Block Buster Dvd Rental-Has Good Competition

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With so many ways today to get your entertainment, it can sometimes be confusing to know which company will provide you with just what you want and need. In this article, I will go over the block buster dvd rental program so you can compare it to others that are available.

With the block buster dvd rental you can either rent a dvd right in the store, if you have one near you, or you can get one sent to you in the mail.

There are pros and cons with each method I will go over some of the basics:

1. One of the best reasons to get a subscription, and get your movies by mail, is that you don’t have any late fees. you can keep your movies, or games, as long as you want.

If you rent in a store you will pay a late fee. One thing that I found out from the Blockbuster web site is a little sneaky and I wanted you to be aware of it.

It says on the website that “our stores no longer have late fees” but then it goes on to say that if you don’t return your movie or game by the date on the receipt you will be charged an additional daily rate of $1.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like a late fee to me.

Also, if you don’t return the dvds or games in a certain amount of time after your due date, they will charge you the price of the dvds and games.

If you eventually do return it, they will refund the price of the dvds or games but they will deduct the $1 a day from the refund price.

2. You can go to the website whenever you want and add movies to your queue. That means that they will be sent out to you in the order they are in your queue.

As soon as you send back the movies that you have already watched, they will send out the next movie(s) in you queue, automatically.

That can ensure that you always have something new to watch and you don’t have to constantly go looking for what movie you want to see.

3. Depending on your local store you may be able to return your dvds and games right at your local store. Again, that can vary so make sure you check in your area.

4. There are 3 different plans available:

1 movie sent out a time with unlimited free exchanges – $9.99 / month.

2 movies sent and free unlimited exchange – $14.99 / month

3 movies sent and free unlimited exchange – $19.99 / month

There are many places you can get dvds and game rentals. With the success of Netflix, many other options have sprung up such as Redbox and Blockbuster by mail.

Now that you have some more information, you can decide whether or not the block buster dvd rental program is the right one for you or not.

10 Military Habits That Make Service Members Stand Out

0 signs you were or are clearly in the military.

We all know the tell-tale signs of a military service member: high-and-tight haircut, camo backpack, polo shirt and cargo shorts combination, unit t-shirts or hats, decals on cars, and of course, “Affliction” t-shirts. These are all easy ways to spot military folks in public places. And while many of us try not to stand out, there are still subtle indicators. Most civilians would never notice these things, but they are dead giveaways to those who have served. Here are the top ten.

1. Walking fast. You might be doing a great job of blending in to your civilian surroundings, but your walk is always going to give you away. Military personnel walk with a purpose, as if their trip to the grocery store is actually a Pentagon press briefing.

2. Hair. Broke your habit of getting a high and tight? Good for you. But that leaves you two options: the fade and the classic “officer or pilot hair.” Yes, we see you pushing the edges of the “three inches on the top” rule as proscribed in Army Regulation 670-1.

3. Eating fast. Habits are hard to kick. And rarely in the military did you ever have ample time to appreciate your food even if you wanted to.

4. The power stance. Noncomissioned officers and officers are easy to spot: Just look for the person attempting to own the room through the “thumbs through the belt power” stance or the “crossed arms and not leaning against anything” stance.

5. Jargon. Just try not to say “roger” or “negative” in conversations. Just try. Eventually, your language will out you.

6. Walking. There is no way that a group of military members can take a casual stroll down a sidewalk without eventually falling into step. Even if you try not to, you will.

7. Sunglasses. Congratulations, you’re not wearing Oakleys or G.I. frames. Well done. But you’re still wearing sunglasses all the time. Even when it is cloudy out.

8. Absurd politeness. You can easily pick out service members by their over usage of “sir” and “ma’am.” It is a credit to the military’s discipline that a cashier receives the same clipped tones and politeness a four-star general would.

9. Scanning crowds. Go to a party and you’re bound to see the one person who is constantly scanning usually somewhere where they can see the whole room. And God help the person acting suspicious because the military promotes being confrontational.

10. Sleeping anywhere. Military personnel can sleep approximately anywhere, in any weather, on anything. They also come out of it rapidly and coherently, which paid dividends for the people aboard the Paris-bound train with the gunman aboard who was overpowered by two U.S. service members.

Newly released de-classified documents about the 1961 failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba embarrasses U.S. further.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. For this article of ugly disclosures I have selected a famous Cuban song of sultry, seductive beauty… It’s the famous habanera “Tu” written by composer Eduardo Sanchez de Fuentes (born 1874) when he was just 16. I like the version by Fernando Albuerne.

In it he serenades Cuba the beautiful island of ardiente sol, the queen of all the Caribbean flowers. You’ll find this song in any search engine. Go now, find it and let this canto lindo, insinuating and beckoning caress you. If you do, you will understand why so many love her, want her, and will do any act, any act at all, to get her and keep her… And it’s been going on like this since Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba for Spain on 27 October 1492.

Too much promised, too little delivered.

On 22 April 1961 Immediately following the humiliating failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, President Kennedy asked General Maxwell D. Taylor, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Admiral Arleigh Burke and Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles to form the Cuba Study Group, to learn what lessons could be derived from the failed operation. On 13 June, General Taylor submitted the report of the Board of Inquiry to President Kennedy.

The defeat was attributed to lack of early realization of the impossibility of success by covert means, inadequate aircraft, limitations of armaments, pilots and air attacks to attempt plausible deniability, and, ultimately, loss of important ships and lack of ammunition.

At the time this group did its work and reported it, hundreds of the men who both made up the invasion force and native Cubans who favored it were being tortured and killed in the most barbaric of ways as a victorious Fidel Castro, relieved to be alive and still in power, showed what a man will do to prove he remains El Jefe Maximo. Blood was called for and blood he got… for the isla hermosa, sorceress, was worth it.

