Bright College Days: Planting Trees in New York

woody_zimmerman_118_2007A college in New York that I know pretty well has launched a multi-faceted campaign to “green” the campus. One part of that effort features elimination of trays from the college’s cafeteria-style dining room. Besides the environmental advantage of not having to wash the trays, cafeteria managers anticipate saving several tons of food each year because students will have to carry their plates and cups by hand. This – according to theory – will cause diners to take smaller portions than they might otherwise have done, were trays still available.

Greenies like this writer immediately saw a rich opportunity in the “trays” initiative. Why not eliminate plates, too, thus effecting further savings of both food and dishwashing-expense? We reasoned that food intake would be reduced even more without plates. To our surprise, the suggestion was not well received. One humorless fellow wondered why we were mocking a perfectly sound idea (i.e., ditching the trays). Others sniffed that we were being “as ridiculous as college boys.” (This was, of course, an unanswerable charge – no doubt accurate, but surely only a few degrees off from the tray-offensive.)

I couldn’t help wondering if anyone had considered food spillage. You’re bound to get some without trays. Or the amount of time potentially wasted by repeated trips through the cafeteria line to get items you couldn’t carry in the initial trip, lacking a tray. It’s possible that any savings in food and washing costs might be degraded by these disadvantages. A “cost-benefit” analysis of this seems unlikely, however, as this is politics, not business or science.

Ah, those “bright college days” of which Tom Lehrer sang in my wasted youth. [1] Students are always coming up with ideas like this, and they need somewhere to try them out. I believe this is one of the reasons that college was invented. We can all be glad that students haven’t been allowed to get near serious enterprises like automobile companies or government. (Or have they?) But I digress.

This spring the same college also started a more conventional green initiative. It’s a tree-planting project designed to “…balance sustainable environmental management with economic development,” as one participant put it. (I respectfully decline to try to interpret that statement.) But, of course, the effort is entirely praiseworthy. Who could possibly object?

Not I, certainly – except that there is absolutely no reason to plant trees in the part of New York where this college is located. The college sits one of the most wooded areas of the state – indeed of the entire country. The campus and its surrounding environs are crowded with trees. Of course, one can argue that you can never have too many trees, so where’s the harm?

The “harm” – if we may call it that – is in mistaking symbolism for real action that accomplishes something worthwhile. If every student at that college planted a tree – or even 10 trees – in that part of New York, there would be no noticeable result, because there are so many trees already. Unused farmland there is already overgrown with new forest, with more springing up all the time.

The issue of trees has captured the popular imagination of both college students and politicians who want to win college students’ votes. We obsess about “saving the trees,” with no clear idea of whether trees actually need saving – at least, in the USA. I read somewhere that the USA has more forest cover than it had in 1900, and 90% as much as when Europeans landed here in the 16th century. I have no idea if that is precisely true, but you don’t have to drive very far across the country to realize that we do have an awful lot of forests. Even tracts of the Great Plains – treeless when the Indians hunted buffalo there – now have trees. Pioneers planted them.

I have looked for data on how much forest cover North America had in 1600, 1700, 1800, etc. But such data are difficult to find. Perhaps it is because they might show how extensive our forestation still is – thus serving no “useful” purpose for extracting government funds.

Trees are a “renewable” resource. If you cut them down, new trees grow up in their place. This doesn’t mean we should do destructive clear-cutting, as in the 19th century. But it does mean we don’t have to make schoolchildren worry about the trees. There are plenty left.

So-called “old-growth” forests are scarce, of course, because pioneers chopped down most of them, clearing land for farming in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. I’m glad we still have the redwoods and giant sequoias, for they are unique living things. There are plenty of other forests to supply that kind of wood without cutting the old growth.

This is not to say that trees are plentiful everywhere in the world. One place where uncontrolled clear-cutting has actually damaged the ecology is Haiti – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most impoverished places in the world. Because Haiti lacks industry that could provide a decent standard of living, people are reduced to cutting down trees to make charcoal – both for their own heating and cooking, and as a commodity to sell.

