Monday, November 30, 2009

Minnesotans for Global Warming: New Video

I should imagine that most Americans can sympathize with the Minnesotans for Global Warming, whose only wish is a state warm enough to be comfortable to live in year round. Here is their just-released video, all about climate gate.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

Is there no end to what people will do to the dog to amuse them- selves? I've been doing a lot of online after Thanks- giving window shopping, and found this little gift that really shouldn't be bought at all. There is however, something very cute in its wrongness.

I hope you are enjoying the Thanksgiving weekend; I am! I can hardly stand the thought that there are only 2 more days left. I have been enjoying visiting with family and friends, and I hope you have been, too! I was thinking of going to see the opening of the Christmas market downtown, then I totally forgot about it. Since the weather forecast predicts weather in the fifties today, maybe I can use some persuasion and we can have a little family outing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

First Thanksgiving: Visit to Plymouth, Massachusetts

I thought you might enjoy taking a few minutes to time travel to the America of the Pilgrims, Plymouth, Massachusetts. In Plymouth you can visit both the Mayflower II, a recreation of the ship which the Pilgrims travelled to the new world and Plimouth Plantation, their recreated village, where they celebrated the first Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Proclamation Nearly Godless

". . . with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own . . ."

The official 2009 Thanksgiving Proclamation, nearly Godless, we sadly note, in contrast to the Pilgrims whose Thanksgiving was to Almighty God for all his blessings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

First Thankgiving: The Mayflower Arrives at Cape Cod

The Mayflower was a "sweet ship," having been involved in the European wine trade for many years. There was little sweet, however, about the Pilgrims journey to the New World on the small, crowded vessel tossed by winter storms. After two months at sea, the Pilgrims anchored at what is now Provincetown Harbor on Cape Cod. The Pilgrims lived aboard the ship over the winter while expeditions were made to explore the area. The next spring Plymouth was chosen as the area where the Pilgrims would build their houses and celebrate their first Thanksgiving in the new world.

Pictured above is the Mayflower II under sail arriving in Provincetown Harbor.

Monday, November 23, 2009

First Thanksgiving: Voyage of Mayflower II

The Mayflower, the little ship of the Pilgrims, took over two months to reach New England from Old England. It stayed in the new world over the winter, and departed for England the next year, where disappeared from ships registries, possibly being broken up for lumber and incorporated into an English barn. At that time there was no interest in having the ship preserved. The Pilgrims had left as political refugees, and in England there was little interest in the Pilgrims' story.

In 1951, Plimouth Plantation, a museum of Pilgrim life in Plymouth, Massachusetts, commissioned MIT naval architect, William A. Baker, to design a ship which would replicate as closely as possible the little Mayflower in which the Pilgrims journeyed to America. Following World War II, a separate English group decided a new Mayflower should be built in gratitude for the Americans' help in World War II. Eventually the two groups put their resources together, and on September 22, 1957, Mayflower II was launched. On April 20, 1957, the Mayflower replica set out for America, where today it is docked in Plymouth Harbor and open for visitors. This newsreel, from over 50 years ago, tells the story.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

First Thanksgiving: Farewell to Old England

The Pilgrims included in their number those forced to flee England twelve years earlier. Members of the English middle class, they had been living in Leyden, Holland where the population was nearly half immigrants. Poverty was their constant companion. Their children were forgetting English, and being rapidly assimilated into Dutch society. In deep political trouble with the English government for their religious views, for these Separatists, returning to England--where the King's agents sought them out for punishment--was not an option, and their brief stopover in their mother country was marked by political problems. Joined by additional Englishmen, the group planned to take two boats to America. With the funding of their venture in doubt and money already spent, tough decision had to be made: whether to gather onto one boat when the second sprung a leak, and, with winter storms approaching, whether to leave at all. Deciding to put their fate into the hands of God, the Pilgrims left Plymouth, England for America on September 16, 1620.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

First Thanksgiving: Visit to Leyden

As we begin our preparations for Thanksgiving, let us pause for a minute to remember the important role of the Dutch in the lives of America's Pilgrims. The City of Leyden, in the Netherlands, and hometown of Rembrandt van Rijn, provided a safe haven for many Pilgrims, when they were forced to flee England due to their religious beliefs. Here is a brief travelogue of Leyden, today a train journey of half an hour from Amsterdam.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Plainly as an American Farmer

Wisdom from China as reported by the AP:
“[Former President George W. Bush] couldn’t speak with flowery language and even made grammatical mistakes but spoke as plainly as an American farmer. [President Barack Obama speaks] “with sweet but empty words.” - Chinese blogger Zhao “Hecaitou” Dezhu

“Learn English from Obama: Instead of saying ‘I want to eat,’ say ‘I am a big supporter of non-hunger.’” – Chinese writer Wang Pei

And have you seen this video of world leaders greeting the Emperor of Japan?

