Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Clinton Gambit

This is what I've feared all along, my friends...

In an interview with conservative radio icon Sean Hannity, former President Clinton adviser and campaign manager Dick Morris stated that, after speaking with a Democratic strategist, he thinks it is “very possible” that President Obama might acquiesce to requests from the Democratic leadership in Congress and bow out of the 2012 race, leaving the door open for him to return sometime in the future.

I concur. Indeed, I've been raising this possibility for quite some time now.

“I asked a top Democratic strategist the other day and he thought that it was possible that, in January, Harry Reid comes to Obama and says, ‘Look you cost us control of the House last year, you’re going to cost us control of the Senate this year. For the good of the party you have to step aside’” said Morris.

“And, then, (Obama) pulls a Lyndon Johnson, he says ‘I’m fighting to solve the recession, and problem is because of partisanship and my re-election people reject everything I say because of partisanship, so I’m going to not run for president and focus my full time attention on solving this recession’ and then go out popular,” Morris added.

And, folks... regardless of the lousy job Hillary Rodham Clinton has been doing as Secretary of State... the average American (at least according to polling data) who was never a "Hillary hater" in the first place believes she's doing a fine job!

Oh... and the Dems and "moderates" and "independents" who have since January 2009 come to the conclusion that they made a mistake backing Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton... what level of enthusiasm would an Obama "bow-out" and Clinton "fill-in" generate? Answer: It would be HUGE...!!!

A withdrawal by President Obama, with a statement that the reason he’s bowing out is to solve the recession, would likely allow the Democratic Party to recover some of its popularity and allow the president to present himself as rising above the partisan fights in Congress with a higher goal in mind. This would help the Democrats to better portray the Republicans, and especially the Tea Party, as the stubborn, non-compromising party uninterested in truly solving the nation’s problems.

Morris added that he thinks that this strategy could also set up Obama for a presidential run in a later election.

“The twenty second amendment does not preclude non-consecutive terms, he is young, (he could) preserve himself as a possible candidate down the road” said Morris. “We’ve seen how Bill Clinton is much more popular now then he was when he was leaving office, same with Jimmy Carter.”

Yep! Without a doubt!

Folks... let us pray that Obama truly is more interested in holding on to his present power than he is in advancing the interests of his ideology and his party.

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, September 29, 2011

Join me in a journey back to the early 70's...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My wife is a moron..., unfortunately, am I.

When we purchased our main TV we opted for the 5-year-renewable extended home service warranty.

Smart, right?! It was 10% of the purchase price... $120 if I recall... the key word being... renewable!

So... last night we come from visiting friends. I plop down in my chair and turn the TV on. The TV goes on... and then off.

Between last night and tonight nothing has changed. The TV is non-functioning.

Ah... but here's the kicker!

My wife... (*GRITTING MY TEETH*)... she who prides herself on her top-notch organizational skills... she who insists she and she alone possesses the skills and organizational abilities necessary to... oh... not lose important paperwork... seems to have "misplaced" the frigg'n warranty information and receipt..!!!

Oh... and here's the best part: While one may find supermarket receipts from 2003 in the kitchen junk draw and paid utility bills from the Age of Steam in my lovely bride's "box of records," somehow she can't even find the cancelled checks for the six month interest free payment period we took advantage of as sophisticated consumers when we bought the TV!

Ah... but I'm a fair and self-reflective man. If my wife is a moron (and indeed she is!) then I too am a moron for trusting her not to lose a "big ticket" receipt and warranty card.

Yes, I too bare responsibility if it turns out that the warranty has expired. (I put in a call to Sony this morning and they're going to get back to me once they track the purchase info down via the TV's serial number.)

All I can do now is wait and hope for the best! Worst case scenario... it's either pay to get this TV fixed or else just buy a new set... an upgrade while I'm at it.

To anyone reading this... take heed! If you have renewable extended warranties on any "big ticket" items, locate the warranty info right now and set up an auto-reminder so that you don't forget to renew!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Philadelphia is Literally in a State of Societal Collapse

About 11:00 p.m., September 9, 2011, dozens of [black and Hispanic] "youths" with bats and pipes descended on a tidy residential area of Port Richmond [Pennsylvania] looking for white teens who allegedly had attacked an African-American kid at Stokely Playground a couple of hours earlier.

Two fearful white teens spotted Mark LaVelle on Indiana Avenue near Belgrade Street and asked for help.

Suddenly, the mob appeared.

LaVelle, who said that he didn't know the two kids, who looked to be 13 or 14, ran with them into his nearby house.

"'We got you, you white mother-------!' " LaVelle said he heard someone yell in the "mob" of black and Hispanic youths.

Inside his house, LaVelle, 37, called to his wife, Kim, 30, to go to their bedroom with their twin 13-month-old boys, Mark and Mason, and to call police. He also ordered his two other sons, 11 and 17, and his nephew, 7, to stay upstairs.

With the two teens hiding in the house, LaVelle, 5 feet 10, 220 pounds, a well-known sports-league organizer and coach in the community, went outside to try to calm the angry mob, [who] were standing on his steps.

One shouted, "'Something's going to happen now!'" LaVelle recalled in an interview Friday at his house. LaVelle got nervous and went back inside, locking his door with a deadbolt.

