Nothing is Certain But Death, Taxes and the Fiscal Cliff

What exactly is this “fiscal cliff” that Obama denies exists but Conservative economists are warning that Obama is about to drive us over?  He says it isn’t there.  His GPS (Government Prognostication System) says it isn’t there.  But he’s in the driver’s seat and relegated us to the back seat.  Thanks to a bunch of free-loading voters, his presidential driver’s license was renewed.

Years ago, driving in San Francisco, I came to the top of one of its famous hills.  The hood of the car was pointed skyward – there was no road left and I couldn’t see the crest of the hill under the car.  It’s like that moment when the roller coaster car reaches the apex and then with a stomach-turning plunge, you find yourself flying helplessly down the other side.

What will happen to our economy when we reach its apex?  Will we plunge down the other side into a recession or even a depression?  Or will we, like Wiley Coyote, fall straight down to the bottom of the fiscal canyon?

Investopedia’s website describes the “fiscal cliff” this way:

“A combination of expiring tax cuts and across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to become effective Dec. 31, 2012.  The idea behind the fiscal cliff [is] that if the federal government allowed these two events to proceed as planned, they would have a detrimental effect on an already shaky economy, perhaps sending it back into an official recession as it cut household incomes, increased unemployment rates, and undermined consumer and investor confidence.  At the same time, it was predicted that going over the fiscal cliff would significantly reduce the federal budget deficit.”

Investopedia says that if Congress does “not avert this perfect storm of legislative changes, America will ‘fall over the cliff.’  Among other things, it will mean a tax increase the size of which has not been seen by Americans in 60 years.”

“The Tax Policy Center reports that middle-income families will pay an average of $2,000 more in taxes in 2012.  Many itemized deductions will be phased out and popular tax credits like the Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, and American Opportunity credits will be reduced.  401 (k) and other retirement accounts will be subject to higher taxes.

“Your marginal tax rate is the tax you pay on each additional dollar of income you earn.  As your income rises, your marginal tax rate (better known as your tax bracket) rises. For 2012, the tax brackets are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35%.  If [Congress] does not act, those rates will go up respectively to 15%, 28%, 31%, 36% and 39.6%.

“In addition, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 3.4 million or more people will lose their jobs.  The October 2012 unemployment rate of 7.9% represents significant improvement over the October 2009 rate of 10%.  The Congressional Budget Office believes that up to 3.4 million jobs would be lost, post fiscal cliff, due to a slowing economy with layoffs stemming from cuts in the defense budget and other things. This could result in an increasing unemployment rate

Obama says he only wants to raise taxes on the wealthy, not the middle class, without cutting spending.  His policy would do nothing to reduce the deficit.  Speaker of the House John Boehner says he wants to find bipartisan common ground with the Democrats.  How cutting spending would be an economic disaster for the nation is something of a mystery.

Cutting foreign aid to terrorist nation-states rather than to our military would go a long way towards reestablishing our credit credibility.  Cutting corporate tax rates would create more productive jobs than the government could produce, or mitigate.  Cutting government bureaucracy on every level would lower our deficit considerably.  Cutting generous union health care and retirement benefits would enable more taxpayers to buy their own health insurance, rather than depending on the vicissitudes of an employer and the economy.

Instead, insolvent Americans elected an economic terrorist as president who’s playing chicken with our economy in order to get his way.  He’s set his GPS to the United Socialist States of America.  There’s a huge gulf between the United States of America and the United Socialist States of America, but he’s willing to gun the engine and take the chance, a la Evel Knievel, to get us to the other side, from which there will be no returning.  Interfere with his Machiavellian plans, dare him, defy him, and he’ll gladly crash the car into the chasm below.

What does it matter, now?  He’s a second-term, lame-duck president with an obliging, boot-licking House of Representatives.  He can do whatever he wants.  Which is what he pretty much did throughout his first term.

 

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Published in: on November 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm  Comments (2)  

Palestine on the Verge of Statehood

The United Nations is scheduled to vote on the recognition of Palestine’s statehood today.  According to Fox News and the Associated Press, the Palestinians are confident the 193-member General Assembly will vote in their favor.  The United States and Israel warn that granting Palestine statehood will endanger a tenuous peace in the Middle East.

The vote comes after four years of dead-locked negotiations.  Palestinian statehood would include the Israeli-occupied West Bank (of the Jordan River), East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.  That doesn’t leave Israel, a thriving democracy, much room to grow and robs her of her traditional capital city, Jerusalem.

Most of the 193 General Assembly member states are sympathetic to the Palestinians, practically guaranteeing the vote will succeed. Several key countries, including France, have recently announced they would support the move to elevate the Palestinians from the status of U.N. observer to non-member observer state. However, a country’s vote in favor of the status change does not automatically constitute individual recognition of a Palestine state, something that must be done bilaterally.

Fox News reports, “The Palestinians say they need U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the lands Israel captured in 1967, to be able to resume negotiations with Israel. The non-member observer state status could also open the way for possible war crimes charges against the Jewish state at the International Criminal Court.

