30 November 2011

Good-bye Barney Frank!

We won't be missing you anytime soon!
It is a newspaper truism that what is good for journalism is bad for the country, and vice versa. Let's just say that regarding the pending retirement of Congressman Barney Frank, we're delighted to make the professional sacrifice. Few House Members have made a bigger legislative mark, and arguably no one so expensively. Mr. Frank deserves to be forever remembered -- and we'll help everyone remember him -- as the nation's leading protector of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before their fall. For years Barney helped block meaningful reform of the mortgage giants while pushing an 'affordable housing' agenda that helped to enlarge the subprime mortgage industry. 'I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision],' Mr. Frank said on September 25, 2003, in one of his many legendary rhetorical hits. 'I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.' The dice came up snake-eyes for the housing market and U.S. economy. Democracy can be unfair, and for his sins Mr. Frank was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Financial Services Committee in 2009 and an opening to remake the U.S. financial industry. It was like asking Charlie Sheen to teach an anger management class. The result was Dodd-Frank, which didn't solve the 'too big to fail' problem but did make banks even more subject to the wishes of Washington. The crony capitalism exemplified by Fannie and Freddie became more broadly embedded in U.S. financial markets. ... Liberals who regret Mr. Frank's departure needn't worry too much. The next Democrat in line to run Financial Services is California's Maxine Waters, whose main contribution to Dodd-Frank was requiring racial-preference officers at each of the regional Federal Reserve banks. Journalists may not miss Mr. Frank after all. --"The Barney Frank Era", Wall Street Journal
Barney Frank: Good riddance (Washington Post)

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Proclamation of National Thanksgiving

George Washington

City of New York, October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

22 November 2011

An Open Letter to the Republican Candidates for President

Dear Candidates,

I am tired of attacks on Mitt Romney based on his Mormon beliefs. I am a politically conservative Jew, and as such, I have no interest in the question of whether or not Mormonism is really a part of the Christian faith or not. In fact, it disturbs me to hear of such attacks since the Constitution itself explicitly states that there is no religious test for office.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. - Article 6, Paragraph 3 [emphasis added]
If you feel the need to attack Romney please do it based on differences of philosophy, ideas and policy - things that effect all of us.

Mitt Romney has been a gentleman throughout this entire primary season. He has stuck to the issues and has focused on bringing his message to the public. I would appreciate if all of you would do the same.

An undecided voter

18 November 2011

Thank you Regis!

After growing up with Regis Philbin over the years, it is time to thank him for the laughs that he brought us, and the feel-good start to every morning. We will miss him on television and wish Regis all the best.

17 November 2011

Happy Feet Two - Can it get any Better (or Worse)?

I saw an advertisement on the side of a bus for Happy Feet Two. My first thought was 'oh no'! I saw the first movie with my brother and wrote a review which I am republishing below. All I hope is that the sequel won't be as bad as the first - but with that in mind - we know that sequels in general are never as good as the original... which leaves us an even worse movie.
Avi and I went to see the movie Happy Feet. I will, unfortunately, claim responsibility in choosing the film. I will also admit that I don’t read reviews, so I was not warned that it was an environmental piece of propoganda. I was hoping for a nice, cute movie with dancing penguins. But no. That would be too much to ask for.

It was a horrible movie, it just dragged on and on. I kept hoping that it would end. It begins with the mating season between emperor penguins. It seems that they sing to get a mate...let’s pause here and mention that this is not a kids movie.

So the penguins are singing to each other and we meet our Ma and Pa penguins...Pa penguin, Memphis, singing Heartbreak Hotel and sounding like Elvis or some backwoods Kentuckain. Ma penguin, Norma Jean, is a smooth singing penguin who could have anyone on the block but falls in love with Memphis. They have an egg together and while Norma Jean is off on her trek to the sea he is left with the egg singing/praying to the god that gives them a good fish harvest.

During the course of this praying to the fish god, Memphis lets go of the egg and it rolls in the snow -- the equivilent of dropping a baby on its head. When the egg hatches and we meet the new chick, Mumble (huh?), who is incapable of singing like all the other emperor penguins, but instead can’t control his happy, dancing feet. However, this is a problem in their rigidly, static, stuffy religion run by a penguin that looks awfully like a Puritan of the 1600s, where there is only one way to do things.

