Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Race Baiting in America

 
 


"With the door open to do so much good, his actions made him a pariah instead..."



Today is one of those days I need to have one cup of coffee and two cups of grace. I am very tempted to really unleash on a few people who continue to do our great country great harm by race baiting. What happened yesterday to Donald Sterling may give many pleasure, but it gives me sadness. Not that I condone for one second his egregious behavior - I don't. It saddens me it ever got to this point.

Many don't know this, but Donald Sterling is also a minority - he is a Jewish American. Over the years, many Jewish Americans have had their share of racial discrimination - it is called anti-Semitism. I have no time for anti-Semitism, just like I have no time for other racial slurs. I have said before, we are all God's children and each of us has immense value in His eyes.

Donald Sterling was born in Chicago under the name Donald Tokowitz. He is the child of Jewish immigrants. As an adult, he changed his last name to Sterling. He was very blessed in his life, and amassed vast quantities of money. He is part of the American success story. A poor kid from Chicago who made it big in this country. Living large in LA. Big time owner of an NBA team. So many opportunities to really make a difference, to leave a positive legacy. Now, he will only be remembered as a race baiter. Very sad indeed.

Unfortunately, this week's story of race bating gets even worse. Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson was on a New Nation of Islam radio show. While on the show, he called Justice Clarence Thomas a "Uncle Tom". He then called Minority Leader McConnell a racist as well as anyone who disagrees with ObamaCare. Where is the outrage with those statements? Covered up by the media, once again.

Some might say that Congressman Thompson has a First Amendment privilege to say such things. Others might say he stepped over the line and should be recalled. My questions is simply this - is what Congressman Thompson said any better or any worse than what Donald Sterling said? Sterling got his butt handed to him, and Thompson received a pass.

Regardless of what our Attorney General believes, race sensitivity starts within each of us. We are our own gatekeeper, our own censor. Words mean things - they can cut, and they can hurt. They can hurt our country. The only race that should matters is the human race. In this country, we are all equal - we do not have a caste system. We need to start treating each other as such.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Money Tree Myth

 
 


"What! There is no money tree? How in the world will we be able to pay for all these things??"



Some wise soul penned an editorial yesterday refuting the ga-ga article in last week's paper on how "lucky" Minneapolis and New York were to have two very Progressive Mayors. Really? This article went on to say that with Progressive policies, both cities could end up looking like the poster child of all Progressive cities - Detroit.

What I will say next might surprise some. I think many Progressives are well intentioned. Very misguided, but well intentioned. Other Progressives, not so much. Many Progressives are products of their education, or lack thereof. They simply don't understand where money comes from (no - it is not the government). In simplistic terms, they believe in money trees. Many have not worked in the private sector, and would not recognize the difference between a P+L and a S+L.

A term which should make all squirm is "underfunded pensions". To a Progressive, there is no such thing. If generous union benefits start to look a bit lean, no big thing - just tax some more. In other words, go out into the back yard and pick some more money off the money tree.

Last October the left leaning Huffington Post had a very good article on the unfunded or under funded pensions in the major United States cities. It is a staggering amount. Although the article did not have numbers for 2013, they did for 2010. In total, the number for all cities is $574B! To reduce the possibility of a Detroit like bankruptcy, some cites are doing a unilateral restructuring on union pensions - cutting benefits and turning them into a 401(k) type fund. However, for many cities it might be too late. The time bomb is already ticking.

We are a country awash in debt. As scary as the number of $574B is, it is only chump change. As of today, our national debt is $17,552T and growing like a weed. However, that number also is chump change. The total of liabilities for Social Security, Prescription Drug and Medicare is a mind blowing $129T! We better all be millionaires as the total per person of that liability is $1.1M.

So Progressive leaders can smile, laugh, and talk of sunshine and lolly-pops. Reality paints a much different picture. We are spending ourselves past bankruptcy and into oblivion. When the rain starts, it will indeed be a hard rain falling. There will be gnashing of teeth and worse. Those who now benefit from the phony baloney stock market will soon be as poor as the rest of us.

Our historic debt should be the story of the century, but it is not. Our press, our Progressive leaders continue to hold hands in the back yard, still searching for that elusive money tree.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Band of Brothers (and Sisters)

 
 


"The enemy of my enemy can still be my enemy..."



First off, let me set the record straight. For those who know me, please be patient. I am not a Progressive, I am not a Democrat, I am not a RINO. I am a Conservative. I like candidates who have conservative views. That being said, I also like to win. If there is no victory in November, there will be no change in policies. No winning, no governing. It is just that simple.

The Democrats seemed to have learned the lesson a long time ago concerning team work. In the Democratic primaries of 2008, Hillary had the lead for quite a while. However, at the end of the season, BHO overtook her. At the convention, they kissed and made up. There was no bad mouthing, no third party, just Hillary's support for the ticket. BHO won, and Hillary received her consolation prize of becoming Secretary of State.

The Republicans on the other hand, continue to tear each other up. I am just fine with having open discussions between candidates on issues like states rights, NPV, taxes, and so on. We all get smarter and more informed that way. I am not okay with personal attacks on character, on family members, or distortions of past voting records.

In the paper today, a lead story was the cash advantage state Democrats currently have. The story singled out Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan. Now, CD7 which is Peterson's district, is the second most Republican district in the state. And yet, they have elected Peterson over and over again. This district should be a slam duck for us, and yet the goal of winning this seat remained elusive. Why? Democrats remain more motivated than Republicans. They just want to win. They just want to govern.

