Monday, September 30, 2013

Between a rock and a hard place...


"Please don't tell me there is not a third choice!"

This is going to be a tough month. One of the reasons I say that is the growing number of "low information" or "no information" voters who populate our land. They are easy pickings for the scandalous liars who inhabit Washington and our media. Starting today, there is going to a huge dose of hyperbole, half-truths and no truths being spewed out all over the air waves. Those who are not informed will become nothing more than "sheeple".

Why do I say something so harsh on a Monday morning? Today on MSNBC, Steve Ratner (aka the former "car czar") put up some charts to show how much the economy is improving. He said, "The Republicans should be excited about the deficit coming down. It is projected to be half what it was a year ago". If you are not paying attention, and more importantly are not up to speed on economic terminology, one might think, "Great! Obama's policies are working and we don't owe as much money!" Wrong, and wrong again!

The analogy I will use is this. A year ago, I went out and bought a new Cadillac using credit I could not afford. This year however, I only went out and bought a Chevy, again using credit I could not afford. Since the Chevy did not cost as much as the Cadillac, I am doing better, right?

Our huge debt is still going up, only not as fast as last year. The fact that we spend more than a penny than we can afford is a problem. It is in my house. I don't care that Jack Lew broke the National Debt Clock - our debt is still going up and that is a big problem. So now comes the "rock and the hard place" issue:
  • Our national debt is over $17T. That is the truth, an immutable fact.
  • We will be out of money (supposedly) by October 17th.
  • We are being asked to raise the debt ceiling by another trillion or so. 
  • We have already raised the debt ceiling 7 times under President Obama.
  • OMB has projected if we do not do something to reign in entitlement spending soon, the debt could be as high as $20T by the time Obama leaves office.
So what happens if we do not raise the debt ceiling this month? Depends on who you ask. 61% of voters (per Bloomberg) think we should not raise it unless there are corresponding (and realistic) spending cuts. Some economists believe it would be sending the junkie into detox. It would hurt bad for a while, but eventually cure the patient. Then there is the Paul Krugman school of economics which believe we will go over the fiscal cliff, never to return.

In less than twenty-four hours we will begin the biggest moment of truth our country has had in quite a while. Will the Republicans get weak kneed and "round heels" like they have in the past, or will they stand up for financial sanity. I do know this - more and more people are sick to death of "living off the card", both in their personal lives as well our national life. No more debt, pay our bills, tax EVERYONE fairly. Lets get the American dream going again and wake up from this fiscal nightmare.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Washington Playbook


"Those that think they have seen this movie before, probably have..."

Happy New Year everyone! Those who have worked with or for the government know that the GFY is often times more important than the end of the Julian calendar. What is the GFY you ask? The Government Fiscal Year, and it happens every year on October 1st. As sure as the Gophers lose when they start playing real football teams, the second best bet in Minnesota is financial disagreement in Washington. Baring a miracle tantamount to the parting of the Red Sea, we are headed for "shut down city" at midnight on Monday.

Understand this first - not too many people on either side of the aisle are unhappy about this. Everybody has a "playbook" describing how this could develop to their advantage. For example, during the last election, dozens upon dozens of Conservatives won with the pledge of coming to Washington to stop ObamaCare. As of right now, it is stopped - along with many other things, as there is no Continuing Resolution (CR) or budget going forward.

The Democrats, most particularly the President, are almost drooling thinking on how this might play out. Since the Administration holds the purse stings on what stays open and what shuts down, there will be as much pain as possible given to as many as practical. Rather than offering a helping hand or soothing voice, the Left will be shrill in putting the blame squarely on the Tea Party Right. In fact, our "good friend" Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), has already pulled that obscene term ("Tea Baggers") out of the Democratic closet. A pornographic term this vile is never acceptable be used by a standing member of the Senate, from either party.

Back to the playbook for the Left. Pain is inflicted. Blame is placed squarely on the Republicans. Unhappy voters will remember the pain of the shutdown and vote in high numbers for loyal Democrats who will unseat these "troublesome" Republicans. Once Speaker Nancy is back in power, Nancy, Harry and the President will finish up the total transformation of our country with sweeping climate control legislation. The top one percent will be taxed at rates similar to pre-Reagan days and our economy will operate similar to the Euro zone. American will have become Greece, with Washington acting like Athens.

Here is the truth behind partial government shut downs. For the most part, you will not even notice it. Sure there will be some areas that inconvenience people - however, the Administration could fill in those gaps should they desire. For the most part, it will be 40% of government workers who on Tuesday morning, will go to work and find out they are not "essential". Mail will be delivered, government checks will go out and the clock will tick. The President will shut down the Washington exhibits and the National Parks. Boo ho - vacation time is over anyhow.

What we will see on Tuesday will be the dress rehearsal for what we could see on October 17th when we reach (once again) the limitations of the debt ceiling. The President is predicting financial Armageddon if the House does not agree to raise the ceiling. It could be a mess and this one could hurt. However, there are a growing number of people in the country who are willing to take some pain to get out debt under control. I am one of them.

So, as they say in the Navy, stand by for stormy seas with a rough chop. October promises to be a stormy and turbulent month. Hopefully, just like the calm after a thunderstorm, November will be peaceful with many of these pesky financial issues resolved.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why we HATE each other..(redux)...

