‘I like peanut butter, creamy peanut butter, crunchy peanut butter, too.’ Doesn’t everyone?

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. The other day when my helper Mr. Aime Joseph and I were at the Shaw’s Market in Cambridge, you know the one up Massachusetts Avenue at Porter Square, I felt a thought being implanted in my head, or rather it was more like some kind of brain wave zapped one of the thousands and thousands of subjects I have in my brain’s computer. All of a sudden I had a sharp pang that leads to something that one hadn’t planned to buy being put in my shopping cart, to swell the profits of Shaw’s… and the company producing the product in question. This time the wave zapping me said, “Skippy Peanut Butter…. Crunchy.”

It was the work of a moment to change my direction and return to the aisle where lived Skippy and its dogged competitors Jiff, Peter Pan, and nowadays some examples of what I call “designer foods,” in this case expensive peanut butters made to cater to the tastes of a few people with capacious pocketbooks.

I had the craving. I did what the craving told me to do (“Buy Skippy’s.”), and I had Mr. Joseph take me straight home where, in a minute or two, I was doing something else that craving phenomenon ordered me to do: “Eat some. At once. Be happy.” I did as I was bid.

“Peanut Butter” by The Marathons.

In 1961, the group called The Vibrations was in the curious position of having two concurrent hits under different names . As The Vibrations (Afircan-American soul vocal group) from Los :Angeles) they released “The Watusi.” I remember it well…

Then with a few lineup changes the group hit again, this time under the name of The Marathons with their catchy little number “Peanut Butter”. It’s this song I’m using as the background sound for today’s article. Start by going to any search engine. Then go find your blue suede shoes and that absolutely necessary hair oil for that essential young punk “do” that says, “I’m hot… and so cool. Eat your heart out.”

Here’s a sampling of the lyrics:

“Well there’s a food goin round that’s a sticky sticky goo (Peanut, Peanut Butter) Oh well it tastes so good but it’s so hard to chew (Peanut, Peanut Butter.)

Believe me, it’s lots better when you hear it, though it is a song that when played in the soda shoppe after school produces wry looks and consternation. You see, it’s too slow… and you can’t dance to. it But it’s just right to eat peanut butter by… but secretly. Cool kids ate peanut butter… but never at school and never from a lunch box. I, of course, didn’t know this until long after high school. Typical! Life is much simpler now… when all I have to do is buy it… and eat it. I think you’d agree.

What is peanut butter?

Peanut butter is a food paste primarily made from ground dry roasted peanuts. It’s popular in North America, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and parts of Asia particularly The Philippines. It is mainly used as a sandwich spread, sometimes in combination as in the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The United States and China are the leading exporters of peanut butter.

History of peanut butter.

Peanuts are native to the tropics of the Americas and natives have been mashing them into a pasty substance for hundreds of years. The Aztecs, people of discernment, fancied peanut butter’s first versions. Purists will argue that there is a difference between peanut paste and peanut butter… but the people waiting for one or the other will not stand silently by until learned folk resolve the matter. When they want their peanut butter, they want it now. Still what are experts for if not to quibble?… Eat your peanut butter first; when you’ve had your fill there will be time enough to hear what they’ve discovered.

Food historians (yes, there are such people graced by the mandatory Ph.D.) believe peoples like the Aztecs did not have smooth peanut butter; they had not yet so advanced (another good reason for their eradication by Spain); instead they had the precursor, peanut paste. The difference? Peanut paste is pure roasted peanuts. It is is harder to work with than regular peanut butter and had more of an unadulterated, somewhat bitter taste. People still ate it up… no doubt enjoying every bit.

Fast forward to George Washington Carver (1864-1943) and the many folks who learned so much from this great, great man. Now people began to experiment with their peanut concoctions… purists were not happy (purists never are)… but with additives like sugar and molasses there was no telling where these new flavors would take the humble peanut. And as Professor Carver rose, so did these peanut fanciers. One man even took his love affair with the peanut and what you could do with it as far as the White House where as President Jimmy Carter he presided from1980-1984.

As soon as scientists like Carver had their say, canny entrepreneurs entered the scene to have theirs. What they liked was not so much the sweetness of the peanut butter… but the even sweeter sound of money.

Evidence of peanut butter as it is known today came in U.S. Patent 306,727 issued in 1884 to Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec. It covered the finished product in the process of milling roasted peanuts between heated surfaces until the peanuts entered “a fluid or semi-fluid” state. As the peanut butter cooled, it set into what Edson explained as being “a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment.” Edson’s patent is based on the preparation of a peanut paste as an intermediate to the production of peanut candies. While Edson’s patent does not describe the modern confection we know as peanut butter, it does show the initial steps necessary for the production of peanut butter.

More importantly the celebrated J.H. Kellogg, of breakfast cereal fame, and his brother W.K. Kellogg invented their own early version of peanut butter in 1895 and 1897 with U.S. Patent 580,787 for their “Process of Preparing Nutmeal,” which produced a “pasty adhesive substance” they called “nut-butter”.

Bit by bit the peanut-butter business was growing… so that by 1914 there were several dozen brands of peanut butter on the market. One, with the invention of a process to prevent oil separation in peanut butter, was about to break out of the pack. It was the Rosenfelt Packing Company, which in 1933 began the process of obtaining trademark registration in the then 48 states and Hawaii. It took 11 years to complete this proceess. The result was Skippy peanut butter, made into an instantly known brand name thanks to the power of American advertising, including sponsorship of the Skippy Hollywood (radio) Theatre, from 1938 and “You Asked For It”, from 1951.

Skippy sales soared because the folks at Rosenfeld Packing Company had a very clear idea what they wanted: a brand that was as American, as clean cut, as tasty, as fun as the nation itself. And so Skippy grew. This is why I didn’t reach for Jiff or Peter Pan or the designer brands, wonderful though may be… I reached instead, as if by instinct, for Skippy, as I have done for a lifetime. It is always Skippy for me, chunky at that.

Thus, although I go for long stretches without any peanut butter at all, my lifelong loyalty and (a lifetime of buying) is what made conglomerate Best Foods acquire Skippy in 1955. After all, as The Marathons sang,

“All my friends tell me that they dig it the most…Peanut, Peanut Butter.”

‘Why was he born so beautiful? Why was he born at all? He’s no bloody good to anyone. He’s no bloody use at all!’ Of bodybuilder Albert Arroyo and his ‘disability’.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. If you are lucky in the blog which sent you this article, a well oiled and eye-catching picture of bodybuilder Albert Arroyo accompanies the text. If you don’t have it, go to any search engine to find pictures of this now notorious x-Boston, Massachusetts fire fighter. You will have no trouble finding plenty; for Albert was a man born for the camera… and pumping iron videos, too. You’ll find that the photographic and video documentation is substantial… our Albert loved the lime light and applause… Now he’s bombarded with more of it than he ever dreamed of or bargained for. Sadly it’s all negative. As for the title of this article, “Why was he born so beautiful?…” this is a tune sung by raucous soccer lads. I have been unable to find a reference to it in search engines; composer and date of composition are likewise unknown. That’s unfortunate for it’s a very peppy little number, equal portions of condescension, bombast, and insult. Matey Brits love it… and so do university students who drop into this song at a moment’s notice.

Here’s how it happened…

For Boston firefighter Albert Arroyo, March and April 2008 were ostensibly rough months. He reported falling on March 21 and suffering a back injury so severe that, a few weeks later, his doctor wrote that Arroyo should be granted an accidental disability retirement because he is “totally and permanently disabled”.

Yet, on May 3, after being out of work for six weeks and collecting his full salary tax- free, Arroyo achieved a significant feat. He finished eighth in a men’s bodybuilding competition, the 2008 Pro Natural American Championships.