The CIA’s report.

Doing now what it should have done before the invasion, the CIA released its report in November 1961. It was authored by CIA inspector general Lyman B. Kirkpatrick and entitled “Survey of the Cuban Operation” and remained classified top secret until 1996. Its conclusions were:

1) The CIA exceeded its capabilities in developing the project from guerrilla support to overt armed action without any plausible deniability. (It other words, the CIA was well and truly over its head.)

2) Failure to realistically assess risks and to adequately communicate information and decisions internally and with other government principals.

3) Insufficient involvement of leaders of the exiles.

4) Failure to sufficiently organize internal resistance in Cuba.

5) Failure to competently collect and analyze intelligence about Cuban forces.

6) Poor internal management of communications and staff.

7) Insufficient employment of high quality staff.

8) Insufficient Spanish-speakers, training facilities and material resources.

9) Lack of stable policies and contingency plans.

In short, in plain-spoken language, they just plain didn’t know what they were doing and hadn’t begun to do the necessary and essential planning that would increase the odds for success. Nothing that should have been done had even been considered, much less accomplished.

And now, with the release of the latest batch of newly de-classified documents more of this regime of muddle, inefficiency and glaring incompetence at the highest levels of our government is revealed… whilst we, fascinated, wince at so much ineptitude by the officials who should have known better but quite clearly did not.

The newest revelations.

Before telling you the latest information, just de-classified, a setting of the stage is important. Try to remember what President Kennedy and his Cuba team wanted. They wanted to snuff Fidel Castro, do it so no one at any time (especially Russkies) could point the (accurate) accusing finger at us… whilst we, busy at our work, went about the happy task of installing (always with plausible deniability) a government well disposed to Uncle Sam.

This was all fatuous, foolish and impossible to achieve… but no one told the Emperor in the White House that his plan had no clothes. But who could tell such truths to such a president, so young, so tender, so inexperienced. His feelings would be hurt… and no one wanted to be responsible for that. Better to proceed, to ignominy, to the deaths, maiming and torture of hundreds than that.

What the newly de-classified documents show.

This time the documents offer rare details about the close links between the CIA and the presidents at the time of Guatemala and Nicaragua, Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes and Luis Somoza, respectively.

First, we owe thanks to an April 2011 lawsuit filed by the independent Washington-based National Security Archive. The nonprofit group has sought for years to de-classify all five volumes on the invasion. With the release of these 2 volumes 4 of the 5 are now available. The group remains active in de-classifying the fifth and last.

The newly released volumes describe how Guatemalan leader Ydigoras helped secure the training space for the exiles in Guatemala and even wanted his own troops to participate. He was rebuffed but let Washington know that he hoped they would back a multi-national force to fight communism not merely in Cuba, but throughout Latin America, the better to make safe the plethora of dictators supported by the United States and threatened by Castro and his Cuban revolution.

But gifts from dictators never come without the inevitable strings and conditions. In this case Ydigoras wanted U.S. assistance in combating his own insurgents, very much under Castro’s spell. He wanted Napalm bombs, for instance, mounted on GAOG B’26’s. The request was declined for technical reasons; privately the CIA probably just wanted what they wanted, no strings attached. They politely thanked Ydigoras and kept the door open…

There is also new correspondence between the CIA and the two Somoza brothers running Nicaragua, Luis and Anastasio. It was previously known that they provided the base from which the Bay of Pigs air attacks were launched. Unfortunately, they were mishandled. While the first strike virtually wiped out Cuba’s military aircraft… they did not destroy private aircraft… and these managed to launch air strikes against the invasion force’s supply ships, which were destroyed. Castro’s forces then had the invasion troops trapped… and so they were killed and captured (to be killed) accordingly. And so Castro survived… right up to and including the present moment. You see he know the words from “Tu”, “Fuego sagrado guarda tu corazon”. He is the keeper of this sacred flame and, for whatever time he should have, he means to remain so, whatever the Yankees might say or do, for he fears nothing but the loss of the isla hermosa who has possessed him and possesses him still.

Two women, vastly different choices. Coco Chanel, Nancy Wake. What would you have done if you lived in France during the occupation?

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. In dealing with the events following the fall of France June 22, 1940 you must always ask yourself, “What would I have done to keep living?” Then remember that every single Frenchman and Frenchwoman had to ask this question…. and answer it, often paying with their lives if they made the wrong decision at the wrong time.

This is the story of two women, one internationally renowned, the most famous name in fashion, Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel….. and Nancy Wake. One you have heard of for years, may even have one of her creations near at hand… the other you may be hearing about for the very first time, for all that she was one of the great heroes of the French Resistance.

This is their story… and I suggest that before you dig in you search any search engine for Edith Piaf’s signature tune, “Non, Je ne regrette rien,” released in 1960. Then return to meet today’s protagonists, both of whom made decisions which could easily have cost their very lives and undoubtedly cost one her reputation.

Two events have inspired this article at this time.

First, an important new book on Chanel has just been released, “Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War”, author Hal Vaughan. Second, Nancy Wake died, at 98, August 7, 2011.


Born August 19, 1883 Chanel came into the world with nothing. Her childhood was chaotic; in 1895 her mother died of tuberculosis and her father left the family. Chanel spent 6 years in an orphanage. There she learned the trade of seamstress. She wanted to be a singer… but she didn’t have the talent. What she had was not mere talent, but genius. She had the skill, greater than any other couturier, to make a woman look chic, elegant, well (never over) dressed.

Chanel became a licensed modiste (hat maker) in 1910 and opened her first Paris boutique. The business took off when theatre actress Gabrielle Dorziat modelled her hats in the play “Bel Ami” by F. Noziere.

