Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Sad State of Affairs


"But he promised so much. Things were going to change. We had so much trust in him..."

Have you noticed of late, that nothing seems to be working? I am not talking about your house or your car - I am talking about your other big investment - your government. If you look at your last tax return, you will see you have invested quite of bit of money in your government. Feel like you are getting your money's worth? I sure don't!

Let us look at what has been happening just this past week:
  • Like an infected scab, the more we pick at what has been going on in the VA health program, the worse it gets. The waste, fraud and abuse is endemic in this organization. As good as General Shinseki might have been as a general officer, he was asleep at the switch in the VA. Some things recently discovered are so bad, John McCain is asking the Justice Department to get involved.
  • Because this Administration believes in using ideologue kids to fill adult positions, we had a huge breach in Afghanistan. To have our CIA station chief outed by some idiot kid on the White House staff is unconscionable. This man, his family are now in great danger. Not to mention we (the United States) have lost a very important ( and probably not replaceable) asset in that region. Will the person that dropped the ball be fired? No - in true form with this Administration, that person will be promoted, not terminated.
  • In March of 2011, our Administration was going to teach the public how to do a "good war". We got involved in the civil war in Libya, armed rebels (many of whom are sworn enemies of the United States), and declared victory in October when a minor class dictator (Muammar Gaddafi) was killed. Then in September of 2012, we lost 4 brave Americans, including our ambassador in Benghazi, Libya. Why Benghazi? Word on the street was we were trying to get our arms and munitions back from Al Qaeda and their sympathizers. It did not work. Now things are so bad, this past week the State Department issued an alert for all Americans to vacate the country. A sad state indeed for a "good war".
  • Our President addressed the graduating class of West Point this week. As Commander in Chief, it is always a rousing and friendly crowd - except for this year. A "tepid" reception for the POTUS speech would be an understatement.
  • Two more editorials came out this week blasting our Administration for being inept and weak. These were not written by right wing zealots.
So where are we as we enter June? Well, we are stuck for the next 2 1/2 years with an Administration that seems to get worse every month. We (the taxpayers) continue to pour money into a system that yields bad to worse results. In business terms, we are getting a very poor return on investment. One editorial I read this past week said Obama is a good salesman (especially to the sheeple), but a terrible manager. I could not agree more.

If EVER there was an example of the DANGERS of not being careful with your vote, this is it. Even Jimmy Carter, the onetime worst President in modern history, has turned on Obama for being inept. This November, please, please vote for adults who can manage and be good stewards for our great country. In November of 2016, it will be even more important to vote that way. We can no longer tolerate this sad state of affairs. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Unexplained Lights of 1997


"I can handle one goof ball, but over 10,000?"

It was an ordinary March evening in Arizona. The sun had just set, and many armature star gazers were outside waiting to see if the long awaited Hale Bopp Comet would be in view. Astronomers had predicted that Hale Bopp would be the closest to Earth on March 22nd, so March 13th was good enough for many to start watching. The sky was clear, and the temperature was tolerable. What people saw on that early March evening was much, much more that they had bargained for.

The sightings started in Henderson, Nevada and continued on to the southwest. The phenomena people witnessed are now referred to as the "Phoenix Lights". However, I believe that to be a misnomer. Since it started on the Nevada/Arizona border and continued down over Phoenix, over Tucson and then to Northern Mexico, it was more than just Phoenix. I was way, way more than just Phoenix.

Since the event happened soon after sundown, some witnessed more than just "lights". This thing had shape - and a big one. One witness was asked if he could have been mistaken in what he thought he saw. He was asked if what he witnessed could have been a B-2 Bomber. After all, the shape was similar. His response was simple - he was familiar with what B-2 bombers looked like. He said "You could have parked 40 B-2 bombers on the wings of that thing and had room let over." 

So what was it? This thing that some believe was over a mile wide and made little or no noise as it drifted past. For over 10,000 people who saw "something", don't you think that our government, or Mexico's government, would have been alarmed that something this size would be violating our airspace undetected? Would not Luke Air Force Base have been on full alert? Did something a mile wide show up on Luke's radar. If not, why not. After all this was worse than a hostile country violating our airspace.

This event in 1997 is still one of the largest UFO sightings in our history. Could it have been mass hysteria? Was it too many of those famous southwest Chile peppers consumed for dinner by many? Or, "weather balloons" like the cover story for the 1947 Roswell incident? Flares dropped from A-10 "Warthogs" during a night time training exercise? Even the Governor, John Fife Symington III, has said many times since he left office, it was not of the above - it was a huge UFO. After all, he like many others, witnessed it.

Frances Barwood, a city council member at the time of the incident, did her own investigation. She interviewed over 700 Phoenix residents who saw the lights. Not one of them said anyone from the government ever contacted them to hear their story. It was as if the incident had never happened.

But something did happen. If the witness testimonials are true, and something this big, this quiet, and this stealthy invaded our airspace, it is a huge story. If it was mass hysteria, a hoax or just plain something "worldly" (rather than other-worldly), it would be nice to know that also. What we are left with is simply a mystery with a whole lot of questions. And for many in Arizona, some very disturbing memories.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

# Helpless, Hapless and Hopeless


"We are very, very concerned about bullies in schools - and yet the world's bullies get away with murder..."

There is some good news today. And there is some bad news also. It seems the innocent Nigerian girls have been located somewhere in Nigeria. That is the good news. However, there will be no rescue mission. Nobody, not us, not the Nigerians, nobody has the stomach to go into the jungle and engage the feared Boko Harem in order to get the girls back.

There are a variety of reasons for this non-action. First and foremost, the United Nations does not have the guts nor skill set to maintain the world peace. This expensive organ has devolved into nothing more than a world class social engineering organization. Second, the United States still has the skill set within their special forces to go in and make mince meat out of the bad guys while rescuing innocents. However, under the leadership of "President Bystander", probably nothing will happen. Finally (and this is the tough one), people in Nigeria are scared to death of this band of bullies. They are ruthless, and will kill anyone who gets in the way of them or their version of Islam.

On TV this past week, they were interviewing a young girl who recently lost her father and brother to Boko Harem. They are a Christian family. Upon capture, the father was asked at gunpoint to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. He refused. He told the captures, "The Bible says if we renounce Christ in front of men, then Christ will renounce us in front of the Father." Boko then shot him twice in the chest in front of his daughter. Then they killed her brother.

