Friday, October 31, 2014

Who will stop the train?


Is there one person, one person at all who can do something?

Sorry. This article is not about the Southwest Light Rail. Nor is it about the Northstar. Nor is it about the high speed train going to Duluth. Or Rochester. No, I am using the word "train" as a figure of speech. This is about our run away national debt. I know - it has not been talked about for awhile. By anybody. But is should be. It is still there, and growing. It is like a tiger crouched in the corner, waiting to pounce on our economy and devour it.

I have listened to many of the senate campaigns in various states. Many topics are discussed - in particular terrorism and Ebola. The public seems to have tolerance to hear about those items as they are the most trendy today. Many candidates refer to the ISIL threat as a "cancer", and they are right to do so. ISIL has metastasized mainly due to malfeasance in our State Department.

No, the other "cancer" we have is our national debt. You know, the boring topic. The one that puts people to sleep when you bring it up.

President Bush (43) did not do anything about it. It grew in the eight years he was in office. Our current President has certainly not done anything. It has mushroomed under his watch. So who in the line of 2016 potential candidates will do anything? Jeb Bush? Hillary? Elizabeth Warren? Mitt? The only person who has ever said boo about the debt (and might run) is Paul Ryan. And his plan was to only slow down the growth of the debt.

There was an article in the paper this week about the regional Federal Reserve member who serves in our district. He is a maverick. Why? He is a voice in the wilderness crying out for change. He thinks the interest rates should be adjusted to reflect 2% inflation. If the entire Fed adopted that philosophy, the DOW would plummet. It would go south faster than snowbirds from Minnesota in January. Would a 2% rate be wrong? Not a bit. It would put SOME reality back into the stock market. However, it would also increase our national debt.

With our national debt currently at $17.893T, and our current interest rates a hair above zero, money needed to service our enormous debt is somewhat manageable. However, should the interest rates go up by 2%, the money needed to service a $18T bill would be staggering. If the rates do not go up, the national debt will be $20T by the time Obama leaves office. Sooner or later the rates will have to go up. As the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Here we sit, with this "cancer", or ticking time bomb, in our economy. Our debt has the potential to ruin everything we have worked for. It is no different than a family making $50k/year and then having consumer debt of $100k and growing. Pretty soon the family is going to have to pay the piper. Sell everything, maybe file for bankruptcy, possibly live on the street. The same is true to us. One day the bills will come due. The party will be over. The phony Wall Street bubble will burst, leaving many people dazed, confused, and broke.

We do, all of us, need to ask our politicians how we are going to pay for things. It is nice when our President wants to bring people here from all over the world to be treated for Ebola. At $300,000 a patient, how are we going to pay for this? Put it on our tab? To spend money when there is no money is nothing short of IRRESPONSIBLE!

Wake up America! We need to take our country back before the debt train can no longer be stopped. As we know, train wrecks seldom turn out well for anyone.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Released Killers


"If this was not real, it would be good stuff that a novel is made of. But it is real - and it sucks we have to live through it..."

In our town, the sheriff who was holding a bunch of blood thirsty killers decided to release them. I was not in favor of that. When I asked him why, he told me it was the right thing to do. They did not deserve to spend the rest of their days locked up. Besides, he had made a campaign promise to the killer's relatives that he would release them. Don't worry - he told me that once they were released, they promised to be good. Their relatives also promised the killers would stick around the yard, and never hurt anyone again.

Okay. You guessed it. This is a fable. Our sheriff, who I know well, would NEVER do anything like that. However, this is an analogy. I wanted to point out what our national "sheriff" (POTUS) has done with Gitmo. He released a boatload of blood thirsty Islamic terrorists back to their homeland. Not to worry however. "Mr. Gullible," was told by the receiving countries the bad boys would be kept in check - they would never be able to perpetrate terror and mayhem again.

News flash to Mr. Gullible - the receiving countries lied to you. Hello? Wake up sir! You have just release dozens of trained killers back onto the battlefield. Killers who want YOU and the rest of us dead. Why is this so hard for you to understand Mr. President? Evil exists in the world today. They are evil! Wake up for crying out loud! I don't give a rat's butt what you promised the "low information crowd' in both elections. YOU DON'T PUT KILLERS BACK ON THE STREET!

This afternoon General Dempsey was asked about this issue. He was asked how many might be fighting for ISIL right now. He could not answer it. You know - classified. Well the "leaks" which keep coming out of the Pentagon tell us this - up to 30 hardened killers are now in the battlefield fighting for ISIL. Not only does ISIL have hardened killers that we released with with them, I also heard on the radio Kurds have only a smattering of 20 year old weapons, while ISIL has OUR very best which they captured from fleeing Iraqi soldiers.

As POTUS plots executive amnesty as well as a tepid response to Ebola, the War on Terror wages on. We should remind our President he resides in one of the cities which is "ground zero" for the terrorists. Playing nice suits nobody, except them.

Thank you Mr. President, for making our War on Terror even harder to win. Once you are out of office, relaxing in the 19th hole, hopefully you will on the news how our new President had to fix all this crap you left for us. But don't worry - the killers you set free really appreciate it.    

Our own clown...


"The last debate Al Franken had with Mike McFadden really told the tale. Al was exposed for being clueless and an imposter..."

Two years ago, when Amy Klobuchar was up for re-election, I knew it would be a tough fight to unseat her. She had some vulnerabilities, but was still able to maintain her statewide popularity - thanks in part to her Father's coattails. On top of all that, even though the Republicans ran a good man against her, he had absolutely no money. He was so short of funds, he needed to keep his job and run his campaign part time. In the end, Amy smoked her opponent and is in the seat for another six years.

However that was then and this is now. We have the winner of one of the tightest and most controversial elections ever held in Minnesota up for re-election. He came on the scene six years ago with zero, nada, not a smidge, of experience. All he has done for the past six years has been a lap dog vote for POTUS. After six years, one would have thought the good people of Minnesota would have been paying attention to this charade. However, the low information voters who occupy the bluest areas of the Twin Cities, can't wait to give this guy another six years.

