Tuesday, June 30, 2015

And what if???

"This is the kind of 4th of July fireworks we don't want!"

The 4th of July weekend is coming up starting Friday. It will be fun. It will be on a weekend. It will be a family event. And - once again it will be a juicy target for the Islamists. What? Give me a break! Enough of this phobia about the Islamists! But wait just a minute. What if, what if, the most current terror alert is correct? Could we handle even a low grade attack like they recently have had overseas?

If you don't think any of the Islamist groups would love to knock us out, I have some coastal  land in Iowa to sell you. It has been reported any one of these groups would like to ruin the day for us - especially the celebration of our Independence Day. The best case scenario is this terror alert is a false flag or false alarm. And then we end up being nothing except a wonderful three day weekend in the middle of summer. The worse case however, it will be something bad. The really, really worse case is it will be really bad - catastrophic. For example, if the bad guys are planning to bring a small nuke or dirty bomb into this country, most probably over our southern border. That would be a game changer.

When I served in the Navy, I had a high level clearance for over 20 years. During that time, I learned one very important thing. What is disclosed to the public, and what is known to our government is very often very dissimilar. In other words, what we don't know can hurt us. If the Islamists launch a soft target attack, something slightly larger, or even a dirty (or not so dirty) nuke attack, it will be a game changer. The war will once again have come to our shores.

What concerns me the most about this newest bunch (ISIL), is how brazen they have become. It is almost as if they are goading us into a fight. It could be the butchery they use to kill innocent men women and children. Or their symbolic killing of gays right after our SCOTUS ruling. It almost seems that the more we ignore them, the more brazen they become. Bringing the war over here would easily fit into their modus operandi.

So what can we do? Really, not much except pray that our government is one step ahead of these guys. At home you can bunker up. Have enough food and water on hand to last for a week or so. A month would be better.  As the saying goes, "the bad guys only need to be right once". And they are learning from their past mistakes, their past failures. Once they find that crack in our defenses, they might try to get a small nuke or dirty bomb smuggled into Houston, Phoenix, even on to our Navy base at San Diego.

So with our terror alert for this coming weekend firmly in place, we can only hope and pray our government is prepared to stop or thwart all threats. For many of us, this is the best week of the summer, maybe of the year. We owe it to ourselves to be able to relax and enjoy. Unfortunately, that is what makes it all the more tempting for bad guys.

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Takers" and "Makers" revisted (again)


"Are an entitled society, a greedy society, or neither? I guess that all depends on your point of view..."

A long time ago before he became President, Ronald Reagan ran for the job of Governor of California. He was concerned the Golden State was becoming the welfare state under Pat Brown (yes, the father of Moonbeam). The people were fed up enough to elect Ronald Reagan to replace Governor Brown. The people wanted Reagan to to come in and fix the mess.

One of the first things Reagan did was to scrub out everyone on welfare who did not deserve it. Those who did need help, received the best. Those who did not, received nothing. It did not take long for Ronald Reagan to become a hated man by the "Taker" class.

I am afraid President Reagan would roll over in his grave if he saw the county today. The number of people not working, the number of people on food stamps, the number of people who are just getting by due to a stagnant economy. In a country awash in "Takers" there are fewer and fewer "Makers" to pull the wagon. The result has put us on an unsustainable course. And at the end of the course is Greece - or much, much worse.

We all have stories on how the system works (or does not work). A friend has an extended family member who is approaching 40 years old. She has not worked since age 21. She is on SSI. She has a son out of wedlock. She will never work again, as she does not need to. She is healthy enough to shop, to drive around, to play video games all day, and use social media. And yes, she is healthy enough to work. But she, with the help of her mother, has learned how to "game" the system. She will be a "Taker" from age 21 until the county pays for her funeral expenses.

Many education reformers honestly believe the biggest challenge we face today is the dumbing down of our population. I agree that is a huge problem. But the problem I see which is much more unsolvable is the growth of the dependent class. And I believe much of that growth is by design.

Over the past decade or so, the "wagon" has become heavier. Those riding in the wagon have increased substantially in numbers. Those pulling the wagon have not. Here is the rub. For Conservatives, for Libertarians, even for Republicans, to run on a platform to reduce the size of government by empowerment, might be a bridge too far. "Takers" and their allies who believe in the welfare state will not buy it. And why should they?

This is the issue I have been racking my brains on. How in the world do you cut through this fog? How to you construct a message to really get to the "Takers"? To show them there is a better way. To show them we are currently on a course for disaster. In other words, we are becoming just like Greece - unsustainable. I really don't know the answer. It is hard to compete against Santa Clause or people promising snake oil.

What the people in Greece are finding out this morning should be the shot heard around the world. The banks are closed and their economy is on life support. If we don't voluntarily fix this, it will fix itself. Our economy will tip over. The ride will be over. For all of us. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A House Divided


"A house divided cannot stand..."
Abe Lincoln

A big lie exposed. Conservatives hate gay people. There might be a small minority of Conservatives who have distain for gays, or maybe even a visceral hatred, but I have never met one. Here is the issue in a nutshell - just because you don't agree with someone's lifestyle does not mean you should hate them. In fact, our faith teaches us to love. Love unconditionally. Love the ones we disagree with. Love the sometimes unlovable. Yes, even love our enemies.

When I first started working at Sperry Univac in the mid-70's, I carpooled with my boss and another man from our department. A few weeks into the carpool, my boss asked us if we minded adding to the carpool. He found out there was a person who was working for us as a tech writer on a temporary basis. And he needed a daily ride. His name was Ted, and he was an ordained Episcopalian Priest. He was doing some graduate work in St. Paul, and was working at our company for some extra money. One more thing - Ted was very, very gay.

My boss, the other man in the carpool, and myself were not gay. Not a bit. So how did we get along? Famously. We became very good friends. So good, that Ted invited us over (wives included) to his apartment for dinner. Ted was also a gourmet cook and a wine connoisseur. Plus, Ted was very, very smart. And he was very interesting to talk with. The fact he was gay was a total non-factor. It never came up. We were just good friends.

I am fine with the SCOTUS ruling yesterday for the purpose of civil unions between two consenting adults. I think gay people needed better legal status to protect their benefits and estates. This does not mean I condone the lifestyle. I do understand they are just people like me trying to figure out this journey through life.

