Thursday, December 31, 2015

New year, same fear(s)






"May we all have a Happy New Year! (I hope...)"



2015 is winding down in a hurry. Like we only have hours to go. If I had to sum up the one event, the one feeling, or the one nuance which permeated this year, the thing which gave me my biggest fear(s) it is this - the razor's edge we sit on, balancing between freedom and security. And in 2015 I think we did poorly on both of them. Now this is my fear. Going forward, it could be the same thing all over again. Maybe worse. In the new year, same fear(s).

I have said this before, but I think it bears repeating. Many of my friends on the Left have a fear and loathing of Donald Trump. Some even have a visceral hatred for the man. I have explained my position to them on the "why" of the Trump candidacy. Barack Obama is giving us Donald Trump. They are the ying and the yang to each other. Many are so fed up with things getting worse and nobody doing anything, Trump's message resonates to that crowd.

Back to my fear(s) going forward. Unless something significant happens, Trump will continue to lead the field. Going into Cleveland, he could have the votes to win the nomination. And that is where I fear the party will end. I don't think Donald Trump is electable in the general. Hillary Clinton, who has won the most admired woman of the year for 14 years (please don't ask me why), will be out next President. Millions will plug their nose and pull the lever for Hillary. We will have another Clinton in the White House, warts and all.

If we do elect Hillary in 2016, how will our country look? It will look like more of the same. In many areas, she will be Barack Obama in a pants suit. She will go after our guns. Unvetted refugees will continue to stream into our country. Our southern and northern borders will continue to be wide open. Our military will continue to wane and our debt will continue to grow. The razor's edge we sit on between freedom and security will start to tip. We will have less freedom and less security. The Islamic State will look at us electing our second weak President in a row as an invitation to commit carnage and mayhem in this great country. 

What can we do to prevent another Clinton from being in the White House? For starters, we can practice the Buckley Rule - "nominate the most conservative candidate who can win." If that offends my friends who back Donald Trump, I am sorry. In my mind, I just can't see him winning. And as Chris Christie has said, "You can't govern if you don't win".

Many years in the past, I have looked forward to the new year with excitement and anticipation. Not this year. I look forward with great trepidation. New year, same fear(s). I wish I could say something different, but I can't. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Absolutely, absolute







"Absolute power corrupts absolutely..."


John Dalberg-Acton



You would have to be living under a rock in Minneapolis not to have heard about this woman. When I first heard of her actions, I was speechless. Nobody could have that kind of gall. Then it hit me. Of course they can. When you live in a town that has had monolithic rule for decades, who is going to stop you? There are no Republicans in power in Minneapolis. Only Democrats. They are writing their own rules as they go. And it is going to get worse in the future.


Alondra Cano is a member of the Minneapolis City Council. Like many other liberals, she is out to right the past wrongs against black people in our history. Using that cover story (BLM), she can do anything, including violating privacy standards of citizens. By doing so, that alone should make her unfit to serve. But nobody in Minneapolis really cares. That is, except the people whose privacy she violated. However, enough about her. She is but small potatoes compared to what is going on in our nation's capital.

This week, it was been disclosed that our own spy agency (NSA), has been spying on our German allies, the Israelis, Jewish groups who sympathize with Israel, and (get ready for it) - certain members of Congress. If this is true, if NSA focused it spying where it should not be. If this was under the direction of the Administration, this would make what Richard Nixon did look like Tidley Winks. Of course when asked, Administration spokespeople said this allegation was patently untrue.

Here is my take. Whether it is some low level city administrator, or the top job in the country, without the proper checks and balances, power can get out of control. We know the antipathy some at the top have about those who disagree. We have seen that in Lois Lerner who directed the power of the IRS at right wing groups. We now see it in the power of the NSA who can snoop on members of Congress who are not in the President's party.

Normally, it is the Justice Department who can keep things on the straight and narrow. Attorney Generals who have respect for the rule of law and our governing Constitution. That being said, the current one, as well as her predecessor, are fine examples of do nothings. They may sit in the chair, but fulfilling the oath? That is another matter altogether. They should have subpoenas flying off their desks.

One final word before I sign off. It was reported this week the most respected woman in the world for the past 14 years is Hillary Clinton. Why? Don't know. And the most respected man in the world is President Obama. Again, why? Not a clue. 

It is easy to go to sleep. To just not care. By doing so, we get a woman who should be in prison as our most popular person - maybe next President. Remember what power can do to these people. Remember what the illusion of power can do to us. Power corrupts. It corrupts absolutely. And that is an absolute.      



More or less, less for more






MNSure and ObamaCare are so screwed up right now, any story you hear about them almost sounds like fiction. But they are painfully true..."



Years ago, my Washington DC customer and I became very good friends. I would mostly travel to Washington to conduct business, but now and again he would visit my company in the Twin Cities. We both loved good Chinese food, and had our favorite restaurants in both Crystal City, Virginia as well as Minneapolis.

The restaurant he liked to go to the most while in town gave generous portions at very affordable prices. And the food was always good. On time when he was visiting, we went to our favorite place for lunch. We had not been there for a while. My customer was a shrewd business guy. Graduated from Wharton Business College, and knew his stuff. When he ordered and his meal came, he noticed the portion was much smaller and the price was higher. He immediately asked to speak to the manager. When he complained, the response he got back was interesting - "Customers wanted smaller portions and at the same time we had a price hike". My customer looked at me and said, "Less for more. Is that a Minnesota thing?"

The news and the newspaper have been buzzing as of late about the woes of MNSure and its evil godfather, ObamaCare. It seems like (as my former customer would say), we are getting a whole lot less for more money. I went back and reread the promises of goodies we would receive if we only passed ObamaCare. I did not see the "less for more" promise in there.