Last night Al Franken was again the focus of a segment on Bill O'Reilly's show. In particular, O'Reilly focused on the last debate with Mike McFadden on Channel Four. Now most of us know that Channel Four is not a bastion of right wing politics. Most would say just the opposite. O'Reilly played the exchange where the Channel Four moderators tried to pin Al down about the proper Ebola strategy. After the debate, had this to say about Al's performance on the Ebola issue:
"The moderators pressed Franken to answer whether he would support a temporary travel ban on people coming from West African countries most affected by the Ebola virus. After demurring twice, Franken finally said he has "nothing against" such a ban."
O'Reilly's take on Al's performance was not nearly as kind. Franken gave non-answers to most of the questions asked. O'Reilly was wondering what is wrong with the people of Minnesota for 1) electing this guy in the first place and 2) are on the verge of re-electing him. (Bill's words) "This idiot Franken is ahead in the polls by 11 points." And then Bill shook his head and looked down at his desk.
I am still hopeful that clear thinking Minnesotans will wake up and vote Mike McFadden in as our next Senator. Mike is clearly more qualified. As I said earlier, taking out Amy Klobuchar would have been a tough fight - maybe a hill too far. Taking out Al is not fight. He is low fruit on the tree. If the low information voters would stop playing Candy Crush on their smartphones and watch the debates, they might have another opinion of Minnesota's clown. In fact, that is what they might think of him. I sure do.

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

From Hero to Goat in 21 Days...


"She looks good - like a poster child for the nursing profession. I guess looks can be deceiving..."

I have a confession to make. I have always admired the organization Doctors without Borders. They are the ones who truly venture into lands occupied by the least of us. They run towards danger, never away from it. They are brave heroes, all of them. Sometimes they get a bit too political for my blood, but their good deeds seem to cover up a few flaws.

This brings us to the most famous (or infamous) nurse in America. Kaci Hickox is freshly back from fighting Ebola in one of the African "Hot Zones". At first, she told the public she was working for the Doctors without Borders. Whoops - minor slip of the tongue. She was really working with the Doctors without Borders. In actuality, she works for the CDC, as 
a Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer.

When she landed in New Jersey, Governor Christie had her located to an isolation tent. She was to stay there for 21 days. After 21 days, she would be considered "clean" from bringing back any infection. "No way Jose", she shouted. "You let me out of here, or I will get a lawyer and sue your socks off!" (So to speak). Using her ties (and pull) with the CDC (and President), she managed to arm wrestle the NJ Governor out of the 21 day confinement. "I am going up to Maine, where I am appreciated, and I can live free!" Enough of putting up with this big bully Republican Governor!

This is where dear, sweet Kaci went from hero to goat. Right now, we have more questions than answers about this new strain of the Ebola Virus. Most doctors (I would assume), would have us err on the side of caution. Not Nurse Kaci - no, it is all about her. Her civil liberties being violated. Rather than do the right thing by taking three weeks off, staying in isolation and binging on Netflix, she is acting like a crybaby.

She traveled up to Maine to start new life free from Ebola quarantine. "Not so fast" the Maine Governor states. "We don't have isolation tents up here, but you must remain in house quarantine for 21 days." In shocked disbelief, Nurse Kaci replies, "Oh no you don't sir. If I am not released by this time tomorrow, I will have my lawyer sue you also."

The saga continues. Me, I would not have Nurse Kaci cut my toenails. As a medical professional, she is dead to me. She might as well go back to school and get her law degree as that seems to be her new direction. Part of the blame I put on her, and the other part I put on our government for being caught "flat footed", once again. I guess tomorrow we will find out what the next chapter in this soap opera is.

When it rains, it pours...


"Because this comes on top of so many flubs, the optics on this event were terrible for the Administration..."

Just when it looked like things could not get much worse for the Administration, the unthinkable happened. I can't remember the last time I saw something like this happen. A routine rocket launch was taking place on Wallops Island, VA. The purpose was to send some provisions (and other non-disclosed items) up to the ISS. Then seconds after lift off, the rocket exploded. The rocket, the payload, and part of the launch facility were consumed in flames.

We all know there is an element of risk anytime a rocket is launched. As most astronauts will tell you, "Riding in a rocket is like flying in a huge bomb". However, we have gotten pretty darn good at launching rockets. In the early days of rocketering, seeing a fireball shortly after launch was not that rare. Today it is. Was it just a fluke, or was it because NASA's budget has been cut to the bones. I don't know the answer to that. However, after a parade of flubs which has stretched on for months now, the Administration did not need the optics of what happened yesterday.

Something else happened yesterday which almost escaped detection. The Administration put everyone of our Federal Buildings on their highest state of readiness. Why? It appears there has been "chatter" for the past few weeks on terror networks which led some of our experts to believe "something is in the wind". Something that might involve our Federal Buildings. Gosh, for a "War on Terror" which has been won (BHO's words), why do we need to do this? Quite simple, said a pundit on the news yesterday. It is a CYA move - just in case something bad happens before the election.

Lets see if we can finish this potential recipe for a disaster. First, we have a porous southern border. We have heard reports that ISIL sympathizers have been caught trying to come across. Next, you have a committed group of terrorists who supposedly have been given the "green light" to "go rouge" and commit acts of terror against the West. Finally, you have a major event coming up in our country - election day. What I am most afraid of is this - we don't have a clue who is in our country right now. We could have literally hundreds of bad actors just poised to cause maximum mayhem, or there could be nobody. Our government simply does not know.

After the terror attack using a hatchet against NYC police officers, we need to keep ALL our law enforcement folks in our prayers. I am afraid they will continue to be at ground zero for future attacks against the homeland. Our election process would be a target rich event for people who hate our freedoms and democracy. We need to stay aware, stay vigilant, and stay tuned in. Even though our Administration may not want it this way, the world is still a very dangerous place. And yes, there are people out there who want you and your family dead and our country destoyed. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dr. Whosit


"Is the Doctor in the house? Sorry, the guy heading up our Ebola efforts is a hyper partisan lawyer..."

