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Glenn Beck’s Speech

Excuse me, I’m still in a gaga happy land where I’ve been since Glenn Beck’s keynote speech at CPAC on Sunday.

I’m new to Beck fandom. I never listened to him on the radio, and only this autumn began to watch him on television and wow. What I love about him is his approachability. He’s not super-polished and media-ready in that creepy way that almost all people are these days – both off and on tv. He’s got a great story and a great realism about him that I really go for. Additionally, every word out of his mouth makes sense. So I was an easy win, I guess.

The speech at CPAC, however, was far and away one of the best talks I’ve ever heard – but more than that, it was one of the best political speeches I’ve ever heard through-out American history. It took a while for me to figure out what I liked so much about it, and I realized with a start that it was his honesty. It was so rare, so raw. He spoke openly about his alcohol problems, comparing them to America’s problems with denial. He also described being broke, drunk, losing his family, losing everything, really, and then crawling back up to the living – the wonder of being able to do that in America should break every cynic’s steely stare.

His recitation of Emma Lazarus’ poem, “The New Colossus” at the Statue of Liberty will not be forgotten by anyone who saw that performance. It was absolutely stirring. I had never heard that poem uttered that way before, with such passion. It changed the meaning of the words for me. Even now, I mull them over not as I had heard them taught to me, but as I heard and saw Glenn Beck recite it:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I love stories like Beck’s and Rush Limbaugh’s, and the millions of others (including the men of Enron) who exemplify the poem’s meaning: the men have have scrambled from a life of obscurity and made it big. America, free-markets, maximum freedom allow those things to happen. When liberals come into power and begin syphoning money from the free-market and closing down the private sector, we are no longer the America that was the beacon of every soul who ached for freedom and risked everything to rock in a rickety ship across an ocean in the hopes to find our shores.

One of the reasons I love New York so much is that it connects me to the goodness of America – the Italians and Jews and Russians and Irish, and their mangled accents and strange ways, they all came here, and settled in New York – the first place the boat landed. They collected together and created these little neighborhoods throughout the magnificent city, which is how we got Little Italy and Chinatown. I always like to hear the accents, and sometimes just the languages, that are spoken there. They love their country, but they came here to make something of themselves.

I suspect Glenn Beck would tear up as I do when I think of it, when I behold it with the reverence it deserves.

America’s problems are not in its structure. Our system is good. It works. Our problems with America are with the people who want to tinker with something that is working.

That’s the message I got from Glenn Beck. I hope if you haven’t seen it yet, you’ll find it on YouTube and do yourself a favor and watch it.

Obama Urges Oversight of Insurance Rate Increases

Barry wants to restrict the public sector, including insurance companies. What else is new?

Apparently Obama is asking for new federal power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies, as he rolls out comprehensive legislation to revamp the nation’s health care system.

What is an “excessive rate increase”? Why is that his business? He’s a president, not an emperor; he doesn’t just get to go pissing all over our free-market system, changing the rules, punishing enemies and rewarding his thug friends. I guess somebody forgot to tell him that. Yet these “new” powers are being added at an alarming rate, and his power is unchecked.

I am sick of waking up every morning to read that my freedoms are being taken away, and yes, this restriction does limit my freedom. If I want to pay for an “excessive” rate increase, I have the right to do that. Usually rate increases coincide with an increase in services or products. If I want an insurance policy that busts the bank, that’s between me and my creditors.

I keep thinking that eventually Barry will figure out that we’re not liking his schtick. We’re not really the Marxist-Communist statists he thinks we are. The American people are better than this. We can not allow this person to “fundamentally change America.” We simply can not allow it.

I don’t know what it will take for a real revolution to happen. I just hope it happens sooner rather than later. I don’t want our future generations to have to live under tyranny.

Citi Prohibits Customer Withdrawals At It’s Discretion

Citibank announced a new policy for customers in Texas when it sent out monthly statements. Apparently the change is meant only for Texans, though the statement was accidentally sent to all customers:

Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change.

On page 22 of Citi’s Client Manual on the section marked Withdrawal Refusals & Withdrawal Notice, the policy is even more broad, and may apply to customers in every state:

We reserve the right to require seven (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking, savings and money market accounts.

There are two ways to approach this. The first is as a customer of Citi. I do not bank with Citi, but if I did, I would be quite upset – even irate – that the bank would require notice for me to withdraw my own money. It does not belong to the bank, it belongs to me. The fact that Citi would not respect that very basic tenet would make me find a new bank, tout de suite.

