Sunday, February 14, 2010


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finland, Finland, Finland.
The country where I want to be,
Pony trekking or camping,
Or just watching TV,
Finland, Finland, Finland.
It's the country for me.

You're so near to Russia.
So far from Japan,
Quite a long way from Cairo,
Lots of miles from Vietnam.

Monty Python, "Finland," 1980.

And quite some distance from Houghton, Michigan, on the Upper Peninsula. The. U.P. is the only place in America where people of Finnish descent. Wikipedia states (and I don't have any reason to question it) that 16 percent of the population of the Upper Peninsula claims Finnish ancestry, and it is the only place in the United States that has counties with a plurality of residents with Finnish blood.

Once I entered the Keweenaw Peninsula--the U.P. has its own peninsulas--I began to notice Finnish-surnamed roads.

The Finnish wave of immigration to the Upper Peninsula occurred in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many of them found work as loggers or toiling in the then- thriving copper and iron mines.

Houghton is known, at least in Michigan, as the home of Michigan Tech University. Finlandia University is Houghton's other college. The streetlight poles of downtown Houghton alternate American and Finnish flags.

Mining will be the subject of my next few Upper Peninsula Upventure posts.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Tea Party Express came to Mishawaka, Indiana yesterday afternoon. About 2,000 Hoosier patriots, joined by many of the Michigan brethren, gathered around in Battell Park, next to a band shell dedicated to Americans who served during World War I.

It was the twentieth stop of the 33 city tour, which will end on Saturday in Washington--on the steps of the US Capitol.

A few minutes after the Express visited New Lenox, Illinois, --which had 10,000 attendees, I spoke with Blue Star Mom Deborah Jones, pictured on the right, by telephone.

I asked her what had been the response so far to the rallies, and she replied. "Phenomenal. Absolutely, positively overwhelmingly encouraging. A sleeping giant has awakened within people who are finally getting out of their easy chair to come out and say, 'We haven't been proactive in our lives as far as the direction of our government.'" Johns than rattled off every imaginable level of government that citizens can get involved in--the Tea Party movement isn't just about President Obama--although the lion's share of the focus in Mishawaka, and presumably other stops, has been the overreach of Obama and Congress.

The neat thing about these rallies, in my opinion--are you reading this Nancy Pelosi?--is that these are truly grass roots events. Johns told me, "I can't tell you how many people I've heard from that have said that we have never come out to a political event or a protest event in their lives."

I can say the same thing. Several people told me that yesterday, and I heard similar sentiments at the four other Tea Parties I've attended.

The rally began with the Pledge of Allegiance and an emotional performance of Our National Anthem by Diane Nagy. She handed over the microphone to Lloyd Marcus, who sang his "American Tea Party Anthem."

Some of the speakers danced, and well, what they lacked in technique they made up with enthusiasm. Female volunteers, the quickly assembled "Lloydettes," created a line dance.

After we finish the bus tour, that have to be proactive in their cities, in their towns, in their state and local governments, they've got to organize themselves and bring forth good conservative candidates in their cities and towns to make a difference in government.

San Diego radio host Mark Williams spoke first, and although he didn't sing, he hit quite a few high notes, including this "We have an entire city--Washington DC--occupied at the moment by the left extremes of our national mental disease."

Clearly he doesn't like the way our nation is being run, and he declared to those currently in charge, "They can have my country when the pry it from my cold, dead fingers."

He added:

We are a nation of the people, by the people, for the people, not of the politicians, by the politicians, for the politicians. No socialism, no Marxism, no fascism--read the Constitution, Washington!"

Deborah Johns then spoke, and she turned the podium over to Kenneth Gladney, a black conservative who was selling "Don't Tread on Me" flags at an August St. Louis protest. He was confronted by man, an African American reverend, who hurled racial epithets at him, and he was then knocked on the ground by a couple of SEIU members "Who knocked me on the ground and started stomping on me." Six people were arrested.

Rivoli Review, a husband and wife act, performed "U.S.S. of A.," and later they sang "A Bit Fat No. They are on the right--that's Mark Williams in the foreground.

That's all for now. Look for Part Two tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, the Tea Part Express continues:

Here are the upcoming stops:

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Interest in last night's town hall meeting held by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). I arrived at 4:15pm, doors didn't open until 5:00pm, but there were already 100 people in line to get into the Niles West Auditorium, along with 100 protesters and onlookers on Oakton Avenue--a busy thoroughfare in Skokie.