Meeks, Proft Seek Educational Reform

About 14 months ago I wrote on Rev. James Meeks' visit to New Trier High School, including the cute picture above. To me it typifies how Chicago's inner city children start school wide-eyed and serious in both demeanor and dress, and in 12 or 10 years the "system"--including schools, community leaders, and teachers--will have utterly failed them. They will end their schooling with minimal skills, poor educations, and little hope for the future, despite vast sums of money spent.

Monday, Dan Proft, endorsed for Illinois Governor just Saturday by the New Trier Republican Organization, met with Reverend Meeks, who also is a state senator and also serves as Chairman of the Illinois State Senate Education Committee, to talk about educating Illinois children. Proft and Meeks found a number of areas of agreement, and I thought you might like to see the statement released by Proft just yesterday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fall of the Berlin Wall IV: Visiting Dresden

Located deep in the heart of East Germany, before the fall of the Berlin Wall tourists from the West were unable to visit Dresden, the capital of Saxony.

One of the most exciting-looking cities I have ever seen, Dresden was destroyed three times: in the Seven Years War by the Prussians, by Napoleon in the Battle of Dresden, and by the Allies in World War II. Each time it has rebuilt.

Dresden engaged in a great deal of beautification for its 800th bithday in 2006, including finishing the rebuilding of the Fruenkirche. Dresen is one of the ten fastest growing cities in Germany.

While there is a fair amount of evidence that there are still bad feelings about the US in Dresden based on World War II, that does not translate into any problems for tourists. The skinheads, who can be freely viewed out and about, may make for an uncomfortable moment of realization that old views die hard.

Free speech, however, has not suffered. If you look carefully at the picture above (click to enlarge), you can see a communist flag and a bicycyle, whose nearby rider was enthusiastically chatting up a potential convert, nearby. Down the mall comprised completely of squarish, post-war Communist style buildings, a group of evangelical Christians was busy preaching and handing out Christian coloring books for children. Twenty-one years ago, not only would it have been impossible to visit Dresden, the idea of that city becoming a center for free speech was simply unthinkable.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fall of the Berlin Wall III: Compelling Video Images from the Archives of History

As President Obama chooses to turn his back to the West and face the East, we are posting this excellent video from the Competitive Enterprise Institute about the Berlin Wall in honor of the thousands of ordinary Europeans who never gave up thinking about and working for freedom for themselves and their families. The leaders--local, national, and international--who believed in what seemed impossible at the time, never gave up their hope for change. What would have ended up as a week or two of news and celebration on the 20th anniverary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, was almost immediately overshadowed by the most unfortunate timing of President Obama's trip to Asia.

This film reminds us of the sorrow of divided families when the wall was built, the increasingly desperate attempts to escape East Germany over time, and the joy when the wall was torn down. The filmaker, Drew Tidwell, took all the footage from video freely available at Yoube. Tidwell--who boasts a long line of film credits from the fun-loving Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian to the more serious Law and Order: Special Victims Unit--did a meticulous search of existing footage, remarking "I went to German news feeds from that day, US news feeds and the doc footage was gathered from searching Berlin wall and escapes, Berlin Wall reagan, Berlin Wall Building, etc." Further explaining the video, Tidwell added, "We made this video because it was one of the biggest moments for freedom in the world. It needs to be celebrated and never forgotten."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On the National Radar: Mark Kirk's Senate Run

How sweet would it be to return Barack Obama's old seat back to the Republican column? Very. Those of us who well remember what Barack Obama did to claw his way into the US Senate just to use it as a springboard to run for President would love nothing better. And with a link to today's Sun-Times article by Lynn Sweet from the Drudge Report, local Congressman Mark Kirk's (IL-10th) Senate run may soon be on the national radar.
The seat, once filled by Everett Dirksen, will be vacated by Roland Burris. Burris, who was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich when Barak Obama resigned, and is being investigated about how he obtained his appointment, is presently America's only African-American Senator. He is retiring.
While the Democrats have been working to foment dissention aboout Kirk's candidacy among various factions in the Illinois Republican party, they have been largely unsuccessful.

O Tempora! O Mores! O No!

Ok, so maybe by now this Obama bowing in Japan has been done to death, but it's worth the comparison with the past once again. Let's face it, plenty of Americans are beyond distressed. It certainly is clear that the Japanese require nothing more than a handshake and that they enjoy meeting American presidents. Some are terming the current incumbent, the groveler-in-chief, and it's a pretty apt description. Do the leftists eat this stuff up? I wonder.