People that practice this type of terrorism against innocent people need to be weeded out in the same manner we treat a growing cancer. Rather than fear, thugs who prey on the weak and innocent should be met with resolve. If a family or a person wants to practice Islam, it is their right to do so. By the same token, should anyone desire to be a Christian, doing so should not be a death sentence.

As the world turns a blind eye and a deaf ear, unspeakable horrors are being visited upon Christians worldwide. Many of the Islamic terrorists believe in Caliphate, and are justified (in their mind) to do anything to make it happen. The "PC Police" in this country would have us believe this is just part of worldwide diversity. It is not. Caliphate is anything but diversity. It is the monolithic belief in Islamic justice using Sharia Law.

To the young girls being held captive in Nigeria, all I can say is God be with you. Only God can protect you, as the rest of the world continues to be # hapless, helpless and hopeless. When it comes to dealing with the world's bullies, all we can do is hashtag.

Monday, May 26, 2014



"He gave up his dreams and his future so the rest of us could have ours..."

There were three of us who worked at Montgomery Wards in the late 60's. We all heard the call to duty about the same time. I was going to school and working part time in the paint department. Steve was full time on the dock. Mike like me, was also going to school and worked part time in the garden department.
Mike was always the guy that was fun to hang around with. Why? He had Don Johnson good looks, a great sense of humor, and to top it all off, he was an all-around good guy. The woman would flock around him, which was a huge bonus to being his friend.
Whereas I went into the Navy, Steve and Mike went into the Army. Both went through infantry training. By a twist of fate after training, Steve got orders to Germany. Rare back in those days, as most who went through infantry training went straight to Viet Nam. Mike on the other hand, walked a different path. The Army saw something special in him, and opened a door of opportunity for him to take.
In 1969, there was a shortage of helicopter pilots. To become one, you needed to go through advanced training and should you complete it, you would graduate as a non-commissioned warrant officer. Mike saw this as a great opportunity to learn how to fly. He would have to extend his time served, but is was going to be worth it. Besides, it sure beat being a "ground pounder".
Mike finished his helicopter training and was immediately sent to Viet Nam. He was living a dream. He could serve his country, fill out his service obligation, plus learn how to fly helicopters to boot. Once he finished his time, he could go back to school under the G.I. Bill and finish his degree.
Nobody seemed to know what happened that day. I can't even remember the location, if it was in the Central Highlands or where it was. All I know is word got back home that Mike was killed in action. He was not shot nor shot down. He was coming back from a typical mission when upon landing, his rear blade hit some power lines. His copter flipped over and burned.
Every Memorial Day I think of all the men and women who gave up their dreams and futures to ensure the rest of us could have ours. I think of the "greatest generation", who gave so much in the 1940's. Without their sacrifice, we would all be living in a dystopian type of world full of dictators. I think of the men in the 1950's who went to Korea, to face a new menace called Communism. I think of the men and women in the 1960's and 1970's who were called to fight an ever unpopular war against a hidden enemy who did often did not fight fairly. And of course, I think about those who fought and still fight in our modern wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, where fighting often times devolves into urban guerrilla warfare. 
However, mostly I think about the young boys in my graduating class who heard the call and never came home. I think of Mike, my friend from Montgomery Wards, the young man who had it all, and ended up giving it all. These are for whom the bells toll, on this and every Memorial Day. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Peter Principle and the VA


"What do you mean I failed? I was doing so well in the job I just left..."

Many of us who attended business schools years ago studied the 1969 book by the late Dr. Lawrence Peter. The book The Peter Principle - Why Things Always Go Wrong was a hit and read by millions. It explained why things do go wrong in many organizations. In fact, in my 36 years in industry, I have seen it happen more than once.

The Peter Principle is very simple - in any organization, people will continue to get promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. The real work in any organization is done by the people lower down the food chain who have not yet reached that undesirable level. Today, there is no better place to observe this famous principle than in the White House or the VA.

In the White House, we took a man with no experience and made him the CEO of what was once known as "the free world". Classic fail. However, I have addressed that before. The better example is General Shinseki. A decorated and wounded veteran, the General served this country with honor for over 35 years and rose to the rank of a four star flag officer.  He was well suited to command thousands of men and women in the military. Seems like smooth transition to have the same man manage thousands of men and women in the VA.

In 2009 when the General took the reigns of the VA, it certainly was not ship shape - in fact it was a mess. It was so bad, that our incoming President hammered the former President on this issue while on the campaign trail. If elected, he would fix the wound, right the wrongs. After he was sworn in, the intoxication of Air Force One, free golf, and celebrity status caused him to develop great amnesia on this promise. The General, being a good soldier, did not want to give his CO any bad news. So, the wound grew bigger and deeper. Our proud and stoic veterans finally started to ring the alarm bell.

One of my former bosses would use the military jargon word, reclama. His interpretation of this much maligned word was "things are so screwed up, we need to start over". And we would. The VA has been in deep, deep need of a reclama for decades now. However, now people are dying.

The General needs to go - now. If the President cannot pick someone who is a "fixer", then let Congress pick someone. A ridged improvement plan needs to be put in place NOW with iron clad milestones. Everyone who works for the VA will be on a "one strike" employment term. The VA IG will be given new teeth. Every penny will be accounted for. There is no reason the VA has to use dialysis machines that are held together with spit and gum. There is no reason why illegal immigrants in this country should get better and faster treatment than our heroes.

It really does pain me to write something this scathing on Memorial Day weekend. However, if pains me much more to know this situation exists in 2014. Let us fix this sorry example of the Peter Principle and honor the promises we have made to our veterans. 


Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Dragon, the Bear, and the Chicken


"This single toast could be the start of a new world order..."

As a former Cold Warrior, I remember well the fears many of us had about a strong Sino-Soviet alliance. One did develop to some degree, but nothing like many feared.

One of the big news stories from this week is the 30 year, almost 1/2 trillion dollar energy deal between Russia and China. From a global perspective, it makes all the sense in the world. Russia, rich with natural gas and not afraid to produce it, sells to its new partner China, who cannot get enough gas to keep its 21st century economy humming. And where does that leave us? Once again, in "nowhereville".