By late May, Boston fire commissioner Roderick J. Fraser, Jr. learned of Arroyo’s strict training regimen and his record as a competitive bodybuilder. Fraser urged the Boston Retirement Board to deny the application.Then in July, 2008, the Boston Fire Department shifted Arroyo, then 46, from injured leave to regular sick leave, which is taxable, after its chief medical officer determined that any injury was not work-related.

A very public black eye for Boston and its pampered firefighters.

The story about Albert Arroyo could scarcely have come at a less felicitous time for Boston firefighters. In mid-April 2008, a federal grand jury issued scores of subpoenas to Boston firefighters as part of a criminal investigation into years of questionable disability injury claims by retired and active firefighters of all ranks. Arthur Arroyo became the poster child of a sleaze-ridden system that over and over again granted pension disability payments to those who by no means qualified for them. It was a Boston scandal; one which seemed to be endemic to every mayoral administration, business as usual for all. This was especially true of Local 718, Boston Firefighters. It was a union marked by fraud, chronic cheating, and flagrant favoritism and mismanagement. The citizens of Boston, already hard-pressed by the great recession of those years, erupted in an avalanche of anger, outrage and (because of Arroyo’s bodybuilding, wearing little more than a smile) caustic humor, deadly and accurate. Long overdue reforms were a must and the Arroyo case helped insure they were started.

Fire commissioner Roderick J. Fraser, Jr., the man in the middle.

Fraser was relatively new (2006) to his important job. Fraser, a former naval officer, met fierce resistance from the Boston Firefighters Union in his strenuous effort to change the culture in a department long dominated by the union. Firefighters of every rank, except the commissioner, belong to the same union, and until Fraser arrived, commissioners had always risen through the ranks.

Arroyo’s application for a disability pension came as the department was roiled by embarrassing disclosures about questionable injury claims.

In January 2008, the (Boston) Globe reported that in the 6 previous years, 102 Boston firefighters has been granted enhanced disability pensions because their career-ending injuries occurred while they were temporarily filling in for superiors and being paid at the higher pay grade The additional cost to the city from paying those pensions at the higher grades will be about $25 million. When this figure was disclosed, citizens screamed again — and this time hitherto timorous political leaders decided to act. Again the (nearly naked) figure of Arroyo, now universally known throughout the metropolis, was a factor… he and his case were completely understandable… and when they understood citizens screamed bloody murder at the previously recalcitrant and hesitant city officials. This time these officials acted… and one of their first captures was Albert Arroyo. The man who previously could waste a day or two deciding just how small his posing strap should be, highlighting by judicious selection, now had real problems… the feds charged him with applying for a $65,000 a year fraudulent tax-free, accidental-disability retirement benefits package. If proven, the charge could send Arroyo away for up to twenty years, ironically the very length of his service as a firefighter.

Trial underway now.

The trial is now underway in Bean Town.

Having a good basic knowledge of how the law works is important for every citizen of the great Republic. Every citizen is in this sense a repository of what the law is and how it functions. If you’re such a citizen, congratulations. You are doing your great task as a citizen. Such people, now jurors, are even now reviewing Arroyo’s robust, healthy lifestyle since he claimed to be disabled of playing baseball, shopping, dining out, visiting a tanning salon and taking out-of-state trips. They will seek to show by pointing to each thing he did which as a disabled person he should not have done; that his disability was bogus, a fraud from first to last.

The defense has a more difficult task. They must show that while Arroyo was disabled for certain things (like inspecting buildings for the Fire Department) he was most assuredly not disabled for others (like playing baseball… and competing in high stress, high stakes male bodybuilding competitions). Their’s then will be a defence of slicing carefully and hoping they can get the jury to buy into what could be a defence that does not defend.

Good and lasting effects of this fraudulent Boston firefighter pension business.

1) Local 718 Boston Firefighters Union got a wake-up call. Your job is not to protect people who lie, deceive, make-up in order to get a significant pension. Your job is to protect the public by making sure only the best firefighters are selected… and bad firemen are not rewarded but sacked.

2) If you’re the doctor Arroyo went to first to certify his disability (that would be Dr. John F. Mahoney, Dorchester neurologist) ask yourself why you didn’t see anything odd in the perfectly buff, symmetrical and sculpted patient before you that was requesting disability. Some think you never met Albert Arroyo at all… or if, when you did, you didn’t bother to actually look at him. Of course now you’re scrambling to show that you really did examine the man, really.

3) If you’re Fire Commissioner Roderick J. Fraser, Jr., watch out…. In Boston if you’re on the right side of the wrong issue the long knives await you… and for gouging this sacred cow,they definitely want to snuff you. Beware.

And as for Arthur Arroyo, you most assuredly will never get that $65,000 tax-free each year… and a trip to the pokey is likely. There you can practice your posing to your heart’s content. Just don’t drop any soap in the shower.

‘Darlin’, everybody hustles. It’s just a question of how, when and where.’ A tale of pre-Katrina New Orleans and your business success.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I didn’t have to look for the perfect tune to accompany this article. I’ve known it for decades. “I’m still here,” from Stephen Sondheim’s incredible musical “Follies” (1971). It’s a song about grit, determination, doing what you have to do with the person you must do it with… to move up, move on, and force the big guys at the top to move over. This is the song you listen to on days when the recalcitrant world is just not going the way you want… it’s the song you listen to when you mean to change that… and try again, because that’s what winners do and losers can’t even imagine. Go to any search engine now… go into a room all by yourself, the better to turn up the volume to the ear-shattering range… and let Sondheim’s incredible music waft you to the place of your dreams… then listen to what you have to do to get there!

In the days before Hurricane Katrina, I used to frequently teach marketing communications at the University of New Orleans. My classes were held on week days downtown and on Saturday’s on Lake Pontchartrain, whose name I loved, coming as it does from a great French statesman who had the infinite good sense to be painted by Robert Le Vrac de Tournieres (1667-1752). I loved that picture from the first moment I saw it… and I loved New Orleans, too, its people, its spirit, its often painful madcappery and self destruction. When I came to know about “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole (published 1980), I read it with an avidity fed by its macabre history; (the author had to commit suicide before any publisher would condescend to review it; it then went on to win the Pulitzer Prize). From the very moment I left my hotel room (where I spent the absolute minimum amount of time) adventures were drawn to me, because they knew I was completely receptive to them.

Her name was Yvette…

On my very first day in New Orleans (it was a Friday), I stayed in a big, fancy hotel just off the French Quarter. I never made that mistake again; on my many future visits I always stayed in a little hotel in the Quarter, steps from the wonderful people I met who filled me with admiration for their zest for living and unadulterated joy under unremitting duress.

The first person who met me (note the language) was a person who looked to me like Tinkerbell on something. He walked up to me and said, “Honey, I can tell you are new to La Nouvelle Orleans. Let me be your guide”. I had never, and I mean never, been spoken to like that… but I recognized in these words Fate’s distinctive messenger. I accepted, bought my guide a drink… and in due course, having gleaned without difficulty but with some incredulity that I was a writer, he said, “But you must meet Yvette.” Of course, I must. That too was Fate…

She was, as the French say, a woman of a certain age; that might have been anything from forty into eternity. I knew at once she had that unmistakable quality the Parisians call “chien”. Yes, I know that means “dog”, and its English connotations are not good… but she had, and unmistakenly, that mixture of age, chic, dress sense, allure and brass that forces one involuntarily to look back and be sad that vision is rushing to be with someone else. But this time, perhaps for the first time, this woman with a Past was going to influence my future… and I was ready to hear whatever she said.

