Sunday, April 30, 2017

And now?







"Chance favors the prepared mind, so it it time to get prepared. Preparation, hard work, and a solid strategy will win the day a year from this November. Time to go get it - starting Monday."  



The long awaited Republican State Central Committee meeting is now history. The votes have been tallied, and there will be new faces at the helm of MN GOP. The "break in" time, the honeymoon period, will last from yesterday afternoon until Monday morning. Then it is going to be hard work, and a big hill to climb. To say we are going to "turn Minnesota red" and then to do it, might not be the same thing.

Am I being a nay sayer? Nope. Not a bit. I am however, being a realist. So based on what I know right now, here is how I see the chances for MN GOP in 2018:

  • Governor - We now have three good individuals in the hunt from the Republicans. And a whole bevy of folks from the DFL. In particular, Tim Walz from CD 1. Plus, a good chance that Rick Nolan will jump in from CD 8. More are expected to join from both parties which should make this a very crowded, yet interesting race. My take? After eight years of Dayton, Minnesota is ready for a change. More on this soon.
  • Amy's Seat - Klobuchar is up for re-election in 2018. As crowded as the race will be for Governor, you could hear a pin drop from the Republicans. Who will challenge Amy this time around? Unknown at this time. Last time she was up for re-election, the Republicans offered a tepid challenge, and ended up getting smoked. Hello? Anyone out there?
  • CD 1 - With the exit of Walz, this SHOULD be an easy pick up for the Republicans. Why? It is the most Republican district in the state. How this has been in Walz's hands for so long is a mystery to many. 
  • CD 8 - Stewart Mills barely lost this district to Nolan last time. With Nolan leaving, the Republicans should be able to pick this seat up. The color in this district has been changing from purple to a light red. With the right candidate and campaign, the Republicans have the opportunity to make this district even redder.
  • CD 2, CD 3, CD 6 - Should be safe. Unless something really bad happens in the Trump Administration, these seats should be fine. That being said, over confidence and complacency have lost many "safe" seats in the past.
  • Minnesota House - A lot depends on how this session ends. Right now, I think the House Republicans are in the driver's seat. That being said, there is a whole lot of grumbling going on by many of the party faithful with the "largess" issue. Many of us were looking for more "starving the beast", than we have seen so far. In fact, the beast has grown fatter. Even with that, my bet is the Republicans hold the House.
  • Minnesota Senate -  This razor thin majority could switch in a heartbeat in 2020. Will the Republicans hold? Maybe - however, I think the odds are 50-50 at best.
It is now "go time". Or as many call it, the "silly season". This coming election for Governor will be one of the most important in recent history. Why? If we can't get a Governor who will work with state Republicans to really fix the size of our state government, to fix our confiscatory tax system, people and money will continue to hemorrhage out of the state. Our loses will continue to be Wisconsin's and South Dakota's gain.

One final thing. We need to remember who the enemy is. It is not other Republicans. We are all on the same team. We need to coalesce and get ready for 2018. And it is not the Democrats. They are the opposition. They are still Americans. The enemies are the regimes in North Korea, Iran, and Syria. The enemies are the Islamic Terrorists who want to kill us all for no reason. 

Onward and upward. Chance favors the prepared mind, so it it time to get prepared. Preparation, hard work, and a solid strategy will win the day a year from this November. Time to go get it - starting Monday.  


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Problem child





"As much as we would all like to see China play the part of peacemaker, you can't play cards with someone who always deals off the bottom of the deck. In other words, China's talk and actions are not in sync."




Imagine if you would, having a child who acts up all the time. In fact, those who read the book or saw the movie, The Bad Seed, imagine having a psycho child like that one. How do you control a child like that? Do you use a carrot or a stick? Do you try to use behavior modification, or the threaten to use physical discipline? By now you have tried just about everything, and nothing has worked. That is, except the physical discipline. 

Okay - this is not about my kids or grandson. You have probably guessed this is about the problem child who is running North Korea. So how we handle him? Do we use a carrot or a stick? We have tried to ignore him, his dad and his grandpa for decades now, just to see if they would go away. And they did not. They did however, really go to town on their weapons production. So now we sit, being threatened with nuclear Armageddon by this pup on a weekly basis, and having very limited options to stop it.

Here is one thing we could do, outside of unleashing Jim Mattis and our awesome military. True, this might be a long shot, but maybe worth it. Use the carrot. And this is a tough one - it would be rewarding this problem child for his bad behavior. Set up a video conference call between President Trump and the problem child. Face to face would never work, so this would be the next best thing.