The second way to approach this is as an observer of our society. Why does Citi want to prevent people from taking out their money on demand? The obvious answer is the possibility that they are attempting to thwart a run on the bank. I’ve never heard of such overt measures, and I hope I am wrong about that.

In this economic environment, however, I suppose crazy is the new normal.

A Year of Working Out

I love my Polar F6 heart rate monitor. It performs well, except on the occasions I glance down and see it has recorded my heart rate at 00. That’s never fun. Fortunately, such occasions are rare. I was glancing back through almost a year of workouts, starting from the day I got it – 3.21.09. I’m amused to see my accomplishments:

1. I’ve worked out 344 times. Not bad considering there are only 365 days in a year, and I’m still a full month away from the one-year mark.

2. I’ve worked out for 476 hours.

3. I’ve burned 143,898 calories.

4. I’ve spent 321 hours inside my target heart rate.

5. 65% of the calories burned have come from fat.

6. The highest recorded heart rate is 210 (holy crap!).

7. My resting heart rate is 59.

I can take a little joy in my accomplishments, I suppose. But I also learned some things about myself as I look at this: I’m not lazy. I’m pretty consistent. I’m dedicated; when I say I’m going to do something, I do it.

I like having this record. I might re-set the counters on 3.21.10, and see if I can improve.

Austin Suicide Was Communist

The one thing that every report is playing down about the Austin man who flew his plane into the IRS building is the fact that his suicide note explicitly indicated that he was a Communist. His suicide note was a rant about capitalism and government – but not the way the Left and the mainstream media would have you believe. In his opinion, government was not doing enough to help him, unlike conservatives who believe that government does too much.

The media is reporting that he was “anti-government” but he was anti-government the way Obama is: he believed there was not enough of it.

And he believed the IRS was so unfair. He apparently had a lot of problems that none of us are privy too, and frankly this kind of violence is becoming genre. I would put Amy Bishop, the Obama-fanatic pipe-bomb mailing,-coworker-shooting, brother killing Harvard grad in Alabama right along with him. Selfish, immature, entitled, bitter loners have been around since time immemorial and will no doubt continue to implode under Obama’s presidency, and indeed, well into the future. The best we can do is hope the next one lives far, far away from us.

Olympic Snapshots – Part One

* I wrote a novel in the early 1990s, when I was but a child, about an Olympic athlete. I want to go back to it, re-write, modernize, and thrust it upon the public.

* Lindsey Vonn’s win was sweet, but I expected more from her after her win. More sobbing, I guess.

* Hannah Kearney of the women’s moguls remains my favorite female athlete so far of these Olympic games. I loved her interview with Bob Costas when she said she could have given the gold to Jen [Heil] but she was there to win gold, so she went for it. I love her drive.

* I don’t know why, exactly, but the figure skating brings me to tears.

* In pairs skating, I was wowed by the Chinese. The couple who took the gold deserved it, and I say this as someone who wants the USA to win everything.

* I love the athlete’s faces when they realize they’ve won. Hannah Kearney had a great realization shot. It was just dawning on her when a teammate ran over and hugged her, nearly knocking her down. Hell to the yes.

* The men’s moguls winner, who was the first-ever Canadian to win gold on the home court – was great on the podium. His pride just beamed through – and yet he remained typically low-key Canadian.

* JR Celski. Oh my heavens. His sweet good looks combined with that graceful, thoughtful, and superiorly intelligent short track performance is just wonderful. Yes, yes, double yes.

* Apollo Ohno was JR Celski eight years ago, and he’s still fabulous. I love the short track – it’s one of my favorite winter sports and Ohno is the reason. He is just a delight to watch.

* Women’s snowboarding is just accessible enough to make me think I need to get on a snowboard next winter. Our women make me proud.

* Shaun White. Lord have mercy. He is in a different category than anyone else. It’s not even really a fair contest. His snowboarding is just otherworldly. And his personality fits his extreme sport perfectly. He’s loose, always smiling. On the podium to collect his gold, he did air guitar to the Star Spangle Banner.

*Dale Begg-Smith of the men’s moguls for Australia is just fascinating to watch. I like the mysterious off-snow persona he’s cultivated. His cool-man attitude on the podium was amusing to watch. The fact that he owns a software company that makes spam annoys me, but man, he can ski.

9/11 Terrorist Featured on Facebook Ad

Consumerist has the screen grab of the ad featuring Mohammad Atta appearing on a Michigan driver’s license with the text, “New policy saves men 25-30 years old up to 70% on auto insurance. Do you qualify?”