At 6:00pm, a half hour before the scheduled starting time, the auditorium's 1,300 seats were filled. In her opening remarks, the Evanston Democrat said there were "maybe 500-600 people outside."

About Schakowsky: She is arguably the most liberal member of the House of Representatives and an advocate (although she didn't say so last night) of a single-payer health care system.

Many in the audience did support single-payer. I was sitting in the media area, next to what I'm calling "activist alley," and basing my belief on the shouts--and mutterings--I heard.

More on "activist alley" later.

As for the crowd, my guess is that it was 60-40. Sixty percent in favor of Jan and ObamaCare, 40 percent against. Although that minority asked slightly more than half of the questions.

In her introductory remarks, Schakowsky stated, You know, "Ted Kennedy had said (health care) had been the great issue of his time," which was greeted by cheers--and boos. Unfazed, she continued: "This is great issue of my life. This is really the issue, more than any other, that has brought me to the Congress, health care--the dream of having affordable quality health care available to all Americans."

Well, who could be against that?

But my retort comes from P.J. O'Rourke, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it's free."

Schakowsky predicts health care reform will pass by the end of the year.

The inevitable question about government-run health care was asked early on: "If it's such a good deal, then why won't the 535 members of Congress sign up for it?"

Her reply was, "There are suggestions that if we think that is so great, why don't we have an option of joining it." She continued, "I agree with that, I agree with that." But she didn't make a pledge to sign up for ObamaCare--if it passes.

Section 431a of House Bill 3200, the health care reform bill, will require the IRS to divulge financial information in order to determine who receives affordability credits. Initially, she wasn't able to answer that question. That part of the legislation was brought up again, an audience member told her what page of the bill (Page 195) it was on. Her answer was, "Let me look for this again later, I'm not finding it."

Later never came, and the town hall went on for another half hour.

Schakowsky was asked about ObamaCare coverage for illegal immigrants, she flatly denied that the bill would cover them, but the Washington Examiner's Mark Tapcsott disagrees.

Only once did Schakowsky--spin excluded--attempt to veer the town hall into another direction. She announced that she would read some "very poignant stories" about health care from constituents. Smelling a rat, the audience booed, and she started taking questions.

Activist alley: Tom Mannis of Chicago News Bench and I were able to snag media seats near the front of the auditorium. In the row behind us were the first arrivals, who, based upon the small talk they made before the town hall started, were Democratic Party activists. Whenever a conservative questioner used words such as "socialism," they cackled, booed, shouted "Shut up!" or "Get on with it!" Granted some of the questioners were in serious need of brevity--on both sides of the issue--but they didn't shout "Shut up!" when the libs rambled."

One woman made a point of thanking the troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, one of the alley cats sarcastically muttered, "Let's have three wars."

Now, exactly who is president right now?

I don't know if these were "astroturfers" I had warned about in earlier posts, but if it looks like a duck...

One questioner brought up the problems of Canadian government-run health care, and Schakowsky had a young woman named Colleen, who has dual American and Canadian citizenship, talk about how great Canadian ObamaCare is. Was she an astroturf plant?
We'll never know.

Oh, SEIU was there.

Speaking of that government union, an attendee questioned Schakowsky about the 2003 video, available on YouTube, where the Obama clearly lays out the "Trojan horse" strategy to institute single-payer health care. "My question is, was (Obama) lying then, or lying now."

She didn't directly answer that one.

But she threw in this "Capitalism sucks" statement:

My job, when I took the oath of the office, I did not swear to protect the profits of the very rich (insurance) companies.

The Sckakowsky town hall was among the better 90 minutes I've spent. Not many minds were changed, certainly not mine nor that of Schakowsky.

About the congresscritter: Until last night I had only scene her in action at community events at where she and her assistants staffed a table. I'll give her credit: She didn't lose her cool, and although she had difficulty (self-inflicted?) in answering a couple of tricky questions, I believe her when she said she read the House Bill 3200.

Although there is some nuance about her, Schakowsky is an old-school Great Society liberal. She lives for that stuff. Now I happen to believe--and I'm far from alone on this belief--that liberalism a failed system to run a government. Schakowsky needs to be replaced, although the Gerrymanderers in the Illinois General Assembly have carved a safe seat for her. That could change by 2012. The Land of Lincoln will probably lose a congressional seat, and a new district might be fashioned for the inevitible return of Rahm Emanuel to Congress.