"Senator, please don't call me My Friend' unless you mean it..."
The following is an article I did a few years ago on a former blog. I have buffed it up a bit and am reposting it as it is more germane today than it was then.
This morning in one of the on-line papers, the story was out that some in Congress think the nation in more divided today than it was during the Civil War. If that is true, in full or even partially, we have big, big problems right now.
The main problem is we hate each other. We don't get along, we fight, and we agree on practically nothing. No, I am not talking about a relationship with a spouse - this is much more insidious. I am talking about how we act as a country.
A former Governor of Minnesota would refer to the Republicans and Democrats as "Crips and the Bloods". In other words, they were fighting like rival gangs, often demonstrating a visceral hatred for each other. Today rather than having one party in power and the other being the "loyal opposition", we now practice the politics of personal destruction as winning at all costs has trumped everything else.
This is not good for our country now (as we are embroiled in the war with terror) or during times of peace. We have problems - daunting problems which need to be addressed immediately. As the constituencies of each party have become so radically different from each other, finding common ground has been the first victim of this skirmish. With the country divided ideologically almost totally in half, any solution which does not involve finding common ground results in hard feelings and bitterness. The smell of blood in the water is so strong, we have minimized external threats in favor domestically attacking and damaging our national fabric. We have become the cancer and the host, both living in the same body.
What is really interesting is the root of the problem. We have danced around it, used synonyms, and code speak to describe it. Simply put, the real issue is money. Who will pay and how much will it be. Currently, nearly 50% of the people in this country pay no Federal income tax. As the nation's financial requirements increase, the solution seems straight forward. We can either raise taxes on the 50% who already pay taxes, borrow money, or print more money. The camps have become polarized into the "haves and the "have-nots", the makers and the takers or the crips and the bloods. We call each other every name we can think of, except fellow Americans.
Many of the 50% of the Americans who are paying the taxes say they have had enough. They don't mind paying their fair share, but there is a limit to how deep the well is. On the other hand, many of those who do not pay taxes believe that this is a fairness issue, a human dignity issue, and the ability to pay needs to be addressed in greater detail. In short, who is going to pay the tab is the core issue.
In absence of common ground, this issue has become just as polarizing as the abortion issue. We have lost all decorum on how to resolve or even discuss rudimentary solutions to this problem. In the not too distant past, it has been said that President Ronald Reagan would argue with Speaker Tip O'Neill during the day and at night play cribbage while sharing a glass of Scotch in the White House. They had policy disagreements, but they liked each other personally. Can you imagine Nancy Pelosi coming over to have some social time when George Bush was president after hours in the White House? It never happened because the political fight went on 24/7.
Many years ago, President Kennedy was told by the Soviet Union that they would "bury us" without having to fire a shot. The prophetic statement may come true sooner rather than later. If we can't learn to talk to each other rather than at each, or over each other, we will fail as a society. The old adage remains true - "United we stand, divided we fall". I think it is time to revisit the wisdom of that statement and look for common ground in our deliberations before we too, become a tragic learning point in world history.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Circular Firing Squad


"Once again we can snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory!"

Speaking as a Conservative who often votes with the Republicans, as of late it has been very painful to watch what is going on in Washington. Not only painful, but brutal. Whereas this month the discussion was suppose to center around the multitude of problems with Obamacare, instead it has focused on the "War of the Roses" in the Republican Party. It has been dirty laundry getting washed, live and in color, not only on C-SPAN, but also the major networks. As we come speeding down the super highway of government ineptitude, the table has now been set to blame and embarrass the Republicans.

We have slide a long way down the hill since we have had the likes of Ronald Reagan and Lee Atwater guiding the Republican Party. They would make mincemeat out of the Democrats, and do so with a smile on their faces. They knew how to play the game, manipulate the press, and come up with a winning hand. So what in the world has happened? How could this have gone so wrong?

Many think it started after the great Republican sweep of 1994. This historic election returned the control of the House and Senate to the Republicans under the leadership of Speaker Newt and Leader Dole. President Clinton had overplayed his hand in letting his unelected wife try and initiate "HillaryCare" and the voters did not like it. The Republicans were now going to put some sanity back into our Federal Government.

There was a fight itching to happen. Clinton had no time for the Republicans and visa versa. The Republicans passed the 1996 budget through the House and Senate and sent it on to the President for signature. It has many of the pet rocks that Clinton liked either pared back or eliminated. As expected, Clinton vetoed the bill and the Government shut down. When it was all said and done, and a budget was finally agreed to and governmental operations resumed, the Republicans got tagged for the loss. Clinton's number's went to an all time high.

I believe this was the genesis of the Republican "War of the Roses". One side wants to get stuff done, but not risk being accused of not "playing nice" and then getting blamed once again by the voters. The other side is sick of lukewarm Republicans which often act similar to Democrats. As establishment Republicans have acted more like the moderate Democrats of old, it has allowed the more liberal Democrats to move even further to the Left. Consequently, there have been a growing number of fights within the Republican Party on what path should be taken. Meanwhile, the very liberal Democrats (including our President), have been running all over the field, mostly unchecked.

Many of today's Conservatives are not married to the Republican Party. They tend to often vote Republican because it is the better of the choices. However, if the Republican Party strays too far from conservative values, the Conservatives within will drop the party like a bad habit.

The Republican Party really needs to look in the mirror and decide who it wants to be. If it wants to be a "Democrat light" party, fine. Just say so and lets move on. If it wants to once again hold close to conservative values, great. Lets do it. However, the public display of the circular firing squad does nobody any good - unless that nobody is a Democrat.



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Showdown at the "Not-So-OK" Corral


Pu·gi·lism - The skill, practice, and sport of fighting, usually with the fists

Most of us Western lovers remember the famous tale of the OK Corral where Wyatt Earp and his deputies had the famous showdown with the outlaw gang known as the Cowboys. It was a fight which had been brewing for weeks, and neither side was going to back down. It ended up in a gunfight in a little know corral located in Tombstone, Arizona.

Well, it looks like we are coming up on yet another fight in a corral. Only this time the name of the corral should called the "Not-So-OK" Corral. This is going to be different than most other showdowns we have had in our capital city. Instead of just one issue, we have two issues back to back. In the past, the Republicans have always had a huge disadvantage as no matter what the Democrats did, utilizing the press as their staunch and loyal allies, they manage to blame everything on the Republicans. Unfortunately, many lower information voters agree with them. Match point - Democrats.