The conversation turned to life… it always does in the French Quarter with such people as Yvette. With each drink (and there were many) came another piquant observation that convinced me “real” life and I had only a nodding acquaintance. Yvette knew the vicissitudes of life inside and out… and I was bright enough to pay close attention to her observations, often as diamond sharp as Madame de Sevigne (1626-1696). This one completely arrested my attention:

“Darlin’, everybody hustles. It’s just a question of how, when and where.” It instantly occurred to me that this is precisely the element missing from far too many of my business students and people starting and running businesses generally. They are running businesses; they are not hustling for success as if their very lives were dependant on it… and that was the reason so many of them were barely getting by and wondering why, when they were such good and proper folk.

It’s because they were missing what Yvette had to spare: hustle. In short they wanted success, but they wanted it on their terms… which just ain’t gonna happen.

YOU say you want success, but (for whatever reason) you are not willing to work all the necessary hours it takes to achieve success. SUCCESS says, “You will work as many hours as it takes to capture me… not merely the hours you wish to work.”

YOU say you want success, but are not willing to work evenings, week-ends, even standard holidays. SUCCESS says, “If you want me, you must be willing to sacrifice time you’d like to use for other things. Choose!”

YOU say you want success, but you’ll only do jobs that make you such-and-such amount. SUCCESS says, “If you want the money, stoop to conquer. When you’ve got the money you want, then you can afford to be so picky. But that day hasn’t dawned yet.”

YOU say you want success, but your spouse is doing everything but put you in a cage to make sure you can’t achieve it. SUCCESS says “Sugarbabe, there are more good women and men in the sea than those who’ve come out. Dig my meaning?”

YOU say you want success, but you’ll only look at business opportunities that cost you nothing. SUCCESS says “Lambikins, ain’t nothin’ ever come from nothin’. You’ve gotta invest to get a return on that investment.”

Still more…

YOU say you want success, but you are not willing to do the necessary homework and due diligence to ensure that what you do delivers the substantial rewards you want. SUCCESS says, “Quit trying to beat the system. People who make money are constant, never-ceasing students of success. They review each and every thing to understand how it works… then follow the directions EXACTLY to achieve success. They are not trying to cut corners, because they know that doesn’t work.”

YOU say you want success but once you get some, you don’t gun it to get more. SUCCESS says, “Every successful person on earth has a success system. They know that if they do X, they will get Y results. Thus, as soon as they are successful and can prove their system delivers the desired results (or even better), they arrange their time and resources so they can replicate their successful system over and over again, each time reaping the expected (and ever increasing) benefits.”

YOU say you will study successful people to see how they do and how they work because you understand that the achievement of success is inextricably linked to studying the successful and making a point of then doing what they do. SUCCESS says, “Well, are you studying the successful? I certainly haven’t seen you around anyone but your low-down worthless friends. The only time they’ll appear in the media is for robbing a convenience store! Dump ’em.”

YOU say you want success on the Internet. Good for you; it’s where lots of people nowadays get big bucks and worldwide, too. SUCCESS says, “You’re all talk and no action You don’t have anyone to help you. You don’t have the necessary tools you need; you don’t have the training. And, as for your traffic, that’s a joke that you don’t know how to fix. Moreover, you have no way to profit 24 hours a day in this demanding 24-hour-a-day environment.

And what of Yvette?…

Let’s just say my appreciation for Yvette and what she taught me did not flag as the hours advanced. And as for her profound insight into the sustained hustling all true success seekers must engage in?… why that has now gone from just Yvette to me… and now from me to you… for my next adventure… and, by grasping this article and its recommendations, for your faster, greater, truly impressive success.

And as she aged, she asked with trepidation ‘Am I still beautiful to you?’ And he said, ‘yes, yes, more beautiful than ever….’

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. The world is graying as the Baby Boomers, now millions of us in our sixties, get older and older still day by inexorable day. Farseeing Stephen Sondheim, who I once met when I was at Harvard many years ago, wrote the musical for us back in 1971. It’s called “Follies”, and it has the perfect music for today’s article…a knock-out number called “Beautiful Girls.”

If you know it, you’ll be glad to hear again the lyrics and music to age by… and if you’ve never heard it before, you are in for a treat you’ll want repeated over and over again, not least for its profound message that, aging, we are yet deeply and profoundly desirable…and that if we’re lucky we have the empathetic people around us, especially that special person, to say so… You’ll find this song in any search engine. Go find it now… and listen to it, really listen… You are about to make a very special person so very happy….

Can you even remember the last time…?

The problem with relationships is that the good thing, having it there every day, is the bad thing. It’s comfortable like an old shoe or bunny slipper. You don’t have to do much, maybe nothing, because it’s right there, right now…. and so it goes until you are well and truly in a rut, devaluing and taking for granted the most important thing you’ll ever have.

If I’m describing things at your home, then this article is for you, and not a moment too soon!

Not a woman’s issue, not a man’s issue, a human issue.

We humans are social animals. We do not do well alone which is why solitary confinement in prison is considered the ultimate punishment… to deprive us of the necessary company of our fellow beings is completely unsettling. Thus, because togetherness is not merely a nice thing to have but an absolute necessity, we spend our entire lives, men as well as women, working (and working hard) to find that “perfect” mate… the one who gives us just the volatile mixture of peace and passion we require. It is a tall order; many never find it, many have much of it, but throw good relationships away trying to get the rest. In many ways the struggle to find and keep the “perfect” person constitutes the most important of life’s many struggles.

People need to have their desirability noted, confirmed, extolled, especially as the burdensome years add up.

I am 64 now and acutely aware of time’s winged chariot; I often feel it is running me over… or at least that I am slower these days about getting out of its way. It is an irksome feeling, irritating, exasperating and shared by millions worldwide. “Why,” we wonder “couldn’t we have had just a bit more of the magic of being twenty, thirty, thirty nine… even an extension on yesterday?” We’re smart… we know why… but we never stop wishing for more of what we had.

But such wishes, as we know only too well, won’t add even a single moment to the brilliant events of our lives. Thus, we must focus on what we have, for that, too, will be gone too soon and deeply missed. Under such circumstances we must learn to enjoy… to appreciate… to celebrate… to exult. And that must start today.

First, understand that it is the universal human condition to experience dismay, despair, even desperation as we age. We see aging as a process of diminution and diminishment. As a society, we are fixated on the bodies, the looks, the capabilities and agilities of the young, often the very young. We are a youth-centered society and as a result end up depressing those whose youth is often a distant memory. This is wrong. And Stephen Sondheim knew it was wrong, a situation screaming for a different emphasis. And so he wrote “Follies”. It’s the story of 5 women, all stunners, who have aged through the engrossing, demanding high times and low of their lives…

Sondheim wants them to live again in all their beauty and jaw-dropping perfection. And so “Follies” was born. It was a great success, an enchantment that made an audience leap to its feet as one aging gloriosa after another came down the circular staircase into the limelight and applause she claimed by right. We all wanted her to have it… and we were all grateful to Sondheim for resurrecting the joy these women gave us, beautiful girls forever… whatever their chronological ages.

Now for you…

When was the last time you took a moment to consider the situation and desirability of the most important person in your life, the person who needs the balm of your reassurance. “Am I still beautiful to you?”

This question is a gamble, only asked in extremis, out of anxiety, fear that their entire world will crash if they get the wrong answer. And so, first, recognize the courage of the questioner. They risk everything by your answer.

In such a moment, seize your beloved as if this were your last day on earth and say, “Yes, yes, more beautiful than ever!”, a sentiment confirmed by the most passionate kiss ever.

This does not end the matter… it just starts it… for from such a moment a greater love is born… the love that is greater and more important than any physical perfection.