I heard or read something in the past few days that really hit home with me. A pundit was asked what it was that was killing many Democrats right now. So close to an important election, what is it? The pundit answered in one word. "Competence. Or should I say lack thereof. And it starts with the head of the ticket - the President".

I could not have put that better. To find an example of incompetence, one does not have to look far at all. Just look to the current Ebola crisis and how it is being handled, both in Africa as well as here. We have been caught (once again), totally flat footed.

Ebola is not new to the scene. It has been around since 1976. As many of us know, it was named after the Ebola River in Zaire. There have been occasional outbreaks in Africa, usually resulting in a few hundred deaths. It mutates into different strains, so each outbreak is given a different name. It was only a matter of time before a mutated strain would emerge that would dwarf all previous ones in severity and mortality rates.

This new and virulent strain of this disease was first detected on December 6, 2013, when a young boy in Guinea succumbed to it. It spread fast, and before anyone knew it, it was in a handful of African countries. Right then, the WHO, the CDC, the UN, should have declared the affected countries "hot zones" and initiated travel restrictions as well as quarantine procedures. Some countries have banned flights coming in from affected countries. Others have iron clad quarantine procedures for returning citizens. We have not, and still do not. The clock is ticking. Ebola has already visited our shores, and more will come.

Yesterday the New York Times (certainly not a "Right Wing" newspaper) came out and called our response to handling the Ebola threat "patchwork". I will call it one better - "making it up as we go". Today we have 100 people who arrive here daily from Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia. Each one of these people could be perfectly healthy. Or they could be walking petri dishes. They may be symptomatic or asymptomatic. They may have infected others or not. The virus may survive for a few days or for up to 50 days on surfaces. In other words, we don't have a clue as to how much danger we might be in.

To further exhibit our incompetence on this issue, we have now appointed an "Ebola Czar". I will call him "Dr. Whosit". He comes into this job "highly qualified' to fight this virus. His background? Well he is a lawyer. He was on Al Gore's staff. He became very good at counting"hanging chads" during the infamous 2000 Presidential recount. Currently, he is on "Smokin" Joe Biden's staff. The closest thing he has to medical training is he knows Dr. Jill Biden. That is it.

So, just like the ISIL resurgence which caught us off guard, so has this disease. Last month, the CDC predicted 1.4 million people in Africa could be infected by this virus (with a 70% mortality rate) by the end of January 2015. That is less than 100 days away. Considering previous outbreaks in Africa have killed less than 1,000 people, this could be the pandemic we have all feared.

Our "Dr. Whosit" better get up to speed and fast. No more skipping Ebola meetings. Take this seriously - as serious as a heart attack. The world is looking to us for leadership - for clarity. Right now, all they see is confusion.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Oh Andover, my Andover...


"We really need someone who can tell the Met Council to sit down and shut up!"

I am going to write about someone I have never met face to face. Yet, feel I know her. Even though I have never her, I have friends who have. They have told me all I need to know. They have endorsed her. If  Sheri does only one thing very important thing for Andover, it will be enough.

What am I talking about? The unelected, unrepentant, unforgivable Met Council. It needs to be kept in check. Right now, they are operating way, way out of their box. With permission to do so, I will evoke the Mayor of Oak Grove (directly north of Andover). Mayor Mark Korin has taken on the Met Council and continues to do so today. The Met Council is VERY GOOD at handing out unfunded mandates to the metro area and beyond. Anoka County, as well as four other counties, have stood their ground against Met Council's unlawful power grab.

Andover lies just south of Oak Grove. We are also very close to the city of Nowthen. Andover is in the bulls eye of higher density housing. Sewer where there is no sewer is needed. And yes, public transit where it never materializes. These people (Met Council I am talking about) are without shame. They throw down edicts to ensure the utopian and far fetched Thrive 2040 comes to fruition. Well it may come to fruition with city dwellers, but it will be a tough sell up here.

We need a mayor who will work hand in hand with our neighboring cities. Cities like Oak Grove. No offense to mayoral candidate, Julie Trude - but I have not seen this type of commitment from her. Even though Sheri and I have not talked "one to one" on this issue, people I know and respect have done so. She is fully on-board with keeping the Met Council in check. She is ready to take this fight to the next level. She will fight the good fight in taking on this bunch of take over artists from Minneapolis.

Please join me in endorsing Sheri Bakkila for the Mayor of Andover. Mayors like Mark Korin and other nearby Mayors cannot do this by themselves. They need support from neighboring cities. Mark and the other Mayors need the continued support of the Anoka County Board as well as the other county boards. This is our fight. Thrive 2040 is evil and dystopian. We need people like Sheri to fight for us. To fight the Met Council. To ensure the good life in Andover continues to be the good life for many years to come.

What is there about the State Auditor?


"Randy will be a bulldog in this job. He will be nobodies puppet. He will truly work for the people of Minnesota..."

When I was in the work a day world, I worked with many auditors. With all due respect to that esteemed profession, I never really understood why anyone wanted that job. Never having been one, all I had was a stereotype. Tedious and boring. Dull on top of that. Which brings me to the question of this article - what is there about the State Auditor position which makes it such a prize worth having.

The State Auditor position was one of the few which had a challenger in the primaries. The sitting Auditor, Rebecca Otto, was challenged by our good friend from the past, Matt Entenza. Matt's challenge to Ms. Otto accomplished nothing, except further proof that Matt is finished politically in this state. But why in the world would he fight so hard, spend so much of his money, for this position?

Here is my theory. The State Auditor position is very important these days. It is my belief that not only does the Auditor know where the "bodies are buried", but also can practice benign neglect in looking for additional bodies. In other words, the Auditor, working with the State AG, become twin Consigliore's. Their job is to protect the Godfather (Governor). Don't fix the broken, protect the incompetent, keep the bodies buried.

This brings me to Randy Gilbert. He has enough business and government experience to hit the ground running on day one. He is no pushover. He got after me a few months ago about something I said which was incorrect. I admire him for that. I have liked Randy since the first time I talked to him. I am a good judge of character, and I know that Randy would take that position to a much higher level.

