Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Brace Yourself Department: Grim Christmas for Cook County Homeowners

Horrible news. The Cook County tax bills won't be out until Thanksgiving and will be due December 22, just 3 days before Christmas. In a recession-battered economy which has beaten local household budgets to a pulp, it will be impossible to plan sensibly for Christmas spending. No one knows what kind of tax increase is planned for this year, and paying the property taxes has to take priority over the Christmas stocking. Dare we even go shopping? This late timing also will give Cook County homeowners who don't pay their taxes through an escrow only three months to plan for their first half tax bills in 2011.

Of course, this has absolutely nothing to due with the election in November, we are assured. Thank goodness. When Cook County officials (all Democrats, just in case you're wondering) know their party is in trouble for that election, no suspicion--no, none at all--could possibly be raised for their motives or timing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Come See Hamilton Chang Debate this Sunday, 2PM, Village Hall

Hamilton Chang
Do block out an hour of your time, this Sunday, September 25, 2010, and go to Wilmette Village Hall at 2:00 pm to listen to the debate between State Representative candidates, Wilmette's own Hamilton Chang and his opponent Daniel Biss. The seat is currently held by Republican Beth Coulsen, who is retiring.

With strong educational credentials and years of experience in private industry, Chang boasts a distinguished financial background.  His election would make a genuine difference in bringing financial expertise into our legislature and help our elected officials to start sorting out the financial nightmare which has developed in our State over the past few years.

I know the ladies over at the League of Women Voters are always very disappointed when the press fails to give them credit for debates they organize and sponsor, so I would like not only to mention that this debate is put on by them but also note that the League has a strong dedication to sponsoring political debates. Also: for people who are  suffering from that miserable cold that seems to be making the rounds, or have another good excuse for not leaving the house, the debate will also be broadcast live on Channel 6.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dan Seals: No Recent Updates Except for the Social Security Flip-Flop

Looking for a giggle? If you have a strong sense of humor and some political interest, sometimes it pays to look at candidate websites. I found this "no recent updates" Facebook Badge at the official  website of Dan Seals, candidate for Congress in the 10th Congressional District, along with the invitation to "spread the word about Dan Seals" and add the official Facebook badge to your blog. And so I did.

I also found something else, maybe not so funny, about Dan Seals on my website visit. Just last week, the Chicago Tribune reported that Dan Seals "supports cutting Social Security payments to wealthier seniors because 'they are less in need of those benefits,' " In contrast, Seals website states, "Older Americans have been investing in and counting on these[Social Security] programs for decades, and Dan will work to guarantee seniors the benefits they’ve earned." What???

Seals seems to have been doing fairly routine about-faces on issues of late. What the heck, times change, and you wouldn't want a six-year campaign to appear old and stale, I imagine. Nevertheless,  its best not to talk out of both sides of your mouth and better to make both your written words and your spoken words agree, wouldn't you think? While the juvenile and goofy campaign stunts seem to be winding down as perennial candidate Seals ages, the candidate doesn't appear to have changed a bit. Is it any wonder that in Wilmette--where Dan Seals lives--that the yard sign count for Republican candidate Bob Dold--who doesn't live in Wilmette-- is at least 20 or 30 for Dold to 1 for Seals? Elections are only six weeks away, and things are starting to get interesting.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Campaigns, Caterpillars, and Iguanas

I promised a few more vacation pictures, so here is a catepillar and two Iguanas. I suppose one of these days I will have to make a few comments on the local candidates, and start getting ready for November's election. Anybody else thinking that the ads against Mark Kirk are beyond the pale? Well, I know they are, because people are telling me so. At our house, we will be supporting Mark Kirk.

We have a great bunch of local Republican candidates this year, and if yard signs are any indication, the Democrats have gone into hiding! Wise choice, I would say. Democrat policies will ensure a sojourn at the Poor House by and by, if it hasn't sent you there already. This is, year six of the Dan Seals (candidate for the 10th Congressional District) perma-campaign, and he still doesn't live in the district. He is running a very, very quiet campaign, appealing to his base and keeping his head down. It still amazes me how his supporters claim he was at events he never attended--or if he did, only invisibly--such as Northbrook's 4th of July parade.I have seen about one  Seals sign as opposed to dozens for Bob Dold. But so much for politics, and on to the pictures.

Have you ever seen such a good looking catepillar? I found this one at the Botanical Garden on Dominica. It was as big as my finger!

The iguana is really enjoying his nap in the tree on a very hot day.