“In a last-ditch move yesterday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns made a personal appeal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promising that President Barack Obama would re-engage as a mediator in 2013 if Abbas abandoned the effort to seek statehood. But the Palestinian leader refused, said Abbas aide Saeb Erekat.

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Palestinians Thursday that they would not win their hoped-for state until they recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, declare an end to their conflict with the Jewish state and agree to security arrangements that protect Israel.

“’The resolution in the U.N. today won’t change anything on the ground,’” Netanyahu declared. ‘It won’t advance the establishment of a Palestinian state, but rather, put it further off.”

Abbas is in political trouble following the recent skirmish between his Hamas rivals in Gaza and Israel.  The Islamic militant group was victorious,  raising its standing in the Arab world, while Abbas’ Fatah movement was sidelined and marginalized.

Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday that the U.N. vote will not fulfill the goal of independent Palestinian and Israeli states living side by side in peace, which the U.S. strongly supports because that requires direct negotiations.

“’We need an environment conducive to that,’ she told reporters in Washington. ‘And we’ve urged both parties to refrain from actions that might in any way make a return to meaningful negotiations that focus on getting to a resolution more difficult.”

Congress has threatened financial sanctions if the Palestinians gain statehood through the United Nations.  Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch filed an amendment to a defense bill Wednesday that would eliminate funding for the United Nations if the General Assembly changes Palestine’s status.

“Increasing the Palestinians’ role in the United Nations is absolutely the wrong approach, especially in light of recent military developments in the Middle East,” he said in a statement. “Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and any movement to strengthen one of its fiercest enemies must not be tolerated.”

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said that by going to the U.N., the Palestinians violate “both the spirit and the word of signed agreements to solve issues through negotiations,” which broke down four years ago.

But Israeli officials appeared to back away from threats of drastic measures if the Palestinians get U.N. approval, with officials suggesting the government would take steps only if the Palestinians use their new status to act against Israel.  Regev, meanwhile, affirmed that Israel is willing to resume talks without preconditions.

Fox News notes that the Palestinians have been courting Western countries, countries that have seen a significant rise in Muslim populations, crimes and riots, as well as Sharia-creep.  Fearing these new “constituents” and the havoc they can raise, it’s not surprising that they would give their approval to a Palestinian state (raising Palestine from observer status to non-member status, a rise in rank, as it were).

One need not be a geographical genius to understand that with this new agreement, Israel will be reduced and isolated to a nearly land-locked status.  The Palestinians do not need their own state and certainly don’t want peace.  What they want is the destruction of the state of Israel, the only viable democracy in the Middle East.

Obama’s promises of supporting Israel are similar to the assurances he gave the woman from the Jersey Shore; empty and self-serving.  When a president grants $900 billion in taxpayer assistance to Israel’s enemy, insults her prime minister, and courts the Muslim Brotherhood as a “secular” organization, his vows to support Israel are hollow, indeed.

Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city.  Handing half the city over to the Palestinians strips Israel of her legitimacy; it is not for the United Nations or any other body to determine what city a country may call its capital.

Unfortunately, through intimidation and propaganda, enough United Nations members will be lured into recognizing a terrorist state.

 

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm  Comments (2)  

The Art of Isms

Every branch of human knowledge has its “-isms.”   An “ism” is a distinctive doctrine, cause or theory.  As a suffix, it’s defined, among many things, as an act, practice or process, such as criticism.

Teenaged actor Angus T. Jones, the half of the television show “Two and A Half Men” and a Seventh-Day Adventist, made headlines the other day when he bashed his own show, urging viewers to stop watching and filling their heads with its filth.  Whatever “ism” Angus was practicing when he was interviewed by a Christian television network, he employed apologism today, apologizing to the TV show that has been keeping him employed for the last nine years.

He is, after all, only 19 and 19 year-olds are prone to ghastly employment mistakes.  If he really felt that way, why didn’t he just quit?  In light of his statement, why didn’t he quit rather than apologize?  Because Hollywood is a filthy, corrupted town and he would never work there again if he quit.

Glenn Beck also made history last night when he took an Obama bobblehead and dunked in a jar of “Glenn Juice.”  He called it variously, Flowbama and Obama in Pee Pee.  Obama in Relief?  C’est magnifique.

Le Beck’s work of art was in response to artist Michael D’Auntuono’s painting, “The Truth”, showing a crucified Obama wearing a crown of thorns, the presidential seal in the background, at his presidential podium.  The painting is on display at Boston’s Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery.  The painting was supposed to be part of what is called “performance art” in New York’s Union Square (near the Cooper Union) four years ago with the painting placed in a makeshift voting booth where people would be offered a “personal experience” which they could then comment upon on the artist’s webpage.

Controversy in the art world is not new.  The marble statues art lovers so admire in every major museum in the world came from the Golden Age of Greece, when pornography and every kind of sex imaginable was taken for granted.  Actually, the statues are mostly copies.  Few original Greek statues survived the invasion of the Goths.  The Romans copied the Greek statues but had to pose the statues with props because the secret for stand-alone statues was lost with the Greek artists who fashioned them.

Art went through various periods – Carolignian, Romanesque (copying the copiers), Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo – culminating in the popular Impressionism of the 19th Century, very romantic and idealized.  The movement owed everything to Claude Monet’s astigmatism.

