Both Sad and Not Surprised at Borders Filing Chapter 11

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About a week ago the CEO of Borders bookstores sent a mass email announcing that the company has filed Chapter 11, and will thus be closing those stores that are “underperforming.” I found this news very sad, but not all that surprising.

One of my greatest joys in this life is to enter the great double doors of a Borders or Barnes and Noble, catch that rich warm aroma of bound pages and brewing coffee, then wander the aisles for books either familiar or newly discovered (the most recent for me of this latter category being Black Potatoes, a kids’ book on the potato famine of Ireland that kept me transfixed for more than an hour).

The Borders closest to my home seems safe at the moment from closure, which I must say almost surprises me, given their failure at times to remember their reason for being. A few years ago I went to this store to purchase a book by conservative political commentator Ann Coulter, which at the time sat perched high atop the New York Times Bestseller List. I couldn’t find it anywhere, including within the display at the front of the store allegedly boasting the nation’s current bestsellers. So I asked a guy who worked there.

“Oh, that’s back here,” he said, and he led me to the most secluded shelf of the most secluded corner at the very back of the store, where we found the book, practically wrapped in a plain brown wrapper.

“Isn’t the goal here to sell books?” I asked the guy. He just shrugged. “You know this is a bestseller right now,” I said.  He just shrugged again. I decided to forego such concepts as censorship, political agendas, and supply-and-demand business practices. Chalk it up, I decided, to some left-wing genius at this Borders, perhaps every Borders, who hatched a brilliant plan: Hide the Coulter books, and the customer will have no choice but to purchase instead an Obama autobiography, anything by Michael Moore, or perhaps the film made and released during the presidency of George W. Bush, allegedly fictionalizing his assassination — all of which, may I say, were prominently featured in this Borders, and perhaps every Borders.

This was, unfortunately, not my only brush with the Chapter-11-to-be practices I witnessed at this store. Recall, if you will, the July 21, 2008, issue of The New Yorker that featured a cartoon of a radical militant then-democratic-presidential-nominee Barack Obama and his wife on the cover. When this cover was revealed to its predictable outcry, I wanted one, so again I traipsed into my trusty local Borders. “Oh, we’re not carrying that one,” a guy – a different guy — told me. So I traipsed off to my local Barnes and Noble, which was apparently unaware of the Borders brilliant plan and did have the issue available to customers who wished to shell out the cash to purchase one.

So for the time being, it appears the victor in the battle of the bookstores is Barnes and Noble, its decision makers even willing to feature a giant cover of Atlas Shrugs on the wall, a design element I spotted during visits to several California Barnes and Nobles last week. Also featured were displays devoted to Ronald Reagan’s centennial (standard right now to every Barnes and Noble, east and west, I have frequented of late), the only evidence of books devoted to our current president being a couple of children’s paperbacks slipped in among books celebrating President’s Day. A bookstore selling books on both sides of the political spectrum: You don’t have to be a CEO to hatch that brilliant plan.

A Letter to Mrs. Obama from an American Parent

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Dear Mrs. Obama:

A friend was kind enough to send me a copy of a letter you wrote to America’s parents, written, it appears, when you were busy hosting visitors from China as your husband celebrated “China’s rise,” and in the aftermath of the terrible shootings in Tucson.  Your letter, as you may recall, was written to instruct us parents to be tolerant and to teach tolerance to our children, suggesting that if we had done this, we might have prevented the Tucson shooting.

I know the past few months have been very busy for you, what with entertaining foreign dignitaries, hosting the White House Super Bowl party, taking vacations, traveling across the country for the Tucson memorial/Obama-campaign-launch event, teaching parents to prevent mass murders with tolerance, and gaining access as part of a large group of politicians to the ICU to visit Tucson-shooting victim Congresswoman Giffords.  I’m still wondering how a large group of non-family-member politicians gained that access; most hospitals are pretty stringent about ICU patient visitations.  I also don’t remember you and your husband being quite so passionate and involved when more than 40 people were shot, 13 murdered, at Fort Hood by a radical religiously-motivated shooter back in November, 2009.  But I do remember talk of tolerance; guess we parents didn’t do our job to prevent the tragedy in Tucson.

