Monday, August 31, 2015

Playing fair at our Fair

"The Taxpayers League is a great organization for spreading the truth. No politics is needed - the truth speaks for itself..."

I am now done with the Minnesota State Fair for this year. We went opening day, Saturday (day of the of the infamous BLM protest), and today. Truthfully - each day was different from the others, yet wonderful. The people I met who came to the Taxpayer League booth were mostly very nice and interesting. Oh, there were one or two who tried to pick a political fight, but for the most part people who stopped by were just hungry for information.

It took me a while, but I developed "my swing". That is, a good approach in how to meet people and then spread some tax information. I would look for folks about my age and then greet them. I would then ask them if they knew anyone who was on Social Security. Most would look me in the eye and chuckle - and then say, "I am". That was my opening. 

I asked if they knew that Social Security in Minnesota was taxed. Most knew it and were not happy about it. I then gave them one of our Taxpayer League hand outs and encouraged them to send an e-mail to their House Representative before the next session. This turned out to be a good approach was it was about 90% successful with the people I talked with.

Two of the couples I approached did not play fair however. When I gave them my line about Social Security being taxed in Minnesota, both of these couples replied by saying, "Yep - and that is why we moved." One couple moved to Florida and the other moved to Texas. Why? Most because this state is unfriendly to seniors. It is tax unfriendly. The unfair tax on Social Security and veterans retirement.

I talked to one more couple who I found out was not from Minnesota. They were visiting from Tennessee. They were from Minnesota, but moved to Tennessee after retirement as Tennessee was more tax friendly to seniors. They miss Minnesota for many reasons, including family. They would love to move back here, but are worried about the taxes. Like, could they afford to live here?

That is when it hit me. What the Taxpayer League is doing at the fair is very important. Really, really important. This message needs to be spread loud and clear, near and far. We are losing our seniors to other states. And the seniors who stay are being unfairly taxed. This needs to stop. Now.

When the next legislative session begins, please make sure your State Representative and your State Senator are fully up to speed on this issue. Not just up to speed, but are standing ready to do something. This is not a partisan issue - it should be a no-brainer. My Representative and my Senator both support the repeal of this unfair tax on seniors. Do yours? Lets make this happen.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Talking to an alien....

"Talking to someone who lives in a tax free state is like talking to an alien. They do not understand why humans want to pay state income taxes..."

Yesterday while coming home from coming from the fair, I was fired up. For many reasons. However, I always try to be nice to folks by striking up a good conversation. The couple sitting next to me on the bus were from Texas. They were vacationing all summer in Minnesota to enjoy our weather and lakes. Having lived in Austin all their lives, they found Minnesota attractive as well as fascinating.

We talked about our State Parks, our traffic, and many other subjects of interest. I then told them I had been at the fair working as a volunteer at a booth. The booth was owned by the Minnesota Taxpayer League. I explained to them what the League was all about. To fully explain our tax issues in this state, I needed to ask them a basic question. "Do you mind if I ask what your tax rate is in Texas?" They both then stared at me with a very strange look. "Taxes? We don't pay taxes. We never have."

That is when our conversation became strange. It was similar to talking to aliens. Neither the man nor his wife had any concept of what paying state tax was like. They had never paid a cent. Never. On the other hand, there has never been a year while I have been living in Minnesota that I have not paid taxes. Never. 

I continued, "But if you don't pay any taxes, isn't your state falling apart? Your roads must be in shambles." Again they looked at me strangely. "No, our roads are good. Although not perfect, many are better than some we have driven on in Minnesota. It seems like every year we come up here you folks have quite a few roads shut down for repair."

The strangest part of our conversation happened when I told him our Social Security was taxed. When I said that, the man looked at me with mouth agape. "That is just plain wrong" he said. Then he went on to say he could not imagine his or his wife's Social Security being taxed.

We went on to talk about quality of life, services and so on. It then struck me. Texas and Minnesota both seem to be good places to live. Except one pays taxes and the other does not. Oh to be fair, they do have a good size property tax. However this couple told me they would take that over paying state income tax any day of the week.

I have had this conversation before with liberals. About how if we did not have our tax rate our state would look like Alabama, Georgia or Arkansas. Funny thing is I have been to all three of those states. They looked fine to me. Then liberals will talk about the low high school graduation rates in lower taxed states. Another canard. Obviously they have not checked out the schools in North Minneapolis.

Once we got to our bus stop I said goodbye to this nice couple from Texas. I had given them some tips on some interesting things to do and see while in Minnesota. What they gave me in return was more dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction with living in a very high taxed state. 

In seems that in this state, we pay huge taxes for one reason only - to support the the largess of our government. And to keep in growing. Bottom line - that is it in a nutshell.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Our cartoon socialist

"Question: Why is the readership of so many papers going down? Answer: Just look at their editorial boards..."

Yes, I am sure many newspapers have one. We have a hometown newspaper (which will go nameless - like Lord Voldemort) which employs a "throwback to the 60's" type of editorial cartoonist. And he is a piece of work. TOTALLY biased (surprise) towards anything left and goofy.

This guy, this throwback to Woodstock, really has a very odd world view. Plus he is not the sharpest blade in the drawer. This past week, he has been on a viscous rant. Against Donald Trump and our Second Amendment. And he understands neither. The target which should be exploited by his sardonic humor is the "Royal" Hillary. One would think for an editorial cartoonist, this woman would yield a treasure trove of good material. Nope. She is off limits. Why? She is the queen of the Loony Left, silly!