This time however, not so fast. It seems that the man with the paper thin resume is also wearing paper thin with more and more informed voters. His usual lines are not working anymore. New poll numbers have just been released, and they are devastating to the President. The Republicans in Congress still have lousy numbers, only this time they have company. People who have been financially stretched to the limit during this non-recovery, are sick and tired of the standard tax and spend philosophy. By a much larger margin, people are saying if the debt limit needs to be raised, corresponding "targeted" spending cuts need to be included. The status quo on debt limit increases will not play in Peoria anymore.

In addition, the President's numbers on health care keep flipping more and more upside down. As more empirical evidence becomes known about the side effects of this law, more people dislike it. What they know they don't like, and what they don't understand they don't like. Even the President's most ardent supporters agree that the sales job on this very complicated law has been miserable.

Coming up in just a few days is the new government fiscal year. As usual, we don't have a new budget, just a Continuing Resolution (CR). What is a CR? Using plain language, it is the chicken's way out. It is a way for both houses of Congress as well as the President to vote "present" on money matters. However, this time there is a twist - the House stripped out the funding for ObamaCare. The Senate did not. If there is no compromise, there will be no CR. No CR on October 1st, no government operations. Boo-ho.

To really muck up the recipe is the next showdown issue - the debt ceiling. Jack Loo, our new Treasury chief says by the middle of October we will be down to literally pennies in our bank. If we don't raise the debt ceiling, the "full, faith and confidence of the United States Government" will be at risk. One minor problem - a growing number of people have grown wise to this ruse. More and more are saying what I say right now - SO WHAT?

My feeling is very simple on this. If we need to shut down the machine for a while to perform corrective maintenance, that is a good thing. If the markets tank, who cares? Most of the gains have been QE crap, phony baloney anyhow. If we default and China won't lend us money for a while, good. Lets learn to be independent again. Live within our means. You know, like we try to teach our kids.

So as our attention is directed to the "Not-So-OK" Corral this week, bring it on. The blood feud has been going on way too long. Lets get it out of our system so we can run our country like a country again. There will be blood, there will be wounded, and hopefully after it is over, there will be healing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Race Card (again and again...)


"If you can't win the argument with facts, you can always revert to name calling..."

Well, I heard it again this morning. I turned on the seldom watched "Morning Joe" to find out what the "other side" thinks of the latest and greatest events concerning the health care debate. As usual, I was looking for some good intellectual conversation so I could get a glimpse of the thinking (or lack of it) that goes on in the Left. Just when I thought we were getting somewhere in the discussion, our dear friend (and daughter of Hale and Lindy Boggs), came up with this whopper. "Well, say what you want, but some in the Tea Party do not like Obamacare because the President is black". I almost fell out of bed.

Now I will admit I have heard the President's race mentioned many times - always by the Left. The only mention of the President's skin I have heard from the Right is not the color, but the thickness. Yes, I am one of them. I have accused him of being "thin skinned" more than once. I also did say something once about his race after he was nominated and the radical nature of his politics became known. My comment was simply this - "I think this country is more than ready for a black president. However, if you cannot criticize his policies without being called racist, than maybe I am wrong". I said it five years ago, and still believe it today. If you can't criticize the President on ANYTHING without some idiot saying "I head the dog whistle of racism in that", we have a big, big problem.

The most interesting thing about this morning's comment by Cookie was this - if the issue being debated was an improvement to our Civil Rights law or something like that, then maybe, just maybe, there could have been a modicum of truth (although I still doubt it) in her statement. But heath care? Please, give me a break.

I am old enough to remember the life, the times and the assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King. He was a good and decent man - not perfect, but very good. Many of us, on the Right and Left, really held on to the part of his famous speech when he said:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Dr. King was right back then and he is right now. We are judging President Obama by the content of his policies, not the color of his skin. If I hear one more pundit from MSNBC use the term "dog whistle" or "racial code speak" when someone mentions "Chicago", I am going to puke. Lets get on with the nation's business and not get wrapped up in destructive name calling. We all deserve better.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bad Medicine


"Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease..."

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Step right up to the front of the tent and Dr. Feelgood will show you the most amazing thing! Two drops of this magic elixir every morning and within two weeks, you will lose ten pounds, your libido will be restored, and every ache and pain you have will be gone! All the good doctor asks in response is that you pay your money up front and trust him. Millions upon millions have already tried the magic elixir and they are proof positive it works!"

I think we all remember reading stories as youth about the flim flam man coming into town with the carnival or circus to sell his magic elixir to the unsuspecting town people. Sometimes it was referred to as "snake oil" and was the cure all for just about everything. That is until the carnival was over, the snake oil salesman had moved on to another town, and you were left with nothing but bad medicine. Not only did it not cure you, it quite often made you sick.

Well, us town folk have been sold some bad medicine under the brand name of ObamaCare. Not only does it not work, but the side effects are terrible. Today, our snake oil salesman (Barack Hussein Obama) is going to meet with a former snake oil salesman (William Jefferson Clinton) to have a "conversation" about the benefits of this most unpopular healthcare law. It is thought by bringing President "Blue Dress" Clinton out of the closet, it would help give this pig some lipstick. It won't.

This monster healthcare act, of which the regulations are still being written, is a cobbled together mess of carve outs, exceptions and lies. People in Congress who helped create it, now want no part of it, and have asked for an exemption. Huh? We were promised it was not a tax, yet John Roberts in the historic Supreme Court ruling said it was. President Obama promised us all costs would come down after passage, and the reverse has shown been true - in spades. The Affordable Care Act could be renamed with a more appropriate name such as The Pay More, Get Less Act.