The same is true for the 8th District. With all the hunters and the folks that want to reap the fruits of mining, this district should be low fruit on the tree for Republicans. And yet for years, this district re-elected a carpet bagger like Jim Oberstar. Why? Oberstar was Santa Clause to many. With Federal money, he built a few roads and bike trails. However at the same time, the rest of the district remains poor and hurting. Again, Democrats backed Oberstar (and now Nolan) because they want to win. They want to govern.

So as the Republicans continue with their very public food fights, the Democrats will be adding to their war chests. Soon they will tap into the Party's "big cigars" on the coasts. They don't give a rat's butt how flawed their candidate is, as long as they win (just look at our Governor for example). In the words of the late Al Davis, the manta for the Democrats continues to be "Just win baby, win!" And unfortunately, they do it well.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Trap Door

 
 

 
"I maybe could have forgiven you if you had not hurt me so badly..."



Our former pastor would always refer to our church in the following manner - "It is a place to love and be loved and to serve and be served." Every time he would say that, I drew immeasurable comfort from those words. However, one thing was missing - and it was the one thing that eventually split the church. He needed to add, "it is also a place to forgive and be forgiven."

We know how important love is in the Bible. In Matthew 22, 37-40, Jesus taught us the two most important commandments were as follows:

 "You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself..."

Seems clear to me. Love is given a very high place in the Word of God. But what about this forgiveness thing? This is one that most of us, that I, fail on often.

Well, the Bible has what I call a "trapdoor" on this one. Many of us have prayed the Lord's Prayer for years. We learned it as children. To some it has become rote, to others, every word has special meaning.

In Matthew 6, Jesus taught his followers how to pray. This was the start of reciting the Lord's Prayer. It is a beautiful prayer and most know it by heart. However, in verse 12 lies the "trapdoor". The words in that verse address forgiveness. We are asking God to forgive us our sins (transgressions) in the same manner we forgive those who sin against us. It was not until later in life I realized the profundity of that one simple sentence. We can choose not to forgive others, but we have prayed in the Lord's Prayer that God use the same yardstick on us.

I love the Bible for many reasons. It has been described as a book of history as well as mystery. I love the parables, I love the stories. They teach us all such valuable lessons. Most of all, I love the simple wisdom that only divine intervention could have incorporated into this Book of Life.

To love and be loved, to serve and be served, and to forgive as we have been forgiven. What an awesome way to live our lives. What an awesome world we would have if we did live our lives that way!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Syria and Chicago

 
 
 
 
"In 2014, in a world full of promise, how can this continue to happen?"
 
 
 
The media has done a very good job on turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to two of the world's trouble spots. In a world full of trouble, these two areas are really stand out above the rest. Where are they? The on-going civil war in Syria and the on-going blood bath in our "Windy City", Chicago.


In Syria, "we have come a long way baby" since the world gasped at the number of 70,000 deaths in this war-torn country. After we got wind of chemical weapons being used, the "ship to hit the sand". Red lines were drawn, threats were made, and naval assets were deployed. Never mind the fact the vast majority of the 70,000 deaths were caused by conventional weapons. After the bluster, the war talk, came the "nothing burger". An agreement was made for Assad to give up his chemical weapons (the ones in theater - we all know the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon holds many, many more). That solved the problem, right?

Wrong! Flash forward to today where the carnage continues. What the world found out, is there are many, many ways to brutalize and murder civilians in a civil war. Who needs chemical weapons when nobody in the United Nations or the United States cares about conventional war? While the world watched and did nothing, the abhorrent number of 70,000 dead has now more than doubled 150,000. While John Kerry has been wasting time trying to negotiate a long shot peace accord on the West Bank, people in Syria continue to die by the hundreds, or thousands. Syria has been a "classic fail" for both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

Now to home. One of the most dangerous cities in the world continues to be Chicago. What is fascinating is this - Chicago is not Detroit. Chicago is a vibrant city with lots of commerce and wealth. On Easter weekend, one of the holiest weekends of the year, 45 people were shot in Chicago, and 9 died. So far this year (and it is still April), almost 500 people have been shot in the Windy City. If you are young, poor, and black, your chances of not being shot are better in Kabul than in Chicago.

Well, here is a classic case for more gun control, right? Wrong again! Chicago has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world. Chicago has done a wonderful job of taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens and then letting the gang bangers go wild. What makes this even more heinous than it appears? The crime in Chicago is mostly bifurcated. The rich, white upper class are almost immune from it. However, many people of color, living in poverty, are in neighborhoods which resemble battle zones more than enterprise zones.

So who is at fault for this embarrassing carnage which continues to plague Chicago? Sorry, Rahm - the buck stops at your office. Between Rahm and Governor Quinn, I am putting all the blame with these two guys. It is a "classic fail" of two darlings of the Progressive movement. Somehow, we are led to believe if young blacks kill young blacks, it is alright. I'm sorry - the way I was raised, and the faith I practice today, teaches ALL life has EQUAL value. The fact that ONE young person, regardless of color or economic status, is shot, is totally unacceptable.

So there we have it. Two areas, a world apart, and both sharing needless bloodshed. Two areas of the world which daily suffer bloodshed and loss, that should not have too. Two areas, that due to Progressive leadership in both Federal and State governments, continue to fail citizens at home and abroad.
 
 

 
 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The DANGERS of the Met Council

 
 


"What do you mean it is not a 'Den of Thieves'? It sure acts like one!"



This must be a first for the Very Angry Bird. I have never addressed the same topic twice in one week. However, this "evil and corrupt empire", aka the Met Council, needs to be exposed. I will continue to address additional issues on Thrive 2040, LRT, or whatever else that comes to light that the Met Council is involved in.