The Los Angeles Times has 65 pages of comments after the "bow wow" story, and as the White House would be Happy to explain to you on Monday, since it was linked by the Drudge Report, only a few are favorable. One of my favorites: "Obama acts less like a head of state and more like an 'exchange student' who is trying to understand a country through a tourist's handbook."

H/t to a local political operative via status message.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Trier Republican Organization Endosement

In an early morning meeting on November 14, 2009, the New Trier Republican Organization endorsed the following candidates for the Illinois Primary:

For the US Senate: Mark Kirk;

For the Governor of Illinois: tie on final ballot resulted in dual endorsement of Andy McKenna and Dan Proft;

For Lieutenant Governor: Jason Plummer;

For the Representative to Congress from Illinois 10th Congressional District: Bob Dold;

For Comptroller: Jim Dodge.

For Illinois Representative - 17th District: Hamilton Chang.

These are all candidates with long-time party ties, but there are some interesting choices, different than would have been expected. Eva, over at The conservativeBrand blog has details, and Jeff Berkowitz covered the NTRO event with some interviews.

Gag Me: Obama Bows to a Foreign Power (yet again)

Somehow this horrifying picture of President Obama bowing to the Emperor of Japan reminds me that it is 23 days to Pearl Harbor Day.

UPDATE: And, from a comment at the LA Times sent to me this morning (Sunday), "Bowing to another foreign leader! First it was the King of Saudi Arabia, now the Emperor of Japanese. Why does he keep doing this? If it's respect, then why didn't he bow to the Queen of England? Was it because the Queen is a) white, b) a woman, or c) both?" Of course, the answer is that American Presidents, primus inter pares, bow to no one. I used the Latin for those readers who like to wander suggest that I forgot to finish my education, but mostly because the great blogger, Pat Hickey, who uses it so easily, also has a fabulous set of pro-American photos in his post about the Japanese bowing.

We won't even mention the miserable bowing form; maybe it's an Indonesian thing. We do not wish to cast asperion upon the Japanese. Upon assuming office, the current Emperor of Japan made substantial apologies for the excesses of his father, and peaceful and friendly relations have existed between the US and Japan nations for many years. Nevertheless, there are many in both countries who stilll smart from family losses, and opening old wounds is always bad politics. Certainly, Mr. Obama opened many of his fellow countrymen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice - 11 AM 11/11/1918

It was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when the Armistice took effect, and the Great War in Europe officially ended. People celebrated in the streets and President Wilson of the United States declared that all draft calls were cancelled.

Even today, on the day now known as Veteran's Day, some will be standing at attention at 11am, facing East, to remember.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall of the Berlin Wall II: St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig

Pictured above is the St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, the physical heart and soul of the citizens movement for freedom in East Germany. Here, Johannes Sebastian Bach spent most of his career overseeing the musical life of the church, playing the organ, and composing most of his glorious music. It's a Protestant church, plain inside, mostly shades of white. It is small but beautiful. Its feel isn't terribly different than that important symbol of our own American Revolution, the Old North Church in Boston. During the waning days of East Germany the citizens met here every Monday night at 5 pm , and then as November, 1989 approached the meetings became nightly.

In speaking of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Koch, Editor-in Chief of German media giant Deutsche Welle World, said

"[T]wenty years later, it is important to remember that it was neither the West nor politicians who made this day possible. It was citizens of the GDR who, on the dismal streets of their walled-in state, asked for nothing more than their rights.

"The fact that weeks of peaceful protest led to the collapse of the concrete and barbed wire barrier affirms the place of democratic constitutional history, and the values upon which it rests."

When George Bush the Elder started talking about the reunification of Germany I thought he had lost his mind. Wasn't a unified Germany the fiercest enemy of the US and its allies in both World War I and II? Didn't it represent a peril that no sane person would ever embrace? What I didn't factor in was the human desire for freedom, and how that works on the hearts and minds of people who seek it.

For a comprehensive coverage on the fall of the Berlin wall, click here to go to the English language version of Deutsche Welle, with photos, stories, editorials, and even a story about how the Stasi, the old East German secret police, tried to recruit young Angela Merkel as a spy.

Do you love the picture of the Nikolaikirche? I do. I was so delighted by my photo skills when I found it in my Leipzig travel photos, I knew I had to share it with you. Unfortunately, I now seem to remember that I copied the travel photos of another family member and put them on my little computer, leading me to believe that this wonderful photo wasn't taken by me at all.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fall of the Berlin Wall I: "Tear Down This Wall!"

