Monday, September 28, 2009

What's great about America

The following was originally printed in the National Review on September 25, 2001. I am 3 days late commemorating its 8-year life, please excuse.

I am usually one of those who don't care for the average knee-jerk patriotic essay, but I very much believe this one is not like that. It made me think. The point of view in this essay stirs the soul of America.

I'm not sure that as a nation of people we are as selfless as the essay makes us out to be, but then I realized that even if we are not -- even if we meddle, subside, defend bad or questionable regimes in other countries, and we have and do -- this essay describes the fabric of America and how it is really the fabric of the world.

I believe this essay is a good checklist for Americans. I mean, when you want dissent stifled, read this. But I also think the essay could stand to be updated and I might email the author and ask if he has considered doing that. I'm uncomfortably aware that this was written before we began the counter attack on glodal terror, and I am wondering if the essay would change because of that. I know I have changed. I am more of a warrior about defense than I used to be, so the part of this essay that deals with the way we act in the worlds seems too placating to me. I find my reaction fascinating, because I am not alone, and I think it shows what 911 did to us in a lasting way and that it is an open gate that cannot be closed back. What do you think? Email me.

What Is An American? A primer.

By Peter Ferrara, an associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law.

September 25, 2001 9:20 a.m.

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper there an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So I just thought I would write to let them know what an American is, so they would know when they found one.

An American is English…or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them choose.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American is from the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God-given right of each man and woman to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need. When Afghanistan was overrun by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country. As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

An American does not have to obey the mad ravings of ignorant, ungodly cruel, old men. American men will not be fooled into giving up their lives to kill innocent people, so that these foolish old men may hold on to power. American women are free to show their beautiful faces to the world, as each of them choose.

An American is free to criticize his government's officials when they are wrong, in his or her own opinion. Then he is free to replace them, by majority vote.

Americans welcome people from all lands, all cultures, all religions, because they are not afraid. They are not afraid that their history, their religion, their beliefs, will be overrun, or forgotten. That is because they know they are free to hold to their religion, their beliefs, their history, as each of them choose.

And just as Americans welcome all, they enjoy the best that everyone has to bring, from all over the world. The best science, the best technology, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes.

Americans welcome the best, but they also welcome the least. The national symbol of America welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed.

These in fact are the people who built America. Many of them were working in the twin towers on the morning of September 11, earning a better life for their families.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo and Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world.

But in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

So look around you. You may find more Americans in your land than you thought were there. One day they will rise up and overthrow the old, ignorant, tired tyrants that trouble too many lands. Then those lands too will join the community of free and prosperous nations.
And America will welcome them.


Starbucks recently unveiled its latest growth path, and I cannot wait. I am finally jazzed about a Starbucks product, and it is.... instant Starbucks coffee that is not freeze-dried (freeze-drying is why most instant coffees taste gross). Its brand name is Via, and it's apparently getting great reviews for its taste. Here is a really good informative review, I thought.

I will try their instant coffee. I'm hoping it truly will taste like real coffee.

In fact, I just ordered some.

I would love to not have to use a drip coffee maker (my second machine recently broke after 2 months and I refuse to buy another one, and have you checked the costs of most of them lately?) or a French press (mine makes a better tasting coffee without boiled water, but leaves gross sludge in the bottom of my cup and cleaning out the grounds is gross, too).  I have tried some of the instant coffee selections on my grocery shelf, but so many are flavored up.

Trust me, I'd love to sip flavored coffee all day long, but after I had to get 6 cavities filled 18 months ago (including 2 hair-line ones that my dentist says were directly caused by drinking coffee with cream in it), I have to limit my everyday intake to black coffee with sweet n low. I occasionally splurge on a McDonalds Iced Latte with sugar-free vanilla, but only once a week or so.

My order should be here October 5th - a week from today. I cannot wait!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beck-zilla Explains It All

Well, yesterday a little bit defiant Glen Beck explained what he called his "Hillary remark" that he made on Katie Couric's webcast Tuesday.

If you missed his explanation, you can catch up here , here or here.

Being that I usually always ingest Beck with a little skepticism, what he said did not surprise me. I can even see where he is coming from. However, if you thought Beck was not a conservative, he has now left no doubt that he indeed is one.

Here's the one thing:  let's forget his frog boiling for a minute and concentrate on the narrative of his analogy. He explained that Obama has galvanized the opposition much better than McCain ever could. He said to think about boiling a frog. If you put the frog in tepid water and then bring it to boiling, the poor frog never knows what has hit him and he boils. This example has the frog as the American people, the water as The March Into Liberalism (an evil), and the temperature is McCain. In other words, McCain would have brought us to Liberalism so slowly we would not even notice, thereby becoming complacent and falling right into it.