It has been estimated we have spent over a quarter billion dollars getting the MNSure exchange to work as crappy as it is right now. Don't worry, much of that money was "free" as it came from the feds.

Some lawyer penned a letter to the editor today about a client he was helping. Seems the client had been "dumped" from his insurance for no reason. The lawyer was trying to contact MNSure over and over and over again using the phone tree. Every time he called, he had to jump through hoops to get a recorded message which said something like, "We are busy, call back later". No way to leave a message, nothing. Good-bye.

The product being offered by ObamaCare and MNSure is so bad right now, any private business would have scrapped it. In fact a private business who is in the exchange right now is thinking of doing just that. Keep your eyes on United Healthcare. If they pull the plug like they say they might, look for a stampede heading for the door.

Just as a reminder as we head into 2016, an election year. The two "signature" accomplishments of this Administration are (domestically) ObamaCare and (Internationally) the Iran nuke deal. ObamaCare is being held together with spit and gum and the price seems to go up every day. And in the Gulf, the Iranians are shooting missiles over our ships as they sit in international waters. 

In the past seven years we seem to have received less for more in just about everything. Remember that in November.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The curse of half






"The bad news is they are back. Not just a little back, but totally back. And we are back to square one all over again..."



In 2001, we suffered the worst attack on the homeland since 1941. And we knew almost right away who the bad guys were and where they came from. We immediately sent Special Forces into Afghanistan to make friends and allies with some tribes in the Northern Alliance. Afghanistan was ripe with Taliban and Al Qaeda training camps. We needed friends, and needed them fast. As the story goes, one of the biggest fears of the Northern Alliance had was this - they would help us, we would leave, and the Taliban and Al Qaeda would return and extract revenge.

Not to worry. Our President at that time wanted to stay the course. Fix this problem, no matter the cost. However, President Bush had two obstacles: 1) the enemy on the battlefield and 2) Democrats in the House and Senate. Bush was able to hold off the Democrats until his terms were over. The war had not yet been won, but we had made gains. And those gains came at a huge cost - in lives lost, in the severely wounded, and dollars. 

In 2009, we swear in Barack Hussein Obama as our next President. A man who hated these wars. A man who could not get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan fast enough. A man without any understanding of why we were there in the first place. So he started stripping our troops out of Iraq. And Afghanistan. Now we have big problems in both countries. Instead of being "in it to win it", President Obama decided to go in by half. Or less than half. And this is what the Northern Alliance feared the most. And now it is coming true.

Today we have ISIS, ISIL (or whatever they are called), the Taliban, AND Al Qaeda. The country is crawling with bad guys. Training camps are popping up again. And what are we doing? Leaving with just a token force behind. I am reminded by what one terrorist said many years ago - "The West may have their clocks, but we have the time." Meaning - they always knew they could wait us out. Because we don't have the stomach for things like this. But they do. And the more camps we allow them to have, the more attacks Europe and the United States will suffer.

We all know war is a horrible answer to solving a problem. But when the other side has told us they only want us dead with our way of life destroyed, it takes more than a bumper sticker to end this. It takes troops on the ground. Airpower. It takes whatever it takes. God help us if Hillary gets in the White House. We need someone in the White House who will take this threat as serious as it is.     

He is nice, but....





"Some say he is a RINO. Others say he is a pure Democrat. None however, say he is a true conservative..."



Time is running out. The clock is ticking. Soon it will be the 12th of January. That is the day the good folks in SD35 will make a choice on who is going to be the next Republican nominee for senator. And the choice is going to come down between a long time establishment politician named Jim Abeler, and a hard core conservative name Andy Aplikowski.

A bit of disclosure. Like many of us, I have met Jim Abeler. More than once. And he is a very nice man. A man who is deep in the faith. A family man. A community man. I could go on and on about the positive traits that Jim Abeler has. So why am I not supporting him? That pesky thing called a voting record. And of all the suspect votes that Jim made while a representative, none was more disappointing than the override vote on the 2008 gas tax increase.

There were six Republicans who sided with the Democrats on that override. None fared too well on account of that vote. It was a stupid idea raising our gas tax. And the Democrats used nothing but histrionics to stir up the crowds. "We need to keep our bridges from falling down". Some shrill voices even said if our governor at that time (Pawlenty) had spent more money on bridges, the I-35 tragedy might not have happened. Rubbish. The truth of the matter is this. Our transportation dollars are adequate to do the job. Both federal and state. That is, if millions (or billions) were not siphoned off for follies like LRT and bike paths in outstate Minnesota.

Jim as well as the other 5 Republicans fell for this sophism like a Northern going after a spinner bait. Flash forward to today. Our own Governor Moonbeam wants yet another transportation tax increase. Why? Our roads are a mess and our bridges need fixing. In other words, in 2008 we all got duped. What happened to that extra nickel per gallon that was going to fix these problems? Gone with the wind.

I got a kick out of one the letters to the editor supporting Jim Abeler. After singing his praises, the letter writer said, "And Martin Olav Sabo said Jim Abeler was one of our finest representatives." Wow! An endorsement from one of the biggest spending, liberal Democrats in the history of the world! To me and many others, that letter was really an endorsement for Andy Aplikowski. 

My view is very simple. Even though I do not live in Andy's district, I strongly support him. And I do so because this state needs fiscal sanity, and needs it now. We don't need a weak kneed RINO who can be cowed by smooth talking Democrats - that is how we got in this mess to start with. 

Like I have said, Jim Abeler is a good man. A good man for his community. That being said, he is not a conservative Republican. His own BPOU would not even endorse him. They endorsed Andy.