If we are satisfied with the status quo, with someone who likes to sweep dust under the rug, by all means, lets keep the current crew in office. However, if we want to break the DFL stranglehold on our State Government, if we want true honesty as well as truthful answers, if we want to lower the cost of Government while raising it's efficiency, vote for Randy Gilbert. He has my vote, and I am proud to cast it for him.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mike is my friend, but....


"He is a good man. He is a friend. However, I cannot support him for this new position..."

Okay, I know all politics is local. I have known Mike Gamache for many years. I recruited him to be on the first Andover YMCA Board. Mike is a decent man, a family man. After serving for many years as our Mayor, Mike has decided to move on. He has a good job at one of the Twin Cities largest employers. Now he wants to run for the open seat on the Anoka Country Board. It is with a troubled heart that I must write this rebuttal to Mike joining the Board.

As many years as Mike was Mayor of our growing town of Andover, he kept his politics pretty close to his vest. I had heard (through antidotal evidence) that Mike leaned Left. However, he never disclosed that to me. Like I say, Mike and only served on the YMCA Board together, devoid of politics.

I know many of the people who comprise the current Anoka County Board. Most are friends, some are very good friends. I am proud of the job they are doing. Our county stands out amongst all the rest. Better living, lower taxes. This did not happen by accident. Our Board works well together and have done great things. So, what does this have to do with my friend Mike Gamache running for the open seat on the Board? I will tell you.

I don't know the other person running for this spot as well as I know Mike. I know her a bit, but not too much. However, I know her politics enough. Mike had an ad in our local newspaper which said it all - he is endorsed by the AFL-CIO. You might have will tattooed a "Owned and paid for by the DFL" in the same ad.

That is when I made my mind up. As much as I like Mike as a friend and fellow long time resident of Andover, I cannot, and will not, support him for this position. We need clear thinkers, not people who owned by the unions to run our county. Don't get me wrong - Mike did good things while Mayor of Andover - many good things. However, the Board is a whole different story. We need people representing us who are more concerned about the taxpayers than the union bosses.

That is why this year I am supporting and endorsing someone whom I do not know as well as Mike. Debbie Johnson is running for the same seat. I support her for this position. I know her well enough to know she is not owned by anyone. Please vote for Debbie a week from Tuesday!

Simple solutions to difficult problems


"How is that 'hope and change' working out for everyone?"

Almost six years ago to the date, this nation elected someone based on a slogan. Not a plan, not a solution, but a slogan. In fact the slogan "Hope and Change" had also morphed into "Yes we can!" Another catchy slogan. It was a wonderful time, as many of our youth looked to this political newcomer as somewhat of a messiah.

As we know from the past six years, simple solutions to difficult problems do not work out very well. In fact, many of us knew that four years ago. We re-elected the President anyhow. Many are seduced by his charm, by his rhetoric. He is historic after all - we never have had a mixed race President before. That being said, here is the rub. No matter how well he gives a stump speech, no matter how good he looks in a suit, no matter the color his skin, the difficult and complex problems our nation is facing need well thought out and finely crafted solutions.

I would like to compare our President's approach to solving problems to that of Jeff Johnson, who is running for Governor of Minnesota. Some people find Jeff to be a bit on the "non-flashy" side. He gets too much into the details. He tends to read the fine print before signing his name. If our President had taken Jeff's kind of approach, we probably would not have the mess in the Middle East we have right now. We would not have the train wreck in our health care system. Our economy would not be limping along.

Complex problems cannot be solved by stacking the Supreme Court with very left leaning jurists. Complex problems cannot be solved by stacking the Senate with people who tend to vote with you almost 100% of the time. Complex problems cannot be solved by trying to set a record as the President who golfed the most times. No, complex problems are more easily solved by someone who pays attention to detail. Someone who is not afraid to tell the truth. Someone who does not hide bad news from the public. Someone like Jeff Johnson.

In a little over a week, we will find out if the American people have learned anything about following a Pied Piper. Listening to a charlatan. Buying snake oil. The first step in taking our country back will be to take back the Senate. Send All Franken back to California. Send Harry Reid back to Nevada when his term is up. Elect more Republican Governors, like Jeff Johnson.

Time is running out for a sane government in our state and in our country. A week from Tuesday, we have our chance to tackle our complex problems with more clear headed thinkers. Lets' do this!  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The 60th Vote


"Fool us once, shame on  you. Fool us twice, we are idiots..."

Well if the polls are right, we are going to be stuck for another six years with "the 60th vote". Our own home grown comedian, the force behind the failed Air America debacle, Stewart Smalley of SNL fame, will again represent the good people of Minnesota. As elections have consequences, people usually get the government they deserve.

Well Rush Limbaugh this week said hold on - ignore the polls. The people of Minnesota have seen through the flimsy fa├žade of Al Franken and vote for a change. Rush thinks that Mike McFadden will indeed be out next Senator. Oh, do I hope that Rush is right on this one! It is bad enough we let Amy skate right in for another six year term. The fight the Republicans put up for Amy's seat was tepid at best. At least Mike is showing some fight, some spine. He is calling a spade a spade where appropriate, and doing it over and over again.

What I find amazing about our electorate is how uninformed or uncaring many are. ObamaCare, the signature vote of Al Franken, is unfolding right in front of our eyes. The predictions which were made prior to it's passage, are coming true in spades. This is one expensive piece of work - and it doesn't work at that. Rates are going up all over the map with double digit increases. However, the real bomb will not hit until after the election - the employer mandate.

Al does not vote for Minnesota, he votes for Obama. Al votes for the DNCC. Al votes for the AFL-CIO. Al says he cares for the "working family". And yet during his six year term, real income has gone down. Jobs created have lower hours and lower pay than those lost. Good benefits have from reality to a part of our history. Who has done well? Wall Street for one. Because of the phony baloney and inflationary Federal Reserve practices, we are seeing a huge "bubble" in the stock market which is inches away from exploding.

