Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day, 2010

One of the real points of pride I feel about Red Wing is its Memorial Day service. Each year a crowd gathers alongside the river for a great ceremony that always includes the reading of Logan's Proclamation (the order that created Memorial Day shortly after the Civil War), a recitation of the Gettysburg Address, music from the high school band and a nice keynote speaker.

This is followed by a three-volley cannon salute, a 21-gun salute and the laying of memorial flowers in the river. Each year it's a well-done ceremony, and several hundred people always turn out for it.

We then usually travel to Bloomington, where Penny's family has a nice tradition of meeting for lunch, then visiting the nearby grave of her father at Ft. Snelling. Tom Kleinman served in the Navy in WW II, and died way too young, never seeing Penny get married or meeting our children. Today two of his great-grandchildren, Anne and Sam, were with us to visit his grave.

After the Kleinman family disperses, I go to the other side of Ft. Snelling, where my uncle, Vernon Peterson, was laid to rest in 2000. Vernon fought in heavy combat in N. Africa and Italy, earning a Purple Heart along the way. He returned to Minnesota, married my aunt and for years their lakeside home in Pine City was the gathering spot for the family on Memorial Day, Labor Day and other times. He had an incredible sense of humor - a Swede trapped among all the Dutchmen - and lived a remarkable life. It's a joy to be able to spend a few moments remembering him and to leave a flag with him.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Two great hockey/music traditions

The Stanley Cup Finals start Saturday night with Chicago facing Philadelphia, which will give the casual hockey fan a chance to watch what I think are a couple of great traditions.

Normally I expect a crowd to be quiet and reverent for a performance of the National Anthem, but in Chicago they do it a little differently. At the first note of the song, they begin cheering their lungs out, and they keep it up all through the anthem.

It helps that Chicago uses both an organ and a singer with a big baritone voice, which is the way it sounds best. The above video is from the 1991 All-Star game in Chicago, but it sounds the same every game. It's been my privilege to be at a few Blackhawks games over the years, and the experience always leaves me with goosebumps. Enjoy the video.

The second great tradition will be renewed when the series shifts back to Philadelphia. Somtimes the Flyers use a video of Kate Smith singing "God Bless America," instead of the anthem. (It's a tradition that goes back to the '70s, when Smith happened to be in town and sang before a Flyer playoff game that the Flyers then won.) Other times they have a woman named Lauren Hart sing the anthem. I've been there to hear her, and while I usually favor a deep male voice, she is good as well. And for special occasions, they use the magic of video to produce the follow duet between Hart and Smith.

I hope NBC and Versus - the networks carrying the games - understand the importance of these traditions, and don't cut to commercial when it's anthem time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The face of union thuggery

Meet the goons of the Service Employees International Union. The SEIU has a long history of violent protest, with a number of their members being arrested last year for becoming violent during the town hall meetings of various members of Congress.

Last week, the SEIU decided it had a beef with Bank of America - and other financial institutions - regarding the high number of defaulted mortgages and foreclosures. So where did they decide to protest? On Capitol Hill? In front of a Bank of America branch? At a shareholder's meeting?
No. They chose instead to invade the private home of a Bank of America executive. About 500 SEIU members pulled up in 14 buses outside the home of Greg Baer, deputy general counsel for B of A, in Washington, D.C. (And, ironically, a longtime Democrat who worked in the Clinton administration.)

As recounted here, the thugs swarmed over Baer's lawn, surrounding the house and chanting.

Sadly, the only person at home was the Baer's teenage son, who locked himself in the bathroom, terrified, and waited for help to arrive. His father finally returned from his other son's little league game, fought his way through the crowd and got his son out of the house.

Also covering themselves in glory were D.C. police, who finally arrived and then told a neighbor they weren't going to arrest anyone for trespassing because it might "incite" the crowd.