Mumble and his dancing feet get blamed for the lack of fish and is banished from emperorland. Mumble promises to return when he figures out why the fish are disappearing...and so begins his incredibly non-interesting journey.

On his way he is chased by a lion-seal, befriended by shorter stereotypical Latino penguins, who of course accept Mumble for his dancing feet. He is brought by the short penguins to the great, “all-knowing” Sunday morning preacher penguin with the fancy feathers Lovelace. Lovelace had a set of plastic rings (from pop cans) around his neck. We all know what that means. People are bad.

To go on and on would be a disservice to all of you reading and would be quite painful. I’ll summarize. Mumble ends up chasing a fishing boat and realizes that “aliens”/people are the ones responsible for the loss of fish. He ends up chasing the boat across the globe and ends exhausted on a beach somewhere, where he’s taken to a zoo. It’s somewhat humorous (not) when Mumble realizes that he finally has an opportunity to bring his plight to the aliens, but is ignored. He begins to lose his mind...when all of a sudden a little girl taps a beat on the glass. Mumble regains his mind, and of course starts dancing.

This dancing catches everyones attention. Of course, a dancing penguin would be quite a sight to see. Mumble is let loose to go back to his own kind with a homing device attached to his back. There he confronts the Puritan penguin who then tells him again that his backsliding is the cause of the penguin population starving. Then lo and behold a helicopter lands to watch the penguins. The penguins realize that this is the moment to start dancing for the people. Even the Puritan penguin dances. Obviously, the old ways of religion are no good. Obviously, all of it should be tossed out the window.

Then, miracle of miracles, the people divine from the penguins dancing that there’s a food shortage and the penguins are starving. When I see a penguin dancing - the first thought that crosses my mind is that they need food (not!). But wait, it gets better. Since people have read the dancing the issue goes to the United Nations where it is discussed and of course SOLVED! We know that the U.N. solves world problems every day. Then finally, by the grace of the fish god, the movie ended.

The first word out of my mouth when I turned to Avi was, “What?!” As we discussed the movie I realized how absolutely rediculous it really was. I don’t mind an environmental message on occasion, but I do mind being bludgeoned with it. People are bad. People destroy the environment. People kill defenseless animals. Whatever.

Then there is Mumble and his journey. He’s on a mission to talk to those taking the fish. We come along on this mission wondering how he is going to accomplish such a task. There’s a buildup and no real confrontation. I was left empty.

I could not even say that Mumble grew up through his adventures. First of all, they were not adventures. He met some characters; the Latino penguins were fun. But Mumble never changed. He didn’t grow. He didn’t learn. He didn’t effect others around him till the end when the people figured out the dancing. Nothing substantial happened during the entire movie.

It ended with what Avi called the Mack Truck ending. (There’s a fancy name for this but never mind.) A Mack Truck ending is when the main character is in a real bind, with no solution, and a Mack Truck comes in and runs over the problem to end it. That’s exactly what happened. It was painful to see.

One last note. The movie was one long song track. I counted approximately 44 songs in the credits. 44 songs at a minute and a half apiece...you do the math.

The up-side in all of this was that I hung out with Avi and made fun of the movie for hours afterward. My recommendation - don’t see the movie.

16 November 2011

The World's Sliding Scale of Moral Values

Imagine a world where destruction of historic and archeological sites is dismissed as unimportant and irrelevant by the World Community. Imagine a world where the murder of innocents gets a moment of silence but is otherwise ignored by that same World Community. Imagine again, that this is not a make-believe world, but truly the one we live in. The World Community seems to be quite a tolerant bunch depending on what group you belong to. Perhaps they'll even admit you into their little organizations - despite or perhaps because of past 'activities'.

Let's start with the UNESCO vote to allow the "Palestinians" into their agency. UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. I wonder if anyone could list what the "Palestinian" contributions have been to humanity at large up until this point? Anyone?

Aside from the fact that the "Palestinians" deny Jewish history - denying that the Jewish Temples in Jerusalem ever existed, denying that modern day Jews are the descendants of those Jews of 3000 years ago, denying 3000 years of Jewish existence in the Land of Israel, and even denying the Holocaust - is the fact that the "Palestinians" actively destroy Jewish historical artifacts and sites.

