Monday, June 23, 2008

Peril in Chicago: Red-Winged Blackbird Attacks

A couple of years ago, one of our younger family members told me how she hated the red-winged blackbirds because she was "attacked" by a blackbird several times when she walked by a certain tree. I am sorry to report that I wasn't very sympathetic. I thought her imagination was too vivid, and that it was a tall tale. I was wrong.

Today's Chicago Tribune has a story about the increasing menace of red- winged blackbird's attacks on Chicagoans. The male blackbirds have grown very territorial, and are protecting their nests. Turns out that if you are caught in a red-winged attack, the first advice is to look directly at the bird. If that doesn't work, bark like a dog!

If only I had known! I owe that poor child an apology!

SNL and Obama's Gabba Gabba Hey Seal

Do hop on over to El Rider's wickedly funny post on Barack Obama's pre-presidential seal. The best political humor always possesses real insight, and I am sure you won't be disappointed.

Update: After Barack Obama took a sound thrashing from this arrogant self-congratulations, word is that the seal has been deep-sixed. Do see this article. While the story is good, the comments are priceless. I especially liked the one about the Gabba Gabba Hey seal being UN blue.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Congratulations and Best Wishes

Today is a special day at our house. One of our younger family members is getting married! This morning, we will be rushing to get ready. Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple!

Obama's Race Card

So, Barack Obama, the guy who is going to heal the oceans after healing us, yet again plays the race card, telling supporters "They're [Republicans] going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

I would like to be on record that I do not think Barack Obama has a "funny name," and that I don't care a hoot about his complexion. What I don't like is his politics and his attempt to inject race into the campaign. Seriously, is that necessary?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pakistan's Long March: In the Footsteps of Ghandi

For the past several years, Western media has focused on the seemingly endless violent protests that have plagued Pakistan. Since the declaration of Emergency by President Musharraf late last year, this blog has occasionally covered what appears to be growing sentiment in Pakistan's for change coming from the citizenry itself. This week, a "Long March"--modelled after Ghandi's long marches across India--has gathered thousands in a route from Karachi, the business capital, to Islamabad, the seat of government.

The long march was organized by the Lawyer's Movement to restore the pre-Emergency judiciary. Along with political parties and other members of civil society the participants aren't going by foot, they are driving!
Several bloggers have set up a website with pictures and continuing reports from the march. If you have ever questioned whether citizens of other countries really want "government by the people," please take a look at their long march blog.
So far things have been going swimmingly with the participants, and the police, who in the past have often beaten and rounded up the citizenry, seem to have taken a page from their Western counterparts and have been pretty peaceful themselves. Some of the police have even shown their approval of the march, which appears to have tens of thousands of participants.
The marchers are very excited about the success of the march, the involvement of women, and the thousands of well wishers who have greeted them along the route. I thought you would enjoy this hopeful news from a part of the world where we have seen so much trouble.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barack Obama and his Widening Circle of Ex-Friends

Is "under the bus" now a cliche when applied to the Obama campaign? I think so. The former friends of Barack Obama grows weekly, though they don't have a website yet. Sometimes I wonder if anyone associated with the Obama campaign ever thinks "I might be next . . ." I would, that's for sure. Meanwhile, with the Jim Johnson resignation, even the mainstream media is beginning to notice that when it comes to Barack Obama and his associates, there's a pattern. You think? Maybe bloggers will be able to go on summer vacation after all! Today, a Wall Street Journal editorial focuses on Obama's ex-friends, saying

"As for Mr. Obama, Mr. Johnson now joins an intriguing and growing list of Mr. Obama's ex-associates that includes the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, and former terrorist bomber William Ayers. We might call this list eclectic, except that there is a consistent pattern of bad judgment followed by an initial defense, then followed by rapid disassociation and regret that none of them were the men Mr. Obama 'knew'."

Over at the Washington Post, Jim Hoaglund suggests an interesting scenario

"Shifting into overdrive, Obama added that "these aren't folks who are working for me," referring to Johnson and his two associates on the vice presidential vetting team, Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder.

"It was enough to make you wonder if the three had somehow broken into Obama's office, stolen his letterhead stationery and appointed themselves to interview the capital's good and great about who should join Obama on the Democratic ticket."

Meanwhile, if you're concerned about Obama's tax policies, you might enjoy politically incorrect economist Walt Williams editorial on the surprising characterization of the government taking an ever increasing amount of your earnings.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

D Day: Maps and Memories

Omaha Beach, Normandy, France rests quietly now, still, 64 years after the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944. The only sounds are of the wind, the waves, and occasional sounds from tourists who come to remember, and some of those--far fewer every year--who can never forget.