In 1961, following years of East German population loss to West Germany equaling perhaps 20% of its population, a wall was erected through Berlin, Germany, sealing the East from the West. Two years later, US President John F. Kennedy delivered his famous speech in Berlin, saying, "All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin," concluding, "And therefor, as a free man, I take pride in the words, "Ich bin ein Berliner." Twenty-four years later, on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan traveled to Berlin and addressed Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in his "Tear down this wall!" speech, which received and enthusiastic news coverage. Reagan knew that what he said would be well received in the West, and the similarity in his delivery style to Kennedy's is remarkable. In their reporting, pundits used this opportunity to re-introduce and discuss President Kennedy's earlier speech to an earlier generation.

Today, November 9, 2009, is the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, much of which was torn down, brick by brick by average citizens. The representatives of old enemies have gathered in friendship in Berlin, now the restored capital of a unified Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany; Gordon Brown, of England; Nicholas Sarkozy of France, who as a young legislator travelled to Berlin and helped the citizens take down the wall; Mikhail Gorbachev, himself; and Lech Walesa, whose Solidarity movement gave courage and strength to East Germans in the days before the wall fell, have been joined by the leaders of all 27 European Union countries as well as Vladimir Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in attendance, US President Barack Obama--seeking to separate himself from America's past-- has stayed in Washington, finding himself "too busy" to attend the most important celebration of freedom in this century. While as Americans we may be ashamed of what is transpiring in Washington, America's role in encouraging and supporting a free Europe cannot be underestimated. Today, all Americans can can be proud that in our hearts we, too, are also Berliners.

Today Chancellor Merkel delivered remarks which well may prove as famous and enduring as those by Presidents Kennedy and Reagan. Addressing Michael Gorbachev, and underscoring his importance to history, she simply said, "You made this possible — you courageously let things happen, and that was much more than we could expect."


Sunday, November 08, 2009

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Indian Summer, at last! A wonderful day to wake up early, be lazy, think about when (or if) to go to church, enjoy some football or some last-minute yard work, a great day to be alive! Today also is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a special day set aside to pray for persecuted Christians.

Persecuted Christians? Isn't that history, gone with the wind, mostly over by the end of the 100 Years War, finished up when the Pilgrims moved to Plymouth? The sad answer is no. Today, in many countries of the world, Christians not only live in fear of practicing their religion freely but suffer at the hands of their neighbors or governments who persecute them.

Christians living in free societies are largely unaware of this tragedy. Bolstered by our own strong religious freedoms, the plight of persecuted Christians is easy for Americans to ignore--if they know about it at all. As Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Unfortunately The Declaration hasn't made much of a difference in many countries that are UN members, who have either moved directly against their Christian citizens or have failed to stop the enemies of Christianity from wrongdoing against their Christian neighbors.

According to Open Doors, an evangelical ministry serving persecuted Christians worldwide, what persecuted Christians want most is your prayers. So do take some time on this fine Indian Summer day, to pray for those who seek to worship Christ in peace and truth, and remember them in the coming days. Many are suffering, some greatly. Take a few minutes to learn about the plight of persecuted Christians, and if you have a blog, consider doing a few posts for the cause.

Healthcare: Tyranny of the Majority (of Congress)

God help us. Nancy Pelosi's healthcare bill has passed the Congress.

"People have a grave concern about what Washington is doing to them, not for them." -Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Beautiful Tram Run by Veolia, Wilmette's Garbage Contractor

Look at this beautiful method of public transport, as different from a CTA bus as day is from night! I came across the picture during a morning project, while searching for whether I could recycle those pesky CD cases. While I couldn't find an answer (no recycling number on the cases), I did find this fabulous looking tram in Nancy, France. The trams in Nancy are run by private corporation Veolia, Wilmette's garbage contractor. Beautiful, isn't it!

The Late, Great United States

I can't think of any scenario that sums up more fully what has happened to our country than the news of the last day. There was President Obama on TV yukking it up with conference attendees before reflecting on an act of domestic terrorism that would have seized the news endlessly if it had happened in enemy territory abroad; a member of the US Armed Forces who should have been separated from the service months or years ago, but likely kept due to political correctness; and news that liberal pressure group is trying to blackmail members of Congress into voting for health care legislation against even the wishes of constituents.

By this afternoon it is possible we may have the first step by Congress in criminalizing Americans who fail to purchase what the Government mandates--healthcare insurance at a cost of thousands and thousands of dollars per year, and will surely generate millions in campaign contributions. Employment is at 10.5% or 17.5%, depending on how you look at it, and the news is filled with pictures of caskets of returning soldiers thanks to an Order by President Obama, in a dreamy propaganda coup for our enemies.