What I am concerned about (and I have said this before), is twofold. First, this has become yet one more "wedge issue" to divide us a country. The second is the activist courts. Will they force churches to marry gay people within the church? My belief is simply this - if a church believes the gay lifestyle is antithetical to biblical teachings, it is their right not to marry them within the church. That is why civil unions are so important.

This issue is just the latest of many which is taking our melting pot of a country and turning it into a series of divisive topics which then become silos. Race, health care, wealth, politics, heritage, sanctity of life, sexual preferences are all put in silos right now. These issues have divided us. They have us yelling at each from across the great chasm. Talking past each other. Talking over each other. All that rather than talking to each other.

In my house, my political beliefs are not shared by my two daughters. My feeling on the gay lifestyle is definitely not shared with either daughter. We have other differences as well. However, that in no way diminishes the love I have for them. Or the love they have for their Mother and myself. We live in a house divided by some of our opinions - but also live in a house united by love. Is that not the way a pluralistic society is to operate? To disagree without being disagreeable?

Now that the courts have ruled, we must find a way forward. To keep our fragile democracy from becoming any more fractured. We must always be mindful of how we started - out of many, does come one. We continue to be the great American experiment. As Bono has said, the "idea" for the world to see. To copy. Maybe even to emulate.

We will find our way forward. We must. There is great evil which is waiting. Waiting for us to be weak. Waiting for our great house to split, to be divided. We must not, we can not, let that happen. For as Lincoln said, "A house divided cannot stand..."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Goodbye Ozzie and Harriet


"What in the world ever happened to us? It has only taken us fifty or sixty years to really screw things up. And what pray tell, is our future?"

Many years ago, I had a very good working relationship with a man who represented my company's Navy customer. I also had a very good working relationship with a man who represented my company's teammate. The three of us got along great at work as well as outside of work. We really did become very good friends. So much so, some called us "the three amigos".

My friend from the other company had not yet been to our house to visit. However, my friend from the Navy customer had been here. Shortly after my Navy customer's first visit to the house for dinner and socializing, my other friend called him to inquire about his visit. My customer's response - "I have now seen how Ozzie and Harriet live."

When this story was repeated to me, I was not insulted - I was honored. You see, when the three of us were growing up in the 50's, Ozzie and Harriet was a popular show on the TV. It was about a typical American family, a traditional American family. And that family was truly as American as apple pie on the Fourth of July.

Today, families that resemble Ozzie and Harriet are few and far between. In fact, so are many of the "traditional families'. We now have a new term - "non-traditional" families. And their numbers are growing.

Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling put a new marker in the ground for "non-traditional" families. A family may now have two mommies or two daddies. And that does not bode well for the type of family that I, along with many of you, grew up in.

But my purpose this morning is not to bash the Supreme Court verdict. That does not mean I agree with it. I do not. My purpose is to talk about families in general. How they are changing. How the "traditional family" is disappearing. I fear we are on a slippery slope that after yesterday is only going to get slipperier.

A bigger problem than yesterday's court ruling is this. With 40% of our nation's babies being born out of wedlock (much higher in the African-American community), the new family structure has changed. For the vast majority of young unwed mothers, the new daddy is the government. What many of these young mothers are finding out is what all of us found out after having that first child - kids are expensive. Consequently, many unwed mothers immediately go on some kind of public assistance. Who needs a man when you have the government? Besides, the man already did his job. He was the sperm donor.

Now back to yesterday's court ruling. Earlier this year there was an article in the press about three men who wanted to marry each other. A new type of relationship.What the what? Stand by for more of these. Then what comes next? Man-boy love? Incest love? Bestiality love? Open relationship love? The sky could be the limit. The courts have shown wide leeway in allowing "whatever". And I worry the next battle ground for this left leaning court is going to be the churches. How churches will be forced to marry more and more "non-traditional" types.

As our "traditional families" continue to wane, "non-traditional" families continue to grow. Not in every country however. Yesterday, ISIL celebrated "Gay Day" by throwing four gays off a rooftop. It seems Sharia Law does not abide with our new SCOTUS decision. And that was not the first time gays in ISIL held territory have suffered such a fate.

For those who celebrate this day, have a happy "Gay Day". You got what you wished for. For those who do not, who mourn the loss of the "traditional family", I feel you. For those who mourn the loss of having a household with both a mother and father, I feel you.

So together let us wish a fond fare thee well to Ozzie and Harriet. And let us thank them so much for the memories. And finally, we can tell them we are sorry, very sorry, we did not follow in their footsteps. Lord, have we ever screwed things up...


Friday, June 26, 2015

The Bristol Conundrum


"Such a pretty girl with so much potential. What happened?"

Wow! What a week this has been. The country has been rocked by Supreme Court rulings, ISIL has shown us newer, bolder, and bloodier ways to kill innocents, and Bristol Palin is pregnant (again). In this new age of "anything goes", this should not surprise anyone. However, considering how she was raised and with her name recognition, it did catch me off guard.

I might as well get my Neanderthal rant out of the way. I have said this before. When my generation was Bristol's age, birth control was not that easy to obtain. As a minor, you needed your parents permission, even to by condoms. Ergo, not many people used birth control. And not very many girls got pregnant. The reason should be easy to figure out.

Today - birth control is handed out like candy. All forms of birth control. For both guys and gals. One would think that unintended pregnancies would be as rare as hen's teeth. Just the opposite has happened. In some communities, the unwed pregnancy rate is over 70%.

After being up in Alaska (even Wasilla), I know things to do up there can be somewhat limiting in the off-season. But not every young girl I saw up there was pregnant or hauling around a young one. So at age 17, Bristol had her baby, Tripp. It turns out she started having sex at age 15. In her words, she lost her virginity when she was drunk. No, I am not spreading rumors. This is taken from the interview she had with Barbra Walters. She continued to have sex with her then boyfriend Levi and then slipped up on taking her birth control.

Now I bring her past up not to be sordid, not be judgmental, but to be instructive. Shortly after she had Tripp, she found her moral code once again. She became a type of Carrie Nation for abstinence. She was all over the place giving talks about how important it was to be chaste, to stay pure for your husband. Actually, she did very well on the lecture circuit using that theme.