But, Obama supposedly did us the favor of his boiling water of Liberalism and requiring the frog (the American people) to be thrown into said water. He preferred it this way because we all know that frogs will jump right out unhurt.

Ya got that? Yeah. I think there was jumping, but it was Beck jumping the shark.

Included in his near-rant were his very real accusations against McCain: Progressivist philosophy, immigration amnesty, cap and trade support, and bailout funding. I agree with McCain on immigration amnesty in order to get into the system. Reagan's amnesty saved Social Security ten years later, plus it is physically and economically impossible to find and deport them all now. I disagree with McCain on cap and trade, but I really believe he would have gotten it greatly diluted and less destructive if it had passed under him. And I was not for bailout funding either, but McCain has said had he known how badly they were going to do it, he would have opposed that, so I accept that and do not hold it against him because an awful lot of people did the same or stood there like deer in the headlights.

I think Beck has been wrong-o bong-o from the get-go about McCain when it comes to the progressive label. Here's a test: the self-avowed progressive Hillary Clinton herself would not in a million years label McCain one, so Hello? Point of View here. From Beck's POV, BOTH of them are, hence Beck is far-right on this issue. Logic is a hard thing to dismiss. Trouble is, this issue affects all others in his POV. Apparently, if you are progressive about anything, then you are one? That's a flimsy stretch in my book. And, Beck's entire argument about Teddy Roosevelt's "evil" New Nationalism, IMHO, is hogwash. Is Back actually willing to be against child-labor laws? Back in that day? I suppose if one were so rigid that any tiny restraint on business was wrong, then yes. He should be concentrating on Wilson, who not only lied and misrepresented himself while campaigning with his New Freedom platform that he abandoned once he was elected, at least TR saw there could be monopolies that were good for us. Wilson was too rigid. All were bad.

Bottom line on this: Only a conservative Christian aka hard-right aka strict Constitutionalist would still choose Obama and all we have been through. I'm even more confident now that he is pretty much Rush on TV now. He may have some libertarian leanings on a few issues, but I'm thinking those are only those economic issues that Republicans believe in, too, like unrestricted and unregulated free markets. Beck is definitely not a moderate or centrist, and that, I think is his real hate-on with McCain, because McCain is a moderate. If  Beck is lying and he really is a Republican, then he does not want the party to be led by a moderate (too late for that, aka both Bushes).

All of this is backseat to the over-riding importance that McCain would have mitigated Pelosi and Reid better than Obama has. And he most likely would have been a one-termer, but that's a pure guess. Beck's popularity benefits from Obama more -- much, much more -- and I still will bet money here and now if we could be flies on the wall, we'd discover that's heavily at play here.

Which, as I said, not a cause for boycotting him. Just know what you are getting.  What Beck has done beneficial is that he has been a decent substitute for the news media, uncovering information that the Lamestream media has withheld.

It is always hard to coexist with someone who feels as if they should be your enemy, but if you are worse-off alone, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

I have to add, yesterday's on-air stunt and near-rant unsettled me a little. I guess I expect him to hold things together a little better and not be so...rigid. I see him now as less rational. And I feel myself not as open to him as before. Perhaps it is time for me to move on. I don't share his passion for his social conservatism. It's more than a little like I don't share the thirst for Obama's Kool-aid.

In vampire terms, Beck's blood is drying up for me. We shared issues but not loyalty oaths. And when one casket closes, another opens, right? LOL I've been noticing lately that MSNBC in the morning and daytime are getting a little more centrist. Apparently The Bottom Line has won out over there. I'm actually enjoying Morning Joe more than the Curvy Couch Fox Crew, and Dylan Ratigan isn't bad after that. I still cannot stand Chris Matthews so I may stay with Beck for now.

Now that we have that figured out, let me tell you where I went yesterday that gave me some well-loved stress-busting laughter and giggles. I happened upon a site called People of Wal-mart. It shows photos of Wal-mart shoppers, along with the occasional parking lot bumper sticker on shoppers' cars. You browse it by page and it goes on boringly and then all of a sudden, there is a hilarious photo. I'll cut you a break and give you links of some of the ones I laughed at: Oh..My..God, That's a First, All Smiles, Tails, and Tell Us How You Really Feel. Be sure to read the captions, cuz some of them are as funny as the photos. Oh, rated R, probably.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stuck between Barack and a Hard Right Case

It ain't easy being in between.

Especially on days like yesterday. The first headline I read is that Glen Beck told Katie Couric on her webcast that he thinks McCain would have been worse than Obama as President, and that he might have voted for Hillary over McCain, had she won the nomination.