His rant against guns I find particularly interesting. In his world, there should be no more guns. Period. They are evil. Of course, he does not understand our history. Why the Second Amendment became part of our Bill of Rights. Why it remains so important today. But to be fair, it is not just goofy editorial cartoonists - it is many on the Loony Left who don't understand our Second Amendment. 

So to help out our poor misguided cartoonist (and any others who might need some help), here is an abridged explanation on we have the Second Amendment (and it shall not be infringed).

Our founders were very concerned about this new government they were forming. As good as it was (and it was exceptional), they were worried over time the government could grow into something it was not intended to. The people were the ones who owned the government, not visa versa. The Second Amendment was then created. To be clear, the Second Amendment was NEVER about the right to hunt, the right to shoot targets, or the right to go to gun shows. The Second Amendment was created and remains today for one important reason. TO PROTECT THE CITIZENRY FROM AN OVER REACHING GOVERNMENT. Our founders understood one thing very clearly - Once a society disarms, they become easy targets for a government turning tyrannical. The Second Amendment remains today as our best "check and balance" to ensure this does not happen.

So go ahead Mr. Goofy Cartoonist. Make fun of our Constitution and every Republican running for office. Your cartoons suck and only the low information crowd find them worthy. As for me, I also find them worthy - worthy of fish wrap or bird cage liner. 

Oh, one final thing to remember about the protections afforded us in our Constitution. If we remove or alter them, an old adage most likely come true - For those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Distinction with a difference...

"Holy smokes! It is back to the future all over again! A fire breathing liberal from the left? Is this the 60's all over again, or what?"

Yesterday was a great day at the fair. The weather was good, the food was excellent (and greasy), and the people watching at times was second to none. That being said, I decided to do something which I have never done before. I went in the DFL booth and acted like a low information voter (which for that booth was a perfect disguise).

I first went up to a nice lady sitting at an information table and asked where I could find the petition about not taxing Social Security. She gave me a dazed look and said, "Gosh, I don't know. Let me ask Sally." Well Sally did not know either, so she asked me what the petition is about. I told her it was to keep the state from taxing Social Security benefits for Minnesota seniors. I said, "That should be a DFL issue right? Many of these seniors are on fixed income and cannot afford that tax. We don't want to lose any seniors due to this issue." Both Sally and the other lady said they could not agree more - but did not know of any petition. Sally said she would look into it at party headquarters. Win # 1 for the Bird.

Then I noticed there was a rather large table set up for Bernie (Sanders). Behind the table were three young people (the kind of folks Bernie is attracting in large numbers). I addressed the two young men. "Excuse me. I saw someone from the Sanders campaign on TV get questioned about the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist. That person could not explain it. Could you guys help me out on this question?" Dead silence.

A young lady next to to table then came over to rescue her friends. Now this is funny, as this conversation took place in a DFL tent. "Well, Democrats tend to practice more corporatism in nature. Plus they are have strong ties to Wall Street. Socialists on the other hand, do not. They are strictly for the people."

Good answer I thought. Time for a follow up question. "Then what is the basic difference between Republicans and Democrats?" Once again, I was met with dead silence. And with that, I took my leave. Win # 2 for the Bird.

There was a very good teachable moment here. Not about Bernie, not about Socialism, but about our system. It is something that people on my side of the fence (conservatives and constitutionalists) have been saying for years. When asked about where you are politically, you better be able to articulate where you stand and why you stand there. When asked what the difference is between the other parties and where you stand, you better be able to explain.

For what has happened is simply this. For many people, the difference between the two major parties have blurred. Be it right or wrong, that is what happened. Both parties grow government. Both parties have progressives within their ranks. And both parties have very strong ties to Wall Street.

A conservative on the other hand, will talk to you about principles. About an abhorrence for crony capitalism. An abhorrence for corporatism or corporate welfare. And about a love for liberty. For freedom. For our Constitution. For equal opportunity, not a guarantee of equal outcomes.

Bernie Sanders is an avowed Socialist. Has been for years. He is not a Democrat - he is an Independent. He has an (I) behind his name (politically). So if he is going to run as a Democrat, the Democrats better be ready to field some tough questions. Just like if the Republicans ran a Libertarian for President.

One of the things I learned long ago while listening to Garage Logic was this - when candidates, or people representing candidates come a knocking, ask the tough questions. No soft balls, ask policy questions. Don't accept trickery, snake oil or sophism - only the truth.

Yes Mayor Joe, that is what I got into yesterday. And there will be more to come in the near future. And that is a promise.   

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The New Frontier of TV

"So where are with this brave new world of TV? Truthfully - at the next door of technology. Just waiting to be opened and enjoyed!"

I will be the first to admit, I love watching good TV. Let me repeat part of what I just said - "GOOD TV". That is something many of my age grew up on, and is sorely missing today. To be fair, it is not just TV, it is movies also. We are suffering through a vapid, insipid wasteland of reruns, make-overs, do nothings - or whatever.

But fear not good folks - better times are coming. I mean a lot better. We are heading full steam into the age of Internet TV. And why is that good for us? First off, how many of us have a "package" through our cable or satellite provider and get a bunch of crap we never watch? Many, I would bet. However, with internet TV, we get only the channel(s) we want, brought to us on our laptop, tablet, smart phone or whatever. Anytime, anywhere (mostly), and any day. And much cheaper.

We have burned through the age of VCR's, DVDs, and now cable and satellite. We are now entering the age of "true demand". For example, I  remember when employed at IBM. I was going through training on this new thing called "on-demand". It was mostly for customer convenience, by downloading needed software instantaneously. Oh yes, as an a plus - there were some entertainment aspects of "on-demand" also. Well, that entertainment feature has finally arrived.

