Monday, July 31, 2017

Character matters most of all





"So fear not good people of America - the Calvary has come (literally). August and beyond are going to be much better days than the past six months. Don't get me wrong - many good things were done and ignored by the MSM."



I am a retired Naval Officer. While serving, I worked with many different people from all four services (once in a while, even a "Coastie"). Most of the time, I worked with sailors and Marines. Both enlisted and officer. 95 to 99 percent of the time, the military folks I worked with exemplified very high character. The Marine Officers however - were a cut above most of the others. Why do I bring this up? Today General Kelly (USMC -Ret) served his first day in his new job.

John Kelly is a man of exceptional character. How much so? In 2010, Lt. Robert Kelly (USMC), stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan and was killed instantly. Like most parents would feel, the loss of his son tore the heart out of General Kelly. However, General Kelly had a very important speech to give five days after he was notified of his son's death. Before the speech, General Kelly's only request was that nobody mentioned the death of his son. When someone close to the General who knew he was grieving deeply asked why, the General said he did not want to put his son's sacrifice on a pillar any higher than the other 5,000+ young Americans who gave their lives for this country. 

Wow. Whenever I hear that story, I get choked up. I could not have done what General Kelly did. Not on my best day. But he did it. He is a strong man of strong character. Plus very high dedication to this great country. And now our President has asked him to come into the White House and put that John Kelly type of character and discipline into getting the message, the agenda, out to the public -  and then passed by Congress.

The first thing John Kelly had to do was not easy. The brand new Communications Director who was brought in to be a "plumber" to stop the leaks, had to be let go. Why? The "Mooch" had a much different way of dealing with people and problems than the General did. The General knew that if he had an issue with a senior enlisted or a junior officer, that was handled behind closed doors. The "Mooch" on the other hand, leaked out his feelings on other staff members to the press. That was oil and water with the General. The "Mooch" had to go.

One of my high school friends who has a visceral hatred for our President, is not impressed with John Kelly coming on board. I told her to give the General a chance - much better (at least clearer) days are ahead. I also think the "house cleaning" is not quite over. Stay turned for more developments.

One final comment about Marine Corps character. Probably two of the most popular military officers since Desert Storm are now on President Trump's staff. And both are retired four star Marine Generals. With the problems we are having in getting Afghanistan and Iraq buttoned up, eliminating the Islamic State, backing down North Korea, and of course, matching the Russians and Chinese move for move - I could not think of two better people than Mattis and Kelly to have in the inner circle. 

So fear not good people of America - the Calvary has come (literally). August and beyond are going to be much better days than the past six months. Don't get me wrong - many good things were done in the first six months and then ignored by the MSM. Our new Communication Director (yet un-named ) will fix that. 

I will sleep better tonight knowing that General Kelly is on watch. I can only hope his replacement for DHS will be at least half as good as he is.

Who will be able to stop the coming war?





"The clock is ticking China. That goes for you also Mr. Putin. The world is about to get a very messy yet unnecessary war. We did not start this mess, but we will clean it up - and soon."



I think with the latest missile firing from North Korea, the sleeping giant has finally woken up. According to Pentagon experts, this type of missile just might have the legs to make it all the way to Washington D.C. (and anything closer). After the launch, the warning bells again went off in Japan and South Korea. The President was on the phone with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and I can only imagine what that call consisted of. Suffice it to say, it had nothing to do with having more "talks".

I have addressed this before, under "how in the world did we get here?" Quite simply, the road to "getting here" was paved with inattention, flubs, and mostly naivete. When the Norks told us years ago they would stop pursuing nukes, we believed them. Then when they told us they might want nuclear capability only to power their dark skies at night, we believed them again. Now they have bombs, the capacity to make more of them, and rockets. And what do we have? A first class crisis on our hands.

China has proven itself to be something less than worthless in stopping this coming war. So has Russia. What I wish Trump would do is the following - to maintain the peace in the Korean Peninsula, and to protect our country from this rogue nation, we are going to have to rim the entire WestPac with THAAD (the ChiComs HATE the THAAD system). Then I would like Trump to have an off the record discussion with President Xi and give him the bad news. 