One of things I learned yesterday from listening to a morning radio talk show was nothing less than stunning. This liberty robbing plan, this cousin of Agenda 21, this monster known as Thrive 2040, is mandated to be updated only once every ten years! That ten year period sunsets before our current governor leaves office! Whatever this local Agenda 21 plan looks like once it is fully cooked, we are stuck with it for ten years, regardless of which party controls the Governor's office.

Is there any hope? A slim one at best. The only chance to fix or kill Thrive 2040 is to CHANGE THE LAW, by winning back the House, the Senate and the Governor's seat. We need to change the law and eliminate the Met Council. If we do not, we will all be stuck with the vile treachery Thrive 2040 has embedded within it.

This Den of Thieves has come a long way since they only were able to coordinate septic systems in the metro area. The biggest bone headed mistake by far, was when our legislature gave the Met Council authority over our transportation systems. Net result - we are now the 16th most traffic congested major metropolitan area. Our congestion was up 17% from 2012 to 2013 and commuters spend an additional 14% on the roads. Sure is nice to see how the LRT and Northstar are taking so many cars off the roads.

Speaking of rail, both the LRT and Northstar continue to need subsidies to survive. And to boot, the Northstar had a terrible "on time" record last winter due to weather and the increase of oil cars shipping product from North Dakota and Canada. And because "President Bystander" again put off the XL Keystone Pipeline, expect no improvement soon.

Knowing that our transportation systems is bad and getting worse, what do you think the Met Council is going to do about it? Nothing. Na-da, zip, zero. We are going to (finally) finish Highway 610 so it hooks up with I-94. After that, no new roads are planned - until at least 2040. By that time we should all be needing to leave for work at 4am and arriving back home at 8pm.

In addition, and this is the real kicker - less than 10% of people live in the suburbs and work downtown. And that number keeps getting smaller. Target is moving more people out of it's downtown headquarters to the new and expanded complex in Brooklyn Park. TCF just announced it is moving to the western suburbs. Knowing all this does not matter to this group of statists who run the Met Council. They want ALL working and living downtown, whether we want to or not!

Living on acreage in Anoka County was once considered pristine. Now the Met Council considers it to be "unsustainable", or unfair. The American dream needs to be replaced with something out of Orwell or Huxley. We are to accept our new role of subjects and renounce our positions as citizens. We will be thrown into the urban environment along with the problems associated with it. It will be trading life for existence.

The expression "elections have consequences" has become almost trite. It should not be. Because of the apathy of four million voters who voted for McCain in 2008 and decided to stay home in 2012, we ended up with the second term of the worst president in recent history. Because we insisted on a needless purity test for our candidate in the 2010 governor's race, we ended up with a third party candidate which handed the election over to a very flawed candidate. As the President's pastor has said, "the chickens have come home to roost".

We have only one hope left. As Governor Christy has said, "You can't govern if you don't win". We need to win, and win big this fall. Across the board, we need to run the board. If you don't like our endorsed candidate, tough toe nails. Fratricide has not worked out well for us in the past. Be active, be informed, get out the vote. Spread the word on what is coming, both nationally and on the state level.

Our call needs to be a simple one - "Victory in November! No more, no less".


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Earth Day, Mirth Day

 
 
 



"Whoops! I bad! I forgot your day this week Mother Earth! I do however, still love you!"



Well another Earth Day has come and gone. As with most years, I seemed to have forgotten about it. It is not that I don't care about Terra Firma - I do. However, my concern with this planet involves those who walk around on the surface. The planet itself is doing fine, thank you. As big and bad as we like to think we are, this planet will be around for millions and millions of years once we are gone.

If Mother Earth (Gaia) did in fact have feelings, I believe she would be much more concerned about what we are doing to each other than what we have done to her. The fact is, this planet has been subjected to incredible abuse and misuse before we even stepped foot on her. She has been run into by thousands of meteors, comets and asteroids. In fact, many scientists believe our Moon was created when a small planetoid crashed into the Earth while being formed. There have been Gamma Ray Bursts, volcanos, earthquakes, you name it, and the Earth is still doing fine.

I have addressed this issue before. This Earth was divinely created for us to live on. If we tried to create a more perfect planet, we could not have done better than Earth. From the tilt, to the placement of the Moon, to the spinning of the molten core, to everything - the Earth is about as close to perfect and you can get.

It is true that years ago we did not understand how to properly manage the wildlife and resources that populate this great land. We are much better now. The air and water are cleaner, and the landscape has wonders yet to explore. Going out and picking up trash on Earth Day makes a mockery of what the day is trying to be. First off, there should not be any discarded trash laying around. Littering is disrespectful to us all. Second, if there is trash, it needs to be cleaned up every day. That is just our civic responsibility.

As for me, I like to celebrate Earth Day in the same fashion I celebrate the Earth every day - just being outside and enjoying the day. It is just as simple as that.

It is ironic that I was watching something on TV last night about a huge "hole" in the sun that was discovered last May. Actually, it is not really a "hole", but just an area on the sun that is "colder" than the rest of the sun's surface. Some scientists believe this abnormality could lead to a coronal mass ejection that under the right circumstances, could do grave damage to the Earth. Damage far, far greater than anything mankind could ever do.

So how do we make Earth Day something other than a "mirth day"? First off, live in the moment - we never know when this moment might be our last. Next, be kind to one another - we are all brothers and sisters traveling together on this wonderful planet. Finally, enjoy the day - each and every day is a gift from God.