Haiti needs both trees and knowledge. “Missions trips” to Haiti to plant trees would be helpful, but they would not be sufficient because the people lack knowledge. Poverty and self-interest would cause people to cut down any trees altruistic Americans might plant. Haitians need to learn why trees must be left in vital areas as protection against flooding, like that which ravaged the country in recent years, when hurricanes Hanna and Ike swept through.

Haiti’s ecology has been ruined by its poverty, and its poverty has ruined its ecology. That ruined ecology produces disastrous flooding, resulting in more poverty. The cycle must be broken. If a college wants to accomplish something real about trees, it can start by coming to Haiti to plant trees, teach Haitians how to manage their forestation resources, and help industry to get started.

Many other places in the world – primarily in Africa – are poor beyond Americans’ imagination. They have plenty of trees, but they lack the modern development that might pull them out of poverty into modernized life. Development means industry, which they lack because they lack reliable sources of energy and electric power. Even hydroelectric dams have become unreliable because lakes like Chad and Victoria are shrinking. Electricity from solar and wind is simply too unreliable to power major industries.

This should be no problem, because Africa has vast reserves of oil and natural gas. Experts estimate African oil reserves at nearly a trillion barrels – enough to fuel the whole world for 100 years – and gas reserves at nearly ½ quadrillion cubic feet. With western technological assistance, Africa should be forging new industrial might. Yet this is not happening. Why not?

The reason promises to be the greatest, most shameful scandal of the 21st century. Africa is not developing its fossil-fuel resources because western nations are preventing it – ostensibly over concerns about global warming and climate change. Radical environmentalists flying to climate conferences in private jets and cruising in gas-guzzling SUVs want Africa to stay primitive to “save the planet.”

This means millions of people will fall sick and possibly die each year because they live unhygienic lives in huts with dirt floors, huddle around smoky fires of wood or dried dung, and try to scratch subsistence from the earth with sticks. No “boutique” climate-activist would tolerate those conditions for five minutes, yet we expect it of Africans. I’m embarrassed that my country is part of a racist effort that puts environmental “purity” ahead of people.

This is one of the reasons that I get impatient about things like cafeteria trays and planting trees in New York, while places of real need – like Haiti and Africa – get nothing. If we really want to do something, let’s cut back to one car, turn off the A/C, cut out the vanilla skim lattes, and send the savings to address real needs. Development is the answer, not the problem.

*******

[1] “Bright College Days.” Tom Lehrer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dl3mRjydcPw

Sotomayor Pick a Shrewd Choice

jack_archibald_120With his first nomination to the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama played it pretty safe.  His appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayer to the nation’s highest court will be a difficult one to challenge and barring some bizarre revelation, Sotomayer should take a seat on the bench.  On several levels, the President has made a shrewd decision and puts one issue behind him.

The Sotomayer nomination brings together the Hispanic and female coalition for support. If there was going to be any fight from the GOP, Obama brought two solid voting blocs that the GOP cannot now afford to alienate.  Rest assured that any Republican who votes against Sotomayer will hear about it from those groups during the next election cycle.

Just as important, the President nominated a judge who has already been nominated by a Republican (President George HW Bush) as well as President Clinton.  Undoubtedly, many of the Senators have already voted for Sotomayer in the past, and it would be difficult for someone to make the case that she is any less qualified now.

However, the GOP does have an obligation to question Judge Sotomayer on her views and to give her a proper examination.  She should sail through unscathed and look for Republicans to treat the judge much better than Democrats treated either Justice Alioto or Chief Justice Roberts.  The GOP knows the score and while they may try to land a few punches, there won’t be any knockout blows this time around.

The President gains because he hasn’t picked a controversial or inexperience jurist.  Obama also deserves kudos understanding that a prolonged nomination fight is not in his best interests, because there are too many other issues that he will be spending political capital on.  He has got fights looming over health care, automobiles, national defense, and Iran in the coming days.  The country can spend time debating those issues while Judge Sotomayer makes her rounds on Capital Hill on her way to the Supreme Court.

