Sunday, November 30, 2014

More than just the "tweener" season...

 
 

 
"What is Advent? Simply put, the arrival. The arrival which changed and saved the world..."



Well Thanksgiving is over, and once again it was a dozzie. My wife and I believe this might have been our best ever. In any event, the day went well, and we continue to munch on leftover turkey.

With Thanksgiving over, are we are ready for the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas? The shopping, cooking, more shopping, decorating, office parties, and on and on and on. This is what some refer to as the busy season - others might refer to it as the "tweener" (as in in-between) season. Still others appropriately call this season Advent.

What is Advent? Some churches practice it and others may not. First off, it has been around since the 6th century. It may not be defined as Advent in the Bible, but it still makes very good sense for us to acknowledge. What Advent means is simply the "arrival". It is getting ready for the arrival of God, becoming man, and then being born unto a young woman in a stable. It is preparing for this arrival, the arrival of Christ. We do so by preparing our hearts and minds for the upcoming celebration of Christmas. That is all. It is as simple as that. And today is the first day of Advent.

I know, I know. Easier said than done. Just so I don't sound like too much of a hypocrite, I have done more than my fair share of stressing in Christmas' past. Some Christmas seasons became almost secondary to the material preparation. I had zero time to prepare my heart and mind. It was a mad dash to the finish line of 4pm on the 24th of December. I can't change how I was in the past, but I can sure change how I act in the future.

This Advent season, my wife and I are committed to buy less, decorate less, stress less and worship more. In the new movie America, Dinesh D'Souza asks us to "imagine the world without America". It would be very bleak, and I agree with him. What if we took that thought even further and asked, "Jesus - imagine the world without Him". I can't. Without Jesus, the world would be unimaginable - and without hope.



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hunger Games

 
 

 
"Is it possible to feed every living soul on this planet? It simply has to be..."



Sorry. This was a bit of a tease. As much as I like the movie trilogy Hunger Games, this is not what I am addressing. I am talking about getting enough to eat. Enough food to live on. Not just in this country, but all over the world.

The population of this planet is just over 7.1 billion people. It is projected to reach 9.6 billion people by the year 2050. According to Robert Malthus who lived a couple of centuries ago, we all should have starved to death years ago from lack of food. But we have not. There are areas of the world where food is grown in great abundance (like right here!), and other areas where food is very scarce. The trick is to ensure not one human being starves to death or becomes malnourished. Quite a challenge today with 7.1B people. A much bigger challenge in 2050.

So how big is big? How much food does this nation really produce? I will address only two crops - corn and soybeans. If you live in Minnesota, it is hard to drive anywhere in the country without seeing corn and/or soybeans growing for miles and miles in every direction. And many other states are the same way. This year, American farmers were able to produce 14.093B bushels of corn. That is even bigger than last year - and last year was huge! Soybeans also had a good year. 3.182B bushels to be exact.

Those numbers are simply staggering. That is enough to feed everyone in this country as well as a good chunk of the world's population. But why worry about them? Heck, we got ours! In fact, we have so much corn, we burn it to make ethanol. We feed our animals better than many people in the world eat.

We are blessed in this community to have an organization called Feed my Starving Children. They are driven by the desire not to let one person, especially children, go hungry. My wife have worked with this organization. We have packed food. We have talked to people who have been among the poorest of the poor when they receive this food. It is the bread of life to countless people overseas.

This year my wife and her siblings are going to donate funds to World Vision to dig a deep well in Africa. A worthy as it is for organizations such as Feed my Starving Children to send dried food to hungry people, clean potable water is also needed to reconstitute once it arrives on site. So in honor of my Father-in-Law who died earlier this month, the family, along with donations received at his funeral, are going to donate enough funds to have a deep well dug in Africa. This well will serve hundreds, maybe thousands of people for decades to come with life giving water.

As the old adage goes, "From whom much is given, much is expected." Hunger is a problem the world does not to have to deal with in 2015. We have the resources to solve it. In this country, we live deep within the Horn of Plenty. We have so much grain, we don't have enough bins to store it in. But for many in the world, Hunger Games is not a movie, nor is it a game. Getting enough to eat is day to day survival. Each day and every day. We can help. We can fix this. In fact, we can end this.   





Friday, November 28, 2014

Equitable Outcomes

 
 

"She likes to think about herself as 'Wonder Woman' - the 'Wonder', I agree with..."



Today in the paper, I read where the Mayor of Minneapolis wants to establish two additional positions in her 2015 budget. These people would be working in a yet to be formed department entitled the "Office of Equitable Outcomes". Holy smokes! If this new department does not sum up exactly what the problem is, and where the divide is in local and non-local politics is, I don't know that does!

Constitutionals (and Tea Party people) understand the what's and whys of our Constitution. This document is the cornerstone which has made America so exceptional. To keep our country from looking like totalitarian (or worse), our Founding Fathers wanted to ensure in America, EVERYONE has equal opportunity. Period. Case closed. To ensure everyone is guaranteed equal outcomes instead of equal opportunity, flies in the face of what we stand for as a nation.

Last night my youngest daughter invited two of her friends to share our Thanksgiving meal. It was nice to have them, but I particularly enjoyed hearing their stories. My daughter is getting ready to go back to college in January; one of her friends who was over is also going back to school this winter, only to a different school and majoring in a different subject; the other friend already has a degree, but is getting ready to go back and get a Master's degree. I bring this up for one reason - this is an example of the freedoms of choice we have. Not outcomes, but opportunities to pursue dreams. And all three are getting ready to pursue their dreams.

I love the opportunities I have been given in my life. I have had no less, and no more than most others. I could have done better in my career, and I could have done worse. I had the opportunities to do both. The OUTCOME I have received from my working career was based totally on me. How I worked, how I applied my skills, how hard I worked, all determined the OUTCOME. To believe in equal outcomes, would be for me to demand I receive in retirement the same as a retired CEO. The fact that CEO might be better educated, might have worked harder, might have worked smarter, would have nothing to do with it. I demand equality. I demand to receive the same as that person is receiving.