Not too many of us (dare I say none of us), watch all 300 - 400 channels. Those are all the channels which are in our cable or satellite packages. I watch maybe 6 - 12 at most. The rest I never watch. With internet TV, you can subscribe to whatever channel you like. And most have an "on-demand" feature.

For example, should I decide to watch Glenn Beck at midnight, and if I subscribe to his service - no problem. On my computer right now, I can see many shows from my cable account. Anytime, anywhere.

So if I miss the Vikings this weekend, I can watch the game anytime. If I want to watch the hated Packers, I can watch them also. With internet TV, I can watch basically anything, anywhere, anytime, on any device. This is how IBM envisioned on demand many years ago. That is how on demand is developing it right now.

So enjoy it folks. This is the new frontier. The new beginning. This the cusp of something big - very, very big. Our world will never be the same again. Smart TV, smart phones, and lap tops with incredible reach - it is here now. This is change not to fear, but to embrace. It is here and now. And the good news (and most always there is good news), it will only get better better. And stay tuned for better - it is coming soon!  

Traffic Mayhem

"Ready for a session of 'hurry up and wait'? Get in your car and get out on the freeway system. You will go nowhere fast..."

Today I am going in for a maintenance treatment for my neuropathy. The clinic is in St. Louis Park and I need to take Highway 169 to get there. And I am not look forward to it at all. Oh the treatment will be fine - it is the drive I am dreading. AND, my appointment is at 9:30, which should be after the morning rush is over. But based on my recent experience with that drive, the traffic will still be very tough.

Now I bring this up for only one reason. This morning in the paper, there was an interesting article about the horrid traffic conditions in cities all around the country. Including our Twin Cities and surrounding burbs. The article in the paper has identified the culprit(s) for this nagging problem - cheap gasoline and an improving economy. And therein lies the real problem. Why people have no time for the main stream media. Because you never get the real story.

So here is the real story. First off, prior to the Great Recession, gasoline was about $1.80/gal. Today, with the price of oil VERY depressed at less than $40/barrel, the price of gasoline is around $2.50/gal. That is not cheap - that is normal for where it should be. I would consider gasoline to be "cheap" for these days should it hang around the $2.00/gal range.

Now here is the fact which is even more twisted from the article. Improving economy? With the workforce participation rate at record lows? This past July, US News and World Report had a great article on this subject. Nothing many of us had not heard before. 62.6%. That is the percentage of Americans who are either working or looking for a job. An historic low. That leaves a whopping 94,000,000 Americans who are neither working nor looking for a job. Even though the U3 unemployment number is "low", the number of people outside of the workforce is alarmingly "high".

THIS is what the article SHOULD have addressed. Let us pretend for just a minute we had a normal workforce participation. If we did, the U3 number would be much higher. That is just the way this economic funny math works. Next (and this is the punchline), our traffic infrastructure would really have revealed itself. Revealed itself for how inadequate it has become. In many parts of our metro during rush hour, slow traffic would become even slower and grind to a stop.

Why? Simple really. Our roads have become the red headed stepchild of the Met Council. They hate our roads. Our cars. Our mobility. So new road construction is grossly underfunded, year after year. We the people, who pay all the taxes, are left with nothing but gridlock. Gridlock now, with more serious gridlock in the forecast for the future. Met Council's solution? Have everyone live downtown in vertical housing, and take the LRT to all businesses which by then will have moved into the city. Hey Met Council! Wake the "bleep" up! That ain't gonna happen! It is not how we want to live and work!

I have to wrap this up now. I need to get ready for my hour plus drive to St. Louis Park A drive which this time of day should take about half that long. Since I am retired now, I don't have to put up with much traffic. But our kids and grand kids will. And they are really getting the short end of the stick. All I can say to them is sorry - sorry we screwed this up so bad.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Do Black Lives Really Matter?

"They are going to try and disrupt the Minnesota State Fair? Really? And for what?

Okay. I will say it up front. I am one of these odd balls (and I think there might be many of us) who think black lives matter. That white lives matter. That all lives matter. Not only that, my belief is that each death, of what ever race, should diminish us all. We should be a people who cherish life - all life. We do NOT want to be like Islamist Terrorists who have made a mockery out of the sanctity of human life.

This Saturday the Black Lives Matter (BLM) crew is set to protest something at the main entrance to the State Fair. So let us first look at some facts. According to The Guardian, the number of people killed by police this year might reach 1,000. Based on past statistics, of that number around 300 are expected to be black. What the article does NOT say however, is how many of these deaths were justified. In other words, where the police officer had no choice but to use deadly force. By the way, the number of white deaths out of this 1,000 is expected to be 500.

Now a more disturbing statistic. Using FBI numbers, the average number of black on black deaths every year in America is around 9,000. That accounts for 93% of all young black men killed. Rudy Giuliani recently used that statistic and said if the 9,000 number per year held true over the past 35 years, we would have lost a total of over 300,000 young black men to black on black violence. That is a jaw dropping number - and totally unacceptable.

Now even a worse statistic. According to statistics complied by the Center for Disease Control, every day in America there are about 3,000 abortions. The good news is the number is starting to decline over the past few years. The bad news is it is still sky high. In my opinion, one is one too many. In any event, it is also estimated that black women use abortion services at an rate which is out of proportion for their race. In other words, black woman make up about 1/3 of all abortions performed.

Therefore, out of the 3,000 daily abortions, 1,000 are young black babies. That would be 365,000 a year. Or using the 35 year number that Giuliani used, over 12,000,000 for the same time frame. Some estimates put it closer to 13,000,000. That is more deaths than all other causes in the black community (natural or unnatural) rolled into one. Margaret Sanger must be smiling in her grave.

