Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Hennepin County Two Step

"There simple is no bottom to the pockets they always have their hands in. Soon, a hard rain is going to fall. Reality will set in."

As red as my county is, Hennepin County is just as blue. No - that is not true. Hennepin County is worse. It is deep, deep blue, as Republicans are all but extinct. Hennepin County, more so even than Ramsey County (in my opinion), has pound for pound more statists than any other county in Minnesota (maybe the mid west). And these progressives can spend money like a sailor on extended liberty. That is, they can spend other people's money.

It all started this summer when Mayor Hodges (who refers to herself as "Wonder Woman") proposed a budget to fix the "mess" the state legislature left for her. The "free money" from the state was not coming in due to the impasse between the Governor and the Speaker. So she is proposing an increase in the budget of 5.5%. Lots of new programs, lots of new hires. Instead of pulling the belt in a notch or two, it is spending as usual for "Wonder Woman".

Whopper number two came when the big lie about the Southwest Light Rail (SWLRT) continued to gain steam. "If we don't do something and quickly, we will lose all that 'free money' from the federal government!" Once again, the real power behind the statists live and work in Hennepin County. To save the day, they strong armed the Hennepin County Board to authorize ANOTHER $20.5M to keep this pig alive. That money by the way, comes out of the pockets of Hennepin County taxpayers (again).

People who live in Minneapolis get a double whammy. First from the Mayor, and then from Hennepin County. (Don't worry - I did not forget about the hosing we all take from the state on top of all that). Whereas the county I live in (Anoka County), prides itself with doing more with less, Hennepin County prides itself in tax and spend, tax and spend, and tax and spend.

There simply is no bottom to the pockets Hennepin County have their hands in. Soon, a hard rain is going to fall. Reality will set in. And when this "spending bubble" bursts, there will be lots of moist eyes in Hennepin County. Many people (I would hope most) will realize they have been lied to and cheated for years. "Mr. Good-bar" does not exist, and never did. All trains being built have a huge hangover after the drunk. The annual operating costs are absolute killers. 

When the music stops, the good people of Hennepin County will realize this was not a dance after all. Just a two step to get their money. Get as much of their money as possible, and spend it on absolute crap.

Gut punch

And just like that, the new stadium, the re-tooled team, the season of hopes - were dashed.

If someone asked me a question like, "I love football, but I hate being constantly disappointed, What should I do?" My answer would be simple. Don't live in Minnesota. Being a Vikings fan and having annual major league disappointments go hand in hand.

This year was going to be so different. Shiny new stadium, a new coach who is showing his worth, fine draft choices who are maturing, and a decent pre-season. And then yesterday, the roof falls in once again. 

Yesterday, for no reason what-so-ever, Teddy Bridgewater suffered a year ending injury. It was just a routine drop back pass. There was no contact. When Teddy dropped back and put some pressure on his leg prior to throwing a pass, something terrible happened within his knee. And just like that, the new stadium, the re-tooled team, the season of hopes - were all dashed.

When Coach Zimmer held a presser to give the public the bad news, he could not put enough lipstick on the pig to make it even look half-way acceptable. "We are a team. We are much more than just one person." Okay coach - you are sort of right.

One of the things I have learned in all my years as a football fan, is just how instrumental a good quarterback is. Yes, there have been teams which have gone on to clinch a championship after the #1 quarterback had gone down with an injury. However, it is much more common that the wind goes out of the sail for the entire team when the starting quarterback goes down. 

So the season starts in less than two weeks. Hopefully, we can be the exception to the rule and still have a decent season. Next year, Teddy should be back. With luck, he will heal the same way that AP did after his leg injury. 

Will I still watch the Vikings this year? You bet. Will I be as excited as I was this time yesterday? Not a bit. Maybe I would be if we could coax Manning to come out of retirement for a season. That would certainly help. Kind of like when Farve helped us for that first year. Or, we just go with Shawn Hill and hope he plays way, way beyond his ability.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The active listener

"My good friend Ben Riechers is one of those people who fits nicely into the 'active listener' class. He is excellent at it. And he is running to be the Mayor of Andover." 