Is Mohammad Atta really the best spokesperson for auto insurance? Does the controversy the company will no doubt receive translate into dollars and new customers? In any case – even if it has the highest return of any ad ever designed – it is a grievous assault on good taste.

This ad bothers me because it attempts to use Atta as an ironic character. They attempt to make him common by placing his photo on the ad, which is compounded by the fact that he’s featured on a driver’s license, the benchmark for all ID in the USA. There’s a sick blandness to this ad, a sort of, “look, even terrorists must deal with bureaucracy” tone that defies everything the man himself stood for. He was an evil, sick man fueled by Islamic hatred of the West. He had use for a driver’s license only inasmuch as it allowed him to infiltrate our country and attempt to destroy it from the inside. It was a tool of evil for him and his crew of terrorists. I think of it the same way rope was used in the Sharon Tate and LaBianca murders – a tool that could be found in every American household, and for these cold-blooded killers, it was an instrument of not only death but torture and death.

Disgusting and exploitative, the ad should freeze even the most edgy consumer’s wallet. And it should cast a calculating eye on Facebook, who would allow the ad to be displayed on every user’s page.

This ad may not be just a sick idea; it may be a bad business decision that will haunt Facebook.

Made Nothing In 2009? Here’s A Thousand Bucks!

I am completely stressed out and under a deadline. For the first time all day I looked up from my task only long enough to try and figure out a tax issue. I googled “2010 tax calculator” and ended up on I put in my status (single) and my dependents (myself). I had NOT put in any income information at all. As you can see, it is still set on default Zero. Yet a person who makes zero is entitled to nearly a thousand dollars? This makes no sense at all! Where is this $935 coming from? Me. And you. And your neighbor. Since you’re handing out money, can somebody bring over some cake? Thanks.

The Marriage Ref With Madonna

I admit it, I am so looking forward to The Marriage Ref, the promos of which I’ve seen approximately eight thousand times as I watch the Olympics. Produced by Jerry Seinfeld, the premise is that a panel of celebs will help married couples resolve their issues. Madonna, who is a close friend of Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry’s wife), will appear as a guest on the show.

I think I know what heaven looks like on earth. I am so ecstatic about this because Madonna is absolutely insane, plus she has two failed marriages and many a lover behind her. Oh God, please please please be as good as I think this is going to be.

What I love about this is Madonna seems utterly incapable of relating to anyone who is not a celebrity. So the ordinary problems of a normal middle class couple will indeed be an exotic venture for Madonna.

I predict she will bring her most haughty persona, all wink-wink, we know I am so much better than you. And this is how it will go:

Joe and Margaret of White Hall, Pennsylvania have been married for four years. Joe is an IT consultant and Margaret is a real estate agent. Margaret and Joe have been fighting for all the years of their marriage because Joe still talks to an ex-girlfriend who once dissed Margaret. Margaret feels this is extremely disrespectful. Joe believes that Margaret is trying to control him, and he feels that since the ex is just a friend, Margaret needs to get a life and quit trying to pick his friends for him.

Madonna: Perhaps you should go to the Seychelles, which are in the Indian Ocean, for a week or two, to really work on your marriage. Plus the girlfriend won’t be there.

Margaret: We can’t go to the Seychelles.

Madonna: Oh, that’s right, it’s winter and Seychelles are really better in the Spring. Perhaps take a helicopter …

Margaret: No helicopter. We need to solve this here.

Madonna: Oh, okay. Well if you must stay in Pennsylvania, I would suggest getting Tom Ford to design a unique outfit for…

Margaret: We don’t know Tom Ford.

Madonna: Oh. Well you’re really limiting yourself here. The Kaballah teaches us that we must learn to expand our minds, and I think that by refusing to take my advice, you’re blocking the Light.

Margaret: Could you please talk about his slutty ex-girlfriend?

Madonna: Well I have plenty of ex-boyfriends.

Margaret: Don’t you think your current boyfriend gets jealous and upset?

Madonna: I hope so, that’s why I keep them around.

Margaret: Could you please just…

Madonna: The Kaballah teaches us that we must be humble. Allow your husband’s sexier ex girlfriend into your life. Welcome her with open arms. The light requires you to be uncomfortable. You know, you can’t be rigid. You must crack so the Light can eek through.

Margaret. Never mind. I want a divorce.

Madonna: Oh, call my attorney in London. She’s only $1,400 per hour, and she can make sure that for every hundred million dollars of your settlement….

Margaret: I’m leaving now.

Madonna: Namaste! I always feel good when I help people. That’s what life is all about. Anyone care to Vogue?