The iguanas ran around like squirrels in St. Thomas. There were a lot of them! If you can get beyond their somewhat ugly appearance, they are pretty cute, and quite charming.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Michael Moore, White House Chief of Staff?

"I'll work there everyday, I'll get up with Obama, we'll get up at six in the morning, I'll help light a fire under him, we'll get going, we'll get the job that needs to get done, "We'll stand up for the American people, stand up for the working people, have some guts. And that's what I think we need." -Filmmaker Michael Moore on who should replace Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff if Emanuel leaves the White House.

Pretty good idea, seeing that the word in Washington is that while George Bush was up and out the door at about, say 6am,  Obama really isn't out and about until about 11:00. With a full party schedule at the White House this week, Mr. Moore's words seem timely, indeed.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11: Remembering Michael Grady Jacobs and Carl Molinaro

Today is the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. For nine years now, the Islamic world has failed to condemn the acts of that day and the continuing violence that began to rock our world nearly one decade ago. We have yet to see any kinder, gentler face of Islam, but we remain open to the concept.  Families still mourn the 2,996 loved ones cruelly murdered that day, and Americans remember the horror.


In Memory of Michael Grady Jacobs

If Michael Grady Jacobs was alive today, this morning might find him practicing the bagpipes, dreaming of retirement just a couple of years away. Or perhaps he would have been off to breakfast with one of his children and some of his grandchildren, who were deprived forever by cruel foreign terrorists from ever knowing their grandfather.

When Michael Grady Jacobs headed off to work in Manhattan from suburban Danbury, Connecticut on September 11, 2001, it was a bright and beautiful morning. Fifty-four years old, at the prime of his career, he had a fine job at Fiduciary Trust International, as Vice-President of Tax Operations. He was a local Danbury boy, having received a good Jesuit education at Fairfield Prep, which prides itself on forming men of competence, compassion, and commitment as leaders of the world, after which he went on to Fairfield University.

Michael Grady Jacobs worked on the 90th floor of World Trade Center. He was only one of the 2,996 US citizens and guests whose life was snuffed out on 9/11 by foreign Jihadist warriors. Their terrorist value system defined anywhere in the world they chose to strike as their battlefield, and men the calibre of Michael Grady Jacobs--who spent the last minutes of his life attempting to lead his co-workers to safety-- as their enemies. His life, which included his family, his work, his rebuilding of an old Volkswagen beetle, and learning to play the bagpipes was cruelly taken from him that 9/11 morning without cause, warning, or justification.

The online exhibits at the National September 11 Memorial  Museum tell the stories of many who survived the horrors in New York City just eight years ago. Do take a moment to visit, to remember Michael Grady Jacobs, his family including his four children and now a grandchild, the others who were brutally murdered, and the many thousands of others who are left with a life-long struggle resulting from a loved one's loss.


In Memory of Carl Molinaro

If Carl Molinaro had been alive this Saturday, he would have still been a fairly young man of 41. Perhaps this morning, a warm Saturday in September, he would have headed out to the park with his 12 year old daughter and his 9 year old son. Maybe the afternoon would have been spent off at a movie or the mall, or just lazing about in the yard. Unfortunately, due to the cruel attacks of September 11, 2001, Carl's children really never knew him at all.

"Everybody that knew Carl loved Carl, especially me," said Donna Molinaro, in an interview in October, 2001. A year later, she wrote, "I will love you with all my heart until the end of time. You stole my heart at 15 and it will be yours forever." Mrs. Molinaro is the widow of firefighter Carl Molinaro. He died in New York City in the collapse of One World Trade Center while aiding building evacuation with Ladder Company 2, on September 11, 2001. Nearly 15,000 lives were saved through evacuation that fateful morning.

Carl was only 32. His newborn son was just three weeks old, and his daughter only 3 at the time of the attack on America. A native of Brooklyn, he had moved to Tottenville on Staten Island in his childhood, played football for Tottenville High, and was raising his family in the same neighborhood.

Carl was remembered by famous writer Kurt Vonnegut at a Memorial Service held on October 23, 2001. In that speech, Vonnegut--whose own life and house had been saved by firfighters just two years earlier--referred to an earlier quote of his, "I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire truck."

Clearly, Carl was as taken by firefighting as was Vonnegut, moving from working in his Dad's New Jersey furniture factory to learning to be a firefighter in his late 20's. His life and contribution to the survivors of 9/11 is memorialized in nearly 2,000 online tributes to him, including one at the New York Times.