It was not only the clothes Chanel created which were impressive. All her life she managed to impress the right people; people who saw that she was going places. In 1920, for instance, she was introduced to ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev; she liked him and his family so much, she invited them to live with her. They were Russian emigres, broke, yet each of these titans recognized genius in the other. It is a very useful skill to possess, and Chanel had it in spades.

In 1924, Chanel made an agreement with the Wertheimer brothers, Pierre and Paul, directors of the eminent perfume house Bourgeois since 1917, creating a corporate entity “Parfums Chanel.” Chanel got 10 percent of the stock. Here was the root of her later problems. Almost immediately she regretted the deal she’d made and spent the next 20 years (including the years she spent in Nazi occupied France) to gain full control, denouncing Pierre Wertheimer as the “bandit who screwed me.”

Loyal, but to whom?

For years there have been doubts about just whom Chanel was loyal to during the occupation and Vichy regime. Now 84-year-old World War II veteran Hal Vaughan presents detailed documentation that is sure to make customers and fans squirm.

His first find was an accident; while working on another project in the French national police archives. It was a “smoking gun” making it crystal clear that Chanel was a Nazi agent. (Her code name was Westminster, which seems like an inside joke given the fact that the Duke of Westminster, the wealthiest peer of the British realm, refused to marry her. A gentleman, Westminster allowed her to claim it was he who had been rejected. She did so in this memorable line, “There have been several duchesses of Westminster. There is only one Chanel.”

Chanel’s objective, like that of so many other French citizens, was to get through the war as comfortably and profitably as possible. This wasn’t necessarily bad; it all depended on the choices you made. And here is where Chanel went seriously wrong. First, she grew careless about her anti-Semite opinions. They were bigoted, lurid, and, importantly, unwise. Chanel had never been stifled; she was not going to be stifled now,, although every word she uttered on the subject was ill-advised.

She erred again by commencing an affaire with Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a professional Abwehr spy 12 years her junior. They lived in the famous Rtz Hotel, which was under Nazi control.

Vaughan’s book now takes the matter further. His book alleges that in 1940, Chanel was recruited into the Abwehr; a year later she traveled to Spain on a spy mission and later still went to Berlin on the orders of a top SS general. And now the facts so painful to read. Vaughan reports that Chanel’s anti-Semitism pushed her to try to capitalize on laws allowed for the expropriation of Jewish property to wrest control of the Chanel perfume lines from the Wertheimer brothers, who were Jewish. One is relieved to learn that Chanel and the Wertheimers continued to negotiate after the liberation. In May, 1947 the parties came to a mutual accommodation. Chanel in future would receive two percent of all Chanel No.5 sales worldwide, an agreement which guaranteed her about twenty five million dollars a year, some of which she could use to rehabilitate a reputation which embarrassed Chanel and her enterprises.

Nancy Wake.

While Chanel was attempting to rewrite history and buff her image, Nancy Wake was accepting one high-level decoration after another for the brave, dangerous, and constantly successful deeds she’d done and which turned her into one of the signature heroes of the Resistance.

A statement released by Australian prime minister Julia Gillard upon Wake’s death, said, “Nancy Wake was a woman of exceptional courage and resourcefulness whose daring exploits saved the lives of hundreds of Allied personnel and helped bring the Nazi occupation of France to an end.”

How did this happen?

Born in New Zealand she grew up in Australia after the family moved. She became a nurse, but her heart wasn’t in it. And when she got an inheritance from a New Zealand aunt she went out to see the world; in due course she became Paris correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. The outbreak of war in 1939 saw her in Marseille. It was there her notable career began, as she helped British servicemen and Jews escape the German occupying forces. She was never caught, but her husband, captured and tortured by the Gestapo, was not so lucky. She avenged him by participating in the heroic 1944 attack on the local Gestapo headquarters.

The Gestapo also bestowed her famous name, “The White Mouse,” because every time she was cornered, like a tiny mouse she managed to escape… to another daring deed and the highest decorations of France, the United States, Great Britain, and Australia. In due course, Wake helped to arm and lead 7,000 resistance fighters, perhaps her finest moment being the weakening of German defences before the D-Day invasion.

Two women, two choices.

It is easy to judge these women now, to laud Wake and condemn Coco Chanel. But that begs the essential question. If you had been in occupied France what would you have done? It’s not easy to say when the query is real, not academic… which is why in the teaching of history, it is essential to be scrupulously fair to the deceased… and never allow snap judgements and easy moralizing for matters as serious and perilous as this.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is, where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

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‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.’ The watery end of bright-smiled Marie Joseph and her unsettling fate.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

It is high summer in Fall River, Massachusetts, once a focal point of American commerce and the most elegant of sailing ships, now a city defined by its gnawing problems and of people who arrive only to count the days until they leave this way station to something better.

Many of these new arrivals are Hispanic and the place where the most adamant of New Englanders flourished is now a place where often the language is Spanish and the orientation Latin. How surprised the mariners of Massachusetts would have been… but even they, unhappily seeing the transformation of their works, would have looked twice at the radiant smile of Marie Joseph, the kind of smile that lightens loads, brings people together, and holds them together when it’s needed, as it always is.

Marie Joseph graced lives, she did not impose upon them. Such people are too rare… always valued…. the sinews on which all communities rely, especially the ones which seem to have more than their share of problems.

The new arrivals, not yet ascending to country club status, rely on the plethora of municipal services which, in this year 2011, are stressed, pressured, threatened, deteriorating. But more needed than ever… especially if that service is the state-run swimming pools that provide relief on the so-hot summer days you always forget are a sweltering feature of summer hereabouts.