Those of you who love Beck and share that belief: why do you think that? Cuz I think it's just crazy talk.

Listen, I get that this is what a majority of the hard right wing of the GOP believe. They (you) have an intense mistrust of McCain. I hear it said a lot it's because he is too moderate. I suppose it is because I've never looked at McCain from that viewpoint, so to me he is conservative. I'd like him to be more moderate, as a matter of fact. But when last November's vote was clearly a choice of lesser evils, and now every single conservative Christian I talk to seems to be distraught to the point of Tea Partying about Obama, I just need to know, what the hell where you thinking by staying home on Election Day? Because, you know what, you effectively voted for Obama! Have you figured that out yet? Time's running out. Try to understand that, please.

I'm not just whistling Dixie here. The demographics have now been studied, and they show that had all of you voted for McCain (holding your nose or whatnot), he would be President right now. Yup, that is indeed why Biden made his little verbal eruption ysterday about 2010 will either reinforce or mark the end to all he and Obama are trying to do. They know the demographics, and they have finally accepted the power of the protestors, and they see the handwriting on the wall. If every Republican and conservative actually votes next year, the Dems can be defeated. So now think about what Biden said. It was a reactionary comment to that information, and a call to keep their most liberal supporters loyal and active, because they cannot have any more defections from their base.

Here's a novel idea for those of you who agree with Beck's comment to Couric: quit doing what Rush Limbaugh tells you to. He, like Glen Beck, are first and foremost conerned about their own careers and relevance. Are either one of them your God? No, so quit following them as faithfully as you do our Dude in the Bible. I'm not saying to quit listening and watching. I'm saying, think about what they say with a skeptical mind and remember that their first loyalty is not to you, it is to themselves and their careers.

Although I rarely listen to Rush, I do watch Beck's tv show, but I don't just believe him blindly. I always do my own research. I have to confess that just do not get the logic in Beck preferring Obama or Hillary over McCain. I was a Hillary supporter, but the further I get from then, the more I realize that she was not very different at all from Obama, just a bit less Left. In fact, on a political number line, Obama would be the farthest Left, then Hillary, THEN McCain, basically in the middle-to-slight-Right. So is Beck saying he voted for Obama? That's not illogical to conclude.

How would things be worse with a President McCain right now, Beck? First, it has to be accepted as fact that we would have a Democrat majority in both houses of Congress regardless. This is a statistical fact, because of the races and where they were and who was running. So, we would have had maybe a few less Democrats, but not many. I can tell you that Pelosi and Reid would have been pushing the same things, but the veto pen would be out of ink by now, that's for sure. And since Republicans aren't McCain's best friends either, he might have been able to force them to come up with some better ideas to counter the Dems. Obama has no motivation or reason to do that, none. When bills are vetoed, and when the public weighs in vocally, it forces both parties to work together. Even if the same results happened, we would at least be feeling better that someone up there was trying to govern moderately, instead of so many of us feeling hopeless despair.

Let me just spell it out for you, one more time (since I got cyber-laryngitis last year trying to tell you): the 2008 election wasn't about choosing your ideal candidate, it was about choosing who could best mitigate the effects of Pelosi and Reid in power. Maybe you can see that now, after it is too late?

Now, here is the best part of the what-if McCain presidency: We'd not be having to worry about Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright, Valerie Jarrett, ACORN, Cass Sunstein, Van Jones, Communists, Socialists, and Cabinet Tax Cheats.

Man, that alone seems worth it to me. Dang. Think about it. I'm really tired of it, myself. But I will leave you with this. Were we not having to worry about all of those players right now, would Rush and Beck be as popular or as rich? Yep, ya can't trust anyone nowadays...

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's a Mad, Mad, MadMen World

I am a huge fan of MadMen on AMC. It's on Sunday nights at 10 est and repeats through out the week. Third season already, and I've seen every episode probably an average of 3 times each. LOL I like it because it's a period piece and it is intelligent. You have to pay attention to its many nuances to get the full effect, but even if you pay just enough attention to get the plot, it's still very good.

This is how much I love MadMen: I'm watching Oprah right now because Jon Hamm and January Jones (who play Don and Betty Draper) are supposed to be on. Nothing but MadMen could tempt me to break my Oprah boycott. *Update* - it was mostly a yawn. I did enjoy seeing my old Chatty Cathy doll. :-)

MadMen won best drama and best writing at the Emmys last night for the second year. Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss were nominated again for best actor and best supporting actress, respectively. I think they had 22 nominations but those are all I remember. The worst part was that episode 6 was on at the same time as the Emmys. I didn't see much of the Emmys, needless to say.