When you look at your beloved, man or woman, you are looking at the most significant person in your life. When was the last time you made that clear… clear that you understand his sacrifices, her unceasing focus on you and everything about you? Each wrinkle, each furrow on a furrowed brow is there for you… is evidence that you were wanted, desired, lived for and loved… You have been and are a lucky person indeed.

Don’t wait for a special occasion, the fact that you both are here now is special occasion enough. Taking action today, on an “ordinary” day gives whatever you do its poignant significance and power. You are saying, and saying loud and clear, that your so special being is not merely special on the days society has appointed for such matters… but each and every day… a day which touched by your inventiveness transforms an ordinary day into one of the days of your life.

Now use the magic of Sondheim’s music and profound understanding of the human condition to assist. in making a point which cannot be made too often.. Sondheim’s lyrics are about all beautiful girls; change them now to be solely for your special one:

Hats off, Here she comes, that Beautiful girl. That’s what I’ve been waiting for. Nature never fashioned A flower so fair. No rose can compare- Nothing respectable Half so delectable. Cheer her In her glory, Diamonds and pearls, Dazzling jewels By the score. This is what beauty can be. Beauty celestial, The best, you’ll Agree: All for me, my beautiful girl!

I don’t have to tell you what to do now… the stage is now set for a day you will never forget… and which is there to remind you that what you once had you have again… … thanks to that beautiful girl, or guy, in your life, in whose grateful eyes you see the resounding.

* * * * *

Economic times dismal at your end? Here are 5 positive things you can do RIGHT NOW to beat them and smile the smile of the shrewd!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I’m sure you know the song “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream… Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream.” It’s an English language nursery rhyme, sung as a round. At the commencement of each line another person joins the chorus until all participants are engaged. It’s a tonic for depressed spirits… right now there are millions of those as the world economy resembles nothing so much as a pogo stick — up, down, up, down. But not for you… I’m dishing out today the sane, safe, superior advice that’ll enable you not only to get through these difficult days of Chicken Little and the doomsayers, but actually be better off. And by the way, if you’ve never heard the immemorial round above, you can easily find it in any search engine. It’s a grand song…

1) People panic. You cannot.

The first thing that happens during bad times is that millions of people panic, thereby causing an avalanche of bad news, thereby causing millions more to panic. And so on until you’re thoroughly alarmed, depressed and, you’re convinced, in financial extremis.

This is happening right now.

My father, and the Good Book, deliver the sage admonition “This too shall pass.” And so it will. Good times, bad times, mediocre times, entirely unforgettable times, and the entirely forgettable ones which precede and follow, it’s all just fodder for the newspaper. What matters is not so much what’s happening, but what you do with the intelligence.

Lots of people refuse to accept this economic gospel and run themselves ragged in days like these, lamenting the condition of the world and their own impending penury and residence in the poor house.

You’re smart… you take the long view. You realize that,for all investment strategies you need a window of AT LEAST five years, and that the minimum. Only if like scaring yourself should be reading economic data on a daily basis The long view is the only view.

2) When the world sells, buy.

Over the last days, especially in the light of the downgrading for the historic first time ever of Uncle Sam’s credit rating, the markets have experienced hyper instability. This worries you. But what you should be worrying about is whether you’ve been buying stocks at often dirt-cheap prices enabling you in later days to exult at your cleverness and cause involuntary cheer that “life is but a dream.”

Virtually every company on earth is for sale RIGHT NOW at rock-bottom, fire- sale prices. As stock prices tilt (or even careen) lower, you are handed on a sterling silver salver one buying opportunity after another. Smart money, therefore, is buying today, even if there is a reasonable likelihood prices may go lower tomorrow. But the smart money never lives to micro-time the markets. The celebrated Victorian financier J.P.Morgan when asked by someone in search of a hot tip what would happen on Wall Street, majestically opined, “The market will vary.” And so it will.

Bet that the worldwide economic order will not collapse under Chicken Little’s jeremiads, and buy, buy, buy. To bet on the economic future of the world is hardly much of a risk at all… and all investment harbors some degree of risk, even Uncle Sam’s (still golden if a bit tarnished) bonds. 3) Pay off debt.

We New Englanders have an expression for roiling seas, “Hunker down.” It means secure absolutely everything you want to keep, then sit back to ride out any storm, even the most destructive.

Commandeer your kitchen table and artfully arrange the invoices and statements for every bill you pay. Your first job is to see where the money actually goes. Surprisingly large number of people haven’t got a clue, much less the precise figures to hand. You, protecting wealth, building wealth as you are, cannot afford to be so cavalier. Get the bills and the details of every cash outflow. Ask yourself these crucial questions:

* Can I either dispense with this item altogether or at least reduce its cost?

* Will pre-payment of this account garner useful cash discounts or other savings?

* Can I get a lower priced alternative to the service I have now?

In good times, many of us are casual indeed about undertaking new expenses; we can afford the liberality and the laxity. But in bad times we cannot. Thus, invite yourself to a thorough review of every expense with a view towards eradicating, eviscerating or even just mildly reducing your current financial burden. Remember, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

4) Enhance your physical surroundings.

When turbulent economic times hit not only do companies and their stocks go on sale but so does the combined physical heritage of mankind, including paintings, fine furniture, carpets, silver and goldwares of royal and imperial provenance… and every kind of valuable and historic artifact. Smart shoppers, smart collectors, insightful connoisseurs are ready to pounce. And you must be ready, too.

In the darkest days of the great recession of 2008, when purveyors of the dismal science were at their most bleak indeed, smart buyers were intensely scrutinizing the worldwide economy; as it tanked, they exulted. Every brilliant artifact on earth from the great Impressionists to the storied Easter Eggs of the Romanovs went on the block… and sank… to the glee of discerning — and patient — collectors worldwide. Such people — and I unabashedly include myself –live for such moments, of war, revolution and acute economic distress. Why? Because each artifact no matter how grand and impressive its provenance changes value as often as stocks, bonds and commodities. And they know that what goes down will (if an artifact of beauty, refinement and appeal) go up again. Thus you should welcome economic downturns, the more acute the merrier, as an opportunity to live like the Windsors (who are by the way such canny “fire sale prices” collectors.)

5) Put off non-essential purchases.

To be an American is to be born with a credit card. “I buy, therefore I am” is our national motto and birthright. As a result, we all buy too much, including way too much of the inessential. During periods of economic confusion and anxiety, intense scrutinizing every purchase before it’s made is essential.

List every single thing you intend to buy in the next month, two months, and quarter. Grade their necessity, with 1 being an item of little need… and 10 being one of acute and pressing want.

Remember, buying things, especially non-essential things, is the quickest way to punch a gaping (and avoidable) hole in your rowboat. You avoid it by becoming a “conscious buyer”, never an impulse purchaser, no matter how tempting the item in question.

Last words

To build wealth is a matter of constant scrutiny and penny-pinching frugality, the kind so beloved and extolled by Benjamin Franklin, the original “time is money” man. And remember this: when all the trees of the world are gone, when all the water in the world and all the air are gone, when every animal species is not just endangered but gone, there will still be money and lots of it. Why? Because money is manmade and therefore capable of infinite expansion. Use these timely tips to make sure you get more of it, much, much more. “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily…” For now your financial betterment is not a dream but daily improving reality.

‘For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life…’ Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer… recipient of the Medal of Honor. True grit.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. For this article, there is only one song that will do: the Marines’ Hymn of the United States Marine Corps with its revered and unmistakable opening line, “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli”.