The thought of the beckoning pool, aqua marine, cool, refreshing, a blessing to folks without air conditioning is just what Marie Joseph wanted… and so, arrayed in that smile that wouldn’t quit, she made her way to the modern city’s version of the old swimming hole. In the last picture of Marie Joseph, taken the day before she died (June 26, 2011) her smile is incandescent, radiant, cast on the child in her arms with plenty left over for the rest of the world.

That image should have defined the event and the day, a happy memory in a life of challenges and tribulations… Instead, that image stands as irony, proof (if it were ever needed) that life is short, can never be taken for granted, and can end in ways inexplicable and horrifying… as it was about to do for Marie Joseph.

The water slide took her down indeed, to the conclusion of a brief life, just 36 years.

She saw the water slide. It looked fun… especially as she watched a nine-year-old neighbor go down the slide accompanied by the full panoply of quips, expressions, and ear-shattering squeals all kids horde for just such events. She was game. You had to take your fun when and where you could.

As she slid down the water slide into death and eternity, no one (except the nine-year-old) paid any attention. No need. That water slide was popular and no one gave it a second thought. But this day something went terribly wrong… while people who should have seen saw nothing… or at least they say so now…

The first horror: death by drowning, surrounded by people.

Marie Joseph may have known how to swim; her friends and family are not sure. She didn’t ask. Why should she; she had watched her young friend use the slide joyously; she probably didn’t know the water was 12 feet deep. Once in the water, Marie was in trouble… and must have made a fearful racket as anyone would as they faced the reality of their situation and fought for life. How could this death struggle happen before so many… with only one person, her young neighbor doing anything to assist?

He at least knew something was wrong and tried to pull Marie up, to safety; and when he failed, he called upon the lifeguard for assistance. But demi-god in his Ray Bans, he had better things to do than his job; ignoring kids’ babble was part of what made him so cool and exalted.

Here the story goes from tragedy to the macabre, from one family’s grief to an enduring symbol of ineptitude, scandal, and staggering incompetence.

Marie Joseph was now dead… but no one knew it…

The friends she came with wondered where she had gone; something no doubt had come up; she’d tell them later. And so the sunburnt children wanting more… and their mothers who had had enough, all went home…

… leaving the body of Marie Joseph entombed in water, her raven tresses in constant movement under the water under the summer’s night. And so on this cheerful day did Marie Joseph pass a night peaceful perhaps for her, but of mounting worry and concern for her family and friends. Where had she and her radiant smile gone?

Business as usual.

The next day was business as usual… the kids came to swim and scream, the mothers to watch and gossip, complaining about the temperature and how hot it was; the lifeguard, high above, looked down on the scene and wondered if his girl was cheating on him, of all people.

And throughout this day, mere feet below the teaming activity, the lifeless body of Marie Joseph moved to the water’s beat, its whereabouts known only to God. Yes, on this evening, too, and throughout the stages of the night, did her unseeing eyes abide in their incomprehensible resting place.

And, though its staggers belief, it went on for another day… another day with the corpse swimming with youngsters… and where chary mothers saw nothing… and lifeguards with plum summer jobs, envied, yet saw absolutely nothing.

And still the story worsens, morphing from the shocking to the incredible.

Now officials, making a periodic visit, appeared. Despite the inexplicable disappearance of Marie Joseph, now common gossip, these officials made only the most cursory of inspections… not one suspecting that the pool itself and its cloudy waters held the body. Like everyone else but one small boy they looked… and saw nothing, though the corpse of a beautiful woman was dissolving into debris….

… which teams of lifeguards missed and even the people charged daily with inspecting the pool, cleaning it, keeping the waters fresh and clear. Add these, too, to the staggering number who should have seen… but say they did not.

Now, of course, alarm bells ringing in the face of widespread condemnation, officials great and small come slowly forward, mutter platitudes, and run for cover. A tiny fraction of this energy would easily have saved the life of Marie Joseph or at least given her honorable burial, sparing her from becoming a thing of horror and nightmare. For such she has become, no longer the beloved person she was but a fearful presence for the children who now see a place of sun, light, air and shimmering water as a place of dread and abhorrence, wondering what else they may find there.

Marie Joseph did not deserve her fate. Let some poignant lines from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, provide her one better:

“Who is this? and what is here? And in the lighted palace near Died the sound of royal cheer; And they cross’d themselves for fear, All the knights at Camelot: But Lancelot mused a little space;

He said, “She has a lovely face; God in his mercy lend her grace, The Lady of Shalott.” (1842).

What we have lost along the way: the great Republican festivals and why America needs them now.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Did you have a nice day yesterday? It was the 4th of July hereabouts, a day sacred to beach going, music in the park and, of course, fireworks, Boston’s being always notable.

It is also a day celebrating the nation, my nation, the United States of America. Yet the vast majority of my fellow citizens will have enjoyed the day without stopping, even for an instant, to consider what the day is truly about… and why we forget it at our peril.

Dudes with powdered hair.

On this date (July 5) back in 1776, the great document called the Declaration of Independence was riding in the saddlebags of people anxious to spread its momentous news to all the people of what was fast changing from a gaggle of squabbling colonies to a nation of revolutionaries.

First of all, you must realize that the events of those heady days were dangerous, extremely dangerous.

The great problem of history is that we know how things turned out. Thus we have the tendency to treat events that were by no means inevitable as if they were. Nowhere is this more true than with the days when our ancestors forged a great nation. Because they won we think their winning had to occur; that it was inevitable, certain, a piece of cake.

In fact it was anything but.

Let us be very plain with each other: conceiving, writing, printing, posting, disseminating the Declaration of Independence, all these were deeds of treachery. Each of these activities was designed to diminish, denigrate and degrade the crown of England, to which each one singly and all collectively had sworn an oath of loyalty, fidelity and commitment.