Everything was downhill after Monet.  After Impressionism and Post-Impressionism came Symbolism, an antidote to what was viewed as the decline of civilization and values.  Symbolism was the mating of writers and poets with painters and sculptors.  As the calendar turned to the 20th Century, artists took what some would say was too fine a microscope, in contrast to Monet’s astigmatic paintings, to examine humanity, warts and all.

This was the age of science and machines.  As technology advanced, humanity began to disappear from paintings, beginning with Picasso’s cubist, disjointed renditions of the human form.  Call him the forerunner of pixilation.  Photography had its effect on the art world as well, ushering in the age of Realism. 

The real downfall of art came with an artist named Dada.  He was born Tristan Tzara in 1916 in Zurich, Switzerland.  His father kept a diary relating the upbringing of his 12 children.  He recorded Tristan’s infant pronunciation of “dada” as a moment of some enthusiasm amongst the family while they were in a café.  “I am convinced,” the father wrote, “that the word is of no importance and this it is only imbeciles and Spanish professors who might be interested in the facts.  What interests us is the Dadaist Spirit, and we were all Dadaists before the existence of Dada.”  Dada is a word for a child’s rocking horse.

Dadaists are to art what the Fabians were to politics and literature.  Dadaists proclaimed that there is no meaning; that beauty is ugliness and ugliness is beauty.  Whole generations and schools of artists followed the Dadaist movement.  From cubism and futurism, they ventured into the avant-garde, expressionism, and minimalism.  Expressionism is a chimpanzee spreading paint over a canvas with its digits.  Minimalism is the red streak on a blank canvas or abstract geographic patterns. 

Idiotic as these art forms sound, there’s a method to their madness:  a gradual dehumanism of art, nihilism, the absence of beauty and the embracing of ugliness.  Minimalism is supposed to represent the rejection of materialism and consumption.  Expressionism, the focus on the artist and what he feels, not on what he sees or how his eye sees the subject.  Artists, following the lead of the Fabians, wanted to have their say.

These trends gave birth to yet another new art form:  “performance art”, showing the artist at work, physically becoming part of the art work.  Rather than a static piece of art, action is implied in the dung smeared on a painting of the Virgin Mary, a statue of Jesus soaked in urine.  In this age of photography and film, artists wanted a piece of the action.  They wanted to leave their personal imprimatur on their works of art.

They also wanted to display their political feelings, thus the violence of their performance art, their defiance of social norms, and their flouting of society’s sensibilities.  Their ambition is to reverse the Golden Mean, placing the basest profanity, meanness and violence at the top of the order, and trample upon the goodness of God.  People who defecate, urinate and copulate and display the basest instincts – not just artists but writers, musicians, poets, filmmakers, actors, dancers – over humanity’s triumphs are hailed by the art schools and critics as our generation’s artistic geniuses.

Some pretty hideous modern sculpture disgraces the grounds of Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate on the Hudson in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. (near the Tappan Zee Bridge).  New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller established his estate as the grounds for a modern art museum.  It was the Sixties and no one cared what the common people thought of these iron monstrosities; they were not art historians.  Let them buy their cheap copies of Renoir and Monet.  The wealthy tycoons of Westchester County approved of Modern Art.

The difference between Contemporary Art and Modern Art is the “contemporary” refers to the present period.  “Modern” refers to the immediate past; when the last survivor of the contemporary period in which the artwork was created dies, it is no longer considered “Modern.”  Impressionism was considered “modern” at one time; in fact, the Impressionists were rejected by the Parisian schools of art.

Whether we particularly like Mapplethorpe is insignificant to the authorities of the artistic world.  They and those who have the money to pay for and support this garbage have the final word on what constitutes great art.  Their canvas is the U.S. Constitution and its First Amendment.  They can paint all over it, desecrate it, and sap all of its strength.

The great artists of Europe enjoyed aristocratic and even royal patronage.  Today’s artists (in America) depend upon their funding from elected officials and bureaucrats, as well as wealthy patrons and corporate sponsors.

 The best illustration of what these manipulators are doing to our society with their artistic propaganda is C.M. Coolidge’s 1903 “Dogs Playing Poker.”

 

 

 

 

Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm  Comments (6)  

Obama’s Trick or Treat

Cynics would say that Donna Vanzant should have known better.  On Oct. 31st, our Huckster-in-Chief held the weeping owner of the North Point Marina in Brigantine, N.J., in his arms, comforting her and assuring her that the government would take care of her.

Trick or treat!

She told Fox News in an interview, “I was very excited and felt warm by the embrace, thinking, ‘this is really going to happen.  I’m going to get the help I need because he promised that.’  I’ve gotten no help.  I’ve gotten nothing but, ‘No, you’re not covered for this.  No, you’re not covered for that.’ 

It’s because of the way the water hit, rising instead of falling.  She thought she was going to get a grant from FEMA; instead, she’s been offered a “loan” at the rate of 4 percent.  For a marina that was totally wiped out, Fox News noted that a loan didn’t make much sense for her.