In that conference call, have President Trump give the problem child a deal he can't refuse. In exchange for stepping back from his nuclear program, his rocket program, and a partial disarmament on the DMZ, North Korea would be rewarded with food, fuel along with some types of technology from America. Plus many of the sanctions would be dropped. In other words, try to bring them into the world of civilized nations by trading with them. And giving them some aid which would benefit his people.

Then President Trump would show the problem child the other side of the coin - the stick. Should he refuse to take this deal, an allied force consisting of the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and maybe others, would disarm North Korea by force. In other words, war.

President Trump would make it as clear as a bell this is not our choice. Living in peace with North Korea as a limited trading partner is our first choice. But one way or another, the status quo in North Korea will change or be changed this summer.

The bottom line is simply this. The UN will not do anything to help. Nobody will - that is, except us. As much as we would all like to see China play the part of peacemaker, you can't play cards with someone who always deals off the bottom of the deck. In other words, China's talk and actions are not in sync. No, the United States is the only country on this planet who can, one way or the other, make this problem child behave.

There it is. The bottom line. And the clock is ticking. More and more pundits are saying that war is just around the corner. Time for the Hail Mary pass. The pass which will fix this issue without letting tens of thousands die. But have no doubt - this issue will be fixed. It has to be.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Springtime drama in the north country...






"More drama is coming, I believe. If the Speaker and the retiring MN GOP chair also decide to jump the Governor's race, it could start looking like a WWE Battle Royal."



Okay. The weather has taken a turn for the weird. We seem to be regressing back into winter instead of running headlong into an early summer. But with all of that weather nonsense, boy oh boy, do we have drama right now. Are things boring in the land of 10,000 taxes? Not a bit, thank you.

High drama is going to take place in St. Cloud tomorrow. It will happen at the MN GOP State Central Spring Meeting, where the election of new MN GOP officers will take place. With the track record of MN GOP over the past several years, electing officers for that place is never a "snooze". This year however, it will be particularly interesting. I recently penned an article on this issue, so I won't go into the gory details all over again. I will just sum it up by saying we have some top notch people vying to take important jobs in a very sick organization.

And how about the drama in Minneapolis right now? It is a real "cat fight" between two of the cities leaders. That is right - Mayor Betsy is right in the middle of it. For some reason, this life long statist feels she knows more about police business than Chief Janee', who has been doing this cop thing just about forever.

Right now their relationship is about as frosty as the one between the Chair and Deputy Chair of MN GOP. How is this "cat fight" going to end up? Poorly for Chief Janee', as Mayor Betsy has one more strip on her shoulder. As the saying goes, she may not always be right, but she is always the boss.

Yesterday, Matt Dean announced he was throwing his hat in the ring for Governor. The paper used the term "crowed field" that Matt was joining. Well, sort of. It is crowded on the DFL side with only a few announced on the Republican side. What have I seen so far? Good people running on the Republican side. Fresh faces, fresh ideas. On the DFL side? Same statists, different day. Blah, blah, blah. Sorry, but that is the truth.

The Bird has his ear to the tracks. More drama is coming, I believe. If the Speaker and the retiring MN GOP chair also decide to jump the Governor's race, it could start looking like a WWE Battle Royal.

But out of the dust this summer, I believe a clear choice will emerge to lead this state to a place it has never been before. A fixer. A mechanic. Stay tuned. The drama might just starting.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Provocations







"We don't have time to screw with these guys any longer. Why? We still have the Islamic State to take care of and Iran is in the wings. Sorry - this is what happens when you take eight years off and let the bad guys run amok."  




In the War of 1812, we were at war with the British as well as the Canadians. Once the war ended, the Canadians never accepted the fact it was over. To this day, they have massive artillery and missile units in Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, and Vancouver, all ready and aimed to strike major United States cities. The United States has complained to the United Nations, but the answer always is the same. Until they use them in anger, just put up with it.

My neighbor across the street from me has a large collection of guns. We had a spat about 25 years ago, and he never forgot it. Every day, when I am out working in my yard, he is pointing one of his guns at me. I have called the sheriff to complain, but he told me until my neighbor fires at me in anger, I am just to put up with it.

Of course, both of the above are absurd illustrations of something which is not absurd at all. Ever since the Korean conflict ended in 1953, North Korea is armed to the teeth. And much of it is on display on the other side of the DMZ. It is estimated that today, North Korea has thousands of artillery pieces, all dug in and aimed at Seoul. Some estimates show that should the North Koreans unleash a surprise attack on South Korea, during the first hour over 500,000 artillery shells would hit Seoul. In two hours or less, the city would have suffered catastrophic damage.