Vanity Fair has an Annie Liebowitz photo shoot with Hamm and Jones, and a story. Haven't read the entire article, but the photos are great. On Tom and Lorenzo's fan blog they showed some of Fashion Week's biggest fashion outfits alongside the photos and it sure looks like the 1960's and the show inspired this fall's styles. Even down to Betty's riding outfit.

Betty Draper's horse riding digs, circa 1963.

Ralph Lauren Collection, Fall 2009

 Valentino Collection, Fall 2009.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Point of Agreement (shock!)

Now I don't want anyone to have a stroke, so sit down before you read further....

...wait for it...

...wait for it...

I agree with the Obama Administration's plan to enforce a limited pay plan structure on the nation's bank officials via Federal Reserve review of current structure.  The reasoning behind it is to enforce proper compensation for ensuring prudent value and responsible sound growth in the banking system. The most cited example of why it's needed, aside from obscene CEO pay scales in general, is the all-to-many cases of bank and financial loan officers approving tons of too-risky loans in order to justify or earn their bonuses and high pay.

Let me ask you: if all public school teachers earned their incomes piecemeal, in other words paid by the passing student, would there ever be any students who failed? Right. This is exactly why we do not tie teacher pay directly to student success, and the lesson should be applied to other professions when applicable.

The current structure (ie, anything goes and to the highest bidder) is simply too tempting to be implemented ethically. The government already has their hand in the banking cookie jar, so while it is there it might as well try to re-introduce self-discipline.

This isn't a stand-alone belief of mine. I think that all executive pay should have caps. At the very least, I believe that any company that pays its executives more than twice the pay of its overall employee pay average cannot then lay off or fire any employees, not any, as long as they are paying their execs so lopsidedly. Yeah, pass that law and you'll see that limit self-induce in a New York second.

Before I explain further, please know or remember that I have over 30 years experience as a tax accountant in public practice. I've done hundreds of business returns and dozens and dozens of sets of books. I understand the history, theory and practice of corporations. And I am here to tell you that they get far more priviledges than they deserve, legally and legislatively.

Corporations can well afford to have some more restrictions. It wasn't always this way. Up until 30 years ago, they did a decent job of policing themselves as related to executive compensation. When the pension tax laws were first written, there weren't any participation or percentage restrictions, because the vast majority of companies played equitably in order to keep employee unions from growing (and because of concessions unions demanded and fought for). It was only during the Reagan-era Congressional overhaul of the pension benefits tax laws that restrictions were mandated. The reason was, companies were beginning to make unequitable decisions. The shareholders-as-God era was beginning, and with that came the out-of-sight CEO pay scales.

So, now, if they won't self-regulate, someone needs to force them, because we've played this era out and we can no longer continue the Greed-is-Good-Gordon-Gecco philosophy. Let me explain the implications nobody else writes about. If a company with 12,000 employees pays its CEO $36.4 million a year plus stock incentives that veritably promote insider trading when it's highest-paid average employee earns $40 an hour, that's the kind of executive pay structure that needs to be limited. Here's what we never stop to consider, if the CEO gets that much, what about his president, 12 vice-presidents, CFO, and department managers? As the price on the top dog's head swells, so then does the little dogs' prices. Pretty soon, you have a ton of money being spent administratively...for what? Seriously. I think the jig is up about how hard these CEO jobs are. As in, they are hard, but nowhere near that hard.

So it's time to re-introduce America to regulation. (That's the whole reason I'm not for Obama's version of healthcare reform. I feel it needs to just re-regulate a variety of things, enforce the existing laws, make new regulate, and that is all for now, to see if it improves costs and procedures.) Sending a message to America's corporate boardrooms that publicly traded funds cannot be used to buy people would be a step in the right direction, and starting with the bailed out banking industry is the correct first partner on the dance card.

I told ya I'm no longer a Democrat, but I'm also not a Republican with the knee-jerk unfettered capitalism blood in my veins. Nope. As much as I hate to agree with a tax-cheat, I gotta go with Geitner on this. People should be free, and contrary to the last 30 years, corporations are not people. Let's quit treating them better than we treat ourselves.

Friday, September 18, 2009

ACORN Video Not Surprising

But does it surprise you? When I tried to tell you about ACORN, did you think I was just a worrier, an alarmist, or worse... a conspiracy theorist? Maybe even a RACIST?
"Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the red-hot word of the 21st century, guaranteed to silence your thorniest critics in one fell swoop! Position yourself today to be able to harness the Power of Skin-Deep Shame!"
Last year, I warned you about ACORN. I also warned you to read radical Marxist and the Father of Community Organizing Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals if you wanted to know the real definitions of Hope and Change. Alinsky's book is ACORN's playbook, so there are even more little kernels of snappiness and awareness in it. Just sayin...