Some think we need a national dialogue on race. We maybe do. However, I believe what we also need a national dialogue on our Constitution. We have way too many people who are either ignorant of it, or choose not to follow it. It is our founding document. It is our rudder. Without our Constitution, we are no longer exceptional. In fact, without it, we might just become "no longer".   



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Give thanks....to the Holy One

 
 



"It is a day that most families really look forward too. It is truly a day to give thanks..."



Thanksgiving is here. A day of fun, family, fires in the hearth, and last but certainly not least, FOOTBALL! But if we can peel away all the above things I just mentioned, what really is Thanksgiving? Glenn Beck believes it is the start of the Holy season in this country. I think he might be right.

It is good and right to be thankful. Growing up, our parents taught us to say "thank you" when someone did something nice or kind for you. But who do we thank on this day? People of faith believe we should thank God for the abundant blessings He continues to pour down upon us. Our pastor tells us every morning when your feet hit the floor, which is your first blessing of the day.

One thing many of us take for granted (I know I do), is the unbelievable abundance of food we have in this country. We produce enough food to feed everyone in this country, as well as a big chunk of the world's population. We truly are living in the Horn of Plenty. Some countries have resource problems where they simply cannot produce enough food to feed their population. In this country we only have an allocation problem. A problem which can be greatly reduced by those who have enough sharing with those who do not.

Today, when everyone arrives for family time, the house will look and smell very festive. In most families, this will be a good day - a very good day. However, before the first bite of turkey is consumed, we will bow our heads to give thanks. We will give thanks to the Holy One, the provider of everything. It is the right thing to do as we have all of us, been richly blessed again year. 


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

And so it starts...

 
 

 
"Before we become a 'cold Omaha' in January, there are many good times to be had..."



Many people think that Minnesota in the dead of winter (as defined by our two endless months of January and February) resembles nothing more than a cold Omaha. I confess - I am also one who thinks that. Those two months (and sometimes March) are good only for doing inside jobs and then watching the days slowly, ever so slowly, get longer. However, late November and into the month of December are a different story all together.

It really does start with the day before Thanksgiving. In my working days, I it did not matter which company I was at. The day before Thanksgiving was not a day to get much done. It was a day to discuss (with great expectations) everyone's Thanksgiving. Where they were going, if they were hosting, and was the day was going to be like. Even if you were stuck with some relatives you did not particularly care for, it was still all good.

Then comes the day itself. The house becoming even warmer with the aroma of a cooking turkey, stuffing full of herbs and spices, all blended in with a symphony of other dishes cooking. A fire in the hearth, with a small mountain of firewood waiting at the ready. And we cannot forget about the great family distractor on this fine day - football. Yes, football on the television, often going from noon until after everyone has departed.

Following Thanksgiving comes the now famous "Black Friday". A day which can either make or break a merchant's financial heart. A day when many of us use (and sometimes abuse) our credit and debit cards. It is a day to get up at the crack of dawn (or long before), put on the shin pads and (as they say in the world of wrestling), "Get ready to rumble!"

Once Thanksgiving weekend is over, we are racing (and I mean racing) Pell-Mell into December. My wife's birthday, my birthday, my son-in-law's birthday - all shortly after the month starts. The house has now been transformed. Due to my wife's holiday d├ęcor skills, we have gone from the earth tones of fall, to something even more wonderful. The house is alive with color. Christmas songs are often playing in the background, and slowly presents start appearing under the tree. As Andy William's song goes, "It is the most wonderful time of the year." 

Finally it is here - Christmas Eve. It is the day my grandparents, my parents and this family have traditionally celebrated Christmas. Oh, don't get me wrong. Christmas day is still a big deal. But it is Christmas Eve when our festivities really start. Leg of lamb is our traditional Christmas Eve meat, with of course, all our favorite trimmings. No football is allowed on this day (except when it falls on a Sunday - and even then it is highly regulated). A fire, joyful music, and presents to be opened. No matter how many times we host Christmas Eve, I never tire of it.

Finally New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. After a full day of college bowl games on New Year's Day, the end of the festivities is now in sight. Besides for some NFL playoff games on the weekends, it is time to start sinking into the deep freeze. Thoughts of cruising someplace warm and seeing things which are green and growing start dancing through my head. But this year will be different. During January, which is traditionally my most un-favorite month of the year, new life will visit our family. Yes, our first grandson will be joining our family on January 16th. That event will make even the coldest of months, very warm indeed.  

 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Problems at the Pentagon

 
 

 
"We got trouble, right here in river city..."


Yesterday, as most have heard by now, Chuck Hagel, our Secretary of Defense "resigned". Okay, if you believe the Washington insiders, he was fired. Turned out he was not a "good fit" for this most important position. Who would be? Maybe nobody.

Chuck Hagel, a Viet Nam veteran, a former Senator, could not take it any longer. He did not want to leave his job, he just wanted his job to become for relevant in an ever more dangerous world. A few months ago, General Dempsey and Chuck Hagel had a "presser" to discuss the growing threat of ISIL. They had both just been briefed by their generals to get the true picture of the threat. During the "presser", it was if they had both seen a ghost - they looked shell shocked. Hagel called ISIL "the greatest threat this country has seen since 9/11." His boss was calling ISIL a "JV" organization. And that, is where the real problem has been for the past six years.

Hagel is not a bad man. He was not my choice to be Secretary of Defense once Gates and Panetta left. The real problem at the Defense Department was summed up by an analyst on the news. There is a communication problem between the White House and the Pentagon. Oh, there is communication - only it is one way. The White House does not listen to the war fighters in the Pentagon. In fact, this group of elitists who occupy the West Wing don't know a wit about the military. However, that does not stop them from trying to micromanage this fine organization.