One of the cornerstones of the act was the ability for parents to keep their children on their coverage until age 26. Two points with that. First, I was off my parents coverage when I was 19. I was covered under the Navy, then the University and by age 26, I was married and working for Sperry Univac, covered by medical benefits. Second - surprise! If your employer stops covering your family due to the cost of the new health care law, this "cornerstone" becomes moot. In the end, your twenty something kid will not be covered and will have to run down to an exchange and get sticker shock on how much he or she will have to pay.

The snake oil salesman is still in town. He and his merry bunch from Congress are still within arm's reach. EVERY poll which as been taken has shown the "townspeople" either don't understand this law, hate it, or both. The chances of getting this thing de-funded without committing mass suicide is slim. I wish we could, but it won't happen. However, using the correct strategy, as well as leveraging the will of the American people, I think we could get this thing delayed until all the lies and untruths are wrung out of it. The American people deserve to see the Carfax. We need to know it we bought a lemon or not.

Having a "conversation" today between a sitting president and a former president, both of whom have difficulties with the truth, will tell us nothing. Truth tellers are needed now more than ever. If the medicine is bad, we need to know it before we start taking it in January.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The War on Christians


"Are these the birth pangs of the end times?"

This is like a bad dream. Intolerance has blossomed into hatred and then taken the dark road into genocide. The Christian faith is under attack. Not just in the Middle East and Africa, but also Pakistan and maybe even here at home. What is it about the Christian faith that is so threatening to certain other faiths around the world? Christians are not Crusaders - bible believing Christians are full of love and compassion and just want to serve others. For that crime, they have their church buildings burned and members attacked and sometimes killed.

This is not just an isolated event. Yesterday, a church in Pakistan was blown up with worshipers still inside. It was a suicide attack, suspected of being carried out by Islamic terrorists with ties to the Taliban. The blast happened just after the sermon when many of the impoverished worshipers were to receive some free food just outside the church. The blast killed 78 and injured many more.

It was not the first time Christians were targeted in Pakistan. Last March, in the City of Lahore, a Muslim mob burned two churches and more than 100 houses belonging to Christians. To make matters worse, Christians can find themselves accused of blasphemy under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Where is the United Nations in its condemnation of this human rights issue? Where is the United States State Department? Where is the Vatican? For Pakistan to allow this carnage to continue is an affront to all civilized people, regardless of their faith.

The crimes against Christians in Africa also continue. The Kenya mall attack is another example of the growing genocide against Christians and Westerners in Northeast Africa. The terrorist asked who was Muslim before the serious killing started. They were released and then the carnage began in earnest. With the death toll at currently standing at 68 and the wounded at 175, this tragedy was hard to comprehend.

In many parts of Africa, to openly profess your Christian faith is to literally take your life in your hands. It is reminiscent of many centuries ago when Christians were put to death by the Roman guard just for following Christ. Africa, which so dearly needs the aid and assistance from the world to ameliorate poverty and famine, has (in some areas) become a very dangerous place for people of the Christian faith to serve in.

Yesterday my wife and I attend services at a new and growing church in our area. We got up, had breakfast, got ready, and drove to church. After the service was over, we did some shopping and came home before the football game. I imagine that was the same routine that many others at the church service had. At no time did I fear for our lives or safety. In our country, we take that for granted.

However, I do know this. As our world, our country and even our state becomes more "globalized", we will have more and more people living here who do not share our faith or our values. The vast majority will be good and decent people. However, the concern is that some will not. My fear is the War on Christianity will be something we will experience up close and personal. And that is a growing concern of mine.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Our Messy World....


"Dear Mother Earth, what in the world are we doing to you, and those who call you home?"

There is a story going around on the internet that aliens form outer space have been observing us for centuries. They are interested in how we are developing as a species. In particular, they are very interested in why humans are so intent on killing one another. The story continues the aliens are very concerned these primitives on Planet Earth have now harnessed the atom and have the ability to destroy everyone and everything.

This story may be true, or just good theater. In any event, the point is well taken. What in the world is wrong with us that human life has become so cheap? We kill each other for the most simple of reasons. In Africa, Al-Shabaab kills Christians just because they are not Muslims. In Rwanda,Tutsi and Hutu tribes killed each other in the most gruesome fashion. Sunnis kill Shiites (and visa versa) because they do not have the right tribal background. In Chicago, as well as other large American cities, young men kill other young men just because they are wearing the wrong gang colors or somebody has felt "dissed".

We take this thing called life and treat it like it has no value. The truth is, every human life on this planet has immense value. Each life is unique - there has never been a person born who was a duplicate and never will be in the future. Each life should be celebrated in the same manner that John Donne wrote about:

Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee..

Donne did not see the cheapness in life - rather immense value. Even though he lived centuries ago, his wisdom is sound yet today. Life is special, life is precious, life should be cherished and protected.

Last night I listened to one of my favorite worship hymns by Don Moen - When its all been said and done. In the song, Don talks about life when we get to the end of our journey. There is nothing "cheap" about the way it is addressed:

When it's all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?

When it's all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I have done
For love's rewards
Will stand the test of time

Our lives, our world deserve so much better from us - all of us. Every day I pledge to redouble my efforts to live for truth - to love life, to love each other. If aliens are watching, this is the kind of treatment humans give and receive I would like them to see.



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Our Bad Marriage


"A house divided against itself cannot stand"
Abe Lincoln
From a 1858 Speech

My wife and I have what is referred to by some as a troubled marriage. In reality, it is a bad marriage. It did not start out that way - even though different, we celebrated those differences and got along. Over the years however, we became more and more intolerant of each other, and our differences became magnified. Sometimes we would get into arguments so vicious, other people thought we had a visceral hatred for each other. We would deny that of course, and constantly refer to each other as "my friend" when we were  in public.