Given that it’s one of the signature songs of the nation surprisingly little is known about it. The music is from the “Gendarmes’ Duet” from an 1867 revision of the 1859 opera “Genevieve de Brabant” by Jacques Offenbach, the man who wrote the music for the scandalous “Can, can.” The lyrics are more obscure because there is no known 19th century version. Legend has it that it was penned by a Marine on duty during the Mexican war (1846-1848), hence “From the halls of Montezuma…”

On September 15, 2011 at a White House ceremony presided over by President Obama it will be played with the pride and flourishes it has earned for Dakota Meyer, the man fate allowed to serve instead of die… and whose selfless heroism embodies the best of the nation… at a time when America needs to be reminded of who we are, how we got here, and the people and characteristics we need to carry the great Republic forward….

“Operation Enduring Freedom,” part of the Afghan War which promised much, and delivered little.

Every once in a while, the nation remembers it is at war, first in Iraq, then, very much an afterthought, in Afghanistan, where warfare is the biggest part of its history, economy and past, present and, one sadly concludes, future. Afghanistan is simply a cauldron where the many elements of unending instability and war are blended together to create a noisome, noxious vintage. It is a place no sensible person wishes to go… and where the words “Operation Enduring Freedom” are nothing so much as high irony, grand but unobtainable objectives, a cruel hoax. Into this unforgiving land, Dakota Meyer came to make history.

The date was September 8, 2009.

It was another hazardous day in hazardous Kunar province where Meyer was serving with Embedded Training Team 2-8. There was news… and it was bad, the kind of news no Marine wants to hear and which he instinctively wants to do something about: a group of insurgents had attacked with savage results. Three U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman were missing.

Dakota Meyer didn’t have to think about what to do… he knew. His responsibility was to rescue his brothers… any other action was unthinkable. Marines help Marines. And that was what he and his combat team set out to do as they moved forward to find and engage the enemy.

Let us recreate the circumstances of that fateful day…

As the combat team moved forward it was hit by intense fire from roughly 50 Taliban insurgents dug-in and concealed on the slopes of Ganjgal village. They had to be removed to accomplish the rescue mission.

Meyer, trained for such an event, mounted a gun-truck, enlisted a fellow Marine to drive, and raced to attack the ambushers and aid the trapped Marines and some Afghan soldiers, too. What ensued was a six-hour fire fight in which Corporal Meyer called upon every feature of brain and body. The Taliban was determined Corporal Meyer would not advance… he was equally determined that he would. The result was war, war in all its brutalities, in all its unpredictabilities, its confusions, and unexpected developments, war to the death between wary opponents who respected each other’s capabilities and meant to have victory… whatever must be done.

Yes, Dakota Meyer meant to go forward… And his determination to do so changed dozens of lives, not least his own. He had brothers to rescue and nothing, absolutely nothing was going to stand in the way of getting to them and bringing them back. Absolutely nothing.

As he moved forward, inexorably forward, he changed lives. He saved 36 Marines and Afghan soldiers that day before he found the bodies of his 4 brothers. To get to them he performed deeds prodigious, sublime, unimaginable. Alone, he charged into the heart of a deadly U-shaped Taliban ambush.

But not just once… not twice… not even three times… but he went into this vortex of mayhem and death four times. What drives at man so, when such a forward policy could, in an instant, send him into eternity and his mangled body home to grieving parents and relations? What drives a man at such a moment, when all the joys and pleasures of a young life could end in an instant?

He was insistent, determined that his brothers, or whatever was left of them, should not be mutilated, humiliated, and left to rot in the inhospitable soil of this supremely inhospitable land. He did not think of death… or valor…. or heroism. He thought of brothers, of buddies, young men as young as he, just a moment ago bursting with hijinx and wise-cracking humor… now face down in their own blood and the dust of Afghanistan. These brothers, spirits now, called out to Dakota Meyer… and they did not call out in vain.

Charging alone into the enraged, determined Taliban he focused on his mission… beyond thoughts of death. At such a moment, facing fearsome odds, a man becomes so certain he will die that a profound liberation occurs… because death is likely, he means to exact a terrible price on the enemy… and he finds hitherto unknown strengths and abilities which he is determined should be fully used with deadly effect.

Meyer killed 8 Taliban!

Meyer personally evacuated 12 friendly wounded!

Meyer provided cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers to escape likely death at the hands of a determined and numerically superior foe!

On his first foray his lone vehicle drew machine gun, mortar, rocket grenade and small arms fire while he rescued five wounded soldiers.

His second attack disrupted the enemy’s ambush and he evacuated four more wounded Marines.

Switching to anther gun-truck because his was too damaged they again sped in for a third time, and as turret gunner killed several Taliban attackers at point-blank range and suppressed enemy fire so 24 Marines and soldiers could break-out.

Despite being wounded, he made a fourth attack with three others to search for missing team members. Nearly surrounded and under heavy fire he dismounted the vehicle and searched house to house to recover the bodies of his fallen team members, the brothers who he valued beyond his own life and who, he knew, would have done as much for him. As any Marine would…

One of only 86 people to receive the Medal of Honor while still living.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award. It represents the highest standard of courage, boldness, and valor. Only 86 living people have received it and the last Marine to do so was Sgt. Maj. Allan Kellogg, Jr. in 1973 for gallantry in Vietnam.

Meyer, modest, polite, affable, makes it clear that he is no hero, just a Marine doing his best for his brothers… but we are not circumscribed in what we may say about this man who, by any reckoning, should have died that day a dozen times in Ganjgal…. but who instead delivered life to many colleagues without thought of his own. It is fitting and proper to award such a rare and prestigious award to such as Dakota Meyer… a man who, so young, reminds America that great deeds are conceived in selflessness and sacrifice. God shed his grace on thee, Dakota Meyer. You remind us all of what we each must do to ensure He sheds it still on all of us and our great exercise of freedom, now challenged on all sides.

‘I’ve got you under my skin.’ Bed bugs on the rise!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I found lots of songs for the musical accompaniment to this article, but one in particular really stood out, Cole Porter’s smooth tune “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” It was introduced in 1936 in the Eleanor Powell MGM musical “Born to Dance” in which it was performed by Virginia Bruce. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song that year.

It was given a new lease on life by Frank Sinatra. He first sang the song in 1946 on his weekly radio show. It immediately became his signature tune, amorous, hummable, sophisticated in the distinctive Sinatra manner. In 1963 he included it in his album titled “Sinatra’s Sinatra”… and it will indeed get under your skin… like those pesky bed bugs. You’ll find it in any search engine.

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite. But if they do. Take your shoe and hit them till they’re black and blue.

My grannie said this to me at bedtime all the time, but I didn’t know what a bed bug was until I went away to college. Then I promptly got the infernal itch that comes when grannie isn’t there with her strict hygienic standards and proven bug eradication methods. The bugs know this, of course, and know they’re in for a long feast where you, itching in places you didn’t know existed, provide a most diverting floor show.

New nationwide survey shows bed bugs on the rise.

According to a survey released August 17, 2011 by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky, pest control companies said there was double-digit growth in infestations in the past year. These infestations are particularly noticeable in college and other school dorms, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, office buildings, schools and day-care centers.

About 54 percent of pest companies reported treating bed bugs in college dorms, compared with 35 percent in 2010; 80 percent treated hotels, compared with 67 percent the year before, and 36 percent report treating schools and day-care settings for the bugs, more than triple the 10 percent in 2010. In short, this is a problem with real bite.

What is a bed bug anyway?

Cimicidae (bed bugs) are small parasitic insects. The most common type is Cimex lectularius. The term usually refers to species that prefer to feed on human blood. All insects in this family live by feeding exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals.

The name “bed bug” is derived from the insect’s preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep. Bed bugs, though not strictly nocturnal, are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts.

Physical description of bed bugs.

