Friday, December 8, 2017

Finding the (new) line

"I guess the days of the 'Man Men' type of behavior is long over. Those who still practice it (like Weinstein) have paid a huge price."

Yesterday, another two legislatures threw in the towel. Representative Franks and our own Al Franken. These are happy hunting days for the "me too" crowd. Not saying that is bad, but one thing does haunt me. The pendulum has swung back so far from the days of unchecked sexual harassment and indiscretions, we have now entered the land of no proof, no due process. All it takes is an allegation or two, and a man's career is "poof" - over.

Starting to hear more and more that so and so "crossed the line". And once the line is crossed, he had to go. What line? Is it changing? Or is it a line which has always been there?

The young lady on the radio show I listen to in the morning had a very good point. What would happen if we gave all men a lie detector test to see who at any time in his life, decided to "cop a feel". Or tell an off color joke to a co-worker. Are men who have done that, even in their teenage years disqualified? Bill Clinton has oral sex with an intern, gets his semen (with his DNA I might add) on her blue dress, and is looked upon as a icon of the Democratic Party. Other men have done a small fraction of that have been shown the door.

Since we are now operating in the days of no due process (only allegations), is it time to scrap this co-ed experiment we have living? Boys schools and girls schools? Have either an all male or all female House or Senate? All male or all female offices in the business world? Is this sex thing such a strong attractor, it can make smart people do dumb things? Even the church is not immune (trust me - I have seen it up close and personal). Questions, questions, and more questions.

Where do we go from here? Is the closet cleaned out enough yet, or are there more allegations yet to come. More bodies to fall. This carnal and carnival atmosphere is not making us look very good right now. Along with the multitude of other issues which keep this country bi-polar, giving the impression we all have a sex addition does not further our cause. 

One thing which Franken said yesterday which might be a defense in the future for an accused man was a short and simple sentence - "That did not happen the way I remember it". When the accuser has been in the shadows for decades without speaking out, and then all of a sudden comes forth with "something", I think the "two versions" excuse might possibly have some merit. However, in Franken's case, many of his accusers were talking about things which happened ten years ago or less. Time was not his friend.

I guess the days of the "Man Men" type of behavior is long over. Those who still practice it (like Weinstein or Ailes) have paid a huge price. My recommendation to women is simply this. I know it is hard to do, but when a man gets out of line with you, no matter where you work, name him and claim it. If possible, proof is always good. If your boss asks you to do something tawdry behind closed doors in his office, maybe you need to resort to doing what Gretchen Carlson did - wear a wire. That act of bravery got her boss fired, gave her a $20M settlement, and really started the "me too" movement.

Here is a tip men. Just like in that old commercial from years ago where the tag line was "Be like Mikey!", you also should try to be like "Mikey". Mike Pence that is. I have a feeling we will never hear Mike Pence's name brought up with him doing something improper in the past. He errs on the side of caution. These days, that is a wise thing to do.  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Kinda wish he would have stuck around...

"Al Franken - you are damaged goods. Not just a little bit, but a whole lotta bit. Having you remain in the Senate, bathed in your hypocrisy would have been splendid for the red team." 

I am not a priest, but in all my years, I have heard a lot of sorrowful people repent or confess things they were very sorry for. Today for the first time, a guy who almost got caught (so to speak) with his pants down, admitted to nothing. These silly women who "said" something bad happened with Al, are either liars or mistaken. To some, Al gave the benefit of the doubt - "I guess I remember things differently". Oh come on Al! Like, those were Leeann Tweeden's shoulders you were cupping and not her breasts. Oh well...

The problem is Al, in the eyes of many of the women in the Senate (both parties), you are a sleaze ball. You say you are a "champion of women", yet your actions betray that claim. You are a user and a abuser sir. A real man would have come forth and admitted his mistakes, asked for forgiveness, and then quietly exited through the back door. To stand in the Well of the Senate and say, "Well, even though these charges are baseless, what about the President? What about Judge Moore?" What about them Franken? This day was all about YOU!

Al Franken - you are damaged goods. Not just a little bit, but a whole lotta bit. Having you remain in the Senate, bathed in your hypocrisy, would have been splendid for the red team. Many Christians who do not believe in karma might have started to. The 60th ObamaCare vote, leaving the Senate with a dark cloud over his head, was very close to karma. Many are happy you are leaving. However if you had stuck around, your word would not have been worth spit - and that includes for folks on your side of the aisle.