His Most Gracious Majesty King George III and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men took a very dim view of what the colonists across the pond were up to and about. And on July 4th these self-same colonists took the ultimate step… for they passed from being protestors within the system… to be declared traitors without. In so doing they put their heads into the noose. Had the British caught these fellows they would lose their property, their freedom, and their lives.

Revolutions, you see, are a very serious business…. and no one knew this better than the royal Hanoverian dynasty of George III; he got the crown, after all, as a result of the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. He knew what revolutions could deliver… but also how nervous and undependable they made people who could so easily become gallows fodder. Oh, yes, revolutions were a very dicey business indeed.

Thus did the gentlemen in Congress assembled tread warily up to moment they signed, with whatever secret misgivings. As they put quill pen to paper, they were signing what could be their own death warrant… and at such a moment of moments may a man wonder… and the spouse of his body sit up and cry aloud in the dark hours of the night, praying to God Almighty for succor, guidance, and mercy.

The revolutionary landscape was confusing. There were Loyalists; there were Revolutionaries. Then there were the people who did the best they could as events broke around them. Winning over these people, the great majority of the people, was always a major objective of both sides. Bit by bit, this great majority became committed to the goals of the Revolution, clearly outlined in the ringing prose of the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The British lost the Revolutionary War because they could not match what the Revolution offered, much less better it. And so, mind by mind and heart by heart the Revolution from being unthinkable became unstoppable.

The Revolution, the great religion of America.

As the Revolution developed, grew strong, and gathered momentum, the realization became overwhelming that these one-time colonials, now citizens, had succeeded in doing something no other people or nation had ever done: they had won complete political freedom. They owned themselves, the most precious and important gift of all. This was an event so significant, so earth-shattering, so gratifying and so thrilling that the people of America longed to gather at periodic intervals to remind each other about what had happened, why it happened, what each had done… and what all would do again, should it ever be necessary to put down the plough and take up the gun.

July 4th became sanctified as the great day of freedom! Liberty! Revolution! And the people demanded it be celebrated in high style to match the importance of the event, the goals of the Founding Fathers, and the soaring rhetoric they all knew. Each prophet of this Revolution all knew, too, and wished to honor again; special reverence was always paid to Jefferson, who gave the Revolutionaries the golden gift of heart-touching words… and to Washington, the man who had turned down the crown of America for the surer crown of his countryman’s respect, love and undying admiration.

Each place in America, no matter how small, competed to remember and to honor and so did the festivals of the Great Republic commence and grow… for the people, having wrenched America from the hands of tyrants, were determined to celebrate their great achievement and remind the entire world what it meant… and invite them to join the future.

Days before these festivals took place preparations would begin. A Liberty Tree would be festooned with the robust and venerated slogans of the Revolution. Old Continental Army uniforms would be taken from chests, to be tried on (and let out) . Larders were raided for ample picnics and still rooms for a variety of distillations and brews, essential for toasts. Wagons were packed; a few extra comforts added for Grandpapa who got his honored wound at Cowpens (1781)… and his wife whose prayers for his safe return had been answered. They were all going and joyfully.

And the same scene played all over America, for the 4th was the quintessential American festival… an event of the people,by the people, for the people, long before Lincoln used these immemorial words.

Whether the festivities were small or grand; whether addressed by a well regarded student with a future… or by one of the great orators of the day… didn’t matter. The republican verities were the stars of the event, stated, restated, the principles for which they had fought and which so much had been sacrificed.

And if, at the larger gatherings so many could not hear, even those practised orators with the greatest reach, that did not matter. For the people knew in their bones what was said, its impact, and importance. And they were satisfied to be there at all, each one so necessary for the whole.

Now all this is gone… remembered by few, practised by fewer. Who, then, can wonder at the state of America, when we ourselves have removed the means for understanding, celebrating and reverencing her? She needs these now more than ever.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is at , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

The long life and turbulent times of Otto von Habsburg, one of history’s greatest ‘what ifs’, dead at 98.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

History is littered with ‘what ifs’ that make us wonder about the history we got, rather than the history which we so nearly got… and would have changed so much.

What if Lincoln had completed his second term?

What if “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne had crushed the Continental Army at Saratoga in 1777, thereby ensuring British victory?

What if Jesus had not been crucified?

And, today’s particular query, “What if the Austro-Hungarian empire had survived World War I, the succession descending in the usual order from Emperor Charles I to, in due course, his first-born son, Otto von Habsburg? This is one of the most important “what ifs” ever… and one that determined the fate of most of Europe… and the United States.

The Habsburg dynasty ruled the ever changing territories of what was not so much a nation as a consortium of real estate. Over time, the Habsburgs moved ahead, more successful at marriage for bountiful acquisitions than war.

Many nations coveted various pieces of the empire… but all recognized the significance of Austria, first as a bulwark against the Turks whose breathtaking advances were stopped once and for all at the walls of Vienna (1683)… later as a wall stopping the Russians from further advances, each of which made the other great monarchies of Europe profoundly nervous.

There was more, much more of equally immense significance… Austria lead the coalition that ultimately defeated and exiled Napoleon, despite the fact that its Chancellor (Prince Klemens von Metternich) had with consummate gall and cynicism married an Austrian princess to Bonaparte, to delude him into thinking they had an alliance. They didn’t… and in 1815 Vienna was the center of Europe, to the complete irritation of la belle France and its second-rate dynasties.