By the way, Mother Earth is not all that fragile. In fact, she is a pretty tough lady. That does not mean we should not be kind to her and treat her with respect - after all, she still is a lady.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Rwandan Genocide - 20 Years After

 
 

 
"And what did we learn from the Rwandan Genocide? Not much after seeing what is going on in South Sudan..."




It is hard to believe it has been 20 years since this huge blot on human history took place. In the period between April 7th and somewhere in mid-July 1994, a huge number, some say up to a million Rwandan people were killed, many in the most inhumane way. Bill Clinton was President at that time. He along with his war planners decided to go after Slobodan Milošević instead of helping in Africa. Now Milošević was considered a war criminal, even though his nefarious actions made him look like a Boy Scout compared to what was going on in Africa during the same time period.

Here we are today. In 2014, the United Nations continues to be as ineffective as it was in 1994. It is very good at coming up with programs such as Agenda 21, which will rob many liberty loving citizens of their God given rights. However, when it comes to keeping the peace, the UN continues to get a "classic fail".

Actually, the UN has earned a failing grade even before the Rwandan Genocide. The worst genocide since World War II took place in Cambodia during the period of 1975 and 1979. The Khmer Rouge, led by the murderous Pol Pot, executed between 1.5 and 3.0 million people. Since the Viet Nam war had just ended, the United States had no stomach to go in and help. As usual, the United Nations turned a blind eye. The graveyards and remains of this mass genocide in Cambodia are still referred to as "The Killing Fields".

So how do we recognize the anniversary of this horrific event? What lessons learned can be bring forward? What assurances can we give Rwanda as well as other countries in Africa? Can we stand with them against genocide? The short answer is we have learned is this - we will do nothing. Not only are the disputes in Africa mostly tribal and territorial, they are also now perpetrated by religious zealots against innocent people. Africa, a nation rich in heritage and resources, deserves so much better. It is painful to tell them that help is not coming.

The next time you get in a discussion with some enlightened soul who touts the values of the ever intrusive United Nations, ask that person about the UN Charter. Ask how that is working out for Africa these days. Ask if there is any difference between the former League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations. Ask why we should send one more penny to this worthless organization, who at the end of the day reminds us of a (slightly modified) line from Macbeth:
 
"It is an organization full of feckless idiots, full of sound and fury....signifying nothing"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The TRUTH about the Met Council





"The question is simply this - does this unelected body have implied or expressed authority?"




First a bit of disclosure. I know and have worked with the former Met Council Chair (Susan Haigh). We were both involved with the Habitat for Humanity organization. She is a nice person, and has a long and impressive resume, most of which is government and non-profit work. That being said, she was still the head of one of the most controversial organizations ever created in the State of Minnesota. It is the organization that most on our side love to hate.

In 1967 which was the year I graduated from high school, the state legislature created the Metropolitan Council. It had a very simple task - take care of the growing number of waste water issues in the seven county area. However, like any other beast, it needed to be fed. In 1974, 1976 and 1994 the legislature expanded the powers and scope of this unelected group of 16 commissioners and a chair. In 2011, the "ship really started to hit the sand" when the legislative auditor questioned the authority of the council. Since they are all appointed by the Governor, they are not accountable to the public.

Flash forward to today. We now have a body, created in 1967 to coordinate our waste water, telling us how and where to live, how to transport ourselves, and pretty soon what to eat and whom to marry. The council has enormous power of decision making and taxation. Most if not all of their power is implied, with our left leaning Governor and Senate ready to make that power expressed if need be.

The transportation plan contained within the now famous Thrive 2040 is a big part of this latest power grab by the Met Council. Based on the latest federal government census, the council is ready to grow again. Transportation will now cover two additional counties, Sherburne and Wright. Unless the council grows the districts to cover more territory, there would need to be additional commissioners.

The slogan for Thrive 2040 says it all. "One vision, one metropolitan region". As a long time resident of Anoka County, with one daughter living in Sherburne County and the other in Hennepin (Minneapolis) County, I know this much - these counties are as culturally different from each other as Alaska and Alabama are. Attempting to prescribe a homogeneous transportation and dwelling plan for nine counties in this area would be like pounding square and triangle pegs in round or trapezoid holes.

Before the last election, most gubernatorial candidates (on our side) I talked to said the same thing - we need to get rid of the Met Council. This is a true example of not only government run amok, but also taxation without representation. If the future of this governing body was not front and center in the 2014 elections, and I was disappointed. As the musical group Steppenwolf said in their song Monster:


 Yeah, there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watchin'

The cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin' the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can't understand
And that monster is you Met Council. You have earned the title. Now wear it.

  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our own dangling participle...

 
 


"We hear your words Mr. President, but we are confused on what you mean..."




Most of us can remember those painful lessons from Freshman English. Rules like "don't use double negatives" and "watch out for dangling participles". As time goes on, and memories fade, we forget what a dangling participle is. Quite simply it is "an ambiguous grammatical construct...which can lead to unintentional humor or difficulty in understanding..."

So what in the world does bad grammar have to do with our 44th President. Nothing as far as grammar goes, but quite a bit in how his words and actions don't mesh. Even his most loyal supporters get confused. Our citizens don't understand him, our allies have lost trust in him, and our advisories have long since quite taking him seriously.

The latest example of a dangling participle was the continued delay of the Keystone Pipeline. Even though just about EVERYONE has advised him this was the RIGHT thing to do for national security, jobs and balance of trade, his Loony Left has him frozen in his tracks. The pros and cons of building this pipeline are not even close - the pros outnumber the cons by an order of magnitude or better.