If you want a conservative and principled state senator, who will represent the very important SD35, vote for Andy Aplikowski. And by the way - Andy is also nice, and a very good man!   

Monday, December 28, 2015

The year of living wirelessly







"Sometimes when I try and figure out how this wireless stuff works, it gives me a headache. It is like trying to figure out how long is forever..."


Okay. The title was a snarky bit of humor. A takeoff on the movie The Year of Living Dangerously. But living wirelessly has nothing to do with Hollywood. Or science fiction. It is science, and it is here. Now. For all to enjoy. At long last, we are becoming untethered. Really and truly, untethered.

As I pen this, my wife and I are sitting in our sunroom reflecting on the day. Some of our favorite music is flooding the house from the other room. Here is how that relates to this article. The music is some that I have stored "in the cloud". It is only accessible when I am connected to the internet. I am now connected to the internet, wirelessly, via my modem. The music is coming from the "cloud", to the modem, then to my tablet, and finally to my paired wireless bluetooth speaker. It sounds so simple to listen to our music this way, but truthfully - it blows my mind. And it sounds great!

It gets even better. At 4pm, I will turn the music off and watch (on my laptop) my favorite afternoon show (live) on Fox News Channel. And it will be wireless. It comes over my internet, through my modem, and to my laptop. I can watch this channel in high definition with excellent sound. All without one single wire (except the one connecting the modem to our service provider).

Different tech blogs I have been reading say that 2016 could be a breakout year for wireless technology. Or as I have punned, the "year of living wirelessly". Soon we will be able to access just about anything, just about anywhere, at just about any time. It is coming, and coming fast. And so are the transmission speeds. Download, upload speeds will be wicked fast, and very reliable. 

If you are thinking this whole wireless thing is a passing fancy, it is not. It is here to stay. The old days of having speakers and components with 100 feet of wire are over - forever. Soon that ugly cable wire to your TV will be past tense. All our information will be instantaneous and wireless.

Enough of this blather. I have to finish up my songs by Cat Stevens so I can get ready to watch my 4pm show. All wirelessly. The future is now here, and I am digging it!   




The ElectroThermal Mystery








"In the upcoming years, there will be advances made in gun technology, missile technology and even laser weapons on fighter planes. Warfare will look and feel much different than today..."



In my working days, I led a blessed life. Not that I climbed the ladder of success that high, but I really did get to do some very interesting things. I traveled quited a bit throughout this land, and had the opportunity to deal with our government as well as large companies. I was also able to do some international travel and deal with foreign governments.

Over the years, I worked at some very large Fortune 500 companies on some very large programs. However, one of my more memorable experiences was working on a 9 Megajoule Gun.

In 1990, this program really was star wars. I had just been hired by a company to handle all major procurements for "new technology" programs. I had no idea the technology was this revolutionary. Even though the Cold War had recently ended, the United States was still making weapons to fight the Soviets.

One of the biggest problems to solve was the reactive armoring the Soviets used on the outside of their tanks. The current tank (M1A1 Abrams) used a 120mm shell to fight enemy tanks. This was a state of the art munition and could reach speeds of 7,000 feet/sec once fired. The problem was with the reactive armoring. The shell would explode as soon as it hit the armoring. Damage would be done, but not enough to be lethal for the tank. The Soviet tank could keep on fighting. It was then thought by the Army if a projectile could reach a higher velocity, it might be able to defeat the reactive armoring and then kill the Soviet tank. Small problem however - 7,000 feet/sec was about as fast as the technology was back then.

Out of the University of Minnesota came a young PhD with an idea. The idea was so revolutionary, the company I worked at snapped him up in a heartbeat. He had a patent to use a very high level of electric current (about 9 Megajoules) and combine it with some common chemicals, and then a spark. It would then fire a sabot type of charge at speeds up to five times faster than the current gunpowder could. 

The physics was fascinating. The sabot was used instead of an explosive charge for one reason - the explosive charge was not necessary. The sabot would be traveling so fast by the time it hit the Soviet tank, it would penetrate the reactive armoring before the armoring knew what hit it. The sabot would then use the mystery of kinetic energy and become nothing more than a ball of liquid metal as it entered the tank. The tank would explode and it would be game over. 

I have lots of stories about the technology path I went on with these whiz kids in the development of this technology. They will have to wait of another day, or this article will end up being much too long. One quick note I will bring up. I toured a facility which had a competing technology for the "after gunpowder" days. That concept was a rail gun. And it could fire a projectile even faster than my company's concept could.

However, with both the rail gun and the concept I was working on, there was a common problem. How do you get the kind of power needed while on the battlefield? To generate 9 Megajoules of energy, took a boatload of power. Much, much more than could be put in a battery pack. So as of today, neither concept is on the battlefield. Nor has either been fully developed. In the future, that could change.

Star Wars the movie? Yes, there is that. There is also "Star Wars" type of technology going on in our nation's government labs. And the state of warfare will continue to change. I am just glad I had that one brief glimpse to see what part of the future could look like.  


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy Talk!






"I really would like to write about more happy things. More upbeat. But things are so messed up right now, I just can't ignore the truth..."




Someone asked me not too long ago, why I don't write more uplifting articles. Why many of the things I write about are somewhat dark and dour. Why I can be "Dr. Raincloud" for days on end. My response was simple - I would love to write about happier things. Or like the song in the movie South Pacific - I would like to engage in more "Happy Talk"!

I would love to be penning articles about new energy sources that will propel this country (and the world) into the next golden age of man. About how we are able to capture or manufacture fresh and/or potable water which would forever end our water woes in dry states. How our economy would be running on a balanced budget instead of a credit card. And how space travel is once again the adventure our young people dream about.