But the attackers pounded on his front windows and kicked his wooden door so hard, it flew open and some of them entered his house.

These animals kicked in his door and invaded his home...

"The first guy hits me with a pipe. The second guy knocks me in the face. All I'm hearing is my wife and kids screaming," said LaVelle, who feared that the next time they saw him, he would be in a casket.

He said that he was able to push the attackers out the door, but then a third man...

Hmm... I thought we were talking about "youths."

...who had a gun tried to extend his arm.

"...who had a gun..."

LaVelle grabbed onto the gunman's lower arm and shoulder so he couldn't raise the weapon. Then, police sirens screamed in the neighborhood, and the mob turned and ran.

LaVelle was able to identify three of the people from the melee.

Three of the animals... the dangerous animals who should be "put down" like any other rabid animals...

He said he did not know if they had been chasing the white teenagers, or if they were just trying to find someone to attack.

Police arrested Bergson Morin, 21, of Rosehill Street near Wyoming Avenue, Feltonville, as the man with the gun. They arrested Enrique Delgado, 32, of Rockland and C streets, Feltonville, as the man who hit LaVelle with the pipe. And they arrested a 17-year-old juvenile as the one who punched LaVelle in the face, giving him a black eye.

LaVelle said that the next day the mother of the juvenile came back with some other people, banging on his door, screaming. LaVelle, who was at a charity sports event, was called back to the house by one of his sons. When he got home, LaVelle said, the mother yelled at him, "'You white mother------, you got my kid locked up! You got my son locked up because he's black, you're white!'" The mother claimed that her son had been "a witness," not an attacker. To that, LaVelle said if that were true, it would come out in court.

One generation of animals "raising" the next...

But the mother, according to LaVelle, then yelled: "'If you make it to court! I know where you live!'"

Police public affairs could not confirm yesterday if the mother has been arrested for making threats.

And why not...???

Patty (Pat) Kozlowski, president of the Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic Association, said that police told her that the attack on LaVelle stemmed from the "incident" at Stokely Playground, Indiana Avenue and Thompson Street, a few blocks from LaVelle's house. She heard that an African-American kid "got knocked off his bike or fell off" and white kids were laughing at him. The group of African-Americans and Hispanics came back for retaliation, Kozlowski believes.

"Retaliation," huh? A [black and Hispanic] mob - with at least one member armed with a pistol - breaks into the suburban residence of a law abiding citizen and this is supposedly "retaliation" for... er... laughter?

Rome didn't fall in a day, my friends; neither will America. But make no mistake... we are in terminal societal decline.

Kozlowski said she didn't know any of the people involved in the playground incident or in the attack on LaVelle. LaVelle said he also did not know anyone involved.

Morin and Delgado, who face charges of aggravated assault, conspiracy, burglary, weapons and related offenses, were scheduled to face a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court today, but the hearing got postponed to Nov. 7. Delgado, who is in state prison, was not brought down to the city. Also, both defense attorneys requested a lineup in the case, which the judge granted. Morin is in custody in county prison. Their family members could not be reached for comment Monday.

Freddy Godoy, Delgado's attorney, said yesterday that someone Delgado knows "was probably related to the child" who was attacked in the playground.

Oh... so now all of a sudden what was just moments ago described as an "incident" where a black child falling off a bike led to a boorish (yet typical) adolescent response - laughter - by a couple of white kids who had witnessed the fall is being referred to in terms of "a child who was attacked in a playground." Nice. Cute.

Godoy contends that Delgado was not one of the people who attacked LaVelle.

Richard Patton, Morin's attorney, declined comment yesterday.

Kozlowski, a legislative aide to City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski and a lifelong Port Richmond resident, wrote about the attack in The Spirit community newspaper, which serves the river wards. Since then, the story has created a lot of buzz in the predominantly white neighborhood.

Kozlowski and Maryann Trombetta, president of the Port Richmond Town Watch, both recalled the murder of Sean Daily, a white teen who was beaten and shot by bat-wielding youths, mostly Latino, in May 1989.

They don't believe that the attack on LaVelle started as a racial incident, but believe that there was a racial element to it when the mob "called him a white mother------" and when the juvenile's mother allegedly threatened LaVelle.

Ya think...?!?!

LaVelle, who runs sports leagues composed of youths and adults of different races, said he doesn't want any retaliation on the people who attacked him.

Personally... I'd like to see them all executed. Obviously they won't be. No doubt they'll "mature" into even more dangerous criminals and present further danger to innocent people after being given slaps on the wrist by the inmates who are running the asylum we call the criminal justice system.

But the attack has instilled fear in him and his family, and he hopes that there will be more of a police presence in the neighborhood.

Hopefully the police will take every opportunity afforded them to permanently take criminals - white, black, Hispanic, whatever - off the streets.

His wife is afraid to stay at home, and "every time I hear a car, I'm looking out the door," he said. "It's not a good way to live."

Welcome to America 2011... the Age of Obama.

Barker's Newsbites: Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just... calm...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reforming Social Security (The Texas Model)

From this weekend's WSJ, an op-ed by Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, presented here in stand-alone newsbite format:


To highlight the problems facing Social Security, Texas Gov. and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry is pointing to three Texas counties that decades ago opted out of Social Security by creating personal retirement accounts.