Here is the story in a nutshell. Hagel, like many others who study the Pentagon, know the numbers do not add up. That is unless you are using Common Core math. This month we learned we have "mission creep" in Afghanistan as well as more resources deployed in Iraq. The ISIL treat continues to grow as that organization continues to strengthen. Russia is still tinkering in the Ukraine, and China is slowly becoming a regional super power in the Western Pacific. What are we doing? We are riffing middle grade officers by the thousands and everyone is gearing up for the next set of sequester cuts next October. See what I mean about the math?

As big of a liar as Bill Clinton was, this best example of telling the truth was when he said (before becoming President) that he "loathed the military". I don't know if our current Commander in Chief feels that strongly, but I think he might have some antipathy for the organization. With that being the culture, a good "fix" for what ails the Pentagon might be two years away.

So who would be a good replacement for Hagel? Many are saying David Petraeus. I agree with that suggestion. Instead, I see POTUS nominating a pointy headed academia type that believes in the "groupthink" coming out of the West Wing. If that is the case, look for our Pentagon to become more of a shell than an Aegis. 2016 - you can not come soon enough!

Monday, November 24, 2014

This week? Total mayhem...

 
 

 
"This is the week American's traditionally give thanks. This year? Yet to see..."



As most American's are working a shortened work week, and are getting ready to either travel or entertain on Thanksgiving, others are getting ready for disturbances in Missouri that could range from mayhem to street warfare. And it all has to do (we thought) with the release of the grand jury verdict in the Michael Brown case.

The answer seems simple, does it not? If the grand jury can just indict this cop on SOMETHING other than a justified shoot, everyone can go home and peace will once again return to the shire. Well, hold the phone please. It seems that is not in the cards. Not one bit.

Our local MSNBC "Rev" and racial arsonist already has protests planned for a hundred cities. Will the protests still go on if this cop is indicted? Yep - sure will. There will be other things to protest. Heavy handed policing, the racial make up of many big city police departments, racial profiling and (ready for this...) minimum wage. In other words, this event which will probably happen this week will be an excuse for mayhem (or worse).

Mayor Rudy (America's Mayor) was on one of the talk shows this weekend. He brought up a very good point which has been brought up by some others before. Having a white cop shoot a black person under suspicious circumstances is a rare event. However, black on black crime amounts to 93% of all black homicides in big cities. It has become much too common. Why are we not addressing that issue also? Well, needless to say, Rudy got pounced on by one of the liberals on the show as "not knowing what he is talking about". Bottom line - what is happening in Ferguson is headline news, and what is happening in Chicago remains off limits.

Most people in the know feel this verdict will be released before Thursday. Governor Nixon has already declared a state of emergency in Missouri and called out the National Guard. It is too bad we can't go back in time. If all Ferguson police had been issued body cameras, this week could have been only about giving thanks, and not getting ready for social unrest. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homeless, hopeless, but not helpless...

 
 


"Most did not want it, nor did they expect it. However, they are now homeless..."




There were four of them. They were all asleep, huddled up in a 1998 Mazda. It was sitting in a parking lot, the windows all frosted up. The car was a wreck. On a good day, it would start. Many days, it needed to be jump started as the battery was on it's last legs. Three of the people were young men in their early twenties, and the one was a girl, barely sixteen years old. All were homeless.

The reasons they are homeless is not really important. The uncomfortable fact is this - they are only four young people out of thousands who are currently without permanent shelter. The reasons are as varied as one could imagine. Very few if anyone wants to be homeless. Very few if anyone expects to be homeless. But they are.

The four young people I addressed are living out of a broken down car, staying as close as possible to the local teen drop in shelter. The problem of why they are sleeping in their car is simple - the drop in center is not licensed by the city to have anyone spend the night inside. If young people can not "couch hop", nor find a place at a local shelter, they are stuck with sleeping in car - or worse, outside.

In the middle a harsh and endless winter, sleeping in a car, or outside, is risky and treacherous. Hypothermia, robbery, sexual assault, you name it come with the territory. Sleeping out in the open is a witch's brew of danger. And this is not just about young people spending the night outside of a drop-in center. It is also about adults. It is also about families. It is about people of all ages with mental health issues. These are people that are no better and no worse than us. They have been relegated to this lifestyle by a set of circumstances they did not want nor expect.

I would like to tell you this is getting better, but it is not. Currently, one out of thirty youth in this country do not have a home. The number of homeless teens in our local school district  goes up every semester. Can we help? Absolutely. Can we fix this problem? I don't know. However, I would like to think so.

If you would like to help, please  check with the county you live in. Most have some kind of support services, usually in desperate need of things. The need is always great, but the resources, be they kind and generous, have trouble keeping up. If you would like to help, it is a great cause, if you have some extra to give. These people are us. They deserve better than what they have. A helping hand is all they ask for.

Ethnic Cleansing

 
 

 
"In many parts of the world, to be caught with the Holy Bible can seal your fate..."




This past week we saw yet another massacre of innocent Christians in Africa. It was not done in Syria by ISIL, this time it was done in Kenya by al-Shabab. A bus was stopped and sixty people were taken off by armed zealots. Those from the bus who could not prove they were Muslim enough, were executed. Simple as that. Being a Christian in many parts of the world today is still a death sentence.

Yesterday at the Church Leadership Training I attended, the question was asked by the trainer how many of us owned one Bible. All the hands went up. Then how many owned two Bibles. Again, all the hands went up. The man conducting the training then told a story. He was at a leadership conference in another city and a pastor from Indonesia was there. Indonesia is way over 90% Muslim. This pastor could not believe how easy and safe it was in America to own a Bible. There is no risk in doing so. In many countries, not so much.

The trainer then went on to say that in some areas of Africa, it is very risky to own a Bible. So much so, that once a Bible is smuggled into a village, the pages are torn out and distributed to different people in the village. Each person is to memorize at least one page of the Bible and then destroy the page. Then during a worship service, if something from (for example) Ephesians 6 needed to be read, the person who has memorized that chapter would recite it.

I was reminded of when I was employed by a large church towards the end of my working career. One of the youth directors was going to resign and take his family to a country in the Baltics to do mission work. About six months before he left, he came into my office with a strange request. He asked me to go into the church's website and intentionally misspell his name. When I asked why, he told me it was for the safely of his family and the people he would be staying with. If his trail could be (electronically) tied back to a Christian church, he, his family, and his friends, could be in grave danger.