And why don't I do that? Because (to use an old phrase), you can't fix stupid. We are doing things either stupidly (to use our President's term), or nothing at all - which is sometimes just as bad. We have done little or nothing to fix our nation's water supply. We are pumping the life out of our aquifers with no "Plan B" in our back pocket. Soon the aquifers will not be able to regenerate enough water to satisfy the nation's midsection - or more commonly known as the "nation's breadbasket". And without our breadbasket, we cannot feed the world.

Our nation's electric grid continues to be a joke. It is held together with spit and gum. All we need is one crude EMP device going off, or one well placed "burp" from the sun, and then we will be in deep weeds. We have had the technology for years on how to make our grid not only robust, but also smart. Where it can not only withstand an EMP, but also run more efficiently. So just like with our nation's water supply, we continue to do nothing. We stumble down life's path, fat, dumb and happy.

We have a military capable of taking care of the Islamic State terror threat for once and for all. Not just in the Middle East, but also northern Africa. And we could do it quickly. All it takes is guts and commitment. But no - we are going to tinker around the edges until this cancer gets so big, it invades the homeland. Once that happens, any venue we now enjoy will be a potential soft target for the bad guys. Shopping, sports events, church, you name it.

I won't even go into the economy. The debt, the job situation, our trade deficit. That is for another day.

The Very Angry Bird would really like to take some anger management classes and start learning once again how to speak "Happy Talk". But until we as a nation start facing up to, and solving some of our real problems, I just can't. 

The other day I wrote about the longing many have for true leadership. True leadership would get us on the right track in solving some of these big problems. The choice will be ours in less than a year. We can vote for more of the same, or something much, much different. Again, the choice will be ours.



  

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Rosemary's Baby






"If you think things are bad now, just wait until single payer comes around..."



I think if we all tried to come up with a witch's brew to match ObamaCare, I doubt if we could do it. Some say ObamaCare was constructed such a way to guarantee failure. I am not yet in that camp - although that might be the final outcome. And medical care experts keep telling us if you think our healthcare is screwed up now, just wait until we go single payer. Especially when the government is stuck right in the middle of the mix.

Right now, ObamaCare is the failed product of a bad recipe. And the longer it sets into the economy, the worse it seems to get. Today in the paper was an article about how unaffordable the premiums have become. So much so, more and more folks are opting for Bronze Plans. That is a crafty new term equal to a driving a Chevy Nova, or some economy car. Simply put, a Bronze Plan has a much higher deductible than other plans. So more and more people are spinning the wheel of chance, hoping they don't get sick for a year. If they do, it could be Katie bar the door expensive.

And how did the recipe get so bad in the first place? We need to remember how this thing was born. A gargantuan bill, crafted by lobbyists, and inflated by special interests and "K" Street sharpies. It was endorsed and voted for by Democrats in Democrat controlled House and Senate. Passed in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, with nary a soul who read it. Any cost containment feature Republicans suggested were "deep sixed". So, every Republican disowned this thing and not one voted for it. It limped onto the President's desk with more flaws in it than anyone could have imagined.

Just recently, two of the revenue provisions in ObamaCare had some surgery. The GFY 2016 Budget Bill "paused" the medical device tax and the so called Cadillac Tax. This is a good thing (sort of). However (comma), since there is still no cost containment in this messy law, taking out any revenue features will just cause some more "Whack a Mole" games to be played with costs. In other words, they will just pop up somewhere else (like maybe premiums?)

As we head forward, the caretakers of this law are certainly not in alignment. People on the most right side of the street want this thing killed and buried, never to be heard from again. The folks on the furthest left side of the street are just waiting until things get so bad we can replace it with single payer. And the moderates on both sides want some kind of a fix to keep it going. The problem with the proposed "fixes" are is this - most are as different as night is from day. And all are expensive.

Welcome 2016. I feel many significant things will happen this year. Obama's baby, the Affordable Care Act, has become more like Rosemary's Baby. And because of its evil influence on our economy, it will become more of an unwanted child every year. Not only is this baby no longer cute, but is is increasingly unaffordable. Methinks it might be time to put this kid up for adoption. 

   



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Go learn something...







"Both Agents Pride and Gibbs are wise beyond their years. Good shows, fun shows, to watch on a regular basis..."



Every year about this time, I not only look back on the highs and lows of the past year, but I also start crafting how I want to approach the new year. Not just places I would like to go, home improvements I would like to see done, or maybe even a toy or two I would like to buy. I am talking about something much more substantial. How to improve as a person. Not only a person, but a husband, a father, a grandfather, a friend. In other words, every year I try to do a wee bit of a "makeover".

My wife and I are both NCIS addicts. We love all three of the series. The newest one, NCIS New Orleans has us particularly interested. The lead character, Dwayne "King" Pride (played by Scott Bakula) has a saying he often tells his team when they are off to investigate a crime. "Go learn something" he will tell them. More and more, I realize how profound that is. Each day, every day, we can learn something new. Something unexplored.

Like many of us, each time I take stock of myself, it is not to find out how much I know - it is the realization of how much I do not. How much there is to learn. So this upcoming year, each day I will start out with that one self directed action - go learn something. And to learn stuff about a variety of things. More about science. History. Theology. Geography. Current affairs. Yes, even politics.

Every month I try to utilize the virtual unlimited supply of information contained in the internet. How to separate the wheat from the chaff. The solid knowledge from the histrionics. And every year, the number of websites on the internet increases. It is now estimated that sometime in early 2016, we will hit 1,000,000,000 websites for the first time. And contained in many of those websites, is a bevy of factual knowledge. Facts. Interesting stuff. Unfortunately, there are also many counterfeit sites. Sites that just contain garbage.

