Thursday, October 29, 2009

Valerie Jarrett--unplugged

Seems Barack-star's right-hand woman-Valerie Jarrett-got caught in a little semantics problem when she tried to make the case that the West Wing's War with FOX News is justified because FOX is biased. But what about left wing MSNBC, Campbell Brown asked her. Aren't they biased? Why haven't you called them out?

Sputter, sputter. Uh, well. No. Yes. Not always. Maybe. I was for it before I was against it.

`Well,' [apparently forgetting she's no longer a community organizer, but an advisor to the most powerful man in the free world] `we speak truth to power' Jarrett replied. Uh, Valerie. You are power.

You just have to hear this Orwellian mess for yourself:

Take away: It's bias when they don't agree with us. [White House]

"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost." Thomas Jefferson

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Halloween from the family

Not here to talk about the past

I'll admit it, I've never been a Tony La Russa fan. I'm more of a "baseball is a little boys' game for big boys" purist. I hate Tony's overmanaging, batting the pitcher 8th, lefty/righty matchups, bad dye job, defending the indefensible (Chris Duncan anyone?), California residency, `he's a lawyer', endless tinkering with the line-up, prickly press conferences--all topped off by this year's three and out post-season play.

About this time every year I start praying Tony will just stay on the west coast and tend to his pets. I'm sure he'd be much happier living with his wife and daughters fulltime and making PSAs in Hollywood for PETA.

Unfortunately, Cardinals fans heard today that Tony's coming back. If that wasn't bad enough he's bringing Mark `I'm Not Hear To Talk About The Past' McGwire with him as the hitting coach. That's right, bring back a 263 lifetime hitter (probably an enhanced # at that) to teach our guys how to hit. Maybe we should have given MM a trial run in September when the bats went silent just in time for the playoffs. MM could at least relate since he had 1596 strikeouts of his own--far outnumbering his 1,414 RBIs.

So now we have the disgraced Mark McGwire slithering back on the payroll, side-by-side with his Manager/Enabler Tony LaRussa.

I used to give TLR the benefit of the doubt. Not anymore. I'm done with him.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My weekend plans, what about yours?

Dinner with Mr. C

Crafting with Wendy

Knitting class

Hockey game//Go Blues!

Halloween Party

Apple pie

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The chosen one chooses

No matter what you think of FOX News or Barack-star, this administration's attempts to marginalize the most-watched cable news channel reek of over-reaching for control, intimidation, and manipulation of what should be a free press. It also indicates we've elected a rather thin-skinned president who prefers to be hailed over being challenged.

From Just One Minute:
October 22, 2009
Who Else Has Obama Endorsed?

To whom can America turn in these troubled times, as Hope and Change appear to be foundering? We can turn to Obama for answers!

Having explained to us that Fox News cannot be trusted, Obama has taken the additional and important step of endorsing certain pundits, opinion leaders, and "journalists" as President Approved. Who is on the honor roll:

Here's a curious turn in the White House vs. Fox News fight.

On Monday, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow were among several people who attended an off-the-record briefing with Pres. Obama at the White House. Sources tell us other attendees at the two-and-a-half hour chat included Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Gwen Ifill of PBS and Gloria Borger of CNN. Perhaps not surprisingly, no one from Fox News was in the room.

...Update: The White House has sent TVNewser the complete list of those who attended the off-the-record briefing Monday: Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, Ron Brownstein, John Dickerson, Rachel Maddow, Frank Rich, Jerry Seib, Maureen Dowd, Keith Olbermann, Bob Herbert, Gloria Borger, and Gwen Ifill. Several members of the staff also attended.

There you have it. Now we know where to look for President Approved Punditry.

It must have been exciting for Ron Brownstein to meet heavy journalistic talents like Maddow and Olbermann.

Interestingly, Barack-star's team cried foul on FOX News specifically for its prime-time opinion program hosts (Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly)...but willingly held a secret 2-1/2 hour meeting with MSNBC's left wing opinionators (Maddow and Olbermann) and other like-minded journalists.

There really should be some outrage about the executive branch of government trying to muzzle the press simply because they don't like what's being said.