Now, 30 years on, county workers in those three jurisdictions retire with more money and have better death and disability supplemental benefits.


And those three counties - unlike almost all others in the United States - face no long-term unfunded pension liabilities.



Since 1981 and 1982, workers in Galveston, Matagorda and Brazoria Counties have seen their retirement savings grow every year, even during the Great Recession.


The so-called Alternate Plan of these three counties doesn't follow the traditional defined-benefit or defined-contribution model. Employee and employer contributions are actively managed by a financial planner - in this case, First Financial Benefits, Inc., of Houston, which originated the plan in 1980 and has managed it since its adoption. I call it a "banking model."

As with Social Security, employees contribute 6.2% of their income, with the county matching the contribution (or, as in Galveston, providing a slightly larger share). Once the county makes its contribution, its financial obligation is done - that's why there are no long-term unfunded liabilities.


The contributions are pooled, like bank deposits, and top-rated financial institutions bid on the money. Those institutions guarantee an interest rate that won't go below a base level and goes higher when the market does well. Over the last decade, the accounts have earned between 3.75% and 5.75% every year, with the average around 5%.


The 1990s often saw even higher interest rates, of 6.5%-7%. When the market goes up, employees make more - and when the market goes down, employees still make something.


But not all money goes into employees' retirement accounts. When financial planner Rick Gornto devised the Alternate Plan in 1980, he wanted it to be a complete substitute for Social Security. And Social Security isn't just a retirement fund: It's also social insurance that provides a death benefit ($255), survivors' insurance, and a disability benefit.

Part of the employer contribution in the Alternate Plan goes toward a term life insurance policy that pays four times the employee's salary tax-free, up to a maximum of $215,000. That's nearly 850 times Social Security's death benefit.



If a worker participating in Social Security dies before retirement, he loses his contribution (though part of that money might go to surviving children or a spouse who didn't work). But a worker in the Alternate Plan owns his account, so the entire account belongs to his estate.

(There is also a disability benefit that pays immediately upon injury, rather than waiting six months plus other restrictions, as under Social Security.)


Those who retire under the Texas counties' Alternate Plan do much better than those on Social Security. According to First Financial's calculations, based on 40 years of contributions:

• A lower-middle income worker making about $26,000 at retirement would get about $1,007 a month under Social Security, but $1,826 under the Alternate Plan.

• A middle-income worker making $51,200 would get about $1,540 monthly from Social Security, but $3,600 from the banking model.

• And a high-income worker who maxed out on his Social Security contribution every year would receive about $2,500 a month from Social Security versus $5,000 to $6,000 a month from the Alternate Plan.


The Alternate Plan has demonstrated over 30 years that personal retirement accounts work, with many retirees making more than twice what they would under Social Security. As Galveston County Judge Mark Henry says, "The plan works great. Anyone who spends a few minutes understanding the plan becomes a huge proponent."

The Alternate Plan could be adopted today by the six million public employees in the U.S. - roughly 25% of the total - who are part of state and local government retirement plans that are outside of Social Security (and are facing serious unfunded liability problems).

Unfortunately this option is available only to those six million public employees, since in 1983 Congress barred all others from leaving Social Security.


If Congress overrides this provision, however, the Alternate Plan could be a model for reforming Social Security nationally. After all, it provides all the social-insurance benefits of Social Security while avoiding the unfunded liabilities that are crippling the program and the economy.


If the presidential candidates, including President Obama, stop bickering about who wants to "save" or "destroy" Social Security and begin debating reform constructively, examining the Alternate Plan would be a good place to start.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, September 23, 2011

Can anyone guess which of my affluent friends (hint: upper Westchester resident; attorney - midtown Manhattan law firm) forwarded the following video with a request it be made today's newsbites theme song?




Hey... anything for a friend... right...?!?!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, September 22, 2011

As Obama and Bernanke lead the country to ruin...

(Folks... read newsbites #3 and #4 and explain to me why I'm wrong if you believe I'm wrong.)

The Power of the Media

You've heard the ol' sayin' that "perception is reality," right?

Me? I'm more a "reality is reality" kinda guy.

Take inflation...

The government would have you believe that inflation is low.

The media echos the government line.

Of course the reality is... both our government and our media are lying to us.

I was never a big "math" guy. Words are my thing. Still... with my interests I of course must be familiar with basic mathematical concepts.

Let me give you an example:

When on Sunday the toll on the George Washington Bridge went to $12 (cash) from the previous $8 (which was in itself outrageous) this boost represented a price increase of 50%.

Got that, folks...? 50%.

That's not simply inflation, folks; that's hyperinflation.

I do the food shopping for my household. Always have; always will. I love food shopping! Folks... believe me... we're seeing massive inflation at the food store.

But are you hearing about it from the media...???

The answer is "no."

Folks... when an item that used to cost $1.99 now costs $2.99 that's a 50% price increase.

Folks... when an item that used to cost $1.99 now costs $3.99 that's a 100% price increase.

Folks... when we're talking 50% and 100% price increases on common everyday goods and services... that's hyperinflation.

Folks... understand... when that item formerly priced at $1 now rings up at $1.19... that's 19% inflation; if the price goes from $1 to $1.29 that's 29% inflation.