A long time ago, at a company I once worked at, I had the most interesting experience. I was on one of the sales teams, and would spend quite a bit of time in meetings at customer locations. One day, the Captain in charge of the command called our General Manager. "I like your product, I like your people, but I do have one minor complaint. They don't listen to my people as well as they should. The Good Lord gave us all two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that ratio."

Ouch. That one hurt. Even though no names were given, the GM decided that all should learn how to listen better. An expert was brought in who specialized in "active listening". We were all mandated to spend a day with this woman learning how to listen better. When I found out I was one that had to attend, I thought, "Well there is a day wasted." Turns out it was one of the most instructive days I ever spent. I learned a whole lot about listening I had never thought of before.

Why do I tell this story? Since taking this class, I have really been tuned into people who are good, very good, or active listeners. My good friend Ben Riechers is one of those people who fits nicely into the "active listener" class. He is excellent at it. And he is running to be the next Mayor of Andover.

Now, I don't want to just focus in on listening to describe why Ben would make such a great Mayor. However, for this post I will. His other strengths will be the subject of future posts. 

With all due respect to our current Mayor, and Ben's opponent, she is a good candidate to take the "active listening" class. But then again, that might be a bit too advanced for what she needs. Maybe more of a basic class.

I have seen how she conducts meetings. Talk, talk, talk all the time. Always seems to get the last word in. Many times the current Mayor talks more than the staff and the council members put together. 

To have inclusive government, even at the local level, dialogue, not monologue, needs to be the standard. If there is just going to be meetings where only one person talks, the rest might as well stay home. I have been in many meetings with Ben Riechers. He listens hard, is thoughtful and contemplative, and when the time is right, offers up his viewpoint. For Andover, a city of 33,000 poised to grow to 40,000, that is the kind of leadership we need right now.

This November we have the chance to exchange an active talker for an active listener. Someone who gets it. Someone who knows how to work with just about anyone. Someone who can help take Andover on the the journey to becoming an even bigger and better place to live. 

The enigma of Huma

"During the Obama Administration, the name Huma Aberdin has come into focus for many of us. And just like that, she has become one of the more powerful women in Washington."

No, as tempting as it might be, I will not be making fun of Huma's husband. Neither his name nor his actions. That would be a bit tawdry, even for this blog! There is so much more to Huma which is interesting. So much more which is a mystery. So much more which is an enigma.

During the Obama Administration, the name Huma Aberdin has come into focus for many of us. And just like that, she has become one of the more powerful women in Washington. How has that happened? Now that, is a question being asked by many, including some conspiracy theorists.

My former Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, got in some hot water over this woman. In my book there was nothing for her to get in hot water for. But by the time she started asking questions about Huma, many on Capitol Hill were out to discredit Ms. Bachmann for just about anything she said or did.

It all started when Michele asked a very simple question during a hearing. How did Huma Aberdin get a very high level security clearance to work in the bowels of the State Department when both her parents are alleged to have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood? Now that - is a very good question! However, rather than focusing in on that question (which still remains open in my book), the press instead told Michele Bachmann to shut up, sit down, and put on a tin foil hat. 

Then there is the matter of her marriage. Again, it is alleged Huma's mother is very strict in her Muslim faith. That she believes strongly in Sharia Law. With that in mind, how in the world could a woman raised in this orthodox way, marry a Jewish man? Many of the true believers in Islam have very little time for Jews. Some even hate the Jewish people. 

Could it be (now I will put on my tin foil hat) that Huma married Anthony Weiner because he was a sitting Congressman from New York's 9th Congressional District? That having access to our Congress through her husband trump the fact he was Jewish? I don't know. I do however know this much. After having a high level security clearance myself for many years, questions like parents lineage and unusual aspects of a marriage often come into play when passing the final clearance test. 