And then the Holy Spirit Came

george_hancockstefanIn our traditional services, Christmas and Easter Worship Services fill our sanctuaries. Historically, the coming of the Lord at his birth was viewed by few people – the shepherds, the magi, and few neighbors that have watched what happened in the stable. The Easter event – the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is slowly being displayed – the Roman soldiers fall down as dead when Christ rose from the dead (and thus cannot be called witnesses) and slowly the witnesses come – Mary who saw the Lord, the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, and in the evening the 11 disciples and a number of the women that we find at the foot of the cross when the Lord is crucified. The biggest post-resurrection event is recorded by Paul when he writes: After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Cor. 15:6)

The Day of Pentecost begins with about one hundred and twenty in the Upper Room and concludes with this verse: “Those who have accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41) A couple of years ago, I heard a pastor who said that the greatest attendance in our churches should be on the Day of Pentecost when we should ask the Lord to repeat the Day of Pentecost and equip thousands for the work that He called to do and also enable thousands and millions to repent, receive forgiveness and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We want to look at the promise of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ request for his disciples between the Resurrection and the Day of Pentecost, and the empowering of the church at Pentecost.

Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will do three things in regard to the world and one thing in regard to the church: “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world, now stands condemned. When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide into all truth. (John 16:8-11, 13)

This is reason for the church’s teaching that no preacher can convict anyone. The work of conversion is completely the work of the Holy Spirit. We preach, teach, counsel, and pray – conversion is God’s work. At the same time, in the church we are at different stages of truth – God is willing to reveal it to us. Apostle Paul writes that in those things that we have agreed we should walk together and in those things that we are not of the same mind, God in His own time will illumine for us.

The request that Jesus made of His disciples is for them to stay in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit. In order to be witnesses Jesus tells them: “You will receive power and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and throughout the world. ” Even the Psalmist remarks that those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Waiting can be a difficult time of our discipleship. Yet, whenever the work of the Church is done solely by our strength we will be defeated because it is a spiritual battle fought in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter’s explanation for the presence of the Holy Spirit is fourfold:

  1. The disciples were not drunk,

  2. What has happened was already foretold by the prophets,

  3. A summary of the ministry of Jesus Christ concluding with his current position at the right hand of God the Father in heaven,

  4. The coming of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of Christ’s promise.

As Peter is explaining the event, people were convicted of their sinfulness, convinced of their need for their Savior and asked Peter what they should do. The necessary acts for those who asked the questions was to repent of their past and to be baptized and then to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, using those gifts that they have received from God.

The apostolic church (one holy apostolic and catholic church) started in the Day of Pentecost. Three thousand were baptized and this is the miraculous beginning of the church. This could not have happened without the Holy Spirit then and could not happen without the Holy Spirit now.

My challenge for my readers and especially those who are in position of spiritual leadership is to seek the Lord and ask him to bless us on this Day of Pentecost with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we have not seen before in our congregations and our communities. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit will equip us and give us boldness to witness for Christ and live godly lives that will demonstrate the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in us.

Lively Bird Life around the Bay on Memorial Day

joe_reynoldsIt is Memorial Day weekend around Sandy Hook Bay. Every day there seems to be more and more sailboats, motor boats, and kayaks appearing on the bay. As water and air temperatures warm, there also seems to be more surf fisherman with several casting rods in hand along the edge of the bay. Fluke sightings appear to be getting more frequent, but most anglers I know are heading out for bass and blues.

May, however, is really for the birds. From migratory shorebirds feeding to young Peregrine falcons and Ospreys hatching, to neotroipcal songbirds courting and building nests, to Least terns nesting, there is an abundance of color and behavior to make just about any local resident of the bay take note of at least one bird in the neighborhood. Of course, to really understand wildlife you need to understand their food source.

black_skimmer

(Black Skimmers are a NJ State Endangered Species. Sandy Hook Bay is the only location along the northern Jersey Shore where it can be found nesting.)