Meanwhile back at the farm, we are not only stuck in "nowhereville", but also "scandal town". The latest and greatest to hit our Emerald City is the death panels initiated by the VA health system. After "President Bystander" heard about this issue while watching MSNBC, he got really, really mad. Like General Shinseki, he got "madder than hell!" No worries though - our Administration already is saying these problems date back to Reagan and probably have gotten worse due to man made global warming.

Back to the energy deal. America is poised to become the world leader in petro and gas production, DESPITE our Commander in Chief. Think if we had a President who was an energy advocate rather than had an adversarial relationship with our "black gold". Just like our problems with the VA festering for six years while the President played over 100 rounds of golf, our pipelines to build Keystone sit rusting in a warehouse while Russia goes to town turning its gas into much needed money.

Our new Energy Secretary, who looks and acts like the stoned cousin from a Beavis and Butthead movie, in in way over his head. Like the President, he is just a bystander with our energy resources. Our Energy Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, General Shinseki, Jay Carney and a host of other "advisors", are like kids trying to drive adult cars. The result is while the Dragon hisses, and the Bear roars, the chicken - well, we all know what chickens do.
Before it is too late, before the world passes us by, we need to put on our "big boy pants" and start once again acting like a world leader. I am sure Putin feels like he is playing poker with a blind man, and China is fine playing banker to our debt. Under this President, we have turned into world class debtor nation as well as a paper tiger. Rather than play the cards in our hand, to lead the world as we once did, we have instead folded. November of 2016 cannot come soon enough.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Bloom is off the Rose...

"Well! I hate to say I 'told you so', but I TOLD YOU SO!!!"

Last night was a watershed moment on TV. I was watching a popular cable news show. The host had one of the network's most staunch Democratic cheerleaders on as a guest. The host asked her to defend the President's handling of the latest in the long line of scandals - the VA mess. She looked at him and said, "I can't. I am disappointed in him. I have lost confidence in him. In fact, in the last election, my disaffection with him had already started, so I did not vote for anyone."

Wow! That was a bombshell! As far as politics is concerned, this lady is about as blue as blue can get. The scales have fallen off her eyes and her vision has been restored. Of course, many on the Right had this guy pegged from day one. In particular, Rush Limbaugh would sound the alarm about Barry's "paper thin" resume. And it was. Because of race, Bush fatigue, and a bevy of other illegitimate reasons, we elected a guy (twice) who did not have a clue on how to do the job. Not only that, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He may not be a true Marxist, but his training was on that street.

Some pundits believe the VA scandal may be the straw that broke the camel's back. Of course, we heard that about the ObamaCare website also. The only humor in this scandal so far is that "President Bystander" said (once again), "Golly - I did not know ANYTHING about this VA issue until I saw it on the news." Could you imagine if the CEO of Target had said that about the data breach? He would have been fired on the spot, not months later.

The host of the show I was watching said either the President looks disinterested in what is going on in the country, or he is so over his head he looks helpless and hapless. I think it is both. If I came out of retirement to run GM, I would be in way over my head. At the top spot, there is nowhere to hide. I would quickly be exposed. For our President, there is nowhere to hide other than his sweet spot - the campaign trail. When he is not there, he too, is exposed.

I really hope that Americans have learned their lesson from this mistake. Regardless of color, race, sex, religion or whatever, you elect the person who is best suited to DO THE JOB! I don't know how long it will take our country to recover from this mistake - maybe we never will fully recover. Not only is the CEO of our country incompetent, he has idiots, and I mean idiots, in his inner circle. We are like passengers in a airliner being flown by student pilots at best.

In closing, as much as many of us on the Right have said since 2008 - if you elect this guy, you are going to get a disaster. I hate to say we told you so, but WE TOLD YOU SO! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Slick Willie is a comin' to town!


Hide your wives and daughters! He is coming! He really is coming to our town!

Monica Lewinsky, Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, Juanita Broddrick, Elizabeth Ward Gracen and Dolly Kyle Browning. Whew! What a list! It seems that our 42nd President had and maybe still has a very active libido as well as very low morals. But who cares? Woman on the Left sure don't. They love what our "Slickest President" has done for abortion rights. The fact that a few gals got caught up in proven or alleged affairs or rapes, well, they are just "casualties of war".

On June 9th, our University has Bill Clinton coming to town to address the masses on civil rights. Really? What about the civil rights of the seven women listed above? Some investigative reporters believe there are even more than seven - that our former president could have been a serial philanderer. But who cares? We love our cuddly, lovable former President. After all, he has set up the Clinton Global Initiative. Its motto is "let us turn ideas into action". For that, the Clinton family is now worth over $100M. Not bad for a couple of Arkansas folks who could not even afford a house when serving as Governor of that state.

When Condi Rice spoke at the University (my Alma mater), all hell was about to break loose from the Lefties. How dare she! After all, she was Secretary of State under the hated George Bush! In the end, cooler heads prevailed, and Condi was allowed to speak. Many of the Left are still steaming about it.

Bill Clinton on the other hand, will come into town with the reception of a conquering hero. Our lap dog press will be covering every word, every bite of food, every movement (except we hope, bowel). Let's rewind the tape just for a second and look at the resume of "Darling of the Left":
  • He had an affair with an intern half his age WHILE IN OFFICE and WHILE MARRIED.
  • He lied to his family, to the American people and while under oath. During that time we learned "what the meaning of is, is" and "oral sex is not sex". Many parents had the unpleasant task of explaining what "oral" and "semen" was to their underage children.
  • Because of his lack of veracity, he was impeached by the House. He also lost his law license for a period of time.
  • He did nothing in 1994 when one of the worst genocide of our time took place in Rwanda.
  • After he left office, he was put in charge of ensuring the billions of dollars sent to Haiti were put to use immediately and effectively. Seen Haiti lately? Classic fail.
Compare that resume with that of Condi Rice. Not nearly the same. And yet, one is considered a villain and the other a hero. Classic case of role reversal. I remember when one feminist was asked if she was offended by what happened under the desk in the Oval Office. Her reply was simple - "Given the chance, I would also do that to Bill Clinton - in gratitude for what he has done for abortion rights". Classic and classy.

