Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Janet Napolitano: Bad for Security, Bad for Travel, Bad for You

The kinder, gentler reaction to Islamist hardliners on the part of the current administration (with the exception of some in Afghanistan or maybe northwest Pakistan) doesn't seem to be working very well. In fact, it would appear that it is going to be much smarter to simply stop travelling and stay home than take to the skies under the nightmare of a Homeland Security run by Janet Napolitano.

Dick Cheney's statement about the Detroit plane bomber:

"As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Napolitano Must Go

It was April 14, 2009 when this blog first called for Janet Napolitano's resignation as head of Homeland Security. Today we renew that call. Ms. Napolitano's continued tenure is a menace to the American public, not to mention to the political fortunes of her boss, the President. We further call for the Obama administration--which is losing its popular mandate--to take Ms. Napolitano aside and convince her to resign as quickly as possible.

President Obama, who took as long to respond to the Christmas terrorist attack on an airplane on its way to Detroit as his predecessor took to mount an effective response to Hurricane Katrina, should realize he is as ill served by Napolitano as President Bush was by the incompetent "Brownie." It sends the wrong message to the American public for its President to pay more attention to a cut on the chin of pal Eric Whitaker's son, than responding to a renewed interest on the part of foreign terrorists to rob innocent members of the American public of their lives. Allowing the American public to believe that Napolitano is the best Obama can do when it comes to protecting American citizens is a dangerous and foolhardy choice.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Have a Wonderful Christmas Weekend!

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel —which means, "God with us." — Matthew 1:22-24

I hope you are enjoying the long Christmas weekend. I saw this Venetian Madonna and child enthroned, a 14th century marble fragment, in Kansas City at the Nelson-Atkins museum.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009!

Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting Ready for Christmas

I had heard good things about the art museums in Kansas City, so we spent a couple of days having a look around before we came home. The piece to the left was at the Kemper Mueum, and I thought it was very appropriate for Christmas. It is called Dot and was done in 1999 by Jim Hodges.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Not to Get the Kids for Christmas

Empirical evidence would suggest that the Tiger Woods Action Plan is this year's no-no teen Christmas present, especially since it is "currently undergoing a rewrite to include "new, exciting areas of study." No hint is given of what excitement that might be. While the Action Plan has has reached an estimated 10 million young people, helping them with "character development," we would suggest just saying "no," and looking for something else to put under the tree at founding sponsor, Target.

Senators for Sale: Ben Nelson of Nebraska

As the American citizen cries to be released from the nightmarish health care abomination bill crafted by Democrats and about to be unleased upon a trusting public, Sen. Ben Nelson has been bought off. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman: "Bad news for Nebraska and bad news for America."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kansas City: Better from 30,000 Feet?

We pressed on to Kansas City from St. Louis and arrived before the weather turned bad. Kansas City has a famous old urban shopping center--notable because it prepared for the dominance of the passenger vehicle very early on--called Country Club Plaza, which has a very nice Christmas light display. It was interesting to see and there were many parking garages carefully hidden. When we arrived the weather was pleasant, but the next day it poured. That night it snowed. The next day it got really cold. From a weather standpoint, Kansas City was not a very good destination. While we were seeking adventure and a new experience in flyover country, it seemed that the most sensible way to view Kansas City might be from 30,000 feet.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Great Arch at St. Louis

While the great arch at St. Louis was very impressive, we learned that it was a US taxpayer funded project of an earlier generation. It was designed to revitalize downtown St. Louis. Since the downtown was nearly completely deserted, we guessed it didn't work. There was a museum grandly entitled "The Museum of Westward Expansion" in a basement area under the arch, which seemed to reflect some sort of organized bigotry against white people who headed West. Since it was a federal museum on national parkland, we didn't hold it against the people of St. Louis.

The mighty Mississip narrows at St. Louis, and we saw only one or two boats the whole time. This is quite unlike the very busy Rhine river--but for the recession we had hoped to visit again--which is loaded with traffic and pulsing with energy. Mostly this whole waterfront area hit me as one large federally funded ghost town.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Go Roland Burris!

Like the Hydra, the health care bill which American citizens from all political perspectives hate, cannot seem to die, much less with dignity. As Commenter Adam notes at the New York Times,

"Should this bill pass, for the first time in American history, there will be a condition on citizenship. Unlike car insurance, where you choose to drive, you will be forced to purchase a private good for simply being alive.

"That kind of federal control is unprecedented and alarming."

And Illinois' own Senator Roland Burris is suddenly getting his 15 minutes of fame for opposing the health care bill in its current form. From the left and from the right the comments are favorable, except for those that remind that Mr. Burris is under a bit of a shadow when it comes to principle. While I am not so sure Sen. Burris understands Twitter, he would be very happy to know that his name appears in an increasing number of Tweets. Meanwhile, from abroad, articles remind us that the public option may be a very dangerous choice indeed.