What has really been a slap in the face for President Participle has been the backlash from senators in red states up for re-election. In particular, vulnerable senators in energy states like Louisiana. Mary Landrieu, who in the latest straw poll has a slim lead over her Republican challenger, is livid. She knows this is a "red meat" issue for her state. Words such as "unnecessary, irresponsible and unacceptable" came out of this loyal Democrat's mouth. Nobody, except the fringe Left can understand how a simple decision such as this can take over five years and counting.

In 1957, John F. Kennedy help put together a book called Profiles in Courage. This book told stories on how some in Washington would cross party lines to accomplish brave and bold things which were good for the country. My advice to the President is simply this - on your next vacation to Hawaii, take a copy of this book with you. It might help your grammar, especially with those dangling participles.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter is Forever!

 
 

 
"He is risen! He is risen indeed!"



Years ago, when I was attending the University of Minnesota, I would come home via old West Broadway in North Minneapolis. One year, as Easter was approaching, there was a lone billboard on West Broadway with a very simple, yet profound message on it. It said three words - but those three words said it all - "Easter is forever!"

I have thought about that billboard many times over the years. A simple, yet profound message. On this day, the day we remember the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, we remember that hope was born out of hopelessness, courage born out of fear, life born out of death. It is the day that changed everything - everything forever.

I have often wondered what our lives would have been like if there had been no Easter. It would be a life without hope. A life without purpose. It would have been a life of grim outcomes. Darkness would have conquered light. Hate would have superseded love. Life would have become cheap and temporary.

But the good news is, and I mean the really, really good news is simply this - Easter is forever! It changed everything! It can never be taken away. It was the gift given to countless generations before us, and will be to countless generations once we are no longer here.

So on this Easter Sunday, the message is very simple. Jesus lives, so does hope. The Light of the World remains with us! For those who chose to live in Jesus, know not only how the story began, but also how it will end. Light will rule over darkness and love will rule over hate.

Easter is not only the best gift the world could have received, it is everlasting. Truly, Easter is forever!

Be kind out there....

 
 


"Hey! One more thing! Let's be careful out there."
 
Sargent Phil Esterhaus
Hill Street Blues



One of my favorite shows from the 1980's was Hill Street Blues. In that show, one of my favorite characters was Sargent Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad). He would always conclude his briefings before the troops hit the streets by saying, "Let's be careful out there." I would like to offer up a variation to that theme. Every day, before going out the door, getting on the phone, or hopping on the internet, think of this instead - "Let's be kind out there."

One of my first managers had an amazing gift. He would treat everyone the same. Superior, subordinates, peers, customers, strangers. Everyone was treated the same way - with respect, professionalism, humor and kindness. Consequently, just about everyone liked him. In a day when most had a different persona for management, customers, or whomever, John did not. Through my career I tried to emulate that almost unique gift, but often fell well short.

However, the one thing that John did that really stuck with me was his kindness. Long before I heard the term "to disagree without being disagreeable", I saw it in action through John. In a day of high dollar negotiations where many a temper would run short, John continued to treat people on the other side of the table with honor, respect and kindness.

It saddens me when I see good people act poorly towards each other. In my faith, I am taught that all of us have value - a very high value in the eyes of our Lord. I have no problem at all with a spirited discussion, or even a civil argument. I do however, have a big problem when that discussion devolves into name calling or besmirchment of character.

As we go into Easter tomorrow, I will redouble my efforts to show kindness to all. I will endeavor to practice the Golden Rule and to remember how the Bible tells us to love. I will also try to remember that each and every person I meet has equal value, especially to me. Most of all, I need to remember this when I deal with anybody, likable or not -  "You are a child of God, made in the image of the Most High, and I will treat you as such."

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Three Days



"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5



Today we remember the journey, the three days that changed the world. Even if you are not a believer, you must acknowledge that the journey from the garden, to the trial, to the cross, to the tomb, and then risen from the tomb, changed everything for everyone forever.

Years ago, my wife and I went to see a Christian Music concert. In addition to the music, there was a message delivered by a nationally renowned author and evangelist. It was just about the same time The Passion of the Christ had been released. This man talked about the events leading up to Good Friday. His topic was simply this - the horror and beatings that Jesus took on that day are often under told during this weekend. I will use the evangelist's words with paraphrase - "Jesus was not only beat and tortured before being nailed to the cross, he was butchered". Yes, the most heinous way to kill a person was inflicted upon the One without one sin to deserve any of it.

Good Friday is often times a somber day - and it should be. For me, it is a day of remembrance of the price, the very extraordinary price, that was paid for my redemption. It is a time to not only reflect on how I am living my life, but also how I can do better. Day by day, do better. Walk in the path of the Savior. My life is now a gift, given to me by the events which led up to, and then ended on Golgotha.

One of our former pastors would tell the story once Jesus was taken from the cross to the tomb. First off, they made sure he was dead, and not just seriously wounded. The reason Jesus was pierced with a spear was to see if his blood has separated. The Bible tells of "blood and water" coming out of the wound. It is for that reason, the Roman soldiers did not need to break Jesus' legs. Because of the separation of the blood, they knew he was dead. In the tradition of Roman crucifixion, if death did not come soon enough, the soldiers were instructed to break the legs of the person on the cross. That would speed the process of suffocation.

Once taken to the tomb, a heavy rock was rolled in front. Guards were posted. The last thing the Romans wanted was for some of Jesus' followers to steal the body thereby offering credibility to the prophecy that Jesus would rise from the dead. No, they made sure that nobody could get in or out of the tomb.