You, however, do not rest.  In your tireless efforts to make us, as your husband described, “better,” you have now taken it upon yourself to help influence and control the portion sizes served by America’s restaurants.  I believe I speak for many other American parents, who, like me, eat quite frequently in America’s restaurants and love nothing more than receiving enormous portions of food and bringing enormous boxes of leftovers home afterwards to satisfy the enormous appetites of growing active kids.  With all due respect, you need not suggest that we offer them something more in keeping with your list of preferred foods, because what and how we feed our kids is our decision, not yours.

Also our decision, and one of the most personal as a parent, is the decision to breastfeed – another issue you have taken upon yourself to promote.  I know it has been years since you were faced with that decision, and I don’t care to know what you decided, but I would imagine you know of women, who, for whatever reason, either could not or would not engage in this activity.  What is never addressed in regard to this topic is that it can be far more difficult and far greater a commitment than many women realize.  In answer to your related claim that breastfeeding prevents obesity, while plenty of scientific evidence confirms the benefs of breastfeeding on brain development, I have seen nothing linking it to long-term obesity prevention (and I have a feeling you haven’t either). 

So with all due respect, Mrs. Obama, as one of the millions of American parents you are addressing en masse with your letters, your speeches and your alleged scientific conclusions, I have done just fine on my own feeding my kids; monitoring their portions of restaurant food; and, as is my right as an American (an American who has always been proud of my country), teaching them the core values of my choice.  Indeed I know I speak for myself and millions of other American parents, when I say that we were doing just fine in this mission, long before we ever even heard of you and your husband.

I thus think your time might be better spent, not lecturing American parents on what we must do to ensure our progeny and their beliefs meet your and your husband’s particular expectations, but to concentrate instead on your own daughters.  I know nothing about your children (apart from the private information you shared about their BMI scores), and that is how it should be.  Your children and their BMI scores are, and should be, no concern of mine, and you, a self-appointed representative of the government, need not bother yourself with concerns about my children, either.

Lessons Learned: Beware of Arbitrary, Undefined “Change”

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To all who were lured into the touchy-feely belief two years ago or so that change for change’s sake is a goal to which we all should aspire, I would imagine, and hope, most of you are having second thoughts by now.

Those not so easily swayed know now, just as they (we) knew then, that in its most simplistic terms, change can be good, and change can be bad. To sign on haphazardly to arbitrary, undefined “change,” is to enter dangerous territory for yourself, your family, and, as we have witnessed firsthand, your country.

A quick look at history is all we need to see where that dangerous territory can lead. Hitler wanted “change.” Remember? And he made it happen.  Mao, Castro and Lenin wanted “change.”  And they made it happen.  Indeed just about every tyrant and dictator in human history has wanted change – sometimes defined for the masses, sometimes not – and with long-term, often damning consequences. On the flip side, our nation’s founders wanted change, too — clearly defined, clearly documented change — and they made it happen. Tyrants and dictators of the world (including those within our own nation’s capitol) no doubt view the success of the American experiment “dangerous,” and indeed it is for those who hunger for unbridled power and control of we the people.

And today the mainstream lapdog media, the United States president, and various pundits with undefined qualifications but clearly defined agendas, are singing the praises of change in Egypt after several weeks of undefined Egyptians demonstrating and causing mass destruction in the streets of Cairo. I won’t pretend to understand precisely what is going on in Egypt, but we all know that the Egyptian president Mubarak has stepped down, it appears the military has stepped in (the word “coup” being somewhat avoided), and the Egyptian parliament is being dissolved.  Our president, in turn, using these events to court college students in his bid for reelection in 2012, is congratulating those who have made these dreams a reality, insisting that such undefined, revolutionary “change” is what the slobbering college students are all about.