As for me, I probably won't buy a ticket to see our former President. I will however, keep my wife and daughters hidden until he leaves town.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Climate Panic Attack


"On no! What in the world is going to happened to that cute and cuddly bear?"

Well, it is starting. Every week now, we are getting yet another story on how screwed we all are. Today in our hometown version of Pravda, we found out ALL the fires out west are the direct result of selfish Americans driving huge, unneeded SUVs and trucks around the country side. Even Moonbeam was (again) on the tube Sunday telling the unwashed that the fires are affecting California are the direct result of global warming.

Now that our President has told us the debate on manmade global warming is over, I guess the cooperative media is only going to print or air the "gloom and doom" aspect of our future. According to the propagandists, if you driving a truck or an SUV, you are as guilty as the "old white guys" who illegally took this country from innocent natives, and then went on to oppress women and minorities. As our British friends would say, all this is nothing but "balderdash!"

When I was in high school, we learned about the "dust bowl days". Yes, I did go to school in the era where educators taught facts, and did not worry about "how we felt". The "dust bowl" lasted for a good part of the 1930's. It started in earnest in 1932 and went for six years until 1938. It was a historic drought complicated by the way farming was done in those days. I could only imagine if we had a complex weather event that that today. We would have government mandates to park all internal combustion vehicles and nobody would even be allowed to pass gas.

Were the "dust bowl" days the direct result of manmade global warming? I doubt it, as there were no SUV vehicles back then. However, the energy we used was much dirtier than what we are using today. Cars of today are much, much cleaner burning that the cars of yesteryear. Whereas many people used coal to heat houses or buildings (look at pictures of London from 100 years ago), today most heat with natural gas or fuel oil. Coal that is used in our power plants today, go through high tech "scrubbers" before the effluent is released into the air.

The French came out earlier this month warning we only have 500 more days to turn this beast around, or we are all doomed. Really? First off, many don't still believe the "science" of manmade climate change. There are scientists on both sides of the equation. And many enlightened people REALLY don't believe our President. He was talking about "Cap and Tax" even before he was elected. As a good Progressive, taxing our energy is an excellent way to get scads of additional money into the government coffers. Needless to say, enough on Capitol Hill smelled a rat so "Cap and Tax" died an early death.

As for me, I woke up this morning and saw the weather report for this week. Finally some seasonable warmth rather than more of the global cooling we have been having for the past 8 months. A bit of rain today, followed by severe clear going right up to Memorial Day. No panic attack here - just facts. Everything is green and growing - just as it should be this time of year. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mortgage Woes


"There is nothing more fun that sticking it to the Man!"

I have noticed a new trend in the past few years. More specifically, since the "great crash" which began the now famous "Great Recession". It is simply the will to walk away from a huge financial obligation without any remorse. It has a couple of different names these days - default or "short sale". It is a way for some to think they have really "stuck it to the bank".

Now please let me begin by saying I am no friend of big banks. In fact, my bank for forty years has just pissed me off by charging $10/month for the privilege to keep some money in their vault. No excuse for that kind of money grubbing. However, as sleazy as they may appear in how they do business, I will keep my obligations to them. In other words, with my car loans or the remainder of my mortgage, I will honor them, I will make my payments. My word is my bond.

Banks got into the mortgage business for one reason only - to make money. They don't want your house. However, that is the collateral you put up when you sign a mortgage agreement. If you default, the bank will simply take your house and have you lawfully removed from the property.

A very common misnomer is when people refer to the house they are living in as "their house". In reality, until the last payment is made, the house belongs to the mortgage company, usually a bank. The agreement you sign when you buy a house is that the bank will let you continue living there as long as you make your payments to them. It really is that simple.

A "short sale" is almost as nefarious as a default. Let us suppose someone has a mortgage for $300,000 and for a variety of reasons, the house is now only worth $200,000. A "short sale" is selling the house for $200,000 and then telling the bank "that is it - all you will get". There are actually licensed realtors out there telling people that is now a viable option. My opinion is simply this - telling a bank they need to swallow $100,000 of your obligation is no different than robbing the bank of $100,000. In both cases, the bank is out $100,000.

Some will say, "So what? They can afford it!" That is true in a rare instance. However, if we all walked away from our mortgage responsibilities, our banking system would immediately collapse. We would find ourselves in a deep, deep depression. It would be the end of our lifestyle as we know it.

If you know someone who is considering a default or "short sale", as a friend, as a neighbor, as a fellow citizen, try to talk that person out of it. Regardless of what you hear through the rumor mill, no good thing comes out of this. A default or "short sale" not only hurts the lending institution, it also kills the person's credit score for a long, long time. It changes a lifetime of personal responsibility into one of a deadbeat.

One final thing before I finish. Sometimes, for reasons outside of a person's control, they can no longer make payments on the house. If that person is honest with the bank, and comes forward early enough, most banks will work with that person for a positive resolution. Again, banks don't want to be in the business of home ownership. However, if you intentionally try to screw the bank, remember one thing - banks hire lawyers by the dozens, and many times a person will only screw themselves. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fires out West


"Conflagration - Fire, especially a large and disastrous fire..."

Yesterday my wife and I went up to an event in a town just north of here. We also stopped to see my Mother who is in a care unit close to where the event was to be help. Since we had some lag time, we went over to my oldest daughter's house and let ourselves in (with permission of course). I turned on her TV, and there was Governor Moonbeam being interviewed on CNN. He was very animated and agitated (as he quite often is).

Now I can understand why he was upset. In one county alone close to San Diego, tens of thousands were given a mandatory evacuation order. Many of these people did not know if they would ever see their houses or positions again. Then Moonbeam stepped over the line. "These fires, this drought, this heat wave are all the result of us not doing anything about climate change, about global warming." Then he went on and on to scold the world for what we (collectively) are doing to his state.

Is it hot in California right now? You betcha! Anyone who has spent some time in San Diego knows how ideal the weather can be in that Navy town. Regardless of the time of year, the high temperatures always seem to be stuck in the mid 70's. This past week however, the temps have been in the 90's, often close to 100. For a change, the fine folks in San Diego are getting a shot of extreme weather that most of the country experiences every year.