In the eyes of the United Nations, how can this not be a provocation? In the example I used with the Canadians having artillery aimed at our cities, we would not put up with that for a New York minute. My opinion on what the Norks have been doing to South Korea? Act of war. Worthy of an appropriate response. Why? What they are doing is a provocation of the highest order. 

I don't in my adult life ever remember the United States threatening North Korea. Instead we have coddled them, put up with them, ignored them. Meanwhile, they have built up a small nuclear arsenal. On almost on a weekly basis now, they are threatening to use nukes against us, our overseas bases, our ships, our allies, or you name it. To me, (once again) that is a provocation of the highest order.

Here come the nugget in all my ranting. I would like to see our President do something that no other President has done in the past fifty years. I would like President Trump to threaten the North Korean regime. Tell them they have until June 1, 2017 to withdraw from the DMZ. Or else we will use our military to reduce their forces.

Next, they have until June 1, 2017, to cease all nuclear production. Then to let UN inspectors in to verify, and then start to dismantle existing nuclear weapons. They have until June 1, 2017 to start this process, and June 1, 2018 to finish it. Failure to comply will result in the United States using military force to finish for them.

Trust me, I am not a war hawk - I really am not. But I am so sick of these guys, so over them, I just want it to end. The longer we wait, the more nukes they will have and the harder it will be. Some will ask, "what about China?" My response - what about them? They have been as useless as a screen door on a submarine in dealing with the Norks. No - I am afraid it is going to be up to us to end this nightmare. 

Whatever happens, it needs to happen quickly. We don't have time to screw with these guys any longer. Why? We still have the Islamic State to take care of and Iran is in the wings. Sorry - this is what happens when you take eight years off and let the bad guys run amok.  

A tax cut or opportunity lost...





"We have been told this is our once in a generation time to really fix out tax system. We have waited for this for a long time. After yesterday's announcement - we are still waiting." 


Okay - color me disappointed. Not just a little disappointed, a lot disappointed. From what I have seen of the proposed "tax reform" so far, it is a bit of a yawner. Why do I say that? I think the operative word is "reform". This is just more of the same, only watered down. Not exactly what was talked about on the campaign trail.

First off, the Administration needs to realize a certain fact of life. No matter what the change in the income tax status quo is, it will be painted as favoring the rich. Knowing that, go for the gusto. Real change in the way we tax. And not to be redundant, I will once again point out what I define as real change:

  • Abolish the IRS. With the right kind of change, we don't need it anymore. Besides all of which, it has been weaponized by the Obama Administration. And for some reason which still escapes me, we still have John Koskinen running the IRS. He should have been fired on President Trump's first day in office. And Lois Lerner? She should be starring in the real life version of "Orange is the new black".
  • Abolish the current tax code. Get rid of it, lock, stock and barrel. With real tax change, we no longer need this Rubik's cube of nonsense. Every year someone from the government gets in front of a camera and proclaims nobody but tax  experts can do income taxes these days. Okay - then get rid of what we have and replace it with a one page document.
  • Not five rates, not three rates, but one rate. A flat tax of 10%. That would be the rate for everyone. No more half the country not needing to pay in a dime. No deductions, no exemptions, just 10 cents out of every dollar going into the federal income tax. Easy peasy. Fill out your taxes on a post card. 
  • Zero estate tax, zero taxes on social security benefits, zero state tax and zero corporate tax. Let's see how that works in juicing the economy.
The way to rightsize our federal and state government is to first rightsize the amount of food (money) you feed them. That is the way diets work. We need to DEMAND that our government do two things: 1) Act like most P+L companies today - always strive to do more with less, and 2) Act like most families today - live within a budget.

We have been told this is our once in a generation time to really fix out tax system. We have waited for this for a long time. After yesterday's announcement - we are still waiting.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The men in the High Castle





"But - despite the entropy which MN GOP wears like a shadow, the blue state of Minnesota has taken back the House and the Senate."


No - this is not a review about the new show on Amazon with almost the same title. Not even close. This is the real life High Castle for those in the Republican Party. Yes, I am talking about our MN GOP headquarters. And this is not going to be a "hit piece" on any individual, past or present who has served there. This is only about the crazy, mixed up place many Republicans in Minnesota call their headquarters.