Time to wrap this up. I want to do some research on the new self landing rockets being developed by SpaceX and Blue Origin. This is exciting stuff. Game changing stuff. There is much to learn here. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.  

The high cost of Democrats






"One is a big spender and the other is a bigger spender. The debt? Who gives a rip..."



One of the oldest political adages is that Democrats like to tax and spend. Well guess what? With this current crop of three Democrats who are running for President, two of them sure live up to that modicom. In fact, the Socialist would spend money faster than most of us could say, "Athens, Greece".

Not to worry however, and please don't try to do the math. For if you do, the numbers won't add up. But so what? We don't want to ruin the narrative. I do get a kick out of Bernie. He does not disappoint. He is proud of the fact that his programs (according to Fortune Magazine) will cost this broke nation an additional $15T over 10 years. When asked where the money would come from, he is going to tax the socks off the evil "one percenters". As for the rest of us peons, we will only have to pay an additional $1.75 in payroll taxes. That money will fund his family paid leave act.

Because I have been around for a while, I remember when "Slick Willie" made a similar promise. "I will only tax only the rich and will not tax one additional dime in taxes from the middle class!" It played very well on the campaign trail. The lemmings ate it up, bite after bite. And then somewhere in the middle of his first term, a grim faced Clinton looked into the camera and said, "I did not know the economy was in such a mess until I got sworn in. I tried everything to make good on my promise. But the numbers just don't add up. So I am going to have to impose new taxes on everyone (some paraphrasing added)."

Hillary on the other hand, is cheap compared to Bernie. She only wants a trillion in new spending over 10 years. Of course she is at a loss to explain where that money will come from. I suppose she will be dipping into the pockets of the evil rich like Bernie wants to. Only one small problem (okay, maybe two problems) - Because of the Clinton Foundation, Hillary is also one of the evil rich and, Wall Streeters are her buddies. And what will happen? By the miracle of creative accounting, the evil rich will be able to dodge these new taxes and they will come trickling down (again) to us poor slobs in what is left of the middle class.

And what about Martin? The third rung of the Democratic bar stool? You know, little Mr. "Me too!" Martin will agree with whatever the other two are saying. Only he will have a more serious and stern look on his face. The best thing that Martin could do for his home town folks is help fix the bloodshed in Maryland. The state is a mess right now. And Baltimore is nothing more than a killing field. In other words Martin, time to go. 

As unelectable as Hillary or Bernie should be, the Republicans have the chance to self destruct before November. And that would usher in the end of the world as we know it. Time for the Republican candidates to get serious about this election. Those polling less than 5% need to bow out and support the others. And Mr. Trump, please weigh your words carefully. Some of the things we say can last a lot longer than we do. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Leadership,again



"True leaders these days are hard to find. They are in short supply. And we need a true leader now, more than ever..."



Ever since I was a young man, I have been fascinated by the concept of leadership. Not management, but leadership. And I think one of the things that most intrigued me is leadership is totally intangible. It is there, but unseen. The effects of good leadership however, are not unseen. But the recipe on what makes a good leader remains a mystery.

I have been looking over the 13 Republicans and 3 Democrats running for our nation's highest office. I am not only looking for capabilities, but also leadership. Capabilities are things one might discern from a resume - leadership is more of a "sixth sense" issue. If someone has leadership, you know it, but many times are at a loss on how to define it. So far, none of the 16 candidates have the type of leadership I am looking for. Not even close.

Who in my estimation has the "right stuff"? The type of leadership we need in this country? One of the cable TV stations has a military expert named Jack Keane. He is a retired four star Army general. He had a very distinguished career when he served. To me, General Keane has the "right stuff", through and through. He is smart, he is wise, he is measured, he is determined. And most of all, he has that "other" ingredient which is so hard to describe. I would have loved to serve under General Keane. 

I know many get tired of me pulling Ronald Reagan out of the grave to talk about him. But I need to do it again. Whether you loved him or hated him, many thought President Reagan was our last true leader to sit in the White House. And includes me. No Watergate, no oral sex in the Oval Office, no trashing the White House before the next Administration comes in, no dividing the nation.

Ronald Reagan was a man who loved America and loved the American people. And it showed in just about everything he did. And even though President Reagan and Speaker O'Neill were on opposite sides of the political street, they liked and respected each other. There are still stories floating about concerning these two Irish guys "tipping" a few scotches and playing cribbage in the White House after dark.

Someone asked me earlier in the year what I thought it would take to make America great again. To have us feel great again. My answer was simple - leadership. Just the polar opposite of what we have now. And how will we know it when a true leader comes along to lead us? Trust me - most of us will know it. I just hope we know it sooner rather than later. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Shortest day, longest night







"This day is the opposite of one of my favorite days of the year - Summer Solstice. In fact, I like Summer Solstice so much, that is when we got married..."



Move along, nothing to see here. That is, unless you are a Druid or practice some religion who worships the changing of the seasons. If it were not for Christmas, Winter Solstice would be my most unfavorite day of the year. Why? I hate the darkness. Always have.

Today is the shortest day of the year. The day with the least amount of sunlight. The day when our bodies scream out for more Vitamin D. The time of year when I was working, I would leave the dark and come home in the dark. I felt like a mole.

However, there are some good things to take out of this time of year. In the summer time, many indoor tasks become a low priority. In Minnesota, we know we have to relish outdoor time when we can get it. Jobs like filing, organizing, some indoor honey do items, and even some delayed reading seem to fill up the day. It is weird though - at 4:30 when the darkness starts to fall. In the summer time, 4:30 is prime time. That is the time I usually am cleaning the Weber to get ready to grill the evening meal.

