are for everyone who can get their hands on them.  Tee-hee, tee-hee!  Why should you clip coupons like those poor working slobs?  Tee hee hee!  You don’t know what you’re missing.  Hee hee hee hee!  You can buy all your food retail, too.  Didn’t you know?  Tee hee-hee!

And the best part is, you never know who’s on Food Stamps!  Teeheeheeeheeeheeehee!

The Medal of Anti-Freedom

Among Obama’s list of Medal of Freedom winners are some obvious choices:  astronaut John Glenn, Shimon Peres (current president of Israel, although he was the Labor Party leader and influential in Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, a huge mistake for that country), and Nazi resistance fighter Jan Karski.  Down at the bottom of the list was a not-so-obvious choice:  Dolores Huerta, co-founder (along with Cesar Chavez) of the National Farm Workers Association, which ultimately because the United Farm Workers of America.

Huerta is somewhat akin to a Holocaust denier or 9/11 truther, in that she believes California and our southwestern states belong to Mexico (who didn’t want the territory at the time because it couldn’t populate it well enough to mine its vast mineral resources, and ultimately sold it to the United States).

Huerta is also a member of the virulently anti-Capitalist Democratic Socialists of America.  In fact, nearly all of Obama’s choices are inspired by their socialism.  John Paul Stevens is considered by some to be the most Liberal justice on the Supreme Court (he did vote against flag-burning, to be fair).  Sixties rock legend Bob Dylan needs no introduction. Other DSA members include Frances Fox Piven, Noam Chomsky, actor Edward Asner, former NYC mayor David Dinkins, Gloria Steinem, Ruth Messinger (Manhattan Borough President under David Dinkins), and Cornel West (civil rights activist whose heroes include Malcolm X, the original Black Panthers, and black theologist James Cone).

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is a democratic socialist and social-democratic  organization in the United States and the U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International, an international federation of social-democratic, democratic socialist and labor political parties and organizations.  The DSA was formed in 1982 by a merger of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) and the New American Movement (NAM).  Under the leadership of Michael Harrington, DSOC  became America’s largest democratic socialist organization, despite having started, in Harrington's words, as ‘the remnant of a remnant’ with Harrington having been the leader of a minority caucus of the Socialist Party of America in 1972 when it changed its name to Social Democrats, USA.  NAM was a coalition of writers and intellectuals with roots in both the New Left movements of the 1960s and the former members of socialist and communist parties of the Old Left.

Initially the DSA consisted of approximately 5,000 ex-DSOC members and 1,000 ex-NAM members. Upon the DSA's founding, Harrington and socialist-feminist author Barbara Ehrenreich were elected as co-chairs of the organization.  The DSA's leadership believes working within the Democratic Party is necessary because of the nature of the American political system, which rarely gives third parties a chance politically. That said, DSA is very critical of the corporate-funded Democratic Party leadership. 

The organization believes that, “Much of progressive, independent political action will continue to occur in Democratic Party primaries in support of candidates who represent a broad progressive coalition. In such instances, democratic socialists will support coalitional campaigns based on labor, women, people of color and other potentially anti-corporate elements... Electoral tactics are only a means for democratic socialists; the building of a powerful anti-corporate coalition is the end...”

DSA is organized at the local level, and works with labor unions, community organizations, and campus activists on issues of common interest. Nationwide campaigns are coordinated by the organization's national office in New York City.  As of 2006[update], the DSA website lists 24 chartered locals.

As for Mexican-American Huerta, she’s not only anti-capitalism, but anti-American.  According to Glenn Beck she stated that white people are the “enemies” of Latinos.  Or in her case, Chicanos.  She was instrumental in, among other things, providing welfare for illegal immigrants. 

Huerta started out life as a teacher but soon abandoned her teaching career because she felt she “could do more by organizing farm workers than teaching their hungry children.”  Her philosophy seeded the nursery for a permanent underclass, rather than educating a future workforce that could advance beyond the San Joaquin Valley.  It was the beginning of her “lifelong crusade to correct economic injustice.”

Huerta has received numerous awards for her work including Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American Award and the United State Presidential Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.  Don’t be too impressed by the Debs Foundation’s use of “Outstanding American” in its award title.   Eugene Debs, an American union leader, was one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and several times the Socialist Party of America candidate for President of the United States.  Through his presidential candidacies, as well as his work with labor movements, Debs eventually became one of the best-known Socialists living in the United States.