Max Lucado, a noted Christian author, has written about "dangerous Christianity". In America, many of us take our faith for granted. However in many areas of the world, being a Christian is not for the faint of heart. Max tells us our spiritual journey should be looked at more like a battleship and less like a cruise ship. The forces of darkness would like nothing better than to have Christians become totally insular and then to eschew the teachings of Matthew 28 (The Great Commission).

This morning my wife and I will go to the nine o'clock service at our church. As we worship, I will reflect back on what I learned yesterday. How blessed we are, that we can worship our God in safety. I will also reflect back on something else I learned yesterday - the teachings from Matthew 9:37: 

Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few".

Time for me to get moving - there is work to do.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Does it matter if we matter?

 
 



And the Savior said, "That which you do for the least of you, you do for me..."



As we approach the holiday season, many people are gearing up for fun, family and festivities. It truly is a great time of the year. It is a time to eat our fill, watch a ton of football, and then abuse our credit cards on Black Friday. However, it is also a time for some to dread. People who have very little, people who have no home, people who have no family ties, or people who live on the margins of society.

In the past few years, my wife and I have seen our family traditions change as loved ones have passed on. We have also seen new traditions develop. One of the traditions we have let go of is giving material things to each other when the need is very little. That has been replaced by the gift of time. As we have aged, we understand just how important, how fleeting, time really is.

Another tradition we have adopted (and continue to develop) is trying to follow the teachings of Mathew 26 from the Holy Bible. Each year, we are trying more and more to give more of what we have blessed with to the least of us. Giving to where the need is the greatest. We are vetting charities to ensure monies or gifts given will be used for those who need it the most.

This year we will continue to give to a charity named World Vision. For the past ten years, we have sponsored a child in Haiti through World Vision. Through World Vision, last year we were also able to give a year end gift to buy a few shares to dig a deep well in Africa. As excited as we are to help charities such as Feed My Starving Children, the powdered food sent to hungry people does little good unless there is a source of clean drinking water available.

This year, using gifts received at my wife's father's memorial service, we are going to try to buy an entire deep well. It is not cheap, but the impact will be enormous. It will supply hundreds, maybe thousands of people with abundant, clean drinking water for decades.

Like most years, I look forward to this holiday season with great expectation. New life is about to join our family with as my oldest daughter is set to give birth in January. It is also a time of reflection as this will be our first holiday season without my wife's father. After a full life, he is now gone. Only memories, very good memories remain. Somewhere in Africa, a deep well will soon be dug. It will not be named after him, but as far as we are concerned, it will be part of his legacy. And that, along with the memories, is what really matters.    

Friday, November 21, 2014

And then there is crazy...

 
 

 
"It really is a mad, mad, mad world..."




I really debated with myself this morning. I could not decide whether to call this article what I did, or call it "It's a mad, mad, mad world (after the movie). So I settled on the former. However you slice and dice it, after yesterday, and what is forecast to come up shortly, makes for "crazy" - just plain crazy.

Years ago there was a commercial on TV asking for money for the Humane Society. They would talking about how important it is for pets to have stability in their lives. Many of the run-away pets have experienced everything but stability in their young lives. I think the same is true for us two legged types. We also crave stability. Without stability, we have been on a merry-go-round  since 2008. To a certain degree, we have been on a merry-go-round since September 11, 2001. In short, we have been living crazy.

When we have no guiding principles in our lives, we have no rudder. We drift aimlessly. We fall for the sophism, listen to lies, we follow charlatans. Regardless of what many think, we really have cast out our ironclad documents which can lead us out of this maze we live in. What am I talking about? The Constitution and the Holy Bible. Once we eschew one and/or the other, all we end up with is crazy.

Yesterday our President, the man who is supposed to lead us by using our 200+ year old Constitution, decided it was time to change the game. After telling us for years he really needed to follow the rules as written, he changed his mind. He went from President to Emperor. Crazy.

Today, many are expecting the grand jury verdict to be read in Ferguson, MO. It appears the jury will find it unlikely the policeman did anything legally wrong. It also appears the "gentle giant" might not have been so gentle after all. Finally, it appears this might have been a justified shooting. If that is the case, there will have been no miscarriage of justice. That being said, many cities are bracing for all hell to break loose. Should there be if the shooting was in fact justified? Absolutely not. Crazy man, just crazy.

Coming home from my Father-in-Law's apartment the other day, driving over an overpass my wife and I noticed a train of oil cars at a stand still. In both directions, the oil cars seemed to stretch to the horizon. A more and more common sight these days.  And yet, we are told we must live with this increasing rail congestion as building more pipelines is "dangerous" to the climate. Our super long oil trains are a perturbation to the delivery of crops to market, coal to energy plants, and so on. Plus it is a dangerous way to transport a volatile product. Our President, who is a constant prisoner to special interest groups, will continue to veto the Keystone Pipeline until there are enough votes in Congress to override him. Real crazy man, real crazy.

Our war on terror. What a mess. Here we sit, the most powerful nation on Planet Earth (least wise we used to be), and we are powerless to fight this group of zealots straight out of the first millennium. We watch helplessly as innocent American and British civilians, many doing humanitarian work for the destitute people in the Middle East, are captured and beheaded. Many of these zealots have promised us nothing but death - we put bumper stickers on our cars which say "coexist". Well, the War on Terror will once again visit our shores, and these zealots want nothing to do with coexisting. They just want us dead. Crazy to the max, man!

We need to once again regain our stability. No more crazy. Tried it, don't like it. No more detouring around our Constitution. We need to get right with God by reading and following His Word. We have seen what the world looks like without rudders like the Constitution and the Bible. It looks and acts crazy. Crazy we have seen, we have lived it. We don't like it. Time to get back to our roots. No more crazy.



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Recalcitrant, to the end...