One more word about our abortion rate before I wrap this up. Someone once said just imagine if we were invaded by aliens. And if those aliens killed 3,000 humans every day. We would think we were being exterminated. And that is exactly what we are doing to innocent babies - regardless of what color they are.

So do black lives matter? You bet they do. All lives matter. If the BLM crew was having a march to bring to light that 93% of all homicides are black on black, I would be marching with them. If the BLM crew was marching to protest 1,000 innocent black babies dying every day at the hands of abortionists, I would be marching with them. However BLM wants to inconvenience hundreds, maybe thousands of fair goers because they don't think there are enough black vendors at the fair.

Here is a news flash. I have known a couple of vendors over the years. It is very, very hard to get a booth there. And by the way, if discrimination by color, race, or whatever was proven, the State Fair would have found themselves in a courtroom, knee deep in lawsuits.

Before Martin O'Malley got "round heals" at a political rally, he had it right. When asked if black lives matter, he responded that all lives matter. Then after getting shouted down by the low information crowd, he backtracked. Well Mr. O'Malley, please let me help you out. All lives do matter. Black, white, brown, male, female, young, old and yes, even (maybe especially) the unborn.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The lure of sex in America

"Nothing can take down the rich and powerful in America like a good old fashion sexual issue..."

Back in my traveling days on one of my trips to Amsterdam, after work I found myself sitting at a watering hole in a mostly empty bar. The bartender and I were chatting about small stuff. I told him how much I liked his country, his city, and the friendly people who lived there. But I did have a question - why is sex looked upon so much differently in the Netherlands than it is in America? Not just a little different, but a whole lot different.

He replied by saying the Dutch look at sex much different than Americans do. The Dutch look at sex not as "forbidden fruit", but just a fact of life. And sex is everywhere in Amsterdam. There are girly magazines sitting on open racks right out in front of shops. They are there for everyone to look at, no matter the age. Prostitution is legal. There is a thriving "red light" district in a very nice part of town. "And yet", the bartender told me, "we Dutch have a very low incident of VD, AIDS or rape. Sex is simply a part of our lives."

I thought about that conversation this morning as I was reading about the silliness of the nationwide topless protests. Yes, there was even one yesterday in our City of Lakes (brrrr). The organizers said it was for "equal rights!" If men can go topless, so can women! Liberals thought this might be a good cause celeb. Salacious minded males thought it might be a good excuse to see some skin. People visiting from Europe might have thought this was much to do about nothing.

Over the years I have seen sex topple many people in leadership roles, ranging from in the community to yes, even people (men and women) in church leadership roles. And it is never pretty. Always pain and shame are byproducts. They seem to go hand in hand with "outed" sexual dalliances. And many people are never the same again once it is over.

Norwood Teague, Jared Fogle (the Subway guy) are two of the most recent people to fall victim to overactive or inappropriate libidos. And both are paying a hefty price for it. Teague will probably never be an AD again. Probably never make a half million a year again.

Fogle had a proclivity for younger teenage girls. He lost his $1,000,000/year gig with Subway, PLUS he is going away to do some hard time. Once released, he will be branded a sex offender the rest of his life.

One final note. On one of my many trips to Washington after finishing work, I went up to the top floor of the motel I was staying to swim some laps. Even though it was a hot summer day, the lifeguard and I were the only ones there. A short time later, a man from France (who I believe was there on vacation) came up to use the pool with his daughter who looked to be about 12. The next thing I know they are both in the pool, sans tops for their suits. The French gentleman probably did not realize in America that swimming topless is a "no-no" for girls once they start to develop. I have never seen a lifeguard move so fast. He got the girl out of the pool a threw a towel around her. The girl and her father left the pool area looking dazed and confused. 

Dazed and confused. That is exactly how Americans have become with sex. We have elevated it to be the most forbidden of fruit. We have made it so tempting, so tasty, it can cause instant ruin for families, for careers, for organizations.

There is however, one exception. If you are the President of the United States from a state like Arkansas, you may have carte blanche for sex of any type. Your extra-martial sexual adventures will then become things of legend rather than shame. Go figure.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The famous August hurricane before Katrina...

...43 Years Ago This Month...

On August 29th 2005, one of the deadliest storms to ever hit our Gulf Coast almost destroyed the City of New Orleans. Almost 2,000 people died from both natural and unnatural causes. It ranked as the third most intense storm ever to hit the Gulf Coast (in recorded history). It ranked right behind the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane and the top dog of the three, the 1969 August hurricane named Camille.

This is my story of Hurricane Camille while I was stationed in Pensacola.

As quoted from a unknown news story: On the evening of 17 August 1969, the storm made landfall. Hurricane Camille was one of very few storms to have recorded sustained wind speeds of at least 190 miles per hour, remains the only confirmed Atlantic hurricane in recorded history to make landfall with wind speeds at or above such a level. The actual wind speed of Hurricane Camille will never be known, as it destroyed all of the wind recording instruments upon making landfall. By central pressure alone, Camille was the second strongest U.S. land falling hurricane in recorded history. It was a monster.

My story really starts eight days prior to landfall of this historic and deadly storm. Late on a very hot and steamy afternoon on the 9th of August, the plane which was bringing me to Pensacola, Florida for training touched down. I was amazed when I got off the plane - I thought Minnesota was humid this time of year - Pensacola was brutal.

After departing boot camp and spending a week at home on leave, I was traveling to a place I had never been at to learn about subjects I knew nothing about.  After taking a taxi from the airport to the base, I checked in. I was then assigned berthing in a WW II vintage location called "Building 501". It was old, it was hot and stuffy, and it was barely suitable for Navy standards. However, it would be the place I would call home for the next six months.