I will be first to make this vow, and will you join me? If Sen. Burris manages to kill the nightmare that this health care bill has become, I will speak up for him and speak well of him from this day on. Even a guy under a cloud can serve the People, and at this point whoever is willing to do that will be a hero to me.


Cornshocks for Christmas?

As we travelled across Illinois on our way to St. Louis, we were shocked to see a fair amount of corn in the fields not yet harvested. Several weeks ago, I heard that the corn harvest was very late this year due to the extremely wet Spring. I imagine that seeing standing corn in December is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We also saw some machinery harvesting corn like mad, not a bad idea in advance of winter storms.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Visiting with the Clydesdale Horses

So when my friend E. and I met for lunch to discuss this year's trip to the Christmas markets in Germany, we had a horrible shock. We peered into our wallets and found that due to the recession that we both had hardly any money! That put us into a terrible mood. With air fares to Europe higher than we ever remembered and a dollar whose value has sunk considerably, it seemed all was lost.

Then it occurred to us. Perhaps we could do something cheaper. And so we did. Above, you can see us in St. Louis, visiting with the Clydesdale horses decked out in their Christmas best at the Annheuser Busch brewery.

Friday, December 04, 2009

This Weekend Chicago a Two Christmas Market Town

In Europe, heading for the Christmas markets on December weekends is very popular, and in larger German cities there are multiple markets for fun. There you can enjoy hearty snacks and warming drinks in a festive atmosphere, and look at a wide variety of merchandise that might make good Christmas presents or be fun to add to your own stash of stuff. The larger and more important the city, the greater the likelihood that there will be more than one market to visit.

This weekend, Chicago shows itself off as a two Christmas market town. In addition to the main market at Daley Plaza, there is the addition of the Lincoln Square Christmas Market, which starts at noon today, and runs through 7:00 pm on Sunday. The market, which takes place at Leland & Western Avenue, features a large, heated tent which will be welcome in the sudden cold snap. Located in the heart of Chicago's old German neighborhood, there will be plenty of food and entertainment as well as ice sculptures!

Of course, one of the best thing about Christmas time in Chicago is the Christkindlemarkt. Since 1996, the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest has been hosting the largest traditional Christmas market outside of Germany in of Chicago's version of the European town square--Daley Plaza. More than 65% of the vendors travel all the way from Germany to participate in this popular event. While tourists to Germany comb the markets for traditional Christmas finds--incense smokers, wooden toys, charming tree ornaments, all of this can be found right downtown. Since there is always plenty of authentic food and drink, a visit is almost like a trip abroad. The outdoor location is a great way to visit with friends and family while shopping for Christmas presents. What better way to avoid stiflingly hot malls and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and a slower pace?

This is a great year to see Christmas markets in Chicago rather than take an early Winter vacation to Germany. With high airfares, a very weak dollar, and the recession long from over, don't miss the oppotunity to enjoy what we have here at home.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Just What Happened in Florida?

Goodness, gossip journalism has run amok! So many twists and turns it could be a full time job keeping up with the Woodses, and the Uichtels and the Grubbses and the Moquins. After the serious news stories of the past months, it is quite a relief to find an engaging, global story that never once includes the words, Afghanistan, surge, poll, 2010, 2011, or public option. The Chinese version of recent events in a ritzy, gated community in Florida is perhaps one of the thieves of our time well worth sharing. Thanks, Tiger, for giving us even more from America's favorite pastime.

UPDATE: It appears that Tiger Woods is a cheat, at least in his personal life, the only part that remains unknown is the details. Woods' pleas for the public (who have made him incredibly rich by purchasing goods--in particular, Nike--which he endorses), to simply leave him alone and let him cheat in private don't sit well with many. We believe that when it comes to sports, and sportsmanlike conduct, being a cheat is not a personal matter. In the words of Swedish golfer, Jesper Parnevik, who earlier expressed his regrets for introducing his former nanny, now Mrs. Tiger Woods, to her husband and suggested the inappropriateness of Tiger Woods living by Nike motto, "just do it," "There's nothing I regret (saying) and I stand by everything. He's lost all my respect, I mean, all the respect I had for the guy is gone, that's pretty much all I can say." And in saying that, Mr. Parnevik has pretty much said it all.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pink Glove Dance, Just Perfect for Work

Morale has not been the greatest at work of late, and if we could get everyone doing a Pink Glove Dance like the employees of the Providence Health System, I am sure everyone would cheer up. Clever way for to push a new line of exam gloves! Even the spare footage is pretty fun. I am sure if a dance break was required at work, everyone would be a lot healthier and happier. Unfortunately, I can't imagine that happening. Sadly enough, neither Medline, the glove maker nor the hospital feature the Youtube video, which has received almost 2 million views, on their websites.