At the same time, folks, look closely at the packaging of many of the items you purchase. What used to come in a 1 lb. container may now come in a 14 oz. container... or a 13 oz. or even 11.5 oz. container.

Remember when yogurts came in 8 oz. cups? It's 6 oz. now and often 5.5 oz. or even less...


Yep. The inflation isn't just in straight pricing; nowadays it often comes along in the form of outright deception, with the package size deliberately tailored to "look" the same size as it always was, but if you take the time to actually read the small print on that misleading packaging you'll find that your money isn't buying you the amount of product it once did.

Gas has gone down a few cents! Hurray! Hip-hip hurray!


Yes... it's good that gas prices are going down instead of up, however...

Gas is still well over three dollars a gallon; I paid $3.49/gal. the other day in New Jersey - one of the less expensive gas states. (While in Oregon last week I was paying $3.79)

Oh... and since winter is fast approaching that means doctored gas... that means getting maybe 15% or even 20% less miles per gallon on a tank. Folks... that's inflation too!

And yet... you're not hearing much of this coming out of the mainstream media... are you?

Heck... you're not even getting the spotlight turned upon this reality by Fox News or the Wall Street Journal!

As is usually the case, the politicians are desperate to keep you in the dark for as long as possible, and either through deliberate collusion, simple ignorance, or just plain old incompetence our media "watchdogs" by and large simple regurgitate the government line.

Folks... the perception that inflation is under control is dead wrong.

The reality is that with Obama, Bernanke, Geithner, and the Dempublicans and Republicrats running the economy (into the ground) inflation is already high and mark my words... it's about to get a heck of a lot worse.

Right now inflation exists though few are talking about it. Next year...


...we're in for trouble, folks... real 70's style trouble.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

By Walter E. Williams

During the recent GOP presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Social Security is a "monstrous lie" and a "Ponzi scheme."

More and more people are coming to see that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, but is it a lie, as well? Let's look at it.

Here's what the 1936 government pamphlet on Social Security said:

"After the first 3 years - that is to say, beginning in 1940 - you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. ... Beginning in 1943, you will pay 2 cents, and so will your employer, for every dollar you earn for the next 3 years. ... And finally, beginning in 1949, twelve years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year."

Here's Congress' lying promise: "That is the most you will ever pay."

Another lie in the Social Security pamphlet is: "Beginning November 24, 1936, the United States government will set up a Social Security account for you. ... The checks will come to you as a right."

Therefore, Americans were sold on the belief that Social Security is like a retirement account and money placed in it is our property.

The fact of the matter is you have no property right whatsoever to your Social Security "contributions."

In a U.S. Supreme Court case, Helvering v. Davis (1937), the court held that Social Security is not an insurance program, saying, "The proceeds of both (employee and employer) taxes are to be paid into the Treasury like internal revenue taxes generally, and are not earmarked in any way."

In a later Supreme Court case, Flemming v. Nestor (1960), the court said, "To engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of 'accrued property rights' would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands."

Belatedly, the Social Security Administration is trying to clean up its history of deception.

Its website says, "Entitlement to Social Security benefits is not (a) contractual right," adding, "There has been a temptation throughout the program's history for some people to suppose that their FICA payroll taxes entitle them to a benefit in a legal, contractual sense. ... Congress clearly had no such limitation in mind when crafting the law."

That's the SSA's dishonesty. After all, it was the people in that administration who said, in their 1936 pamphlet, that "the checks will come to you as a right."

There's more deceit and dishonesty.

In 1950, I was 14 years old and applied for a work permit for an after-school job. One of the requirements was to obtain a Social Security card. In bold letters on my Social Security card are the words "For Social Security Purposes - Not For Identification." According to the SSA's website, "this legend was removed as part of the design changes for the 18th version of the card, issued beginning in 1972." That's a shameless, unadulterated lie. Because we're idiots, we're asked to believe that the sole purpose for the removal of "Not For Identification" was for design purposes. The fact that our Social Security numbers were going to become a major identification tool had nothing to do with getting rid of the statement.

Aside from these lies, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

Three Nobel laureate economists have testified that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

(The major difference between Social Security and Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme is his was illegal.)

Dr. Paul Samuelson called it "the greatest Ponzi game ever contrived."

Dr. Milton Friedman said it was "the biggest Ponzi scheme on earth."

Dr. Paul Krugman predicted that "the Ponzi game will soon be over."

Three cheers to Gov. Rick Perry for having the guts to tell us that Social Security is a monstrous lie and a Ponzi scheme.

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just another day in the Age of Obama...


(Yeah... "so sad" is right!)

*** BTW ***

Back to my mini-walks today!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Barker's Newsbites: Monday, Sept. 19, 2011

Well, kids... back to the ol' grindstone!

President Obama is a dangerous incompetent. (I know I'm not telling any of you anything you don't already know...)

I just thank God he's too stupid, shortsighted, and selfish to make a deal with HRC whereby he would bow out of a 2012 re-election bid in favor of her heading a new ticket with the deal being that she'd run with the option of seeking re-election should she win and in return she'd back him in his future race for a non-consecutive second term down the road.

Seriously, folks... all of us need to
THANK GOD that none of the major Dem players would ever put even their ass-backwards concept of "country first" over short-term misperceived self-interest!