Adult bed bugs are light brown to reddish-brown, flattened, oval shaped and have no hind wings but front wings are vestigial and reduced to pad-like structures. Adults grow to 4-5 mm in length and 1.5-3 mm wide. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent, lighter in color and become browner as they moult and reach maturity.

Reproductive habits of bed bugs.

All bed bugs mate by traumatic insemination. Female bed bugs possess a reproductive tract that functions during oviposition, but the male doesn’t use this tract for sperm insemination. Instead, the male pierces the female’s abdomen with his hypodermic genitalia and ejaculates into the body cavity. As they mate, of course, your eradication problems grow and grow.

History of bed bugs.

Bed bugs may have originated in the Middle East, in caves inhabited by bats and humans.

The ancient Greeks, who chronicled everything, first wrote of bed bugs as early as 400 BC. They were later mentioned in Aristotle and in Pliny’s “Natural History” first published in Rome circa 77 AD. Pliny claimed bed bugs had medicinal value being able to treat such ailments as snake bites and ear infections. He did not explain where, should you be bitten by a snake, you would quickly find the necessary number of bed bugs to treat the bite… but no doubt that problem would be solved at the time, especially if you were bitten at home and had a large bed bug infestation to hand. “Flavius, I’ve been bitten by a snake… go fetch me as many bed bugs as you can… right now!”

Fast forward to the 18th century where Guettard recommended the use of bed bugs to cure hysteria. Not to quibble with a master, but I should have thought applying bed bugs, especially crushed and in a pasty mass, was more likely to induce hysteria rather than cure it, but I defer…

Infestation and eradication of bed bugs.

The goal of the bed bug is to infest your dwelling in every way possible:

* “hitchhiking in” on pets, on clothing or luggage.

* infesting items such as furniture or clothing brought in to your home

* infesting your dwelling by entering through duct work or false ceilings

* brought in by wild animals such as bats or birds.

Once they’re in your house, you’ve got a real problem, not least because bed bugs are elusive and hard to spot. They often lodge unnoticed in dark crevices and eggs can nestle in fabric seams. Aside from bite symptoms, signs include fecal spots, blood smears on sheets, and molts.

Bed bugs can be detected by their characteristic smell of cilantro, coriander, almonds or over-ripe raspberries. Bed bug detection dogs are trained to pinpoint infestations, with accuracy up to 97.5%.

Practical steps for getting rid of the pests.

1) Clear the infested area. Get rid of everything you don’t need and place it in tightly sealed plastic bags.

2. Remove all bedding, clothing etc. and place this in sealed plastic bags also. Launder everything at as high a temperature as possible. Items which cannot be laundered may be placed in your tumble dryer on a high setting for about 10 minutes. Alternatively you could use a steam cleaner to kill any bugs in garments unsuitable for laundering or tumble drying. Once items have been treated place them in fresh plastic bags and seal them up again to avoid recontamination. REMEMBER â?? you will have to check closets, drawers etc. because bed bugs will hide out anywhere.

3. Once the room is completely clear, vacuum everywhere in a methodical, thorough manner. This must include the bed, soft furnishings, curtains, inside furniture, etc. Also check places like smoke alarms, light switches and alarm clocks. It is vital that you also empty your vacuum cleaner into plastic bags and seal them tightly immediately you complete this task.

4. Repeat step three using a steam cleaning. Bed bugs cannot withstand heat and a steam cleaner delivers an immediate, intense source. This should get rid of bed bugs at all stages of their development from eggs and nymphs through to full sized adult bugs.

5. If you have any small cracks or crevices in walls or floors now is a good time to carry out repairs. This will get rid of bed bug hiding places!

Beware of extreme eradication measures.

Bed bugs cause acute human exasperation, especially if you’ve tried to get rid of them and failed. In this case you must beware of the “I’ll get you buggers” response. Here folks engage in extreme, dangerous measures, including the use of kerosene, alcohol, gasoline, or diesel fuel.

In July, the owner of an infested Ohio home, heated his dwelling to 140 degrees… and promptly started a fire that destroyed it. On the whole it’s better to call a pest control company. And if all else fails, sing some Sinatra beloved of the bugs who love us so, “Don’t you know, little fool, you never can win. Use your mentality. Get back to reality…” and learn to live with them…

* * * * *

The students return to Cambridge, August 2011…. I welcome them, remember… and smile.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note: There could only be one song to accompany this article, the theme from the 1970 film “Love Story,” written by Harvard classicist Erich Segal. You see, this article is about a love story, too, a love for a special place… and for a lifetime of memories launched from this very neighborhood. Start by going to any search engine and finding the lush “Love Story” theme… designed to put you in the mood for memories… deep, poignant, infinitely touching, forgiving.

It has been 42 years now, almost to the minute, since I first arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts to commence my Harvard education. It was, in fact, the Friday of Labor Day week-end, and I arrived here without benefit of previous visit, without knowing a single person, and with an incipient case of mononucleosis. To compound the challenges, I had about $50 to my name.

And yet, when I first saw Harvard Square… then Harvard Yard… I knew that I was exactly where I wanted to be… exactly. Such insistent insights irrevocably change lives.

The privileged students of Harvard are now just beginning to arrive, the anxious freshmen… desperate not to show the anxieties they could not hope to conceal; the insouciant upper classmen, omniscient, whose every move tells the world that they have been here before and are now the repository of the Harvard mystique, which they know… and defy the rest to find, if they can.

The returning students are keen to put you in your place by retailing the stories of their life-shaping, exotic, privileged summer vacations. This one drops the name of a well-known candidate with at least a chance for the White House. “I had lunch with him just the other day,” the student avers. He does not say the candidate had dropped into a sandwich shop in New Hampshire to shake hands.

He bought a tuna on dark rye, extra pickles, to go. He gulped a bit, handed the balance to the student who was go-fer of the day. Such was the lunch they shared… but while the actuality was unimpressive, the massaged tale more than serves its purpose of enhancing the student’s perceived altitude in the pecking order, where perception is everything. And every Harvard student is a master of perception.

Other returning students drop the names of congressmen in whose crowded offices they interned. There are the many who served the green movement… the others who scrutinized the “must see” locations of a dozen European countries, including the young woman entertained at dinner by the president of Latvia, who just happened to be a distant cousin. The welcoming meeting was capped by a photograph of the president en famille with cousin, autographed of course, very much on display in the student’s dorm room where the flag of Latvia was immediately visible and impressive upon entrance. Harvard students know the value of presidents, to whose powers and office many naturally aspire.

The returning students have a pecking order for everything, including just when and how they return. Upper classmen in positions of power and influence (like editors of “The Crimson,” the most influential student newspaper in the nation) come early. They wish to demonstrate their seriousness and control. The best writers, including those already published in “Cosmo” or the “Village Voice” with even a soupcon of name recognition, come later, at the very last moment. They wish editors to know they are beyond the mundane banalities of time and place… from the very way they enter the newsroom, they tell you the paper is the better for their presence, not the other way round. It’s an advantage they intend to press.

Such students, an early book and film deal already in the offing, know not only the essentials of smooth condescension but the knack of sailing near the edge of impudence and imprudence, without missing a beat. Too, they know the secrets of a glamor so serviceable on a walk down Holyoke Street… or a book jacket with attitude. They walk. Heads turn and boys from small towns and respected families know the misery of sharp desire… never to be fulfilled.

