Monday, June 30, 2014

My Primary Frustration


"United we will stand and win; divided we will fall (again)..."

Today is the last day of June, and what a whirlwind of a month this has been. The convention was barely over in Rochester when the first minutes of June arrived. I really thought the hard work, the long hours, the many ballots we took in Rochester meant something. It seems that I was wrong.

During this month, I have been to numerous political events, fundraisers, parades, and so on. I made one thing a practice since the get-go - I will only support endorsed candidates. Two of the people who are running in the August primary I have never talked to. Not that they have to me - I was a delegate to the convention and talked (some many times) to each of the endorsed candidates. Here however, is the irony. The endorsed candidates for governor and United States Senate were not my first choices. In fact, the person for senate I supported made it to the 9th ballot. I was with him until he conceded. When both the people I supported for governor and senate conceded, they threw their support to the endorsed candidates. The way I was raised, that is how it is suppose to be.

The President was here last week. It was some B.S. cover story for a trip. In reality it was a stump speech and a fund raiser. When some pundit on the national news was talking about the trip, he said "Well Minnesota is very friendly territory for the President." Yes it is. Look around folks. We have gone from light red to purple to light blue. If we don't turn this thing around, we will end up being dark blue like California or New York. In those two states, Republicans have gone the way of the Dodo Bird.

So, tonight we are going to yet one more political event. Why? So our endorsed candidate for governor can raise some more money to fight off other non-endorsed Republican candidates in this superfluous August primary. What a waste. I will say this for the endorsed candidates - as they are taking fire from folks in our own party, they are still focused like laser beams on the DFL. We have a huge hill to climb before November. We are up against the Minnesota DFL machine and all the promised candy that goes with it. I have said before, all that true Republicans can offer is freedom; Democrats promise everything up to and including the kitchen sink.

Now I am not a lemming nor a groupie. I have vetted each of our candidates, asked the tough questions, as well as the non-political ones. I like to get to know the person as well as his or her political views. What I learned in Rochester is simple - we have great bench strength this year. Many, many qualified candidates. Most who were running put up the good fight. However the dance is over - the winners have been selected. It is time to gather and garner our resources to go after the real enemy - out of control taxes and government growth supported by the DFL.

I know some will disagree with this post. Sorry about that. This is the way I feel. Fighting more battles when the war has been won is a waste of ammunition. As for me, my sights are set on November. I could give a rat's butt about August. My power is being kept dry, and my tongue civil. At my house, the 11th commandment is etched in stone.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

67 Years Ago....


"This was either the greatest hoax, the greatest cover up, or the greatest discovery of all time..."
Many people think that July 8, 1947 ushered in the "golden age" of the UFO. Close, but not quite. First off, UFOs have been documented going back centuries. However, in the recent past, the sightings have been increasing at an increasing rate. As has been said many times, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. This tale from Roswell, be it real or be it fiction, has all the ingredients of a first class thriller.
Actually, the sightings over America really starting to occur with increasing regularity after Trinity. Trinity was the first atomic test conducted at White Sands testing facility in New Mexico. Some believe the energy released from Trinity was like a beacon for interested ETs who just happened to be close to our "neighborhood".
Whatever these UFOs are, they seem to be attracted to our fascination with war. We have documentation of UFOs in Europe and the Pacific tailing our fighters and bombers. The pilots referred to them as Foo Fighters. They were amazingly fast and nimble. Our best fighters were as slow as molasses compared to the Foo Fighters. Nobody ever figured out what they were, so they just became a part of the history and mysteries of the past.

However, the thing that really got the press talking just before the Roswell incident happened in the State of Washington. On June 24, 1947, a very experienced private pilot named Kenneth Arnold made a historic discovery. It became the first significant sighting of UFOs over America in modern times. While on a flight by Mount Rainier, Arnold saw a string of nine shiny objects flying at a high rate of speed. Using his piloting experience, he estimated their speed to be an amazing 1,200 mph. In addition, they did not fly like planes - rather they resembled "saucers skipping" in the sky. Thus was coined the name "flying saucers".

A few weeks after the Arnold discovery, we might have had the greatest "who done it" in our military's history. Near the town of Roswell, New Mexico (not that far from where the Trinity test occurred), a man named William Brazel noticed some odd looking debris on the Foster homestead, where he worked. The authorities were notified and law enforcement as well as the Army came out to investigate and collect the debris. I won't go into the entire story, as by now we all know it fairly well. However, I will say this - there seems to be enough "smoke" to this story that investigators are still looking for "fire", even today.

The story gets very interesting after the discovery. Conspiracy theorists had a field day with the alleged Army "switcheroo" with the debris found and some used up weather balloons. Area 51, Wright Patterson AFB, MJ 12, all became part of the jargon of UFO
enthusiasts. It has been said by more than one person, the Roswell incident was either the greatest hoax, the greatest cover up, or the greatest discovery of all time.

Was it real? Was it a hoax? Was there a cover up? Are we getting ready to have "disclosure" by our government? Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stranded with a car


"If I listened to the Met Council, this is how I would treat my car..."

This is a milestone year for my wife and I. First off, we celebrated our 40th anniversary this month. Next month will mark our 30th anniversary in our house and living in the town we do. At the end of the year, I become an official "senior citizen" and will be covered by Medicare (hopefully not ObamaCare).

What I have been thinking about as of late is the 30 years we have lived in this town. I was a long distance commuter for a good part of that 30 years. Traveling to Bloomington, to Fridley, to Minneapolis and to St. Paul. All places I needed to go to earn a paycheck. Then I think back on how our little town has grown up. The population is now over 30,000, and it is the quintessential "bedroom community".

Everything has changed and evolved in our town except for one thing - transportation. If I was still working, my primary and only mode of transportation would be my car. Period. Now I can drive to a neighboring community that has a "Park and Ride" and use mass transit - however, if I did not own a car, I would be out of luck in getting there.

The Met Council, who has hijacked every part of community life from sewers, to water, to transportation, to housing, to "groupthink", receives a "classic fail" for how they have not infused mass transit in our community. Oh, years ago I head the rumors this was punishment for our sleepy little village not allowing more high density housing to be built. When I first heard that, I thought it was utter nonsense. However, the more I learn about how the unelected, unregulated Met Council works, it surprises me not.