But the great empire, pieces constantly added, pieces constantly ceded, pieces constantly rearranged, had a multiplicity of the most severe problems, not the least of which was their long-term alliance with the new German Empire (1879). This alliance, devolved into the wrong hands, and when it did the fate of Otto von Habsburg, the last crown prince of the empire, was sealed

The imperial succession after Emperor Francis Joseph took the throne (1848) was a nightmare, puzzling to every Austrian child, murky and incomprehensible to the few in Europe who take pains to sort it out. Francis Joseph’s brother was killed (June, 1867) per order Benito Juarez after an ill-advised attempt to become Emperor of Mexico. His son Rudolph, crown prince; committed suicide (1889). The next in order, Franz Ferdinand, was killed at Sarajevo in 1914, launching was became the holocaust of the First World War.

That holocaust need never have happened… and wouldn’t had Prince Otto von Bismarck remained German Chancellor… but the young Kaiser Wilhelm II dropped the pilot and commenced the process that resulted in Europe in ruins and millions of people dead.

All unnecessary…. the combined fault of Austria and the German Empire. The last of the great powers to need a war in 1914 was Austria. An ill-assorted hodge-podge with ramshackle systems, Austria needed peace… and could have had it even after the next heir, Franz Ferdinand, was killed by anti-Austrian terrorists.

But the Austrian military wanted war… and the German Empire backed her to the hilt, causing Bismarck to spin in his grave… and millions of others to go prematurely to theirs.

Into this world Otto von Habsburg, crown prince of the empire after his father succeeded in 1916, was born. Imperial to his fingertips, he was one of the most important children in the world, a prince descended from 650 years of princes, certain (so he believed) of his future and place in the world.

Unlike many imperial heirs before him, Otto grew up in a devoted family. He knew his parents, the last Emperor Charles and the Empress Zita, well; his was a truly loving and affectionate family, a fact that helped the displaced Family von Habsburg get through the difficult days ahead, when they lost an empire, but not each other.

From the moment in 1914 when Franz Ferdinand was killed, he became the heir presumptive to an aged monarchy with an aging monarch, the good Emperor Charles wanted peace… he knew that Austria desperately needed it… and its people were clamoring for it without surcease.

But just how he could get peace eluded him. The Germans, his allies, let it be known that any attempt by Austria to end the alliance and conclude a separate peace with the Western allies would result in an immediate German invasion of Austria. Since Germany remained in a position to do this right through the fateful summer of 1918, Charles and Zita, and Otto with them, was stymied, unable to break free of their always more powerful partner, until death do them part.

President Woodrow Wilson made the problem more difficult for the old monarchy and its brand-new monarchs, in his famous Fourteen Points, supporting as they did the cause of nationality as the basis of nations. It was to provide the death knell of the empire… and to many decades as a stateless imperial heir for Otto von Habsburg who continued to claim his royal and imperial thrones until 1961.

His father, the Emperor Charles I died young and exhausted in 1922; the 9 year-old Otto succeeded to the imperial crown dignities… and entirely new political realities… the first being that no one wanted Habsburgs in their territories. And so Otto became a nomad, often a person of political consequence, but not enough to retrieve any of his titles and high standing.

However this one-time crown prince of a famous empire, wanted to be of use. And so he began to champion the cause of a united Europe, a subject on which any Habsburg, and particularly this Habsburg, would be expected to expatiate at length and with intelligence. His ex-imperial and apostolic majesty did so, becoming the most useful, practical and educated of all the Habsburgs. At various times he served the interests of Germany, the United States, Spain, always Austria and Hungary… but most importantly of Europe, which he saw as a development from the multi-national empire he would have ruled and which he wanted to see strong, prosperous, a force for civilized values worldwide.

Now this man born a great imperialist, who became a great European, is dead. And an era truly ends. Given their unending suspicions about what this entirely intellectual, scholarly man might do, therefor delivering a multitude of irritations, the Republic of Austria might have been expected to make difficulties about the burial. But apparently on the proposition that the only good Habsburg is a dead Habsburg, they allowed Dr. Otto von Habsburg to be buried among all the generations of his ancestors, in the Vienna Capuchin Church, a curiosity in life, a curiosity in death.

But remember this…

Had he ruled, millions might have stayed alive and prospered. And that is why he will always be one of the great “what ifs” of history. It is more than a pity that he never had the chance to reign… for the ones who took his place made such a dog’s dinner of it all, starting with Woodrow Wilson.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is . at , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

An appreciation of the life of former U.S. First Lady Betty Ford, dead at 93, a woman we respected, admired, and loved.

y Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Think for a minute of all the First Ladies we have had since the time of Franklin Roosevelt. Each found a way of serving the nation in her often difficult and always demanding position. Each First Lady invents her job, for it is a station mentioned nowhere in the Constitution but with high expectations, under the constant gaze of her often nit-picking countrymen… who expect a model wife to the president, mother to their children, and a great lady for a great nation. Difficult though these tasks must be, we expect absolutely nothing less.

Eleanor Roosevelt, much more than wife and mother.

The modern First Ladyship started with Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933. Born and bred a lady, she was never anything else, but she, like her relative Theodore Roosevelt, came to know how to use the “bully pulpit” of the White House to superb effect. She was there not to serve tea, but instead to advocate for a host of social issues. Men who preferred wives pouring tea were appalled… but, year by year, Mrs. Roosevelt grew in stature as a policy maven… creating a towering model for her successors.

Bess Truman was uncomfortable with Washington, and her mother made things even more difficult by often reminding Harry that he wasn’t good enough for Bess, for all that he was Leader of the Free World. She couldn’t wait to return to Independence… and the nation saw her leave without regret.

Mamie Eisenhower ran the White House like an army post, her white-glove inspections ensuring fastidious order and efficiency. Her relations with Ike were problematic; after all, he had wanted to divorce her and marry Kay Summersby probably the love of his life. Not a good model for future First Couples.