 
 

 
"Recalcitrant - resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant; hard to deal with, manage or operate"
 
 
 
Well, today is the day. The day we have been waiting for with baited breath. The day the worst kept secret in Washington will be revealed. The day the final ounce of our Constitution will be shredded by the man who took the office in order to protect and defend it.
 
The Emperor's minions (what few are left) were out in force yesterday (as well as this morning) trying to "plow the road" for the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT. In fact, our own Miss Amy was on one of the news shows this morning trying to defend the non-defendable. In her words, "Well we have tried to get the House to go along with us for quite a while now, so we can let some more doctors and scientists into this country." Nice try Miss Amy - but letting more doctors and scientists has NOTHING to do with what the Emperor is about to do.
 
Here is the unvarnished truth. He is going to allow 5 million poor and uneducated people into this country. Very few have English skills. Whereas doctors and scientists would add value immediately, it will take years and billions of dollars to get these people assimilated (only if they want to). Here is the kicker. If history had shown poor immigrants voted 80% for the Republican Party, the Emperor would not touch this issue with a ten foot pole. However, with the reverse being true, he can see these people as "low fruit on the tree" for expanding Democratic rolls for years to come.
 
The Emperor's minions have told us, "Oh, he has tried working with the House, but they have refused to cooperate." Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. We have an immigration system, and it is NOT broken. Our borders are broken, particularly in the south. The House has told the Emperor in very clear language - fix the borders first, and then we can come up with SOMETHING for the millions of illegals in this country. Nope. He does not want to do that. Instant voters is what he wants, and today that is what he will try to get.
 
I almost feel bad for the Emperor as I don't think he realizes what he is doing to himself as well as the country. Even Professor Turley, an avowed Democrat said, "Our Constitution is at the tipping point with this move." Republican leaders have said the Emperor will poison the well with both sides of Congress. Total and absolute gridlock will define the rest of his term. History (if not taught in the Common Core system), will judge him harshly. As for most of us "subjects" living under the rule of the Emperor, we only know him as recalcitrant.
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Keystone Shuffle

 
 

 
"Why did it not pass? It seems like we have Senate Democrats who are still mired in the 60's..."


This is almost funny. By an overwhelming majority, people in this country want not only the Keystone Pipeline to be built, they also want our entire pipeline infrastructure to be updated, modernized and expanded. Why? First off, many (like myself) are sick and tired of sitting at rail intersections, waiting and waiting for an extraordinary length of time. Secondly, truth tellers will reveal a simple fact. These oil rail cars are "bombs" on wheels. It is only a matter of time before we have a huge disaster involving an oil train. If it happens by a populated area, there will be causalities.

However, lets us not let facts get in the way of a good discussion. President "Hyperbole" is still worried about the myth of Global Warming. Forget the fact the State Department has studied the Keystone Pipeline six ways from Sunday during the past six years. Their conclusion? The rail cars add to the "carbon footprint", but the pipeline will not. So why did the Senate vote fall one short of passing this thing yesterday? The Democratic Left it seems, the "Progressives" are still stuck in the 1960's.

Here are the facts, the unvarnished truth. Despite his BEST efforts to derail our energy production, our President has been unable to stop progress. We are now an energy exporter. More to come. By 2020, energy experts say we will be the #1 energy exporter in the world, beating out even the Saudis. In early (very early) 2015, the Keystone Pipeline will once again come up for a vote in the new Congress. It will then pass. The President will go against the will of the American people (again) and veto it. Go ahead Sir - it only reflects on your party. People have long memories on the Keystone shuffle. Long enough to go into 2016.

Someone the other day asked a Republican lawmaker if his party was against new forms of energy. "Absolutely not!" he responded. "It is our future and we need to allow our innovators the freedom to discover and invent." In other words, if I may help interpret, we need our abundant fossil fuel NOW, and yet we can still work on the future forms of energy at the same time.

I read an article the other day about solar energy collectors. Much progress has been made recently in their technology. In five years, we could have passive collectors on houses which could truly supply part of the families energy needs. Fuel cell technology continues to improve. Natural gas for cars and trucks keep expanding. No, the energy future is very bright for this nation with both fossil fuels as well as what is to follow.

The Keystone Shuffle? Stayed tuned - next year it will get very, very interesting.

Peace, they do not want...

 
 


"What is wrong with these people? Have they no soul?"



As I have aged, I have worked very hard to become a more mellow fellow - a person of patience and grace. In other words, these days it takes quite a bit to rile me up. Well guess what? I am not only riled up, I am pissed! I am seeing red. With the last innocent American to get beheaded, to the massacre in Israel yesterday, I have had it up to my eyeballs. The people who commit these crimes are without remorse. They have no souls.

I am going to be curious to see the reaction that Bebe Netanyahu is going to take. I do know one thing - it will be more than what our President has done after a few of our citizens have been beheaded. And if I could go back in time just a bit, to the Benghazi massacre (yes, I will use that word again), there is a back story which was not told by the lap dog media. Ambassador Stevens was not only killed, but first he was tortured, and then sodomized with a broom handle.

Probably the most disgusting sideshow to this horrific event which took place yesterday in Israel, was the celebration that followed in the West Bank. People were dancing in the street, passing out candy, and having a gay old time. Why? Because four innocent people were hacked to death by two terrorists. The crime of the innocents? Worshiping. One Israeli policeman also died in the gunfight which ensued to take down the perpetrators.

Someone on the West Bank was asked why he was celebrating. His response - this is a religious war. Therefore, the killings were justified. I am glad that someone on that side finally admitted it. I have thought the same for quite a while now. This "War on Terror" has less to do with territory, and more to do with religion.

Even though I have come quite a way in mellowing, if I was the Prime Minister of Israel and saw the celebration in the West Bank, I would have unleased the F-16s. I know that Bebe will respond, and it will be more than a pin prick. I admire him that he did not unleash the dogs of war yesterday. I might have.