So here we sit, in the middle of Shangri-La, except for transportation. Heck, we don't even have bike trails up where we live. I always chuckle when once or twice a year we hear "Leave your car at home day. Use a bus, run, walk or bike to work." Most places I worked would have been a one or two day journey by foot. We are stranded, stranded with a car.

When we sell this house and move somewhere else, my bet is the transportation will still be the same. It is okay with me however, as I like driving my car or truck. I just don't want to be harassed by Big Brother as I have had, and still have, no other options.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Mariel Boatlift (Take Two)


"And who said that history does not repeat itself?"

Ah - I remember it well. Just like it was yesterday. Our current President's mentor, Jimmy Carter, had his own immigration nightmare. As with Barrack Obama, this immigration experiment went horribly wrong. In 1980, an economic downturn led many Cubans to believe they should exit their island paradise. In an act of extraordinary "kindness", word got out to the United States that Fidel was going to let anyone emigrate from Cuba who desired to do so. From April to October of 1980, up to 125,000 Cubans made the treacherous journey from Cuba to Florida, in everything from old boats to floating rafts.

Wow! That almost sounds like the Israeli exodus that Leon Uris talked about in his famous book. Not quite. We soon find out that good old Fidel played Jimmy Carter like a sweet Georgia fiddle. This was an excellent opportunity for Castro to get rid of an expensive problem that was dragging down his economy. He emptied out his prisons and mental institutions. These immigrants, who once they reached out soil, became almost instant citizens. They were now our problem.

Flash forward to today. Our current version of Jimmy Carter has (allegedly) put the word out to people in Central America that our "Dream Act" will allow children to get an instant free pass into the land of free stuff. And because we cannot have these kids living without their parents, phase two will be to get their folks here seeking the same instant free pass.

The good deal obviously was too good of a deal. It is estimated that 250 young folks are coming across the border now in everything from crowded trains to cargo transported by a drug mule. It has turned into a world class humanitarian mess. Our southern border has turned into a gargantuan day care for thousands of children from many different countries south of here. Our Administration who appears to be "shocked" at the further decay of our "broken immigration system", is very dirty in this entire issue. However, it appears that Dr. Frankenstein has created an immigration monster.

Because of the 35 or so other things that come our way every day now, this huge catastrophe is not getting the press it should be. It will take months, maybe years to get this all sorted out. And the expense will not be trivial. Disease, poverty and gangs are part of the uninvited guests that are also present with this exodus from the south.

So here we are. A deja vu back to 1980. Only the Mariel Boatlift will look like child's play when this mess is finally said and done.   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Who is the Candyman?


"Years ago, the promise was two chickens in every pot. Today it is just candy, lots and lots of candy!"

There is an old saying. One of the main differences between a Conservative and a Progressive is simply this: When someone desires to become an American, a Progressive will promise that person free stuff; the Conservative will only promise freedom.

I was reminded of that as we watch the human tragedy unfold on our southern border. It is a mess of historic dimensions. As I was watching one of the news shows, someone on the panel asked why the Administration would have (allegedly) sent the word out that kids could freely come into this country. Thank you, Dream Act. Another person on the panel responded by saying the proof is solid and irrefutable. Many immigrants when they first enter the country vote for the "Candyman". In other words, after Progressives have filled newly arrived immigrants with promises of "free stuff", they vote Democratic. Instant surge in voting numbers.

Here are the facts plain and simple from where I sit. We have had an immigration system for many years now, going back to Ellis Island. Many people have used the system to become American citizens. My great grandparents did. IT IS NOT BROKEN! The fact we have millions in this country right now illegally does not mean anything is broken, other than our border security. We have quotas and a procedure for immigration in this country for a good reason. To not have it, to have "open borders to everyone", would swamp the boat - it would ruin the country.

The fact the Administration (allegedly) is using small children in this latest assault on our borders is not lost on me. "Oh, how in the world can you turn away small children? That is not what America is all about!" Yes, I can read the stitches on this fast ball. Meanwhile, these small children who somehow traveled here hundreds of miles without parents, are overwhelming our social services network on the border. Ergo, the Administration is busing them all over the country.

Unfortunately, along with the children come gang members and diseases, some of which we have not seen for years. Some are even incurable. Is this what we want for our country? Is this part of the "unmaking of America" our President wants? Hope and change? This is like watching a bad movie and anxiously waiting for it to end so we can go home. But we can't - this is not a movie. This is real, and it is very, very dangerous.

So here we sit, in the middle of the "land of nothing going right", with one more issue brought on by the "gang who can't shoot straight". How this will end on the southern border, I don't know. All I know is this - as we would say at one of my former companies, "This is a huge mucking fess!"  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014



"What Eric Holder did in the waning days of the Clinton Administration was unforgivable..."

I know, I know. They all do it. That is true. However, it does not make it right. When then FEMA Director Brown (under Bush 43) was outed after Hurricane Katrina as not being qualified for the job, I really thought things might start to change. But they did not. In this Administration, we have and had some world class boobs get appointed to jobs they are totally unqualified for. And if we don't stop this practice, it will continue on into the next Administration.

In the final days of the Clinton Administration, one of the most egregious examples of cronyism was the unwarranted pardon of fugitive and massive Democratic donor, Marc Rich. This case stunk to high heaven, but so what. President Clinton was loyal to those who ponied up tons of cash for his political ambitions. So the Deputy Attorney General, Eric Holder, was instructed to craft a pardon for this criminal. Really? What ever happened to the rule of law in our country?

In 1999, Holder also engineered the clemency deal for sixteen FALN terrorists. This was even worse than the Marc Rich deal. One would think that after this example on how Holder views our justice system, we would be finished working in the Department of Justice. Nope. In comes Barrack Hussein Obama and picks Holder to head up DOJ. The six years that followed have been total mayhem at DOJ. Absolute cronyism at its worst.

The Obama Cabinet is stacked with people unfit for their assigned jobs. Sebelius at HHS, Shinseki at the VA, Koskinen at the IRS just to name a few. And let us not forget Lois Lerner at the IRS and Marie Harf at State. Lerner was a "hit (wo)man" at the Federal Election Commission with a reputation of going after faith based groups and right wing organizations. That bias led her to be hired at the IRS and, well, the rest is history. By the way, Ms. Lerner is now retired and her government pension could top $100k/year. Not a bad deal for someone with her track record.