In a day of moral relativism, we give thanks for those of the allied forces who believed in the rights of free people and were willing to make the supreme sacrifice. Many of those who lived to tell the stories of D-Day have passed to their reward, leaving only their families with whom their stories remain.

June 6, 1944 is rapidly becoming a lifetime ago, written history rather than personal recollection.

The Perry-CastaƱeda LibraryMap Collection at the University of Texas at Austin has a superb little collection of D-Day maps in jpeg format that you can save to your computer and peruse at your leisure.

Previous posts on D-Day: Honoring Americans (Omaha Beach and Day Day) ;Anilore Banon's D-Day Memorial; D-Day Plan; 62 Years After D-Day.

Lucky Obama Gets Tossed Under the Bus by Hamas

In the latest chaper of Tossing People Under the Bus, lucky Barack Obama has been un-endorsed by terrorist group Hamas. Meanwhile, his old pals at St. Sabina's--the community people who Obama organized and encouraged to speak up about their rights--are going to meet with Cardinal George about what is perceived as an outrage: the removal of Fr. Pfleger from the pulpit for a period of reflection. According to a pastoral associate at St. Sabina's, " We felt very disrespected as a faith community. Basically [George] is responding to the concerns of white Catholics," who were offended by Pfleger's comments on race in a sermon he gave late last month at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. "So what about your black Catholic community, the one you have again disrespected?"

Oh dear, Chicago's in a terrible mess. Everything that usually works in Chicago when the politicians throw their hands in the air and give up has been tried. A Daley has been called to help (Fr. Vanecko) ; the Church has been called in to help (Cardinal George); and still big problems remain. Forget the governor, he's shaking in his shoes after Rezko's verdict, likely meeting with his legal team. Quick! Call in the Jesses Jackson, one of whom knows a little bit about running for President himself.

Obama's Healing Oceans, Kennedy's Camelot, and Rezko's Combine

Following his anti-Hillary diatribe and after having been tossed under the bus by Barack Obama, Father Pfleger has been sent on sabbatical, Cardinal George telling him to "cool it" for a couple of weeks. Pfleger's parish is really angry, putting pressure on the good Cardinal to restore their priest immediately. The Cardinal, being no dummy, has appointed Mayor Daley's in-law, Father Vanecko, to the church temporarily. How clever is that? A Daley relative, with the political skills of that clan, won't be making any controversial statements from St. Sabina's. (I assume that Father Vanecko is the brother in law of the old Mayor Daley's daughter, Mary Carol, based on comments in the press.)

Meanwhile, Trib columnist John Kass comments on the Rezko verdict:

"As most adults know but pretend otherwise, Obama is backed by the Daleys of Chicago, yet he's run a personality-cult campaign tied to the idea that he's the archangel of political reform. The national story line has been all about Camelot and Obama as the boy king, knighted by Ted Kennedy, a story too full of mist to be believed except by children. Yet finally, with the Rezko verdict, the focus is on the real Chicago, not the fairy tale."

Is the rest of the nation ready for Chicago politics played out on the national stage? The oceans are healing now, unaffected by The Combine. Can the rest of the nation seriously believe that a state whose former governor is in prison and whose current governor is looking really, really scared, send an agent of reform to the Potomac?

In a clever move, Obama attempts to provide a morning-after distraction to the Rezko verdict, announcing that he is thinking of Caroline Kennedy as his vice-president. I'll bet the nation eats it up. Chicago politics, crooked as they may be, are more entertaining than the best reality show.

Meanwhile, Dan Proft challenges Obama to call Trinity UCC back after their break-up, and work it out.

Update: I see Barack Obama's plane, but am not healed from my cold . . .

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Rezko Verdict In - Guilty on 16 of 24 Counts

Tony Rezko verdict is in.

Guilty on of 16 of 24 counts.

The jury convicted Rezko of 12 counts of wire and mail fraud, two counts of money laundering and two counts of aiding and abetting bribery. He was acquitted of attempted extortion.

Extended coverage, including links to trial documents, from the Chicago Tribune.

UPDATE: Rezko's old associate Barack Obama attempts to throw him under the bus along with an ever-growing number of friends and family, stating that he was saddended by the verdict and "This isn't the Tony Rezko I knew." Rezko narrowly avoids te toss by immediately surrendering to the safety of the US Marshall, Rezko stating through his attorney that he wants to begin serving his sentence immediately.

Having Healed Us, Obama Turns Sights to Ocean and Earth

"[T]his was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal . . ." -Barack Obama, June 4, 2008 in a speech after on his receiving enough delegate votes to clinch the Democrat nomination for President

Barack Obama used to be content with healing the nation's racial divisions as he careened across the country tossing his family and old pals under the bus in a color-blind manner as he sped along. Now that he's sewed up the nomination, apparently he has also begun to heal the earth. Anyone concerned? So much humility.