I remember reading a study many years ago which said people who live in climates which have four distinct seasons are happier than people who live in a more steady climate. I doubted that study back then, and as the years have passed, I doubt it even more now. There are some years in Minnesota when early winter sets in shortly before Thanksgiving and sticks around until Easter. In my book, that is cruel and unusual punishment.

This year we have been blessed with (so far) some good old Al Gore global warming. Very little snow and temps way above the norm. For that I am grateful. In three months, it will be Spring Equinox. It might still be cold on March 21st, but it has that most blessed word in it's title - Spring. 

But for these next three months, we are stuck with the darkness. Oh yes, I know. The days will start to slowly get longer. For the next month to six weeks, the increase in daylight we pick up each day can be measured by the thimble.

Until Spring Equinox, I could be tempted to stay in my basement, laying in a fetal position under my grow lights. Or I can do what most Minnesotans do, and just make the most out of this time of year. After all, in six months we will feel like we once again live in paradise.    

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Three Amigos






"It has been said that too much consensus can lead to a dull argument. Last night was a perfect example of that old axiom..."



I tried. I really tried. Oh, there were other things I could have watched on TV that were more riveting. More entertaining. Even more educational. But I thought to be "fair and balanced", I should watch the DNC sponsored "debate". Truthfully - it looked more like a remake of the Three Amigos. I made for about thirty minutes before my brain shut down and I feel asleep.

What were the differences between the three of them? Not much. Except they all hate Donald Trump. As well as the obstructionist Republicans. The one thing which I thought could have been a bone of contention last night was the data breach of the Clinton camp. The Socialist said he was sorry, and that was it. Case closed. It was like a smaller version of Watergate. And Hillary was a staffer on the Watergate hearings many decades ago. She should have been pissed like she was back then. But that is not in the script for the Three Amigos.

Before I drifted off into the arms of Morpheus, I watched the discussion on guns. On this matter, they were joined at the hip. Gun grabbers all. Martin is proud of what he had done for Baltimore as well as the rest of Maryland. Great gun control. Well let's look at Baltimore for a minute. 300 murders as of the middle of November. Up 60% from last year. Many neighborhoods have become nothing more than shooting galleries. Baltimore has become more dangerous than Detroit. The solution? Put the cops on trial. Then, take guns away from the law abiding citizens. Right on script for the Three Amigos.

It will be hard to imagine any one of these lefties as our next president. How any one of them can right our ship of state after the current guy has put us on the rocks. We all know what Bernie wants to do - tax the #@%t out of everyone, especially the infamous 1%. The only problem is this - to properly fund every program Bernie wants to run, we will need to tax everyone a heck of a lot more. And even with that, our debt will continue to go up. But so what? Nobody said boo about fixing the debt.

And how about those pesky terrorists? First off, the Three Amigos will probably continue the Obama apology tour. It is our fault for our past sins. That is why the terrorists are mad at us. Just play nice, open our borders, disarm, and stay home. No more war - ever. The terrorists will throw down their weapons, stop beheading everyone, and then adorn their trucks with COEXIST bumper stickers. Peace will cover the land. We will all live happily ever after. Or not.

So thank you Debbie "Blabbermouth", for putting on this exciting event last night. Instead of an iron sharpening iron event, it was goo on top of goo. All three of the amigos better hope and pray that Ted Cruz is not the guy they will have to debate. Instead of the Three Amigos, that debate will look more like the Shootout at the OK Corral... 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sordid tales from the Dark Side...








"No our Dark Side is not Darth Vader. Nor is it Darth Maul. It is much more sinister. It is a RINO masquerading as a conservative..."


It has not been a good week in Black Duck, USA. Others call it Mainstreet, USA. And that would be us. Once again, the majority in flyover country feel like a jilted bride. Left at the altar once again. Or putting it more clearly, many of us wonder if we still have a functioning government. A representative democracy. That Constitution thing. 

The good news is we have purged the landscape of the villainous Ms. Nancy and "Dingy" Harry. We even got rid of that squish, John Boehner. Life was going to return to normal in the shire. We elected "Mr. Budget Hawk", Paul Ryan. A man who wears his green eye shades to bed. Of course, we still had "Uncle Mitch" in the Senate. He (we guessed) was better than Harry Reid by maybe an inch or two. However, our hopes were pinned on the new Speaker of the House.

The betrayal, the most recent victory of the Dark Side over the Force, was the passing of the "Goodyear Blimp Bill" (aka, the GFY 2016 Budget Bill). And we had the two usual excuses why we had to play ball with Emperor Palpatine. The "clock" was running out. And if we did not pay attention to the "clock", the government would (gasp!) shut down. And WE would get blamed once again. Please, just gag me with a spoon.

Out of fear and cowardness, we once again played into the Dark Side's hands. Our new savior of the Force, our own Hans Solo, turned out to be nothing more than a Sith Warrior in disguise. And legions of "conservative" members of the House who pledged "if elected, my first action will be to help defund ObamaCare", are nothing more than co-conspirators to the Sith. And worse than anything else, rather than govern mired in principle as we hoped Republicans would, instead they are cloaked in fear. Sometimes, it seems they are even afraid of their own shadows.

The Emperor has now left for a well deserved end of the year vacation in Hawaii. He is exhausted from running circles around our Constitution as well as spending all kinds of money we do not have. Not to worry however - his newest Sith will still be in town. Protecting the Kingdom. As for us out here in the frozen, cold, and dark countryside, we will just keep working and feeding the pig. And who is protecting our interests? As they say in Jersey, "Forget about it!"