The question always comes up, "Why don't people trust the government anymore?" This is why. People are put in high places because of paybacks. Some are monetary, others are ideological. Regardless, it is all cronyism. As I said, both sides of the aisle are guilty. It is time to clean the kitchen, time to clean out the cabinet. No more cronyism, no more ineptitude, no more graft. We deserve better. The country deserves better. The fall clean up starts in 2014. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hey! What about the economy? (Take #2)


"President Bystander has done an excellent job in changing the topic and putting fuzz on the economic radar..."

He has done it again. Those old Cloward and Piven tricks of overloading the news cycle has worked flawlessly. With our attention being diffused on a multitude of issues like Iraq, the IRS, NSA, and on and on and on, we forgot about the economy. Well, it still sucks.

In the paper today, there was an article about one sliver of the workforce which is in trouble. It is middle aged women who leave the workforce to do things like parent care, and then have trouble getting back in the workforce. It adds to our dismal workforce participation rate. That led me to think - how are we doing with our economy right now? Some analysis was needed to see how the summer of 2014 was faring.

Some economic bullet points:
  • Our GDP looked like it might finally be healing in the 3rd quarter of 2013. It was up 4.1%. It was less in the 4th quarter of 2013 and then in the 1st quarter of 2014 it started to tank, and contracted 2.9%. That is a drop of 7% from the 3rd quarter of 2013!
  • Jobs continue to be a huge bugaboo. Forget the U3 unemployment rate which is published every month. It means absolutely nothing. The two metrics which really mean something are workplace participation and median income.
  • Our workplace participation continues to be at historic lows. In fact, right now it is as low as it has been since 1978 - the regime of Jimmy Carter. The percentage is about the same (62.8%), but because we have considerably more people than in 1978, our actual number is higher. How high? 92,000,000 people out of the workforce.
  • How is that paycheck doing? When our President took office, the median annual income was $55,438. Today it is $51,404. If you feel broker these days, you should, because you are. ALL honest economists are saying the same thing - jobs lost and jobs gained are dissimilar in wages and benefits. Duh!
  • With 47,000,000 (20% of the country) on some kind of food assistance, what is going to happen with the recent price increases in certain food items? My guess is this $80,000,000,000 program will get even more expensive. Where will the money come from? The Fed of course, running their printing presses.
  • One final thing. No matter how much revenue the government takes in, we still find ways to spend more than that number. Our national debt, which NOBODY in Washington wants to talk about anymore, continues to grow. As of this post, our national debt is $17.55T. Our unfunded liabilities are $124.715T. Oh well, and the band plays on.
Well there we are. As we close in on the finish of the second quarter of this year, our economic malaise continues. After living through the Jimmy Carter term, I am definitely feeling the deja vu all over again.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Your Government at Work...


"If he had told Congress the e-mails had been stolen by a UFO, it might have been more credible"...

There is an old saying. "The government is so screwed up, it can't even screw in a light bulb." That goes back to yesteryear when our government was just plain incompetent. Trust me, for twenty-five years I worked for (in the service) or with (as a contractor) the Federal Government. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly - mostly the ugly.

Today however, our Federal Government goes one step beyond incompetence - it is now evil in many of the things it does. If not evil, it sure gives the impression that it is. Perhaps the most vile thing our Federal Government has done is to unleash the awesome power of the IRS on citizens who have a different world view than the Administration.

It really is difficult to choose which assault on our freedom offends me more - the IRS targeting of citizens, or the NSA illegally snooping on us. They are both the type of government overreach our Framers warned us about when the country was founded.

Last week when John Koskinen testified in front of Congress, I thought it was a text book example of what has happened to our country. For this man, who appeared smug and arrogant, to perpetuate this absolutely incredible fabrication of what happened to Lois Lerner's e-mails, was jaw dropping. The tale got so incredible, so unbelievable, that the usually very calm and professional Paul Ryan looked him square in the eye and said, "I don't believe you". In common man's speak, Ryan called this man a bald face liar.

Is this what we now expect from our Federal Government? When questions are asked the attitude is "move along - nothing here to see." When in the world did the tail start wagging the dog? They work for us! They are accountable to us! A President who was presidential would have fired Koskinen five minutes after his Congressional appearance. Congress is not just a bunch of second class citizens - they are a separate, yet equal part of the government. They have oversight responsibilities. I, like many other citizens, are sick and tired of this shell game played every time questions are asked about how and why our Constitution is being trashed. These are REAL scandals - not "phony" like the lap dogs want us to believe!

So how do we reign in our government? How do we get back to what the Framers had in mind for a Representative Democracy? How do we get our country back? First off, abolish the IRS. Not in the next decade, not next year, NOW! It has outlived its usefulness. It is an organization whose powers reach far beyond its enumerated ones. We can still have adequate tax collections through Treasury using a simple and fair flat tax. Our tax code is so complicated, even the most professional auditors have trouble understanding it. It needs to be replaced with a 10 page document at the longest.

Next, when Congress calls someone from the Admiration to testify in front of them, adequate answers must be given. Pleading the fifth, lying, or playing "whack-a-mole" is not going to cut it anymore. Anyone doing this in front of Congress will be terminated immediately. Period. No excuses, no politics. We absolutely need to get trust back into our government. There is a reason why some parts of the government have approval ratings lower than Jack the Ripper.

Finally, there is this to consider. I am old enough to remember Watergate. I lived through it. Nixon resigned before he was fired. He was dirty and the evidence showed it. However, the Second Article of Impeachment was for directing the IRS to target his political enemies. The IRS refused to do so, but the evidence showed he still tried to make it happen. Today, the IRS did target political enemies of the President. Why in the world have we not started impeachment procedures? If the evidence is not there, fine. We move on. However, if it is there, this is a high crime against the nation. The President should then resign or be fired.

No more lies. No more deceit. No more trashing our Constitution. We need our country back from those who have hijacked it. November cannot come soon enough.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Do Something!


"Commission and Omission have become evil twins..."

In his new song "Do something", Matthew West tells the story of a young man who is so frustrated with the inhumanity and injustices in the world, he raises his fist and shakes it at God. "Why don't you do something?", the young man yells. God replies, "I did - I made you."