It does seem fitting that with all the baggage Hillary Clinton now has, getting one more bag from the Huma situation seems quite appropriate. Hillary is in knee deep with this woman - and at times her mother. In fact, Hillary has even taken Huma's mother with her on official State Department business (huh?). Yes sports fans, a woman who is said to have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, traveling with our Secretary of State on official business.

If this whole thing smells a bit to you, join the club. In fact, the odor is fitting right in with the odor of all the other Clinton scandals. Keep one thing in mind. If Hillary gets into the White House, so does Huma. That type of access is even better than the access Huma had through her (now to be former) husband. Just saying...     

Monday, August 29, 2016

Left in the ditch...

"Then the reality of our "new economy" set in. $70K a year jobs for someone 52 years old are as scarce as hen's teeth."

Saw an editorial this morning which really hit home. For quite a while now, I have been telling folks (as have many) not to be fooled by the unemployment numbers. The U3 number is meaningless. The "jobs created" number is just about as meaningless. Even the U6 number does not tell the entire story. But the editorial this morning did manage to tell a part of a very sad tale concerning our economy.

It was written by a 52 year old man. A man of some accomplishments in this career. He was in middle management, and comfortably floating down this river called life. Then all of a sudden it happened. A downsize in his company. And he was let go. It came like a bolt out of the blue. His job, along with his $70K annual salary, was gone. So he set out to find another job. Then the reality of our "new economy" set in. $70K a year jobs for someone 52 years old are as scarce as hen's teeth.

Unlike so many others who are coming into this country right now, there was no life line for this man. All the taxes he has paid, all the work he has done - gone and forgotten. He had to sell his house and downsize his lifestyle. He did manage to find work at one of the "new jobs" in our "new community" - about $15/hour. And those jobs only utilize a fraction of the skill set he could bring to the table. $15/hour is about $30K annually - less than half of what he had been making at his old job. 

Why do I tell this story? Like many my age, this is an all too familiar tale. Seen it happen many times in my career. Years ago when it happened, often times the laid off person could just make a career change and find another job almost as good. Not any more. It is possible to still do so, but the chances get slimmer every year. 

Where is this man now in all of our meaningless employment statistics? Somewhere between the underemployed and "left the work force". That is the stat we have been hearing of more and more from the economists. Our dismal work place participation rate. How bad is it? About 1/3 of our population in not in the work force right now. Some of that number are kids, some are retired folks, some are people who are disabled and can't work. Yet many are like this 52 year old man. Who want to work, but can't find decent employment.

This story should be a wake up call to all of us. We can go through life assuming something like this only happens to other people. And then it happens to us. All of a sudden, we realize the reality of the situation. We have been left in the ditch.

Even though Janet Yellen recently talked about how "robust" our economy is becoming because of our strong labor market, it is not. Not so long as we leave people with skills and who want to work, lying in the ditch. And many in the ditch are wondering what has happened to America and the American dream they thought they knew.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Around the bend, gently...

"To hear the stories about people I am just getting to know is very good. To hear the stories of friends is even better. All stories are special; all are unique."

I have to say - this past week was one of the best my wife and I have had in a while. It was loads of fun. One of the things I have never taken for granted, is our friends. However as I have aged, I realize more and more how important friendship is. Making new friends, reconnecting with past friends, or just maintaining relationships.

I was told once in a performance review something interesting. Once the formal part of the review was over, my boss looked at me and said, "You really like people, don't you." I replied that I did. He said it showed in my customer relations as well as peer relationships.

I did back then, and I do more so now. I love people, and I love to hear their stories. When ever I make a new friend, it is not a "notch in my belt" of friends, it is a blessing which allows growth in my heart. 

I treasure my friends. I treasure people who are not yet my friend. I admit, on that one I often come up short. That being said, I really love the stories that people tell. I have worked hard as I have aged to be a better listener to those valuable stories. To hear the stories about people I am just getting to know is very good. To hear the stories of friends is even better. All stories are special; all are unique.