Al has become just like Joe Biden in a way. Joe can make gaff after gaff. People will say, "Oh, it is just old Joe!" The same is becoming true for Al. He was kept a low profile. Even though he votes over 95% with the President, nobody seems to care. "Oh, it is just old Al!" The Low Information Crowd in our state thinks it is cool to have a celebrity representing us in Congress. In some respects, Al has become the Teflon Senator. Nothing bad seems to stick to him.

Well, I have already voted. Even though I never tell who I voted for, this time I will say who I did not vote for. Al Franken. Al's number needs to be retired and he needs to move back to Hollywood. We need a Senator who will represent Minnesota. We need a Senator who will help reconstruct our healthcare system after the disaster called the ACA is repealed. We need a Senator who is serious, yet has a sense of humor. Right now we have neither.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Checks, books and movies

Check writing, going to a movie on Saturday night, visiting a book store - all becoming a thing of the past...

What an odd name for an article. What in the world do checks, books and movies have in common? In my opinion? I think all three are on the way out - and quickly. Checks are being replaced by debit cards, books are being replaced by e-readers, and movies are being replaced by...well, just about anything else.

Yesterday when I went to the local grocery store to pick up a few items, the lady in front of me (who was slightly younger than I) had her checkbook out. When the clerk told her the amount owed was $101.13, she vary carefully wrote out a check. After what seemed like forever, she handed the check to the clerk, who then asked for her driver's license. The clerk had to put on her reading glasses to write the customer's driver's license number on the back of the check. The clerk then ran the check through the check verifier. Meanwhile, my ice cream was starting to melt.

It has been a long time since my wife and I have been to a movie where there was more than 20 people in the theater. When the kids were small, we had to buy tickets in advance just to make sure we had a seat for a movie we wanted to see. No longer. What is killing the movie theater industry? First off, bad product. Most movies suck these days. Once in a while there is a good movie. However, between those good ones, there are a bunch of stinkers. Second is the cost. Going to see a sub-par movie on a Friday night (for two people) can cost up to $40 (with snacks). Waiting for just a short while will allow you to watch the same movie on your flat screen TV with Blu-Ray and surround sound. The bathroom is close by, and the popcorn is very affordable.

This morning in the paper was an article about yet another bookstore closing. If you want to get into a spirited discussion, talk to someone who still likes to be a "page turner". Tell that person that books are going the way of the dinosaur, and before long everything will be on computers or e-readers. My wife happens to be one of those "page turners". Even though she does use a reader, she still likes hard copy books. Me - not so much. I don't know if I will ever buy another book (hard copy that is).

So that is my Friday morning take on the future and on the past. I still write checks to pay our bills, although more and more are becoming auto-pay. When we have our window washer out today, my wife will pay him by check. She will write it as her handwriting is much better than mine. Plus, she still likes to write checks.

Yes, even though my wife is still a "page turner", and a check writer, she is no longer much of a movie goer. As for me, I am in the process of giving up on all three of those soon to be obsolete items. And I am just fine with that!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A traveler I was...(and maybe still am)


"What was Australia really like? As good as you as you could imagine, and then still some!"

Not to sound like Yoda from Star Wars, but what a traveler I was! Am I still a traveler? To a degree, maybe so. In the past, I have not traveled as much as many of my contemporaries, however maybe more than some others. In any event, it really does not matter. Travel is a personal thing, a financial thing, and maybe even a health thing. For most of us, it is a luck thing - being in the right time at the right place. If you have the means or the fortune to travel, that is okay. If you do not, that is also okay.

I will admit I have been very blessed in my life to visit places far away. Much of my overseas travel has been due of my Naval career as well as my civilian jobs. This past summer, my wife and I took a long planned visited to Alaska. It was a great trip. However, the best part of the trip was this, it was great having my wife experience it with me. I did not have to tell her about it once I returned home.

After Alaska, what else could be on our bucket list? I have been to London, Nottingham and Scotland. Spain, Holland, and Japan.  Of all these, I would love to take my wife to Japan and Scotland (I am a bit Scotch). However as much as she would like to see both of these, she would love to visit places that I have not. Where is that? Truthfully, that might be Norway, Sweden, and Finland. After seeing Alaska, it would be nice to see it there was anyplace on Earth more spectacular.

Not to sound Freudian, but the "ID" inside which lives inside of me wants just to sell the house, take the money, and just travel. SUPER EGO, just sit down and shut up! Tomorrow will bring what tomorrow will bring. If I could ever get clearance from the DOD, I would love to visit Russia and then China. I would also like to visit Viet Nam and Cambodia. Then to top it all off, Chile and Peru. If I could live long enough, and if the money would hold out, that would be a gas.

We have already signed up with Princess Lines to do a follow up cruise in the next two years. We are debating if it is Hawaii or to go through the Panama Canal. I like both options to tell you the truth. After Alaska, I am ready for anything. Even though I have been to Hawaii twice (while in the service), I have not really explored Hawaii. That might be the next step on the bucket list.

This summer we learned quite a bit about Alaska. Next year, I would like to learn more about the Sandwich Islands, or the canal which flows from west to east to get you from the Atlantic to the Pacific...  

America's real war on women...


"A blast from the past! Thanks Monica, for bringing this sordid tale up once again!"

Yep. Drudge did it. This internet news source has ruined the life of this now 41 year old woman. Forget the fact that she VOLUNTARILY unzipped Bill's pants and....oh, never mind. We all know how that story ends. In any event, what she did to Bill or with Bill, she did with full knowledge that he was married and his WIFE was in the same house.

Sorry Monica - it is not Drudge who ruined your life. It is a combination of bad actors, you being one of them. If I had been caught in a dalliance with some young lady, only slightly older than my daughters, neither one would still not be speaking to me. It would have been a combination of hurt, anger, and disappointment. In addition, I would have lost the trust of my wife, maybe forever. My friends, both male and female, would have thought me to be a cad (or worse).

Besides Monica's bad judgment which "ruined her life", let us not forget about her boss. Then President Clinton got caught with his pants down (so to speak), and had to go on national TV to apologize. Other than that, he paid no price. Some might say, "Hold on! He was impeached by the House!" Yes he was - for lying. He was never held accountable for having sex in the Oval Office. In 99.9% of the institutions, if a superior gets caught in a compromising position with a subordinate, that person is gone - fired.