And to think, with all your character flaws, you had the BALLS to go after fine men like Judge Gorsuch or Judge Stras, makes me want to puke in my mouth. Since you are my age (hard to believe), I have no idea why you did not serve our country in the military like I did. Maybe you thought that was beneath a person of your stature. Anyhow, in the service you learn many things. Like - taking responsibility for your actions. Plus, if you worked for me and grabbed a woman's breasts like you did, I would have busted you down to an E-1.

I know a pastor friend of mine thinks you are a good egg, and worthy of redemption. Okay - I will bite. I don't know if I will go along with the "good egg" stuff, but we are all worthy of redemption if we first agree to change. Blaming the victim is not a good way to start Al. Repenting is good. 

Well, good luck Al in your next life. You said today you wanted to go back to being an activist. Hey! I am an activist also! Maybe we can meet on the trail some time and talk about old times. That is - if I can trust you. And, if you have truly repented.  

Games and War Games

"What is the outcome going to be? Unknown. I am betting on this however. Should the games take place, with or without the two super powers, 'rocket man' will not remain silent." 

Well, well, well. This has to be a first. A sovereign country is going to hold the winter games while a neighboring country is threatening nuclear annihilation on them and some who will participate. This has to be a joke, right? Why would the Olympic committee select a country so close to a lunatic who hates them. A lunatic who threatens to nuke just about every country who has electricity? With the Olympics only two months away, and with the Norks now having a missile which can travel 8,000 miles, what could possibly go wrong? Everything.

First off, we have decided to do some muscle posing for the Norks. Currently, we are having joint air exercises with South Korea. One of the biggest show of force we were going to show the Norks were two B1-b Lancer bombers flying (with a ton of F-35 escorts) out of Anderson AFB, and over the Korean Peninsula. Whoops - there was only one B1-b that made it. The other one was stuck on the tarmac back in Guam with mechanical issues. Thanks for nothing Obama! 

If these Olympics happen at all this next February, it is going to be a miracle. First off, the Russian team just got the boot. Why? Alleged doping during the last Olympics. Too bad - every four years they offer quite a bit of the competition at the winter games. Of course, now the Russian team does not have to worry about getting nuked or blown up by North Korean artillery during the games (one of the venues in the games is only 40 miles from the DMZ).

UN Ambassador Nicky Haley was asked this week about our participation in the Olympics. She sounded very squishy at best. It sounds like there is a chance (due to the Geo-political climate over there), we might take a pass on the games. What? No Russia nor USA? What does that leave for competition? The bobsled team from Jamaica?

It has also been reported on the news that ticket sales are sluggish. Also many members of the NBC broadcasting team are reticent about traveling to what might become a war zone. It seems that between the bluster of the "rocket man" and the massive war gaming in the south, many in NBC feel this trip would be akin to traveling to Hawaii in early December 1941. 

What is the outcome going to be? Unknown. I am betting on this however. Should the games take place, with or without the two super powers, "rocket man" will not remain silent. How do I know this? That is his MO. He will use this venue to make some kind of statement. Hopefully his statement will only be bluster and nothing else. However, with this regime - who knows...

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Minnesota IS red (deficit red that is!)

"I know many on the Right would like to have Minnesota red again. Red as in conservative (NOT REPUBLICAN!). We don't want Minnesota to be red as in deficit red. But that is the direction we are headed - unless we all come to our senses and fast."

One of the things we will always remember the Reverend Jeremiah Wright for is his now infamous line - "America's chickens have come home to roost." I would like to modify his line just a bit to say, "Minnesota's tax and spending issues have come home to roost." To see how this state has squandered a big surplus down to a deficit (and a growing one at that), is nothing less than either shameful or criminal.

So what is the problem? First off, the new sheriff (and his posse) in Washington has decided our run away federal spending is out of control. Cutbacks are either in place or coming. Tax cuts are coming. A more common sense budget is coming. Entitlement reform is coming.

Meanwhile in Minnesota, it is operations normal. Our taxes remain high, and our state spending is still way, way out of control. Bottom line? Programs which have been giving Minnesota a teat to suck on (like CHIP) are not going to be there anymore. And that is just the first wave. Wait until the federal Medicare cuts happen.

Here is the next problem. Even though many (including myself) have been shouting this for years from the rooftops. Money is leaving this state. Because of the inability to fix our sky high income tax rate, high income earners are looking westward to South Dakota, eastward to Wisconsin, or southward to Texas or Florida to relocate. Plus (and this is a big one for folks like me), because we still have this festering wound with punishing many of our Minnesota seniors with taxing Social Security, they are also are leaving this state. 