One of my good friends from my early years recently passed. Not a long good-bye, it was rather sudden. At reunions I would sit with her and tease her, as she always "wrecked the curve" when we were younger. We would laugh and tell each other stories we remembered from those days so long ago. My friend ended up being quite accomplished. A college professor. But to me she was still Alice. The very nice girl who was so much smarter than most of us. I loved the fact that we reconnected. 

One of the things I have learned from my wife is to stay away from excuses such as "should have, could have, would have". In other words, seize the day. Or, as was said by Robin Williams in the movie Dead Poets Society, "Carpe Diem!"

In this world, which many of us believe is not our final home, our friendships, our connections, are vital. We were made to be relational beings. And our friendships, our relationships, are truly a gift from God.

Hillary's Digital Fingerprints...

"In other words, between what has been currently discovered and what will be released by Julian Assange in October, just might be the smoking gun we have all been waiting for."  

Oh those dang emails! I hate them! Once they are in the Ethernet, they seem to live forever. The problem that Hillary has right now, is her past sins. She can try to be "goodie, goodie two shoes" from now until the November election, but it is too late. The unmovable, intractable force has her. Her digital fingerprints are all over everything ranging from "smells bad" to out and out "pay for play".

This morning in the editorial section of the newspaper was an article advising Hillary to ditch the Clinton Foundation. The email traces connecting the Clinton Foundation to Hillary's State Department business are nothing more than death by a thousand cuts for Hillary. But it no longer matters. The damage has been done. The crime has been committed. And Hillary's fingerprints are all over everything.

This morning on the national news was a story about more information being obtained from Hillary's emails. The trail from the Clinton Foundation to the State Department continues to change from light gray to darker gray to almost black. In other words, between what has been currently discovered and what will be released by Julian Assange in October, just might be the smoking gun we have all been waiting for.

So the question now begs to be asked. What happens after the smoking gun is discovered? Is Bernie the new guy? Is that what the rules say? Or will the rules (in Democrat fashion) be thrown out the window and Smoking Joe will save the day. Or will the Democrats try to patch up Hillary as much as possible (assuming she is not indicted), and go forward. All I know is this - Donald Trump may not be the best candidate we have ever had, but I sure would not want to be a Democrat right about now.

This is what we know about the Clintons. They always walk the on the edge. Play the margins. Try to stay one step ahead of the posse. In fact, Bill almost got away with what he did to Monica. But then there was the blue dress. And DNA is like digital fingerprints - it seems to last forever. 

Well this time Hillary might have been too cute by half. The home server, which was suppose to obfuscate her digital trail, might not have been enough. In fact, it might have backfired. As Obama's pastor, the most Rev. Jeremiah Wright has said (I will substitute one word), "Clinton's chickens have come home to roost." 

Amen to that brother, amen to that!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blood in the streets?

"Are we now on a slippery slope where the war of words will devolve into just a war? Are we that far apart right now there is no coming back?" 

I was at an event this past week when a friend of mine (out of the blue) gave this dire warning. "The way things are going in this country, I fear within ten years there will be blood running in the streets." And he was not talking about armed conflict with another invading country. He was talking about civil war. State against state, neighbor against neighbor, brother against sister.

On that happy note, I started to wonder - was this just hyperbole, or was my friend onto something? Are we now on a slippery slope where the war of words will devolve into just a war? Are we that far apart right now where there is no coming back? 

My belief is very simple. If every citizen followed our Constitution as written, rather than how we wished it had been written, we would only have a fraction of our current disrespectful discourse. I believe that to be an immutable fact. For example, no place in our founding documents does it guarantee all will have equal outcome - only equal opportunity. And yet the Democratic Party has made class envy a cottage industry and a staple of their party. And as of late, that envy has boiled over into something ugly.

Obama has said the biggest threat we face is "climate change". Bigger than terrorism, bigger than the treats from Iran or the Norks, bigger than anything. I have a different take. If you think our national discourse is strained right now, just wait until the debt bomb goes off. Yes, it is that serious. With our debt now approaching $20T, it is set to really skyrocket in the next few years. Soon the debt will eclipse everything else, and our economy will be worse off than it was in the 1930's.