Recently, I had coffee with a good friend. He had serious concerns about how my marriage - how was being seen by the rest of the community. You see, my wife and I are active in the community. We are seen as community leaders. Many thought we set the example on how a marriage should work. All this hatred and infighting has some in the community wondering the same thing - can our marriage survive? Are we coming to the end of what was once a wonderful undertaking? It appears this may be the case.

Before my wife reads this and has a stern talk with me, let me assure you this is an analogy of how our country works right now. My marriage is fine, very good in fact. The marriage between the Right and Left however, not so much. We have lost the ability to get along. Heck, we have even lost the ability to talk to each other - we talk over and through each other. We have devolved into a society where even the most mundane of issues become big disagreements. In other words, we have become dysfunctional as citizens.

Lets look at our debt for example. This should be a slam dunk issue - no arguments. However, it has turned into a huge fight with the end result being a potential government shutdown. Why? Positions. Everyone has a position. However, if I could look in each Representative's finances, I bet I could not tell the Right from the Left. Most probably balance their checkbooks regularly. It should be the same for our country. However, because of positions taken, lines drawn, it is not. Instead we are having another fight on this familiar issue, and everyone loses.

Food stamps. I would venture to say there is not one person in our government or otherwise, who wants to see anyone go hungry. Period. However, the SNAP Program is fraught with graft. About 20% of all dollars are lost to graft and inefficiency. Everyone knows it, but the two sides cannot agree on how to fix it. The result - the Right wants to force change by cutting 10% out of the SNAP budget. The Left is crying foul saying the Right wants to starve kids. Meanwhile, the problem goes unfixed with 20 cents out of every dollar being wasted in that vital program.

I fear for our country. I see damage occurring which may becoming permanent. The man with no experience, whom many thought would be a uniter, has been anything but. In fact, he is fanning the flames of discontent. A man who said he idolizes Lincoln, is now acting antithetical to his teachings and philosophy. As the world community watches our internal marriage founder, it appears to many the great experiment of 1776 might be coming to a tragic end.

I write this article with no satisfaction or joy, only concern and fear. Every marriage which does not succeed is usually the fault of both parties. The same holds true for our country. If we cannot love, honor and respect each other once again, the future will look very, very bleak for us all.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"It is the law of the land!"


"Oh come on, it can't be that bad, can it? Well can it???"

If I hear one more time, from any person, that we should just keep quiet because "Obama Care is the law of the land", I think I will puke. Did it get voted into law by Congress? Yes, barely. However, if you take the fraudulent election of Al Franken, maybe not. Did it get signed into law by POTUS? Yup. Did it make it though the Supreme Court? Yes, with caveats. Is it understood my many? Nope - not even a few. Is it popular? As Steve Austin, professional wrestler would say, "That is a hell no!"

The irony this month (and I do love irony), there is a feeble attempt to de-fund Obama Care in the House just a week before the big debt ceiling showdown between Congress and the White House. Why is this an irony? Anyone with an IQ higher than 50 knows the debt is driven primarily by our three entitlements - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Now we are getting ready to almost fully implement a forth entitlement - and possibly the most expensive. With Obama Care, our out of control debt could explode even faster than what the CBO predicted earlier this month.

This "House of Cards" called Obama Care is dependent on some very iffy factors:
  • Old people will understand they need to "take one for the team" and just accept hospice over treatment.
  • Doctors need to understand the reimbursement from the government will be much less than the normal fees they have collected in the past. They will be expected to "take one for the team" and stay in the profession.
  • Unions are expected to forget what was promised on the campaign trail and accept a much more sub-standard health package than they are accustomed to. Quit belly aching, and "take one for the team".
  • Young, healthy people are expected to pay high premiums for health insurance to offset the higher costs that other cannot or will not pay. Again, they need to "take one for the team", even if it screws up their future.
  • Profit driven companies are expected to "suck it up" and provide health insurance for all, regardless of how many hours worked. They need to "take one for the team" instead of dumping workers into the exchanges.
My feeling right now is we need to triage the wounds on this very flawed law, and then perform surgery to make it work. We are stuck with it. I really don't think we can un-ring the bell. We should put our egos aside, everyone agree it is a mess, and then delay implementation for at least a year (maybe two). In that time, fix it - fix it so it does not tank the economy, and become a job killer like it is starting to show itself to be. It will never be as good as what we had, but like I said, the bell has been rung.

It has been said that success has many fathers, but failure is always an orphan. As far as Obama Care is concerned, this failure is not an orphan - there are many, many fathers that contributed to this mess. The American people are tired of this whole thing. They are tired on uncertainty, they are tired of double talk, they are tired of infighting, and most of all, they are tired of being lied to. In a land of lies, the truth talkers stand the tallest. We have never needed truth talkers more than we need them now. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jesus Christ - Superstar!


It was 1971, and I was stationed on "The Rock" (aka Okinawa). Word was spreading around the base there was a new and exciting album being released at the Air Force Base PX. While most of us heard "religious" music in the form of hymns while growing up, this new album was being billed as a "Rock Opera". I was very skeptical. After going though the sixties, many things that were once believed to be sacrosanct, were now fair game for ridicule or change. I was afraid the faith many of us shared was next up in the bulls eye.

When Jesus Christ - Superstar was released, at first I did not buy it. In fact, I did not even listen to it. A few weeks after it's release, I was between watch strings and attended a party off base. At the beginning of the party, the host played a song on the stereo in the back yard. It was a song called I don't know how to love Him. I listened, and thought it was fantastic. I was very surprised to find out it came from the album I had been hesitant to listen to. As the party progressed, the host played the entire album. I loved it.