It is generally acknowledge by many folks of the estuary that as the sun rises high in the sky and the bay below warms up; mixed with a good volume of spring rains and nutrients, the result is a spring bloom of phytoplankton.  Huge blooms of these microscopic plants or primary produces puts into motion a very long food chain.  As the population of phytoplankton increases, so do the number of critters that wish to eat them, such as zooplankton, larval fish, adult fish, and shellfish. To be sure, phytoplankton will provide nourishment to all life to come this spring and summer in the NY-NJ Harbor.

red_knot

(A Red Knot, one of the most endangered migratory shorebirds in the world, and a trio of Ruddy Turnstones are joined by some Laughing Gulls along a bay beach to seek newly laid Horseshoe Crab eggs)

The actual rush of animal life to arrive in the spring to gobble up tiny plankton are the various species of herring. Alewife, Blueback herring, and Atlantic Menhaden enter the relatively warm waters of the bay in April from the Atlantic Ocean as part of their annual spawning runs up the Hudson, Raritan, and other rivers in the estuary. At the same time, Mummichogs and Killifish begin their spawning season in the coastal salt marshes. When the tides are highest these little fish (about the size of your middle finger) swim far up the marsh to deposit their eggs in the leaves of marsh grass. Following the herring into the bay are the Striped Bass and Bluefish. They become active in the surf feeding on large schools of bait fish, such as herring and killifish, sometimes developing into schools of millions.

The biological clocks of other bay creatures also correspond to the spring bloom of phytoplankton.  Barnacles, which are actually crustaceans, spawn in mid to late spring in the bay. Hard clams start to spawn in May, as well as Blue-claw crabs. Soft-shell clams too usually start their first of two spawning seasons during the year in late spring.

osprey_chimmney

(A female adult Osprey sitting on eggs that are getting ready to hatch soon. This NJ State Threatened species is a regular visitor to Building 14 within the Fort Hancock section of Sandy Hook)

In response to shellfish activity Horseshoe crabs get active as well to feed on clams, mussels, and benthic worms. Horseshoe crabs enter bay waters around April from their winter home near the continental shelf to spawn and produce eggs along the shallow shores of Sandy Hook Bay in May and June.

Yet, for a good number people the most obvious sign of this feeding frenzy in the bay is the reappearance of coastal and migratory birds.  Wading birds, such as the Great American Egret and Snowy Egret return from Chesapeake Bay to nesting sites around the harbor to feed and breed. Ospreys too return around early spring to local estuarine waters from southern locations to feed and produce another generation of fish hawks.

great_egrets

(A pair of Great Egrets flying off from the Navesink River to bring food to their newly hatched young)

In April, as Ospreys, and coastal herons and egrets begin to nest, migratory shorebirds begin to arrive to beaches along the bay to feed on tiny crustaceans, mollusks, worms, sea urchins, and small fish. Additionally, flocks of Black skimmers, a bird that eats mostly small fish, starts to arrive in April to coastal beaches in New Jersey from their southern winter homes to feed and have children along the Jersey Shore.

By the time Memorial Day weekend arrives, bay water temperatures are in the 60s and there is noticeable rush to life for many birds. Migratory shorebirds, such as Red Knots, Sanderlings, and Ruddy Turnstones begin arriving to bay beaches from far southern locations to feed on newly laid Horseshoe Crab eggs along the Jersey Shore. These small birds need to feed fast in order to gain enough energy to complete their long winged migration northward to the Arctic to produce offspring. They are answering to an ancient calling of hormones in their blood and a compass in their brains. It is time for them to return north to raise a family in the place where they were born.

forester_terns

(A flock of Forester’ Terns. Most are sitting pretty watching their friend fly down in the water to catch a fish)

For summer resident birds, the last few weeks of May are a busy time as well. Osprey eggs begin to hatch, while Least Terns, Common Terns, and other species of terns are just beginning to nest after having recently arrived to Sandy Hook Bay from their winter tropical home. Some terns arrive from great distances, while others may fly only a few hundred miles north. Related to gulls, terns will form nesting colonies along the shore. They feed on small fish, which they catch by diving straight into the water from high in the air.

Heronries also are at their peak of activity by the end of May, with female Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Glossy Ibises, and Great Egrets, incubating eggs and feeding small chicks. Males are often seen now catching fish in local estuarine waters to bring back food to their nest. Since the birds are easily driven away from their nests by human activities and disturbances, the birds have gotten wise over the decades. Numerous heronries in the harbor are now located on remote, small islands, such as those off the coast of Staten Island, which are managed by the National Park Service and off limits to people.