Now here she is, pregnant again with no husband. Obviously the chaste thing did not work out very well. As I said, I am not judging her. Trust me, I am the last one who should judge anyone. However, it amazes me how some young people can self destruct. The fact she is having a second child out of wedlock is not highly unusual these days. But now she has lost all credibility - maybe forever.

I don't know if we are going to hear much from or about Bristol Palin anymore. She has become nothing more than an asterisk to history. So pretty, so much potential. She still may make something special out of her life. That is, if she can grow up first. 

Exactly who is to blame?


"It took a while, but I found out who to blame for the ObamaCare mess. I looked in the mirror..."

Well it is over. Our last best chance to derail ObamaCare. The worst and most unpopular piece of legislation penned in many a generation. And now we are stuck with it. The bill which steals from the not so poor to give to the poor. The bill which did nothing to contain costs, but many things to shift costs. The latest entitlement which will help bankrupt our country.

Lets just for a minute, look back in history how we got ObamaCare:
  • John Roberts Selection - In September of 2005, President Bush nominated John Roberts to be the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This was an appointment many of us thought would tilt the court back to the right for a change. NOBODY knew this man would end up being a wolf in sheep's clothing. Justice Robert's ability to disappoint has been simply stunning to say the least.
  • 2008 Election - Rather than a good, principled Conservative, we ran John McCain instead. As much as I respect the Senator's war record, he has been a "squish" as a Senator. That plus the allure of having the first black (or even half black) President was too much to overcome. This new Socialist leaning community organizer won by a comfortable margin.
  • The 60th Vote - We all knew BHO would try to push this new entitlement through Congress. Al Franken was a comedian who wanted to be in Congress. He should have been easy to beat. But Norm Coleman, a sitting Senator, ran a weak campaign. That and the combination of a whole lot of voter fraud gave the election to Franken - by only a handful of votes.
  • 2012 Election - Here is was. Our turn. We had the goods on the President. ObamaCare was a mess during the rollout, Benghazi was huge "cluster" which cost us an ambassador, and the economy was still in the tank. Rather than run someone like John McCain again, we ran someone worse. Oh, Mitt was a good and honorable man. But a milk toast. A lousy candidate. He had Obama up against the ropes in the debates. There Obama was, face down in the ditch like road kill. All Mitt needed to do was give the finishing blow. Instead Mitt went silent. In fact, he helped Obama up, just to be fair. Our side became so disillusioned with Mitt, over three million of us sat out the election. The worst President in modern times was then re-elected.
  • Republicans in Congress - Here is where it really gets messy. Ever since the bill was signed into law in 2009, the war cry of the Republicans has been "repeal and replace!" Sounds good, until the press would ask, "replace with what?" The silence was deafening. There never was a plan put forth for the public to see. Never a better mousetrap than ObamaCare. The Republicans just reverted back to the "Party of No" and "No Ideas". The American public, now somewhat pregnant with ObamaCare, decided a flawed plan was better than no plan.
As much as I disagree with yesterday's ruling, I can somewhat see why Roberts did what he did. I don't think Congress is equipped right now to have a broken ObamaCare dumped on them to fix. Even after Grubber showed us (via videotape) the smoking gun on how deceit helped craft this bill, Roberts decided to play it safe. Unconstitutional, but safe.

Even in 2016, if we get a Republican President and super majorities in both Houses, I don't think we can kill ObamaCare. The train has left the station. And the chief conductor on the train is Chief Justice John Roberts. Holding his lifetime appointment in hand, I don't think he will ever let ObamaCare end up in the ash heap of history.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The shell game continues...


"Oh, it is coming over here folks. Don't worry about that. Right now, we have their best allies working amongst us - and those allies are apathy and ignorance..."

One of my very good friends who lives a bit north of me (I will not identify her, but many will know of whom it speak), talks constantly of keeping your eye of the other hand. What is happening right now in America is only a distraction. The real show is what is happening behind (and sometimes not behind) the curtain. We are losing our country. And great unprecedented evil is growing, and spreading, overseas.

As we worry about our now Socialist leaning SCOUS giving yet another inappropriate ruling for ObamaCare, or the Republicans siding with the President on TPA, we seemed to have lost the bubble on humanity. Plus, we spend millions of dollars as well as hundreds of man hours looking for two escaped killers in New York. All that while hundreds, maybe thousands of unrepentant killers are butchering people in Middle East and Northern Africa in the most unspeakable ways.

Shall I say it? Even if it makes some uncomfortable? My wife and I just talked about this today. The way ISIL kills is not the way animals kill. It is much worse. Animals are not that cruel. ISIL is more like Satan. Only people with cold blood running through their hearts could wrap explosive cords around peoples necks and then watch their heads blow off. Only soul less beings could take still suckling babies into the street and stomp them to death. Only creatures of darkness could drown people alive and then video tape it for all to see. Or burn people alive. Or bury people alive. And only people which defy description could murder fathers, crucify their children, and when the mother comes out to save the children, cut her arms off.

Sorry I had to bring this up. There really is so much more. Get the picture? As bad as the Nazi were to the Jews (and they were indeed butchers), they were rank armatures compared to this group. And what is President Bystander doing? Not a damn thing. Oh, we can have "Josh Milk Toast" get up in the daily presser and talk about how bad this is. How bad ISIL is. Big "effing" whoop! People are dying over there! Innocent people! Innocent kids and babies! Hello? Anyone there in Washington? What happened to the country who saved the world in the 1940's from the tyranny of Germany and Japan? What the hell has happened to us?

So we will continue to sit and watch the internet as these sick bastards (sorry) post more of their brutality. We then become bystanders - just like our President. After all, there is no "evil" - what is happening is just another point of view. You know - maybe they are just "freedom fighters". 

For the thousands of innocents who have died, their souls cry out for justice. Just as the millions of innocent Jewish souls cried out in World War II. The difference is after World War II, there was justice. There was Nuremburg. Today there is no justice. Just apathy. And ignorance. And death. Lots and lots of heinous death. God help us all.   

Traffic hell (still)...


"If you ever wanted to count up the hours wasted just sitting in traffic, most would not be happy with the answer. It is a huge number..."

For those who are still working, this article will come as no surprise to you. That is unless you live and work in a small town, or work out of your home. However, if you are one of the minions who need or needed to commute to your place of employment, this article will sound very familiar.