When we get a new President, I really hope that person lives in the world of reality. Lesson one - the people who hack others to death with meat cleavers, who behead innocent people, who sodomize ambassadors with broom handles, DO NOT WANT PEACE! Plain and simple. They are barbarians at the gate. I am tired of seeing innocent people being killed. Trust me - it is only a matter of time before it happens here - over and over again.

I want the message that will be sent to be crystal clear and filled with angry resolve. Let others live in peace, or die. It is as simple as that. No ifs, ands or buts. Live in peace, or die.

  



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sex, Lies and Videotape


 
 

 
"It seems that in government work, lying has become a form of art..."



No, this is not about the 1989 movie starring James Spader. In fact, it is not about sex at all. It is however, about videotape. And lies. Lots and lots of lies. What we find out over and over again is telling lies and videotape make a bad combination.

So who lies? We all do from time to time. Most of us try not to, but we will tell little white lies for a variety of reasons. However, there is a huge difference between telling a little while lie to make someone feel better, and a "whopper" told to deceive. In our present Administration, we have been told one "whopper" after another.

Something very few people know about me is I have been polygraphed. Not by the police for doing something wrong - I was polygraphed at NSA when I went there for training one year. It was a new policy they were trying out. Before you could enter the Copper Palace, regardless of the amount of time spent there, you needed to pass a polygraph. Don't worry - I passed. However, next to throwing up, it was one of the more unpleasant things I have gone through.

Even though unpleasant, I was fascinated by the entire event. Once it was over, I asked the technician some questions. For example, I wanted to see if anyone who was a liar could fool the machine. His answer surprised me. "Absolutely!" he said. "Some people become so skilled at lying they believe their lies to be reality. Telling a lie does not trigger a GSR, blood pressure or heart rate change. The machine is then fooled."

I think we have been misled by some very skilled liars in our government. The ACA is a great example. We were sold a bill of goods by people who could tell us lies with a straight face. Then, when Dr. Gruber's ego got the best of him and he decided to "spill the beans", he became instantly disavowed by everyone down to the dogcatcher in Washington. But there is that pesky and annoying videotape. Many of the people who are now disavowing Gruber, thought he was Mr. Smarty Pants in 2009. 

To our leaders who are chronic liars, let me give you some sage advice. The American people don't like being lied to. They don't like being played. We really do value honesty and veracity. If you are lying, come clean. Remember what most of our parents taught us - lying is very hard work. Keeping track of lies, and telling more lies to cover them up is exhausting. Telling the truth is very easy in comparison.

Let's hope the housecleaning that started this month and should continue into 2016 will set a new and more truthful tone in our nation's Capitol.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Our Unbroken Immigration System

 



"The President has grabbed this non-issue and turned it into the "issue de jour" for 2015..."



I swear. If I hear one more time the phrase "our broken immigration system", I am going to throw up in my mouth. There is nothing wrong with our immigration system that a bit of oil and a tune up won't fix. What we DO HAVE is a broken border and visa system. That is what the oil and tune up are needed for.

Lefties might look at the article and go directly to their play book. "What is the matter? Don't you like immigrants? This country was founded by immigrants". That logic also makes me want to throw up in my mouth. So I will get this on the table up front. I am PRO IMMIGRANT. My great grandparents were immigrants. So were my wife's. At my last job, I worked with dozens of LEGAL immigrants from India. They were very welcome there (including by me - I managed their contract), and the work they did was value added for sure.

We do not have undocumented workers in this country. If I can be blunt, I will say what we have. WE HAVE LAW BREAKERS. Why do I say that? We actually do have laws on the books which regulate our immigration and visa systems. The people I worked with at my former company were here using an I9 Visa. Once the visa expired, they were to either leave or apply for an extension. To do neither WOULD BE BREAKING ONE OF OUR LAWS. It is just as simple as that.

Years ago I needed to go to Australia to negotiate a deal with the Royal Australian Navy. Before I could set foot on Australian soil, I needed a temporary work visa. I also had to sign an agreement that I would abide by the terms of the visa. To not do so, would be breaking Australian law. The remedy would be immediate expulsion and I would probably never be able to go back there. It was simple. I knew the rules of the game, and I followed them.

Our southern border is so porous, we almost rely on an "honor system" to keep people out. News flash - very few follow it. They are not honorable. THAT is why we have millions of illegal people in this country right now. If they wanted to become American citizens, we have a PROCESS to do so. To not follow the process is UNLAWFULL.

Our President, who put his hand on a Bible and promised to uphold our Constitution, is about to make the biggest blunder of his political life. To allow UNLAWFULL people to remain in the United States with no penalty or recrimination is unacceptable, almost treason. I have said this before. We need to go through our country and do a "who is who" exercise. Those that prove they belong here stay - those who don't belong here are deported. It is really as simple as that.   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A man who causes amnesia

 
 

How does he do it? Where in the world does this power come from?



In all my life on this planet, I was hoping that day would come when I would be able to see someone with super human or magical powers. It goes back to when I was a kid, and read a lot of DC Marvel Comics. Well, my wishes have finally come true. This past week I have seen a man who can actually cause amnesia in people! Not just any people - but very powerful people indeed!

Who am I talking about? Johnathan Gruber of course! One of the "wizards of smart," that was the chief architect for ObamaCare. In fact, he is so smart, he is almost "god-like". He looks down his nose at the rest of us, as we are mere mortals. Not just mere mortals, but "stupid" mere mortals. We have been very blessed to have this guru from MIT guiding us through our health care debacle.

But wait! It seems as if some of the mere mortals do not like being called "stupid" by this "wizard of smart". In fact, many of the mortals don't even like the product he has peddled. This has resulted in a loud and raucous clamor rising up from the crowd. "Off with his head! (so to speak)". Our Emperor, as well as the former Speaker (Miss Nancy), were asked about this god-like figure from MIT. "Did he really call us stupid? Did he really dupe all of us in getting this bill passed?"

Both the Emperor as well as Miss Nancy had the same answer to these tough and probing questions. "Who is that? Never met him. In fact, never heard of him." And that is when I saw the true power of Dr. Gruber. Even though there is photographic, video graphic and hard copy evidence that Gruber worked with both Miss Nancy as well as the Emperor, they are both drawing a blank. It was pure magic! I was impressed!