For many years now, long before the climate alarmists blamed everything on human caused global whatever, we heard about El Nino and La Nina effects on the weather. Simply put, water around the equator stays pretty much the same temp all the time. However, sometimes it is warmer than normal - El Nino. Other times, it is cooler than normal - La Nina. How much precipitation, how warm and how cold in different parts of the country was dependent on this band of water around the equator.

Now I do feel for the good folks in California. What they are going through right now is hell. However, for a long time now, California has done a terrible job in "fuel management". In other words, managing the scrub brush in the hills that when dry enough, becomes very combustible. The result is once you get a prolonged dry spell, humidity levels around 10%, and some unfavorable Santa Anna winds, you have big trouble. In addition, with the tidal shoreline being over 3,000 miles in California, there is plenty of area to build desalination plants to provide additional water to the parched state.

As I have said before, the desert southwest is called "desert" because it is one. The west is by nature an arid part of the country. There is nothing California can do about an upcoming earthquake, but there is quite a bit they can do to quench the thirst of the land and manage the fuel in the hills. Blaming manmade global warming and then doing nothing will not solve the problem.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

For this, heads should roll!


"We need to remember one thing about Veterans - all game some, and some gave all..."

I don't even know where to begin. In recent years, how veterans have been treated by the public has been heart warming. It was not always like this. During and after the Viet Nam War, veterans would often be treated like pariahs. Today however, the pendulum has swung the other way - some vets think maybe even too far. In any event, it is nice to see veterans treated like ordinary citizens who did a little to help their country.

On the other hand, how veterans, as well as active military, are treated by this Administration is nothing less than shameful. Elaine Donnelly (former Reagan and Bush 41 Defense appointee) penned an article last November expressing her concerns on what this Administration is doing to our military. She was not gentle in her article. This Administration has culled the ranks of generals and admirals, leaving only the ones who will abide with stamping a huge "PC" on the military. Secrets of Seal Team Six were exposed to the press, and draconian cuts continued to weaken our forces. Pay remains substandard, and now the long respected military retirement system is under review.

However, if you are a veteran who has served under better times, you are not immune from this crew. This Administration's total disregard for the military has filtered into the VA. Under the leadership of Obama appointee retired US Army General Erik Shinseki, the Veterans Administration now looks more like something in a Gulag than the United States. Corruption, graft, incompetence are rampant.

Because our nation's health care has been dismantled under ObamaCare, many veterans have no other choice but to use what was at one time a vested benefit - VA health care. What started out in Arizona has now spread to a handful of other states. Secret lists, denied care, needless suffering and deaths. It is almost as if this is being done by design. Senior members of Congress have asked that Shinseki resign - so far, he has refused.

What is the end game? Is the Administration trying to make the VA so fouled up that veterans will be driven to the broken ObamaCare system? Some think that might be the case. However, this is having a boomerang effect with others. Looking at how government run health care is handled within the VA might portent to how it will be done under ObamaCare.

My take is very simple. Shinseki should not be asked to resign - rather he should be fired immediately. Sweeping reforms need to be initiated immediately which will "gut the pig" from everything wrong or ineffective. ANYONE who even heard of a "secret list" should be shown the door. By the end of the year, a whole new VA needs to be in place which will be the example of the excellent health care our veterans so richly deserve. Failure to do so Mr. President, will rest solely on you. And you sir, will be held accountable by the millions of deserving veterans who live in this great country.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stressed Out


"Is there an unholy alliance between the Fed and our Treasury? Seems there might be..."
Could you imagine going to the doctor when you knew something was seriously wrong with you and have the doctor tell you anything just to make you feel better? Instead of the truth, and what treatment is needed, the doctor would just blow sunshine at you. As long as you left the doctor's office feeling okay was the important thing - if you were cured or not, did not matter.
Tax cheat (alleged) Timothy Geithner is out with a new book called Stress Test. I have not read the book, but have read bits and pieces of it. It is not a "tell all" book on his former boss (BHO), however, he does blow the (dog) whistle on Senior White House Advisor Dan Pfeiffer. It seems that before a media event, Mr. Pfeiffer advised Timmy not to tell the whole truth about Social Security. As our Treasury Secretary, he was to tell the nation that Social Security does not add to the debt or deficit. By saying that, it would be a "dog whistle" to the union base of the Democrats that the White House was not going to allow the biggest Ponzi Scheme in American history (Social Security), to be tinkered with.
Instead of the doctor telling you to quit smoking and get a chest X-ray, Dr. Geithner was to tell the patient to take two aspirins and call him in the morning. After all, this entire debt and deficit thing was blown way out of proportion by nefarious, panic merchant Republicans. Our Administration has done an excellent job in  sidestepping the tough choices on the mushrooming debt, and only has two more years to play the shell game. I guess when you confirm someone at Treasury who would cheat on his taxes (allegedly), that person will also cheat the American people out of the truth.
So I guess it is up to me to once again tell the truth:
  • Our national debt is $17.5T and climbing. In four years it is estimated to be $20T.
  • Our Social Security liability alone is $17T, and expected to be $20T in four years.
  • In 2008, just before the "changing of the guard", our debt was $10T, with our Social Security liability at $6.7T. Barry has done a great job in watering this plant.
  • The "too big to fail" issue with the banks in 2008 is still with us today. The "3% ratio" of cash or liquid assets on hand that banks had in 2008 is still with us today. Many economists thought the 3% was a trigger which caused the Great Recession. The Fed, along with Treasury has kept us in the risky territory of 3% or less.
  • The total or the Medicare (including Part "D") and Social Security unfunded liabilities is almost $130T. Left untreated, in four years is will be close to $160T. This will kill the economy.
Even though many people I have talked to have been almost giddy at the return on investment they are seeing in the phony stock market, I am still holding up the red flag. Even though Dr. Geithner has told us our nasty cough is just a minor chest cold, we still have a cancer that needs to be dealt with. In 2014 and 2016, we need to change doctors.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our Dilemma with Water


"Is it possible to have this much water and still be thirsty?"

We live in a world of contradictions. We live in a world of constantly changing circumstances. We live in a world which confuses many, including myself.