For as long as we care to consider the only threat to this natural order of life in the bay came from an occasional meteor hitting the planet. Nowadays, there are many threats created by people. From toxic chemicals and too much trash floating in the water to the loss of habitat and overfishing to global warming. The threats seem endless. Yet, if we learn to live like the sea captains of old and respect the waters of the bay we might be able to save the life living in our bay. If everyone recycles, picks up trash, uses less fertilizers and pesticides, and works to protect and restore open spaces and green places then perhaps we can save the celebrated life of the seashore.

When May comes again next year, will primordial recurrent rhythms of nesting birds and feeding fish in the diverse life of tides and surf be dynamic and spirited? Will it be a ritual celebration of spring? As we come near to closing another spring season along Sandy Hook Bay, once again the many creatures of the bay face an uncertain future.

Memorial Day: More Than a Parade

anne_mikolay_120When I was a kid, Memorial Day signaled the start of the count-down to summer recess. I didn’t care about flag-waving parades, holiday picnics, or wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. All my friends and I cared about was the approaching freedom of summer, when our young lives would no longer be ruled by teachers and obligations, and we could do pretty much whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Blissfully ignorant, we gave little thought to fallen servicemen; we thought only about ourselves.

These days, I think a lot about soldiers. Men of my family have bravely served in our nation’s armed forces. My great-great grandfather served in the Union Army in 1862, fought his fellow countrymen, and withstood all that conflict entailed – the moth infested hardtack, days on the march, sleeping on the ground, and far more hardships than I can imagine, I’m sure. During World War II, my father served in the United States Army, as did my Uncle. My Dad has told me many horror stories about his service in the Philippines, the Spam and beans he ate, the lizards that crawled into his shoes…the many friends he lost, the atrocities he witnessed throughout the battles. My cousin is a Marine who recently served in Iraq. During his tour of duty, I sent him toiletries, deodorant, chap stick, and baby wipes to help him cope with the 110 degree temperatures. These men fought for my safety and my freedom, and through the grace of God, returned home to continue their lives. Sadly, many of their fellow servicemen did not.

Whether or not you agree with war – the current conflict, or any war – consider what war means to the daily lives of the men and women who serve. Think about how you would feel putting your life on the line for people you don’t even know, for people who will never even thank you. Could you do it? Could you have pulled a bayonet upon a “brother” in the Civil War? Could you have lived in the jungles of New Guinea in World War II? Could you handle the danger in Iraq, or Afghanistan, survive the brutal climate? Our American servicemen accept these challenges, make untold sacrifices, to preserve our freedom – so we can go on blissfully doing pretty much whatever we want, whenever we want. Memorial Day is more than a parade and a hot dog. It’s the day we must remember our fallen heroes, those intrepid men and women who lost their lives preserving our American way of life, and our honor. They made untold sacrifices daily, and ultimately gave their lives.

God bless them, each and every one.


 

Peter and Gracie Rosenberger

danvance_120Peter and Gracie Rosenberger tell a riveting story. Perhaps you saw them not long ago share parts of it on the Today Show.

“We’re just two people who have had the daylights kicked out of us and are still standing,” said 45-year-old Peter Rosenberger in a telephone interview from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. “We face some brutal realities in life.”

Indeed, they do. In 1983, at age 17, Gracie fell asleep while driving and hit an Interstate barrier head-on, which launched her headfirst into a ravine. She spent the next few months in a hospital. Gracie has had more than 70 operations since the accident, including the amputation of her right leg in 1991 and left in 1995. Over the years, she has been the patient of more than 30 different specialists and her medical bills have totaled about $9 million.

“Gracie didn’t have her legs taken from her,” said Peter, who married Gracie in 1986. “She gave them up after recognizing how badly they were damaged. There wasn’t a surgery that could fix the pain. There are just some things this side of heaven that won’t be fixed.”

gracie_rosenberger
Gracie Rosenberger

By a long shot, the amputations didn’t remove all her pain. After her accident, one surgeon counted in her about 200 below-the-waist fractures. It was an Evel Knievel-type wreck, said Peter, referring to the accident prone, famous daredevil motorcyclist.