Just like in Star Wars Episode 7, methinks we need a new cast of heroes. Our old cast who we thought could protect us,  have turned so far to the Dark Side, there might be no turning back...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Cruz Control








"The person I feel the sorriest for is the one on the other ticket who has to debate Ted Cruz. Unlike the Republican debates, in the general election Senator Cruz will take the gloves off..."



A few folks have asked me who I like from the gaggle of folks running for the Republican nomination. Truthfully, I have not yet decided. That being said, there are some I like better than others. And even the one I like the least, I like 100 times more than whomever is on the other ticket.

I am however, mostly fascinated with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz - for different reasons. Trump is the most teflon coated Republican I have seen in my lifetime. No matter what he says or does, it is okay with his faithful. In fact, his faithful keep growing. And I still say Trump's main draw is he is considered by many to be the anti-Obama. After 7 years of President Bystander, many are ready and would much prefer a bull in the china shop.

Ted Cruz is a completely different story. As braggadocious as Mr. Trump is, Senator Cruz is measured. He is artful and highly skilled with his language. Many times when the Senator is talking, I can only watch in amazement. How can he do that? Stay so closely on message and always use the right words? No hmms, ahs, or sighs. Just facts, laid out in nearly flawless locution. 

Like I said, so far I like some of the candidates better than others. My major yardstick of course is who can win the general. As Chris Christie said a while back, "You can't govern if you don't win". I could not agree more. Ted Cruz is a man who (in my humble opinion) is very principled, deep in his faith, wickedly smart, and winnable. Yes, it is not hard for me to see Ted Cruz on the podium in January of 2017, one hand on the Bible and the other raised.

The true believers and the faithful in this country really need a person of principle once again leading our country. We seem to have a tidal wave of Republicans who promised if elected, the first thing on their agenda was to defund ObamaCare. And then fix our broken borders. Most importantly, to rein the President. And what did we get? A bunch of unprincipled sell-outs, voting for a 2,000 page pork laden, Democratic GFY 2016 funding bill. 

I don't know if I will endorse Ted Cruz or not. Right now he is very high on my list. If he keeps going the way he has been, he might end up on top of my list. And that would be fine with me. 


Thursday, December 17, 2015

The GFY 2016 Whopper






"Largese once was a word that cover behemoths such at this bill. No longer. We need a bigger and better word."


The bureaucrats and the bureaucrats who have become Washington plutocrats are telling us the good news. In fact, some are shouting it from the rooftops. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a deal! And even though both sides had to "dig deep" and make personal sacrifices, it is a deal which should sail through Congress and then be signed by our President. Pop the champagne? Maybe not so fast.

If we were drunks, I would say our treatment plans are not working. In fact, we are getting worse. We have gone from booze to meth. With the amount of criticism that was levied at the size of the "Unaffordable Healthcare Act" one would think Congress would have learned their lesson. Nope. This Government Fiscal Year (GFY) 2016 budget bill is a paltry 1,900 pages long. Similar in size to ObamaCare. And no doubt it was not written by our lawmakers. That task went to "K" Street sharpies, staffers, special interest types, and maybe even aliens. The bottom line is simply this - it is yet another MONSTER bill, full of goodies, that not red blooded Congressman (or Congresswoman) women has read in its entirety.

After a while, some of us have become good at "Washington speak". And size still does matter. This bill is not only a monster in the number of pages, but also the number of dollars. It is $1.1T! But (as the proponents say), that is only a 2% increase over last fiscal year. Well, 2% of the planet Jupiter is a much bigger number than 2% of Earth. It is a whale of a lot of money spent on some things which are nothing less than head scratchers.

The word on the street is the President is thrilled with it. He thinks he really out maneuvered the House Republicans on this one. You know, that salty old dog in the White House really put one over on the new kid on the block in the Speaker's chair. Well that may be the case. It seems like some of the President's earmarks were indeed eliminated. That can happen when everything but the kitchen sink was thrown in the mix. But funding for the President's most precious pet rocks remain intact. In fact, some are saying there is even some funding for the climate deal.

With our national debt now only a stone's throw from $19T, when is someone going to get the guts to have a yearly budget smaller than the previous year? When is someone going to get the guts to offer up a balanced budget? Or a budget with a surplus, so we can at least make a small dent in our debt? When are we going to adopt line item vetoing so we can get rid of Snail Darter protections and studies of shrimp on treadmills? In other words, when are going to grow up and budget like adults?

As Ms. Nancy has said, "We have to sign it so we know what is in it." Well Ms. Nancy, many of us are very anxious to find out what is in it. How many earmarks. And who put those earmarks in. My feeling right off the top it was a cast of thousands who came up with this witch's brew.

But don't worry. It won't take long before myself and hordes of others will be naming names. Remember folks - November is less than a year away...   


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The SD35 Quandary








"Here in the middle of a very Republican and red part of our CD, there is going to be a classic primary. One candidate is conservative, while the other a progressive..."



Here in Minnesota, we have certain political names for locations. At the lowest level, we have voting precincts. From there, we are in a SD (Senate District). Each SD has a senator and two representatives, depending on where in the SD you live. Where we live also determines which CD (Congressional District) we are in. Truthfully, it can be very confusing. I can't tell you the number of times I have talked to someone and asked which SD or CD they are in, and received a blank stare in return.

Most of the town I live in lies smack dab in the middle of SD35. However, do to the mystery of redistricting, I do not. I am in a sliver of town which is in SD31. So I am not only familiar with SD31, but also SD35. And SD35 has a big primary coming up on January 12th. It is for the seat of SD35 senator.

Other than my proximity to SD35, one might ask why I should care about this primary. I don't have a dog in this fight. Why should anyone outside of SD35 care. The reason is simple. Even though your representative is supposed to vote representing your interests, how the entire House or Senate body votes affects all of us. And if we have Progressive Republicans voting with Democrats on important issues, that is bad for all statewide Republicans. 

