“Black Friday” – Obsession or Insanity?

by Richard H. Frank

The readers of Libertyssong Blog have probably noticed that Jayne and I have attempted to be highly selective in choosing the subject for our writings.  As a result, we do not, as with some blogs, write daily just for the sake of regurgitating the news of the day.

Occasionally, however, current events bring pause for us to reflect upon how American society has evolved to the point where material possessions have taken precedent over the morals and values that have made our country the greatest nation on earth.  There was a time when Thanksgiving marked a celebration dedicated to giving thanks to our Creator for the bountiful country and freedoms endowed upon us all as Americans as well as for our family.

The day following Thanksgiving marked the beginning of the celebration of the Christmas Season ending with anticipation of a New year filled with hope for the future.  Somewhere throughout the years, the American psyche has been altered from the spiritual aspects of the holiday season to the materialistic.  Technology has certainly had its influence on this transformation but so has the decay in the morals of our society as a whole.

The pressure to make a “profit” sufficient to carry most retail enterprises for the coming year has in fact created the term “Black Friday.”  So intense has this pressure to make a profit become that we now see the holiday season being promoted as early as October and the hype for product values to come thrust in our face on television every ten to 15 minutes.

With the age of the internet, those of us obsessed with finding bargains are able to surf the web in pursuit of the best deals available.  The merchants have taken our obsession to “buy” to a new level through advertising early shopper promotional items that at one time were available at 4:00 a.m.. on Black Friday, now moved up to 12:00 on Thanksgiving, creating a feeding frenzy that gains momentum resulting in a “mob mentality.”

The image of shoppers camped out in store parking lots overnight to be the first in line for some limited quantity of precious bargains becomes the lead story on the nightly news.  That image is followed by orderly lines transformed into a mob storming the doors of the retail outlets and trampling each other in order to be first to acquire some item that they place a higher value upon than for their personal safety or that of their neighbor.  So frenzied are those mobs that they turn on one another ready and willing to inflict injury and even death upon anyone that stands in their way from acquiring their product–most often just for a hunk of metal or plastic.

We now are witness to shoppers storming an establishment when the opening was delayed resorting to pillaging and looting to satisfy their obsession turned to insanity.

How far we have fallen as a nation from a time when we celebrated the values and traditions of our heritage to a “mob” obsessed with acquiring some material possession having a limited lifetime and questionable value in the first place.  Sadly most of these “bargains” are obsolete before they reach the merchant’s floor for sale and the cycle to satisfy the need to possess the latest technology or fad item will repeat itself in the next “Black Friday.”

Obsession or Insanity?  I think it is neither but the steady erosion of values no longer taught in our schools, homes or championed within our Government or businesses themselves.

The falsely-promoted separation of “church and state” is absent from or Constitution and presents a slap in the face to our Founding Fathers.  The result is the steady deterioration of the morals of this Nation which will surely contribute to our eventual demise.  May God help this nation should we refuse to recognize the path we are on which is a path to our own destruction.

Gabrielle Giffords: Child-like Exuberance Does Not Qualify Her to Return to Congress

by Jayne D. Frank

I watched Gabrielle Gifford’s interview with Diane Sawyer with personal interest. Her recovery to date is truly miraculous, and I believe, guided by God.   My sister Pam had experienced a similar brain trauma and damage as Gabrielle, although not from a gunshot, and I was very interested in seeing how Gabrielle’s progress differed from my sister’s progress during the same period of time.  Some things are very different.  For one, Gabrielle Giffords was given the very best surgeons, speech therapists and recovery options that our country has to offer, because of who she was.  My sister, on the other hand, although covered by very good insurance, was given surgery and therapists that ordinary Americans would be given for the same injury.  A fact of life that I personally am saddened by, for my sister is now dead 5 years after her brain trauma.

I saw the recordings, recollections and videos of her progressing from the savage beating that her brain had incurred to her recovery to date and saw vivid similarities to my sister.  Pam had an aneurism which had not received timely clipping.  She laid in ICU for 2 months fighting for her life, going in and out of surgery for drains in her head to release pressure, to insertion of a trach.  Pam, like the fighter she was, survived this ordeal. She was taken off the trach after a few months, and then was transferred to a Rehab unit, much the same as Gabrielle.  Here, pretty much, is where the similarity ends.

Pam also was an extremely intelligent woman with a great career prior to her ordeal.  Pam’s therapy while in the rehab facility, although lengthy and daily, seemed to focus on the ordinary, getting her to say the names of people she knew and places she could remember.  Her physical therapy to try and regain standing and/or walking amounted to putting her in a machine that would raise her body to see if she could stand on her own.  No “gang” of people every day walking her down the hall, with one person almost on the floor as with Gabrielle, and the most expensive part of Pam’s physical therapy might have been the balls thrown to her to try and catch.  No music therapy and none of the most notable therapists from across the country coming in to see her every day.  After 5 months of “therapy” Pam was sent to a nursing home, which would become her “realism” for another 4 years.  Her insurance had run out by then with her only option (since her children were young) to go on Medicaid and Social Security Disability, programs which, by the way, are on the chopping block for others who may come to be in her situation.