First a bit of my history. I started working in December of 1975, three days after graduating from the University. My first commute was from Coon Rapids to Eagan. There was a rush hour starting at 5 or so, but the traffic was manageable. If you could flex your time by a half hour by leaving a 4:30 , it made all the difference in the world. And if you could leave by 4, traffic became a real non-factor.

Later in my career in the early 2000's, I worked for IBM. I was part of the Chicago Team. There were two of us in Minnesota who handled all the IBM accounts. When we got together for a team meeting in Chicago, I would often drive there. I was amazed at the traffic in that town! Rush hour never stopped. Even though traffic in the Twin Cities had become worse, it was nothing like Chicago.

After I retired from IBM, I decided to "take one more trip around the block". I accepted employment at Ecolab in St. Paul. Great job, great company, horrible drive. I only lasted one year until I could not take it anymore. On a normal day, the trip from my driveway to plugging in my computer at my desk was 2 hours. Going home was about the same way. That was four hours a day sitting in traffic. If it rained, snowed, or if there was an accident, it was longer. We were now becoming like Chicago.

Why do I give all this history? Simple - traffic has not become better, it has become worse. Much worse. I had a medical appointment yesterday at 8:30 which was only 26 miles away. It took me an hour and twenty minutes to get there! We are so overdue for MAJOR improvements in our highways and byways. Trains have done NOTHING (let me say that word again - NOTHING) to ease traffic. It was promised if we built the North Star choo-choo, traffic on Highway 10 would be much, much better. To that I say BALDERDASH! It sucks worst than ever now!

Here is the rub - traffic could be worse. How, you might ask? If our workforce participation rate was at a normal level instead of at a historic low, I can't imagine traffic with all the additional cars on the road.

We elect our state reps to come up with innovative and cost effective ways to maintain and improve our transit system. All the DFL has been able to come up with are trains which don't pay for themselves, and soaking the driving public with a huge gas tax. The Republicans also had a plan which was different than the DFL's plan. However, they were so busy debating Sunday liquor sales, nothing on transportation got resolved. So here we are, stuck in traffic - stuck in traffic hell.

Mayor Betsy can brag all she wants about the quality of life in Minneapolis. If you are a city rat living in a high rise and in walking distance of your place of employment, then maybe it is okay for you. However, if you love life in Maple Grove, and your place of employment is Lakeville, good luck with that. Ain't no bus nor choo-choo than can help that one! You either drive your car in dead stop rush hour traffic, or stay home. And that is my traffic report for the morning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Offending, Offensive and Offended


"I always kind of liked that flag. Sure am going to miss it..."

I have truly had it! I have had it with many of the names I see today. Names of towns, rivers, sports teams, events, even people. And flags! What is up with all those flags? Those colorful pieces of cloth which drive so many crazy these days! And icons. Statues of political figures, religious figures, even cartoon of religious figures long since dead! What is wrong with people today? Can't they see there are many of us who are easily offended by offensive things and names of things? AHHHHH!

Okay - should I say it? Should I say what many of us are thinking? We are becoming a nation of woosies. Of metrosexuals. Of wimps. We have gone from America the strong to America the offended.

Wal Mart, Amazon and others have now made a management decision to stop selling the Confederate Flag. Why? Who knows. Maybe they are afraid it might offend someone. Because some nut ball had his picture taken with this flag before he shot nine innocents, the flag is now evil. Not just a little evil, it is the sign of Satan.

Many historians who have studied the Confederacy are confused where the current "Confederate" flag comes from. It is not one used during the short life of the Confederacy. The current Confederate flag has taken on a life of its own. A persona of its own. And, a reputation of its own.

I have been stationed down south (twice). I have seen the Confederate (Rebel) flag many times. To me, it has never stood for racism - it always stood for, well, being a rebel. Being wild. Sowing your oats so to speak. But not any more. Now it is the symbol of racism. Instead of embracing the Confederacy and the Civil War as a very important part of our history, rather than learn from it, we now seek to erase it. This ladies and gentlemen, is how Common Core works. It takes a lie and shines it up to look like the truth. But it is still a lie.

So good-bye Rebel flag. It was sure nice knowing you. Sorry about your fate. I know you had nothing to do with anything. But you offended. And you were offensive. In our new world of woosies, sissies and pussies, we don't want to offend anyone about anything at any time. Who knows? Maybe this posting just offended. Sorry bout that...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The other side of our medical care


"Proton therapy may be pricy, but oh the promise it does have to save lives..."

I am going to say a few things about our medical care in Minnesota that some may not like. For that, I am sorry. No, I really am not, or else I would not be penning this article. Just for a bit, I am going to set medical costs aside. I am going to set ObamaCare aside. In fact, all medical insurance aside. I am just going to talk about medical care in Minnesota.

Today in the paper was an article about the proton accelerator that Mayo Clinic recently purchased. How it can be a revolution in the treatment of hard to treat cancers. How unlike a conventional X-Ray, the proton beam can be directed in a more precise fashion and stop when it hits the tumor! This really is incredible technology!

I said earlier I was not going to address medical costs, so I won't mention the $180M price tag on this thing. But the question does beg to be asked, at what price life? In other words, if this could save the life of a child with inoperable brain cancer, would we not all opt to use it? I sure would.

Between our surviving parents while they were alive as well as myself, I have been in a few medical facilities as of late. Our local hospital (Mercy) has recently gone through huge expansions for Mother/Baby care as well as well equipped Cardiac wing. When she was still with us, I had my Mother at Mercy hospital many times. The large cadre of Cardiologists at Mercy are nothing short of miracle workers. Like many older folks, my Mother had congestive heart failure. So did my wife's Father. Not too long ago, that was a death sentence. The Cardiologists at Mercy were able to stabilize my Mother's condition which allowed her to live to almost 97. My wife's Father made it to almost 91 with his congestive heart failure. 

My grandson has been in the Masonic Children's Hospital at the University of Minnesota. He needed a procedure to correct some pressure differences in his heart chambers. No big deal - they do three of these procedures a day at that hospital. Without that procedure, his quality of life would not have been the same, and maybe even shorter. However, after a half hour non-invasive procedure, it was done. He went home the next morning fit as a fiddle.

So as we talk about, bicker about and continue to litigate ObamaCare, medical research continues to go on in Minnesota. In fact it goes on in many other states as well. Quality care continues to be offered many of our local hospitals. University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinics, Abbott Northwestern, Allina Clinics and Hospital system, Park Nicollet clinics, Methodist Hospital, North Memorial Hospitals, and on and on.

