Saturday, May 31, 2008

Enveloping Tale of Two Dans: Seals and Rostenkowski

I was hanging out at TA's blog where I was surprised to learn that Democrat 10th District candidate, Dan Seals, accepted an envelope during his night class at Northwestern University from long time Congressman and convicted felon Dan Rostenkowski. That takes guts. Some people seem to be somewhat confused as to the contents of the envelope, but I trust my readers are politically savvy enough to know precisely what is in it. I have to hand it to Seals, though. Could he have provided a more instructive class than demonstrating the use of the envelope in influencing government policy?

Anyway, some of the readers over at TA's seemed to be unsure of the prohibitions on political activity on so-called 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable institutions, which includes schools and churches. The IRS has a link to a great tutorial on tax exemption, which we thought you might enjoy. If you are simply interested in the limits on political activities and how an institution can jeopardize its tax-exempt you can jump directly to that part of the tutorial.

The ban on political campaign activity by tax-exempt charities and churches was created by Congress more than a half century ago. The IRS has been somewhat lax in its enforcement, and what we are seeing now in churches and schools coming from Dan Seals campaign and from Barack Obama's campaign isn't anything new.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dan Seals Campaign: Gas Stunt Worthwhile

In the wake of the Dan Seals "Gas for Votes" media stunt last week, CBS 2 Chicago and the Lincolnshire Review are reporting that Dan Seals Congressional campaign spokesperson, Elisabeth Smith, is characterizing the $2,200. bill sent to the 10th District office seeker in the wake of the incident by the Village of Lincolnshire as "worth it." Seals' stunt last week taxed local police resources so severely that half the police force was diverted from other duties to sort out noon-time traffic issues on busy Milwaukee Avenue, a major north-south thoroughfare. The local police chief was furious that the campaign failed to notify his office in advance of the stunt, which offered half price gas (the price difference subsidized by the campaign) to only the first fifty motorists to show up, a fact that Seals never revealed in his promotion for the event. The village issued a bill to the campaign, another standard practice in the northern suburbs area when public resources are used for private purposes.

Seals, who lives in the nearby 9th Congressional District and is a new to the area, has not apologized to the Lincolnshire police or the inconvenienced drivers, but rather is boasting to his supporters that traffic lined up over a mile, and that the police had to direct traffic.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008 - Thank you

The price of freedom is never free, and America has been blessed since the beginning with patriotic citizens willing to give their lives for the cause of Liberty. Today, Americans say "Thank you."
The pictures are from Punchbowl Cemetery in Hawaii where the graves of those who gave the supreme sacrifice stretch as far as the eye can see.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hope You are Enjoying the Long Weekend

How do you like the fashion to the left? In Nigeria, they had a fashion show for peace, and what you see is only one of more than two dozen wild but very creative designs by designer Bayo Adegbe. Totally fantastic, they will take your mind off the price of gas and the endless Presidential campaign!

Hope you have been enjoying your holiday weekend; we have! We pruned again and put in some flowers and also went shopping. Also, I got an ipod for my birthday, and I am pretty excited about that. Even better, AT&T finally fixed my favorite phone line, which has on-and-off been out of order for three weeks.

It's nice to know we still have one more day for fun.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Still No Apology from Dan Seals Following "Gas for Votes" Stunt

We've been patiently waiting.

It’s been two days since 10th District Congressional Candidate Dan Seals hopelessly snarled local lunch hour traffic on Milwaukee Avenue in Lincolnshire and diverted nearly half of its modest-sized police force from their usual duties as a result of a gas-buying publicity stunt in Lincolnshire. The Village—forced to dispatch ten police officers as well as several public works personnel to deal with the mess—will be billing the campaign for its services.

Meanwhile, Seals has not apologized. Not to the frustrated local police chief; not to the local employers whose businesses were disrupted by employees arriving back at work late from lunch; not to the late-arriving employees who likely had to stay late at work to make up the time; and not to the motorists whose patience is stretched by busy Milwaukee Avenue under the best of conditions. On his campaign website, Seals is boasting that "cars lined up for hours."

Seals, whose rematch campaign against incumbent Mark Kirk has been largely invisible since the primary in March, has managed to get his candidacy "back on the radar" with his stunt, which has received attention on TV, radio, and in the newspapers. In the world of campaigns, any campaign manager will tell you that even bad publicity is much better than no publicity at all. Seals made a mess. He owes a lot of people an apology. How long will he wait?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Elephant Artist Hong's New Painting

Hong the elephant (whose picture, above, I've bumped up to the top of the blog, thinking it is much cuter than newer content) lives in Thailand and who paints pictures at her home in the National Elephant Sanctuary, has a fresh set of paintings available. The one above, featuring the Thai flag, is perhaps her best yet! I continued to be amazed by the pictures painted by Hong and her elephant friends. The video showing the elephants painting remains a Youtube favorite.