And please, don't forget about Hillary. What see was the most concerned about was containing Bill's "bimbo eruption". She knew the sexual pattern Bill exhibited. To say he had wanderlust going back to Little Rock, would have been an understatement. Why would she continue to put up with this, some might ask. Power, fame and money - lots and lots of money. So, Hillary put up with, and defended Bill, against Monica, Juanita Broaddrick, Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Dolly Kyle Browning, and so on. Rather than Hillary sticking up for these women, who were taken advantage of by her husband, she blamed them. And besides blaming these victims, she blamed the nebulous, nefarious, ubiquitous, "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy." 

What we have with the Clintons is simply this - to maintain their power base, they will lie, cheat and steal (as a figure of speech). Anyone at anytime who gets in their way will be "thrown under the bus". And that includes women. So when Hillary hits the campaign trail and starts talking about the "Republican war on women", remember this. She is partly correct. There IS a war on women, but it has not be been waged by the Republicans. It has been waged by Hillary, her family, and every Clinton supporter who has turned a blind eye and defended the overt sexual harassment caused by her husband.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Benign Neglect


"Benign Neglect is walking on by. Benign Neglect is turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to this growing and vexing problem..."
The Dow surged 2% yesterday. Yea! The housing market is finally showing signs of healing. Double yea! The stubborn unemployment numbers are finally starting to go in the right direction. Yea all day long! The number of homeless people, including homeless youth, keep going up every month. Huh? I don't understand.
Welcome to the world of homelessness. A growing and often invisible problem. In the county I live in, which is typical of many outlying metro areas, homelessness is turning out to be a big issue. It is big, it is vexing,and it is growing.
My wife and I have been involved in an organization which helps homeless youth for about a year now. It has been an eye opening experience to say the least. My youngest daughter works for an organization which does outreach for the homeless in Minneapolis.
Whenever I try to explain homelessness to people who are trying to understand it, I often come up short. People tend to want crisp answers. They ask questions such as, "Why so many?" Or "Why can't somebody do something about it?" Or "Why can't they just find a cheap place to live?" Or for homeless youth, "What is wrong with the parents?"
What we have found out in the past year is there are non-simple answers to these tough questions. Basically, there are as many reasons for someone becoming homeless as one can imagine. A few choose this lifestyle - the majority do not. For many today, being homeless is only a missed paycheck or an unexpected expense away. In addition, some have an untreated mental illness on top of everything else. Because the causes of homelessness are so complex, solving this pervasive problem will not be easy. It will take a collaborative effort of many in our community.
Yesterday afternoon, I was at a community meeting at a local church. It was widely attended by faith organizations, local government, county government, law enforcement and non-profits. It was the first of what become regularly scheduled meetings which will attempt to craft solutions to put "meat on the bones" in solving homelessness. It was time well spent - I am looking forward to the next meeting and beyond.
My take away from this meeting is only one part of many parts which are needed to starting turning the tide on homelessness. We as a community, be it local, state or nationally, need to become intolerant. Not intolerant of the people who are affected by homelessness - rather intolerant that homelessness exists at all. In other words, we need to stop the practice of benign neglect. Stop ignoring homelessness, and hoping it will go away. Stop trying to transfer the homeless to someplace else so it will be a problem for some other community to deal with. No, we together need to become so staunchly intolerant of homelessness, that we will fix it now, and we will fix it here.
I strongly encourage people who don't know much about homelessness, or would like to know more about it, to do some Google searching. You will be amazed at how much information is out there. How many organizations have already joined the fight in combating this growing problem. As big as the efforts to combat homelessness are now, much more help is needed. If this issue tugs at your heart, please consider joining us. Remember - most who are homeless, are just like us. Most did not chose to live this way. Nobody should have to live this way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Off the Grid...


"It is a mess. It is a disaster just waiting to happen..."

My word, we sure have a lot to worry about these days! If it is not Ebola, it is ISIL. If it is not ISIL, it is our national debt. If not the debt, it is a possible new Cold War with Russia. If not problems with Russia, it is some kind of EMP event which would cripple or destroy our power grid.

Our power grid. Now there is a subject which I have not thought of for a while. And yet, we all should be thinking about it each and every day. Ignoring our grid is like a heavy smoker ignoring a nagging cough for months. Our grid is ancient. It is comprised of two large and three smaller grids tied into one tangled mess.

Not to be Debbie Downer on a beautiful Tuesday morning, but I need to bring this up once again. Many people don't realize how much of our daily life is tied into this fragile power grid of ours. Simply put, if the grid goes down, so does our lifestyle. Or to put it on a more basic level, if our grid goes down, people will die. And not just a few, maybe millions.

We know how to fix the grid. We have known how for years. At one time, we had only one or two fixes. Now we have many. And yet we do nothing. Why? No national will. We will ignore it or worry about it until it becomes a problem. The issue with that thinking is this - once it becomes a problem, it will be too late. Lights out (literally) and our party will be over.

In the paper today, this issue was discussed. One solution offered was to break our gargantuan and ancient grid into "micro-grids". Having micro-grids with smart technology would do wonders. Making sensitive and critical junctions rugged and "rad hardened" would really help. Some of these new technologies have already been tried on a small scale. That is fine, but we need large scale fixes. We need to our entire grid re-tooled and upgraded. By not doing so, we are living on borrowed time. People that believe this might be right.

The next time you flick on the lights, draw a glass of water, or flush the toilet, think of our grid. Think what your life would be like with no refrigerator, no stove, no oven, no water, no lights, no heat, no nothing. That is what it would be like for the majority of our population if the grid goes out. It would take months, maybe years to get it back up and running. By that time, our time would have run out. None of us can afford that - not at all.

Monday, October 20, 2014

We really need a "Doc"...


"Is there a doctor in the house? Because we really need one!"

Is there a doctor in the house? Is there someone who can triage the mess we have in the SOS office? The one created by, and left to us by "Leftie" Mark Richie? Is there someone, anyone, who can put validity back into our voting process? Who can help make it better? Can be a voting advocate for our fighting men and woman? Yes there is - and that person is Dan (Doc) Severson!