Despite the lack, in my opinion, of intensive (expensive) therapy having been given to Pam, she did learn to talk in complete sentences, remembered everything prior to her accident (never regaining her current working memory), she fed herself with one hand, and she also had a great sense of humor much the same as Gabrielle.   She never was afforded continued physical therapy to help her walk although she did feel sensation in her legs-remember the insurance she had worked for all her life had run out.  Her  life after this was pretty much spent looking at 4 walls of her room every day in the nursing home.   She finally succumbed to a very aggressive and fast cancer that ended her life.

Now here comes the end of my sad tale about my sister and the necessary comparison with Gabrielle.  As great as my sister’s mind still was and her childlike exuberance for everything “new” that she learned over again, she was never going to recover enough to continue her career.  To do so would entail drawing from her vast experience of knowledge over the years,  her knowledge of her particular field which involved intensive reading and comprehension, and the ability to recall present events and to persuade others with her knowledge.  Pam did not, and would not have this again.  As far as Gabrielle Giffords is concerned, her family, friends and constituents should be very careful and sensitive, of what you are asking her to achieve.  To say that “she alone” would make the decision whether to come back to Congress is wonderful and loving, but does not face the reality of what being a Congressional Representative entails.  You must be able to read and introduce bills, understand and comprehend the contents thereof, understand the effect of such bills on our country, and make intelligent decisions for voting on those bills for the thousands of people in your district.  Remember, the reports are that Gabrielle has no recent memories, called the working memory, and how could she remember what she read yesterday in order to make a qualified vote tomorrow?

I love the fight Gabrielle is putting up and the progress she is making, but I think we, as outsiders, are expecting too much from her and as such are setting her up for failure.  This is a very personal subject for me and was hard to write, and I hope the readers of this blog, including those in her District in Arizona, take it for what it is – an offering of love to Gabrielle and her family.

On the Road to Greece

by Richard H. Frank

It is ten days until the Congressional “super committee” punches this nation’s ticket on the express train to becoming Greece.  The latest double talk coming out of Washington is evidence of the disdain our elected Representatives hold for the very constituents that voted to place them in office.  They  must think the American public is stupid and will accept the conclusion that since there cannot be any bi-partisan agreement on budget cuts, that they will set new spending targets and return their recommendations to each congressional committee to finalize the reductions.  Here we go again, “Ring around the Rosie,” right back to where we started with the national debt exploding at an unsustainable rate and reaching $15 trillion on November 16, 2011, equalling the gross domestic product of the country.

As for the mandatory cuts of $600 billion in defense spending accompanied by an equal amount in domestic programs, don’t hold your breath.  One  must put the size and scope of the problem in perspective.  The current forecasted spending for this fiscal year is approximately $3.6 trillion with anticipated revenues of approximately $2.1 trillion for a projected deficit of $1.5 trillion.  If every federal agency was mandated to cut their expenditures by 15% annually, the projected reduction would amount to $540 billion creating an annual deficit of about $960 billion in addition to interest being paid on the debt of $454 billion for a net loss in cash flow in excess of $1.4 trillion annually.

When Congress speaks of a grand scheme to cut $4.5 trillion over ten years, it is a joke when viewed in light of the continuing $1.4 trillion short fall in revenue each year.  The expectation that every government agency will cut spending by 15% is likewise a “fairytale.”  The balance sheet of the Federal Government can only be brought into equilibrium by a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases equal to 51% of our current spending levels.

Assuming the 51%, or $1.8 trillion is achieved through bi-partisan congressional actions, coupled with increased revenues from economic recovery, it would take 30+ years to totally eliminate the national debt.  So much for the future of our children and grandchildren.  Keep in mind the scenario above assumes we never exceed a federal spending level of $3.6 trillion annually.  Considering the unfunded future entitlements amount to $60 trillion plus are not accounted for in the spending assumptions it is apparent that sooner or later the Republic will face the same fate that has arisen in the European Union.  Greece is the first to fall, closedly followed by Italy and Spain.

The size and scope of the overhaul needed by or Federal Government is mind-boggling.   Unfortunately, Congress does not possess the cojones to take action to correct these problems created by government over the past 70 years and many liberal elites and their followers on the left will not support the necessary overhaul.  Hence, we find ourselves on the road to Greece with our nation in decline and the standard of living eroding for every American.

Herman Cain Tried in the Court of Biased Media!

by Richard H. Frank

Today’s environment of the 24-hour news cycle, coupled with the media feeding frenzy to exploit “breaking news,” whether factual or not, has served to subvert our system of criminal justice in America. The presumption of innocence is overridden by reporting of here say, inference, innuendo and in many instances outright lies.  Even when allegations and charges have been proven to be false and maliciously concocted against some individual, company or entity, the media fails to retract their charges and correct the record.  Unfortunately, the damage caused by such irresponsible reporting, intentional or otherwise, is irreparable.

The latest example of the media’s quest to be first with reporting concerns the charges of “sexual harassment” leveled against a Republican candidate for the Presidential nomination in the 2012 General Election, Herman Cain.   The current charges made against him cover a span of approximately 15 years and range in specifics from “He made me feel uncomfortable,” to “He attempted to grope me.” Herman  Cain vehemently denies the charges while those women making them insist they are true.  As with the majority of such cases, we are faced with a situation of “she said, he said” with no one to corroberate the truth for either side.