One of the most confusing topics as of late is water. Do we have enough, too much, or are we running out? There has been a bevy of news stories as of late on the subject of water. Here are just a few:
  • Some climate scientists now say a big part of the Antarctica Ice Shelf is melting and will break completely off in the next two centuries. The effect of this will be a rise in sea levels of up to four feet.
  • Despite a very wet winter and spring, White Bear Lake in the metro area continues to have historically low water levels. Some state hydrologists believe it will not matter how much rain we get, as the cause is a depletion of the aquifers under parts of the Twin Cities.
  • The desert southwest, as well as California, continues to be in the grip of a lengthy heat wave and drought. It was reported this past week that a town in Arizona is on the verge of running out of water.
It is time to separate the fact from the fiction. First off, the surface of this planet is mostly water. 71% to be exact, with over 95% of that being sea water. As it currently exists, this huge amount of water is unusable to humans. However, for decades now, we have had the technology to change sea water into fresh water, and fresh water into potable water. Simply put, baring a catastrophic event like a GRB or massive asteroid hit, the Earth will never run out of water.

I have addressed the state of our aquifers before. Like any other resource, there is a beginning and an end. The aquifers do regenerate, however the rate of replenishment is nowhere near the rate of depletion. Until we come to grips with this problem, we will continue to see shallow wells running dry, lakes shrinking, and massive sink holes appearing. This is a problem which does not need to happen.

With the desert southwest, did I mention the word "desert"? They have been living on borrowed time and a whole lot of luck. The sources of renewable water in the southwest are very limited - when those sources do not produce, and the growth rate continues to be over 3%, well, we can all do the math.

However, right next to the desert southwest is the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. We will soon find out that fresh water is a commodity with a value similar to gold or oil. Without fresh water, a country has very limited potential and opportunity. With abundant fresh water, that can be turned into potable water, a country has the opportunity to thrive.

My belief is in the near future we will see many initiatives to conserve and find new sources of water. There is no easy of cheap way out. Water, like oil, is abundant in America. We have three shores that border oceans. We can have enough water to never, ever worry about the effects of drought on our food supply again. We have enough water to populate the desert southwest to our heart's content. All it takes for this to happen is national will. We have the knowhow, we just need the will. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Texas Hold Em' and Keystone XL


"Only an idiot would think this job creating, energy enhancing project would be bad for America"

Well it had to come down to this. We have done the good, the bad and now the ugly. People, for the most part, are just plain FED UP with the phony politics relating to the Keystone pipeline. This project had broad based support from every clear thinking American, regardless of party. However, our President, who thinks he is STILL on the campaign trail, is acting like a marionette dancing on strings manipulated by the "Greenies".

Well Congress has finally had enough. They have heard the call to "grow a pair" from enough people by now. The Senate in particular, has become the battleground for the Keystone Pipeline. The Senate Minority Leader wants to include the Keystone in the Energy Bill which has all kinds of goodies for the "Greenies". Having the Keystone as part of the bill will put our President in a tough spot - sign the bill, thereby allowing the project to go forward, or veto it, killing the entire bill. Right now it looks like Harry Reid is going to save the President the agony of that tough choice by not allowing the bill to move forward with the Keystone Pipeline included.

So where does that leave John (or Jane) Q. Public? As with most things related to this Administration - in "nowhereville". Washington will be blamed for its dysfunction, Republicans will be blamed for being intransigent, and of course the Koch Brothers will be blamed by Harry Reid - just because they are.

I have never, in all my adult life, seen such timidity shown by people who are supposed to lead us. This is not a tough call - not one bit. The amount of crude being shipped from Canada and North Dakota keeps increasing. That is a fact. Our economy needs plentiful and affordable energy to keep progressing. That is a fact. New, non-petro based fuels are in our future, but are years or decades away from being viable. That is also a fact. The transportation of oil products using rail is more costly and riskier than using pipe lines. And, yes, that is really a fact.

It will be interesting to see how this game of Texas Hold Em' is going to play out in our Emerald City. With President Bystander sitting up in the cheap seats, all the action is going to take place in the Well of the Senate. With the phone and pen close by, our President could put and end this charade by approving the project this morning. However, those marionette strings would have to be loosened up quite a bit to do so. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Unaffordable Options


"Can we afford them? Not really. Do we like them? Some do. Are they trendy? ABSOLUTELY!"

When I went to my last reunion, it really did seem like I graduated from high school so long ago, it was in another lifetime. Now that I have been retired for six years, it is starting to seem the same with my working life. Why do I say that? No matter which company I have worked at, they all had the same goal - sustainability. They would not embark with any new product development or service unless it would eventually be sustainable and make a profit for the company.

Yesterday in our local weekly paper, the guest columnist had an article about how important it was for Betsy and the evil empire (Met Council) to bury the hatchet and get going on the Southwest Light Rail Line. The cost of this thing has gone up like a Roman Candle and continues to do so every month it is delayed. But who cares? It will never be sustainable, it will never pay for itself. Why should be expect anything different? The Hiawatha Line is a loser, the Green Line is expected to be a loser, and the Northstar for sure is a loser.

In the real world that most of us work in, people would be fired for implementing a project that would never break even. The shareholders would expect nothing less. However in the make believe world of government, who cares? If the LRT never breaks even, we will just raise taxes to pay for someone else's ride. In fact, I still doubt any true analysis has taken into consideration the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) costs of any of our train lines. TCO covers ALL costs such as legal, eminent domain, construction, bonding costs, annual maintenance, labor and so on. Usually start up costs are amortized over a period of time for pay back. However, if the project is never expected to operate in the black, this amortization could stretch "to infinity and beyond!"

Back in January of 2012, Dave Osmek penned an Op Ed for the local newspaper and discussed this topic. It was undoubtedly very unpopular with many as it was dripping with facts, and not hyperbole.

"Using the Met Council's 2010 report, the cost of just a single ride on the Hiawatha light rail line is $2.46. Riders pay on $.99 of this cost, leaving almost 60% of the cost to be subsidized by the public. But this is NOT the true cost of an actual ride, as it does not include the 30 year amortized costs of bonding for the build-out of the line. Adding those costs in at a 4% bond interest rate, a single ride actually costs $6.42, which means each ride is subsidized by 85%. If a family of four rides the Hiawatha line to a Twins game, the public is paying a total of $43.36, while the riders are contributing $3.96.