For those who do not know "Doc", or don't know his background, let me help. Like me, he is retired Navy. Unlike me, "Doc" spent his time in the Navy on the tip of the spear. In other words, he was a fighter pilot. He flew the A-7 as well as the F/A-18 Hornet. He was stationed all over the world as well as being a member of the elite TOPGUN school. "Doc" is a hometown boy, graduating from Hopkins High School. He went to St. Cloud and earned a degree in Physics prior to going into the Navy. After 22 years in the Navy, he retired and then served four consecutive terms in the Minnesota House.

No, Dan is not a doctor - and he does not play one on TV. "Doc" is his call sign from his Navy days. All Naval Aviators have one. Early in his career, other aviators thought his name sounded quite a bit like Doc Severinson from the Johnny Carson Show. The next thing you know, Dan became "Doc" to his Navy chums. And the name still sticks.

In 2008, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal wrote a book called Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy. In that book, he specifically pointed out the razor thin election of Al Franken. Because our Secretary of State position at that time was held by Mark Ritchie, any voter fraud allegations that were brought up by Minnesota Majority or other citizen watchdog groups, were very lightly considered or dismissed. Not to re-litigate the 2008 Senate election, but the facts speak for themselves. Over 1,000 felons illegally voted, and Franken won by less than 400 votes. A Secretary of State who is an honest broker, and not a George Soros operative, would have righted this grievous wrong. By the way - if we did have an honest election, we would not have Al Franken. And we would not have ObamaCare.

"Doc" wants to ensure our military people are not disenfranchised in any election. They have been in the past. It is a proven fact. "Doc" will ensure that WILL NOT happen in the future. He will ensure our election process is viable and valid. No more shenanigans. He still believes in Voter ID, as do many of us. We have to have photo ID for just about everything else. We should also have it for voting.

Our "wrong way" local newspaper came out today and endorsed Steve Simon for Secretary of State. That was a shocker! I read the article - it said nothing. They don't like "Doc" because he focuses too much on military voting. Plus, he was involved in the Voter ID effort. Mostly, they don't like him because he a Republican and not a Progressive. These are all the reasons we SHOULD support "Doc" for crying out loud! 

After two terms of Mark Ritchie, we need a good house cleaning in the SOS office. Or, we need take the SOS position in for a full physical. And if we do get a physical for the SOS position, I know just the "Doc" who can do it!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why I edorse the "Mechanic"


"If you like an honest broker, Jeff is the man. If you like slick and glitz, he falls far short..."

I am so glad that Jeff Johnson does not sell used cars. I am afraid he would not be able to pay his mortgage or feed his family. Why? Jeff is way too honest. Too truthful. He would tell the prospective buyer everything that was right and wrong with the car. However as a mechanic, Jeff would do very well. He would be able to diagnose problems and then figure out the best, most cost efficient way to fix them. And because of his honesty, he would never recommend a repair that was not necessary or did not help.

Please don't be shocked when I tell you this. Today, our very left leaning hometown newspaper endorsed Governor Dayton for another four years. Their words - "one good term deserves another." In the eyes of the Loony Left, these past four years have been very good indeed. Gay marriage, higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich, a taxpayer funded football stadium, and new Senate office building, and so on. In the eyes of people who pay the freight, or like to see our state become more competitive, it has been a very messy four years.

For those who don't mind used car salesmen always selling them a bill of goods, Jeff Johnson must come across as Mr. Buzzkill. After all, what is there not too like with the past four years? All Jeff wants to do is dissect every program we have to ensure it is doing what is was purposed to do. Fix what needs to be fixed, scrap what needs to be scraped. For the Lefties as well as the low information crowd, this is B-O-R-I-N-G. No glitz in this approach. Who cares if we have programs that do nothing and cost us tens or hundreds of millions? It is not our money! Who cares if we got taken to the cleaners by the Vikings for their new billion dollar stadium? It is not our money. Who cares if we are spending almost $100M on a unneeded new Senate office building? It is not our money. Jeff Johnson says hold on - it is our money, and it is not being spent wisely.

Jeff stands out today in a world of fast talkers and charlatans. He is deliberate, he is thorough. He is nice, he is honest. This country elected and re-elected a President just because of a slogan. We elected our current Governor even though he was voted one of the worst 5 Senators of all time! We don't care. Jobs that are being created nationally or statewide are lower paying and offer fewer hours than jobs which were lost. The Governor says look at the numbers. Jeff says we can do better.

The Governor is very proud that we have frozen tuition at our state colleges. This will benefit our students. As he usually does, Jeff reads the fine print. Was tuition frozen? Yes. Were the out of control costs at our colleges frozen? No. We will just pass those costs on to the taxpayers. The Governor says look at the numbers. Jeff says we can do better.

This is why I support Jeff Johnson to be our next Governor. I happen to like honesty. I like people who pay attention to the details, who read the fine print. We need someone who will get into office and scrap the very problematic MNSure and then begin to dismantle the unelected, out of control Met Council. Just because Jeff is incredibly nice does not mean he can't be tough. He can be tough as nails when he needs to be.

Next month, please join me in voting for "the Mechanic". We no not need four more years of the used car salesman. Voting for Jeff is the right thing to do for our State. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Come Saturday Morning...

"Come Saturday morning, I am going away with my friend. We'll Saturday-spend till the end on the day, just I am my friend..."
Come Saturday Morning
The Sandpipers

What is there about Saturday mornings? When I was still working, I would look forward to Saturday mornings like nobody's business. When our kids were small, ABC had a full morning of cartoons on Saturday mornings called "Funshine Saturday". Saturdays were a time to lay in bed a little longer, read the paper a little deeper, and then have a "special breakfast".

One of my favorite movies from decades ago was The Sterile Cuckoo. The theme song in that movie was Come Saturday Morning. A great movie with a great song. Why that song for that particular movie? It just fit. It was about a brief love affair while in college. It was a special time for two young people - as special as Saturday mornings are for the rest of us.