You wanna fix the economy...? Here's what you do - in no particular order:

* Reform trade policy along the lines of direct national interest. Where "free" trade works best for the American worker and thus ultimately for American consumers and American interests, then follow the dictates of "free" trade; where using tariffs to "protect" our workers, our citizens, and our national standing and status are the pathway to prosperity, then by all means raise tariff barriers as high as need be!

America First, Folks... America First...!!!

* Lesson the power and scope of the federal government. Return to the pre-New Deal era Constitution - the Constitution our Founders gave us!

* Put the federal government on a diet; decide what a reasonable split is of the tax pie between localities and states vs. the federal government. It seems to me that if we start at the beginning - with the 100% figure - the federal government should have no claim on more than 49.9% of that and since government as a whole (local, county, city, state, federal) shouldn't have a claim on more than 49.9% of the "whole pie" this logically means that this equates to the federal government have no claim whatsoever to more than 24.9% of an individual's income/wealth.

* Decide the best way - the fairest, most reasonable way of collecting taxes - be it income taxes or consumption taxes - and create the flattest system possible where no one gets away with paying nothing nor do "the rich" pay more than that "fair share" of 24.9%/49.9% previously mentioned.

* Rethink our foreign policy and defense commitments and return to the more reasonable, traditional foreign/defense policies of pre-WW1 American. Enough with being the world's policeman! We must be strong enough to kick anyone's ass be it necessary, but no so belligerent and bossy that we spend more time, blood, and treasure defending our reputation than we do defending our vital national interests!

Again... American First, Folks... America First...!!!

* Return to a strong dollar policy! If that means raising interest rates so be it! Enough with manipulating the currency - destroying the currency - in some fool's errand doomed to fail attempt to "manage" the economy from Washington! Low inflation and high purchasing power must be the goal of our monetary policy. Period!

I could go on and on, but regular readers know my policy preferences. We can save America... even make America great again... but we need to basically reverse course from practically every policy the "elites" in Washington and elsewhere favor.

Calvin Coolidge once rescued this nation from so-called Progressivism...

Ronald Reagan once rescued this nation from so-called Progressivism...

Out with Obama...!!!

Out with Reid...!!!

Either we return the levers of power to sane, responsible, honest, trustworthy, and competent leaders come next November's Election of else we can kiss any hope of saving America to rest.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Post-Vacation Newsbites - From My Emails... (9/18/11)

OK, gang... finished the travelogue... now I'm gonna post newsbites taken from various emails I received while I was away.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

About the Newsbites...

Folks... I'll probably resume Newsbites tomorrow... but I may wait till the weekend.



Frankly... it was wonderful to simply ignore the news during the entire time Mary and I were in Oregon.

Indeed... I've still been ignoring the news since I've gotten home!

Obama is still president. The country is still in terminal decline. Please allow me the solace of reminiscing about my vacation via my continuing travelogue for at least another day before returning to the doom and gloom that is... (*PAUSE*)... THE AGE OF OBAMA!

* Folks... I just GLANCED at the Drudge homepage... (*SIGH*)... what a frigg'n DISASTER...!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back From Oregon

Well, folks... another Billcation under my belt!

Let me just state up front... I put over 1,500 miles on the rental car!

Yep... from Seattle to Mt. Hood to Seal Rock to Portland...

Shout outs to my buddies Cary (and her sister Heather who lives in Portland) and Lisa (a client/friend who lives in Portland with her husband and adorable kids) who shared advice and feedback with me prior to the trip. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to hook up with Heather, but we did enjoy cocktail hour at Lisa's parent's mansion (no shit, folks!) overlooking Portland and the mountains prior to heading over to Lisa and John's beautiful home for a fine al fresco meal!

So let's see... highlights:

For our first two nights, we stayed at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood.

Folks... it's good to be Bill!

I urge you folks to follow the link and check out the lodge and its history. Timberline isn't just another grand dame hotel... it's a national historic site set within a national park and the "story" of the Lodge is just as fascinating and marvelous as the building itself set atop such a magnificent vista!

And, yes... of course I availed myself of the large, outdoor, heated swimming pool and hot tub!

As always, I made friends of the staff at Timberline. Yep... when "Bill from New York" visits, a good time is had by all! Where this came in most handy was at the "magnificent mile" ski lift. Even as hotel guests, there is a fee for skiers and sightseers alike to use the ski lifts and at $15 a pop I'm guessing the average tourist does the ride once and calls it a day. Not so for Bill and Mary! Nope... my buddies at the lift center were not only kind enough to let us take multiple rides on the same day, but they even allowed us to utilize our own made-up "two days of lift rides for the price of one" Barker Pass!


Again, folks... it's good to be Bill!

So let's see... besides swimming... besides riding the sky lift... besides the bountiful Sunday brunch at Timberline... there was of course drinking!

Our post-brunch Sunday was spent driving both sides of the Columbia River, first taking scenic Rt. 35 down the mountain from Government Camp to Hood River, crossing the bridge, and driving west on the Washington state side along scenic state Rt. 14 to Stevenson, WA., where we took a rest and relaxation stop at the Walking Man Brewpub - one of the top 15 brewpubs in the United States according to the authoritative organization!

And, yes... I concur!