Starting in January, when the new Congress is sworn in, "the ship is going to hit the sand". In other words, a lot of the shenanigans which have been played out in the past six years are going to see the light of day. Now that we all know Dr. Gruber is nothing but a snake oil salesman, and the product he sold the American people is fraudulent and defective, true patriots like Trey Gowdy are going to start peeling back ObamaCare like an onion. Oh yes - the truth will be found.

Dr. Gruber has now found himself firmly ensconced in our future history books. When the tale of ObamaCare is written with all the sordid details spelled out, people whose fingerprints are on this thing will be judged kindly.

Since 2009, there have been some voices in the wilderness, shouting the clarion of warnings about ObamaCare. Seems to me those voices were the true "wizards of smart" on healthcare.



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sparky

 
 

 
"At one time I thought he was the strong, silent type. I learned he really was the rudder of the family. He and my Mother-in-Law made a great team indeed..."



My Father-in-Law passed away earlier this month. He was just shy of his 91st birthday. He was a proud member of our December birthday club. My wife's is on the second, mine is on the 6th, my Son-in-Law's is on the 8th and my Father-in-Law's was on the 11th. His was the last birthday before Christmas. We were just joking about that at his care conference a week before he passed. We had a big blow out party on his 90th, and we were trying to decide what to do on his 91st. The best laid plans.

My aim is not to talk about my Father-in-Law's heath problems towards the end. It is not to talk about the pneumonia which came like a thief in the night to end his suffering. Rather, my goal is to talk about Sparky. It is a name I would call my Father-in-Law with reverence and respect. My Father-in-Law, a lifelong electrician, earned that nick-name, over and over again.

Before age and his health problems caught up with him, Sparky was always there for us when projects called. Either he would volunteer, or more likely his wife of 57 years would say, "Ken - the 'kids' (we were always the kids no matter how old we were) need help with (name the project)". Now, I never took advantage of Sparky's kind heart nor willingness to help. The project would have to be way outside my comfort zone (usually involving electricity) before the S.O.S. went out to my in-laws.

After the project was over, Sparky and I would join the girls in the kitchen. They had been making something tasty for us to share for dinner. First, we usually had a wee bit if libation, maybe some snacks, and of course, quite a bit of good humor. After dinner and desert were over, Sparky and Ma (the term of endearment Sparky called my Mother-in-Law) would leave. Even though we often worked hard on the project at hand, the day always ended well. What I did not realize was simply this - those were the "good old days", and we were living them. Oh, to have just one of those weekends back. The project, the food, the laughter, the love. I miss them.

Now Sparky and Ma are reunited in a place which was promised to them through their faith. There is no more pain, no more suffering, no more falls, no more labored breathing. Only peace and joy in the Lord. Those left behind have only our memories - and many, many of them were good. We are also reminded that our time here is precious and short. We know that even as tough as some of our days might be, they will be remembered in years to come as "the good old days". 

Friday, November 14, 2014

The man who is ruining America

 
 

 
"There are times I really wonder if our President is living out his 'Dr. Stangelove' moment..."



Harsh. I know. Very, very harsh. For years now, Rush Limbaugh has been talking about our President trying to ruin America. Now I like Rush. I learn things from him and other times find him to be very entertaining. Once in a while, I do believe he goes off into histrionics. When he would talk about the President ruining the country, that was one of them. Now I am starting to think Rush was right.

As much as I thought I was immune to anymore surprises coming from our POTUS, what happened this week really put me back on my heals. Here is just a small recap:
  • CNN reported that ISIL and all Al Qaeda factions have now joined forces into a much larger and more truculent organization. At the same time, it was reported that we continue to cut and shred the ranks of our middle grade Army Officers. Retired Four Star General Jack Keane said our forces now so diminished, it would be impossible to fight two front war. And BTW - the Russian Bear continues to growl. There has been further tinkering in the Ukraine as well as more intrusive bomber flights over the Gulf of Mexico.
  • In an attempt to save Mary Landrieu's seat in Louisiana, the long put off Keystone Pipeline is going to come up for a vote in the House and Senate. Most pundits believe  this time, even though Dingy Harry is still the Senate Leader, the bill will pass. It will be good for our country, and good for the creation of well paying jobs. Our tree hugging President however, has threatened to veto it. Why? You know - global warming issues. Only this time it might pass with a veto proof majority.
  • While overseas, POTUS thought it would be a great idea to introduce Net Neutrality. It sound good, it sounds mysterious. Some internet experts say Net Neutrality will do for the internet what ObamaCare has done for medicine. Get the picture? The internet has always been an amorphous, unregulated fountain of information. Like anything else, it can be used for evil as much as it can be used for good. To let the Father of Regulation come in and tinker with the net is a bad, bad idea.
  • I saved the best for last. Amnesty. In a move which even has some moderate Democrats scratching their heads, our tone deaf President could not even wait until Thanksgiving to announce he will grant amnesty to over 5 MILLION ILLEAGALS! This is dumb and dumber rolled into one move. Well this time the Republicans are not going to take the bait. Their eyes are on the prize in 2016. They are not going to shut down the government, nor are they going to impeach. They will however, hit the President where it hurts the most - in his pocketbook. If he does indeed pull the trigger, look for many of the President's "Pet Rocks" to become unfunded or underfunded starting in January. 
The damage this man has done in the past years has been immense. The damage he could continue to do in the next two years could be incalculable. Why is he doing this? Is he a megalomaniac? Is he evil? Or is he just misguided? History will judge. I hope for the sake of our country he is just misguided. But then again, I have been wrong about him before.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The death of traditional education

 
 


"Education is so important - and yet we seem to muddle our way through archaic systems which often leads to failure..."



Yesterday I had the chance to listen to a bit of Glenn Beck. Glenn is changing his focus as of late - he has become more and more fascinated by the future. So much so, he has put a futurist on his staff. In everything his company is doing right now, he tells his staff, "We will not burn down the past, we will live in the present. However, our planning will revolve around where we think technologies will be five years down the road." It is a great way to look at things if you want to survive as a company, or as an institution.