At any rate, state and federal officials are now beginning to acknowledge that something might just be a little illegally nutty with those ACORNers. That's all we who questioned boldly, saw the truth and spoke want. An objective and independent investigation, and no Census affiliation. No federal money at all is icing on the cake, but we feel that the investigation will reveal the motivation to cut off every government-appropriated cent and that is how it should work.

It was just getting people to do the equivalent of "Oh alright, I'll look at the elephant in the room, damnit." So it's a good start, but it still requires vigilant heat on our officials not to back down if ACORN says they've changed and fixed their problems, because they have said that so many times before and kept on with their bad ways.

One thing that I am very happy about is seeing a new generation figure out methods of getting a hearing for justice when the establishment wants to be ostrich-like. The pimpin' and prostitutin' undercover work of James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles was not only ingenious, it was effective. O'Keefe is 25, Giles is 20, and their budget was 1300 dollars, not million or billion or trillion. If you read in O'Keefe's own words what they did and why, and you have read your Rules for Radicals, you realize that O'Keefe and Giles have read it too!

My spirits are lifted by the fact that the moderates, independents and conservatives in this country who are protesting against our government are not backing down, even in the midst of being called racists, violent, argumentative, rude, disruptive, stupid, lemmings, sell-outs, I mean, you name it. If it's bad, it's being used against us. And it will just get worse. We will see people come forward, as they are now beginning to do, and pretend to be social scientists who explain that anyone (or that magical elusive "some" and "certain") who disagrees with Obama is in the end, acting with a racist motive.

Ok, well, where does that leave dissent in this country, then? Last time I checked, that was the First Amendment. I have no doubt that there are racists who are against Obama's policies. It's not only an experiential conclusion, it's a statistical certainty. But it does not then stand that all dissenters are racists, or even most of them. We have just had unprecented, historic changes made and proposed to our government. It is ridiculous to expect no dissent. End of story. Period.

But the bigger point is that dissent is a protected right, still, anyway. Those of us who choose to use it shouldn't have to be labelled so hatefully, but hey, what I've noticed in the last few weeks and months is, that which doesn't kill us is making us stronger. So, bring it on, I guess.

But heed O'Keefe's words:

"ACORN has ascended. They elect our politicians and receive billions in tax money. Their world is a revolutionary, socialistic, atheistic world, where all means are justifiable. And they create chaos, again, for it’s own sake. It is time for us to be studying and applying their tactics, many of which are ideologically neutral. It is time, as Hannah said as we walked out of the ACORN facility, for conservative activists to “create chaos for glory.”

This generation may be ready to take it up a notch. Rather than arguing in each other's faces with the extremely rare violent act of biting off a finger or stealing someone's sign, these kids may act if we cannot get it together. We may be wishing for those town hall arguments. It just depends on what the chaos turns out to be. So far, it's been smart, effective and nonviolent. So far. Still, they got results when no one else could. And for that, they earn my respect and admiration.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Joe said it's so

By now I'm sure you've heard about the South Carolina Congressional Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during the Presidential address to Congress last week.

You know, when he shouted out, "You lie!"

If you are looking for me to condemn him, don't hold your breath. I've been calling Obama out as a liar for over a year now!

Joe Wilson, while not my hero, is in my opinion, someone who has guts and ain't afraid to use them. That's a breath of fresh air.

At the same time, it's a no-brainer that he broke House rules when he did it. His fellow Representive James Clyburn is, if nothing else, completely consistent, and is leading the charge to have Wilson tarred and feathered censured. This is the man who race-baited Bill Clinton in the primary last year. Every time anyone says or does anything he doesn't like, Clyburn accuses racism. What a joke.

So okay, Clyburn, have your little censure. Wilson, take it like a man and get your little rap on the knuckles and move on. Because it is meaningless. Maybe that is precisely why, when Dems did basically the same thing to Dubya, they did not get censured.  I guess Dems aren't even as grown-up as the Pugs. {Sigh}

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nobody Put These Two in a Corner

Mourning the deaths of two great leading men today...

First, Patrick Swayze (this is a favorite photo of him):
Then I saw this photo taken of him days ago out in L.A. with his wife, and it was very painful to look at. Look if you dare, it is very sobering. Pancreatic cancer sure took its toll on him. He was 57, same age as The Hubster.

I guess everyone has a favorite movie of Swayze's. I liked most everything he did, even the often-panned Grandview, USA he starred in with Jamie Leigh Curtis. Then there was the other movie of his considered a bomb: Red Dawn. I liked that movie a lot...Wolverines! It made a big impression on me at 28 in 1984, because even though I had been in my share of bomb shelter fire drills under my desk as a schoolkid, I'd never before really thought about what it would be like to be invaded by an enemy. Red Dawn brought that home to me.