The message here is really quite simple. We were all wonderfully and fearfully made in the image of the Almighty. We have been given the chance to be saved from a sinful life and a broken world through the gift of God's only son. However, once Jesus ascended into Heaven, we are it. We are Plan "A", Plan "B", and Plan "C". There are no other plans. The church of Christ, which is the bride of Christ, is it. If something needs to be done, it is up to us.

Today in the paper, columnist David Brooks talks of an Iraq possibly going down a death spiral similar to what happened to Rwanda in 1994. Many of us only know of a fraction of the horrors that happened to Rwanda during its civil war. Hundreds of thousands were killed or maimed. It truly was hell on Earth.

In The Cost of Discipleship, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil - God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."

I believe what Dr. Bonhoeffer was telling us is quite simple. Whereas many believe there is a wide gap between commission and omission, God believes there is not. Amelioration of suffering through war, through famine, through genocide, or any other kind of human suffering, is a mandate to us all. It is not an option to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. Again, per Matthew West, we need to "Do something!"

You might think, "What can I possibly do?" The answer is quite simple, actually. We can all something, if it is very large, or extremely small. There are countless opportunities to help those in need in our community, in our country, in the world. Gifts of time, talent, or treasures are always needed and welcomed. If you ask God for guidance on this most important question, His still voice will speak to your heart. You will know what to do.

We do live in a broken world. Evil is real, and haunts us every day. Until Christ returns, it is up to us to be not only His hands and feet, but also His voice. If your church has turned into a social club, speak out, get them in the game. The church, and everyone in it, needs to be actively involved. It is time to get going. The time is long overdue for each of us to get off the sidelines and "Do something!"


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Days of future passed...


You’re here today, no future fears - This day will last, a thousand years
Moody Blues
Dawn is a Feeling

Today is our 40th wedding anniversary. That is four decades of time. It is a time of celebration, reflection, and memories. It is also a time to realize how much things have changed, the events that have happened in those 40 years.

40 years ago when we stepped up to the alter, the country was still at war - Viet Nam. Even though the war was winding down and our exit seemed certain, technically we were still involved. Today, we are still at war. In a different part of the world, with a different enemy, both seen and unseen. But we are still at war.

40 years ago the country was in the grips of a failed Presidency. It was the month before the historic first article of impeachment was filed. It was not long thereafter that Richard Nixon resigned his Presidency and Gerald Ford was sworn in. Today, we are in the grips of another failed Presidency. Articles of impeachment have not yet been filed, however the number of White House scandals being investigated are unprecedented in modern history.

40 years ago the economy was about ready to go into the tank. Inflation was going from almost 9% to 12% on our wedding day. Dark economic clouds were starting to gather. Shortly after we got married, the one time worst President in our history was sworn in - Jimmy Carter. The economy almost died. Today, we are living in a different kind of economic malaise. Our soon to be worst President in modern times is leading us down the path of economic ruin. With the Fed ruling the day with cheap, almost worthless money, the days of inflation, maybe hyper inflation, cannot be far away.

When I look at the landscape, I see this - much has changed in four decades and yet much has not. We have not learned. We still come under the spell of charlatans and snake oil salesmen. We find catchy slogans alluring. We don't know how to balance our national checkbook. And, we don't know how to fight a war to win. Fighting to a draw is like losing.

But to my wife, I wish a very happy anniversary. As sad as some things are in the country, my love for her, my time with her, is priceless. A song which was played at our wedding was "God's time is best" - and it was indeed.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The reality of our shiny new toy


"Can we afford these things? Not really, but who cares? They look pretty and shiny!"

Of all the shiny new toys were have today, we seem to like trains the best. Why? The answer really escapes me. If trains were truly the better mousetrap to solve our traffic problems, the allure of the choo choo might be more logical. But they are not. After we have built three lines (blue line, green line and Northstar), reality is now settling in. All the promises we received from the central planners have not come to fruition. In fact, trains have proven to be lemons.

Some might stop reading right now and think the old Bird is on one of his favorite rants once again. Just because I am conservative, I hate trains. Au contraire Mon frere! I love trains where they make sense. Yesterday, one of our proudest liberals, a man who lived and served in Minnesota's CD5, weighed in on the newest shiny toy - the SWLRT.

Knowing Martin Sabo, and how liberal he is, one would think he was lock step in line with the other loons who really want this $2B boondoggle. Nope! He came out dead set against it. In a rare act of being totally honest with the masses, Martin said, "For $2B what you are getting is only a marginal improvement in transportation, and is not worth the investment." Knock me over with a feather! Rather than come up with a pack of lies like the Met Council often does, Martin told the truth. It is a boondoggle.

I remember back in the day when the planners talked about why we needed Northstar. Back then of course, it was to be the wonder line going from St. Cloud down to the Target Field station. Those tens of thousands of people who live in St. Cloud and work in Minneapolis would now be able to leave their cars at home and be whisked off to work in this wonderful train. Highway 10 would then become a very easy commute for the rest of us with all those cars off the roads. What a pile of crap.

Here are the facts about the Northstar:
  • Never did make to St. Cloud as the money ran out for transit hubs. Good thing too.
  • Highway 10 is just as messed up as it always has been, maybe even more so.
  • Every ride taken since inception has been subsidized by the tax payer. And it will be so until the train is sunsetted.
  • It does however, look pretty and shiny!
The bottom line is this - beware of the snake oil sales that take place within the Met Council. We need better roads to handle our increasing traffic. Most people live in one burb and work in another. Fewer people are working downtown, as high costs in the Twin Cities keep driving our companies to locations elsewhere.

So as the visions of more LRT dance around in Euphorian heads, some are still hopeful we can build the "Mother of all lemons" - the Northern Lights Express. Thank goodness the county I live in long ago pulled any financial support away from this thing. No, we need to take a long, hard look at the three trains we already have and ascertain if they are worth the investment. If the answer comes up "NO", as I know it will, we should stop. Take the $2B for SWLRT and use it to improve the 494/694 beltway. Take the money for NLX and improve I-35 heading north to Duluth. In other words, lets us start taking our transit money and doing things that make sense!