Recently, there has been quite a bit of news about education, both K-12 and higher. As they say in the car business, both K-12 and higher education need a "lube job, tune-up and alignment". In other words, they are in a mess. For example, consider the following:
  • In Minneapolis right now, it has been decided that punishment for bad behavior would depend on the color of your skin. My, oh my - we have sure come a long way since that Dr. Martin Luther King thing about judging on the content of character and not color of skin. The poor schools in Minneapolis continue to fail students and the teacher unions have deflected blame by always talking about "bullying". And now bad behavior will also rule the day.
  • The cost for higher education has slowed down a bit, but is still way out of control. A four year degree (with room and board) can cost anywhere from $80,000 (at a state school) to $170,000 (at a private college). Outrageous, simply outrageous. These kids are going to hit the job market with a huge financial millstone tied around their necks. Student debt is soaring with no end in sight.
  • More and more articles have been written about the value of education. In other words, is the end product worth the cost? My answer to that is no, it is not. Education is important, but at what price?
Getting back to Glenn Beck for a minute. Our education system is doing just the opposite of what Glenn is trying to do with his company. Our education system is mired in the past. Mired in failure. The K-12 system is being run by a teacher union who is much more interested in political power than teaching kids. Our higher education system is tied up by a tenure system which allows cornballs like Ward Churchill to poison our kid's minds and never get fired. So where then, is the future? Online.

Years ago in the 1980's, the Control Data Corporation came up with the Plato System. It was 100% computer based education. Since I was working there at the time, all my continuing education I had to take with the company was done via the Plato System. I see no reason, no reason what so ever kids cannot learn just as well on line. It would be a fraction of the cost compared to our brick and mortar system. Plus, we could get rid of the teacher's union and tenure.

However, until we develop a "future cast", and scrap our broken system, we will continue to fail our kids. The ones who are able to make it through sixteen years of education will be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. We have a bad system yielding bad outcomes. Time for a change 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The new Dr. No

Oh my! Where is James Bond when we need him??
 
 
One of my favorite James Bond movies was one of his first. It featured a cold blooded villain, who of course wanted nothing less than world domination, named Dr. No. His attire matched his evil persona. It was very distinctive. I still think Dr. No's clothing style was the start of the Nero Jacket trend from many, many years ago.
 
Now that our President is at the APEC Conference on the other side of the Pacific, I could not help thinking of the Dr. No movie. It was because at first how I saw our President  dressed in conference garb. However, it is not the attire so much that makes me think of Dr. No - it is what our POTUS is thinking about doing once he gets back on United States soil.
 
Somebody on the news I was listening to a few days ago said these last two years will define Obama's Presidency more than the first six years. Why is that? Will he "pivot" and triangulate in a similar manner than President Clinton did, or will he act like a caged animal.
 
He knows come January, any agenda items he wants implemented that will further define his Presidency will have to be run through a Republican House and Senate. He also knows he will not have his "lap dog" Harry Reid acting as the Senate obstructionist. It has been rumored he has a host of "global warming" initiatives he wants to pen into law through executive action. (He would almost have to use executive action as the majority of the country feels we have entered an new ice age this past week.)
 
However just like with Dr. No, things will not end well for our President if he tries to get too cute by half using executive actions during the lame duck period. Both the Speaker and the new Senate Leader have warned the President he will "poison the well" if he does not wait until January and work within the system. However, even though the President may have large ears, sometimes he does not hear very well. Should he make a move on amnesty, global warming, the new AG, or whatever - the divide in the country will only grow deeper and more contentious.
 
My advice to the President is simply this - for the next two years, you would be better served to act more like Dr. Yes than Dr. No. In other words, if you hope to get anything done besides golf, work within the system. Show you can be as adroit as you are belligerent. We will be watching sir. All of us. We will be watching and judging you on these next two years.
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The growing threat of ISIL

 
 

"Silence like a cancer grows..."


One of the few things I agree with POTUS on is what to call this new group of terrorists in the Middle East. Some call them ISIS and others call them ISIL. I believe the correct name is ISIL as the "L" stands for Levant. In ISIS, the second "S" stands for Syria. This terror group has their eyes on the ancient territory of Levant, of which Syria is only a part. However what we have seen as of late, is ISIL has their eyes on territories far beyond Levant.

What has been the most amazing to me has not been the speed of how fast this group has grown, nor the extent of it's butchery - it has been the deafening silence of the world in response to it. For many, it is the "head in the sand" posture which was shown in the 1930's when the evil of fascism first started to show it's ugly face. Today, the United Nations is mute and the United States has only been tinkering on the margins. Meanwhile, innocents in regions who are threatened by ISIL, are looking for real help - help right now.

Today it was reported that terror cells inside of Egypt want to join ISIL. It was also reported that elements of this terror group had infiltrated the Egyptian government. More and more violence is now showing up in the Egyptian homeland. Pakistan is also on the radar for ISIL. The same story reports that ISIL has made some inroads within that country. What does that mean? Two countries, one which borders the southern flank of Israel and the other which is a nuclear power, are in ISIL's sights. This portends bad things for an already troubled region.

Last weekend a pundit was asked on one of the news shows what our posture should be with ISIL. The response was quick and to the point. "We are a super power, right? The key words are 'super' and 'power'. We need to exercise the Powell Doctrine. We need to go in with overwhelming force and eliminate this threat. We have the power to do it, but obviously not the will."

Just prior to World War II, by the time the world realized the Nazi threat, it was almost too late. Like a cancer, it had grown. The groupthink was, "If we just ignore it, it will go away." Appeasement and tolerance. That did not work then, and it will not work now. Right now, the only people who are willing to "stand in the gap" with ISIL are the Kurds. Outnumbered, and out gunned. As brave as the Kurds are, we need to be the ones who will save the day. We know how to do it. Our military has the training. It is just our leaders who do not.