So, the next year when he played Orry Main in the TV mini-series North and South, I was in looooooovvvvvve. OMGawd. For me, it was Nick Nolte's Tom in Rich Man, Poor Man in the 70's and Swayze's Orry in the 80's that defined awesomeness for a television mini-series. He was perfect in that role and America began to take notice.

Then came Dirty Dancing. Nothing I can say that hasn't been said, except that he made Jennifer Gray sexy. No small task, as she was Jewish cute at best. When Ghost came out in 1990, he was set as a major star, and he made Demi Moore sexy-sensual, not just sexy-cute like she was in St. Elmo's Fire. He also played a great straight-guy to Whoopi's Oscar-winning role. Suffice it to say he made both his leading ladies classy in his presence.

After Ghost, he battled addictions and rehab, but managed to hang in there and give us two more of his best performances: as the awesome, awesome, awesome, did-I-say-awesome surfer-bank robber Bodhi in the ultimate xtreme sport action movie Point Break (with an also awesome Keanu Reeves in his first big break role). For those of you who have never seen this movie, I feel sorry for you. The photo above is Swayze as Bodhi. Here's another:
Oh, man. Hubba hubba and great acting, too. Plus, check it out: Swayze was the better surfer of the two, despite being 12 years older. Yes, they did their own stunts. Ya just gotta rent it if you haven't seen it.
The other great performance was as the sweet and graceful drag queen Vida in To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Wow, what an amazing cast in that movie, and several of them were standouts. Still, Vida tends to be everyone's favorite. Even Roger Ebert's, who remarked that Swayze made a pretty nice looking woman. What do you think?
Swayze, a Houston native who graduated high school with actress Shelley Duvall, was in my opinion a pretty good actor when given decent material who put 200% into every role he played and made several less than decent roles presentable. I believe that he was vastly underrated because of his chick-flick roles, much like a beautiful woman is never believed to be a brain. Those of us who liked him, however, know the truth of his talent.
We also lost actor and Broadway star Harve Presnell this week. Younger fans will know him as the SOB father-in-law in Fargo, or Mr. Brooks in Dawson's Creek. But those of us who grew up watching the color musicals of the 50's and 60's will remember Presnell as Debbie Reynolds' husband Johnny in The Unsinkable Molly Brown movie (as well as on Broadway opposite Tammy Grimes), and in one of my favorite movie musicals, Paint Your Wagon, he sings the song They Call the Wind Mariah (as in Carey, and I betcha $10 bucks that's where her mom got her name from...just went to check and I am correct...yes!). 
Presnell then starred as Daddy Warbucks in Annie on Broadway and in between Fargo and Dawson's Creek, he appeared in the movies Saving Private Ryan, The Legend of Bagger Vance,  Flags of Our Fathers, Face/Off, Patch Adams and Old School. He was 75.
I remember when I first saw Presnell sing Mariah in Paint Your Wagon. I was awed by his rich baritone voice, but I was stubborn in my insistence that was Howard Keel. In fact, the two actors looked like brothers. Here's Keel young and old:

Not only did Harve and Howard look alike, their singing voices were alike, too. Both were rich, deep baritones. I had known Keel from movie musicals like Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat, Calamity Jane, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Kiss Me Kate. Later on, he was Miss Ellie's 2nd husband on TV's Dallas.
But I digress. We are here to remember Harve, not Howard. I think it is a compliment to mistake Harve for Howard; that is how good Presnell was in musicals and then later on as a straight dramatic actor. Both Presnell and Swayze did their vocation justice and had many fans worldwide. They both loved to work and were complete professionals at it. Their deaths are our loss. God speed, gentlemen. May you sing and dance all you want to now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

More Than I Thought

It was brought jarringly home to me Saturday that some of the media really are covering up news and slanting what they do report in favor of the Obama Administration.

Saturday was the nationwide 9/12 protests and march on Washington, DC. By Saturday evening the internet was a-buzz with rumblings that the likes of NBC, ABC and the New York Times were estimating the DC crowd at 60-70,000 (most sources settled on reporting "tens of thousands"), yet when the DC National Parks Service (whose responsibilities include handling events like this) was asked how many came, this response came from spokesman Dan Barna:

"It is a record.... We believe it is the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever."

Oh my God. Seriously? Ever? That includes the 1963 March on Washington. That includes Obama's inauguration.

DC participants were reporting that event was forced to start a couple hours EARLY because there were too many people gathered at the kick-off point, and that is a first. They also reported that the Metro train system was running every 20 minutes all day long that were constantly full and reminded the DC residents of weekday rush hour on steroids.