The reason I tell this story is this - even though some feel this "Rock Opera" is not the correct venue to tell the Gospel, many millions have listened to it and heard the story for the first time. When I left Okinawa and arrived in Pensacola for more training, I remember asking Betty about this album. You see, Betty was a Catholic Nun who had strong ties to the convent in town. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that many of the Nuns really enjoyed Superstar. It was a great way to tell a very important story to those who have rejected more traditional methods.

When I listened to this album a few weeks ago, it gave me pause to think how our churches are doing today. Some are doing very well and growing faster than grass in June. Others are not doing as well - they are getting smaller, older and grayer. My feeling from being involved in different churches as both a congregational member as well as paid staff is this - the church has a great message - just tell it. Many churches get themselves wrapped around the axle with self imposed legalism. Legalism hurts and obscures the message. Jesus Christ - Superstar had none of the legalism - just the message.

This 1971 album, created by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber, remains popular even today. However, it is not popular to all - some still see it as an affront to their beliefs. If you have never heard it, and have an open mind on the messaging of a faith many of us share, give it a listen. If you like it or not, it truly was a game changer on how a very important message can be delivered. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Unsustainable - Part 2

Un·sus·tain·a·ble - not able to be maintained at the current rate or level

I listen to Glenn Beck most every day. I like him. I know some don't. In fact, some even hate him. Hate him for his politics, hate him because he is a Mormon, hate him because he emotes too much. I like him because I think he is smart, I learn from him, and I believe he is a patriot.
Besides everything else, Glenn is often right on what he predicts. Right way more than he is wrong. He has been saying for years now to "watch the other hand". Keep in mind what the big problem is and how the Administration will try and obscure it. The big problem then and continues to be our debt. That is, aside from our renewed War on Terror. Our debt is still there - just because lap dog media has talked about it, does not mean it went away. In fact, when the Administration stopped the National Debt Clock, it did not stop debt reality.

Once in a while, "truth talkers" speak out - "truth talkers" with added credibility. Last year at this time, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report on our debt. It was not pretty. The gloves came off, and the report issued a very dire warning. Here is but a sample of what the report said:

"But starting in 2016, deficits are projected to rise again as more baby boomers begin drawing from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the fast-growing entitlement programs, which Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on how to rein in.

The accumulating federal debt, which averaged 38 percent of the gross domestic product for the 40 years before the 2008 financial crisis, would rise from 73 percent of the G.D.P. now — above what most economists consider an optimum level — to at least 100 percent in 2038."
Okay, can anyone spell "Greece"? 2038 is only twenty-five years from now - a blink of time. We argue and fight over cuts in discretionary and military spending while the 600 pound gorilla sits in the corner of the room. We fight over the tip while the bill is left unpaid. Yet the answer is very simple - nobody currently on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid will be affected.  In fact, nobody who is close to retirement will be affected. The only people who will be affected are younger workers. They will not be "screwed" - they will be offered a new type of plan which IS sustainable. If we cannot do this, ALL of us will go down the toilet together, young and old alike.
I hate to say this, but we really do elect idiots to serve us in Washington. Many are not idiots when they leave home, however when they get to the Emerald City and start drinking the water (or kool aid), they get dumb real fast. And they lie to us. Constantly. They lie and obscure the truth. They know this is a problem - it is our number one domestic problem. It is not gun control, it is not immigration, it is not "Cap and Trade". It is our debt and the ancillary problems that accompany it.
We need to remind our elected officials we are not stupid. We are not drinking the kool aid. We know stuff, and we care. FIX THE DAMN DEBT PROBLEM! Enact Simpson-Bowles for a starter. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. It is possible to address our debt issue while fighting the growing number of Islamic Terrorists. Stop screwing around with stuff that simply does not matter. Do the job you were sent to Washington to do. You owe it to us. You owe it to our kids. You owe it to our Founders.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Life at NAVSEA


"I was there so much, I almost had to pay taxes to the state of Virginia"

The news yesterday about the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington both shocked and saddened me. It really hit home because it took place at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). Even though I never visited the new home of NAVSEA at the Navy Yard, I visited NAVSEA hundreds of times in its former location in Crystal City, VA.

My life with NAVSEA started in 1978. I was with Sperry Univac and had just been accepted into the Contract Management group. My boss took my out to Washington to give me the "lay of the land" and introduce my to the customer base. It was an amazing place to visit. Crystal City was right next to National Airport and just across the river from the mall. It was heady and exciting times for a young guy not to many years out of college.

I visited NAVSEA probably a dozen times while at Sperry Univac. After five years, the company across the river from Sperry (Control Data) was the surprise winner of the new AN/AYK-14 Standard Airborne Computer. The win surprised everyone - even Control Data. Control Data Corporation (CDC) then went on a hiring binge. I was one of the lucky ones to be picked. Even though CDC was going to be dealing with Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) for the new product, CDC still had a smaller business with NAVSEA. For the next ten years, that is what I did at CDC - worked the NAVSEA account with resulted in dozens upon dozens trips to Washington.

After ten years at CDC, I was recruited by the FMC company. FMC was in a pitched battle with Martin Marietta for the Vertical Launching System (VLS) business. This business was really a step up from what I worked on prior to coming to FMC. My trips to Washington really picked up, and NAVSEA was once again my customer. I had grown to know many people within the NAVSEA Command, regardless if they worked on my product or not. To a certain extent, it was like a family.

While at FMC, I developed a very good working relationship and friendship with the Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO). On most trips, I would arrive in his office about 8am. He and I would either go downstairs or to a shop in the "underground" to have a bagel and coffee. It was a routine for not only him, but also many, many others at NAVSEA. Even though it was often hard work, it was always fun to visit my friend, and I always felt safe within the Command.

The twelve people who died yesterday at NAVSEA did not deserve their fate. Many died while having breakfast in the cafeteria.  As with the people who died on 9/11, the only crime the NAVSEA people committed was going to work.