I would love to see a well-funded conservative, or even a moderate, oppose Schakowsky in 2010.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


The Who - Finale of Tommy 1975
by IvorTheEngineDriver

Monday, June 01, 2009

After 101 years in business, once might General Motors has filed for bankruptcy protection. It's stock--once viewed as the bluest of blue chips--is trading under $1 a share.

For decades GM was one of the 30 stocks that comprised the Dow Jones Industrial Index, but no more. It was kicked off today, replaced by Cisco.

I fear the worst is yet to come for "Government Motors." The feds own 70 percent of the corporation, the Obama administration's policy on unions is to placate them, and the type of cars Government Motors CEO Barack Obama wants to build could just be a cleaner version of the East German Trabant.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

I have officially declared May 16 Levi Parsons Morton Day!

But just who was he?

Morton served as vice president under Benjamin Harrison, his term ran from 1889-1893.
He also was a also a congressman, an ambassador, and governor of New York.

A minister's son, Morton was born in Shoreham, Vermont on May 16, 1824. The successful businessman began his career in commerce at the age of 14 at a New Hampshire country store. Eventually becoming a store manager, Morton later moved into banking.

In 1872, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad put its mail line through a little settlement that was dubbed Morton, in honor of the man, Levi Morton, who provided the financing to the railroad. When the village was incorporated in 1895, it was renamed Morton Grove.

Which is where I live.

In 1878, Morton was elected to Congress as a Republican, representing a New York district. Two years later he turned down the opportunity to be James Garfield's running mate.

Instead he accepted President Garfield's offer to serve as ambassador to France. If "Garfield" and "ambassador to France" sounds familiar, well, you know your history. That position was the very appointment nutjob Charles Guiteau expected to receive from Garfield. Claiming God told him to pull the trigger, Guiteau, the word's most famous dissapointed office seeker, shot Garfield, who died of his wounds a couple of months later.

Had Morton said "yes" to Garfield's vice presidential offer, he would been our 21st president.

Morton was popular in France, and the ambassador placed the first rivet into the Statue of Liberty; he was the US official who accepted the gift of the statue from the French government.

After Democrat Grover Cleveland won the presidency in 1884, Morton resigned his ambassadorship, but four years later was finally elected vice president.

But by the end of his first term, Benjamin Harrison was not popular with Republican party bosses--they sought to dump the president at the Republican National Convention in favor of Ohioans William McKinley or John Sherman.

Harrison won out--in the short term--but Morton was his sacrificial lamb, Whitelaw Reid, also from New York, took his place. But the Republican ticket went down in defeat in the fall, losing to former president Grover Cleveland.

Two years later Morton was elected New York's governor, and he was a candidate for president in 1896. But McKinley's forces crushed his bid, and the 72 year-old Morton left politics.

But he didn't retire from private life. In 1899 he founded the Morton Trust Company, ten years later it merged with five major financial institutions, including J.P. Morgan and Company, where he served on the board of directors until he finally retired at the age of 85.

Morton died on May 16, 1920--his 96th birthday--in Rhinebeck, New York. He outlived every vice president except John Nance Garner, Franklin Roosevelt's first vice president, who once quipped that the office "wasn't worth a warm bucket of piss."

Happy Levi Parsons Morton Day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What a difference six weeks make. We were pleased when 400 patriots showed up to protest high taxes and Barack Obama's expansion of government--in the president's hometown.

At noon, over 2,000 freedom lovers showed up in Chicago's Loop to do the same thing--only louder.

American and "Don't Tread on Me" flags, sign--both handmade and professionally printed, and many people wearing patriotic garb, as wells as "USA" chants filled the Kluczynski Federal Building Plaza at 230 S. Dearborn

The Heartland Institute's Brian Costin served as the event's master of ceremonies, and after the singing of the National Anthem (Do they do that ACORN rallies?), syndicated radio host Mancow Muller grabbed the microphone for a wild ride from "The Cow."

Mancow thanked "the almighty God for this making this day." He liked the signs, singling out ones featuring Ayn Rand as well as a couple of others: "How dare you steal my future," and "Don't spread my wealth, spread my work ethic."

Muller's deep baritone scolded the members of America's most notorious community organizing group: "Hi are a morally bankrupt organization and you're going straight to Hell." A few ACORN members were there to protest the rally.

And then he mocked the president: "This is the greatest country in history of the world, now join me as I change it."

Mancow's speech then took a surprising turn. Noting that he had never seen a crowd filled with so many people like himself, Mancow asked the crowd to turn to people next to them, and introduce yourself. Which everyone did. Well, I couldn't see what the ACORN protesters were doing.