So this is what passes for “freedom” in Obama’s America.  Not individual freedom, individual achievement, success, and honor, not life, liberty, and the pursuit of one’s own happiness, but collective salvation, a centralized government that will micromanage American life, and coerce its units to sacrifice everything for the collective good.  Freedom in Obama’s America means “free stuff”, life without individual responsibility or choices.  Life without initiative.

Life without freedom.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Respecting the American Flag

I’d never seen a Purple Heart before yesterday.  At least, not up close and personal.  This Purple Heart was part of a Memorial Day exhibit sponsored by a local historical society and the local church.  It was pinned onto the uniform of a World War II soldier.  The widow of the soldier was one of the docents.  This wasn’t her husband’s uniform, but it was his medal.

Seeing pictures of a Purple Heart medal and actually holding one earned by one who’d sacrificed his life are two different things.  Carefully, I took it into my hand, as the widow watched sadly.  It was beautiful and heavy.  Such a thing should be heavy.  It should weigh in your hand and on your heart, so you don’t take the sacrifice lightly.  The ivory silhouette of George Washington gleamed in the shady chapel.

We’d just finished the parade.  It was a very hot day for a parade, and we four musicians who came into the chapel to see the exhibit were sweating profusely.  Still, it was a small sacrifice to make to honor the soldiers of various wars, from the Revolution to World War II.  In past years, I used to make a tour of this church’s extraordinary cemetery, noting how far back the gravestones dated.

As we left the chapel to cross the blocked off main street to return to our cars, the local high school band began playing the Star Spangled Banner.  My two remaining companions continued on.  One, our bass drum, has a severe hearing problem and probably didn’t realize they were playing.  The other, ten years older at 75, probably wanted to ignore it.  He suffers from gout and his feet were undoubtedly hurting.  Still, I hissed at them, “Guys!  Guys!!  GUYS!!”  The 75 year-old stopped.

“I think we’d better stop for the National Anthem,” he said, and removing his hat, exposed his head to the blazing sun.  The bass drummer also stopped.  We stopped, but onlookers just kept on going, even when we gave them rather pointed looks.  They’d been sitting in the shade for the entire parade.  They’d had cool drinks and were wearing summer clothing.  I’d already removed my uniform shirt; my tee shirt was drenched.  The bass drummer had removed his uniform shirt.  He’d had both his knees broken in a motorcycle accident years ago, when a drunk driver t-boned him on his ride.  Our friend the, eupher, was still completely stuffed in his uniform.  Yet, even though we’d marched about two miles and were tired, we stopped.

There’s no law that says you have to stop for the Star Spangled Banner, remove your hat, or hold your hand over your heart for the Pledge.  It’s more a matter of patriotic custom.  If the onlookers, in their hurry to get home to their pools and their barbecues, had bothered to visit the exhibit and held the Purple Heart in their hands, perhaps they would not have turned their backs on the flag ceremony.

At the Battle of Monmouth, it was 104 degrees.  On the Bataan Death March, if you stopped to wipe the sweat from your brow, or if you fell down, the Japanese soldiers shot you.  At the Battle of Iwo Jima, ironically, standing up was a certain death sentence.  Funny that we didn’t learn our lessons about Iwo Jima in Viet Nam.  I watched We Were Soldiers for the first time this weekend and it came as a completely surprise to our Army that the Viet Cong had tunneled right underneath their encampments.  Ah, the young always know it all.

The young have the least amount of discipline and it takes the full four years of high school marching band to teach young marchers the courage to face all kinds of weather (and be prepared for the heat).

The kid Glenn Beck referred to on his radio program this morning apparently was a runner, not a marcher.  He didn’t stand up because he was tired, his mother says.  Our band often plays at the local fireman’s home.  When we play the National Anthem, the fireman are told they’re excused from standing up.  Most of them are bedridden and hardly even know where they are.  But there are always a few firemen who aren’t quite so elderly who struggle up anyway.

They don’t stand up because they “have to”.  They stand up for the flag and the national anthem because they know it’s their duty and their honor.  No matter how heavy their physical burdens, they know the Purple Heart is heavier.