Shortly after arriving, I was assigned to a work detail prior to class starting. Every day we would travel around the base, picking up litter, cutting grass, or sweeping streets. Every night after chow, with the humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife, we would strip to our underwear, sit in front of huge fans, and watch TV in the commons area.

The meteorologists in Pensacola were getting more and more excited about a storm developing deep in the Gulf. Knowing absolutely nothing about tropical storms, I found this fascinating. It sat in the Gulf, not really going anywhere, churning and getting stronger every day.

Now as a Minnesota boy, I knew about thunderstorms, and maybe an occasional tornado. However, this thing was something else. It was big, very big. It was like a huge thunderstorm, on steroids. And it was moving in slow motion. In short, at the end of every day,I could not wait until chow was over to watch the progress of this massive storm.

"Weather guessers" who track tropical storms would use something called a "cone of uncertainty". This was nothing more than a computer projection which defined an area of possible landfall. On August 15th, Pensacola became located in the "cone". For a while it looked like Pensacola or Mobile, Alabama might be ground zero for this monster storm. 

Because the water temperature was so warm that time of year, the longer this storm sat in the Gulf, the stronger it got. First it was Category 1, then Category 2, then Category 3 - now it was a major hurricane. My fascination and excitement to see how this storm would develop now had turned to dread and fear. It was starting to look like this storm named Camille would come knocking at the place I was living.

On August 16th, the day before the storm made landfall, the base went on lock down. No leave, no going outdoors (unless specific duties were authorized). Unless assigned to a fire and security watch, everyone was confined to the barracks with meals consisting of on site emergency rations (C-rats).

Late in the day, the storm made Category 4. Many of the local and national hurricane experts were now predicting this storm could get even stronger. There was something very bothersome about Camille. When the storm planes flew into the eye of the storm to take barometric readings, the instruments recorded near historic lows. Word was spreading that this hurricane could now strengthen to a very rare and catastrophic Category 5. This would thereby unleashing unbelievable damage to the pristine Gulf Coast.

The next day dawned with the worst fears coming true. Overnight, the storm had strengthened to Category 5 and the track was now becoming more defined. It had veered into a more Northwest track, away from Pensacola. However, since Pensacola would be on the East side of the predicted landfall, wind speeds would still be very high and massive bands of rain would cause flooding. In the afternoon the winds and rain started in earnest. It seemed like every hour, the sky got darker, the wind blew harder, and the rain went more from vertical to horizontal.

Shortly after dark, this monster made landfall. The windows in Building 501 were shuttered so we could not see outside. However the sound was something horrible. Something like I had never heard before. It was a loud, steady roar with loud bangs as items propelled by the wind would hit the side of the building. At 10:00 pm, I was assigned fire and security watch at one of the schools buildings located in an old hanger on the other side of the tarmac.

Going outside, wearing only my Navy issued raincoat for protection, I got my first look at Camille. It was like a scene from Dante's Inferno, minus the flames. Walking across the tarmac was as difficult as I had seen on TV or read in books. I had to lean into the wind at almost a 45% angle just to keep my feet. The roar of the wind was almost deafening. However I did hear something that stood out from that horrible noise. Blowing across the tarmac was a sixteen foot metal dumpster - blowing just like it was a large paper bag. Garbage was flying every which way the wind would take it. It is a sight I will never forget.

My duty in the hanger lasted four long, very nerve racking hours. The roof of this old building, covered corrugated metal was a source of constant concern. Many times in that four hours I thought the roof was was going to either come off or fall into the building. Power was out for the base and the only lights on were the emergency lanterns. For the second time in my very short Navy career, I really thought I might die.

At 2:00 am my relief came. I was never so happy to see another person. I left the school building and began the long walk back to Building 501. During the time I was on duty I could see the storm had somewhat settled down. The wind was still strong, the rain was still coming down, but not like before it was before. Once safely back in Building 501, got into my rack and fell sound asleep until dawn.

Once daylight broke, we were allowed outside to start with the process of massive cleanup. The damage to the base was unbelievable. Sand was everywhere - considering the base was over a mile from the beach, that was impressive. The base had survived, but it was a mess and took many weeks to get back to normal.

In the days that followed, clouds parted, the sun came out, and the wind and rain were gone. However, life was certainly not back to normal. As lucky as Pensacola was just to get the frindge of the storm, the winds in Pensacola were still estimated in excess of 115 miles per hour. The bulls eye of the storm hit somewhere between Pascagoula and Biloxi, Mississippi. 

In that location, the damage was extreme. Based on the damage trail of the storm, some hurricane experts estimate the eye wall had winds of an unprecedented 205 miles per hour at landfall. However, that will never be confirmed as the storm was so strong, it destroyed the instruments made to measure wind speed.

My wife and I visited Pensacola a few years back. I wanted to go there, just for old times sake. It seemed that most of the local folks on the Gulf Coast these days talk about Hurricane Ivan instead of Hurricane Camille. Ivan hit Pensacola in 2004. Therefore it is much fresher in many minds. Even though damage from Camille can still be seen in parts of Mississippi's Gulf Coast, most of the terrible damage has since been been repaired. And, memories of that horrible night are starting to fade.

However, this former 19 year old sailor will never forget that August night. That night when the most unwelcome of guests came a knocking. That night when Hurricane Camille made history in the United States.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"K" Street Sludge

"Where is the best place to work these days to get rich? The oil fields? Nope - 'K' Street in Washington, DC..."