Even though things are currently turbulent, this could be the calm before the storm. We need both major parties to suddenly become truth tellers instead of fable weavers. We need to stop putting lipstick on the pig - rather put the pig on a diet.

We need to spend our money much wiser. We need to STOP with the current path of the entitlement programs. Instead of fixing the gaping holes in Social Security and Medicare, we instead add ObamaCare. My state wants to build trains which will have huge operating costs, and many don't give a rat's butt they will ever be sustainable. This is just plain nuts!

Any economist with a shred of honestly will tell you the same thing. Our unsustainable debt will eventually cause a market crash. And it will be huge - much bigger than the Great Depression. When that happens, all hell could break loose in the streets. Everyone will be blaming everyone else when in reality, we would all be guilty of causing it. 

Is it too late? Are my friend's words prophetic? I hope not. I do know this much however - we are running out of time. Speaking of time - it is time for truth telling. By everyone. Identify the problem, identify the fix to the problem, and tell everyone "take their medicine." 

We got into this mess as a nation, and we need to get out of this mess as a nation. Failure to do so might signal the end to a once great Republic.   

Friday, August 26, 2016

Spanking Iran and the Norks

"Well here we are again. Under Barack HUSSEIN Obama, we are again getting sand kicked in our faces."

You will have to excuse me for a minute. I think I am having a flashback. Not an acid flashback - a political one. Back in the days of "Pea NUTS" (That would be Jimmy Carter), we had a problem with our world standing. Jimmy had reduced the size of our military down so far, to such a bare minimum, we had ships we could not put to sea and airplanes which could not fly. Actually, this would have been a good time in history for the Soviets to take us down a peg or two. Thankfully, they did not.

Yes, even the Islamic students in Iran had our number back then. Treated us like crap. Took some of people hostage. And we did nothing. "Desert One" was a mission to try and save them. It failed because our military was ill equipped. We just sat back and took it on the chin. That is, until Ronald Wilson Reagan took the oath. Then everything started to change for the better.

Well, here we are again. Under Barack HUSSEIN Obama, we are once again getting sand kicked in our faces. The Norks (gotta love them), say they now have the "throw power" to hit the mainland of the USA with a nuke. Meanwhile on the other side of the world, the Iranians are showing their appreciation for us give them $400M in ransom payment, by harassing our ships operating in international waters. Yes, these over sized fishing (or coastal patrol boats) are actually harassing our blue water, "man of war" warships. 

What is our response? Putting another "Coexist" bumper sticker on Air Force One? No it is in one word, nada. Just take it. Hey Norks - do you want to take out a city on our west coast? If you do, we will report you to the United Nations. Hey Iran - do you want to try and sink one of our Navy ships? We will write you a stern letter!

How about this for a response? Hey Norks - fire one more missile anywhere, and we will fire a few at your homeland. Test any more nuclear tests, and we will test some also - on your homeland. Hey Iran - you screw with our Navy one more time while they are in international waters, we will take out half your Navy. You know we can do it - and we will! 

Now I will be blunt. We need someone with balls to deal with these two renegade nations. I am sure they delight in taking us on in our weakened state. There will come a time (I hope) that kicking sand in our face will be met with something most unpleasant in return. 

I think most people in this country are ready for a spanking. Not to receive one, but to give one. It is time to do it to both. 

Dayton's finds free money for trains!

"Once again, our Loony Tunes Governor has shown us why he is unfit to lead anything, much less this state."

I love "free money"! What is there not to love? And trains - getting free money for trains is just about as good as it gets! We found out once again, we really don't need those obstructionist Republicans! All they do is get in the way and ask tough questions! Our Governor however, is very clear headed (even though it might not seem that way on most days). He once again dug deep the Democratic play book and found us some "free money" to plug the funding gap in SWLRT.