Jackie Kennedy brought a style elegant, alluring, a princess of Camelot. Unfortunately she well knew of her husband’s humiliating infidelities; she was often wary, suspicious and frosty. She’d be First Lady, but on her terms. One looked in vain to Mrs. Kennedy for the kind of joy and the ability to connect which America wanted and deserved.

Lady Bird Johnson, who became First Lady at a period of intense mourning and soul-searching for America was someone liked. But like other presidents before him, husband LBJ found marital fidelity, even in the White House, onerous; he had the perfect political wife, but the nation wondered if he really loved her. He bellowed “Move over, this your president” when sowing wild oats; she sowed millions of wild flowers, which cheered her and the rest of us.

Mrs. Pat Nixon “got” her job in the White House. Even before becoming First Lady, she was a frequent guest in the Executive Mansion. She had sage advice for herself, self-talk of value to any First Lady: this may be the only time in their lives the guest may visit the White House; remember that and greet him accordingly. Mrs. Nixon lived up to her part of the bargain, but she always seemed unhappy. She clenched back her tears rather than show weakness. America would have understood and loved this too little loved woman had she been more open and honest…

… like her unexpected successor Mrs. Gerald Ford, universally known as Betty.

Elizabeth Ann Bloomer was born in Chicago April 18, 1918. She entered the world along with her nation. In 1918 the United States was the only major combatant to emerge from World War I unscathed. America was now the ascendant power, and Chicago, with its access to the greatest granaries on earth, its sophisticated transportation network, and all the beef America and all the world could eat, was its second city, an empire on Lake Michigan.

When she was 2, her well-heeled family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was something of a ham and the theater ran in her veins. She loved an audience even then. At 8 she began taking dance lessons, finding a lifelong passion. At the Bennington School of Dance, at Bennington College, she studied with such titans of Terpsichore as Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, and Doris Humphrey. She moved to New York in 1939 to dance with Graham’s troupe and always retained close, affectionate relations with her mentor, recommending her (successfully) for the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, bestowed by her husband the president.

While in New York, she supported herself with modeling assignments. She was definitely a “looker” and she knew the art of moving so the world looked at her. It was to prove a very useful skill, when millions wanted to see her up close and personal.

The Bloomer’s were a tight knit family and they missed their Betty. They persuaded her to return to Grand Rapids where she got a job in a department store where she worked with the advertising department, modeled and put on fashion shows.

A year later, in 1942, she married the man who was definitely not of her dreams, William C. Warren. In 1947 they divorced. It turned out Betty had bigger fish to fry. It came in the person of Gerald Ford, a college football star and well-known lawyer. It proved to be a match made in heaven.

One thing America liked about the Fords was that they genuinely liked each other — and showed it. This was a real difference from the arrangements, heart breaks and bitterness of too many presidents and their ladies. You could try to fake it and, maybe for a while you could fool some of the country… but not for long. Body language doesn’t lie.

They married on October 15, 1948 and started (it’s not overstated) their lifelong honeymoon, based on true affection and empathy. It made the Fords look old- fashioned, but America cheered and always wished them well.

Ford got himself elected to Congress. Betty proved a virtually ideal political wife. For one thing she was not just wife, but partner. It was the secret of their success. In 1965 he was elected Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives; he wanted to be GOP Speaker of the House, his highest aspiration. But then came Watergate and all its attendant troubles…

After Vice President Agnew resigned in disgrace… President Nixon and the nation both needed a man of integrity as Vice President. And so destiny knocked on Gerald Ford’s door and transformed one of the most decent men in politics into the vehicle to help the troubled nation weather the storm. The Fords had ended America’s nightmare and began a regime of decency, honesty, and sincerely, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Now First Lady Betty Ford, Midwest born, knew her mind and spoke it… about abortion, marriage, drugs… and, in due course, her own addictive demons. The nation applauded her openness and candor. She had the problems millions of her countrymen shared… and, as she openly got help, she helped them ask for it ourselves.

Now Betty Ford is dead, at 93. She excelled at the great game of life… and helped others, now down and out, get up, try again and excel, too. We saw ourselves in her, good and bad… thus her passing diminishes us… But she is with her Jerry now which is where she always wanted to be for all of time to come, together.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of at , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.




by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. She made the request as if she thought I might deny it, as if I might deem it inappropriate for a business website. However, if she thought this, she didn’t think it for long. “Of course you should read the Declaration of Independence in the Live Business Center. I’m only irritated that I didn’t think of it myself.” And thus did Barbara Buegeler, Senior Monitor in Worldprofit’s LBC, do what every Citizen should do one day each year this day: that is not just to think about this exalted document, but to actually read it aloud as our ancestors used to do, beginning on July 4, 1776.

Sadly, most people do nothing, no thought, no reading, no consideration at all of one of history’s signature documents, the document that laid the revolutionaries’ case, our case, before the bar of public opinion worldwide, thereby not only alerting our English masters that a new reality was at hand, but every oppressive government wherever it might be, not just then but forever after.

And so the lady from rural Texas began to read, each word famous, but some touched by God Himself…

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of this earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Having thus forthrightly stated their risky intentions through the genius of young Thomas Jefferson (just 33 at the time he put quill pen to paper) the members of Congress assembled; each now a marked man, a man venturing everything that makes life comfortable and sweet, thrilled to the riff each hoped would unify 13 fractious colonies; the riff that would forever brand George, by the Grace of God, King as the very archetype of tyranny, when in fact he was anything but.

To make his point and to foment the revolution to which he and his resolute colleagues were committed, he did what all revolutionaries do: he contorted the truth. He exaggerated, misstated, rearranged, and reshaped, the better to achieve his treasonous goal. For make no mistake about it, these were men who were playing for the biggest stakes and were betting everything on being right, for the consequences were staggering if they were not, for each one individually and for all collectively.