On the third day, when Jesus rose from the dead, the tomb was empty. The Romans did not understand how this happened, but they were committed to find the body and show people that Jesus was still in fact dead. They never did. Jesus appeared to many after he rose - in the twelve times he appeared after the resurrection, the Bible states he appeared to as many as 500. When Jesus was ready to ascend into Heaven, he gave those who saw Him the Great Commission. It was the beginning of the Christian Church. 

This is the day. The day which in which my debt, along with every other person's debt was paid. It was day one of the three day journey which changed everything for everyone. It is truly Good Friday.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Dawning of New America

 
 


"It is morning again in America!"
 
President Ronald Reagan
1984 Presidential Campaign



I remember when I was much younger listening to a renowned social critic/commenter discuss his craft. I remember him saying this - "Pay attention to what the people are saying. Not the media or politicians, but the everyday people." And that is exactly what I have been doing.

Some say the sky is always darkest before sunrise. I am seeing, or sensing a real renaissance in our country. A dawning if you will. Much of it is thanks to our current President and the people who work under or support him. Not too long ago, I wrote about "the tipping point". I believe we are here. No longer frogs in slowing boiling water, no longer death by a thousand cuts, there is a great awakening in our land.

To sense this awakening, you must first filter out the noise which comes from the media and the Administration. You must listen to the people. Listen to your neighbors, your co-workers, the people you go to church with. Listen to the total strangers you happen to bump into at the store. Without hearing the words, you will sense a collective, "We are better than this!" Or, "We are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore!"

What are people doing? For starters, they are becoming self-educated in our country's history. Our country's founding and our founding documents. Much of the tort in government is antithetical to the Federalist Papers, the Constitution and the Amendments thereto. Some on the Left are just fine with that. Some in the middle don't know or worse, just don't care. However, many of us do care. And we are the people who want to take our country back. This is our country, bequeathed to us by generations before us. Given to us through love, honor and duty. Paid for by the precious blood, sweat and tears of our parents and grandparents.

So in a perverted way, I would like to thank our President, our Attorney General, HHS, IRS, NSA and the list goes on. Through their maleficence of government, they have been the cold water in the face many of us have needed. We no longer have the time for social apathy - we need to set the table for our kids in the same manner as our table was set for us. Hope will replace hopelessness. Faith will replace idolatry. Love will replace indifference. Resolve will once again replace complacency.

Yes, as President Reagan once told us, it is morning again in America. Stop and listen - you will be able to hear it, sense it, and then see it. From the ranches in Nevada, to the golden grains of our heartland, people want to reclaim what is rightfully ours. Part of the sleeping giant has started to awaken. We can only hope and pray the rest will follow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

 
 

 
"Okay - maybe not planes. After all, this is not about the movie!"




Two very interesting articles in the paper today. They were not supposed to be related, but I believe they are. The first has to do with the sleepy little burg of Buffalo. It seems the good people of Buffalo are having a heck of time getting to work on time as of late. Why? Trains. Lots and lots of trains coming down from the oil fields in North Dakota. And not only more trains, but longer and longer trains.

The other article was about the "greenies" gathering their forces for the supposed upcoming decision of Keystone XL. They have gotten buffed up on civil disobedience so they can unleash environmental wacko hell on society should POTUS decide to go ahead with the project. Myself, I would be less surprised to see a UFO land on the front lawn of the White House than to see Obama buck his lunatic left and agree to the pipeline.

So where in the world does that leave us? In President Obama nowhere land. Or as Rush calls him on occasion, "President Bystander". Most economists of note have agreed on one simple fact - if the United States, the new Saudi Arabia or oil and gas, decided to aggressively pursue this vast resource, it would send shock waves across the world petro market. In particular, Mother Russia. We can beat Russia back into submission without firing a shot.

However, I don't think he will do it. He is paralyzed by fear. He has been before, and he continues to be now. This job is so different than the one he had in the Illinois Senate. In this job, you can't just vote "present". You have to do things. Sometimes, you need to do things that will rile up your base. Most importantly, sometimes you need to do something FOR THE COUNTRY!

If we used this resource correctly, our gas prices would be under control, our heating bills would fall, and our balance of trade would improve. In addition, thousands upon thousands of jobs would be CREATED by the oil industry in building the proper infrastructure to ship this product. In addition, we also need to build more natural gas liquefaction facilities in order to export more of this gas to Europe. That means even more jobs created. 

The table is set for what the right thing to do is. We have already hurt ourselves by waiting this long - maybe too long. If we had made this decision six years ago, we would have a much different landscape today. The one thing that planes, trains and automobiles do have in common is this - they all need energy to run. And we have the resources to provide it. All we need now is the national will. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Sad State of our State (Department)

 
 


"Hey! I thought the Bobbsey Twins were supposed to be make believe!



Those of us who have worked have all seen it. Someone within the group really knew how to "play the game". They dressed right, they got in early, stayed late, knew how to talk to the boss. Most everyone higher up thought that person was wonderful. However, those that worked with that person knew the real secret - they did not produce squat.

Okay - I will say it. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are the two worst Secretary of States we have had in our nation's history. Period. Like a "poser" in the work place, they both talk a good story. They jet all over, meet with lots of people. However at the end of the day, the world is a mess and getting messier.