PLUS... the place is dog friendly...!!!

After quenching the ol' thirst - and contributing to the Washington state economy - it was across the Bridge of the Gods to the Oregon side and more scenic driving along Interstate 84 and ultimately Oregon state Rt. 30 so as to hit all the biggies (Multnomah Falls, Crown Point Vista House, etc.) and then the west to east loop back to Timberline Lodge via U.S. 26.

Yeah, yeah... I know... I'm throwing a lot of links out... (Anyway... I won't go point by point through the whole trip, but being that the scenery was a key component of the trip I feel it's worthwhile to provide a frame of reference.)

Anyway... after a morning ski lift ride and a dip in the pool we checked out of Timberline just before noon on Monday and after a quick stop at the Ice Axe Grill (home of the Mt. Hood Brewing Co.) for lunch it was a 200 mile trip down and across the state via the Alsea Highway - aka Rt. 34.

Folks... I tell ya... I just can't rave enough about the scenery!

We arrived at our destination - the Caledonia House B&B in Seal Rock - a bit after 7:00 p.m. and after being checked in to our suite - the Sanda Suite - it was right back out for dinner at a wonderful restaurant in nearby Newport which our hosts Dee and Belinda were kind enough to recommend as their favorite... Panache.

Folks... let me tell ya... if you're ever in - or even near - Newport, Oregon... have dinner at Panache!

Next morning (Tuesday) started with a wonderful three-course breakfast and then a drive down the coast - first stop: Sea Lion Caves.

Besides being a really neat place, one of the staffers there gave us a great restaurant recommendation in Florence which we later took advantage of!

After seeing the Sea Lions in this stunningly magnificent natural setting it was time to continue south to Florence, Oregon, a lovely little town right on the river close to the ocean bay. Mary and I strolled through the old town visiting the various galleries (Ted and Mary would have purchased thousands of dollars worth of local art!) and stopping for a late lunch at the Firehouse Restaurant (can you guess the decor?) after reading the blackboard special of clam chowder with shrimp, crab, and melted swiss cheese!


After Florence it was time to continue heading south so as to visit the Umpqua River Lighthouse - which we were able to tour! (Rob would have enjoyed this!)

Speaking of lighthouses... the quintessential Oregon Lighthouse is the Heceta Head Lighthouse, which, unfortunately, was closed off to visitors while we were in Oregon. That said, we did get some beautiful photos from up above the lighthouse and even from a distance the lighthouse is a sight to behold.

Last bit about lighthouses... the next day - on our way up the coast heading for Tillamook - we were able to visit the Yaquina Head Lighthouse which sits high up above the Pacific Coast.

Anyway... back to Tuesday's travels... after leaving the Umpqua Lighthouse site we continued down the coast as far south as Coos Bay/Charleston before turning around for the drive "home" to Seal Rock. We decided that we'd try the Florence restaurant our "buddy" at the Sea Lion Caves had recommended and so at 7:30 p.m on a Tuesday night in Oregon we entered the Waterfront Depot... only to find the place packed to the rafters with diners who had beat us to the punch!

Folks... there wasn't even a single bar stool open!

Anyway... we sat down at a small side table in the "waiting" area and started chatting with a businessman who too was waiting for a table... or even a bar stool. After ordering drinks it occurred to me that it couldn't hurt to ask if they'd allow us to simply eat at our "waiting" table and the gentlemen waiting with us said he'd be more than happy to be served there as well. "No problem" said our waitress!

Man... follow the links... check out the menu... I had the crab encrusted halibut with chili cream sauce and caesar salad for...



Yep. You read that right. TWELVE DOLLARS!

Folks... Oregon ain't New York! Indeed, Mary and I only broke $100 twice during our entire nine night vacation! I believe our most expensive meal came to $125 - and that was including tip!

Folks... we're talking $4 pints...


Anyway... after dinner it was a 90 minute ride back home and nighty-night!

Next morning (Wednesday) started with another wonderful breakfast, a stroll around the property, and then off down the coast to explore Cape Perpetua!

Folks... typical "Bill move"... we entered the park not via the main entrance where "normal" visitors would enter and receive their trail guides and such. Nope. Not for us! We (accidentally - I swear!) apparently mistakenly took a "logging" entrance into the park and for the next 90 minutes or so we drove the both paved and unpaved roads up and down the mountain cliffs and only twice did we happen to run across other human beings - one of whom was the driver of a log-hauler!

Again... this would have made for a great "Rob" adventure!

After finding our way back to U.S. 101 we drove down to where we could catch Rt. 126 heading east for Eugene and lower Oregon wine country! To make a long story short, here's where we stopped:

Sweet Cheeks Winery - Our favorite!

Silvan Winery - Another real winner!

King Estate Winery - Too "corporate" for my taste... (*SHRUG*)

Sarver Winery - Like King, they pissed me off by charging a tasting fee. Beautiful place, though!

Ninkasi Brewing Company - Nice...!

And finally... for our dinner that evening... Belly. (Check out the menu!)

Anyway... another late night... we didn't get back to the B&B till after 11:00 p.m.!

Next morning (Thursday) after another outstanding breakfast it was time to head up the coast to Portland. We
checked out of the Caledonia House a bit before 11:00 a.m. and after stopping at a glassblowers shop made straight for the Rouge Brewery in Newport for lunch and libations!