Even though a below-knee, double amputee in a constant state of pain, Gracie has become an “advanced” snow skier. However, an even greater passion of hers has been her singing. Said Peter, “She has a powerful voice and was a vocal performance major at Belmont University.”

Gracie was the first woman with a disability to vocally perform at a U.S. political convention, when, in 2004, First Lady Laura Bush invited her to sing the National Anthem at the Republican National Convention the night Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke. She performed for President George W. Bush at another event. She also has appeared in the magazines People and Today’s Christian Woman, been on the Today Show twice, and performed alongside the U.S. Secretary of Defense for 10,000 soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Though many, her musical accomplishments pale when compared to the impact she and Peter have been having around the globe serving amputees through their faith-based ministry Standing With Hope.

Learn more next week.

Contact danieljvance.com [All American Foods and Palmer Bus Service made this column possible.]

Picture This – 5/24/09

picture_this_090524

Identify the location and win

Picture This! We’ll show you a photo taken in Monmouth County. You tell us where it is located. If you have not won in the last 3 months and you know the answer, send your response to [email protected] This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Please include with your name and the town where you live. Be the first person to respond with the correct answer and we will publish your name and town.

Previous winner:

picture_this_090326_small

E. Guiney of Highlands, NJ was the first person to respond with the correct answer.

A.  This field is on Rumson Road, Rumson, looking toward Monmouth Beach

GM Stickup

woody_zimmerman_118_2007The other shoe has dropped for holders of billions of dollars worth of General Motors corporate bonds. Bondholders have received a “tender offer” of 225 shares of GM common stock for every $1000 in bonds. GM common stock is currently selling for about $1.20 a share, so that would give bondholders about $270 for each $1000 – i.e., 27¢ on the dollar.

The offer comes in a letter warning bondholders that a bankruptcy might leave them with a lesser settlement on their investments. In addition, the promise is held out that this giveback by bondholders might keep the company viable and prevent bankruptcy. In other words, by taking this deal we might save the company. Holders of 90% of outstanding bonds must accept the offer to make it effective.

(Full disclosure: I’m a holder of GM bonds – not a large holder, considering the billions outstanding, but it’s a large amount to me. So this topic is of more than academic interest.)

This tender offer reminds me of something that happened in the south in the mid-1930s. Cotton was selling below 4¢ a pound, with no increase in sight. Even so, some small farmers held a few bales back, hoping for a better price and seeing little sense in giving away a 500-lb. bale for $20.

Presently, traders began to show up offering as much as 15¢ a pound for those stashed bales. Many farmers jumped at the opportunity, only to realize their error when price supports above 30¢ a pound were announced. They had jumped too soon, having sold out to sharpies who had inside info. Farmers who held out, sensing that something was up, were able to cash in big.

The GM tender offer is something like that. But it is a gamble for bondholders, who are being offered paper, not cash, for their bonds. Freed of its debt, GM might survive; its stock might even go up; and in due time the bondholders might emerge almost whole. On the other hand, GM might file for Chapter 11 anyway, in which case its stock would be worthless. Bondholders will lose everything if they have given up their right to be first in line, in the event of a bankruptcy.

My broker’s advice – which matches my private view – is to hang tough, decline the tender offer, and wait for the bankruptcy, which he thinks is almost certain to occur. Many experts think GM is already too far in extremis to be saved, no matter how much money is poured into it. Bondholders cannot save GM by essentially forgiving its entire debt. Even if they do this, the government will meet political resistance to handing GM more billions. History’s greatest corporation will become history’s greatest corporate shipwreck. Tens of billions of dollars in wealth and tens of thousands of jobs will be lost by GM’s collapse.

It is not too difficult to see why the Obama administration wants to keep this crash from happening on its watch. If it occurs, historians will forever link it to Mr. Obama’s “bailout” presidency, just as the Great Depression became inextricably linked to Herbert Hoover. The GM crash will have Mr. Obama’s name engraved on it: “Obama? Oh yeah, he caused the crash of General Motors…” That won’t be a fair linkage – just as Herbert Hoover didn’t entirely cause the Great Depression – but it’s the way history sometimes is recalled.