And there is one more thing which is very important to me. As a delegate to last year's convention, I knew the process of going through the precinct caucus, the SD endorsing convention, the CD endorsing convention and finally the state endorsing convention. This is the way our system works. We endorse candidates who will represent us. SD35 recently went through the endorsing process for the open senate seat. They endorsed Andy Aplikowski. Andy won the endorsement fair and square.

What I expect out of people in the Republican Party of Minnesota is to abide by the endorsement of their peers. To spend all kinds of money either from yourself or special interests to go to a primary is just wrong. There comes a time when all of us have all had our day in the sun. And Jim Abeler has had his day. And many in SD35 did not like the way Jim voted when he was in the House. Many Republicans statewide did not like many of his votes. Abeler gave up his House seat in SD35 to run for the US Senate. He lost. It is time for Jim to go back running his Chiro business. Again, his time in the sun is over.

Andy on the other hand, won the endorsement of his SD. Why? Andy is experienced in how state government works. He pays attention. And, he is a rock solid conservative. If I lived in SD35, there is no doubt in my mind who I would be voting for. Andy Aplikowski. And I would do it with a "Andy" sign in my front yard, and a smile on my face.  


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Are you better off?






"Yes, I am waiting to the force to awaken. To come back to us after this Obama like trance. And the force ladies and gentlemen - is us..."



A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...Okay. Enough Star Wars talk. What I want to talk about was in our galaxy and happened just recently. It was a common questions asked in campaigns. "Are you better off that you were four or eight years ago?" Today, most people would be hard pressed to answer in the affirmative. Most are worse off in at least one area of their lives.

I hope that question comes up tonight in the debate. And I also hope this - what Chris Christie said does come true. We have had enough entertainment in the Republican debates - now it is time to take off the gloves. As Christie said, "We need to get serious." After the convention, in order to win the general election, we need to coalesce as a party. No lingering hard feelings, no third party. So our fire power needs to be directed at both Obama's record and the vision Hillary has to continue it.

Now a word about Donald Trump. He has come into this Republican field and made quite a splash. He has touched a nerve. He is giving the red meat eaters all they can handle - except for one minor thing - he is not acting presidential. And to win the general in November, we need a candidate who can act presidential. Otherwise, I am afraid that many in fly over land will hold their nose and vote for Hillary - baggage and all.

I have come to look at the Trump situation in a completely different light. It could be a real blessing. An iron sharpens iron event. For a candidate to break through the "all Trump, all the time news cycle", and then carve away at Trump's lead, would hone the candidate's skills. If a candidate can neutralize the "Trump factor", there is nothing the Democrats could throw at us that would be nearly as tough.

That being said, I will again quote Governor Christie - "It is time to get serious." No more dilly dally. Break up the circular firing squad. It is okay to point out differences between the Republican candidates without being dismissive or destructive. The way the country is right now, there is a cornucopia of topics to bring up. Sure fire winners for the Republicans. The economy, the debt, national defense, food stamps, poverty, race relations, and on and on.

I have not endorsed nor dismissed any candidate so far - although at times "The Donald" has taken me to the limit. That being said, if candidates would like to look to someone to model after, look to Ted Cruz. Although not perfect, he has run a fairly clean campaign. And he has kept his sights set on the right target - the Democrats.

So onward and upward folks. Let's awaken the force. Get the people involved again. Help guide them in what is important for our country. Star Wars opens on Friday. But it is only a movie. This is real life. Let's see a different campaign starting tonight.    


Monday, December 14, 2015

The Warfighter - (take 2)






"This is so far outside of his wheelhouse, it is not even funny. And bottom line - it is not funny at all."


On Sunday evening a week ago, before the football game started, a grim faced President addressed the nation. He talked about the menace of the Islamic State, the attack in California, and how we are crushing them overseas. Lots of bombing runs, lots of drone strikes, and selected special forces exercises. One minor problem - nobody, except maybe sycophants, believed a word he was saying. 

Today, he must have received the buzz that his act was not playing well. So, he decided to visit the Pentagon. After meeting with his chiefs, he would again hold a news conference from the homeland of our warfighters. Surrounded by his national security staff as well as many in uniform, he again told the country that the war was going well and it would now go even better. Again a minor problem. Sources have leaked the purpose of the meeting was for the Commander-in-Chief to get on the same page as his troops. Why the Brits, the French, the Russians were having more success than us.

Here is the bottom line. I wish that Valerie Jarrett or somebody in his inner circle would tell the Commander-in-Chief those guys with all those funny looking scrambled egg designs on their hats know how to fight and win wars. They just need to be let go. Let them do their job. They are not trained to be PC - they are trained to kill people and break things. As as General Patton said, they also are not paid to have their people die on the field of battle. They are trained to make the enemy die on the field of battle.

The Commander-in Chief needs to make a decision. Does he want to fight the weather, or does he want to fight and defeat those who want to destroy this nation. I know, I know. He hates this crap. It was not in his script. By now, he should have been well on the way to forging our "One World Government". In Obama's mind, war sucks. He does not understand why it has to be. Well, Mr. President, join the crowd. Most of the rest of us think that war sucks also. And nobody thinks that more than your warfighters at the Pentagon. Because many have been there. But when war does come knocking at our door, we need to know how to face it and then defeat it. And quickly.

We need to defeat the Islamic State for once and for all. And not just in the Middle East, but worldwide. So, we need a Warfighter as our Commander-in-Chief. The Commander-in-Chief owns the direction of the military. Time to figure out which direction is "True North" Mr. President. The time is now. And if we don't do it now, the place will be here.