Okay. I have to stop and wipe the sarcasm off my keyboard. It is bad for the computer. For the hundredth time or so, our Loony Tunes Governor has shown us why he is unfit to lead anything, much less this state. My long time friend and political life coach warned me about trains in this state a long time ago. I will paraphrase his words - "Don't be fooled when you think trains might be dead. The fix is in. They will find a way to build those things." And it appears he was spot on.

It is unfortunate we have so many lemmings living in this state. People who sit around all day, just drinking the DFL kool aide. Why do I say that? More people should be now asking the obvious questions. Questions such as:

  • How can you spend this already authorized money for something which is not authorized? Are the folks in the metro area okay with this shell game? They will be the ones to bear the cost.
  • Why is it that none of these trains have done a thing to eliminate traffic congestion? Studies show this trend will not change with the construction of new trains.
  • Why is it the government has not been transparent about the operating losses of current trains? Even when it was promised there would be none if we built them?
  • How are we funding all these LRT planners in St. Paul when there is no funding to do so?
  • What is the status of all litigation, both concerning funding and SWLRT, both federal and state?

Love him or hate him, one of the things that Donald Trump talks about is "the system". How it is rigged or fixed. It sure seems that way in St. Paul. This episode yesterday reminds me of the old days when my wife was a teacher. Her school district had a referendum on the ballot one year. One of the questions on the ballot was authorization to buy land for a new school. The voters soundly defeated it. A month or so later, the district bought the land anyhow. Seems they found some of that "free money". And the voters were furious.

The facts on LRT in this state are firm and will never change. It is a huge waste of money. Plus it offers a lousy return on investment. It services the very few and is paid for by the very many. Any Governor (who was not a statist) would see through this canard and know it is nothing more than a red herring.

Remember this day when you vote this November. Just as important, remember this day in November of 2018. It is said we get the government we deserve. I know a great many in this state who don't deserve the government we now have. Shame on you Governor Dayton! Go back to South Dakota and live with your trust fund! And take Tina with you! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Life in the Goldilocks Zone....

"Well, the big (really big) news this week is Kepler has discovered a planet which is right next door. AND, it might be in the Goldilocks Zone." 

Nothing political in this one folks. Sorry. This is about an orbiting space observatory called Kepler. The main purpose of Kepler is to find planets. Why? To see if any are "rocky" like Earth, or gas giants like Saturn or Jupiter. And (this is a big one), if we can get enough data using Kepler to determine if any of these planets lie in the Goldilocks Zone.

Well, the big news this week is Kepler discovered a planet which is right next door. AND, this new planet might be in the Goldilocks Zone. Just as a refresher, Astronomers call the area in a star's orbit the Goldilocks Zone if it is not too hot (like Mercury) and not too cold (like Pluto). In other words, it has to be just right to possibly support life.

This new planet (called Proxima b) is just  hair over 4 light years away. Or, 25 trillion miles, give or take a few billion. Not to sound like Dr. Rain Cloud once again, but so what? The last time I checked, for mankind to build a rocket which would travel 4 light years each direction, would take our space shuttle (if we got one out of moth balls) about 300,000 years or so to go round trip. Even if we had the technology to fly at the speed of light, the round trip would still take over 8 years.

Plus, (and this is REALLY a big one), life in the Goldilocks Zone is much more complicated than just the location from the star a planet is orbiting. For example, the 23 1/2 degree tilt Earth has allows us to have seasons. Our molten metal core allows the Van Allen Belt to exist which protects us from harmful solar radiation. Our Moon is instrumental in stabilizing the Earth's rotation, thereby minimizing climate change.

Kepler has discovered over a hundred other possible planets. Only these are many, many light years away. I will get back to my basic question - so what? We will never be able to visit any of them unless we learn how to master Einstein' theory. That theory being space can be "bent" thereby allowing interstellar travel.

What would I like to see in my lifetime? I would much prefer doing something which is more realistic with the technology we now have. For example, I like us to go back to the Moon. And I would like to see a manned trip to Mars. I think there is a whole lot of science out there, just waiting to be discovered.    

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Want out?