It has been easy to characterize GM’s bondholders as rich banks and hedge funds that can easily afford to lose their investments – indeed, who probably should lose them. But this is a false picture born of envy politics. GM corporate bonds are spread over a wide area of the investing public, including pension funds and private holdings of small investors (like yours truly). Their collapse will represent a significant loss of wealth to many thousands of Americans.

The Obama administration surely knows this is true. So why is the Big O sanctioning an attempt to buy off bondholders with potentially worthless paper? As nearly as I can make out, there are two possible reasons. First, there is the Obama administration’s obvious attempt to circumvent the bankruptcy laws. Those laws place primary holders of debt – i.e., bondholders – at the front of the line for redress if a company fails. But Mr. Obama has made it clear that he wants unionized workers at the head of the line. In other words, he wants to evade the bankruptcy laws with a special deal to advantage a favored constituency. (How’s that for “upholding the laws of the United States” and enacting “change we can believe in?”)

Second (although not necessarily in order of importance) is Mr. Obama’s dislike – almost to the point of hostility – of personal wealth. Anyone who truly listened to his campaign rhetoric should understand that personal wealth is not his vision for the nation’s people – except for himself and a favored few. So far, I cannot divine if this stems from dyed-in-the-wool socialism or from a pragmatic political calculation that people with personal wealth – and the independence it brings – will neither need nor want his brand of government.

Which view drives him remains to be seen. (It might be both.) Certainly, we shall understand the president’s mind in due time, as he acts. His words have dazzled many – including the completely besotted Mainstream Media – but his actions will soon inform voters’ impressions of him. Those impressions will long outlast his words.

My broker dryly notes that my paltry holdings will neither carry nor block the GM tender offer. The “big guys” who control billions in bond-value will move the thing one way or the other. I can only hope that they have the backbone to withstand the “offer we can’t refuse” made by Mr. Obama and his minions. Those bankruptcy laws were enacted for a reason. Who is he to go around them?

Bernie Frotton – The Force Behind Memorial Day Parade

jack_archibald_120There is nothing like Memorial Day weekend in Atlantic Highlands. Kicking off the weekend on Friday evening is the Annual PBA ball at the Shore Casino.  Every year, a worthy volunteer organization is the beneficiary of the generosity of the Atlantic Highlands community.  In good times and bad, citizens recognize the needs of these organizations and donate their hard earned money to that year’s cause.

After putting forth their cash, Monday’s Memorial Day parade down First Avenue is a no cost tribute to our veterans. Almost every volunteer organization or association is represented in our parade, but the most impressive sight is our veterans.  These are the men and women that have sacrificed and kept our country safe throughout the years.  They are an impressive group of volunteers and within that group; one volunteer has shined every Memorial Day.

That man is Bernard Frotton.  For over 25 years, Bernie, as he is known to one and all, has been the force behind the parade.  While Chief Gerry Vasto may be the ceremonial leader in the front, Bernie Frotton has been organizing and making sure that everyone marches in the proper order during the parade.  Running the parade is nothing new to this humble servant, as Bernie can be found all around Atlantic Highlands donating his time.

Who was responsible for putting flags on Memorial Parkway? Bernie Frotton and the American Legion.  Who places American flags on veteran’s graves with the Boy Scouts each spring?  Bernie Frotton and the American Legion.  Who donates the hot dogs after the parade?  Bernie Frotton and the American Legion.

In addition to his role in the American Legion, Bernie has served Atlantic Highlands as Chairman of the Recreation Committee.  He has been our zoning officer, our code inspection officer, and our multi family dwelling inspector.  Bernie has served as a
member of the borough council and is a living history book of Atlantic Highlands.

Bernie is from the generation that gives to others without asking for anything in return. When these veterans walk down First Avenue on Monday, give a big hand to them for their service to our country, and clap extra hard for Bernie Frotton for all that he has done for our community.