Some might wonder what I know of "K" Street. Not much, except I have been there many times. And when I say many, I mean many. When I would go to DC on business (many times) or for military duty (many times), some of the better restaurants and bars were on or around "K" Street in downtown DC. And today, "K" Street is where many of the lobbyists live. And probably not by coincidence, it is also a hotbed for "street walkers" (hookers).

Since I have retired, I have developed a visceral hatred for "K" Street. For what it represents. For the filth it has put into our government. And for the revolving door between Capital Hill and lobbyists. It is the source of money and power in our nation's capital. And the thin line between government and lobbyists keeps getting thinner all the time.

For example, someone might run for a two year stint in the House and then get elected. Spend four two year terms learning the turf and making connections. Maybe the spouse of the Congressman (or woman) ends up working for a lobbying firm in those eight years. Then when the Congressman (or woman) finishes eight years in the House, he or she leaves government to work as a lobbyist on "K" Street. After maybe five years or so, that person runs for an open Senate seat and is elected due to name recognition. And that person is probably a whole lot richer than when running for the House the first time around. 

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 2012 was a pivotal year for Congress. For the first time, half of all members of Congress had a net worth of over $1,000,000. In 2014, that number went up to over half. The irony of course, is that many of these self made millionaires were not such prior to going to Congress. How do they do it? By using what some call the "'K' Street shuffle".

Why should we care about "K" Street? First off, many of our bills are "farmed out" to lobbyists on "K" Street for initial construction. Yes, our bills which eventually become law, are initially put together by staffers and lobbyists. Bills then become a committee project and develop into something long and convoluted. You might then end up with a 2,000 page health care bill that nobody in Congress has read. In fact, you might even get the Speaker of the House telling members, "We need to pass this bill so we know what is in it."

No, I don't have any time for "K" Street. The people who work there have made a mockery of our system. Let the hookers have the place. As far as the lobbyists go that work there, there is an old saying. "With dogs you get fleas." And on "K" Street, there are plenty of dogs, plenty of fleas, and plenty of hookers.

Friday, August 21, 2015


"He is not a violent man. He wants us all to come together. That is together the way our Founders wanted us to..."

I have mentioned in the past. I listen to Glenn Beck. His show is uniquely different from other talk shows I listen to. Even Rush (who I really enjoy). Some people think Glenn is just a rodeo clown. Some people think he is a charlatan. Some just a fake. Some just a Mormon. 

I think none of these. I think Glenn is a man of God. A man with very keen instincts and intuitions. He is usually right. Right way, way more than he is wrong. And one more thing - he has a deep and undivided love for this country. He is (in my opinion), a true patriot.

Today on his radio show, Glenn was so mad he was spitting tacks. He was talking about ISIL (ISIS or whatever). He was talking about the young lady in her twenties who went overseas to do mission work. He name was Kayla Mueller. This  26 year old American (let me say that again all in caps - AMERICAN) woman went over to a poor land, locked in a brutal genocidal war, to help the most needy. To help the hungry, the homeless and the hurting. Yes, it was dangerous. And yes, she did get captured. And yes, she did die.

But how she died is what really set Glenn off today. It also set me off (just ask my wife, she was stuck with me in the car). One of the leaders of ISIL decided to have his way with her. Since she was not of the faith (by their holy book), it was okay to rape her. And rape her he did. Over and over and over again. But who cares? She was just an infidel. Trash. And then they killed her. And blamed it on Moroccan jets bombing their compound. Bombing in retaliation for the Moroccan pilot ISIL burned alive in a cage. 

Well here it is folks, and it ain't pretty. We have had people killed all over the world by Islamist fanatics. We have had innocent reporters captured, put in orange jumpsuits, and then beheaded on camera. Recently, we had a young girl, less than 10 years out of high school, with mercy in her heart, treated by Islamic Terrorists worse than we treat our animals. And (this is a big and), our State Department knew about it. And yet they did nothing.

Someone sent me a note over the internet asking me which sickened me more - the butchery at Planned Parenthood or the butchery committed by ISIL. I couldn't answer. It was like a tie for the bottom. Glenn Beck has said many times - we will NOT be held innocent for doing nothing. We may not be involved in the commission of heinous acts, but we will in the omission of doing SOMETHING to stop them.

And that is one of the reasons Glenn Beck has changed his opening song. It is now the Mathew West song, Do something. If you have not heard this song, I encourage you to go on YouTube and take a listen. If we are people of faith, if we are people living our way of life, if we are people who love liberty, people who love freedom and justice, we need to do SOMETHING. 

Yes Glenn. You are correct. You were right to be very, very angry. I am angry. Many of my friends are angry. Enough is enough. It is time to do SOMETHING.

Set the tone, lead by example...

"Somebody asked me not too long ago, what the basic difference was between a Republican and Democrat. My response was, 'These days, not too much...'"

I am going to address something that folks on my side of the aisle gripe about constantly. Leadership. A good friend of mine (who is also a mayor) talks about this word constantly. Why? Because it is just that important.

I really hate to say this, I really do. Many of the loyalists, the conservatives, the constitutional scholars on my side of the aisle often utter a collective "meh" when either the federal or state legislature meet. The naive part of many us actually expect our leadership to lead. Lead by what? Lead by example for starters. 

Right now we are having a contest on moving the spending bar forward. Notice the word "forward". The Republicans are just not spending as much nor as fast as the Democrats. But they all spend. And the bar keeps moving forward. And the size of government, be it federal or state, keeps going up. And up. And up.