A shiny penny found in the street is still only a penny. We can no longer afford to be fooled by appearances and promises. We need people to govern us who are based in reality and know how to get the best bang for the buck. We need honest solutions to real problems. We need to eschew trains now and forever, and focus on our real transit problem - not enough good roads.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The dog and the homework...

"Really? It did not work well in 5th grade, so I am sure it will not work now!"

Someone in the media has dubbed the Lois Lerner IRS scandal as, "The dog who ate my homework scandal." Everyday that moniker seems to fit better and better. There is a delicious irony that the organization who never takes "I lost it" an excuse when requesting audit material, ends up losing two years worth of damning e-mail. However, it was only the damning e-mail - the other spam, ads and so on seems to be intact.

Someone needs to send an e-mail to the Administration with a copy to the IRS reminding them that WE ARE NOT STUPID! If you talk to any forensic scientist, they will tell you no matter how careful the crime, there is always some shred of evidence left over. E-mails, once released into the Ethernet, are always traceable. Everyone one of those missing e-mails will be found - that is unless, we let the government do it. It does not matter the computers and hard drives have been destroyed ("recycled" in government speak), the e-mails still exist somewhere. Worst case, we check in at the new NSA repository located in Bluffdale, Utah. It has been rumored this facility stores everything about everybody.

When it comes to obfuscation, this Administration takes the cake. It makes the Nixon Administration look like rank armatures (which they were). For example, where is the smoking gun on Benghazi? The jigsaw puzzle the Administration has put together on this tragedy is still missing a few pieces. And it is not like these missing pieces have never been requested - they have, and in spades. Unfortunately for those who like to play fast and loose with facts and evidence, Representative Trey Gowdy is now on the case. This former prosecutor is experienced at drawing the truth out of even the most virulent liars.

For an Administration who touted to become the most transparent in history, well, this crew is not even translucent. As a matter of fact, for many scandals, dealing with them is like trying to look through a brick wall. There is still a true story behind what happened to Brian Terry in the Fast and Furious mess. Our quote, unquote "Justice Department" has done an excellent job in trying to bury this one. We all know what the story was with Fast and Furious - it was a narrative gone horribly wrong. Guns were supposed to come screaming across the border, be traced back to America, and then the Administration was going to make it the poster child for additional gun control.

The same is true to Benghazi. A narrative gone wrong. Different narrative, same tragic outcome. Dead Americans. Nobody died in Watergate - however, with this crew, people are dropping like flies. Forty vets alone died (allegedly) while waiting forever and a day for treatment under the hapless VA system. To make matters worse, some of the turnips who work at this mess of an organization were paid bonus during that time period.

Well, enough for now. I can't take it anymore. As Iraq burns, the scandals simmer, our Commander in Chief continues to fund raise. What is happening in Washington right now could almost pass for a sitcom, except it would be too hard to believe for most watchers. As for me, I just want to switch the channel. November cannot come soon enough... 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

# Trending Trendy


"Don't like it? Well, get used to it! More are coming!"

I am so excited! Our two major cities are now connected by high speed rail. Okay, that was a poor joke. Our two major cities are now connected by an LRT which moves only slightly faster than an octogenarian using a walker. But who cares? It is trendy. And the colors! It looks really pretty as it crawls down University Avenue.

Let me think. If I was still working at Ecolab in St. Paul, I could take the train all the way in. I would drive to the Coon Rapids station, which is about a 15 minute drive. From there,  I would catch the Northstar into the Target Field Station. Assuming there were no delays due to the increased amount of oil traffic on the Burlington Northern rail line, it is quick 30 minute ride into the Target Field Station. I would then transfer to the brand spanking new green line LRT. A 48 minute ride would dump me off at Union Station in St. Paul. There would then be some foot traffic as the stop is not close at all to the front door of where I work. Bottom line - if I left home at 7am, I would arrive at my desk somewhere between 9am and 10am. When I did work there and drove in, it was about an hour drive with traffic.

And here we have the folly of the entire LRT system. It works great if you live directly on a stop on route and work directly off another stop. That is, unless you are in a hurry. It seems the very trendy and long awaited green line has a 18 minute problem. It is 18 minutes slower than the other mass transit - the bus. But who in the world would want to ride on a smelly old bus, when you can ride on a colorful and trendy train? Do we really care if it takes 18 minutes longer each way? That is only an extra 2 1/2 hours a week in transit. Big deal!

Here is the bottom line. If the planners at the Met Council have a prayer to get citizens out of their cars willingly, they need to come up with a better mousetrap. They need a system which is cheaper and faster than the automobile. All this pie in the sky stuff like "it is so good for Mother Earth" does not cut it when your boss asks why you are once again an hour late to work. All of us are paying a huge price tag for a rail system that few people ride. It was not only the cost of building this thing, every ride is subsidized by the taxpayers. In "realville", this thing would be called a "lemon".

However, I digress. I am Mr. "Rain Cloud" once again. I need to get my head in the clouds like the City Planners do and gaze in awe and wonder at our new municipal toy. After all, government people don't worry about costs, so why should I? As for me, I am looking forward to my first ride into St. Paul totally on the train system. I just need to find an entire day to waste in order to do it. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Twin Euphorians


"Living in the Twin Cities will be so awesome, so trendy, so avant-garde..."

We have now seen what our President meant when he said he would "transform our country". It is like going in for a complete national makeover. In the eyes of our Euphorian President, "transformation" is making America the exceptional into America the less than ordinary. That way, everyone in the world will like us, wars will end, and we can all wear flowers in our hair.

If you pay attention, you can also see the two mayors of the Twin Cities doing the same thing on a local scale. Supported by the unelected, unaccountable, Met Council, we are going to change the Twin Cities if we like it or not. Thanks to Thrive 2040, we are all about to get a raise - in altitude. We will be living in New York type condos and apartments with wonderful views of other high rise condos and apartments.

No more cars, no more big houses in the burbs, no more commutes. We will get up on the 49th floor of our $5,000/month condo, get dressed, and head down to the LRT station. From there, we will be whisked to our place of work in another high rise in one of the twin towns. All manufacturing will be done someplace else (because it is dirty and carbon producing), and the work done downtown in some kind of pencil pushing job that pays at least $100K/year. After work, you will go back to your high rise, gather your spouse (or other), go to a trendy restaurant to eat, and then to one of the "green zones" to listen to a free concert. Crime will be no more, so one could walk down any street at 3am with absolutely no fear.