Meanwhile, actor Jamie Foxx (Eric Marlon Bishop) is hailing Obama as his “Lord and Savior.”  Sure, he is.  Why wouldn’t he?  They’ve got their “revenge” on the wealthy and the middle class.  For minorities, there’s no distinction.  “On Election Day, vote for revenge,” Obama urged.

That exhortation should go down as one of the most scurrilous, infamous statements ever made by a President of the United States.  On practically the same day he said it, he was having his picture taken with the marina owner from Brigantine, the picture that swung the election.

This is only the beginning of Obama’s tricks on the American people.  He’s cowed our Republicans legislators into rolling over on their promises not to raise taxes.  This is why millions of voters stayed home on Election Day.  Comes January, the Obamacare taxes will begin kicking it.  The price tag will be about $700 in additional taxes on the average family of four.

Our 401k plans will also be taxed.  Whatever savings we might have had will vanish into the black hole that is the United States Treasury.  The money will certainly not go to Ms. Vanzant and her marina; it will be spent on keeping Obama’s supporters happy.

How happy?  Just ask Jamie Foxx.

 

 

 

Published in: on November 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm  Comments (2)  

Race to the Mop

What was it Obama said about the Republicans?  You made the mess, but we’ll get out the mop and clean it up if you’ll just get out of the way?

Well, not so hasty there.  Obama isn’t going to race you to the mop, at least not if you live in New Jersey.  According to The Bergen Record, Obama is dangling $29.4 billion in insurance and federal aid.  But he’s the guy distributing the wealth and the White House has informed all the states affected by Hurricane Sandy that they’ll have to share that wealth – and some states are going to get more than others.

Whoa.  Hold on there, a moment.  What happened to equity, equal justice and sharing the wealth equally?  New Jersey legislators, along with the legislators of all the other affected states must send Obama a letter requesting that he send Congress an amended budget request.  Just as the country is hanging off the fiscal cliff by a finger.  Must Lt. Gov. Guadagno hang off the Palisades like the character in the Perils of Pauline (filmed on the Palisades) in order to gain Obama’s sympathy?

What about those women weeping in his arms and Biden’s?  We want our money’s worth for all those photo ops just before the election.  Sorry; the election’s over, New Jersey, and even though you idiots gave him the vote, it’s not enough.  Obama will want more concessions before he allows Congress to allocate that money.

The Record ran a photo on its front page on Sunday along with a map of Seaside Heights, the most damaged town on the Jersey Shore.  They make special note of the “rental properties,” “summer homes” and “boardwalk businesses.”  You know what he’s going to say, don’t you?

The owners of those summer homes and rental properties are one-percenters; they’ll get no special consideration from this president, no matter how many votes they gave him – and the Jersey Shore counties turned blue this election.  As for those boardwalk businesses, don’t make him laugh (he’s smug enough already from winning the election).  Help out all those small, summer businesses?  Surely you jest?

We blame Christie for cozying up to Obama.  But what he could do, in reality?  The damage isn’t just limited to the Jersey Shore.  There was damage all over the state.  The Hoboken PATH station to the World Trade Center is still shut down and won’t be open for weeks.  Power stations still have to be restored, overtime for first-responders and utility workers paid, infrastructure repaired. 

Meanwhile over in New York City, residents of Breezy Point are still homeless.  The smart money should bet on them never getting back into those homes.  Part of Obama’s deal will be that they’ll have to abandon their beachfront homes and go to live in Smart Growth condominiums.  For Obama, Hurricane Sandy was the perfect storm.

Watching reruns of the old Upstairs, Downstairs series, I couldn’t help noticing the character resemblance between Obama and the Bellamy family’s shifty (if you’ll pardon the pun) chauffeur, Watkins.  In the beginning, he seems to be a straight-up dude.  Always honest, hard-working, loyal.  But then he beds the Bellamy’s erstwhile, eager parlor maid/scullery girl/nursemaid Sarah.  This is the second time around for her, having also bedded the Bellamy’s son and gotten pregnant with his son (stillborn).  She’s about to be sacked and threatens to expose him if he doesn’t own up to being the father.

Instead of admitting paternity, which would also get him sacked, he makes the grand gesture of offering to marry her.  The Bellamy’s will have none of it; they want her out of their house, for good.  So the master of the house makes him an offer to invest in the garage business he’d had dreams of running.  Watkins had the ambition but not the money.  The wheeler-dealer gets his “character” (a good reference from the Bellamy’s), his money, and Sarah, who suits him well enough.

Like Watkins, Obama never lets a good crisis go to waste.  Here he was wondering how to get all those suburbanites out of their homes and into his Obama Projects, and along comes Hurricane Sandy to do the job for him.  The Environmentalists must be jumping for joy.  Insurance companies stopped insuring barrier islands in New York and New Jersey a few years back.  Unless they were able to get specialized insurance, those homeowners are out of luck as far as insurance is concerned.  The setback is about 1,000 feet, which is most of the island on which Atlantic City sits, and certainly the barrier island on which Seaside Heights is situated.

You can be sure that there will be plenty of wheeling and dealing in this competition for storm relief funds and, as usual, the taxpayers will be the losers.  The House always wins.  Always.  Obama certainly is going to “mop up.”