If the Southwest Line ever comes to fruition, the numbers will be even worse. Why? The projected cost of this project are now almost $2B and growing. But who cares? Most in the public are sound asleep when it comes to real costs, and besides all of which - trains are trendy! Since (unlike in business) we never "take the temperature" on projects once they are started, we really have no idea how much municipal projects cost. Stadiums, trains, who cares? It is after all, only money.

The next time I ride the Northstar (if there is a next time), I am tempted to write a letter to the editor thanking the public for their generosity in helping pay for the ride. Actually, it is more than just helping - I will pay so little of the actual cost, I will be a freeloader. All aboard! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

The conundrum of natural gas


"Man, what a future! What could possibly go wrong?"

It does not seem like a month goes by where our proven reserves of natural gas does not go up. Not bad for a substance which at one time was considered a "byproduct" of oil extraction. No, natural gas is one of our golden tickets forward as we enter a new era of energy. Not only do we have enough for us to use for many purposes, we also have enough to sell overseas and thereby reduce our balance of trade.

Please put the Champagne away, as we are not yet ready to pop the corks. Somehow, it seems that Debbie Downer got invited to this party. In another example of the tail wagging the dog, Debbie is not going to let us use and export this precious resource.

First the good news. The usually worthless Department of Energy (DOE) gave its approval in March to build a new terminal in Jordon Cove, Oregon to liquefy and export natural gas. This is the sixth (DOE) approval to build a new facility in the past year. That is great, as without terminals such as these, we can pump all the gas we want, and only a small faction would be able to be exported.

Now the bad news. Debbie Downer and her greenie friends have vowed to lock up each of these DOE approved sites in the courts for years. Why? You know, the usual suspect - global warming (or whatever it is called these days). Some might say, "Wait a second! I thought natural gas was better for the environment than coal or oil!" True - but compared to bird killing wind machines which produce practically nothing, natural gas still produces some carbon. AND LET US NOT FORGET ABOUT THE EVIL FRACKING!!! That damn sand which has allowed this great nation to energy independent. 

So, Mr. "I have a pen and I have a phone" - get off your posterior and get your greenies in line. If we are trying to teach Vladimir a lesson, he must be laughing in his borsch right now. We can't just vote "present" on this issue - we need to get these terminals approved and shovel ready by summer.

I have never seen a government so tied up in knots as this one is. A deer in the headlights on all major issues. This issue is a no brainer. Mr. President, grow a pair, and do the right thing. Our allies in Europe are looking for a Marshall Plan type solution, not slogans like hope and change. Here is your chance Mr. President to be a game changer - don't let your loony base allow you to be gamed instead.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

You can't make this stuff up!


"If only he could just be graded on his vacations and campaigning, history would be very kind to him..."

As a good friend of mine will say from time to time, "God love him, he is one of ours!" Well, that is almost true with our 44th President. I will agree with the "God love him" part - and that is where it ends. He is not part of any circle I run with. He is however, an interesting study. If not for putting the future of our country in jeopardy, he would be an interesting case study to observe.

He is rumored to be a very smart man. That may be true, but I don't believe him to be very bright. As an example, yesterday our Campaigner in Chief was on the Left Coast, playing to his "Holly weird" base. Tickets were cheap to get in to see him - $10,000 per person and up, depending on how much of VIP status you wanted. What was the theme of his speech? Inequality. I kid you not. In a room full of members of the "One Percent Club".  As my wife will commonly say, "You just can't make this stuff up!"

As things start to heat up with the Benghazi and IRS hearings, one would think the CEO of this mess would be interested in getting to the bottom of these scandals. If he had studied history while getting his Community Organizer degree, he would know that every Administration which had a scandal, carried it into the history books. Watergate, Whitewater, Iran-Contra and so on. This President has a half dozen or so.

The group Judicial Watch came up with an interesting story at the beginning of the week. As we are constantly chided and schooled on the "gross inequality of income" in this country, our President and Vice President have racked up a hefty sum in vacation expenses. Golf outings, overseas trips, Hawaii, golf outings, and so on. While many of us working stiffs are just trying to hold on, our royal families have spent over $40,000,000 on vacations alone since 2009. No kidding. You just can't make this stuff up!

Here is the real kicker. Once again, our royalty have once again taken the "One Percent Bogyman" out of the closet to stir up some resentment with the masses. Just as a refresher on how much money one needs to make to be in that illusive club, it was $390,000 in 2011. The President fits nicely into this club, with a net worth of over $12,000,000 and climbing. Smokin' Joe on the other hand, not quite. Nobody really seems to know what he has done with all his money, since his net worth is only $500,000. He has been in Congress since 1973, and made a tidy sum ever since. We know he does not give his money to charity, as his tax returns show less than $400/year in charitable deductions.

As for the rest of us, we will continue to look on in awe on how our nation has gone from riches to debt. One needs to look no further than the rulers of our Emerald City. One figured out how to game the system and has become quite wealthy. The other spends money like a drunken sailor and does not have a pot to pee in. One more time, you just can't make this stuff up!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Slave Girls


"There has to be something the world can do about this - something the UN can do..."

By now, most of us have seen on the news or read in the print media what is happening in Nigeria. Parts of the story are so unbelievable that I am tempted to pinch myself to ensure I am living in 2014. Boko Haram, a group which has recently been branded as "terrorists" by our State Department, has kidnapped almost 300 young girls. When you hear the reason why, you will understand where the real war on women is being fought.

Unlike what you have heard from Sandra Flock and the willing news media, the real "war on women" has nothing to do with free birth control pills. It has everything to do with human trafficking and the marginalization of a people. The "sin" these young girls committed was very basic to Boko Haram - they were educated in western schools. To some in Islam, that is a violation of Sharia Law. To "save" these girls, Boko Haram took these girls and is threatening to sell them into slavery. Sell them into marriage, even though some are as young as 9.

Is there anything we can do, other than be spectators to a slowing developing tragedy such as this? I have said this before, as sad as it seems, we really do need a global "policeman" to protect and serve the world's innocents. The United Nations is powerless to do anything about bullies who kill worshipping Christians and kidnap young girls while attending school.