For example:
  • Libya - EVERYONE who has a pulse and is honest knows Hillary is dirty on Benghazi. Libya is a mess and it is just a matter of time before the Islamic Rebels turn the government into a Mecca of Sharia Law. The same could be true to Egypt and Syria. Progress to date - negative.
  • West Bank - While our State Department continues to chide our former ally Israel for building LEGAL settlements, both Clinton and Kerry have turned a deaf ear when ILLEGAL rockets come crashing down on innocents in Israel. Progress to date - zip.
  • North Korea - The little bully must have been left out of the latest "Bully Bill". He continues to stir up trouble and act towards South Korea in the most provocative manner. Whom does he fear? Not us. The State Department's best ambassador, Dennis Rodman, could not even make inroads. Progress to date - horrible.
  • China - aka, our banker is also not behaving. Without the world's policeman having a strong presence in the Western Pacific, China is looking for a land grab on disputed territory with Japan. Our Statement Department has wagged their finger at our banker and then promised to send another warship to the Japanese Navy in a few years. Meanwhile, China continues to build a powerful blue water Navy. Progress to date - a standstill.
  • Russia - I can't even begin here. The "Bear" is now in his glory. Someone on the news said, "Putin acts while Obama ponders". This Judo loving ex-KGB officer really seems to have not only our State Department, but also our Commander in Chief "cowed". Yesterday, we had one of newer Destroyers, armed to the teeth, buzzed by a Russian jet in the Black Sea. In the old days, the skipper would have opened up a VLS hatch and put a missile lock on this bad boy. Today, we told the Russians they are "unprofessional". Meanwhile, Kiev struggles to hold on against a more probable invasion. Progress to date - catastrophic.
Like Fox News, I do try to be somewhat balanced. If someone knows of something the State Department has done worth a flying whatever, please let me know. In these days of "global warming" all the Bobbsey Twins have done in put a whole lot of carbon in our air from flying all over, doing nothing.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Debt, debt and then debt

 
 

"Holy smokes! Sometimes I feel like Atlas in Atlas Shrugged!"




I was at a campaign meeting last night. We were talking about a raft of issues that voters should be concerned about this November. When the subject of our national debt came up, someone asked if young people are concerned. For a long time, many young people were tone deaf to this enormous debt we are dumping on them. One young man at the meeting answered the question this way - "Many young people are more concerned with the staggering student debt they are leaving college with." Bingo. Point well taken.

It really gets down to the difference in tactical and strategic thinking. The $17.5T is there alright, and it is not going away. In fact, nobody is doing a thing about it right now - on either side of the aisle. The debt, even though it has become part of our lexicon, is an abstraction. It is like scientists telling we will be hit by a huge meteor in 2035. We will start worrying about it in 2034.

For a young person just turning 21, with the growth in the debt expected to continue, that person's share of the national debt will be a whopping $740,000! In addition, by 2035, some economists believe the debt will be twice as large as our economy! But that is not tomorrow. That is in the future. As for today, kids just getting out of college need to worry about finding a job, paying rent, and then of course, addressing that monster of a school loan they have accrued.

How bad is the student debt these days? Not good. Despite all the rhetoric we have heard about tuition freezes, the "frozen" price of education is still sky high. In December of 2012, CNN reported that the average student debt was almost $30K. That is up about $3K from the year before. I did not get the stats for December of 2013, so lets assume it is still just over $30k. Plus if you spent four years in a private school, it could be double that, or more.

So how do we get through to young people about debt? Not easily, I am afraid. First off, many young people look at us as "ruining the soup". The table our parents set for us was much different that the table we are setting for our kids. We may think the Millennials are clueless, but trust me, they are not stupid. They know my generation has emptied out the kitty, spend all the reserves. And then when the kitty was empty, my generation decided to keep the party going. Even though my generation took math, we failed to understand that "zero" means the end. We started liking negative numbers.

So today, as I continue to ponder campaign strategy, I will also ponder how to talk to young people about debt. As a representative of my generation, should I first apologize? I probably should. Beyond an apology, I really don't know what to tell young people about our national debt and their crushing school loans.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Tipping Point

 
 


"One toke over the line sweet Jesus, one toke over the line-
Sittin' downtown at a railway station, one toke over the line"
 
Brewer and Shipley
One Toke over the Line



On Sunday morning, I usually try to write an article on faith or something transformational. I will pass on that this morning as so much has happened this week, I can't let it go until Monday.

A few years ago, Glenn Beck predicted that in the very near future we were going to reach a tipping point in our country. He also said many would have a hard time recognizing our country as the America we grew up with. Even though he was ridiculed and made fun of by many people as well as his employers at Fox News and CNN, history might be proving him correct. The news this past week revealed a landscape of trouble, much of which is constructed by an intrusive government with a growing disdain for the rule of law.

This past week, I believe we came within a whisker of major social unrest in our country. If it had happened, it would have ended badly, and had far reaching ramifications for many of us. I am talking about the Bundy Ranch and the BLM. This entire thing is shrouded both in mystery and half truths from the Federal Government. Who from the Federal Government was involved? The BLM, Harry Reid, and armed law enforcement numbering over a hundred for starters.

The thought that went through my mind when this started developing was simply this - Ruby Ridge or Waco all over again. Neither of those ended well, and the controversy surrounding Waco still haunts the Janet Reno legacy. The difference this time with the Bundy Ranch, is we are so close the tipping point. Many patriots heard the clarion call to arms coming from this remote area in Nevada. Some said this was going to be it - the spark which starts the second American revolution. Many citizens are armed and fed up.

How in the world do we get to this point? The answer it seems is not that complicated. It comes from a reversal of roles in our government, whether it is Federal, State, or Local. Once the owner becomes the owned, our Constitution becomes meaningless. We have seen our Federal Government spy on us, use our taxing authority to intimidate and subvert us, and this week, attempt to illegally seize land and property.