These students, who scoff at the unending ways aristocrats at the Court of Versailles insulted their inferiors while toadying to those they intend to insult tomorrow, are themselves and undeniably masters of such nuances. Who is greeted, how they are greeted, whether there is allowable physical contact or not and where, all these are subject to the most arcane rules and procedures. You have only to watch a small group of students as they walk through the Yard to see it on full display. Find the person in the middle of the group, the most verbal, the most voluble, the most directive, without even a scintilla of hesitation or doubt. He is on display… a beau brummell, for all his shoes are scuffed and jeans ripped. A coxcomb, a popinjay, he yet has claims to your life… and makes suggestions with impunity on what you must do and how… whilst his followers listen, follow and take no liberties, for all they want to. Their time will come… and they will put these invaluable insights to work…

Some students, of course, do not participate in these tribal rites of the young and upwardly mobile. Instead, they sit in their unkempt rooms and vow terrible vengeance on the chosen ones whom they envy and dream of. Years from now they’ll write novels and memoires about how miserable and oppressed they were. They were neither, of course, they just didn’t know what to do and lacked the gumption required to take their places amongst the glorious.

Jenny Cavalleri could have gone either way.

Jenny Cavalleri was a character in “Love Story” so great a hit that people worldwide came to Harvard to see where its protagonists cavorted, played, and loved. She came from no family either and, but for an accident of fate, might have gone through four lackluster years at the College, and then married a suitable Italian boy passing muster with her father. But she knew how to wisecrack… and one deftly timed comment opened her way to a world as unknown as Mars, where those selected by God and birth to flourish had names like Oliver Barrett IV and Harvard buildings named after clever ancestors, the better to mark you, too, for life and ease your way.

Oliver Barrett IV was most assuredly in… and he was determined that Jenny should be in, too… but she, famously, died young, the experiment incomplete and inconclusive.

Youthful disdain.

Like many people in Cambridge, I did not read “Love Story” or even see the film in 1970. They were, after all, infra dig and would never do. I probably thought like many hereabouts that he, a renowned classicist, had let down the side by writing something so un-Harvard. But then I was firmly in the thrall of what one did and didn’t do to make friends and influence the right people.

Years later, when I did my book “Our Harvard” (1982) I asked Erich Segal class of ’58 to provide a chapter. He couldn’t have been nicer or more professional to work with. He opened his essay with this paragraph:

“In September 1954 I and a thousand or so other freshmen gathered in Cambridge, sharing the confident assumption that, having been chosen for Harvard, we were, ipso facto, the best and the brightest. And that very first day we learned the most painful lesson of our young lives: most of our classmates were better and brighter. We spent the rest of our college years coming to terms with this and spent the rest of our lives trying to disguise it. This is the root cause of the infamous Harvard arrogance.” Now a brand-new crop of Harvard students is arriving, each to learn this truth and promptly lock it away, as they master the ways of getting others, especiailly those better and brighter than they, to believe what they want them to believe… When they fully learn this lesson, they will not only be a success at Harvard… they will be ready to take on the world and leave it breathless at their high skills, unmatched abilities, and, most of all, a charm that moves mountains and peoples of every kind. And it will all occur just paces from me… while I watch and enjoy, as I have for so very many years, with many more to come.

Another reason why U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann is unfit to be President of the United States.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

There is no question that Representative Michele Bachmann emerged as the big winner in the August 13, 2011 straw poll in Ames, Iowa. Her candidacy which was once rated nearly a joke now has a certain credibility. By that I mean, she is now being discussed as more than a candidate; rather as a potential president. As such, she will get enhanced and detailed scrutiny of everything she has said, endorsed, and embraced in the past. It’s all grist for the commentator mill. This includes the many bombastic statements she has made (many of which will be cited in this article) about homosexual American citizens.

It’s time she either confirm that these declarations of hate and ignorance are still her views… or make clear she has changed her mind (very much her prerogative) as she has matured as a politician and human being.

America must know, for a candidacy based at least partly on disdain, condescension, and repeated statements advocating discriminatory policies against gay and lesbian citizens is unacceptable in 2011 and must be protested and vigorously attacked. Whatever previous presidents may have thought, believed, and said about homosexual citizens, their civil rights, including their right to marry whomsoever they wish in the exact way anyone can do, we have now reached a new chapter in this struggle; where the rights of gay citizens should be viewed as a beneficial inevitability and that the hurtful, ignorant, bigoted views of any presidential candidate immediately mark that candidate as unacceptable, threatening to the fundamental beliefs of the nation, where the granting and maintenance of rights is what we are about… not blocking those rights, thereby creating a two-tier, fundamentally inequitable society, where some get rights and benefits withheld to others.

“It’s part of Satan I think to say that this is ‘gay’. It’s anything but gay.” Minnesota state senator Michele Bachmann speaking at EdWatch National Education Conference, November 6, 2004. Does Bachmann still believe this, or not?

Bachmann’s insistent bigotry against homosexuals began when she adopted evangelical Christianity. Such people, obsessed with sexuality, particularly homosexuality keep a constant focus on a topic they know nothing about. But knowing about the subject is not required. It is enough that they use it to “prove” their superiority, for without designated whipping boys they would have no one to lord it over. Hatred towards designated people, their livestyles and beliefs, is an essential element of being “born again”. God in their pinched view is a God of vengeance… and they are quite prepared to tell you that God has made it clear who should be scourged and berated… and who should be exalted and sanctified. Let me make this point abundantly clear; the evangelicals of the United States demand scapegoats; homosexuals are absolutely crucial to their well being.

Thus on the Sunday before the straw poll, Bachmann attended the Point of Grace Church, an evangelical megachurch with a 2,000 strong congregation in Waukee, Iowa. The program began when the lights were dimmed for a video testimonial from a “straight man who used to be gay.” The man is married now, his wife pregnant. Gays deserve to be in hell, he emphasized. He claimed to be living proof that the homosexual disease and affliction could be cured through liberal doses of prayer.

Bachmann listened to this standard bigoted attack and, through her smiling presence, indicated that she believed these sentiments, sentiments which she has advocated for years… and clearly still believes today.

“If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.” Further comments from the EdWatch National Education Conference, cited above. Does she still adhere to this opinion, or not?

“You have a teacher talking about his gayness. /The elementary school student/ goes home and says, ‘Mom! What’s gayness? We had a teacher talking about this today.’ The mother says, ‘Well, that’s when a man likes other men, and they don’t like girls.’ The boy’s eight. He’s thinking, ‘Hmmm. I don’t like girls. I like boys. Maybe I’m gay.’ And you think, ‘Oh, that’s way out there. The kid isn’t gonna think that.’ Are you kidding? That happens all the time. You don’t think that this is intentional, the message that’s being given to these kids? That’s child abuse.” Further comments from the EdWatch National Educational Conference, cited above. Does Bachmann still adhere to this opinion, or not?

Does Bachmann still believe homosexuals are “sexually dysfunctional”?

At the same EdWatch National Educational Conference cited above, Bachmann also said, “Don’t misunderstand. I am not here bashing people who are homosexuals, who are lesbians, who are bisexual, who are transgender. We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders.”

The weight of opinion in this nation has been shifting steadily for years toward a complete, overall acceptance of homosexuals and rightly so. Bachmann’s view is wrong in every particular, and she is already being called upon to explain her current position on the matter.

However, Bachmann is playing the standard political game around these outspoken, prejudiced positions. On the one hand, she wants her right-wing adherents to know, and in no uncertain terms, that she has not changed her position one iota. However, she also wants these folks, who constitute her essential core constituency, to know that she cannot be as outspoken on these matters as previously… because her ultra conservative supporters are insufficient to hand her the nomination. She must expand her base, to folks who are far more moderate on the homosexual question, especially gay marriage, and would not only feel uncomfortable with Bachmann’s views on the subject but would oppose her outrageous language and unnecessary malevolence towards fellow law-abiding, tax- paying citizens of the United States.