Once again, internet bloggers were carrying out investigative legwork that only a year ago was routinely done by the mainstream media (msm). I know the msm had dropped the ball during other stories, but seeing this one worries me for real.

I mean, what if something really big and dangerous and scary and necessary for us to know in order to safe our own lives comes up. Should the msm be trusted to alert us, in no uncertain terms now? Cuz I mean, what if us knowing this horrible thing would be troublesome for the Obama Administration? Add that to the hypothesis and see if you have 100% trust in your msm of choice (or even the same level of trust you had in them a year ago).

This is pretty much the same way I lost belief in anything Obama says anymore. Things would be pretty bleak, except for the knowledge that there are a lot of other folks who see it like I do. Whether the msm admits it or not.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Week in Review

Emails, I get 'em. Probably 80% supportive/agree, 15 % disagree civilly and 5% Nutcase. I love 'em all, keep 'em coming, please. And now, everyone who reads me can sign up (see my sidebar at right top) to get my blog posts in your email inbox. It's a new thing I am trying out to see if it's helpful to you. Since it's new, if it doesn't work right in any way, please let me know, so I can fix it, okay? THANKS!

Moving right along...My, my, my, lots happening in our national politics lately.

1. Van Jones, the Green Czar (who's a self-professed *Red*, as in Communist) resigned Sunday at the stroke of midnight and blamed his departure on being pushed out by a smear campaign of lies and hatred. No names on the campaigners, but it is generally assumed that would be Glen Beck, since no other media channel but Fox has been covering Jones' escapades in any depth. I've watched Beck every day and heard all of the questions he raised about Jones, and while the Left would have us think Beck is Rush on TV, 95% of what Beck has presented has been in Jones' own taped and written words. It really boils down to whether one thinks a radical activist can do a fair job implementing Cap and Trade if it becomes law. I can look the other way to a point that he called Congressional Republicans "assholes" in a public meeting. I can even discount somewhat him signing the 911 Truther petition, although prior to his apology for that last week, he lamely tried to say he hadn't read the fine print on it and to me that was almost worst, as in playing us for fools, a stunt I figure he would likely pull again had he gotten away with it. What gets me is that he and those who he works for think it's fine to be a Communist and large in charge. I draw the line at that.

It bothers me that Obama's Gal Friday, Valerie Jarrett is on video saying "they" just love Jones and his work and what he stands for, and "they" have been watching him for a long time. Apparently, "they" includes Michelle Obama and probably then, by deduction, President Obama. And, they all vacationed together this summer. I know it's a stretch to deduce it, since our chief executive can sit in a pew for 20 years and not notice that his pastor is a racist and a race baiter, but I think it's important enough to make the leap.

So, it must be okay with them to appoint Communists to Cabinet-level jobs? Not in my world. And, shouldn't all Czars be properly vetted?

Trust me when I say I hate to bring this back up again, but it's the Donkey in the Room: this reminds me of Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers. This is nothing to worry about, I'm sure Obama would say...again. So, excuse me while I continue to not believe a fricking word our President says.  If you feel something covering up your eyes, that's probably wool, okay?

2. Obama spoke to the nation's schoolchildren yesterday, after much ballyhoo and protest from the citizen heartland. It's fair to say that the details of it changed as the protests escalated. At first, the administration was furnishing a lesson plan (against the policy of the Dept of Education before now, by the way) that included the assignment to have the kids write an essay describing how they could help Obama. Say what? That right politicized it. So, all the flack Obama got was deserved. 'Went too far' would be an understatement. Stupid? Or Conniving and Caught? You be Da Judge. I just wanna know, if this was all innocent, why does Obama have to do things so differently than before, if it's the same as before and nothing to worry about?

In the end, the speech ended up being a good one for the kids, although I continue to believe he's not yet said Word One to students like my daughter, a great student and high achiever. And once again, the Heartland voices of "mob" dissent had to reign him in from an over-reaching intent. Still, his final version ended up being similar to those of our previous Presidents, which is how it should be.
3. Obama will address Congress tonight in a speech on network TV and the subject will be the health care bill. You know I'll have to force myself to listen, but hey, there is a chance that he might actually explain well enough just what he supports and wants in a bill, or maybe explain well enough what is in the bills being considered. I say "explain well enough" because most people I talk to cannot figure that out, even if they have researched it.

There seems to be undertones of expectations that if he doesn't turn things around with this speech, the bill -- and maybe he -- is done for. I'd never bet on that happening because I think if he still has 5% of the people's support, he'll keep on doing what he's doing. Seems like it was years ago instead of a month or so ago that Team Obama was encouraging citizens to snitch on each other if they knew people who were perpetuating "fuzzy" info on his healthcare legislation.