Remember the First Amendment to our constitution? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In the words of great Americans:
"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Thomas Jefferson

“The freedom of the press works in such a way that there is not much freedom from it.” Grace Kelly

And, finally, ponder this:

North Korea: No independent journalists; televisions and radios locked on government-approved frequencies. All news re: Kim Jong Il is positive

Libya: No independent broadcast or print media

Burma: Citizens risk arrest for listening to the BBC

Cuba: The Cuban constitution grants the Communist Party the right to control the press; it recognizes “freedom of speech and the press in accordance with the goals of the socialist society.” The government owns and controls all media outlets and restricts Internet access.

Syria: The media is under heavy state control and influence. Despite efforts to privatize the press, newspapers that overstep the mark in their criticism are shut down or their editions confiscated.

Singapore: The Singapore media is a mouthpiece for the government. Criticisms of government leaders and policies are unheard of in the mainstream media.

China: Restrictions on the press were tightened in China last year. More journalists are imprisoned for their work in China than any other country in the world.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pet Peeve of the Day. Period overuse.

Just. Stop. It. It's. Very. Annoying. Thank. You.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Coffee break on Kona

Next up? A stop on the west side of the Big Island. Kona, Hawaii. Kona is famous for big game fishing, resorts, golf, the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, and of course—Kona coffee.

Kona was also the home of Hawaii's royal family. I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely cool that the Hawaiian Islands were once ruled by a King.

We had a pretty laid back day in Kona. Shopping, strolling the sidewalks, people watching. John bought an Hawaiian shirt with surfboards on it. Very nice. My mom collects turtles (any kind but live) and Kona is rife with sea turtle (honu) motif items, so we picked up a few. I guess the honu are prolific on this part of the Big Island.

And then we stopped for a nice cup of Kona coffee. Delicious. If you love coffee—this is heaven. It’s the Maserati. The HD version of regular coffee. The Neiman Marcus. The Taj Majal. You get the idea. Apparently dry days, misty afternoons, and volcanic soil are the keys to growing some of the best coffee beans in the world. Kona coffee is grown in two mountain areas—Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa. Some of the coffee trees were planted as long ago as 1918! The very first coffee tree cuttings were brought to Kona in 1828 by Reverend Samuel Ruggles, an American missionary. Ruggles brought the cuttings from Oahu to plant in his front yard as an ornamental plant. Because it’s so exclusive and soooooo good it’s also really expensive. A pound of 100% Kona coffee can sell for upward of $40/pound. We bought a pound, but John says we can only drink one cup each on Saturday mornings. If you can make 32 cups of coffee out of one pound of coffee that means we're good through about mid February.

While we were drinking our coffee outside a little coffee shop owned by former Michiganians and watching the surfers across the way, a Gekko scampered across our table. He must be used to tourists, because he wasn't camera shy.

And then we made it back to our ship. For more relaxation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Land, Ho! Hilo!

After Vancouver we spent 5 days cruising in the Pacific. Once we lost sight of land Friday night we didn’t see another ship, island, plane, bird, nothing….until Thursday morning when we pulled into Hilo, Hawaii.

What did we do on the ship? Relaxed! Oh yes, we did! We read, did yoga, got massages, ate, slept, made friends, went to the pool, knitted (me), enjoyed afternoon tea, watched movies, stared out at the ocean, daydreamed, and forgot about work and responsibilities.

On Hilo we were met at the pier by one of John’s clients. Ross and his wife Pat showed us around the island for half the day.

Interestingly, Hilo has been hit by two tsunamis. After the first in 1946 and the second in 1960, Hilo was rebuilt so a park and roadway are between the shoreline and commercial and government buildings. Hilo has black, rocky, craggy beaches.

Hilo was first put on the map, so to speak, by the sugar industry. Sadly, the sugar plantations in Hawaii have pretty much shut down and moved their industry south of the border where the labor is cheaper. No more little C&H girl making her pure cane sugar.

During the famous King Kamehameha's rule in the 1700s Hilo was where he built his ships used to conquer the rest of the islands.

Pat and Ross took us on Banyan Drive which is kind of Hilo’s Walk of Fame. 60-70 years ago celebrities planted banyan trees along the drive. Banyans are trees with aerial roots that hang down from their branches until they reach the ground and another trunk slowly sprouts up. The limbs are filled with wild orchids and ferns. Some of the well known folks who planted banyan trees: Babe Ruth, FDR, Amelia Earhart, Richard Nixon, Cecil B. DeMille.