Obama and Liberals in Congress Want Marriage Penalty Tax

OBAMA & LIBERALS IN CONGRESS WANT MARRIAGE PENALTY TAX!

By repealing President Bush’s tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, President Obama and the liberals in Congress would reinstate the Marriage Penalty that forces married couples to pay higher taxes than single taxpayers.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative ‘think tank,’ estimates the Marriage Penalty would cost 100 million Americans an average tax hike of $1,716.

Doesn’t President Barack Obama know that America is in a deep recession, bordering on a doomed depression the likes of which we’ve not seen since the 1930s “Great Depression?”

Obama and his liberals who control the U.S. House of Repesentatives have talked about erasing the historic tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 when President Bush was in charge of our country.

Although not a genuine conservative, Bush did not increase the federal debt to the unprecedented heights of the Obama Administration in its first 100 days in power.

Obama has committed some $12 trillion in loans in the coming years of his Far Left radical Administration.

That’s more debt — plus billions in interest fees — than all of America’s 43 Presidents before Obama, starting with George Washington, the “father” of this once great nation.

Allowing these tax cuts to expire as they are currently set to do would bring back the “Death Tax” on grieving families, which is supported by Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and liberals in Congress.

According to recent estimates, this would increase taxes by $91 billion.

The Heritage Foundation analysis shows that letting tax cuts expire could mean more than one million lost jobs and over $100 billion less in economic output, plus slower wage and salary growth for working families.

Heritage economists estimate that the “Death Tax” (Estate Tax) alone costs as many as 250,000 potential jobs each year.

The Obama Administration and the liberals who are in charge of Congress are launching a “relentless crusade to kill off these cuts and call supporters of tax relief as ‘unAmerican,’ ” according to Heritage President, Edwin J. Feulner, PhD.

Speaker Pelosi from San Francisco — one of the most powerful and most liberal members of Congress — has claimed that relief “does great damage to our country,” and that tax cuts are “fiscally reckless” and “morally irresponsible” — despite the fact that more 8 million jobs were created after the 2003 tax cuts.

These Marxist liberals want to “change” America into a Marxist State. We know that as Karl Marxist’s grand plan: “Retribution of Income.” That means workers all make the same amount of money.

Karl Marx is the same guy who founded the Communist Party when Russia emerged as a dictatorial state around the turn of the 20th century.

Marxism never worked in any country that adopted such an economic system. Just look at Russia, Cuba, Venezula, and other states run by mobsters or dictators. They don’t believe in Freedom or Liberty for the people!

Heritage (MyHeritage.org) has posted on its Website an easy-to-read Tax Scoreboard with the title BY THE NUMBERS: The Impact of Tax Increases. Here they are:

$2.4 Trillion: The overall tax increase faced by American families, seniors and businesses if current tax cuts expire.

$1.716: The average tax increase for over 100 million Americans if tax cuts are allowed to expire.

$2,034: The average tax increase that will hit 17 million seniors if the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are allowed to expire.

$3,637: The tax hike, on average that 26 million small business owners will be facing if tax cuts are allowed to expire.

8.3 Million: The number of jobs created after the tax cuts of 2003.

$91 Billion: The cost of reinstating the Death Tax.

$17.2 Billion: The amount spent in 2008 by Congress on frivolous “pork” projects that use taxpayer funds to reward local special interests and pressure groups.

44 Million: The number of married couples affected by the Marriage Penalty before it was reduced by President George W. Bush. These families will be hit hard once again if the Marriage Penalty is reinstated.

$1,480: The average cost in 2000 for couples punished by the Marriage Penalty.

Obama ran for president on a platform of HOPE and CHANGE.

The “Change” is historic, so to speak.

But is it good for America and Americans?

As for “Hope,” as they say, “Hope is an empty box.”

If America is to survive in the 21st century, we need another Ronald Reagan to make that happen.

Sadly, I do not see a real Ronald Reagan anywhere on the global horizon.

God Bless America!

(Gordon Bishop is a ‘Who’s Who in the World’ award-winning author, historian, syndicated columnist and New Jersey’s First “Journalist-of-the-Year” — 1986/New Jersey Press Association.)