"Whereas many who come here are willing to do the most menial jobs just to be part of our citizenry, we have this entitled group of rude idiots who bitch about everything under the sun."

During the Republican convention, a correspondent to a national news cable network interviewed some of the protesters outside the convention hall. Some were very, very angry. About what you might ask? The usual complaints. How unfair this country is. How much it sucks, and so forth. My response to these fine people is very simple. This is a free country, There are no bars keeping you here. There is the door. Don't let it hit you on the ass on the way out.

A week or so ago, I saw someone interviewed on TV. He was asked what our biggest problem is in America today. Without hesitation, he said, "Immigration. Too many people want to come live here." Bingo. It is funny how that works. It has always been that way in America. This land, this shining city on the hill, attracts people from all over the world. Our country was founded and was built on LEGAL immigration. And it still is.

So in this country, where people risk life, limb and fortune just to come to, we have a professional class on nitwits who do nothing but besmirch this country and how bad it is here. Whereas many who immigrate here are willing to do the most menial jobs just to be part of our citizenry, we one the other hand, have this entitled group of rude idiots who bitch just about everything under the sun. 

I think many of us who grew up in the 60's or 70's had parents who said the same thing. When we complained about something or some rule at our parents had at home, our parents would say, "If you don't like it here, leave!" Of course, few of us did. We learned that life at home was not so bad after all, so we kept our lips zipped. But this group of morons we have today are a horse of a different color. As good as they have it, they just like to bitch. They want more.

Here is my new philosophy. There is the door. If you don't like it here, go live in Mogadishu. Or live in some other hell hole that people are dying to get out of. How about Syria? Where if you wear your rainbow colors to show your "inclusiveness", mobs will throw you off a roof. Or cut you head off. Or watch you dissolve in acid. How cool is that?

How about you idiots who wear your socialist or commie t-shirts? Do you want to live in Venezuela? That is a socialist country. And it has LOTS of oil. How is that working out for Venezuela? Not well I am afraid.

How about that stupido in the picture above this article wearing a CCCP t-shirt? Really? Do they not teach history in our schools anymore? Does this idiot know how many useful idiots like him died under the boot of Stalin or his successors?

The "bad part" of me wants to grab some of these folks and choke them like a chickens. But I keep that part of me buried very, very deep. What I will say is this - there has NEVER been a day, not one, which has has passed that I don't love this country with my whole heart - or realize how blessed I am to live here. 

So once again, there is the door. In this country which you think to be so repressive, we allow you a way out. Take it. And good bye.

The wage canard, once again...

"The protesters wanted the Minneapolis City Council to have this question put on the November election. In a rare moment of clarity, the Council said 'no'." 

Today, I am going to try and tie a couple of tidbits in together which will show what a canard this entire wage issue is in Minneapolis. Just as a refresher, the professional protesting crowd have been marching and picketing to get wages up to $15/hour for unskilled work. And why not? That seems like a round number to me.

The protesters wanted the Minneapolis City Council to have this question put on the November ballot. In a rare moment of clarity, the Council said "no". The protesters then turned to one of the dozens of left leaning, soapy judges we have hanging around here to have this reversed. Sure enough, the judge sided with the protesters. Now it is game on. 

Now I will attempt to tie a couple of items together to show the folly of this movement.

Item One - Yesterday I had an afternoon meeting, so I had some noontime chores to do before it started. While out and about, I decided to stop at White Castle for a slider or two. When I got there, the drive though line was long and slow. No such thing as fast food anymore. Why? Steady help is hard to find these days. Anyhow, when I finally got up to the window to order, there was a huge sign which read, "Help wanted - up to $16/hour."

Wow! That is even better than Burger King hiring up to $15/hour! Wait a minute - if some places are already hiring at $15 or $16 an hour (and still can't get enough help), what is all the hullabaloo about? Why does the wage thing need to be on the ballot or have a nosy judge interfere with this? Seems like market forces are taking care of business (so to speak).