Every time there is a senseless shooting, I grieve for the victims. This time however, it hit a bit closer to home. Today, my grieving goes a bit deeper.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Lawnmower


I have a neighbor whom I don't like. Never have, never will. In fact, I take pleasure in saying bad things about him. One of my favorite pastimes is to sit in my front yard, drink a beer, and watch him cut his grass. I love to give him my opinion on bad he is doing. I also tell the other neighbors about him. Sometimes I even make things up to have him look worse than what he is. It is great fun.

Last week, my lawnmower broke down. I took it in for repair and was told it would take a month. I went over to my neighbor's house (the neighbor I don't like) and asked to borrow his mower. He said no. He said we have no relationship, I never have tried to build a relationship with him, and I was always bad mouthing him.

Most have probably guessed this silly little analogy is really about the President of the United States and how he deals with Congress. No relationship. Many on both sides of the aisle had high hopes once he was elected in 2008, he would be a transformative President. The nation had drifted apart, and we needed a unifying leader. Instead we got a community organizer who can't get off the campaign trail and looks at Republicans as an "enemy" instead of the loyal opposition. 

There is an old saying that if you kick the dog enough, he no longer lay by your feet. There are many "dogs" who have been kicked over and over in Washington. The nations is at an all time low for bipartisan cooperation, and I put most of the blame for that on the President. How Syria was handled is a prime example. The President dithered, paused and then decided to go to Congress for approval. Many of the "dogs" which have been kicked for five years have very good memories. The vote for force was never taken as it was dead on arrival in both the House and Senate. No relationship.

The President is very angry with the Republicans because many are trying to defund Obamacare. Why wouldn't they? Not one Republican was consulted in the preparation, and any input given (like tort reform) was rejected. It was a party the Republicans were not invited to. Now that the bill needs MAJOR surgery, help is NOT on the way. The President and his Democratic allies pooped in their nest, and now they are going to have to live in it. The only viable solution to Obamacare is to scrap it and start over, this time using the best ideas from both sides of the aisle.

The next time either party decides on a candidate for the highest office in the land, I hope they value experience. This "test case" which we are living through is not working very well. We took a guy with NO experience who voted "present" on the very few votes he took while in the Senate. He has issues on religion, race and politics. In short, he does not know how to play well with others. Heck, he can't even articulate what American Exceptionalism is.

I could write more on this topic, but I really need to find my lawnmower and get back to work. I can't control what is going on in Washington, but I can control how high my grass gets in my yard.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A pretty little package...


"I think we are running out of lipstick to put on this pig..."

I took some Marketing while at the U of M. Not much, just enough to fill out my distribution. I do remember some of the things that where taught in that class. When designing a product, the way it is presented is vitally important. However, once the package is opened, and if the product is not up to expectations, the "jig is up". It will not matter how pretty the package is - word will get out, and people will not buy the product.

I am one of the few who was never was in favor of Target Field. Yes, I have been there, and it is very nice. However, there are some basic problems:
  • The product sucks. During the first year, the team played way beyond their skill level and were competitive. Hot team, shiny new stadium. Life was good, the weather was good, and tickets were hard to come by. In the following years, the weather became more "Minnesota like" and the Twins played more like the minor league team they have devolved into.
  • The location stinks. Only central planners with their heads up their ... never mind... would build an expensive stadium next to a garbage burner. Plus parking is in short supply, and what there is cost an arm and a leg. Dumb and dumber. The stadium should have been built where the Guthrie is. The team had their chance, but let that choice real estate escape them.
  • The size stinks. Talk about no plans for the future. The stadium is very undersized for professional baseball. If the Twin Cities grow like the central planners desire, there is no way to enlarge the stadium for more seating. It will become a stadium only for the rich or well connected.
  • The design stinks. We have had rain outs, snow outs, almost cold outs and blistering hot evenings. Milwaukee had the right idea when they built Miller Park. It looks sharp, has a ton of easy parking, and has a retractable roof.
Now we stand on the precipice of building yet another shiny new package for a lousy team. Again, this stadium, as supported by the central planners, will fall short. First off, it should have a retractable roof. I know it will have a million bird killing windows in it, but most of us remember the good old days of sitting in the autumn sun on a 60 degree day watching some good football. With this expensive boondoggle, it will not happen.

In the very near future, we will have Target Field, a new Vikings stadium, TCF Field, and a refurbished Target Center. Four new or newly remodeled venues. What do they all have in common? They are nice, shiny boxes that contain lousy products. Not one of the teams is up to the privilege of playing in venues as nice as what the taxpayers have bought for them.

I guess it is okay though. The central planners have gotten their wish. Make the Twin Cities look good so we can draw talent from other parts of the country. Maybe if we have enough glare from our pretty boxes, it will blind people to the crime and extreme taxes they will find once they move here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Vanishing Line....


"Walk softly and carry a big stick has morphed into something quite a bit different these days..."

Well, if this is not an exciting ending to a suspense filled event. Okay, that was just a joke. Not as much of a joke however, as our once great nation now appears to the thugs of the world. Someone had used Photo Shop on a picture of our President riding his bike with his helmet on. The Photo Shop addition to the picture was to put training wheels on the bike. That one picture is worth a thousand words in describing how the Syrian gas issue has been handled by the United States.

Let me first say this - Bashar al-Assad is a bad actor - a thug of the highest degree. He has shown himself to be a heartless dictator who has no problem killing his own people, regardless of sex or age. That being said, he is no different than a dozen other thugs who rule over nations of innocent victims. The world has become very, very good at not turning the other cheek, but rather having a blind eye to witness modern day genocide. We simply don't care. We all say we do, but we really don't.