Thus Bachmann, famous for her uncompromising views on any subject she takes up, is now doing some fancy footwork that will (wink, wink) reassure her most ideological followers that she is still the old Michele they love… while reaching out to moderates with a very different rendition.

And now the cherry on the cake..

On March 6, 2004, Bachmann was a guest on “Prophetic Views Behind the News” on KKMS 980-AM hosted by Jan Markell. She said, “It isn’t that some gay will get some rights. It’s that everyone else in our state will lose rights. For instance, parents will lose the right to protect and direct the upbringing of their children. Because our K-12 public school system, of which ninety percent of all youth are in the public school system, they will be required to learn that homosexuality is normal, equal, and perhaps you should try it. And that will occur immediately, that all schools will begin teaching homosexuality.” Does Bachmann still adhere to this grab-bag of intolerance, misinformation, ignorance, and malignity? America demands and deserves a straight answer.

Last words

Michele Bachmann has served in her state’s senate and in the Congress of the United States. From this combined public service she can point to absolutely no legislation of her sponsorship that benefited anyone except her own political agenda. She has no foreign policy experience, she knows nothing of national defence, she has no immigration policy and has no economic, financial or job-creation experience. She is a poorly educated woman who would need home schooling in the White House. Her strong suit is religious mummery, a smug certainty that she knows God and understands His will, and how to create sound bites which get the attention of a slothful nation, wanting quick fixes to endemic problems.

But above all else, we cannot afford the luxury of a candidate, much less a president who carries the burden of such hostility, spite, rancor and aversion to so many of our best and most productive citizens, whose mere presence on this planet she finds unsettling and unacceptable. Challenged though we are, we have not yet sunk so low in America as that, to see in Michele Bachmann a president, a woman who would divide rather than unify us. In conclusion, I refer her to the greatest man her party has yet produced, a man who spoke of “malice towards none, with charity for all.” Thus Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address… the man who died bringing together the great nation this misguided woman would rend.

‘To the shores of Tripoli’, let freedom ring as one of the world’s nastiest and most enduring tyrants dies by inches. The end of Moammar Khadafy.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Like so many of my Scottish countrymen, my family left the Highlands in the mid-eighteenth century to pursue a better life in America. But though they left physically, a portion of their heart remained behind and their love continued strong and enduring. The current events taking place in Libya returned my attention to the cruel end of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland when 270 innocent passengers were shredded in mid-air to satisfy the blood lust and barbarism of one man, Moammar Khadafy. Today this most bestial, longest-serving dictator in the Arab world, is inches from the retribution he has long deserved and is hopefully as painful as his deeds demand. But first, take a moment to find the evocative, spectral song “Loch Lomond” in any search engine. Let it sooth the spirits of the airborne dead and remind them, we have never forgotten what Khadafy, his henchmen, and their hatred did to you… and to so many innocent others.

Today the remnants of Khadafy’s insolent regime are crumbing, block by block, desertion by desertion, as the everyday people of Tripoli, and throughout Libya, do what they have not been allowed to do for the nearly 42 year regime — think for themselves! Live for themselves! Be who they want… not merely whom they have been told to be.

Today is one of the rarest days for one of the world’s oldest civilizations… a day of possibilities, not restrictions. A day of high hopes, not of grinding despair. A day when the heart beats faster and when the world’s peoples extend the hand of friendship and fraternity… glad to share the joy of a people who have experienced so little of it.

This is 21 August, 2011 and their long dreaded, capricious lord comes closer, closer to his inevitable conclusion, squalid, bloody, wherein the reigning monster of their long terror is shown to be what he always was, a man of small mind, mendacious habits, and contempt for every human but himself. And so the great man is revealed and abased… humbled… and shown to be at the end so very little.

So now this man of hatred, contumely, and abuse is reaping what he had sown day by day….

Today is a day which looks resolutely forward, for today the people of Libya, who have and have always had under this regime, so very little, at least have the prospect of a future. But today must also be a day of full remembrance for the full litany of dislocations, murders, maimings, disappearances, and ceaseless terrors perpetrated by a regime with power but no vision, weapons but no soul, destructive prowess but without humanity and compassion. Let us pause to remember them now… and vow that these outrages, every one of these outrages, will never be forgotten and stand as a vital testament to the never-ending saga of what a man is capable of doing when the world stands by and pretends that this diabolic business as usual is acceptable.

So now tolls the bell, for each and every one of these outrages, each a manifestation of malice aforethought…

As one of his first deeds, Khadafy in 1970 expelled the Italian population of Libya. He detested all Westerners… and ordered the extirpation of all evidence of their culture… and their systematic dislocation and removal.

From the first days of his power, and reaching full speed and application by 1973, he became the living symbol of Orwell’s Big Brother. Dictators all have a compelling need to know what their peoples are doing at all times and places. Khadafy’s need to know was the very essence of dictatorial thoroughness. Surveillance took place at every level of the government, on all people in any position of power, no matter that he had put those people there himself. Surveillance was constant, intrusive, paralyzing in factories, in education, in the military, everywhere where two or more people might meet and converse.

In short order, human behavior, human contact, human interaction in Libya became just what “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution” permitted, and absolutely nothing else, upon pain of unimaginable suffering and horror. Libya was not a nation; it was a prison, where everyone was in thrall to a man of unmatched skill in the business of refined and exquisite torments,

His capacity for inflicting sufferings developed apace…

He hung dissidents to his all-encompassing regime in public, the better to intimidate. He headed a band of zealots perfect in the art of mutilation; so happy in this severe art that he had its execution and best examples played on television, to a nation which never failed to grasp the glaring meaning: so could thy life end, in an instant, with such pain.

But this quintessence of evil had more pain and suffering to deliver…

He censored the press, of course, by the simple expedient not just of suppressing content but by killing its writers, brutally and publicly, so that the ones not executed today would not even think of thinking, much less writing and publishing the brutal truths they knew to be irrefutable.

He executed, too, after the full panoply of torture, all those who sought national redemption through means political. Their moment of dissent was their last. They went to prison where they experienced the full pain humans can inflict. Such outrages against humanity were constant, brutal, the stuff of everyday existence for every Libyan.

Of course, he had a special regard for the growing ranks of his critics worldwide… they were a menace, a problem, and as such he increased the ranks of his thorough executioners, the better to diminish, and painfully so, the ranks of the disaffected.

There is more, much more, every instance an outrage to every sentiment that makes us human. And at last, Libyans, who saw nothing more for their lives than the constant chaos and confusion of their existence, saw that revolt was their only hope against a regime without any limit to the abuses perpetrated against the long suffering Libyan people.

On 17 February, 2011 major political protests began, as Libyans looked carefully at the events that had toppled the Mubarak tyranny in Egypt and called forth the admiration of the world, in their attempt to become the men they were, the men Khadafy had tried so long and with such bitter means to control.

Khadafy, with more men at his command, more armaments, more mercenaries, more money yet failed to eradicate the often ramshackle forces against him. The reason could be deduced in a single word: FREEDOM. Khadafy sought to control, to regiment, to hurt and divide. His opponents, whose names are now the names of patriots, wanted only one thing: for the people of Libya to control their own destinies, free from the daily terrors and anxieties each knew so well under the current regime.

And so, bit by bit, they advanced… never without hardship, never without the immemorial difficulties of war, experiencing want, sacrifice, their own political difficulties and conflicts… but still, despite every drawback, they advanced… until today the end of the regime is nigh, perhaps just hours away. These are the valiant days in Tripoli… the days proud men of action will impart to their grandchildren. It is a great day not just for Libyans but for all of us who value freedom and know its unending cost. Today all us ride with you through streets of Tripoli, optimistic, hopeful, grateful for your courage and application in a cause we all must hold dear.

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