I will say what many of us believe - we are blessed to live here. We are blessed to have the finest medical care in the world. I try very hard NEVER to take that fact for granted. How the insurance companies interact with our medical providers is where the next challenge lies. The best care in the world is no good if insurance companies act as blockers to receive it.

Have to wrap this up for now - dentist appointment first thing. Dental care is the subject for another day. That too, is wonderful in Minnesota.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Are we cooked?


"Is this the end of the world as we know it??? Not hardly..."

Now that the famous Encyclical has been "on the street" for about a week now, everyone seems to be weighing in. I will say this for our current Pontiff - he knows how to start a conversation. The "greenies" are all excited as they think their position on global warming has been confirmed. The pro-lifers are all excited as they think the Vatican has again strengthened their hand. And many on the conservative side of the street are more convinced than ever the Pope might have Socialist leanings.

Yesterday morning, I was in our master bedroom getting some of our windows prepped for today's window replacement. I decided to watch the once famous show, Meet the Press. The local NBC hack (Chuck Todd) had Governor Huckabee on as a guest. In true fashion of the lap dog media, Todd wanted to ask questions to make the Governor look bad. Trip him up so to speak. So he decided (since Huckabee is a former Baptist pastor) to ask about the Encyclical.

Well Governor Huckabee may never become President, but I sure enjoy watching him on the campaign trail. He is sharp, he is funny, and he is no idiot. As soon as Todd asked that question with a few follow-ups, Huckabee set about to school Mr. Todd. First, Huckabee reminded Todd that in the 70's Time and Newsweek had cover stories of the coming ice age. Global warming would have been a blessing back then compared to  the prediction of living with Wooly Mammoths and Saber Tooth Tigers again.

Next the Governor really hit it out of the park. He responded to how warming could affect the world's poor. Mike said he too, is concerned about the poor. He worries about the single mother paying $5/gallon for gasoline instead of $2/gallon. He worries about the elderly poor who will not be able to afford to use their air conditioner in the heat of a southern summer due to global warming taxes on energy. And he worries about the number of people that will become poor due to job losses when global warming initiatives take effect.

Thank you Governor Huckabee for being a plain talker. Yes, any tariffs, taxes, surcharges or whatever on our energy is going to kills jobs and hurt the poor. We have not yet seen the entire ramification of the War on Coal, but it is coming. I have said this before, we are being governed by idiots. Really, really stupid people. Real na├»ve ideologues. And the scary part is that so many people in this country believe and follow them. Simply amazing.

When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, about 20M tons of ash and aerosol was ejected into the atmosphere. It caused a minor "global cooling" for the next year as some sunlight was blocked. It made any "man made global warming" look like child's play. What is next for the Vatican? Are we going to have an Encyclical on volcanos? Please sir, just stick to the teachings of the Gospel.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Minnesota Zoo


"In the land of the blind, even a one eyed man can become king..."

For those of us who always need examples of how government is not supposed to work, our Stadium Commission is the gift that keeps on giving. How this Taj Mahal got to the halfway point is beyond me. Maybe better lucky than good. However, experts are saying the last half is the most tricky. The part which takes the most business and construction acumen. And we have a clown car running the joint.

It seems this squeaky voiced little political appointee that Teddy was given continues to be somewhat of a malcontent. She does not like her salary. She wants more recognition. She does not play well with others. And (most importantly) - she does not know what the hell she is doing. She is in the deep end of the pool and does not know how to swim. And why, some may ask, is she in this job? Politics. Our Governor (for some reason) likes her.

IF our Governor was normal. IF our Governor had good people experience. IF our Governor cared about the future of this project, he would give this woman her walking papers - like yesterday. Let me be clear about one thing - this has NOTHING to do with her being a woman. Teddy is in over his head also. This does have everything to do with using political hacks instead of professionals to do a very tough job. And then (adding insult to injury), paying these hacks professional salaries.

The first time I heard the Deputy Chair talk on camera I had a couple thoughts. First, she has the most irritating voice. Nails on the chalkboard. It is even worse than Hillary Clinton's voice. Second (and much more profound), her thoughts are not cogent. It was like hearing someone from Junior Achievement talk about a science project. So here we have a woman (who does most of the pressers), in way over her head. Then to top matters off, has managed to develop a hostile work environment within the commission. That is quite a resume!

Once in a while in the business world, you will find someone who was over their head. If the person could not improve, it usually did not take long before matters took care of themselves. But that is the real world. In the world of government, people seldom get canned. They just get put somewhere else to cause mayhem. It is the Peter Principle on steroids. 

Thus we have the real Minnesota Zoo. If not for the huge amount of tax dollars at stake, it would almost be funny to watch this clown car go down the street. But there are quite a few dollars involved. And they are our dollars. And we have a couple of 14 year old kids driving an expensive car down a very busy street. Buckle up folks. The ride could start to get interesting very soon. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Just one time please...


"Many of us are tired of selective outrage. Either all lives (and I mean all) matter, or they do not..."

First off, what happened down in South Carolina this week was abhorrent. I think we all can agree on that. This young man, who obviously had a huge, huge problem, wrecked many lives with one reckless act. Even though our President tried to parlay this tragedy into an anti-gun rant, there is another, much deeper side to this continual loss of life.

In the paper this morning, I read about some of the newer neighborhood thugs in Northern Africa. True to their MO, Boko Haram crossed into Nigeria, burned villages, and butchered 40 people. Yes, just like the people who were killed in South Carolina, they were black. So far not a peep from anyone in our Government. Not a peep from Al Sharpton. As for me, I believe that all lives matter. I believe that all black lives matter.

This past Memorial Day weekend, a time to kick of the summer and celebrate, Chicago had something else to contend with. 56 people were shot in one weekend. 56 just in Chicago! And twelve of them died from their wounds. Many were African-American. But I don't care about that. All I care is that 56 people were shot. I care that 12 of them died. So far not a peep from anyone in our Government. Not a peep from Al Sharpton. As for me, I believe that all lives matter. I believe that all black lives matter.