President Clinton has said more than once his biggest disappointment while being president was not going into Rwanda and helping to stem the tide of that mega genocide. With all do respect sir, to that I say "CRAP!". The 1994 genocide evolved like a slow motion train wreck. The press knew about it - heck, it was on the news most every night. President Clinton on the other hand, chose to go after a minor league thug named Slobodan Milošević in the Balkans. Why? It was easier. We could drop bombs from 10,000 feet and it looked like we were doing something. Did Milošević commit war crimes? Absolutely. However, this guy looked like a Boy Scout compared to what the Hutus did to the Tutsis. In that short three months in 1994, while sitting in the comfort of our own living rooms, we could watch over 1/2 innocents being tortured and killed in the most inhumane way.

The United Nations and the United States has also done an excellent job of doing nothing while over 100,000 have died in Syria over the past two years. Where was the "red line" back then? Death is death, whether it is caused by conventional or chemical means. Instead of doing something meaningful at the get-go to save lives, we fill up the air waves two years later with war talk. The end result was this - our bluff was called, and the "red line" vanished. The Russians are now in charge of the situation, as once again President Obama voted "present".

Facts are stubborn things. Our "haughty" Secretary of State told Assad he wanted the weapons turned over or destroyed in a week or two. Syria is rumored to have over 1,000 tons of this icky stuff. It will take years, maybe decades, to destroy these munitions safely. The Russians don't want it back - by treaty, they are still destroying theirs (as are we with ours until 2023). Because of our dithering, the news has reported Assad's storm troopers have dispersed the chemical inventory to maybe fifty new secret locations. Locations which could be compromised and looted by really bad guys such as Al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is a hot mess and getting hotter. If I could have drawn up a scenario which was a bigger "cluster", I don't think I could. This will haunt us for years. Our "leadership" in the world has now been totally exposed. Once feared and respected under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, we are now seen as nothing more than a paper tiger. When the world cries out for leadership and strength, all it is receiving is genocide and terror. Welcome to our brave new world in the 21st century. May God have mercy on us for committing or simply witnessing our growing inhumanity to each other.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The True Believers


"These are some of the last guardians protecting us from the enemies at the gate..."

Last night at long last, I attended my first Tea Party meeting. It all started at the State Fair. The booth I worked at during the fair was just down the street from the Tea Party booth. I had the chance to meet and talk to Jack, who is one of the leaders of the Tea Party movement in the Twin Cities. We talked about how hot it was, where we both lived in the northern suburbs, but mostly talked about the conservative movement and where it was going. He asked if I would like to come to the next meeting in September. I agreed, and when I got home that day, I penciled in September 12th as an event I would attend.

I arrived at he event last night not knowing what to expect. I knew some people, but most I did not. However, everyone treated me and welcomed me as a friend. Not one person asked "What took you so long to get involved?" Instead, I was greeted with many "Welcomes!" I was not a stranger for long.

There were people there from all spectrum's of conservatism. Some were elected officials, some were media personalities, some were delegates, and some were just concerned, involved citizens. There were united by a common bond - a deep and abiding love for country and the principals which founded it. The intolerance I heard related to an out of control government what would tort or besmirch our Constitution. The people there were smart, informed and happy. However, similar to the Tea Party of old, they were a serious as a heart attack when it came to the protection of the Republic. There are iron clad principals on which there is no compromise, no quarter, no surrender.

As much as the media tries to demonize the Tea Party, let me tell you what I saw. I saw us. I saw people like you and me who love this country, love each other, and love God. During the meeting we sang the National Anthem, said the Pledge of Allegiance, and prayed. In short, we did everything the "Statists" tell our kids not to do in school. We heard from very smart people about our Constitution, the Bill of Rights as well as current and pending legislation.

I will go again. Last night was time well spent, and I learned how much needs to be done and how little time we have to do it. There was no pressure at the meeting - however, there was a plethora of opportunities offered.

It was an honor and privilege to be in attendance with fellow patriots - people who believe strongly in liberty. These folks are the "guardians at the gate". They are the final Aegis that protect us from enemies who threaten our liberty from within. Most of all, they are the true believers - believers and protectors of the American dream...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Old Friends....


"Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly - How terribly strange to be seventy.
Old friends, memory brushes the same years, silently sharing the same fears"
Old Friends
Simon and Garfunkel

Both my wife are blessed to still have a surviving parent. With me, it is my Mother - with my wife, it is her Dad. It is a daily blessing to know that God has allowed us the pleasure of their company this many years into their lives. Is it easy? No. Is it is blessing? Yes, even though there have been times we need to remind ourselves of that fact.

It has often been said you don't not fully realize how much your parents did for you until you have children of your own. I found this adage to be true beyond measure. There is something about the love and protection of a parent that is hard to duplicate. When we are young, most parents love, nurture, protect and teach their children. This is not a part time job - the business of parent care is 24/7, regardless if the parents work or not. Parenting done correctly allows the child to grow in love and safety, feeling secure and comforted.

Our kids are both grown adults. It does not mean our job as parents are over. We are in a new phase of parenthood called "friends". We are still here to love and support our children, but the "line" between parent and child is no longer there. Although when the kids were younger, we always tried to be friendly with them, we were not their friends - we were their parents. Now that they are grown, we can be their parents as well as their friends.

That brings us to our surviving parents. My wife and I have had an adult friendship with our parents since we married. Sometimes the road was rocky, but for the most part it was not. The bottom line is this - we love and respect our parents. We understand daily how much they did, how much they sacrificed to raise us. We understand the love they had then, and the love they have now for us.

The difference now, is the worm has turned. As at one time we were totally dependent on our parents for just about everything, each month that passes they become more dependent on us. Honestly, even though this road is often hard and frustrating, it is an honor and a privilege to pay back our parents, even a fraction, for all they have done for us.

They are our parents, they are our friends. They are worthy of so much more that what we now give. To see their joy when we come through their door, is worth so much more than any tangible inheritance. The time we spend, the joy we sense when we are with them, is our inheritance.