Welcome to the world of "groupthink". If you buy into this vision of the futuristic Twin Cites, I have some land or bridges to sell you. Detroit is a much better marker for how big cities will fare in the future if the "Euphoria" culture continues to rule. Unchecked spending, out of control minimum wage, and people stacked up like cordwood leads to a death spiral in big cities. Of the two mayors of the Twin Cities, the new Mayor of Minneapolis seems to be the most hopeless. With having a degree or two in government, I don't think she has never worked a real (for profit) job in her career. Her vision of the future reflects her education and work experience - in other words, total and unrealistic Euphoria.

Just this month there was an article in the paper about a new luxury high rise being built for the well healed. Sounds good. By the way, where will the ordinary folks live? With the average rent now over $1,000 in Minneapolis, where will the $10 to $15/hour folks live? If we are to have everyone living in downtown, it seems like the newer housing is skewed heavily towards the dreaded "one percent club". I guess the Mayor will just have to raise the minimum wage up to $30/hour.

As for me, I am going to stay living in the sticks until the thought police kick me out. I still believe in America the free, land of the free. Free to do, free to work and free to live as you please. With the Feds and our State becoming all the more powerful and intrusive, our Jeffersonian Democracy is quickly becoming nothing more than a Orwellian dystopia. Our only hope is to vote these autocrats out of office. November cannot come soon enough. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

The ACA Strikes Again


"A company like Medtronic is like an organism. It only seeks to survive in a sometimes hostile environment..."

Over Father's Day weekend, when most were involved with summer plans or family events, a huge economic earthquake hit Minnesota. Medtronic, a stalwart of medical innovation and business in the Twin Cites, announced it was going to merge with (or buy) an Irish firm named Covidien. The price tag of this event will be a whopping $42.9B.

Now because this was announced over the weekend, I was not able to see much news analysis on this gargantuan merger. However, I did see some. A PR spokesperson for Medtronic said this merger was done to control costs, as some uncontrollable costs have gone up due to the new health care law. The analyst helped translate - the device tax of ObamaCare is driving more and more companies like Medtronic to merge. It is the only way for some to survive.

Now it does not take an MBA from Harvard to read into the rest of the story. Medtronic will be moving its executives to Ireland, which will now become the new headquarters for Medtronic. The operational headquarters will remain here. What sense does that make? Plan and simple, taxes. For Medtronic to relocate to a country rich in VAT taxes, shows how bad our Federal and State tax burden here really is.

The only humor in this story was when Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak met with our beloved Governor. When he dropped the bomb that the Medtronic would be moving its headquarters overseas, he told Mark not to worry - this new merger will create 1,000 jobs in the Twin Cities. Really? Now I have been through one or two mergers in my career, and seen others happen. They are great for the shareholders, but seldom bring good news for the working troops. There is always a duplication of some efforts which results in redundancy, and that results in layoffs. If Ishrak said this move would cost 1,000 jobs, I might have bought that one.

So who will be next? Boston Scientific? St. Judes? Does anybody really care? According to our lap dog media, ALL jobs lost in the "Great Recession" have been replaced. Sunshine and lolly pops have returned to the neighborhood. Here is the real story. In a global economy, a company does not have any allegiance to a country nor a state. It only has allegiance to the shareholders. The jobs lost were good, well paying jobs. The jobs created for the most part are not. Having a country and state which is business and tax friendly can create an environment where good, well paying jobs are incubated. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.

As ObamaCare continues to settle in across the land, more and more of its intended and unintended consequences are becoming known. As Frankenstein's Monster became something bigger and more evil than envisioned, so will the ACA. Take an unfriendly and murky tax future, and couple it with ObamaCare, you end up with the perfect storm which created the Medtronic exit.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My mentor, my guide, my friend...


"He was always there. If I needed his help, he was there. However, he wanted me to figure it out first..."

Many times I would go over to see my folks on a Friday when I worked close to where they lived. I would walk into the kitchen and greet my Mother, who was hard at work making bean with bacon soup and sandwiches for lunch. After some conversation with her, I would step around the corner into the living room. There he was, sitting in his favorite chair with a book in his lap. Dad would look up and say, "Hey Lar, come over here. I need to show you something." My Dad would have found some interesting story or fact and then researched it. I would then receive a ten to fifteen minute crash course of whatever the topic was he discovered.

That is the way my Dad was. Always interested and always interesting. A life long learner, he stopped learning when he stopped breathing at age 90. He loved learning, and he loved sharing what he learned. There were often quizzes at the dinner table, and after a while, I even grew to like them. It is a tradition I carried on once I had my own kids - however, they never did like the "bait and switch" I would throw in with many of my questions.

Of all the things I learned from my Dad, my best lesson was learning how he related to people. He genuinely liked people, and most people liked Dad. It did not matter if Dad was at work dealing with salesmen, at the YMCA doing volunteer work, or just with friends and neighbors. Dad could carry on a conversation with just about anyone. He always had questions, and he was always interested in what other people had to say.

Dad also taught me how to be a gentleman, how to treat a lady. He never gave me a book, nor a lecture. He taught by example. I saw how kind and gentle he was with my Mother. I saw how he treated the elderly women in the family. I saw how he treated my sister. After I got married and had two daughters, I saw how lovingly he treated the women in my family. I could almost hesitate to use the word "chivalry", but my Dad really had it. He was kind to everyone, and a real gentleman to all women he met or knew, inside his life or out.

I miss my Dad. I miss him more now than ever. I miss calling him up and just chatting. I miss calling him up and asking for his opinion, for his counsel. I miss sharing things with him. I miss telling him stories about our various pets - oh, how he loved them all. Most of all, I just miss you Dad. Always there, and always my mentor, always my guide, always my friend. Happy Father's Day Dad - and thanks...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Father's tale, told once more...


"Trust me, you do not want to anger the Papa Bear!"
I have decided to re-post this article from last year. I am sure that most Father's have a tale about raising their kids which really sticks out in their mind. The following story is mine.
When I look back at the things I did to my two girls as they were growing up, there were definitely some things I might like to take a "do over" on. I have a memory of most of things I did to, or for, both of my girls - unfortunately at times, so do they.