John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute also spoke, and he channeled the crow, "The politicians are failing." He then led a "We must lead" chant. It's the people, not the politicians, who must lead. And he has a site,, and he encouraged the crowd to e-mail him at And then....he gave out his cell phone number. Which I'm not going to post. But I have it.

Kristina Rasmussen, who is also with the Illinois Policy Insitute, reminded the crowd, almost all of whom were from Illinois, that Governor Patrick Quinn wants to raise state income taxes...which I just paid a few hours a whopping 50 percent. Oh, Rasmussen's work has appeared in the National Review Online, the Washhingon Post, CNN and Investor's Business Daily.

Other speakers included com, Fox News Contributor Jonathan Hoenig of, Americans For Prosperity's Joe Calomino, and Eric Odom of the DontGo Movement, a co-founder of the Tax Day Tea Party.

On the south end of the plaza is a post office. It was filled with people--mailing their income taxes.

Chicago's Tax Day Tea Party was a success. Several people I spoke with told me that not only had they never attended a protest before, they had never even considered going to one. Until now. It was a friendly crowd, as far as I know there were no fights--there were a few verbal altercations when the few liberals in the crowd spoke up, and the Ron Paul people rubbed a few people the wrong way. As for the police, it was probably one of the easiest large protest assignments they've ever had.

Friday, March 20, 2009

And it was inevitable that some of these people pushed back...
The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury.

It's all these 'gatherers' and 'sharers' going around counting and measuring and taking off to storage. They do more gathering than sharing and we never see most of the stuff again.
Hob Hayward, Hobbit farmer, The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Get up off your arses men
Don't let 'em think you're getting lazy
Get up out of your easy chairs
We gotta lot to do out there, well ain't we?

"Get Up," The Kinks.

We are nation that has a government, not the other way around.
Ronald Reagan.

Are you tired of government bailouts of failed companies? Does the coverup by the Democrats over the AIG bonuses have you steamed? Are you angry about our nation's march to socialism?

Then show up at a Tea Party near you.

I was at the Chicago version of the Nationwide Chicago Tea Party last month, with little notice we got 400 patriots to show up.

The Tax Day Tea Party will take place, of course, on April 15. The theme is "Repeal the Pork, Cut Taxes." Once again the Chicago edition will start at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington Street. But it will start at noon this time.

If you don't live near Chicago, then there is probably a Tea Party near you.

Click here to find what is going on in your state.

Or join the Facebook group.

As far as I can gather, there's at least one Tax Day Tea Party in almost every state.

What to do at the party? Bring signs, a loud voice, and a patriotic state of mind.

Let's be heard!

Let freedom ring!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Since the Great Depression is a popular topic during our current economic turmoil, I thought today would be a good time to write about the Civil Conservation Corps.

If I run north for my daily workout, I run past a CCC-built picnic shelter. This one, built with Joliet limestone, is in Harms Woods in Skokie.

Scattered throughout the Forest Preserve District of Cook County are similar structures. On Archer Avenue in southwest suburban Willow Springs, there is a monument to the CCC workers.

Here's some more about the CCC, from Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism:

Perhaps no program better represented the new governmental martial outlook than the Civil Conservation Corps, or CCC. Arguably the most popular program of the New Deal, the CCC mobilized some 2.5 million young men into what could only be called paramilitary training. CCCers mostly worked as a "forestry army," clearing dead wood and the like. Enlistees met at army recruiting stations; wore World War I uniforms; were transported around the country by troop trains; answered to army sergeants; were required to stand at attention, march in formation, employ military lingo--including the duty of calling officers "sir"--read a CCC newspaper modeled on Stars and Stripes, went to bed in army tents listening to taps; and woke to reveille.

After the CCC was approved by Congress, FDR reported, It is a pretty good record, one which I think can be compared with the mobilization carried on in 1917." The Speaker of the House boasted of the CCC's success: "They are also under military training and as they come out of it the come out improved in health and developed mentally and physically and are more useful citizens and if ever we should become involved in another war they would furnish a very valuable nucleus for our army." Meanwhile, the Nazis were establishing similar camps for virtually identical reasons.

During warm weather weekends, the Harms Woods shelter is popular with picnickers, on light-jacket days the fireplaces are blazing.

About an eighth of a mile south of the shelter was a CCC-built public washroom, a little brother of sorts, also built with Joliet limestone. It was a notorious spot for male/male sexual trysts.

Some stuff I just know.

The Forest Preserve District demolished it two years ago.

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