And so Jefferson, a world-class propagandist, gifted with the power of words, took sharp aim at his anointed sovereign, never mind that hapless monarch and the monster of iniquity conceived and portrayed by Jefferson had virtually nothing in common. No matter.

Thus, at least 18 times in prose that grew in harshness and intensity with each new clause beginning “He has…”, Jefferson walloped his king and liege lord, the man, he asserted, who never tired of menacing, upsetting, exasperating and even destroying the colonies which were the jewels in his imperial crown. Thus….

“He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary to the public good”… to…  “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

It was splendid, masterful invective, broad, audacious, designed to outrage and turn every colonial, no matter how disengaged, loyal and pacific, into a fervent partisan, a new breed called Americans.

However, there was a problem, a big problem. The real king George III and Jefferson’s bogeyman were not the same person… no way. How to handle this conundrum? Lie. For after all, if a man is proposing treason, what matter a lie or two? You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.

About the King, a true revolutionary himself.

But if Jefferson had carefully distorted his facts, sometimes in degree, sometimes in veracity, sometimes by a word or two of artful arrangement, sometimes false in every particular, who then was the man for whom his subjects worldwide sang “God Save The King”?

That man, George William Frederick (1738-1820) was the product of revolution, the heir of revolution, the living pledge of revolution and the man whose very life confirmed that the promise and settlement of the great and Glorious Revolution of 1688 abided; that the sovereign reigned but ruled as little as Parliament allowed, and that year by year was less and less.

For this revolution, lead by renegade aristocrats, assured the final victory of Parliament over Crown, thus turning this Crown, however radiant and burnished into the creature of the people and their potent legislature, from whence came everything, including whatever colonial policy they thought best, whatever obstreperous colonials might think.

And this presented Thomas Jefferson with a stupendous, daunting problem which would surely have confounded and thwarted many a lesser man. What’s more Jefferson had many other things on his always active mind. For one thing, he was physically uncomfortable as all the delegates were. It was insufferably hot in Philadelphia those crucial days of argument and revolution. Delegates grew irritable from tossing night after miserable night, unable to find the rest they sorely needed for matters of such high

Worse, they discovered the tenacious presence and bite of bed bugs, determined creatures, no respecters of persons or causes, savoring the flesh of delegates, happy in their work.

Then there was the matter of his parlous financial condition. Throughout his long life, Jefferson lived like the wealthy man he never was. He spent money he didn’t have, borrowing money he had no way, and perhaps no intention, of paying back. He was well acquainted with duns pestering him for long overdue sums. And so it was in Philadelphia, where its many Quaker residents curiously adhered to the quaint notion that what was borrowed needed to be repaid in timely fashion, a point of view entirely
foreign to Jefferson, a man of careless finances and high living.

But there was another reason, too, and that was his beloved wife, Martha Wayles Skelton, who was a 23-year-old widow when he married her January 1, 1772. Theirs was a love match with all that entailed and in the long, uncomfortable nights he missed her to the core of his ardent being and longed for her passionate embraces. Remember, he was just 33…

However, the revolution needed him and so he put his genius to work crafting the words of revolution. Fortunately he had opponents who were not remotely as gifted in that department, opponents who failed to answer Jefferson and his colleagues, and so lost the crucial battle for hearts and minds. Jefferson made a brilliant case; his opponents relied on their established rights and disdained the messy business of human persuasion. And this wasn’t remotely good enough…. as the loyal royalists learned to their eternal detriment and rue.

Lord North.

This brings us to the very antagonist Jefferson might have wished to have…
Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford, Knight of the Garter, Privy Councillor (1732-1792) known to history by his courtesy title, Lord North, the man who, along with his dread lord, threw away the greatest of empires. His tenure in office running from 1770 to 1782 was disastrous for the Crown and the greatest possible benefit to Jefferson and the Great Republic which grew from the great Declaration. In short Jefferson and his colleagues lucked out, and as Napoleon later said, “Give me the lucky man.” That was most assuredly Jefferson, most assuredly not North.

And the sad thing is, North knew it and often begged his sovereign for permission to resign. But the King wanted a man as prime minister he trusted, and that was North, a man of no vision, no knowledge of Americans and the colonies, without empathy, inspiration or the ability to cut a deal that would keep them British. He pleased the king and so his majesty kept the man congenial to him, catastrophic to his realm. How Jefferson, brilliant, dazzling, splendid Jefferson must have whooped at his unrivalled fortune in having such a hack, such a mediocrity as his opponent…

Thus was the greatest empire sundered; thus did the Great Republic grow apace, the one lead by the blind and inadequate, the other driven by determination, brains, and growing expertise in the artistry of revolution. In such circumstances, the English could not prevail; they had so little to offer whilst the revolutionaries promised everything including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, the hand that trumped

“God Bless America!”

Thus we arrive at today by stages short and long, difficult and easy, losing and winning, proud and abasing. But always important and influential for such is our destiny, and we must play it out. But I have this question for you, my reader, my every reader. How can we do so with massive ignorance about who we are, where we came from, what we have done and why it matters, for that is our painful and dangerous situation today when so little is known of America and that little so often wrong. How long can we sustain our might and mission under such enfeebling circumstances… and how can we possibly help the world and be that bright city while presenting such a poor and tawdry example?

That is why I urge you to read the great Declaration aloud and help rescue the Great Republic from her sad plight today, so dangerous, so inglorious, so abashing in every way.

Then go to any search engine, and find Irving Berlin’s great hymn to the Great Republic, “God Bless America,” first written in1918, revised in 1938. I recommend the stirring version by Kate Smith, a chanteuse who belted it out and brought a tear to the eye of every true American, every lover of freedom, and every citizen trustee for our great story,

“Through the night with a light from above”.