Because I am no expert, I will look to Israel, rather than the current U.S. president, for clues as to the true significance of the events in Egypt. Said U.S. president has not been what we might call supportive of Israel, so I will assume that his support for the undefined change in Egypt does not necessarily bode well for the Jewish State. Israel, in turn, has hardly been rejoicing over the events in a nation that has been the closest they have to an ally in their shared and very volatile region of the world. I also personally don’t find comforting the words “Sharia Law” and “Muslim Brotherhood” as potential consequences of the Egyptian rebellion.

Meanwhile, our president stands smiling before those cheering, maybe hungover, college students, taking credit for that rebellion, which has thus far resulted in a military coup, the loss of a parliament, and the opening of floodgates to other nations in the region who seek to destroy Israel.  But fear not, America, one of this administration’s top security officials is out there smoothing the feathers of skeptical Americans by insisting that the Muslim Brotherhood, mild and moderate “secular” organization that it is, is nothing to fear.

Sorry, this skeptical American intends to remain so.  In an era of undefined, arbitrary change, only a fool signs on without thought of consequence. Whether we’re talking light bulbs, portion control at restaurants, tin-can death-trappy “smart” cars, or national security and stability, the consequence of change for the sake of change, arbitrary and undefined, can be, and usually is, tyranny.

Oprah Just Can’t Understand Why America Does Not Respect Obama’s Authority

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Apparently mistaking the United States of America for a third-world banana republic dictatorship, Oprah Winfrey commented in an MSNBC interview earlier this week, that she is “surprised” that the American people are finding it so easy to criticize her fearless leader, Barack Obama.  Ms. Winfrey is evidently “concerned” about this, because, to paraphrase, the president naturally has “authority” over the American people.  She seems to believe that blessed as we are with such an extraordinary man to rule us, we the people should be grateful and shut our collective mouths.

To her credit she did mention respect for the “office” of the presidency (not necessarily one and the same as the individual holding that office), but perhaps it’s time for Ms. Winfrey to take a course on the United States Constitution and the First Amendment.

In the meantime, Ms. Winfrey, let me inform you that no one has authority over me, my family or anyone blessed with the rights and privileges bestowed upon this country by the men who risked their lives to craft them.  In fact, Ms. Winfrey, were you to investigate those documents, those men, you would discover it is we the people who hold the authority card in this great nation, and the vast majority of us have no intention of handing our liberties over to anyone, including your would-be “authoritarian” friend currently occupying the White House.  Let me remind you that such arrangements came to an end in this country back in the 1860s.

Meanwhile, the man who would be king – the man you, Ms. Winfrey, seem to think a king currently occupying that big house in D.C. – trots the globe bowing and scraping to any and every world leader who will receive him.  While more than comfortable exerting his “authority” over we the people here at home, he willingly subjugates himself to other countries around the world, even those with unsavory designs on our nation and our people.  At the same time, this president has in recent weeks taken to comparing himself to our 40th President, Ronald Reagan, even unabashedly referring to himself as “the gipper,” President Reagan’s nickname taken from one of his famous movie roles.

Were he with us today, I imagine Ronnie would get a good laugh from that ridiculous “gipper” comparison, imitation being the finest form of flattery, but so do I also know that such imitation would not flow both ways.  We would never have seen President Reagan bowing and scraping to other heads of state, knowing as he did that such circumstances are where we the people do wish to see some American presidential authority on display.  Once we have someone who understands this back in the White House again, we trust that individual will enjoy your full and uncritical respect, Ms. Winfrey – even if he or she does not happen to be a liberal, a messiah, or your close personal friend.

When Pampered News Anchors Venture in to the War Zone

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 Within the past couple of weeks, several network news anchors experienced a collective brain cramp and decided it would be wise  – and good for ratings – to catch a flight to Cairo and set up their microphones amid Egypt’s current, and very violent, revolutionary chaos.