Dan Seals Campaign Stunt Irks Lincolnshire Police, Snarls Traffic

UPDATED: Scroll Down
If you went out for lunch yesterday in Lincolnshire and couldn't make it back to work in time, thank Tenth District Congressional candidate Dan Seals. Seals has Lincolnshire's police chief, Randy Melvin, fuming following a campaign event held from noon until 1:00 yesterday at a gas station in this far northern suburb of Chicago. While Seals' campaign staffers passed out election bumper stickers at the Marathon on Milwaukee Avenue, Seals' chatted up motorists as they pumped half-priced gas. The difference in price (up to ten gallons--a little under a $23.00 gift to motorists) was paid for by Seals' congressional campaign. Meanwhile, Chief Melvin was forced to deploy nearly half of his police force to direct traffic, which lined up for an estimated mile and a half as drivers waited for subsidized gas.

Melvin was particularly irked that he was unable to make plans for orderly traffic control as Seals' Campaign failed to notify him in advance of the publicity-seeking stunt. Melvin did not comment on whether the Village of Lincolnshire will be billing the Seals campaign for private security services, a common practice in Chicago's northern suburbs when additional police protection is required for what are esentially private events.

In commenting about the situation, Seals said "What this is about is to show how expensive the price of gas has become."

Seals, a newcomer to the North Shore area, lives in the neighboring 9th Congressional district. His campaign depends heavily on political workers from the city of Chicago.

Despite concerns by the press, Seals denies any culpability for his actions under 18 USC 597, which provides penalties for vote buying.

h/t Team America, who's named this fiasco "Gas for Votes."
UPDATE: The Seals campaign has been sent a bill for $2,200. for the traffic control by the Village of Lincolnshire. I imagine the Seals campaign is delighted with the publicity generated by the gas stunt and will consider the cost very reasonable.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Deal in Pakistan: President Musharraf to Resign?

There is huge news out of Pakistan today, with a news article that not only is Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf offering to resign in exchange for escaping culpability for his Declaration of Emergency back in November, there also are active talks on shortly putting together a deal that may lead to his exit.

Particularly angering some citizens and retired military officers is the fact that the President, who gave up his position as general to continue ruling the country, is still living in Army House in Rawalpindi.

We would note while that while political intrigue and rumor are always plentiful in Pakistan, Musharraf is a very upopular president. Since his brother is a physician in Chicago, its possible he could end up living here, where he would surely garner respect for his knack for political survival.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Deep in the Irrawaddy Delta of Burma (Myanmar), the Knights of Malta Render Aid to Nargis Afflicted

Today we have a most interesting story for you, which involves knights of long ago, charitable aid to the poor and afflicted, and Burma, the Union of Myanmar. If you have been following the news, you know that most of people who work for the international aid organizations are cooling their heels in Bangkok, spending their time in meetings, trying to get visas to enter Burma, and desperately hoping to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis before it is too late.

Not so with the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, the Order of Malta (Malteser) whose knights have been in the business of patching up the sick and wounded for the past 900 years. Dating back to the time of the Crusades, the Order of Malta delivered their life saving services to pilgrims going to Jerusalem both through religious orders and through the Knights, the legendary noblemen who also enjoyed jousting at tournaments and going into battle. Today, while other charitable NGO's are trying to gain entry to Myanmar and find ways to deliver relief, the Knights Hospitaller have been helping in Burma (Myanmar) almost from the moment that the Cyclone struck. Maltesers have already penetrated deep into the devastated Irrawaddy Delta offering medical help, water purification tablets, and rebuilding materials.

Many years ago, these Knights of Malta, whose international humanitarian arm is known as Malteser International, updated their old-fashioned model of noble birth and Catholic allegiance. They added orders in countries that had become Protestant, dropped their requirement of nobility, and further opened their ranks to women. Malteser has been providing daily reports on the situation they are encountering in Myanmar as well as a number of photos.