I think the one story that first comes to light is something which happened with my oldest daughter. It occurred somewhere during the time she was in the 4th or 5th grade. I had taken a day of vacation to do some things around the yard. My wife was at work, so I was able to meet my daughter when the bus dropped her off after school.

Before I go further in this story, a bit of background. My daughter had begged for months to get a Anoka starter jacket. It was really the craze at school. Starter jackets were a junior version of a letter jacket. For her birthday in August, we went down to the local sports store and I bought one for her. Not only did we buy the jacket, we also had her name stitched on the front. It was the bomb - it quickly became one of her most prized possessions.

School started and she waited patiently (well, not too patiently) for a day cool enough to wear her new jacket. Finally, that day came. It was the day I took off work to do some yard work. She was so excited, she could hardly wait until the bus came to pick her up. Later that afternoon, the bus came to drop her off. She got off the bus with tears rolling down both cheeks. I went up to meet her and she collapsed in my arms sobbing. "He spit on me Dad! He spit on my new jacket".

I looked on her jacket and saw what she meant. Now in my younger days, I was a bit more of a hothead than I am now. I saw red - I mean, I really saw red. I went from zero to more pissed than I have ever been in my life in less than two seconds. I threw my daughter in the car and we took off after the bus. I think I might have broken every speed law in the neighborhood, but I finally caught up with the bus.

What happened next was like slow motion. I threw the car in park just as the bus stopped. I was already in a dead sprint when the bus door opened. I knew who this kid was, so finding him would not be hard. I flew up the two steps of the bus before any kid had the time to even get out of their seat. The look on the driver's face was nothing less than "shock and awe". The old sailor, the ass chewer in me, came back to life. I quickly found the kid and yelled "Stand up!". He stood in front of me and I chewed him up one side and down the other. Spit was coming out of my mouth like a faucet. My face was the color and temperature of lava.  It was a spectacle that most Marine drill instructors would have been proud of. I dare say this might have been the most scared this kid had been in his young life. He was about one inch away from peeing in his pants. I got off the bus, got back in the car and drove home, trying my best to cool down.

I fully expected to receive a visit from the Sheriff after that burst of bad behavior on my part. But I did not. Nothing ever came of it. With both of my girls, in all the years of growing up, I can safely say that was the only time I really lost my temper. Was it a proud moment in my life - not really. Was it a moment I regret - not really.

Sarah Palin often talks about the power of the "Momma Bear". My response is not to forget the "Papa Bear" can also be a force to be reckoned with - especially when his cubs are in danger or mistreated.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Pipe, Mr. President!


"This is not rocket science. In fact, it is a no brainer. Just build it for crying out loud!"

Here we go again. For the umpteenth time I need to address the Keystone XL Pipeline. Why now? First, we continue to be held hostage by fluctuations in global oil markets. With the growing unrest in Iraq, world petro prices are already starting to climb. Many energy independent countries in OPEC have very inexpensive fuel for their citizens. Having the XL Pipeline would not guarantee independence, but it would sure hurry it along.

Number two hits much closer to home. Rather than build and upgrade more pipelines, we instead continue on with our "nothing burger" energy policy. In other words, we are doing nothing, and getting nothing. Market forces however refuse to stand still. Since we have not addressed our inadequate pipeline system, our rail systems are taking more of the brunt of the North Dakota and Southern Canada oil fields. Right now there are more oil cars on the Burlington Northern track than Legos in a day care center. Trains are getting longer, which is causing a huge problem for smaller towns with longer wait times at crossings. For emergency vehicles, longer wait times could be the difference between life and death.

In all my years, I have never seen a President, or any other world leader, act more like a deer in the headlights. If he played baseball, he would either get called out on strikes or walk every time he was at bat. He would never swing, as that involves decision making. Just like he is taking a pass on Iraq, he took a pass on Syria, and he ignored the VA mess, he continues to take a pass on building the Keystone Pipeline. EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING this guy does has political motivation. Not our country's best interest or security - just politics.

Here we are going into Summer Solstice and peak driving season. A terrible time to get hit with higher fuel costs. I have said before, this President could tame jittery global petro markets just by opening up more federal land for drilling and authorizing the pipeline. That would send a clear message to the oil speculators that we mean business. However, doing nothing also sends a message - and not a good one.

So as Boko Haram continues its reign of terror in Nigeria, while ISIS imitates Sharia Law in the sovereign country of Iraq, while the body count grows closer to 200,000 in Syria, President Bystander does nothing. Or as the Speaker of the House said yesterday, "When Iraq was falling, he took a nap". If this continues, by the time he leaves office, the world, our country are going to be in a hell of a mess.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Approaching Caliphate


"The old saying is this - The United States may have the clocks, but the enemy has the time..."

In 1990, then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein again showed his true colors by invading a neighboring country. This move was condemned by the United Nations and in 1991, a coalition of nations went in to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait. A truce was drawn up with strict conditions in order for Hussein to stay in power. True to his nature, he violated this truce on numerous occasions. The United Nations did not have the stomach to enforce the truce, and sensing a clear and present danger to the region, the United States went in and removed Saddam Hussein from power in 2003.

It was not an easy war, in fact it was very messy. The initial assault was not a huge problem for our forces, but the nation building that followed, was. To knit together a coalition government (democratically) between the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, almost proved to be a bridge too far. However, elections were held, and new government was in place, and after a period of time the President of the United States determined our involvement in that country was over. Bad move on our part.

A tidal wave, a tsunami so to speak, has been gathering for years. If Iraq had never invaded Kuwait, war would have still come to that historic country. Far beyond the ancient tribal sparing between the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, lies a much more dangerous threat. Iraq was, and still is, a secular state. In the eyes of much of the Islamic world, secular governments in the region are an abomination, and cannot stand. Iraq, Syria, Jordon, Saudi Arabia, the Horn of Africa - they are all on the radar screen to become part of the Great Caliphate.

As most of us have had our attention diverted by the land of 10,000 scandals, a seismic shift has been taking place in Iraq. By the way, it is also taking place in Libya and Egypt. For the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Boko Harem, or whatever name they go by, the mission is the same. First, get the West out of the Middle East. Their presence in the region is an affront to Islam. Next, get rid of all secular governments in the area and replace them with Islamic governments who practice Sharia Law.