Our State Government is just as bad. It continues to use an unelected entity called the Met Council to control how we live, where we live, and how we will get around. Their power is implicit and growing. They will get their bidding even if the mayor of our largest city does not want light rail tunnels dug in her city. If the Met Council has their way, by 2040 many of us will be living vertically in a large cities, absent of cars with only light rail to get around. And if we don't want that kind of lifestyle? "Tough toenails" say the master planners.

There is a monster on the loose in our land. Our Constitution, which one of our liberal Supreme Court Justices believes to be "flawed", was set up (along with our Bill of Rights) to keep our great country from devolving into a monarchy supported by serfs and subjects. Our President, who is rumored to have taught Constitutional Law, seems to have forgotten the first lesson in the 101 class. We are citizens, not subjects, and demand to be treated as such. Our government(s) are here to serve us, not visa versa.

So was Beck right? Are we at the tipping point? Are we close to that one toke over the line? If in your prayers, you wonder who or what to pray for, you can start with our great country. With the tail now wagging the dog, the dog is starting to tip. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Energizer Bunny

 
 



"He never quits. Both campaigns are long over, but he thinks he is still on the trail..."



I really would like to write about something else during the week, but our "Campaigner in Chief" always gives me so much material to work with. Yesterday, he was at it again. This time "voter's rights". It seems those "Rascally Republicans" continue to put up road blocks to keep dead and illegal people from voting numerous times in the same election.

Yesterday on Fox News, someone did a segment on our national debt and how it continues to go up like a Roman Candle. Seems like just yesterday we eclipsed the $17T mark, and now we are over half way through the next trillion to get to $18T. Who cares? The Energizer Bunny has us once again talking about Lilly Ledbetter and income inequality. And whose fault is it that this phony issue is so unjust? Once again, the "Rascally Republicans".

We also marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights bill by going to the Most Reverend Sharpton's hideout and bemoaning the fact the Attorney General as well as the President are "treated differently" than previous people in those positions. DOG WHISTLE ALERT - (that means the race card was played). Only the lap dog press and low information voters have bought into this one. And who are the ones doing the mistreating the most? Why the "Rascally Republicans" in Congress of course!

Those who pay attention, those who can read the stitching on fast ball, understand what is really going on. For example:
  • Voter Fraud - John Fund of the WSJ wrote a book on this issue a few years ago. Minnesota was cited as an example in the Al Franken illegal victory. Voter fraud is rampant in this country, especially in larger cities where unbiased election judges are hard to come by. Voter ID is not the total cure, but an excellent way to start. According to the Energizer Bunny, it is nothing but voter suppression. Of course, the Energizer Bunny comes from the "vote early and vote often" town of Chicago.
  • Income Disparity - Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land since I first started working. If an employer is violating that law, that employer should be fined and remedy given to that employee. It is like making more gun laws. If we enforced what is on the books right now, we would all be safer. It is not the Republican's fault there if there is income disparity, it is the Attorney General for not enforcing the law.
There are more, but time is not my friend this morning. Fodder for a future article. My point is simply this - we need the Energizer Bunny to get off the trail and back into the office. Stop painting the Republicans as the "Boogie Man", and learn to work with them. The country is a mess, the world is an ever more dangerous place, and we no longer have time for "Alinsky" like games. Leave the red herring in the water and focus on doing the job you ran for.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Mess in CD 6

 
 

 
"Your Mother wears Army Boots too - and no backs!"



I have admired this about the Democrats for some time now. They eat their supper, no matter how bad the food tastes. In other words, which ever candidate becomes the torch bearer for the party, the troops may have to swallow hard, but they endorse the candidate. The Republican Party on the other hand, has in the recent years become overly concerned with purity tests. Not that a purity test is bad at the beginning of the process - it becomes destructive when the purity test goes on into November.

CD 6 is the most Republican district in the state. There are quite a few "red meat" eaters that live here. People work hard, they pay their taxes. They like honest people and honest talk. When our current Representative announced she would not be running for another term, three very capable people stepped up in the district to vie for her position. I have met all three of them. I know some better than others, and they are all good people, capable of keeping this district "red" for years to come.

However, there is a fly in the ointment. I am not seeing the love here. I know that politics is a dirty business. I know it can turn into mud wrestling. I also know this - if after the endorsing convention, the name calling, the mud wrestling persists, we could lose this seat. And if we lose it, in two years we will have a much harder job of unseating an Democrat incumbent.

I may have a favorite in this race, or I may not. I may think of them all as equally qualified. Oh, I have done my homework on each of them. There are no angels, nor are there any demons. Just people, some of whom have made a mistake or two in the past. Nothing I have seen would disqualify any of them from earning my vote in November. I have said in the past, I will fully and whole heartedly support the endorsed candidate. I expect the two who did not get the endorsement to follow suit.

However, that might not happen. CD 6, once the envy of much of the "red" nation, could implode due to pride and ego. We stand at the precipice of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. In 2010, the Democrats put up a very flawed candidate for governor. The Republicans put up a much better candidate. However, the Democrats swallowed hard and supported their guy. The Republicans continued the "purity test" on their guy until it resulted in the emergence of a third party candidate. Net, net - for the past four years, we have been on the outside looking in.

In all fairness, I have talked with some who believe it is better to lose that support a candidate you don't like. I am okay with that if you don't mind losing. I do mind. I want to win. I am not ready to concede the state to the "Uber Left". Let us have the debate, and then tomorrow have the vote. The same is true for Rochester in May. Have the debate, and then vote. I have very little time for sore losers. I have even less time for people who throw elections to the other side.

I am still hopeful that even though there has been tough talk and threats to primary, tomorrow we will come together as a district and start preparing for a November victory. That is the team I want to be on. Inclusion is preferable to fratricide.