What would the bad news be? Within the next year, the Korean problem will be solved. First off, we have the next generation THAAD ready to be deployed. Does not matter if it is true or not. Then I would tell Xi that the Norks continue to present an existential threat to not only the region, but also the United States. We will no longer tolerate that. Finally I would tell the Chinese that war with North Korea will be fast, bloody and total. The country as it exists today, will no longer be there after the war. There will however, be millions of North Korean refugees looking for safe harbor in China. And the Chinese had better prepare for that.

If President Xi blows off that phone call and still does nothing, then I am afraid everything will be set. It will be time to unleash "Mad Dog" Mattis and our Dogs of War. South Korea needs to be ready for this. President Moon has been a bit tepid about dealing with the North since taking office. Recently however, I think he might be waking up. There are no more talks to be had. All the talks have done is allow the Norks to go to town with their nukes. South Korea is going to be ground zero (especially Seoul) when the war starts. There is no doubt that South Korea will take the brunt of what the North has to offer before we can neutralize them. 

Any Pentagon expert who is a truth teller is saying the same thing. A new war on the Peninsula is going to be costly and very, very messy. Not our choice to do it, but all other avenues have been explored and every effort has been exhausted. Have no doubt - we will prevail. But the cost in human lives will be very high.

Who is to blame for where we are? I could blame Clinton and Carter, and I would be justified in doing so. It was their naivete to a large degree which got us here. But the bulk of the blame for letting this "dog" turn into a Pit Bull is China. Plain and simple. The fact China will be inundated with refugees is nothing more than Karma in my book. 

The clock is ticking China. That goes for you also Mr. Putin. The world is about to get a very messy yet unnecessary war. We did not start this mess, but we will clean it up - and soon.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

One more time - trains - or something else







"If you have some extra reading time this summer, and don't mind the tech blogs, read up on the driver-less car revolution. Why? Some day your grand kids will ask you if you really did drive a car." 



For those who are sick to death of me writing about trains - I hear you. I wish I were done with it also. But so long as we have unelected idiots on a fiat governing panel, I can't let it go. So now you are wondering your second thought - what has happened with trains which is newsworthy since your last article Bird? Nothing directly, but maybe indirectly. 

This morning in the Strib was an article about how MN DOT is getting ready for the revolution of driver-less cars. No - this is not something out of an Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury novel. This is not science fiction. It is real science which is getting ready to jump out of the laboratory and test range. 

I have been reading quite a bit as of late about driver-less cars and trucks. This will not be a minor change to our transportation system - this is a game changer all by itself. Okay - hold on for just a minute! You said this was about trains! It is. The more I learn about the revolution coming in driver-less vehicles (yes, pilot-less planes are not far behind), the more I realize how much the minions are being duped by the government bureaucrats on trains. Trains have no future with us. Never have had, and never will.

Well - that is not exactly true. We will still have trains to deliver freight (very efficient). And they will also be driver (or conductor) less. But here is the dirty little secret that the Met Council train jockeys don't want you to know. What he scientists are finding out with the experiments and computer modeling with driver-less anythings - accidents will be an almost unheard of rarity. As will traffic congestion. The LRT trains which are being designed for the Twin Cities area on the other hand, are subject to all kinds of problems (as well as great expense). 

I know the question which is coming from those who read this article this morning. Why in the Sam Hill are we still pouring billions into trains then? Good question. In fact, that is a great question for you representative. I have asked mine, and I know what his answer is on trains. No, heck no, and hell no. Stronger message to follow. 

If you have some extra reading time this summer, and don't mind the tech blogs, read up on the driver-less car revolution. Why? Some day your grand kids will ask you if you really did drive a car. Just like most of us can't believer we a one time drove a "standard" transmission with "three on a tree". This next revolution will make going from standard to automatic transmission look like child's play.




Will Congress kill tax reform?






"How excited am I about getting a tax cut this year? About as excited as seeing next year's health care premium increase. Thanks a lot Congress - thanks for nothing." 


Last night as I was waiting to drift off into the arms of Morpheus, I was pondering all kinds of things. One thing in particular, was the most recent failure of Congress with repeal and replace. Then I had this most vexing thought - at what point in time, did Congress become so inept? I mean which a few nut ball exceptions from California, we do elect the best of the best to represent us in the House and Senate. When was it? What year was it? When did the train go off the tracks with this esteemed institution of power?

Then it hit me like a punch to the gut. No individual, no foreign power, no organization has ever hurt this country as deeply as our own Congress has. And that "hurt" has been going on for decades. When all the fat is seared away, what was left was this nugget. Congress has financially wrecked this country. Let that sink in must for a minute.