It is as simple as that. To accomplish this, you need many true believers - and there are legions of them and growing. What many in the West don't realize nor understand is this - once a regional Caliphate is established in the Middle East, it will not stop there. Next stop, Europe. After that, guess where? Right here. Rather than make a stand against this global threat in Iraq, our President could not leave fast enough. Was the fight there over? No - in reality, it was just beginning.

Now we can try to put as much lipstick as possible on this, and bathe it in PC water. However, the facts on the table are simple. This is the next world war, and we are watching it develop in slow motion right under our noses. Even though our President is doing his best Neville Chamberlain imitation, the results will be the same. Nobody outside strict Islam will be safe. There will be no gentle persuasion to convert - failure to do so will be an instant death sentence.

One would have thought that after 9/11 we might have caught a glimpse of how these people operate. The lengths to which they would go, the chances they would take. No, our national memory seems to be very short and getting shorter. The next attacks are coming, both here and in Europe. They are probably already planned. We may have gotten bored with this, but they have not. We may think the War on Terror is over, but to them it is only getting started. 

What is our plan? We will continue to empty out Guantanamo Bay and release the baddest of the bad onto the battlefield. We will desert Afghanistan like we did Iraq and then watch with disinterest as it falls once again into the hands of the Taliban. Are we in deep trouble here? Yes, but the deepest trouble we have is a government who does not, nor wants to understand. The change coming from "Hope and Change" might look like something out of a nightmare.    

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Virginia Awakening


"He may not have robbed the bank, but he drove the get away car..."

It has been said by many as of late that we live in a disconnected country. People are asleep on their feet. Some are not paying attention, some are lost in the world of cyberspace, and many others just don't give a rip. This is the current theory on how we re-elected a guy who is on the turnpike to become the worst President in modern times.

Once in a while a few thousand folks who ARE paying attention can make quite a splash. That is exactly what happened last night in Virginia. After the good folks in that historic state recently elected a circus clown for Governor, I started to lose hope. Last night in a routine primary, a "going through the motions" primary, a small bit of history was made.

An unknown Econ Professor named David Brat really took it to the second ranking House Republican. Even though most who know Mr. Cantor believe him to be a very nice person, Eric made a fatal boo-boo. He started to drink his own bath water. Not uncommon on Capitol Hill. However, as the saying goes - "Timing is everything!"

With a President running rough shod over the country by shredding our Constitution before our very eyes, we have leadership in the House who cower in his presence. Eric Cantor is part of that leadership. The latest fiasco of intentionally dumping thousands of illegal Mexican kids on our southern border, is nothing less than criminal. Rather than yelling from the House floor that "THIS WILL NOT STAND MR. PRESIDENT!", Mr. Cantor said (again) "Maybe we need to look at immigration reform." As one of my former bosses would often say to a dumb response, "WRONG ANSWER!"

So, the patriots in Virginia, many of whom have Tea Party roots, said enough was enough. By doing nothing when one of the three branches of our government acts outside the Constitution, makes everyone who remains silent complicit to the crime. By not calling out the President, for not holding his feet to the fire, FOR NOT STOPPING THIS TRAVESTY, Eric was caught "driving the get away car". Last night, he was convicted by the people of Virginia.

Let this be a lesson to all who serve we the people. Even though some may be asleep, many of us are not. We care, we pay attention, and we vote. If you violate your oath of office, if you silently allow someone else to do so, we will come for you and throw your a** out of office. This country still is WE THE PEOPLE, not run by some elite class. Remember one thing - when you tread on the snake, quite often you will be bitten.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The SCAM of higher education


"Our colleges do a lousy job with our students. They saddle them with debt, and don't tell the Humanities student at a private school that he will never get a job that pays enough to pay off his student loan..."

Oh my! Am I walking on sacred ground here? I know many have strong opinions about going to college. Just so I don't set myself up as a hypocrite, I too (as did my wife), went to college. Between the two of us, we have three degrees from the local University. That being said, what was college then, and what is college now, are quite different indeed.

First off, the cost. Fresh out of the Navy, I was eligible for the former G.I. Bill. As a married man, I received $220/month for school and living expenses. That money paid for ALL of my tuition, books, and fees at a Big 10 school, as well as part of my rent. All I needed to do to receive this money was to be a full time student and pass my classes. No problem. Since I was trying to catch up for time lost, I took 20 credits a quarter and went both summer sessions. I graduated in a bit over two years with a degree in Business Finance and a halfway decent GPA.

By now, we have all heard that our President has again overstepped his authority and is going to make a college education more "affordable". Is he going to reign in the out of control cost of higher education? Heck no. He is just telling our little darlings not to worry about it. Part of the cost will be picked up by the taxpayers. What he is not telling them, and they have not yet figured out, is this - part of the taxpayers picking up this deferred tab is them.

This reminds me of last year when our local University President proudly announced he, along with the State, were going to "freeze" tuition for two years. Wow! That is great! Not really. No costs were being controlled. None of the voluminous admin staff was going to be cut back. No salaries were going to be trimmed. No, the State was going to pick up more of the tab so the illusion the students had was the cost remained static. They did not. Again, the taxpayers get stuck with the tab.

I feel for our young people today. As obscene as the cost of education is at state schools, at private schools it is obscene times two or three. Many of our young ones still want to save the world by majoring in some liberal arts field which will NEVER land them a livable wage job. But who cares? As long as it feels good, and nobody at the college tries to counsel them on this bad move, it is full steam ahead. They graduate with more debt than some third world countries, and then are learn the fine art of flipping burgers.

Meanwhile, our President who has a math degree from Common Core University, does not give a rat's behind that our cancerous debt of $17+T is going to get even bigger from deferred higher education costs. No reform, no cost control, no nothing. Mr. "Hope and Change" had devolved into Mr. Status Quo. Many people have marvelous ideas on how to improve and make our higher education much more affordable. The Left has succeeded in making them look like heretics.

So, once again I say "Well played Mr. President!" You have used your non-Constitutional powers to come up with one more dumb ass idea. No worries however - the legions of taxpayers with money trees in their back yards are here to support you.