It can't be us. Nope. Even though at one time we helped keep the world safe, it can't be us. Even after removing a brutal and horrendous dictator in Iraq, our Lefties are still bitter about that war. How bitter? Students and Commie professors at Rutgers would not even let an accomplished woman like Condi Rice speak at a commencement. Nope - America, who was once looked upon as the global peacekeeper, is now relegated to the role of spectator like many other countries.

One day I am hopeful the world will wake up and fix or replace the United Nations. Like many cities needing a strong police force to keep the peace, the world does also. The function of the UN is not to dream up utopian nightmares like Agenda 21 - it is to live up its charter and prevent the world from devolving into another world wide conflict or genocide. Until that happens, all we can tell the growing number of Boko Haram victims is two words - good luck. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our "Livable" Wage


"Can all this money make this better? I sure hope so!"

My first job in the sixties was like many other in that day. I was paid a dollar an hour to bus dishes at a restaurant. When I worked a few hours at the YMCA, my pay was 85 cents an hour. When the new Montgomery Wards store opened up in town, I felt rich as I was able to negotiate $1.25 an hour. This was all fine and good as I was still in high school, living with Mom and Dad, and any money I made was all disposable.

As of late, our imperial President (who just happens to live more lavishly than Henry the Eighth), has been chiding the country for wage inequality. It is simply not fair! Thus, his minions in the Senate, as well as many state houses in various parts of the country, have set a course to right this egregious wrong. Old terms such as "minimum wage" are quickly being supplanted with new ones like "livable wage".

How bad has it gotten? One fine Progressive law maker in California recently said the "livable wage" needs to be $26/hour just in California. Why just in California? Well, you know - due to excessive regulations, the state is very expensive to live in. $26/hour, or $54,000/year will allow you to just squeak by in the Golden State.

In 2012, the median annual income for a family of four was $65,000. If California did pass a law which would establish a "floor" for wages at $54,000, what do you think would happen to jobs that required skills and training? Bingo! All wages would start to spike up. The pool of money to be paid in wages however, would remain static. Some economists have estimated that even a "floor" wage of $10.10/hour (as our President wants) would shrink the labor force by another 500,000 people.

The question which begs to be asked of the "wizards of smart" in Washington is simply this - with our labor participation percentage at historic lows, with almost 92,000,000 people out of the work force, why in the world would we want to tinker with a system that has worked well for decades? The minimum wage was NEVER intended to be a livable wage - it was only a starting point for kids or unskilled workers. Today however, many seem to think a 'livable wage" (like health care) is a right which should be woven into our Bill of Rights.

In the next few weeks or months when the sophism and hyperbole really starts to flow, remember one basic rule of physics as well as economics - "you can't make something out of nothing". In other words, the variable in the equation will be the number of people working. Once we artificially mess with wages, the number of people working will have to go down. It really is as simple as that.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Mess with VA Healthcare


"If what this woman, this Director of the Phoenix VA is true, we need to bring back tar and feathers!"

A news story broke last week which received very little press. Not that it was wasn't important - in this Alinsky type environment, where events are being stacked up like cord wood, it just did make that big of a splash. However, it should have.

It concerns our latest group of disenfranchised citizens - our veterans. Specifically, our veterans who are in need of health care. And why should it matter? First and foremost, there was a covenant between our government and each man or woman who served in the Armed Forces. And that covenant was simply this - serve this county honorably, and after discharge the Veterans Administration may be used for a variety of services, including health care.

Sharon Helman, who is the Director of the VA Health care Systems in Phoenix, AZ, has been placed on administrative (paid) leave. Why? It seems that the VA system had once again been "gamed", resulting in the unnecessary death of over 40 vets. The allegation is there was a "secret wait list" which falsified the urgency of why these deserving vets needed medical attention. Rather than being left wounded on a battlefield, our government left them to die awaiting medical help.

Is this a big story? Damn right it is! As a vet, as an American, it makes my blood boil. For many vets today, the VA is their only option. It should have the finest medical treatment in the country. Instead it continues to be plagued with problems. For many of us, we look at what has happened to VA medical care, and all we can see is ObamaCare. The future of our medical care is unfolding in front of our eyes.

I know all the hearings and committees in Washington are important right now. I can only hope what has happened in Phoenix will result in not only punishment for the guilty, but significant change to protect our innocent and deserving vets. Most vets I know ask very little of their country - only to keep the promises which were made to them so long ago.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Two Fathers


"My Dad, now there is a man!"

We had yet another close call this week. A real tragedy averted by mostly luck. And this one would have happened right in our back yard, in Waseca. Some refer to these Columbine type massacres as "copycat" - I think there is something more.

When I was going through school, things like Columbine were unthinkable - they never happened. There was evil in those days - however, there was also an abundance of good to counter balance it. Today, we have numerous broken homes made up of broken families. How broken? Almost 50% of all families have gone through a separation or divorce. In addition, the out-of-wedlock percentage of births as of 2012 is a staggering 40%! In the African-American community it is ever higher - 72%!

Unlike 40 or 50 years ago, our country is awash in single parent homes. Statistics have shown over and over again, the propensity for a family to experience poverty goes up dramatically if only one parent is involved in child rearing. Some single parent families do escape poverty, and they should be commended. It is not an easy journey. However, many more fall into the trap of poverty and the problems that are associated with it.

However, putting poverty aside, there is something to be said about the structure of the two parent family. Both parents have certain roles in teaching and mentoring. Not one is more important than the other. When the father is taken out of the home, the role of both mother and father falls on the mother. It makes the job of the mother more than twice as difficult as one role is natural for her and the other is not.

As important as having the father in the home is, my belief is our real problems started when we took our Heavenly Father out of our schools. We are traveling down the road of secularizing everything, starting with our school system. We are changing our Constitution to read "freedom from religion" instead of "freedom of religion". There is so much more to be said on this issue, but that is a topic for another day.

The two fathers. Both important, and by design, a big part of how we turn out. We need to welcome God back into our schools. We need to get back to how the family was supposed to be structured. Mom, Dad and the kids. We need to go to church on Sundays and remember that it is our Heavenly Father who put this all in motion in the first place. God knew what He was doing when He set up the structure of the family. It is clearly defined in the Bible. Maybe if we listened to, and followed His Word more closely, evil would not have the stronghold it does today.