My personal experience in business spans more than 50 years and over that time I have witnessed past interactions between individuals of the opposite sex once accepted as normal somehow assume the impetus for asserting sexual harassment.  Certainly there was ample cause to legislate protections against sexual harassment in the workplace but such legislation opened the way for disgruntled employees to extort from their employers for alleged real or imagined violations of the law.  Unfortunately, once the charge of sexual harassment is leveled, the stigma of that charge remains long after it is resolved between the parties.  In some cases careers spanning decades, long marriages and entire families have been destroyed resulting from the mere allegation.  Like cancer, alleged sexual harassment is insidious and almost impossible to combat.

In the case of Herman Cain the motive to level such charges must be examined especially considering the lapse of time between the alleged harassment and making the charge public.  High on the list of possibilities might be the following:

  • Political – in that he is in the top tier of candidates seeking the nomination of the Republican Party.
  • Monetary – a chance for 15 minutes of fame and fortune from bringing the charges against a high-profile individual
  • Racist – a means to prevent a black man from becoming President by charges of harassment coming from what now appears to be exclusively white woman.

The story has served to suck all of the oxygen out of the 24-hour news cycle and may be seen in reports having a ratio of 5-10:1 over any other story.  Facts don’t matter – only that the media involved is the first to air any and all allegations, true or not. Further, this tabloid journalism has detracted from a debate in this Country about the crises that we face and the solutions to solve them.

Such is the world of Politics in America today.  Herman Cain will be charged, tried and convicted in the court of biased media.  Is it any wonder that those persons truly qualified to run for office and solve America’s problems hesitate or back away in light of the personal scrutiny they must face from the media?  This is especially true should that person be a conservative that upholds the principles of  our Constitution.

I truly don’t know if Herman Cain is guilty or not of sexual harassment.  He may be just a product of the environment he grew up in where being himself was once viewed as normal when interacting between individuals.  I do, however, question the motives of those making charges against him at this late date and point in time.

Eric Holder’s Double Talk Under Oath!

by Richard H. Frank

November 8, 2011 Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the Senate Judicial Oversight Committee and testified under oath regarding the Justice Department and the ATF involvement in the “Fast and Furious” scandal.  For those of us having the stomach to endure over two hours of questioning by the Senate Committee and sort out serious inquiries from partisan rhetoric, I must conclude the exercise was a waste of time.

Following a lengthy statement by Holder listing the numerous achievements of the Obama Justice Department, he described “Fast and Furious” as a ill-conceived, poorly executed operation communicated within the DOJ through inaccurate information.  Specific questions from Senator Grassley were answered with typical Washington double talk and excuses including the following:

  • information was inaccurate as previously communicated in writing to the committee.
  • “Tactics” is the new buzz word to deflect responsibility for possession of knowledge about the operation.
  • “A few weeks” is now a substitute for describing months regarding  Holder’s knowledge of “Fast and Furious”
  • Holder contends he has acted in a “manner consistent with other Attorneys General.” Whatever that means.
  • He regrets actions of subordinates yet has held no one responsible.
  • DOJ personnel did not know information on “Fast and Furious” was inaccurate.
  • He denied any knowledge of “retaliation against whistleblowers.”
  • It “pains me” that private communications with Senator Grassley would be introduced as a question by the Senator in the hearing.
  • Holder refused to comment on details of any ongoing investigations.
  • “Political payback” was evident by inferring information being requested constitutes classified data.
  • “Fast and Furious” bothered, concerned and offended Holder. Holder refused to accept responsibility for “Fast and Furious” stating the AG cannot be expected to know details of ongoing operations by every department under the DOJ.
  • He stated that it was not fair to assume that “Fast and Furious” led to the death of Border Patrol Agent Terry, and readily admitted that he had never  personally spoken to Terry’s family.

Next the ever partisan Senator Schumer participated in the “blame game” contending that “Fast and Furious” had its genesis under the Bush Administration in the form of a program called “Wide Receiver.” His questioning placed the blame for walking guns over the border directly on the Bush DOJ and through inference directly on the Republican Administration although the program had been previously cancelled .

The real politically- driven agenda became apparent in answers to Senator Graham’s question about Guantanamo Bay and any possibility of closure, a  U.S. prison replacement or sequestering enemy combatants being held in either  Afghanistan or Iraq.  Holder’s answers were right down the Obama Administration’s talking points which are 1) all options were on the table, and 2) Administration decisions were being viewed from a practical viewpoint. Doesn’t anyone in the Obama Administration take responsibility for anything they do?

Our Founding Fathers would be aghast to see the divisiveness between the branches of Government, and the overreaching to the powers enumerated in the Constitution granted to those branches.

Viewing the Organizational Chart of the Department of Justice is a prime example of “Big Government” run amuck.  It becomes more evident each day that the individual states could do a better job of law enforcement than can our Federal Government.  We need to return to the principles under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution if the Republic is to survive.