Man... what a great 90 minutes or so!

Because I'd be driving all day we limited ourselves to only sampling 18 Rouge beers, but, man, they had some tasty concoctions! (And the food wasn't half bad either!) And while we drank, we also played cards and eventually played a couple rounds of Connect Four!

After (reluctantly) leaving the brewery's pub we headed up the coast stopping here and there - the previously mentioned Yaquina Head Lighthouse was one stop, as was the Flying Dutchman Winery (which by the way is set cliff-side offering fantastic views)!

Somewhere between Lincoln City and Tillamook we ran into a bit of a delay caused by a log-hauler truck apparently losing its breaks up ahead while coming down the mountain and as a result slamming into a building and causing a "slight" traffic "situation." Luckily for us, we got stuck right next to a church which Mary went in to in order to get directions around the mess. Mary was indeed successful - a very kind woman mapped it all out for us and even gave us her cell number to call if we got lost - and after turning around and detouring through some very pretty country we arrived at our last major pre-Portland destination... the Tillamook Cheese Factory!

Now the tasting wasn't as extensive as I would have liked, but... we picked up some cheese and other stuff at really low prices and indeed there's still some of their 3-year-old cheddar left in my fridge as well as their 2-year-old cheddar unopened in my fridge! (Oh... and they also make ice cream - and I had a cup!)

Anyway... after filling the tank with (relatively) cheap gas in Tillamook it was off to Portland. We reached our destination - The Fulton House B&B - just as evening was falling and instead of being checked into a "room" we found ourselves in our own basement apartment, complete with separate bedroom, bathroom, and "great room" with a large sectional sofa, easy chair, dinette table with chairs, gas fireplace, and big-screen TV with premium cable!

Oh, yeah... and besides breakfast each morning... each afternoon our hostess would leave fresh baked cookies in our room!

After stowing our luggage and setting up our bathroom supplies we headed out to find a drink and something to eat in Portland. First stop... the Deschutes Public House!

Oh, man... oh, man... oh, man...

Not just one, but two cask ales were on tap! What a happy, happy, happy, happy place!

I was hungry as well as thirsty, but for whatever weird reason, the pub menu didn't include a steak & cheese sub - which was exactly what I was in the mood for! So... me being me... I simply asked the waitress for a recommendation for where I could get a good steak & cheese after 10:00 p.m. The answer... Life of Riley Tavern at the corner of NW Everett and NW 10th Avenue!

Not a brewpub... but a damn good bar nevertheless! (And let me tell ya... a kick-ass steak & cheese!)

Well... we finally got back "home" to the Fulton House sometime after midnight and we both slept like babies!

The next morning - our first in Portland proper - started off with a breakfast of yogurt, fresh berries, granola, eggs, bacon, coffee, and juice. (See, folks... this is what I like about B&Bs - the breakfast part!) Our Friday mission... check out nearby Mt. Angel.

Our "targets" in Mt. Angel: St. Mary's Church; the Mt. Angel Abby; and of course... the Mt. Angel Sausage Company.

Simply awesome! All three! Seriously...!!! The little church... wonderful. Browse through the link provided and check out the stained glass artwork. As for the Abby... it's simply a must-stop for anyone visiting the Portland area. As to the sausage factory...

Classic Bill story:

So... we're at the "bar" at the Mt. Angel Sausage Company chowing down (I highly recommend the pepper-cheese wurst - served "red, white, and blue" style!) and chatting with our hostess and I ask her for some advice on which local wineries to visit. She points to a guy who was in picking up some wurst and says to him, "Hey, Chris, these folks from New York would appreciate some wine advice."

Well, "Chris" was kind enough to recommend a few wineries. During our chat I mentioned that a new friend of ours whom we had met at our Seal Rock B&B was also in Portland for the weekend and that she had called us earlier to let us know that there was some sort of Pinot tasting taking place by the train station over the weekend and we were thinking of attending. At that "Chris" pulled out a business card and wrote "admit two" on it and told us that if we were to attend the Pinot tasting to show his card at the gate.

Well... the next day we did indeed go to the "Pinot City" tasting and we did indeed hand the business card to an admissions rep. Immediately we were directed to the media/industry gate where we were respectfully handed credentials (like the staff wear at concerts!), wine glasses, and goody bags and asked if we'd be needing credentials for the following day's tasting as well!


Well... for the next three hours I was "Chris" - "Chris the important wine guy." Simply hilarious! One vintner even commented that "I'd" never sampled his wine before and he appreciated my "fitting him in" on this occasion!

We did hook up with our new friend later in the day at the tasting (a judge from Colorado) and she got quite a kick out of the story. Then... when she told us that tickets to the tasting were $70 pp WE were the ones getting a kick out of our luck and good fortune!

Only Bill, huh...?!

Anyway... back to Friday... after spending the afternoon exploring Mt. Angel we headed back to the Fulton House to freshen up before meeting my clients/friends Lisa & John (and their great kids, Jack and Ava) who had invited us to dine with them at their home that night, but before that, to join them for views and cocktails at Lisa's parent's home located high on a bluff overlooking Portland with Mt. Hood and the "Three Sisters" in the background.