So why single out B of A for protest when so many other mortgage lenders are in the same boat with regards to foreclosures? Well, it turns out that B of A is the SEIU's banker as well, and the financially-troubled SEIU owes B of A more than $4 million in interest and fees (after spending more than $70 million on Democrat's campaigns in 20008.)

Wouldn't you like to wake up one morning and see a mob like this outside your house, particularly knowing that the police won't do anything? This is the new face of America's liberal left.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Capital of the free world...ummm, maybe not

Here's your Vice-President, the singularly glib Joe Biden, telling a European audience that American's whole "leader of the free world" status isn't really set in stone. Click here to see the video.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The New York Times finally gets it!

For years, European countries have been offering their citizens generous pensions, shorter work weeks and all kinds of protections from the "evils of capitalism." Which is all well and good, until the money runs out. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

Well, economic reality is smacking the Europeans right in the face, and even the group of economic illiterates that run the New York Times are sitting up and taking notice. As you can read here, lots of chickens are coming home to roost in Europe.

Let's hope someone in the Obama administration reads this...and can understand it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thank you, Pennsylvania

My thoughts about Arlen Specter have been well documented (See April 30, 2009 post) and I just want to thank the good people of Pennsylvania for sending the little weasal into retirement tonight. I hope Robert Bork is smiling.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My new hero

Meet Chris Christie, elected last November as the Republican Governor of New Jersey. A reporter asks the Governor if the Governor's style is too "confrontational." Christie talks to him the way more politicians should talk to reporters. It's a thing of beauty.

Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his 'confrontational tone'

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It never gets old....

It was one year ago tonight that we watched the Vancouver Canucks bow their heads in shame as their season ended with another playoff loss. Tonight was even better, as they were forced to skate the handshake line in front of their neanderthal fans after losing their playoff series to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Down 5-1 in the 3rd period, the Canucks demonstrated their class when Mikael Samuelsson hooked a Chicago player, cross-checked him for another two-minute penalty and then drew a game misconduct. Trying to keep up with their heroes on the ice, the Canuck fans started a fight among themselves in the game's final minute, then live TV captured a Canucklehead throwing a cup of beer at a Blackhawks fan standing along the glass.

Just another loss in the city of losers. Enjoy the summer, jerks.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Europe is a mess

We've all watched as the Greek debt crisis threatened to sink much of Europe's economy, and it's still not clear that the arranged bailout will calm the rough economic waters. But I have an idea of how they found themselves in this mess.

This quote comes from a French economist, who was recently part of a panel discussion about windmills that are being built and installed around France. Like all wind power schemes, these windmills - known as Eolienne windmills - are expensive, ugly and produce very little power. The economist was asked "Why would we keep using these Eolienne when they cost a fortune and are not profitable and can't produce much energy?"

His answer: "First, I would like to dispute the idea that Eolienne windmills aren't profitable. Once one adds all the subsidies and financial support the industry receives from the French government and the European Community, it is losing very little money."

Yes, that's how to build an economy: Have the government subsidize a bad idea so that instead of losing a lot of money, it only loses a little money. I'm sure that will help turn things around.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The end of a wonderful life

Baseball lost a giant Tuesday night when Ernie Harwell passed away at the age of 92. He spent 55 years as a baseball broadcaster, 42 of them with the Detroit Tigers.

The Detroit Free Press has a wonderful obituary here, and it captures what Ernie meant to the people of Michigan far better than I can. What I'll remember most about him was the wonderful, eloquent eulogy he gave when Twins announcer Herb Carneal passed away. Ernie was friends with almost everyone in baseball, it seemed, but he and Herb had been sharing pre-game dinners for decades, and Harwell made the trip to Minnesota just to give the eulogy.

A man of deep faith, he died at age 92, with his wife of 68 years at his side, having spent most of his life as the most popular man in Michigan. He told friends last year of his terminal cancer diagnosis and said, "Whether it’s a long time or a short time is all right with me because it’s up to my Lord and savior.”

It's hard to imagine a more well-lived life.