Katie Couric, Brian Williams, and far too many other high-profile TV news personalities made the trip, mistaking themselves for the hard-boiled, unshaven, wartime field correspondents who have historically risked their lives to cover the World Wars, as well as the wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. Such a vocation requires a certain type of animal.  A perky, desperate-for-ratings Katie, as well as NBC’s Brian Williams (featured recently in some insipid women’s magazine, engaging oh-so-urgently in the heated controversy of pleats versus plain in men’s slacks), are not those animals.

We all recognize the true die-hard field reporter when we see one – and we have seen plenty of them in recent years, thanks to those reporters who were embedded with our troops in the early days of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.  Fox’s Rick Leventhal quickly emerged as my personal favorite, transforming almost overnight into one of those hard-boiled field reporters, who might just as well have been posting stories from Normandy Beach in June, 1944.  Rick’s respect and reverence for those with whom he was embedded was undeniable, reflected in the meat and nature of his reporting.  Even now, when I see him reporting stateside from the White House or similar venue, I get the feeling he would trade the jacket and tie for a flak jacket, helmet and sunburn in a heartbeat.

As for Katie and Brian and their more soft-boiled brethren, those who have been rioting, pillaging, overthrowing, and destroying Egypt’s ancient national treasures in Cairo, have not been at all impressed by the network pampered pets who swept into town with their cameras, microphones, makeup teams and personal assistants.  The reports of injured news personalities emerging from the chaos have not only been staggering in number, but devastating in nature, featuring abductions, head injuries and threats of beheading.

The experience has surely served as a profound wake-up call to television “journalists” forced to realize that terrorists and their ilk are not just misunderstood activists, and that they themselves are talented teleprompter readers, not field reporters (the latter of whom know the story isn’t about them, the former holding the opposite opinion).  Most of the pampered pets have since come running home – fortunately before we had to send our troops in to risk their lives to rescue them.

Thanking President Reagan for Being Here When We Needed Him

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It seems somehow poetic as we commemorate the weekend that would have marked Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, that we find our nation and our world desperate for a man of President Reagan’s strength, determination, and fearless belief in America and her founding principles.

As Egypt explodes, as the American economy continues in freefall, and as the security of our nation teeters precariously on the precipice, a left-wing media that abhorred Ronald Reagan during his tenure as president, now desperately and pathetically tries to convince the masses that the man currently occupying the White House is none other than the second-coming of the man who called that house “home” throughout most of the 1980s. (Just check out the recent cringeworthy cover of Time Magazine depicting Ronny gleefully embracing Obama as partner in patriotism!) Of course such comparisons fall on deaf ears, just as those of us who revere our 16th president never bought those ridiculous comparisons of Obama to Abraham Lincoln, either. 

The very existence of such idiotic comparisons (some shamelessly made by Obama himself) is evidence that many of Obama’s own lapdogs on the left have recognized not only the need for fearless leadership in these treacherous times, but also the weakness of the man we currently call president.  The sudden chaos in Egypt has provided a clear wake-up call to all of us, leaving even those we would least expect to do so, saying, “Reagan would know what to do” – or, even “George W. would know what to do.” Yes, they would. And the guy in charge now? Not so much. Faced as he is with such monumental challenges and failures, he’s looking weaker by the minute, and don’t think those who oppose us in this world aren’t noticing.

While individual Americans may have disagreed with President Reagan on individual issues, not to be denied by anyone was the man’s fierce love of America and her special brand of liberty, opportunity and goodness unique to all the world. So let us celebrate his life today and every day, and be grateful he was here when we needed him, willing to do the heavy lifting to preserve and protect our great nation and her people. May his courage and devotion serve to inspire others to be here when we need them, as well….in 2012 and beyond.  Like President Reagan himself, I intend to remain optimistic. As he well knew, where America is concerned, there is no other option.