Today there was an article in the paper (which I really hope was untrue) about the Speaker of the House slipping $2,000,000 into a bonding bill to refurnish some old furniture at the capitol. Huh? I am really hoping there is a retraction to this story printed in tomorrow's paper. For if this story is correct, it would set us up (once again) as hypocrites. As big spenders. As failed leadership.

Okay. This is it in a nutshell. It is going to be unvarnished and plainly stated. We want conservative, principled leadership in both Washington and St. Paul. We don't give (as the old saying goes) "two poops and a holler" if our leadership becomes unpopular with the ruling cartels. We do care if our leadership is true. If they are principled. If they FOLLOW and govern by the Constitution. If they want to lead others towards a REDUCTION in federal or state spending. Not to slow it down, not to have zero growth, but to reduce it.

One of the things former Governor Ventura said which I agreed with, often times our state Republicans and Democrats act like the Crips and the Bloods. Rivals, yet both acting the same way. Lately when I hear our federal or state leadership talk, I need to remind myself which party that person belongs to. Sometimes it is very hard to tell. Sometimes even impossible.

Going into the 2016 political season, I would love to hear our leadership start out every conversation by saying, "According to the Constitution,". I want them to reference our Constitution and then follow it. And that includes all those pesky Amendments. We are fed up leadership - hear us on this. We are tired of the "nothing burger" we are given to munch on year after year after year. 

One final thing. Everyone who is elected serves at the pleasure of the people who elected them. It is a good thing to remember.    

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ciding with the Left

"More and more people are referring to the Loony Left as the Party of Death. And are they okay with that?"

No, I don't need spelling lessons. Even though I am not the best speller in the world, I know how to spell "side" and "cide". You see, "cide" is a part of many words. It means simply "denoting a substance or person that kills" or "denoting an act of killing". So when you "cide" with the Left, in particular the Loony Left, you side with death. The Loony Left has become the party which condones suicide, genocide or most prevalent as of late, infanticide. Therefore, you side with the party of death.

I have said this before. The images on the tapes from Planned Parenthood are so gruesome, so graphic, Hollywood could never put them in a horror flick. And yet these procedures seem to be day to day operations at this death mill. This death mill which receives some of its funding from taxpayers.

I have not seen the latest video as I just can't take it anymore. I have heard to obtain the full brain of an infant, the face had to be cut open so the brain could be extracted. This procedure from an infant whose heart is beating. Who has a functioning brain. A developing body.

I don't believe in hate crimes. I think it is a silly term. However, if I did, I would say the act of a white doctor mutilating a black baby would qualify. And yet, barely a peep is muttered from the Loony Left. Or, the very vocal Reverends, Al and Jesse. 

The Commie who does the cartoons in the paper today had a typical Loony Left answer to the criticism being leveled at Planned Parenthood. His cartoon said defunding Planned Parenthood would lead to increases in cancer, VD, world hunger or what ever. To that I say in the loudest voice possible, BULL CRAP!

Conservatives tend to believe in many things. Things such as life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. However, "life" is the most important. We cherish life. We detest the genocide going on against Christians in the Middle East. We do not agree with doctor assisted suicide. And we damn sure don't agree with the infanticide going on at Planned Parenthood! Not only is it wrong and vile, people doing these procedures need to brought up on murder charges!

So if you lean left, consider the company you keep. Are they people who cherish life? Or people who tolerate and make excuses for death? I know where I stand. And I know where the people I associate with stand. We choose life. The most precious gift the Lord God has given us. To all of us. And as far as I am concerned, that is the end of the story. 

Symmetrical warfare in a asymmetrical world

"You name it, we have it! A knock down, drag out military with the latest and greatest weapons!"

One of the biggest knocks I have heard about our military as of late is we have spend most of our dollars developing a stockpile of hi-tech weapons to fight a symmetrical war. And yes, we might have one some day with Iran, North Korea, Russia or even China. But many, myself included, believe the next war will be a continuation of our current war - the War on Terror. And that war is far from symmetrical. It is a classic case of asymmetrical warfare.

So what the heck is really meant my asymmetrical warfare? Simply put, it is warfare of the weak against the strong. Therefore, mostly unconventional methods are used. In the War on Terror, the weak (ISIL and Al Qaeda) will use just about anything to inflict damage or injury on the strong (us). If hostilities broke out between Russia and the United States, and it was aircraft carrier against aircraft carrier, that would pretty much be a case of symmetrical warfare. In other words, the strong against the strong. Evenly matched.

Well, even with the military loathing cadre who seem to have filtered all the way through our Administration, somehow the band has played on. In other words, the Military Industrial Complex IKE warned us about is in full swing. For example, we have new two new ship classes in the Navy. We have the Littoral (fighting close to shore) Ship Class which looks like something out of a science fiction novel. We have the Zumwalt Class DDG which looks even spookier than the Littoral Class. However, both new ship classes are bristling with the latest and greatest VLS and stealth technology. In addition, both new ship classes were designed to do more with less crew involved.

On the air side, the mills are busy putting out the new F-35 Lightening Joint Strike Fighter. This plane, along with the F-22 Raptor, stand ready to rule the skies against just about anything. Both new planes will give us total air superiority in the skies. But the question begs to be asked - against whom? The United States wants to buy almost 2,500 of the very hi-tech F-35 Lightenings. And that is on top of already buying 187 F-22 Raptors.

So we are ready to take on all comers. Bring it on! Well, that is of course except for suicide bombers sneaking across our southern border. Or someone sneaking a bomb on an aircraft. Or someone beheading one of our citizens in a public forum. No, for some reason unbeknownst to many of us, we are ready for the strong yet remain vulnerable to the weak.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out after the 2016 election. There are more and more people who have grown very tired of the War on Terror. Of the genocide going on overseas. Of terror states like Iran getting away with murder. In the next Administration, I would really like to see our Defense Department act to defend our country. And that means ensuring asymmetrical warfare never happens on our shores again. Period. Never.   