In our country, in our world, human life has become cheap. In this year of 2015, the value of life, all life, should be going up. But it is not. We have become numb and are getting number. We read about carnage all over the country, all over the world, and just turn the page. And yet if we have a white officer shooting a black person in any city, all hell breaks loose. If there are injustices, we need to fix them. Period. No matter where. That includes the problems which plague many of our large cities. It means having people look in the mirror to see what the problem is, and what the solution are.

Back to the shooting in South Carolina. There is one person and only one person responsible. And that is the shooter. It was not the gun, it was not our gun laws, it was not the Second Amendment, it was the shooter. True, people that heard some of his racial rants could have told someone. In the land of free speech, I don't know what anyone could have done. The idiot who gave this young man a .45 should probably have his head examined. However at the end of the day, it was still this young man who pulled the trigger. And with that one act, nine innocent people perished. Just for worshipping in a church.

So it was another sad day in America. Another blemish for the world to see. Another act of domestic terrorism. Another example of the selective outrage demonstrated by many of our leaders. Until we get to the point of how precious all life is, we will not change. We need to remember how John Donne put it, where we can truly say in unison, "Every man's (or person's) death diminishes me." Until we can get to that point, please spare us grandstanding and self-aggrandizing. We are better than that. At least we should be better. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Reluctant Warriors


"It really is hard to believe this is all that remains of the once powerful Iraqi Army. Saddam must be rolling over in his grave..."

Not too long ago, our newly minted Secretary of Defense (SecDef), Ash Carter, got into some trouble with our "friends" in the Iraqi government. It seemed Ash has not yet learned the art of subterfuge that most of the Administration uses. In other words, Ash told the truth, and the Iraqis did not like it.

It was right after Ramadi fell to ISIL. Ash called them out. Said the Iraqi Army did not have the stomach for battle. In fact, the once great Iraqi Army fled like school children in front of advancing ISIL troops. Those who were caught by ISIL were executed. All kinds of good equipment which had just been given to the Iraqi Army by the American taxpayer, instantly became the property of ISIL. It was a dark day in the worldwide War on Terror.

The Administration "plan" has always been to give some support to the Iraqi Army so these folks could protect their own homeland. For that I give us a grade of "classic fail". It turns out the real "JV" team is not ISIL after all - it is what remains of the Iraqi Army. This group of rag tags have no stomach for battle nor the butchery ISIL brings with them. Their natural "fight or flight" tendency has turned into nothing but flight. 

The latest kick in the teeth came this week when General Dempsey and Ash Carter were testifying on the Hill about Iraqi readiness. It turns out the term "readiness" is a misnomer. They were hoping to have a paltry group of 24,000 soldiers trained by the fall. Right now, that number looks more like 7,000. Why? Young men in Iraq don't want to fight for their homeland. They have seen too much battle already. Many their entire lives. In short, we are dealing with a bunch of reluctant warriors.

So where does that leave us? Simply put, with a big, big problem. Who will come in to save the day against the bloodthirsty ISIL? If not the Iraqi Army, who? The US of A? Not likely as long as Obama is Commander in Chief. The UN? Excuse me while I bend over laughing. NATO? Nope. No, in the eyes of ISIL, Iraq must look like low fruit on the tree. Anytime they need more ammo or equipment, all they need do is engage the Iraqi Army and steal theirs.

People of honesty know what the true answer is. There is only one force on Earth that can stop ISIL right now. Or Boko Haram. Or Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Or the old fashioned Al Qaeda itself. Or just about any bad guy that pops up. It is the United States military. Period. End of story.

So maybe the reluctant warriors are not just what remains of the Iraqi Army. Maybe the other reluctant warrior sits in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The world is burning sir. Calls keep going out for the Superman of yesterday. Just saying...  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Are they here?


"The flying triangle is so common now, it has been named. It is called the TR-3. To whom does it belong? Beats me..."

I recently had the chance to talk to a friend who (this summer season) had seen a "something". Needless to say, it was very disturbing to that person. It was a "something" early in the morning that did not look right. It looked out of place. It was airborne very low over the ground, did not make a sound, and was not moving. And then it was gone. And this person was not on drugs or alcohol. This person was on an early morning jog through a secluded park.

I know every time I bring this topic up, some of friends roll their eyes. "There he goes again. the Old Bird has fallen off his perch." Some think I have taken a leave of my senses. Here is the problem - more and more people are seeing a "something". Currently, it is estimated that once every 2 to 3 minutes, someone on this planet witnesses "something" they cannot explain.

My son-in-law and I saw our "something" on Thanksgiving eve, six years ago this year. To this day, we have no clue what it was. But it was "something". And it was disturbing. The group of people who see "somethings" most of the time are airline pilots. But by far and away, the group of people who have seen the most "somethings" are - astronauts. Today we know that people worldwide are seeing "somethings", and it is becoming much too common.

So what are they? Experimental aircraft? Alien technology we have back engineered? Actual alien crafts? Interdimensional beings? Time travelers? Oh, I have heard it all. Everyone seems to have some sort of theory on what we are seeing in our skies. What I do know is this - "something" outside our norm keeps appearing to unsuspecting people all over Planet Earth. Most of us, like myself, would just like to know what we are seeing.

If you have some down time, go on the internet and check out the famous "Battle of LA" in 1942. Or in 1952,  the "somethings" which buzzed our capital. Or more recently in 1997, when tens of thousands of people in Phoenix saw a mile wide "something" drift silently over the city. There are many more, but I think you see the picture. There are thousands and thousands more of these on file, but the ones I listed are some of the more famous.

If you have seen a "something", don't be shy. Many people have. If you tell your story, some will think you are a kook, but most will not. I will not. Way, way too many people of reputation world-wide have seen a "something". And like me, they only want one thing - the truth.     

Calling Dick Tracy!


"Seems like Dick Tracy had it right long before Apple did..."