Is this the hope and change and vision for America celebrated just one year ago? I know it is not, and it is heart-breaking. I should imagine this week we will be treated to more let-them-eat-cake pictures of fashion choices from Michelle Obama's bottomless closet, parties for the First Children and visitors at the White House, and the glaring absence of President Obama--who had plenty of time to go to Berlin during his campaign and Copenhagen recently to pitch the Olympics--at the anniversary commemorations of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The photo is that of President Obama bowing to the Saudi King, a defining moment for a "new" America.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

November 2009: Big Victory for Democrats

Tuesday night was a night that celebrated the Democratic Party. Don't fall for that stuff you are hearing from a bunch of teabaggers! The Democrats are stronger than ever! Take it from one who knows, and that would be Nancy Pelosi. When the ballots were counted on Tuesday night, the Democrats definately won on November 3, 2009. It was a big victory. Just check out Fox News, which is, as usual, carrying on about it all the time and spinning the news in favor of the Republicans. Figures, doesn't it? Could there be bigger proof of the way Fox lies than you don't hear much of anything about the election on CNN Headline News?

No lesser light than Ruy Teixeira, from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, that knows about these things, has advised fellow Democrats to relax! Barack Obama remains the hero he is to his base. Don't you think if there was a problem he would have said something? Barack Obama wasn't even worried. The election was so in the bag, he didn't even bother watching the returns and his daughters took off for a mid-week Miley Cyrus concert. So about the last thing Democrats need to do is to over react to some stupid, made-up results promoted by Fox News.

Democrats have friends in the precincts, and they can even speedily turn on a dime if a candidate needs help! Don't be misled by a bunch of claptrap mindlessly repeated by a bunch of sheeple right-wingers. Holiday time is coming soon, and it is time to put politics aside and to start planning your celebrations. Do make some shopping lists and mix up a few sample batches of holiday punch! The good news from Washington is that the corner has been turned and the recession is over. The last thing you would want to do is to not be prepared for the holidays or have some gifts that fail to recognize that by Christmas good times will be here again.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Election: Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

How do you feel this morning? On the radio, the weather is 41 and cloudy, but in my heart it's 70 and sunny! I am feeling much better than of late, thank you, dare I say hopeful? After yesterday's election, I decided that a picture of the elephant sign that I took at the Cologne Zoo would be just about perfect! One year ago, crowing Democrats told us that the Republican Party was finished, and they have spent the better part of a year repeating that. Not so fast!

At my work, everyone has been very crabby of late, but today I am going to leading the way with a much improved mood!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Foreclosures, the Caymans, and You

I still haven't really figured out exactly how the subprime meltdown really happened, even though I knew it had something do do with the Cayman Islands, which are not subject to U.S. tax law or regulation. What I didn't know, was that many of the mortgage backed securities ended up being owned by financially struggling governments in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia. Anyway, you might want to read the article (more here) how Goldman Sachs dumped its really bad mortages into the market after arranging for them to be highly rated.

One thing I have learned in the past few days: if a house is about to go into foreclosure, it might be best for the homeowner to hang on tight and not give up too quickly. With so much trading of mortgages, apparently there are numerous instances where mortgage holders simply can't find the proper documents to establish a legal claim to property. While I would imagine those papers will show up eventually, it might provide homeowners enough breathing room to sort things out. Of course, if the homeowners give up too quickly, the banks may win even though their houses are not in order. What a mess we have on our hands!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Blago's Hair and Your Vote for IL Govenor

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

I can't think of anything better than how vigorously the Illinois Republican primary for governor is being waged already. There is a lot of really early activity. Individual campaigns are emerging from the smoke-filled room phase long ahead of schedule.

The above Andy McKenna video excerpt, posted above, is a great political ad from a visual standpoint, and is very clever. As far as I am concerned, the more the culture of corruption is discussed, the more likely it is that voters will at least spend a few minutes considering how it steals from the citizens of Illinois. Corruption is, of course, candidate Dan Proft's issue. He discusses that culture with great passion, conviction and breadth of knowledge. I don't think I've ever seen Andy McKenna passionate about anything, but that may be more personal style than anything else.

Proft's focus on corruption is already beneficial, having moved McKenna to move to take the wind out of Proft's sails and co-opt the issue that Proft hammers home daily. At the moment, that means that Proft has emerged as the man to beat. That will change. Candidate Jim Ryan is still pretty quiet. Ryan is battle tested, has the best name recognition, and traditionally rates an A (or possibly an A+) in working a crowd. While he has some baggage, he is a white knight, and in a rich field of good candidates, could emerge early as the clear front runner.

h/t to the Capitol Fax Blog for the heads-up on the video.