After that we went to Rainbow Falls. The 80 foot waterfall drops over a cave that’s said to be the home of Hina, the mother of the god Maui. In the same park area is Peepee Falls and Boiling Pots. (Great names, huh?) Water falls over Peepee Falls and flows into an area of rapids known as Boiling Pots where the water rushes through old lava rocks and lava tubes and appears to bubble up or boil as it makes it way downstream. Pat says a lot of people have drowned in Boiling Pots. What a way to go.

We also dropped by the Hilo Farmer’s Market. Pat, Ross and John didn’t think too much was happening there so we didn’t stay long. I was amazed at the fresh flowers and plants. The orchids! The poppies! The hibiscus! The ferns! The palms! So beautiful. I wanted to take them all home with me.

We topped off our island visit with stops at Big Island Candies and Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut plant. Macadamia trees don’t produce nuts until they’re at least seven years old, but they’ll continue to produce for 100 years or so. Another interesting macadamia nut fact? They’re toxic to dogs. A jar of macadamias this big would cost about 4 million dollars. It would cost another 2 million to send it back to the mainland.

Before we left Hilo, Pat bought us real leis. You cannot imagine how good they smelled! Back on the ship a lot of people were wearing fake leis—ha, ha, we were special.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nobel Clearinghouse Winner

As you know, the Nobel Peace Prize Patrol drove up the White House driveway and awarded Barack-star the Nobel Peace Prize. Along with the medal comes $1.4 million in cash. Even though no one knows exactly why Barack-star was awarded the prize, I was pleased to read he plans to donate the prize money to charity. No word yet what charities will benefit from the Nobel committee's largesse.

This behavior is a positive evolution for the power couple.

According to the Huffington Post, from 2000-2004 the Obamas never gave more than 1% of their adjusted gross income to charity, in 2005 they donated 4.7% and in 2006 6.1% of their agi.

Last year the Obamas were in the top .2% of the U.S. population with earnings, reporting $2.7 million.

Good for them for being on a positive (albeit a little slow) giving track. Maybe the Obama's have discovered the wisdom of Longfellow when he said, "The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.”

P.S. Apparently the Bidens could learn from the Obamas. USA Today reports the VP and his wife averaged an annual charitable donation of just $369/year over the last decade.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2 days in Vancouver

We kicked off our vacation with two days in Vancouver. I've heard a lot of people say how nice Vancouver is, but I really didn't expect to love it as much as I did.

Day 1 we visited Stanley Park...named after Lord Stanley, who is the namesake of the much revered (at least in our house) Stanley Cup. Beautiful. The park itself feels very northwest with rocky beaches, wild rhododendrons, redwoods, cedars, bushy tailed squirrels, even totem poles.

Disaster nearly struck when I tripped over a curb and landed flat on my ---. My ankle swelled up to twice its normal size within minutes. But, being the vacation trooper that I am, I trudged on. Up and down hills, around bends, through the paths until we caught a shuttle bus to Granville Island.

[John took a picture of me right after the accident and when I was writhing in pain]

On Granville Island we went to a fabulous open market that had all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, handmade jewelry and other native goods. We bought some oil of oregano from a native herbologist who said it would be good for my sore throat and cough if I put a couple of drops in my tea and drank it twice a day. Plus, she told me to rub it on my aforementioned ankle to help limit the swelling and help it heal faster.

We had lunch on Granville Island overlooking the sailboats. I drank tea with oil of oregano (very spicy) and rubbed it on my poor throbbing ankle. I think the oregano helped my sore throat and cough more than it worked on my ankle.

Day 2 we went for manicures and pedicures. We had sucker written all over us and were held hostage for a couple of hours getting every service that's legal in Canada. John still won't come clean about how much that all cost.

After we escaped, we checked out of our hotel and did some shopping. Vancouverans (Vancouverites? Vancouverinians?} are very stylish. St. Louisans could definitely pick up a fashion tip or two from these folks.

After buying some salmon and shipping it back home, we went to the pier and boarded our ship--the Pacific Princess. Here's the view from our balcony. Nice, huh?

More tomorrow.