Malteser established a presence in Myanmar in the 1990's working on small scale health projects, and was able to gain the trust of the Myanmar regime as well as the support of Catholic bishops. In the heart-renching picture that has emerged from Burma, the noble mission of the Knights of Malta, through Malteser, remains a beacon of hope. So the next time someone says "Chivalry is dead," do tell them that you beg to differ.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Contemplating in May

Ah, Giverny! No I haven't gone on vacation. For the moment, I'm contemplating, and following the old blogging rule that says if you really have nothing to say, don't post. If I had the time, I'd take my camera outside and snap you a photo of the stunning trees in bloom, but I imagine you have beautiful trees right outside your own window. In the meantime, I thought you might like this picture of the pond at Monet's house I snapped a couple of years ago. With the euro at well over $1.54, do you think there's anything interesting to see and photograph in say, Cleveland?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Barack Obama's Values: Democrats Unveil Mainstreaming Plan

Just what are Barack Obama's personal values? We've been talking about that for quite a while, perhaps ad-nauseam, but apparently the Democrats are a little unsure. A highly placed Clinton Gore operative writing an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal has several suggestions to mainstream Barack Obama. These tips could serve Obama well once the press looks into his history with machine politics and the problems Obama will face with his Chicago connections. They are:

1. Wear the flag pin (Need we mention that it be the American flag, and it should be right-side up?) ;
2. Support measures that reflect traditional American values (We know via Michelle Obama's latest speeches that the USA will be all about families and children--maybe she needs to toss out that speech leftover from her husband's IL state senate race?);
3. Demonstrate that he is on the side of law abiding people: that he is sympathetic to the victims of crime and that he understands American’s concerns about law and order. (Bob the Builder says Yes! He can!);
4. Demonstrate his intention to secure our borders (very important for our 60 States);
5. Refute the presumption that he believes every problem can be solved by negotiating with the leaders of rogue nations and reassure people that he understands diplomacy has its limits. (See #3); and
6. Connect with people of faith (Didn't he do this already at Hartford , oops!)

Easier and better? Support John McCain.

(Meanwhile the Nader-Gonzalez Team is raising money to get on the ballot in Illinois with his "No More Whining!" campaign. I understand we all don't agree, folks. Want a leftist candidate? Choose Ralph Nader. He's been a principled spokesman for leftist political values for over 40 years. )

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chad and Jeremy in Wilmette, Tonight!

Anybody who remembers the Mersey Beat will remember Chad and Jeremy. For anyone curious about the English music invasion of the 60's, these guys are the real deal and still are in fine voice. They are appearing at the Wilmette Community Rec Center (corner of Glenview Road and Skokie Blvd.) tonight at 7:30 and there are still tickets available. At $30 each, a super deal! Take the family; the kids should love it! Call the Wilmette Park District at 847-256-9686, or stop by the Community Rec Center. If there are still tickets left, you can probably just show up at showtime.

The 58--or is it 60?--States of Barack Obama

Barack Obama, losing his bearings at an early age.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Grim Aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in Burma (Union of Myanmar)

Do you like the look of these sharp-looking soldiers and police officers, pictured above, unloading relief supplies from a plane at Yangon (Rangoon) International Airport in Burma (Union of Myanmar)? From reports coming from the region, unfortunately they are mostly interested in photo-ops. Civilians report that once the cameras disappear, so do the soldiers. The other day they drove their military vehicles around and used loud speakers to instruct the citizens to clean up the mess left in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. In the Irrawaddy delta of Burma / Myanmar, not far from Yangon, the situation is grim.

The repressive military government in Burma (Union of Myanmar) has been dithering and delaying about granting entry visas as aid workers ready to help milled about in nearby countries; planes with food, water, and medicine sat on tarmacs; and prepositioned relief materials gathered dust in warehouses throughout the region. The US has been seeking to help along with life-saving helicopters and a hospital ship. If the government of Myanmar had allowed the entry of aid workers and relief materials, cholera--a disease brought by unclean water--which is now starting to kill the citizens of Burma / Myanmar perhaps would have been averted.

According to many reports, dozens of villages in the Irrawaddy delta have simply disappeared. Local medical personnel are overwhelmed, and there are so many corpses it is impossible to bury them.

For a closer look at events as they unfolded in Buma /Myanmar, see this diary. For a current and comprehensive field report on the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in the Irrawaddy delta, this field report includes the results of several eyewitness interviews. Thankfully, aid is beginning to arrive, but for Myanmar's military regime it could have been on the ground much earlier this week.

UPDATE: Not only are the military helping unload supplies, they have now confiscated all official UN aid in the country. Nothing and no one is getting in at the moment and there is talk that the on-the-ground situation might make the aftermath of the Boxing Day Tsunami look like a Sunday School Picnic. Pray for the people of Burma. At the moment, it is all you can do.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fighting the High Price of Gas

Yesterday we went for a Sunday drive to visit a friend. The gas was cheaper in Lake County than in Wilmette, and with talk of $10. per gallon gas, I find my consumer confidence eroding. Luckily, the inbox had a couple of creative ways to deal with the high price at the pump. While the price isn't funny, the pictures are rather charming. h/t Joyce

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Moving it Forward: Dennis the Menace, Meet Barack Obama!