But the big whopper is just on the horizon. The "lesson to be taught to high SALT states" will be coming shortly. I have heard this from many sources. One of the reasons the state and local tax deductions are going away in the new tax bill is to force high SALT states to reduce their tax and spending. Plus that deduction is unfair to lower SALT states.

Because of Marx Dayton and his DFL henchmen (and women), Minnesota has been lumped in with socialist states like California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. In 2018, we are going to pull down our trousers, bend over, and get ready for a real federal whipping.

Changes are coming. Reality is setting in. The long promulgated myth in this state that a grove of money trees is growing in Washington and St. Paul is coming to an end. Until Minnesota can learn to rightsize (that be downsize) its state budget, money will continue to flee elsewhere. And Democrats - as much as you would like to, you can't force people to stay here. You can only entice people to stay here by making the state affordable. Right now it is not.

I know many on the Right would like to have Minnesota red again. Red as in conservative (NOT REPUBLICAN!). We don't want Minnesota to be red as in deficit red. But that is the direction we are headed - unless we all come to our senses and fast.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Our next President - the Centrist in Chief

"But what if some don't want to live under our Constitution when the majority of people do? There is the door. To coin a phrase from yesteryear, 'America - love it or leave it.'" 

During the past ten years, we have really seen the "Ying" and the "Yang". The "Ying", that would be President Obama, tried to pull this nation so far to the Left, we might have tipped over. But after eight long, tough years, he was finally gone. In reaction to the "Ying", we elected the "Yang". That would be President Trump. And he is pulling back from the Left so hard, we might get whiplash. These two men are as far apart as the east is from the west.

There are as many people how had a visceral dislike for Obama that have a visceral hatred for Trump. That is a big problem. Some on the Left might be thinking, "Oh boy! In the 2020 elections, we will vote this guy out of office and get someone like Elizabeth Warren in there!" Some others on the Right might be hoping for another term of the "Yang". Here is my perspective. The country is tired of being dragged from the far Left and then back again. I am thinking in 2020 we will have our first centrist President in a very long time. 

Why would I say that? There are many, myself included, who think this country is about an inch or two away from being ungovernable. Look at sanctuary cities as an example. A FLAGRANT disrespect for the law of the land. Thumbing their noses at the federal government. This issue has all the ingredients for a showdown between federal and state (or city) law enforcement. If it every came to that, nothing good would come out of it. 

I also think going forward this country needs to do some introspection. Many on the Left have a disdain for many parts of our Constitution. You know - it was written by old white guys about a zillion years ago. It is full of ancient rural incrementalism. It needs to be totally re-written to keep up with the times.

However, there is a growing chorus from those on the Right to hold a Convention of States. There has always been a provision in the Constitution for doing just that (Article V). This is like an acid test. It allows us to look at the letter and the intent of the Constitution and compare it against how we are operating today. If the government is not operating in accordance with the Constitution, it allows the country to make a mid-course correction and get it back to operating where it belongs. 

Now here is where it gets tricky. The next President needs to be Constitutional. This should NOT mean he lives on the Right side of the street. Both the Right and the Left should be concerned about being Constitutional. And our "swamp" is not Constitutional.  My belief is a centrist who is also Constitutional can govern this country nicely - as well as draining the swamp.

But what if some don't want to live under our Constitution when the majority of people do? There is the door. To coin a phrase from yesteryear, "America - love it or leave it." 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Campaign Promises

"Remember - in 2018 the door knockers will be out in full force. Asking for you to vote for their guy (or gal). When they recite the campaign promises of the candidate, don't hesitate to ask the tough questions."

I remember the last campaign just like it was last year. Wait! It was last year! Many were excited by what I call the "Big 4" promises. They would be 1) Repeal and replace ObamaCare, 2) Tax reform, 3) BUILD THE DAMN WALL! and 4) Improving our infrastructure. I thought that since the President's term is now over 20% over, let's see how we are doing.

Before I get started, I just want to remind everyone the President, no matter how powerful and/or influential, is nothing more than a cheerleader. Despite the fact that Obama at times tried to rule like a king or emperor, the President is neither. It is Congress who needs to draft the laws and appropriate the money.

Repeal and replace ObamaCare -  For many on the Right, just talking about this subject is like brushing a sore tooth. For some reason, known only to a few, this healthcare fix ended up being somewhere between the "way too hard" and impossible. Will this come up again in the GFY 2018 legislative year? Why? Nothing has changed. People will continue to suffer under Obama's signature program. For right now, this campaign promise remains a festering wound.