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on November 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm  Comments (2)  

Valuing Families

Recently, a reader left a comment complaining that sometimes I focus too much on my family.  They didn’t think anyone would care about my family.  Evidently, some readers want their daily portion of raw, red political meat and if they don’t get it, they start growling.

This past week – in fact, the entire month of November, at least here in northern New Jersey – was all about family.  In addition to the traditions of the holiday season, we had Hurricane Sandy to remind us of just how important family and neighbors can be.

On Saturday, our condominium complex suffered a kitchen fire.  It was in my building block.  I happened to be watching Category 5:  Day of Destruction when the fire broke out.  The movie was at a critical scene where the news building’s honking fire alarm was blaring and the employees were heading for the basement.  I was in my bedroom on my computer and thought the alarm was coming from the television.  Only when I realized the alarm was carrying through other, unrelated scenes in the movie did I suspect the alarm had another source.

Thinking “Uh-oh!”  I turned off the television.  This was no movie sound effect; this was our fire alarm going off.  I put on my coat, grabbed my bag, and went out to investigate the seriousness of the situation.  I could smell the smoke.  It was the same unit that has suffered several kitchen fires over the years.

The alarm had alerted the management company and they called the authorities.  The police arrived right away.  Well, one patrol car is always stationed nearby because we have a traffic light that attracts red-light runners.  Billows of smoke poured out of the apartment.  A crowd was gathered in front of the affected unit and they weren’t moving despite the police officers’ exhortations.  One elderly lady was still making her way down.

“We all have to move,” I said.  “The fire trucks are coming and they need to get through.  Let’s all wait across the parking lot.”  At last, the elderly neighbor emerged and another resident and I helped her into an emergency vehicle to wait it out.  The owner of the unit had scalded hands and was in a daze.  Finally, her friend persuaded her to come into her apartment.

When the situation is normal, everyone (except The Tattooed Lady, who crowed about being the only one to call 9-1-1) minds their own business.  But when the going gets tough, we do stick together and help one another out as best we can.

As for focusing on our families, that’s what people do at holidays and during emergencies.  That’s what family and friends are for.  What we don’t do is throw ourselves into the arms of greasy politicians who’ve arrived for a photo-op, weeping in the hopes that they’ll throw taxpayers’ money our way.  How degrading.

We welcomed a stranger into my brother’s home on Thanksgiving.  Yes, it’s a family story.  There’s plenty of time to roast politicians; they certainly give us ample opportunity to do so.  Thanksgiving is the time for thanking God for our health, what prosperity we have, and the bounty He’s given us in the necessities of life and the love of family.

No, not everyone has family left.  Some choose not to have families; they even scorn the idea of a traditional family.  There are people who are all alone in the world, mostly elderly people.  In this girl’s case, her family was thousands of miles away and she had no place to go, so as hostess, I gave the green light for her to join our family party.

Mom, I’m afraid, was rather cool to the idea at first.  But then, Mom doesn’t like holidays.  She had a horrible childhood, growing up during the Great Depression, alternately starving with her mother, who had separated from my grandfather, and being verbally abused by her paternal grandmother.  Holidays aren’t a happy time for her.  She doesn’t associate holidays with happiness.  To her, it’s all work and no play.

Yet she tried to raise us differently.  No matter how she tried, though, the bitterness came through every holiday.  I determined things would be different in my household.  She and I had a huge fight over this young lady.  She thought The Nephew’s girlfriend had invited her college mate without asking permission first.  That wasn’t true, I told her; The Nephew did ask his father, who asked me, and I said, “Yeah – as long as it’s at your house.  My apartment would pass critical mass with seven people.”

Mom was furious with me when she learned I’d given the okay for the friend to join us.  I told Mom I was not going to leave this girl to spend Thanksgiving alone in an empty dormitory.  Mom was shamed into acceptance.  She’d tried an end-run, arguing that Big Brother should pay half the cost of the meal.  I agreed about him paying his portion of the meal.  But I forbade my mother to raise the subject with him because it would only end up in a feud over this poor girl.  The result would be that The Nephew would just trot himself over to his mother’s house for the dinner.  That finally silenced my mother, though she still fumed.

As it turned out, this friend was an exceedingly charming young lady.  Pretty, witty, funny, and extremely smart.  They said that at the university she attended in China, she was given some title such as “Science Queen.”  Mom was won over immediately, we had a peaceful Thanksgiving, and for the first time in my life, having stood firm, I was not cowed by my mother’s temper.  I won.

For my denser readers, the moral is this:  Thanksgiving is about God’s bounty.  He is the one we give thanks to, and He expects us to return the favor by loving our neighbors and even welcoming lonely strangers into our homes on Thanksgiving.  She was lonely, too.  She was grateful for my kindness to her.

“I have aunt, too, back in China,” she told me, as I peeled the turnips.  “I miss her.  I miss my family.”

“I kind of thought you would,” I answered.  “That’s why we invited you here for Thanksgiving.”

At that moment, The Nephew’s girlfriend came into the kitchen to whisk her friend away.

I smiled, thinking how angry this story would make my aggrieved reader, what a good lesson it would be for those who think Thanksgiving is about department store sales, and perhaps give hope to those who think they’re all alone in the world.