This is a troubled organization. It has been for some years now. Why? Good question. Money issues have plagued it for years. But - despite the entropy which MN GOP wears like a shadow, the blue state of Minnesota has taken back the House and the Senate. And in my most humble opinion - we are going to take back the Governor's mansion in 2018. But more on that later.

By now most of us have seen or read the news. The current MN GOP Chair sent out a poison pen letter to the delegates who will soon be voting for new MN GOP leadership. Rather than being a fair arbitrator and professing neutrality, the current Chair decided instead to try and kill the chances of his Deputy Chair to become the new Chair. This would be like if in 2020, should President Trump decide not to run for re-election, he sends out a letter to the voting faithful telling them Mike Pence is not fit to be dogcatcher.

Truthfully, I do have some inside baseball knowledge of this issue which I am not going to disclose. Besides all of which, I have said this is not going to be a hit piece. What I want is for MN GOP to get its ducks in a row. This total chaos which permeates the place has gone on too long under too many Chairs. It is long past time to change how we do things.

Here it is in a nutshell. I know most of the folks running for Chair and Deputy Chair. Good people all. However, will the new Chair and Deputy Chair work well together? What if their visions are different? Styles are different? I think the election of a new Chair and Deputy Chair should be similar to how we elect Presidents and Vice Presidents. In other words, two people run as a team. The team running would not only know each other, but know they could work with each other. 

Many folks I have talked to in the past few years have no time for MN GOP. Mostly because of the way they have handled money. For the party of "fiscal conservatives", finances at MN GOP sure spend a lot of time in the tank. For many out here, this makes it hard to want to to donate to MN GOP.

And for a party which preaches compassion, the venom which is now coming out of the MN GOP office is bitter and unforgiving. Dirty laundry should always be washed and hung inside - not outside for the world to see. We can, and we should, do better.

  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The other side of midnight





"It is time to fix this problem from the other side of midnight. Once we do that, we can fix another tough problem in the Middle East (Iran). As was said in the Godfather - 'time to take care of family business.'" 


Years ago, Sidney Sheldon wrote a somewhat steamy and salacious novel called The Other Side of Midnight. I might have read it (if was published in the early 70's), but if I did, I don't remember it. In any event, this article is not about that book. It is about the true other side of midnight - living on the other side of the International Date Line. 

I have lived a portion of my life on the other side of midnight. Many men my age also have. Why? Viet Nam. Young men were either stationed there or close by. In World War II we had thousands of young men also stationed on the other side of midnight. The same is true for the Korean conflict.

But World War II is over. The Korean conflict (we thought) is over. And Viet Nam is over. But our sights are still set on that area of the world. Why? The coming North Korean showdown.

As I write this, it is not even 4 pm on Tuesday. Yet in Seoul, South Korea, it is approaching dawn on Wednesday. Today (Wednesday) is the day something could happen on the Korean Peninsula. This war of words by the North Korean madman could transition to a hot war. And if it did happen on Wednesday (their time), most of us would probably be asleep (our time).

If Kim Jong-il does not back down from his truculent and provocative threats, bad things might be in the forecast. He has been warned numerous times. If he conducts a nuke test on Wednesday, or test fires a rocket, I am afraid (for him) the ship is going to hit the sand.

Like what? On Wednesday night (over there) maybe a visit from a group of F-117 stealth aircraft. Or B-2 stealth bombers. Or Tomahawk missiles from nearby destroyers, all aimed at the artillery and missiles primed and ready to take out Seoul. Why? We will not let Seoul fall. And we will degrade North Korea's forces enought to ensure that does not happen. 

What do I think? I think right now, Kim Jong-il is drinking his own bath water, just like Saddam did before the Gulf War. Even thought we are in a bit of a lull right now with our armed forces (thanks for nothing Obama!), we are still not a paper tiger. We can strike and strike hard. 

Do I want war this week? Absolutely not! I want the North Korean people to come to their senses and effect regime change. Way past time to get rid of these guys. By the same token, if they can not change their government, we need to look out for us (that be the USA) first. So if war comes, it will be quick and ugly. Many will die, mostly on the Korean Peninsula.

This is finally it folks. The show down. No more posturing. No more President By-Stander like with Obama or Bush. This is "no s**t for real". No more being threatened by this pipsqueak on a weekly basis. And no more tormenting, torturing and killing his own people.

It is time to fix this problem from the other side of midnight. Once we do that, we can fix another tough problem in the Middle East (Iran). As was said in the Godfather - "time to take care of family business." If you saw the Godfather trilogy, you know exactly what I mean.