It is hard to walk around these days without seeing someone with a new Fitbit or Apple Watch on their wrist. It was after all, only a matter of time before our electronics miniaturized so much we could wear it on our wrist. Both the Fitbit and the Apple Watch are going to be game changers in our technology journey. Why? Many technologist believe this is only the beginning of a huge leap in technology.
So what is up with the new Fitbit? What makes it so special? Well there are a few different kinds of this device which can monitor different things that you may or may not find important. The Surge, which is one of the more expensive ones at around $250, has a built in GPS, it continuously monitors your heart rate, and on and on. And if you are not a fitness nut (or even a fitness affictionato), what good is knowing all that information? And that is the problem as I see it.
The next generation of these fitness watches might monitor much more than your heart rate. It might also monitor your blood pressure, body mass, metabolism and so on. Or it might be able to take minute samples of blood from time to time to measure sugar, triglycerides or cholesterol. All that information could be stored for government usage in the mega storage facility at Bluffdale, Utah. Trust me, there is more than enough space out there.
For us old guys, a Fitbit might have some limitations. Why? Size. The older I get, the bigger I need things to be so I can see them. Right now, I would have to get my "cheaters" on every time I looked at my Fitbit or Apple Watch. But there is a bigger problem also. Do I really want or need to know all those metrics on my body 24X7? Sometimes ignorance can be bliss after all!
Well it as about time to go outside and cut the grass. I will put on my old fashioned watch which tells me nothing but the time. But these days are coming to an end. Technology will soon be all up in our business, no matter WHAT that business might be! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

No Daudt about it...


"He is still somewhat of a newcomer and went up against the DFL machine. All things considered, he might have earned a strip or two this year..."

I always believe in giving credit where credit is due. Now that the legislative session in Minnesota is over, the post game analysis has started. I will not get into the weeds as that is for others to do who are much better at it and more informed than I. I will however give my 30,000 foot view of what just happened in our state.

Just so this is fair and balanced, let me first give the bad news. State government did grow (again). For us Conservatives, that is huge "no-no". Even though the push for early childhood was stymied (again), we continue to pour more money into our failed K-12 formula (again). Another huge "no-no". We did not get tax relief for our retired veterans (big ouch). We did not get tax relief for our senior citizens via the Social Security fix (another big ouch). All this are huge issues.

Now the good news. I really did think our young, somewhat inexperienced Speaker of the House was going to get played this year. And played badly by the seasoned Progressives who live on the other side of the aisle. But no. Kurt Daudt showed some welcomed acumen in how he was able to divide and conquer. Divide and conquer on many different DFL "line in the sand" issues. So much so, there is now a movement within the hard core Left to have Senate Leader Bakk dumped over the side as road kill.

Plus, the way this session turned out amazed many of us. I really did think the table was being set by the Governor for another shut down. Another famous shutdown with Republican's fingerprints all over it. What ended up happening was astonishing. Many of the "must have" issues for the Governor fell by the wayside. And Tina Smith did very little to save the day.

Looking back with all things considered, I will give the session a low grade. The reason for the low grade are bad news items I pointed out earlier. But this year it is not a failing grade. The bad news items are not trivial - they are damn important. However, not seeing the Republicans being waltzed around the my pole like they have been in past years was refreshing. For that Kurt Daudt, Joyce Pepin, David Hahn and others deserve kudos.

Going forward into 2016, we need to build off what worked well and fix what was missed. I have said this before, fixing the veteran and Social Security tax issue should not only be a no brainer, but also bi-partisan. There are plenty of vets and senior citizens who live on the Left side of the street also. This is a MUST DO the next time around. Fix these, and expect a higher grade next time around.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Life by the Missipi (or is it the Misi-ziibi?)


"The River Runs Through It - runs through what? The Twin Cities of course!"

Ha! Bet you thought I forgot how to spell. But no, I am talking about our home town (and home state river), the Mississippi. I once hated that word as it was the bane to many on spelling tests. It had way too many "s" and "p" and "i". It caused many a young youth my age to go down in flames. I could only wish we were asked to spell Ohio instead.

I got recently got spanked by some of my friends by sharing an article about letting the Mississippi River be restored to it's normal course through Minneapolis. Now I will say this - of all the goofy ideas that Mayor Betsy or the Met Council have come up with, I like this one the best. Why? My wife and I love the North Woods and the start of the "Great River".

Why did I get spanked? First off, the cost. It will cost money. How much, I don't know. However, I bet it will be less than the Viking Stadium. Next I like is the safeguard about the Asian Carp. It is felt they cannot run the gauntlet of the rapids. Plus (and this is a big plus), it will attract urban Eagles and other water birds. How cool is that? Finally, it will allow white water rafting in an urban setting. Could be unique in the entire world the way this is setting up. All I know is this - with the lock and dam system shutting down, it is time to "think outside the box". When I saw this idea, I liked it. I mean, I really, really liked it.

One of the questions was raised was about the hydro power. Would it be lost? True, It could be. But the research I have been doing (wind turbines excluded) shows a promising future ahead for power other than hydro (and I am not talking wind). Fossil fuels will be gone long before this decade is.

There is nothing about Minneapolis right now which sets it apart from the ordinary. I know, there are craft beers, the North Loop, the parks and the city lakes. All of which can be duplicated elsewhere. But having a whitewater river running through town? Now we are talking!

My Conservative friends can skewer me on this one, and for that I am sorry. I am a nature guy. The thought of the river returning to its natural state excites me. The thought of our Mill City turning into a Manhattan type city (as with Thrive 2040), does not.

So for now, I will think about how the Frenchmen thought about the River Missipi or the original Ojibwa thought of it as Misi-ziibi. Restoring the land, restoring the waters, restoring the rivers, or maybe even some of the land to its original state is not always a bad thing. The Ojibwa taught us many things about our land, about our water, about our environment. Some of which we could learn from. 

Bubbles, bubbles, everywhere!


"I love bubbles! They are so fun to watch! So relaxing, so mesmerizing!.....that is until they burst..."

This weekend I was listening to my favorite radio gal as I was out cutting the grass. The subject during one of the segments: student debt. One of my favorite topics for sure. And she talked about how big it is right now. How it has turned into another one of our "bubbles". And because we don't have the will to rein in our out of control spending at the university level, it is only going to get worse. (Hint: a "tuition freeze" does nothing to control costs.)

Now I like bubbles. I think they are kind of fun to watch. My grandson blows tiny bubbles from his spit. I like watching young children blow bubbles and see them ascend into the sky. Then at some time, they burst. And then there is no more bubble.

We have numerous bubbles in our economy right now. All are on the verge of becoming unsustainable. When that tipping point comes with sustainability, the bubbles will burst. I have already mentioned the student debt bubble. That by itself is almost $1.4T! And it gets bigger all the time! Our national debt now stands at $18.2T. Our Social Security liability is almost $20T. Our Medicare liability is over $28T. In fact the total amount of unfunded liabilities in our country right now is over $111T! Now that the grand bubble for sure!