One would imagine that actively destroying anyone's historical artifacts and sites would be frowned upon by UNESCO - but I suppose that it depends on who is doing the destruction. The "Palestinians" seem to be exempt.

Here are just a few examples of important Jewish holy sites being attacked and destroyed:
* In Septemer 1996, Palestinian rioters destroyed a synagogue at Joseph's Tomb in Schem/Nablus.
* Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem has been repeatedly attacked since 1996.
* In October 2000, Joseph's Tomb was torched after the Israeli garrison guarding it was temporarily withdrawn. It was subsequently rebuilt as a mosque.
* Also in October 2000, the ancient synagogue in Jericho was destroyed by arson and a second historic synagogue was damaged.
* The Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the holiest site in Judaism, home of the First and Second Temples, has also seen tremendous destruction of historical artifacts. From 1996-2001 historic parts of the Temple Mount were destroyed to make way for underground mosques.
In November 1999, the Islamic clerics opened what they called an "emergency exit" to the new mosque. Over three days and nights, the "exit" expanded into a gaping hole, 18,000 square feet in size, and up to 36 feet deep. Thousands of tons of ancient fill from the site, subsequently found by Israeli archeologists to contain artifacts dating as early as the First Temple period, were dumped into the Kidron Valley.

In February and March 2001, an ancient arched structure built against the eastern wall of the Temple Mount enclosure was razed by bulldozers in order to further enlarge the "emergency gate" of the new mosque at Solomon's Stables.

Furthermore, without any archeological supervision, approximately 6,000 square meters of the ancient surface level of the Temple Mount were dug up by tractors, paved, and declared to be open mosques. The previous director of the Antiquities Authority has called this "an archeological crime." No Israeli official has seen any plans or has set limits on the work being carried out.
One would imagine that the destruction of a 3000 year site would stop a world body from allowing these "people" from joining the ranks of those who care about history and the preservation of ancient artifacts. But again, I suppose it matters who is doing the destruction and whose property is being destroyed.

I also suppose that we shouldn't be surprised by any of this. World organizations seem to like to reward egregiously destructive behavior such as those demonstrated by the "Palestinians".

The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta saw the "Palestinians" participate in the Games for the first time. Only 24 years after the Munich Olympic Massacre of the Israeli athletes - unarmed civilians there to complete on the world stage, the "Palestinians" were welcomed to compete as well. Once again, it matters who is doing the murdering and who is being murdered. The "Palestinians", of course, again get a pass.

So which world organization is next to admit the "Palestinians"? Would it be the World Heath Organization (WHO)? Perhaps using ambulances (Red Crescent and UNRWA) to transport bombs and terrorists would be sanctioned by WHO. Is this scenario really so far fetched?

Everything seems to be morally relative when it comes to the "Palestinians". Destroy historic artifacts and sites, holy sites not withstanding, and get admitted to UNESCO. Murder innocent Jewish athletes at the Olympics, and be admitted to those same Games a few years later. All is forgiven. Moral relativity at it's best - all dependent on the parties at hand. The World at large seems to have a sliding scale of standards, but then again, no surprise there.

11 November 2011

Veterans Day/Remembrance Day 2011

Please take a moment today to thank a veteran. It is because of them, who are volunteers, that we have our freedoms here at home - and so many millions(!) of others across the world have theirs.

Veterans Day

Remembrance Day

The Story of the Flanders Fields Remembrance Day Poppies

10 November 2011

Happy 236th Birthday US Marines!

Happy Birthday to the best of the best!

Please take a look at this link - excellent videos honoring the US Marine Corp

Also excellent - 236 Years of the Marine Corp in pictures

The Cain Question

The question - Did he or didn't he?

The answer - We don't know.

The upshot here is that all these sexual harassment allegations have taken Herman Cain off his game and off his message. I like Cain for a lot of reasons, while not fond of his national sales tax idea, he is a great example of how the American Dream really can come true.

It's time for Cain to bring out the National Restaurant Association's findings from their own internal investigations into the initial allegations to support his claims of innocence. While it won't fully answer all the women bringing complaints, it will certainly bolster Cain's side of the story - especially when some of these women have questionable characters.

This whole scandal has turned into a 'he said - she said' situation that is dragging Cain down. He needs to end this distraction as soon as possible and get his campaign back on track.