Item Two - Last week when I was outside listening to the radio, a commercial came on about a new franchise opportunity. You could buy a kiosk which would sell "made to order" yogurt. A customer could walk up to the kiosk to place an order, the yogurt would be prepared, the customer would pay, and then receive the product which was ordered. And not with one human hand involved. Total automation. No $15/hour, no unions, no paid sick days, nada. 

If you are paying attention, you can see more and more automation creeping into the food industry. Makes sense. And the calculus for investment seems to make much more sense the higher wages go. Simple economics. The price of automation = down. The price of wages = up. Easy choice for those who choose to stay in business.

Here is the bottom line. For those who wish to be employed today and have a job with a future, get an education or skill. And not any old education or skill - look over the horizon ans see what is going to be in demand 5 or 10 years down the road.

If you choose to remain unskilled, you do so at your own peril. The number of unskilled jobs which pay a decent wage are going down every year. And I don't care what a City Council says, what a judge says, or even what the electorate might say on a referendum - facts are facts, and market forces are market forces. Just saying...  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The paper chase

"Groups like Citizen's United are issuing FOIA requests for just about everything from just about anyone who might be related to Hillary's server."

Many of us are starting to wonder which will hit first. The first "damning" email which forms a direct link of influence peddling to a cash donation from a foreign country. Or the general election. Most of us on the Right have our suppositions that the "damning" email is out there somewhere - possibly in the 15,000 or so emails which were recently discovered by the FBI.

So now we are on to the "paper chase". Groups like Citizen's United are issuing FOIA requests for just about everything from just about anyone who might be related to Hillary's server. The "beauty" of Hillary's server (in the mind of the DNC) is that because it was personal, it was not subject to FOIA requests. However, the government people who received Hillary's emails (who do use government servers), are.

It all boils down to this. The Democrats are trying to paint Trump as a mindless tyrant based on what he might do in the White House. The Republicans are trying to paint Hillary for what she has done as SOS - influence peddling.

Here is the situation as I see it - both the narratives from both parties are just narratives right now. The narrative against Trump is likely just to remain just so. But one, just one, email which connects the dots will be the end of Hillary's campaign.

If I were a betting man, I would say this race could likely end up in Trump's lap after all. All he need do is listen to Kellyanne Conway, and hope the right email(s) are discovered before November. I would also suggest one thing. Over the past eight years, we have heard nothing but platitudes from the current President. Blah, blah, blah. Donald Trump offering real solutions to real problems would be a refreshing change to many. We are not going to hear anything like that out of Hillary.

One more thing as we are waiting for the "paper chase" to conclude. If Donald Trump wanted to hit a home run with many on the Right who had been doubting him, address the debt issue. Not just "we need to do something" - be specific on what he would do. Even if it were painful. The American people want to know the TRUTH about our debt - and how we can fix it.

Finally, my guess about the "paper chase" is simply this - it will become a number's game. The more emails which are discovered (or leaked by hackers), the better chance the silver bullet will be found.

Face facts. Hillary is dirty and most of us know it. Do we really want this type of character in our White House? Not I. Not even the least bit.  

Camille, once again...

"The actual wind speed of Hurricane Camille will never be known, as it destroyed all of the wind recording instruments upon making landfall."

In this year of 2016, when it is hard to remember the last major hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast, this is the story of a monster - a monster that I encountered. It was 47 years ago this month, that on the Gulf Coast, day turned to night, tranquility turned to terror as the monster with the never ending roar and fury, chewed up and destroyed miles of pristine coastline.

In 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 top 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 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 home on leave, I was traveling to a place I had never been to, destined to learn about subjects I knew nothing about.  After taking a taxi from the airport to the base, I checked in. I was assigned to 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, pick up litter, cut grass, or sweep 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 nightly event fascinating. The storm sat in the Gulf, not really going anywhere, churning and getting stronger every day.

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 this storm named 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 unleash 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 from vertical too 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 school 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 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 during that four hours I thought the roof 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 was in dire danger.

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 too normal. As lucky as Pensacola was just to get the fringe 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 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.