Then there is one more bubble which does not receive much press. However, my belief in the near future it will. The underfunding of municipal pensions. This one can bankrupt states. How big is the number? Nobody seems to know for sure. A recent study by the Harvard School of Business puts the number somewhere between $1T and $4.4T. The belief of Harvard however, is the real number is much closer to the higher end than the lower end. Add this number to the list of things to worry about.

So what is up with all these bubbles? When one or more of these bubbles bursts, it can really ruin the day. The lesson here is quite simple. We (collectively) have been living too large. For way too long. We have spent too much. We have saved too little. We keep electing people to manage our national money who are financial morons. The way our federal and state governments handle money makes Common Core math look like a settled science. Soon it will be time to pay the piper. And it ain't going to be fun.

If we are lucky, we can tame these bubbles before they burst. Taming them is going to take a whole lot of work and discipline. It will not be fun at all. It will involve paying for the party we have already had. If we can't tame the bubbles before they burst, events will take care of themselves. And it will be a "dark day in Blackduck" as the old tale goes. Simply put, it will ruin our great nation - and all the lifestyles within.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Clandestine Everything


"What ever happened to transparent government? I guess we will have to wait until next year or so..."

Just when one would think that things in Washington could not get more goofy, along comes the mega trade deals. We have been told by our President these deals are critical for our country to continue to grow. We have been told by the union hacks these trade deals are job and union killers. I will now get into the finite details of each deal to explain them in remarkable clarity. No, just kidding. I can't. I have not read them. They are clandestine. Hush, hush. However as we have been told, if we just sign the bills, we would know what was is in them (snicker).

I know I am not alone in this. Ever since 9/11, it seems like the world of government has become very mysterious. Very secretive. Very clandestine. We have scrapped our 4th Amendment and now allow the NSA to collect mega data on every United States citizen. And somewhere in the new spook house in Bluffdale, everything on everyone is being stored for (maybe) all time.

Congress and our President are quick to join the party. Legislation, put together by lobbyists, keeps coming in bills the size of which would dwarf a World Book encyclopedia. Nobody reads them, including the President. He just signs them into law. And then the public, who also knows nothing about these bills, must live under them. ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, TARP, Stimulus, and now the Trade Bills. This is no way to run a railroad (or a country).

Once in a while, one of the "Washington placators" will tell us they will put a bill on the internet so we can all download a PDF version of it. Have you ever tried to read just a few pages of a normal bill? It is like reading our tax code. Or an advanced calculus book. Or how to solve a Rubik's Cube. Most people can get lost in the weeds very quickly. I sure know that I can.

We are the stakeholders of this great country. As citizens, we are sick and tired of being spied on. We don't give a flying crap if it is only "Meta Data". It is still intrusive. We are sick and tired of all the cloak and dagger crap in just getting a bill to Congress. We are sick and tired of everything being written in "legalese" instead of plain English. We are tired of our laws written by lobbyists or special interest hacks. We want short, understandable laws written by the law makers we elect. Before a law gets debated on the floor of the House, it should be open for public view on the internet. That way, should there be any concerns by a citizen, that citizen could contact his or her Representative to voice the concern.

When the trade bill goes down in flames, we need to start over and do it the right way. May 2015 be the first year of the turn around, the reclama. No more clandestine anything - that is, except for taking care of foreign enemies of our state. That is what the NSA was founded for. It needs to get back to that charter. In fact, we all need to get back to our original charter - the Constitution.     

Friday, June 12, 2015



"Some non-governmental experts have said the cyber security in the hacked data bases were so loose, an experienced hacker could have driven a truck trough the firewalls..."

Question: What is the most scary part of any data breach? Answer: Not knowing what you do not know. To clarify, that means not knowing exactly how much you have lost. How long the breach had been there. Or if any malicious viruses or back door codes have been left in the system. In short, a data breach is similar to having your house robbed and not really knowing how much stuff was taken.

The latest news concerning the breach of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Interior Department data systems only gets worse with age. It seems now that this breach could have been there, undetected, for a year. However nobody seems to really know (as yet) the exact time frame. In addition, instead of 4M identities being compromised, the number could be closer to 12M. Again, we don't know for certain as yet. And the amount of information stolen could be a show stopper. Besides SSNs, military records, pay records, addresses, phone numbers, you name it.

This is my opinion only as I am not quoting anyone. What scares me the most is what we don't know. In other words, for the Chinese (or whomever) to hack into this governmental data base, where else have they been? Our utilities? Our financial systems? Our Defense Department? Have hackers from potential advisories been sneaking in layers of destructive code in our electrical grid? Our nuclear plants? I mean, every time I start to think about the possibilities of the damage hackers can do these days, it sends chills up my spine.

Again, what can we as citizens do. Not to sound like Chicken Little, here are some ideas:
  • Protect your identity with some kind of data protection or data insurance program such as Life Lock. Look for more and more of these identity protection programs to spring up as the demand increases. They are not a guarantee against disaster, but will help against most hacks. I cannot recommend this strongly enough.
  • If the power grid goes down, everything is going to come to a stand still. Hopefully, our power companies have "war gamed" these scenarios and have plans to where the outage would not last indefinitely. However, even if the outage is only for a week, most households would have no water, power or natural gas. Have enough supplies on hand to be self sustaining for at least a week. A month would be better, but start off with a week. WATER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!
  • Have hard copies of all your financial investments and savings. If the financial institutions get hacked and their "mirror" sights are also affected, you will need some proof of what you own. Wiping out (even temporarily) a record of everyone's investments could be devastating.
  • Buy a safe and keep some cash in it. Does not have to be much, but enough just in case the banking system becomes disabled and you cannot get cash from the ATMs.
  • Finally, don't be afraid to think outside the box. Think of worst case scenarios. What we have seen from this last breach is how poorly our information is protected in some government data bases.
I am afraid this cyber security war is just getting started. It will not be a passing fancy as it will be with us from now on. It will be a cat and mouse game on steroids - played out on a grand scale. We need to always remember that our world today is made up of data. Data concerning just about everything. As much as a game changing tool that most data and data systems have been, they are also juicy targets for the nefarious or mischievous.

Stay alert. Stay prepared. And stay tuned in. This latest attack will probably not be our last.