And you wonder why someone out in Middle America or Any America might be suspicious of his school speech when he originally wanted to indoctrinate kids to help enact his policies? And that'd be on top of possibly being labelled a mobster or domestic terrorist for attending a town meeting and speaking out in dissent.

I don't know, maybe I'm hoping he will be different, because if it's another "teaching moment" like his Rev. Wright speech, I may just hurl. Did you know that his approval ratings went up a little bit during the time he was on vacation and not giving speech somewhere?

To me, the fatal part of this legislation was letting Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid create it. Why hasn't Obama steered this with a stern firm hand from Day One if it is his centerpiece legislation? Sometimes I think we have an actor who answered a casting call as President.

Personally, I would like to see healthcare reforms. They just are not in this bill. So, I anticipate a little nap tonight, unless I hear something shocking like the Dems would be willing to take on tort reform.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Truth and The Truth

Ted Kennedy died last week and for several days I've put off blogging about it because, honestly, I'm pretty conflicted about any Kennedy.

As an until-recently lifelong Democrat, I am well-versed in Kennedy history, Kennedy legislation, and Kennedy myth and scandal as well. I spent my childhood idolizing Camelot, my teens mourning fallen gods, and my twenties waiting for Teddy and his ilk to rescue us from the Evil Reagan Empire.

Then, in my thirties and forties, I happened to start reading books about the Kennedys. My dad read them and gave them to me. I began with Peter Collier's The Kennedy's: An American Drama . Next was Doris Kearns Goodwin's The Fitzgerald and the Kennedys: An American Saga . Both are very good histories with little or no controversial information.

They were also both written before the release of the records associated with the JFK Assassination Records Act of 1992, which was basically a second Warren Commission but with different results. While waiting for researchers to comb through them, I read JFK: Reckless Youth by Nigel Hamilton  and The Kennedy Women by Laurence Leamer . Hamilton's book is the one I'll remember, because I had never before known how personally reckless all 3 brothers were.

Add 50 or so in-depth magazine articles and a couple more books whose titles I can no longer recall, and you are reading the words of an amateur Kennedy historian. So please know that when I say Ted was no John F., that's not a compliment to either brother.

You see, I cannot forget that Ted was the baby of the family and acted like it his entire life. He did many things in his own interest to the point of indulgence. He didn't even try to conceal it. In fact, he would whine about needing to have the right to have it. So while I am grateful he co-authored legislation for Title IX and the Disabilities Act, I also know that were he never born someone else would have gotten those bills through Congress because they had huge public support. And stunts like this latest on-and-off Senator choosing in his own home state prove my opinion beautifully.

Back in 2004 when he thought Kerry might be elected President, Ted convinced the leaders of the Massachusetts legislature to change the law that gave the Governor the power to appoint the U.S. Senator's replacement instead of a special election. Why? Because Mitt Romney, a Republican, was Governor then and he wanted to keep Mitt from appointing a GOP Senator were Kerry to become President. Talk about something coming back to bite one in the butt!

No problemo, though, right? Just change the law back when it shows its teeth. To me, that is the ghost of Joseph Kennedy doing his nasty work, just as surely as if Washington Irving created him. My dad has the theory that Rose Kennedy put what was good in her children but Joseph Kennedy put what was bad in them. And, whether it was John and Bobby fumbling around trying to assassinate Castro, or Bobby trying to contain Marilyn Monroe after John loved her and left her, or Ted trying to control who became Massachusett's Senator, it's all the same, really.

When we give special status to people in families like the Kennedys and the Bushes, we see time and time again how they abuse that. I'm sick and tired of it beyond belief. When will we learn our lesson and realize that it is the non-patricians among us that we should celebrate, because their abilities to succeed mark what is unique and great about America and its government, not that some priviledged rich family can grab power? No matter how charismatic.

At Ted's funeral, not one word was mentioned about Joan, his first wife for almost 25 years and the mother of all of his children. Not. One. Word. It was as if she never existed. To me, that illustrates how Ted operated, in the true and typical spirit of Joseph P. So, sorry, I cannot celebrate the greatness of this man like he was some kind of god. He was deeply flawed and he screwed up repeatedly.  Every time the Left denigrates George W. Bush, I think, tell me how he was really any different from Ted Kennedy, huh? In my book, neither should have ever been elected.

I have one wish: that this marks the end of both families' role in our governance. If I want Camelot, I can read a book or watch a movie. Just like, if I want Hope and Change, I'll support someone who has actually made those things happen, not someone who can talk a really good line (and definitely not someone who has been handed the baton by Ted Kennedy, hello?)...