These tributes are part of Project 2996, an online initiative which remembers the victims of the terrorist attacks upon the United States on 9/11/2001.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Rev Jones and the Quran: One Nutbag Minister Should not a World Crisis Make

America is not the battlefield of Islam, and one nutbag  minister from Florida is not a world crisis. This country is governed by a system of laws rooted in the Anglo-American tradition, granting wide toleration for stupid and unwise words and deeds, and that protection extends to burning the holy book of any religion of your choice. Religious prejudice is nothing new in our country, and any attempt to spin history to the contrary is simply a lie.

Smart Muslims would be wise to react the same as any thinking person North of the Mason-Dixon line, who ignore aggrevating fundamentalist Southern preachers such as Terry Jones. Rev. Jones, who considers Islam evil,  has designated this Saturday, September 11, as a Quran burning day. Chances are good that the books Rev. Jones plans to burn are English versions, which we long ago learned aren't even real Quarans, anyway. Real Quarans exist only in Arabic. Whatever the case may be, it would be smart to remember that these are books, not people, burning at the stake. A fair and just society, generally speaking, grants far greater rights to human beings rather than inanimate objects.

In a story about Muslims in America appearing earlier this week in the New York Times, a muslim doctor noted, “In no other country could we have such freedoms — that’s why so many Muslims choose to make this country their own." The government officials who have been so quick to condemn Rev. Jones, might well be reminded that the same laws that give the good doctor the freedom he wants for himself and his family, are the same laws that extend their protection to Rev. Jones and his book burning.

Yesterday, about 200 lawyers and civil society members in Multan, Pakistan protested against Rev. Jones. As part of that protest, an American flag--an object as dear to American heats as a Quran is to a Muslim--was burned.  A picture is above.We would note that no American leader who chastized Rev. Jones had anything to say about the flag.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

OMG, No More Mayor Daley?

No more Mayor Daley? How upsetting is that? Except for the Bilandic-Byrne-Wahington interregnum--when plagues of snow and other bad things too horrible to remember were visited upon the City of Chicago--a Mayor Daley is all that most of us have known. Loyal to their city, we knew a Mayor Daley would never leave us for a more exciting or better paying job. A Chicago institution, sort of like the old Irish Kings, who were elected from the sons of the King, and now there will be no king at all. Scary.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Back from Vacation

I was pretty excited to get a vacation before Labor Day, and I got some pretty pictures. After a little tussle with Hurricane Earl, I am happy to be safely home. Unfortunately, I developed a cold, so am a little under the weather today. This is a view of the capital of the the small island nation of Dominica, which is just as picturesque as it looks.
This sign pointing out the Office of the President might make you think I took some time out from fun to meet some important politicians like Michelle Antoinette did in Spain, but really all I did was take a picture of the sign.
I loved seeing the bananas growing, which you can see, above. Bananas of course require tropical weather to survive, and this vacation was really, really hot. I think it was unusually hot because the approach of Hurricane Earl made the air extremely still and we couldn't enjoy cool ocean breezes. It also might of been because I planned this trip long before it got hot this summer, and hot seemed like a great idea. From a temperature standpoint, going to the Dells might have been smarter.

 I found it a real challenge to take decent pictures in the super-bright sunlight--it washed out all the color. I am sure more practice would help. Shortly before I saw this waterfall I found out that the Boa Constrictor is a common snake on Dominica. which sort of took the fun out of these jungle-like surroundings. Nevertheless, I had a wonderful time on my summer vacation in spite of the Hurricane, the Boas, and the heat.  I will try to find some more good pictures to share with you over the next few days.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Pakistan Floods Continue Widespread Misery

Save the Children is reporting that millions of children still are not receiving food aid in flood-ravaged Pakistan, as 20 million Pakistanis attempt to keep body and soul together in this terrible humanitarian crisis. The UN is working to raise funds to supply seeds to farmers who have lost their standing crops, as well as their seed stocks, and 1.2 million livestock and 6 million poultry. While floodwaters are beginning to recede, the affected region is half the size of Italy. Predictibly, the Taliban is working to try to trade relief efforts for loyalty. Open Doors urges prayers for the affected, reminding us that this is not just a problem affecting Pakistan's large Muslim Population. The video, above, is written and performed by the Pakistani group, Laal, and features dozens of pictures showing the extent of the floods' fury. Do take a minute to look at this youtube video to learn more about this situation.