Now that we are retired, one would think that Saturday mornings just blend into the week. That they would become ordinary. When my Dad retired, he would often say, "Every day is a Saturday!" I guess I have found that true up only up to a point. When I roll out of bed on a Saturday morning, I know it will be a special day. I may have absolutely nothing planned, and yet always end up doing something special.

So today as I finish my second cup of coffee, I look forward to what this day will hold. The weekend is full of promise, as right now it is only Saturday morning. Will it be a "Funshine Saturday"? Will I go or do something special? Or will it be just a time to relax and get caught up. Whatever this day will hold, I am looking forward to it. Come Saturday morning, I may not be going away with my friend, but whatever I do, I will be with my best friend (my wife). 

Friday, October 17, 2014

The on-deck circle...


"The "on-deck circle" is where you go when you are next up..."

Here it is on a Friday afternoon, and I am going to be talking about something morose in nature. However, when I look up at the steely gray sky ushering in the cool autumnal winds, I guess it is okay to bring this topic up.

This week, my wife's Dad got sick (maybe pneumonia) and fell in his bathroom. We rushed him to the hospital where he was admitted. The hospitalist on duty thought (no surprise to us) that my Father-in-law might be too weak to go safely home, and should consider going to rehab. We are very familiar with that routine, as we have been through it with my Mother as well as my Mother-in-law (while she was alive).

Being in hospitals, transitional care facilities, and then full care facilities brings two thoughts to mind. First, I am amazed on how much care facilities have improved since my grandparent's day. Back then, a care facility (aka a "nursing home") was little more than a warehousing location for old people. The old folks laid in bed until the Lord called them home. The facility usually smelled of urine, and many of the people had dementia. With some, all they could do was cry or moan in their beds.

The second thing I think of is simply this - I have entered into the "on-deck circle" of life. When I was younger and my grandparents were aging, their stage of life seemed like forever away. Now that our parents have entered that stage, I realize I am looking at our future. In other words, if we are fortunate to live long enough, our bodies will start to fail. My Father-in-law, who has always been as tough as nails and could do most anything, was so weak this past Wednesday, he could not even get out of his chair. It is very common for folks in their 80's or 90's to start losing leg strength and balance.

There are some advantages of realizing you are in the "on-deck circle" of life. We understand our tomorrows are running low, so we need to fully live out our todays. Every person I have run into at my Mother's care facility, was once in the "on-deck circle". And before that, they were young.

They are each one of them, a person. And they have a story. They are "us", in not too many years. They deserve the respect they have earned. They deserve kindness. They deserve to be treated as we would like to be treated when we enter the final stages of our journey.

The Ebola Czar


"When all else fails, appoint a 'blue ribbon' panel or another bureaucrat from academia..."

I was hoping that maybe we might have fixed at least part of the problem. Yesterday, the formidable Dr. Tom Frieden was in front of a Congressional committee trying to answer some tough questions. It was quite the show to say the least. What did we learn? Nothing. What was resolved? Nothing. However, later in the day the President did some out and make a statement. And what did he say? Well for one thing, he is not going to stop flights from coming in from the Ebola "hot zones".

It has been proven that countries in Africa who have voluntarily imposed travel restrictions have shown positive results in slowing the disease. That does not matter to us. However, we are thinking about appointing a "Ebola Czar". Will that person be the same kind of uninformed bureaucrat that is running the CDC? Odds are it will be.

So what is our strategy right now in keeping this dreaded disease out of our country? I really don't know. Since I had to spend a lot of time in my truck yesterday, I listened to quite a bit of the Frieden hearings. The Administration must be very proud of him. He has learned the art of the non-answer. He gives a lot of information, but not the information requested.

When he was asked why he did not support travel restrictions from Ebola "hot zones", he gave a classic non-answer. He said was worried about hurting the "fledgling economies in some African countries". Huh? News flash to Dr. Frieden - your job is to keep the people in THIS country safe! He should have resigned or been fired yesterday.

We are however, sending more of our fighting troops over to Africa. We do this as ISIL continues to massacre innocents in Syria and Iraq. Kobane is inches from falling into enemy hands. ISIL has threatened to behead another American. Do we send members of our elite 101st Airborne over to restore peace and order? Nope. No boots on the ground, remember? Instead we are sending members of this highly trained war fighting unit over to Africa to treat Ebola. Go figure.

We will have to wait and see what happens today. We will see if a czar is appointed, or if that decision also needs to be weighed on the 15th hole. Meanwhile, hundreds of people who may have been exposed to this disease, wait on pins and needles. Of all the things this Administration has bungled in the past six years, this is by far the worst. Now we wait - and hope against hope our luck has not run out.

The Executioner's Song...


"For any mouse in the house, she has become like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland!"

I begged her not to do it. I told her they are cute, innocent. However, her heart has been hardened. You see, the villains, the varmints, the vermin, have crossed her "red line". They have invaded her kitchen and are leaving unwelcomed souvenirs in their wake.

They come from all areas of the map. Some from the front yard, some from the back yard, and some sneak in from the garage. They are all makes and models. Some are grey, some are brown, some big and some little. For my wife, who has now replaced me as the house executioner, size and color no longer matter. If they are cute or not so cute - that does not matter either. "To the glue pads we go!" she shouted across the house. "I will put traps in every drawer, every counter, every cupboard!"

I glanced at her face and saw a look of determination I had not seen before. The next thing I expected to hear was the line from Alice in Wonderland - "Off with their heads!" No, it was "stick them to the glue strips" instead. And that is exactly what she has done.

As the former mouse catcher in the house, I can only look at her and marvel. Every day the body count goes up. This morning when I was gathering garbage to take out to the curb, I noticed my wife had scored another "two-fer". Oh yes - multiple catches have become her specialty. In fact, her record is four (all be they very small) in one glue trap. I can only look upon her with admiration - as well as gratitude I am not a mouse in this house!

So there it is - the executioner's song. Some day, this house will finally be purged of mice. Or Menards will finally sell out of glue traps. Until then, the beat goes on.