Commentary: The Wall Street Journal weighs in on "The Obama We Don't Know."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Panda Sanctuaries Need Help after Earthquake in China

Eight two-year old pandas were flown to the Beijing Zoo the other day. They are recovering from post earthquake stress after narrowly escaping death at the Wolong Nature Reserve as a result of the terrible earthquake in China. In Gandsu, China, at the world's largest panda reserve, all 102 pandas are missing.

The Wolong National Nature Reserve, a short distance from the earthquake's epicenter, is the birthplace of the pandas at Washington's National Zoo, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. Conditions there after the quake were so bad that 5 tons of bamboo had to be flown in so the pandas would not go hungry.

The Wolong Reserve is in very bad need of help. The National Zoo is collecting donations online, as is Friends of World Heritage, where donations are being matched 2/1 by and the UN Foundation. Donations do not just benefit the Giant Panda. The reserves not only provide jobs for local people, they also generate significant tourism, an important source of income for nearby communities.

Have You Found a Lost Cat in Wilmette or Skokie?

A friend sent me an email and asked if I could post a link to the above cat who has been lost in Wilmette. Her neighbor is desperately looking for the lost cat, whose name is Pounder, and there is further information about the lost cat on the Internet, if you click here. Pounder is a five years old, a neutered male Tabby gray/white mix, weight is 12 pounds, and he is microchipped. While there doesn't seem to be any information about whether or not Pounder has a collar, the owners are asking you to call them if you think you have spotted the cat at (312) 617-2122. My friend not only received a flyer, she saw a poster and got an automatic phone call about the lost cat. Based on what I can figure, the cat was lost in the west part of Wilmette around Skokie Boulevard and Old Glenview Road. Since that is located near northwest Evanston and north Skokie, and not terribly far from south east Glenview, maybe the cat would have wandered over there.

With the abundant amount of birds and wildlife as well as the good weather, Pounder could be living comfortably outside since last week when the cat went missing. We hope the cat and its owner are reunited soon!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Farewell Trinity UCC: Barack Obama and the Ravening Wolves

"But somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it's because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us." - Barack Obama, June 23, 2007

I certainly hope that Barack Obama, when he gave a speech to the UCC, the denomination of Trinity United Church of Christ last year, didn't think that the Christian Left was the great uniter . Today, we have news that Barack Obama has broken-up with his church after a series of what he has often termed "distractions," the latest being a mocking sermon of Father Pfleger's preached from Trinity's pulpit. Obama's UCC well wishers at the Daily Kos, who seem mostly unaware that Father Pfleger is a Catholic, not a UCC minister, and also unaware that both Pfleger and Rev. Wright have long been active politically on Chicago's South Side, are sorry that they let Obama down.

When Obama gave his speech to the UCC late last June, it became clear that religion was going to emerge as a major issue in the Obama campaign. While I made the the call wrong about Mr. Obama being his party's standard-bearer, I am re-running last year's blog post on Obama's speech at Hartford.

Obama at Hartford: the Last Hurrah?
Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's my impression that the Obama campaign is over, finished, toast. Why? I cannot remember any other candidate running for president who insulted the religion of the American people and was given the privilege of heading his party for the general election.

At a speech before the UCC, his church denomination, Obama made charges that some people have hijacked Christianity. That doesn't play well with me, it won't be liked by the general public, and it won't be liked by many Congregationalists, nationwide, who still believe that each person receives his own insight on religion through a relationship with God, earnest study of scriptures, and discussion with others.

Obama is missing the traditional respect that candidates show for all of America's many religions--we have something like 600 Protestant denominations alone. This is serious stuff.

Obama gave his speech in the city of Hartford, Connecticut, founded by the Rev. Thomas Hooker in 1636. Hooker was a Congregationalist minister and a tremendous religious and political thinker, whose many writings are still important today. Hooker once wrote "there neither is, nor never was any mere naturall man absolutly rightuous in himself" and hence "voide of all unrightuousnes, of all synne." Somehow I find that quote important, and I will leave you to ponder that thought.

Update: Oops! Re-reading this post makes me realize that I was quite unclear. The Obama campaign is not about to fold its tent and disappear in the night; what I meant was that the Obama campaign--through ill-chosen remarks--has already lost his party's nomination, although it will likely be months before that is evident.

Further Update: Atheist Austin Cline has written a tremendously insightful article on Obama's speech at Hartford in front of the UCC and I recommend it highly. Obama's speech troubles him, in particular he questions Obama's commitment to the separation of church and state. Two worthwhile quotes: "Doing 'the Lord's work' is a thread that runs through Christian churches; in secular politics, however, politicians are expected to do the work of the people," and "If a politician cannot use evidence and reason to justify their positions and must resort to private religious revelation, they should give up politics and enter the ministry."