Tax reform -  I will give this one somewhere between a "D" and a "D-". Why? Where is the reform? Where is the reduced tax code? Where are the tax cuts for everyone? Maybe it was a definitional issue. "Reform" to many on the Right meant a flat tax or fair tax. Eliminate the IRS. Fire John Koskinen. Throw Lois Lerner in jail. What we got was a tinkered with status quo. Yes, the reduction in the corporate rate was a good thing. But the deficit hawks must have flown south for the winter when the CBO scored it high on debt. I was asked again yesterday if the new bill (which is not yet fully cooked) will help or hurt me. My answer still remains - no clue.

BUILD THE DAMN WALL! - Hello? Wall? Where are you? I know, I know - some progress (albeit minor) has been made. There is a down payment in the new un-passed budget. Big whoop. The estimated budget to build the wall remains at $21B - mere chump change in Washington speak. If Congress was cleaver, they could have found the money and real stuff would have been happening by now. How important is building this wall? Kate Steinle important. Enough said.

Improving our infrastructure - Zzzzzz. Excuse me - I fell asleep on this one. Of all the campaign promises, this is the one where there was some spark from the other side. The Democrats loved it? Of course, some asked that age old question - "Where is the money coming from?" Never answered. This weekend we had a 12" water main give way under 694. It is a mess of historic proportions and will take a long time to fix. But old or ancient water mains are only part of our infrastructure problems. Roads, bridges, ports, pipelines, and of course, my most favorite - our fragile electrical grid. This entire initiative is sleeping more soundly right now than Rip Van Winkle.

Remember - in 2018 the door knockers will be out in full force. Asking for you to vote for their guy (or gal). When they recite the campaign promises of the candidate, don't hesitate to ask the tough questions. It is one thing to promise a chicken in every pot, it is quite another to find even a pot, much less some kind of a bird to cook it in.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Our coming employment dilemma

"Now more than ever, chance will favor the prepared mind. The coming future will be unique in our experience, in our existence. Buckle up young ones - this is going to be quite a ride."

Listen up young folks. This is mostly for you. People my age have already run our race. Besides all of which, this is a much different world than the one myself and my peers competed in. Some of us have known for a while now the future was going to be different than what we are all used to. I just had no idea it was going to be this different.

First off, let me just say one more time that this entire $15/hour argument is bogus. It really is. Why? Supply and demand. In the Twin Cites right now, we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Plus we have scads of people out of the workforce. Huh? I know that is not the economics most of us learned by - but nevertheless, that is today's reality.

To further complicate matters, we still have many lower level jobs which are unfilled. Go to any fast food joint. ALL have a help wanted sign up. And the lateral mobility of most of those lower tiered jobs is very fluid. Plus, as technology continues to mature, many of those lower tiered jobs will start to go away. The jobs which remain will take a higher skill level, which will result in a higher wage. Probably much higher than $15/hour.

But here is where the warning comes in for the Millennials and the Gen-X folks. To not only survive, but thrive economically in your future, your must be very nimble in your training and skill sets. Plus - be willing to learn and re-train at all times.

A few weeks ago there was an economist on the news saying the future of work is going to be like something we have never seen before. Because of technology, 80% of the work needed to keep our society functioning will be done by 20% of the people. If you think those numbers don't add up, they don't.

Here is the bottom line. It is becoming more and more likely that besides have rock bottom unemployment numbers, we will also have workforce participation numbers which are also staggeringly low. Like a constant of 100M+ people out of the workforce. If our society has the necessary people to do the jobs which need to be done, what are all the rest of the people who are out of the workforce going to do? Now we have touched on the $64,000 question.

Here are my suggestions for young folks going forward to help fend off some of this future shock (Sorry Mr. Toffler):

  • Stay informed! Don't stick your head in the sand and don't be a Chicken Little. Stay informed locally and nationally. Read different sources on things.
  • Stay educated! Never stop learning. School is only one place in which you learn (although, in some government schools that is hard). 
  • Grasp, not fear, the future! The future is not something you need to worry about in 30 years or so. The future is here now. You will either be a part of that future or you will soon be in the past.
  • (This is tough one for some) Be involved politically! Make sure the people we vote for also understand the future. Beware of charlatans and liars. 
  • Stay connected in your community. The unprepared minds of some will need the support of those who are prepared.

I hope this did not sound too dour. Now more than ever, chance will favor the prepared mind. The coming future will be unique in our experience, in our existence. Buckle up young ones - this is going to be quite a ride.