My Thanksgiving dinner was a success.

 

 

 

 

Published in: on November 26, 2012 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Darned Tootin’ There Was Lootin’

During the worst of Hurricane Sandy, the Media not only assured us there was no looting happening, especially in New York City, but scolded us for even suggesting that there might be.  According to the Media, it was all just rumors.

However, the New York Post reports that Breezy Point, Queens, a tight-knit blue collar community, suffered fire (over 38 homes) and flooding and that thieves looted their damaged, darkened homes over Thanksgiving.

From Nov. 12 to Nov. 18, the Post reports that there were 14 home break-ins Breezy Point, as opposed to none during the same period in 2011.  The thieves took jewelry, watches, and a $25,000 coin collection.

Meanwhile, it was mayhem at some department stores on Thanksgiving Night, as the hordes lined up for the sales.  There were reports of robberies and beatings.  But some families took in stride.  A friend out in California says they looked upon it as a new family tradition.

Since the Christmas season is upon us, perhaps we can ask Santa Claus to bring us a new media that will tell us the truth and no peddle propaganda and talking points, disguising them as “news.”

We give thanks to the New York Post and Fox News for giving us the truth about Breezy Point and not insulting our intelligence by lying.

 

Published in: on November 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm  Comments (1)  

Black Friday, 2012

“And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn for her [Babylon]; for no man buyeth their merchandise anymore…And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from these, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.”  Revelation 18:11 and 14.

The dishes were barely cleared from my older brother’s dining room table when the Nephew announced that he, his girlfriend, and her college chum were going next door to visit with his mother.  I was disappointed, but understood.

What was appalling was the plans everyone except my mother and myself were making to get to the stores before Midnight.  Gone are the days of a leisurely talk over pumpkin pie and coffee, tea or egg nog.  The dishes weren’t even done yet, although to be fair, I always insist on doing them myself.  My brother’s dishwasher is not so much out of commission, as it was never put into commission.  This status is going on four years now, I’m told.

So off everyone flew.  My younger brother took Mom home and then split for his girlfriend’s house and an 8 o’clock date to go pre-Black Friday shopping.  My older brother was heading off with his girlfriend, and the Nephew, whose mother recently began working at a big department store, planned on dragging his mother out shopping at midnight, even though her shift would begin at 11 a.m. the next morning.  Good luck with that.

I refused to sully Thanksgiving in this mercenary manner.  My back was aching from standing all day cooking; I went home and watched a documentary on Netflix about JFK.  Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of his assassination.

Where did those days go, when we cherished family above all?  Why the rush to end Thanksgiving so quickly?  The roads at 8 p.m. that night were simply madness.  I’ve known other Thanksgivings, spent at my older brother’s upcountry home, and I never recall such traffic at that time of night.

This afternoon, after sleeping in, I confess I went to Best Buy to partake of their Black Friday deals.  I needed a new printer/scanner as my old scanner is no longer compatible with my upgraded computer.  Without it, I’m hard pressed to be able to e-mail a potential employer any of my numerous writing samples.

I got to the store at about noon, found the printer, waited a few minutes for a stocking clerk to locate the stock.  Then I went to the register – there was no line- paid an excellent sales price for this item – $49 – and went on my way.  No hysteria.  No panic.  No sleeping on line.  By the way, shopping online is the way to go.  I bought just about every Christmas present online today.  My Christmas shopping is basically done.  Only two items left and those I’ll be taking care of on Monday.  The printer is a gift from my mother to me.  Since she’s 88, she’s not likely to be found standing on any lines.  She said, “If you need it, go out and buy it; I’ll give you the money.”

I enjoyed seeing the Nephew’s girlfriend again.  They were very happy to eat my cinnamon streusel cake.  Modestly, I told my brother it was simply a cake mix, that I didn’t bake it from scratch the way his girlfriend does (I could have, but the boxed mix was just easier).  He said it didn’t matter to him.  All he, John, and the girls knew was that it tasted and smelled very good.  It sat on the kitchen counter as I prepared the Thanksgiving dinner and they would stop by during their travels, chat for a few minutes and sneak another piece of streusel cake.  For a moment, I felt like a mother with older adolescent children.  It was the nicest part of a very nice day.

That’s what Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about.  I produced no family of my own, but this motley collection of Mom, two brothers, the eldest’s nephew and her friend almost felt like one.  I offered to do it again for them on Christmas.  When I visited them this morning to pick up some items I’d left behind, my older brother’s girlfriend was also there.

I had brought with me one of piano practice books, for ambitious piano players, for The Nephew’s Girlfriend.  My brother’s girlfriend and I chatted for awhile – no one was up yet – until the music roused them.  At last my brother’s once empty house was alive again with voices and laughter and the warm smell of cinnamon and stuffing from the night before.