Dennis the Menace, meet Barack Obama! There is such a good new excuse for you, Dennis, in all your naughtiness. Just tell everyone after your latest scrape, "What I want to do is move it forward." If that doesn't work, just tell say, "What I want to do now, though, is to make sure that this doesn't continue to be a perpetual distraction."

Clever, no?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Obama: Does His Failure to Develop as a Candidate Reveal Fundamental Character Flaws?

If Barack Obama is elected President in November, he may end up being the gift that keeps on giving to the Republican party. Obama's failure to develop as a candidate may well translate into a presidency that will insure that I will never again see another Democrat elected as President of the United States in my lifetime. For a long time I have maintained that Obama wasn't yet ready for a Presidential run, needing more time in the Senate for seasoning, and nothing has demonstated that more clearly than the flap over Obama's minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Today, Charles Krauthammer puts his finger on just what's wrong with Barack Obama's candidacy

This 20-year association with Wright calls into question everything about Obama: his truthfulness in his serially adjusted stories of what he knew and when he knew it; his judgment in choosing as his mentor, pastor and great friend a man he just now realizes is a purveyor of racial hatred; and the central
premise of his campaign, that he is the bringer of a "new politics," rising
above the old Washington ways of expediency. It's hard to think of an act
more blatantly expedient than renouncing Wright when his show, once done
from the press club instead of the pulpit, could no longer be 'contextualized' as
something whites could not understand and only Obama could explain in all its

Michael Gerson weighs in on the perils of Barack Obama's condesceding attitude toward Rev. Wright:

Wright may be a camera-seeking egotist. He is certainly a showman,
enjoying his moment. But his main argument seems to be: "No, Barack, I actually
hold these theological convictions. You may need to attack me for political
reasons. But don't you dare dismiss me as a batty uncle."

The mainstream media is slowly catching on with the genuine problems Barack Obama's candidacy poses. These problems have nothing to do with race and everything to do with the man who Obama is--or isn't. I remain sure that if Obama had been able to contain his ambition and spent the necessary years in the Senate learning the craft of national politics, the type of problem which plagues him today would have never occurred. There is a real question whether the Obama who is being sold by his crack campaign team is an entirely different version from Obama the man. Nothing underscores that more than Obama's failure to develop as a candidate. The Obama of today seems far lesser than the Obama of a year ago, and that is a genuine problem indeed.

The failure of the media to scrutinize Obama early in the game was a matter of infatuation with a relatively unknown candidate, not because Obama had no flaws. Were those flaws visible early on? As I saw the issue, the answer was yes. To test my theory I went searching in my own blog archives. I was amazed at what I found. Certainly, as Illinois' senator there was a great deal more press available in Illinois than elsewhere. Nearly a year and a half ago, in January, 2007, I questioned how Obama could be so out of touch with the American electorate. Still an issue. In February of 2007, I raised the issue of Rev. Wright, still an issue. By March, 2007 I was questioning Barack Obama's lack of judgment and self importance, still an issue. In a campaign cycle, January, 2007 until now is a very long time. The issues that have arisen just in the last couple of weeks are issues that have persisted from the beginning. Has anything changed?

The "bitter Americans" who cling to their guns and religion do, as a general rule, like both ministers and Marines, both of which Rev. Wright is. In their minds, Barack Obama should have been paying better attention to Rev. Wright's political viewpoints over the past twenty years, rather than using him for political advantage and breaking with him when convenient. For them, it is not only a failure to develop as a candidate, it is a failure of character.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy May Day from the People of Anahuac

Happy May Day! I hope you have enough flowers in your yard for a bouquet! I was really old when I found old that May Day is principally a labor and left wing holiday instead of a day for picking and sharing flowers. Is that what they call sheltered, or just raised right?

Do you like the picture above? It's a "take-off" on the recent, ill-advised Absolut ad designed for Mexico. The Mexica Movement people, who view the entire American continent as "Anahuac," have a plan to to send Americans of European ancestry back to the old country. Based on today's marches, it might be a good idea to find out what's planned for you!

Update: El Rider has comprehensive photo coverage of the May Day celebrants at Federal Plaza.
Update 2: Immigrant marches this year had poor turnout. Guess all those organizers from the past couple of years are busy with political campaigns. Is Anahuac in retreat? I hope; if I get sent back to Europe my dollars won't buy much.