Folks... I pride myself on my ability to live vicariously through my "rich" friends, but Lisa's mom and dad... they're the real deal! Mary was barely able to refrain from taking out the camera to take pictures of their home... their mansion! Seriously... what a frigg'n house! Huge! Open... airy... beautifully furnished... and the outside balconies and patios...


Oh... and here was the best: At one point Lisa's mom asks Lisa's dad to show us his cars. Well... we head downstairs one level... stroll past the wine room which reminds me of a bank vault... and into the garage to find three classic cars - all red - parked as if the garage was a showroom - which in a way it was!

Ted... Mary... Carl... Antoinette... Rob... Maria... John... Cary... you folks need to all redouble your professional efforts so as move up in the world... taking me and Mary with you!


Oh... and then there was dinner at John and Lisa's house - which was no shack itself! A stately mock Tudor with a lovely landscaped back yard, we dined al fresco and we couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more! John and Lisa... thank you for your friendship!

After leaving John and Lisa's it was straight back to the Fulton House for a (relatively) early bedtime. (After all, the next day would be the wine tasting!)

OK... Saturday... after yet another wonderful home-cooked breakfast (where I managed to piss off some fellow guests - California libs - who made the classic mistake of outing themselves as NYT readers and... ugh... Paul Krugman fans) it was time to take the bus (yes... the bus) into town for a day of strolling and drinking.

Off we went on our 10-minute bus trip to "downtown," where we got off and began a walk around town meant to get our bearings. (Portland really is a friendly town; we hadn't walked more than 50 feet before a Snapple delivery truck guy gave us two free Snapples!) After an hour or so of walking around we ended up at the Rogue Distillery and Public House on 1339 NW Flanders Street.

Ahh... a happy place indeed!

Rick the bartender was a fine fellow and aside from the fine pouring job he did (both with the beers and the samples of Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey and Rogue Single Malt Whiskey of which I partook) he was also kind enough to steer us to some prime wining, dining, and and chugging points of interest! Indeed, he steered us towards two places which for whatever reason weren't on "the list" and which I'm grateful he turned us on to!

After quenching our thirsts and snacking a bit it was time to head on down to the Pinot City wine tasting... already described.

After three hours of wine tasting it was time to head back to Fulton House for a little rest...


After showering we spent a couple hours watching "Race to Witch Mountain" prior to heading out for dinner at Laurelhurst Market Restaurant and Butcher Shop.


After drinking (literally) all day I stuck to housemade fresh lemonade.

As for our appetizer... Suppli Al Telefono - braised shortribs & mozzarella risotto fritters, arugula, cured olives.

Main courses? Steak frites for the Poops and for me a grilled Piedmontese ribeye with blue cheese butter and best fried sweet onion rings I've ever had!

Oh...! And mustn't forget the side of mac & cheese!

Dessert? Housemade basil ice cream. (Refreshing and palate cleansing...)

Following that meal (one of only two which broke $100 - and not by much!) it was straight back to the Fulton House and... bed.

Folks... eating and drinking is hard work...!!!

The next day (Sunday) was spent going from garden to garden, brewpub to bar, and finally to dinner at Portland's oldest restaurant!

First stop after breakfast... the Japanese Garden.

Second stop... the International Rose Test Garden.

Third stop... the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

All three gardens were worth visiting and had their positives and negatives. The Japanese Garden offers the largest space and the best views... but the highest admission prices; the International Rose Test Garden is free... and free is for me... and also offers wonderful vistas; while the Chinese Garden is the most elegant... the most formal... and they also have a tea house on site which we took advantage of!

Fourth stop... the Cascade Brewing Barrel House.

Ahh... sour beers...!!!

Anyway... after a bit of... er... "sampling" at Cascade (along with food, of course!) it was off to the world famous Brass Horse Pub!

What a happy, happy, happy place... (*SIGH*)

Next... "home" to shower and change clothes and then off to dinner at Huber's.

Folks... does this sound like a "Bill Place" or what...?!?! (And check out the menu!) (Oh... oh... and check out the cocktail list!)

Suffice it to say... I really liked this place! (Louis XIII as well as Macallan 25 on the bar!)

The next morning... breakfast at 8:00 a.m. We hit the road at 9:15 a.m. and after a few quick stops along the way had the rental car back by 12:45 p.m. and were at the airport soon after.

Uneventful flights. (I was however pissed that there was no Chicago Deep Dish Pizza at ORD's Terminal N where we caught our connection!)

When we finally arrived back in Philly "aunt" Bernie and Damien were there to meet us and even though it was after midnight (local time) when we left the airport, I insisted upon making a "slight detour" into city center so as to get a cheesesteak at Geno's... followed by another cheesesteak at Pat's.

I preferred Pat's cheesesteak...

Hey... btw... thanks again to Patsy and Bernie for hosting us, taking us out to the Brazilian Grill on the night before our flight, taking us to the airport and picking us up from the airport upon our return! Dinner's on me the next time you're in town!

Anyway, folks... that's it! Another Billcation for the record books!

Next stop... Key West in October!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yet Another Barker Vacation Adventure, Folks!

It's the Bill Life, folks

Off to Oregon, folks! (Via Philly for an evening with the drunk'n Irish relatives!)

Blogging will resume when I get home... Tuesday, September 13.