Bless my brother’s house, O Lord.   Not to mention his spacious, well-appointed kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on November 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Grateful Nation – Thanksgiving 2012

“Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance.  In thy name shall they rejoice all the day and in Thy righteousness, they shall be exalted.  For Thou art the glory of their strength; and in Thy favour, our horn shall be exalted.”  Psalm 89:15-17

A recent poll found that 45 percent of Americans felt we should just dispense with The Holidays – Thanksgiving and Christmas.  To them, Thanksgiving is just a big nuisance.  It’s a lot of work for those who have to prepare the dinner and clean the house (usually women).  You have to endure relatives you don’t particularly care for.  The only good thing about Thanksgiving in the eyes of these people is the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Thank God for the other 55 percent who still understand the holiday of Thanksgiving.  As David Barton pointed out last night on Glenn Beck’s program, in addition to the 1621 Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims, leaders often declared days of thanksgiving, as well as fasts.

America could use a few more fasts, by the looks of some of her people.

But seriously, Thanksgiving is primarily about giving thanks to God for the freedom we have to worship Him.   All the things we take for granted are possible only through Him.  Our families, our jobs, our health, our good lives.  This is the day FDR designated as the official date for Thanksgiving; the original proclamation came from Pres. Lincoln.

If you find yourself doubting whether it’s God who gave you every blessing, or whether it was simply by the sweat of your brow, do the pencil test.  In reverse.

In the original pencil test, our kindergarten teacher’s aides told us to bow our heads, close our eyes, and pray to God for a pencil.  Then they told us to open our eyes; no pencil.  What a surprise.  Then they told us to close our eyes again, but not to pray this time.  I peeked and got yelled at.  But I didn’t care.  The aides went around placing pencils in front of the pupils.

“God didn’t put that pencil in front of you; we did,” announced the haughty leader.  “God doesn’t do anything for you.  Everything you get comes from some other human being.”

“God doesn’t work that way,” I retorted.  “He performs miracles, not magic tricks.”

The aide’s steely eye fixed on me.

“He didn’t make that pencil; it was made in a factory,” she declared.

“But men didn’t make the tree the wood came from or the lead that they mined or the rubber on the end of the pencil.  Only God can make a tree,”  I answered back.   There the conversation ended.

Take a good look at your dining room or kitchen table, before you set it.  It’s empty.  You’ll busy yourself around the table setting it, cooking the food, serving it, eating and clearing the table again when you’re done.

Who will you thank for that feast?  Yourself?  Or God?  Ask yourself if you created the turkey, or merely dressed it for eating?  Ask yourself where the materials for the plates, utensils, napkins, bowls, the table cloth, even the table itself came from?  Did you create all those things, or merely purchase them at a store?  Ask yourself how you paid for the food?  Certainly you earned it.  But who gave you the spark of life and the energy to perform your tasks?  Who gave you the freedom to live in a country where you can earn your own living and spend the money the way you choose?  A good deal of thanks is due there to the men and women who sacrificed their lives so you could live in freedom.  They’re with God now.

I’ll be cooking a Thanksgiving dinner today, as I’ve done for the last 16 or more years.  It’s really no big deal, if you’re organized.  Is it really that hard for you to do that much for your family?  Is it really that hard to give an ear to one of your relatives?  Is it really too much trouble to bow your head for a moment and thank God for everything He’s given you?

Or are you too busy studying tomorrow’s Black Friday sales circulars?  Try reading a passage from the Bible sometime today, as David Barton suggests.  Stores, especially in this economy are here today and gone tomorrow.  Printers break down, computers crash, and someone is always inventing the next I-phone.  Or isn’t that a cool thing to do anymore.  The Word of God is reliable and it’s forever.  Be grateful you live in a country where you can read one.  In China, you’d be thrown into prison for reading the Good Book.

Happy Thanksgiving, to all my readers.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 9:40 am  Comments (5)  

Think It Couldn’t Happen? Glenn Beck’s Agenda 21 – A Review

Mom and Dad were excellent political instructors.  When I was little, before I had started kindergarten, she said that one day Mommies wouldn’t stay home with their little children.  Instead, they would go to work to make money and they would leave their children in nursery schools to be raised by strangers – like the Nursery School from Hell my mother unwittingly sent me and my brother to.

I was horrified.  How could a Mommy rather go to work than be with her children, I wanted to know.

“You stay home with us,” I pointed out.  The other mothers in the neighborhood stayed home with their children.

“But one day they won’t,” she predicted.  “They already do it in the Soviet Union.  They leave their children in huge nurseries and then go off to work.”

“But why?  Why would Mommies want to leave their children?”

“Because the Soviet Union promised them a lot of money if they did.  They don’t just leave big girls like you in the nursery school; they take them to the nursery schools almost as soon as they’re born.  You wait and see; it will happen here, too.  It’s already happening.”

I vowed I’d never leave my children in a nursery school.  That was for darned sure.  Only I was never lucky enough to have children.  But after graduating college, while still living with my mother, our neighbor across the street opened a nursery school.  Working mothers, in search of fulfilling careers, would pick up their toddlers as late as 7 and 8 o’clock at night.  My maternal instincts were infuriated.  What were these women thinking?

Which brings us to Glenn Beck’s latest book, Agenda 21.  Part science fiction, part expose, the book was really written by author Harriet Parke, describing a stark, not-too-distant future where Agenda 21 has been fully implemented, to the detriment of its negligible human population.