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Our Hometown Nuke...

"Love it or hate it, it is ours. And it supplies about 10% of our juice to Xcel Energy customers in the upper Midwest..." 

Yes, we have one. Right up here in God's country, we have a nuke. And it has been here for a while. Like, since 1971. That would make it about 44 years old. But whether you love it or hate it, we need it. It does not supply all of our juice up here, but certainly enough to make it hurt should it be shut down. 

Now here is a shocker for most folks. Because of incredible foot dragging and herculean efforts needed to construct a new nuclear plant in the United States, we are stuck with a gaggle of plants which are of the same era as our Monticello plant. Almost 1/4 of all our operating nuclear plants use the same very old General Electric Mark 1 Boiler technology. If you are thinking that technology sounds familiar, it should. It is exactly the same which was used in the plant which failed at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Plant Japan early in March, 2011.

Even though this plant has undergone extensive upgrades to make it last until 2030, it is still old. And expensive. The massive upgrades it went through in 2007 cost a mint. Originally estimated to cost about $300M and change, the final cost is thought to be around $750,000. All that just to get this thing to safely last until 2030. And that is only 15 years away. And some are asking the uncomfortable question - "Then what?"

Let me play Dr. Rain-cloud one more time. I will mention something the government is trying to avoid talking about. And the press is avoiding reporting on as much as they should. As we know, nuclear power is very clean. That is clean as far as greenhouse gasses are concerned. However the dirty and toxic side effect of production is spent nuclear fuel. The United States WAS supposed to have had a permanent repository to all spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain. And we don't.

Just as a refresher, Yucca Mountain has been under construction and funded for decades now. That is until 2010, when the Obama Administration pulled the plug. After tax payers paid billions to have it constructed. And then stopped. Fortunately, the courts saw this as it was -  a political ruse. A ruse by both the  Administration and Harry Reid. So the courts ordered progress to continue if funding is authorized. And it is expected the new Republican Congress will do so in 2015 or 2016. 

Meanwhile, very toxic and dangerous spent fuel is stored in temporary facilities all over the country - including Monticello. How long is the shelf life of its toxicity? Nobody really seems to know. There was an argument between nuclear scientists about the shelf life at Yucca Mountain. What is the worst case scenario for the most toxic of the fuel. Should it be 10,000 years, or a million years? That is how dangerous this stuff is. And it is laying all over the country. Much of it is (according to some experts) is poorly secured. And a huge national security risk.

So that is it in a nutshell. We have an ancient nuke within 50 miles of the Twin Cities which cost (between initial construction and upgrades) over a billion dollars. And its operating license is only good for another 15 years. Besides providing us about 10% of our power, it also produces an extremely toxic byproduct which will last for hundreds of generations. And that is also currently being stored within 50 miles of the Twin Cities. 

Somebody recently said our energy policy is like walking on egg shells. Between our war on coal, the fragility of our energy grid, our outdated nuke plants, and no central repository to store spent nuclear fuel, I agree. And our leaders are clueless on how to fix these critical items. To me, that is the most fragile egg shell of all. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Pot Stirrer

"I would have loved to work for a visionary like Donald Trump. I would have learned as much as I could before he fired me..."

I like Donald Trump. Many people on my side like him also. Truthfully - when he went after John McCain and the press misrepresented the exchange, I was angry. I am not a McCain supporter, as he has been a disappointment to many of us conservatives. But he will always be a war hero to me. Period. I was stationed in the WestPac when McCain was held prisoner in Hanoi. I worked for his father who was CINCPAC at that time. But enough about Senator McCain - this is about Donald Trump.

Even though I still don't think it will be Trump who wins in 2016 (although I might be surprised), what he has done is a real service to our country. He talks to us in the polar opposite language of Washington gobblety gook. With Trump, there is no "Lawyereze" type of language. No parsing. No what the meaning of "is" is "is". My belief is Trump has caused many of the other Republican candidates to rediscover their center - and then speak the truth. Some (like Ted Cruz and others) already have. But Trump has let others in the campaign know if they don't stake a position clearly for the voters, they will soon be past tense. 

I almost had a "laugh out loud" moment with Chuck Dodd was interviewing the Donald on Meet the Press. Chuck Todd was (as would say in the Navy) "locked up" with a couple of Trump's answers. When the question of immigration came up and Trump told Todd he would "send them all back", I thought Todd was going to go apoplectic! "Send them where?" Todd asked. "I don't care." Trump responded. "They just don't belong here." 

Now how long has it been since we have heard someone speak American like that? Speak the truth? Where after an answer is given, we don't have to ask someone else, "What did he say?" No, with Trump, who is owned only by only himself, you get the unvarnished truth as he sees it. No frills, no PC verbiage, just Donald Trump.

So the bar has been raised. And it will stay raised until some other candidate shows a set of (fill in the blanks) equal to or better, than the Donald. I have said this before when asked - "Who do I like?" My answer is most always the same, "Just about all of them." And that is the truth. Our bench is VERY strong this year. If we can stay away from a circular firing squads or violating Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment, we should be in good shape in 2016. 

So thank you Donald Trump. Thank you for stirring this pot. This is a pot which needed so badly needed stirring. You are a patriot sir - even if some think you are nothing but a narcissist, there are many of us who think you are a patriot. The only thing I ask is that you is this - don't go third party sir. That will most likely hand the election over to the socialists.