Citizens of this brave new world live in cement block compounds, guarded by gatekeepers.  The compounds have numbers, not names; Compound 14, Compound 28.  Children are raised in the Children’s Village.  “The Authority” determined they could do a better job of raising the children than their biological parents.  When adolescents reach reproductive age, which is determined by an intrusive physical examination of the girl, they’re “paired off” in a public ceremony on the Social Update stage.  The off-spring are taken from their mothers as soon as they’re born and sent to live in the Children’s Village.

Our heroine, Emmeline, was born in the “Before-Time” on a farm in Kansas.  With the implementation of Agenda 21, the family was removed from its farm and sent to live in the Compound.  Each family’s small, square space consists of a washing area, a nutrition area and a common sleeping area with a mat for each occupant.

Emmeline knows very little about her present world and even less about her former world, except what her mother tells her.  She is “Home-Raised” which makes her something of a pariah in this “paradise.”  The Authorities permitted because Emmeline was born before the laws changed.  She’s married off at 14, although she’s lucky enough to get a unit next door to her mother’s.  The man whom she “pairs off” with is a married man whose wife suffered from a debilitating ailment.  The wife is taken away one day and never seen again.

That’s how life is; if you don’t meet the Perfection Standards, which grow increasingly stringent, you’re taken away, presumably to the Recycle Center.  Emmeline has a true affection for this man and she has his baby.  But both he and Emmeline’s father disappear after they’re overheard speaking against The Authority.  Emmeline is promptly paired off with an immature kid who’s not ready for “pairing off”.  Emmeline’s mother, Elsa, mourning for her presumably dead husband refuses to take to her Energy Board, the activity required of every citizen not otherwise employed, in order to create energy for the community.  Jeremy rats Elsa out and she’s taken away. 

Emmeline and Jeremy are not only not getting along; they’re not “producing.”  The authorities determine that Jeremy is an unsuitable mate and he’s sent back to the Children’s Village.  Emmeline is permitted to live alone.   Elsa’s death leaves Emmeline with many questions.  Elsa refused to prepare her daughter for an Agenda 21 life and gave her enough hints about the Before-Time, but not enough for understanding.

Mainly, she wants to know why her parents and others of their generation didn’t do something about what was happening, protest it and prevent it from happening.  Their answer is that they didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late.  Each community is isolated.  There is no electronic communication (or any other kind of electronics) in this world.  The residents don’t even know where in the world they were.  When the change came, they were transported in trains with shuttered windows.  The only clue is a map Elsa leaves her daughter.

Emmeline is desperate to be reunited with her own infant daughter and manages to wrangle a job in the Children’s Village nursery where she encounters a Nurse Ratchet-type nanny, a childless spinster who tends to the babies the way one would water plants.  Water usage, by the way, is rationed.  Squirrels grow fat at government-sanctioned feeders while people starve, particularly the unloved children of the Children’s Village.  Breakfast and dinner are a protein cube; lessons involved the Pledge to the Republic and the Earth.

Agenda 21 is a stark, cold rendition of may happen if we continue down the Smart Growth path, with every aspect of our lives controlled by a sterile bureaucracy.  The book has the usual feel of futuristic science fiction.  Nobody will believe it.  Critics will deride it as fear-mongering and conspiracy theorism.  That could never happen, people will say.

But it has already happened – in the Soviet Union, Communist China (where the government confiscated written family histories thousands of years old), North Korea (there’s a new book out about the plight of North Korean refugees), and in the Middle Eastern countries.  In this book, there are the “Shadow People”; people who saw what was happening and vanished into the forbidden wilderness (it’s a crime to set foot in the wilderness).

Beck’s Agenda 21 is a paperless world.  No paper, no proof.  No proof, no history.   No history, no answers to forbidden questions.

Agenda 21 is not a mirror; readers won’t recognize the world, unless they’ve read Fahrenheit 21, Brave New World, or Metropolis.  They don’t recognize the concrete slabs of the communal condominiums because they’re still carpeted and heated.  I could show them just such a compound in nearby Riverdale, with the complex on one side of Riverdale Road and the industrial complex on the other. I suspect they’ll find it difficult to get up Route 23 hill to the Wal-Mart on their energy bicycles, though.  The nearest A&P is about two miles away.  Not a hard ride, since it’s all flat.  But they’ll have to learn the art of car dodging on the Hamburg Turnpike, until the cars are banned, anyway.

Agenda 21 will instantly appeal to Conservative mothers.  It will tug at their heart-strings.  Will it appeal to Generation Y, which is the current child-rearing generation?  The generation that was brought up in nursery schools and daycare homes from infancy and don’t know any better?  The sad little tykes I noted when I was of child-bearing age? 

Mothers of the Sixties didn’t take the warning.  Mothers of the Eighties were too busy too care.  Mothers of the early 21st Century don’t know any better.  We must depend on future Mothers of the Twenties to read Glenn and Harriet’s book and get the message.

Glenn doesn’t leave readers hanging with a simple, futuristic story.  The last pages of the book are about Agenda 21 – just so there’s no mystery – and the effect it will have on the coming generation.  A generation with no families, no homes, no towns, no country, and no future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

Published in: on November 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm  Comments (2)