Congress has stepped away from their fiduciary responsibility to protect this land and her people from harm - which includes financial harm. They have obligated monies for many years now without having the resources to back them up. In short, we have been making bets with no money to back them up. Bottom line? Congress has spent us into bankruptcy.

Before anyone thinks this is just more histrionics, first consider some stark facts. With $20T in our national debt (plus the CBO believes it will go to $30T by 2027), over $100T of unfunded mandates, infrastructure from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic seaboard needing trillions of dollars to fix, a military needing upgrading, states and cities ready to go broke - where is the money going to come from? 

I know, I know - I am a fan of Art Laffer also. Reducing taxes can lead to growth which will increase overall monies coming into the treasury. Simple supply side economics, or "Reaganomics" as some call it these days. The Keynesian policies we have had the past eight years have not worked well. The result? High debt and sluggish GDP. But now the question is simply this - will a return to a tax policy similar to Reagan's tax policy of the 1980's still work? Or are we too far around the curve?

My fear right now is simply this. Will our precarious financial position spook our law makers in September? Congress was stripped naked last week when they screwed up the long promised health care reform. In short - their timidity was revealed.

To fix the country (which they have screwed up over the decades) with bold tax reform, might be a bridge too far for Congress. Our Keynesian policies from the past might look like a "safe harbor" in these uncertain days. Translation = once again, Congress will do nothing. 

One more word about our "do nothing" Congress. Not only have they driven our great country to the brink of bankruptcy, many who serve in both the House and Senate have become mysteriously wealthy in doing so. Not just a little wealthy, but some very wealthy. Why do I brink that up (besides for moral reasons)? Because when you have that kind of wealth, tax cuts are not as critical for you. However for the little guy out here, trying to make ends meet, every dollar sent to Washington or St. Paul is one less to spend on our families. 

How excited am I about getting a tax cut this year? About as excited as seeing next year's health care premium increase. Thanks a lot Congress - thanks for nothing. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Remember the debt ceiling?





"I hope any town hall meetings which are held in August are uncomfortable for the Congressmen or women. There is a whole lot of explaining to do. The citizenry is not happy."



Please! Stop bothering me with the facts! Debt, smet! Who cares? We have bigger fish to fry these days! Oh, really? Never do today what you can put off with tomorrow. Or something like that. Yes, we once again, we "kicked the can down the street" last fiscal year when we did one more continuing resolution (CR) budget. However (and this is a big one), EVERYONE promised (cross my heart hope to die promise) that WAS THE LAST ONE! The GFY 18 budget was going to be by the book.

Plus - part and parcel of doing this spiffy new budget which will right many wrongs, will be a fix for the debt ceiling. Makes sense as the budget is due to be set in place by October 1st and we reach the end of the rainbow with our debt ceiling shorty thereafter. Seems easy to me. Now that we hooched up healthcare reform, all we have on our radar prior to October 1st is tax reform, the budget, and the debt ceiling. Oh - did I mention the boys and girls of the House are now basking in the sun on a five week vacation? No sweat - they will be back in town in early September. Plenty of time - NOT!

Not only should the House not be on vacation, the members might have to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to even have a snowball's chance of getting these three things done prior to October 1st. Here we sit in July of 2017, with $20T in national debt, over $100T in unfunded mandates, a broken healthcare system, no budget, an out of date tax code, decaying infrastructure, an expiring debt ceiling, the Norks and Iranians shooting missiles all over creation, and Paul Ryan thinks the team needs a five week vacation? On what planet?

Most of us who are still working or remember the days we did work, could not imagine having a plate that full. Better yet, we could not imagine going into our manager's office and asking for five weeks off. I know my former boss would have either fired me on the spot or taken me down to HR for a drug test. The government? They play by much different rules.

I hope any town hall meetings which are held in August are uncomfortable for the Congressmen or women. There is a whole lot of explaining to do. The citizenry is not happy. This is not what we voted for. Action. Results. Change. That is what we voted for. It really is as simple as that. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

A trillion here, a trillion there...







"Not being paranoid, not being naive. Just realistic. If trouble comes knocking at our door, I really want to be able to answer the right way. And this is not science fiction - this is reality."



WARNING! The Bird is about to take another walk off a short pier! Or something like that. Did you know, no matter which source you go to, the United States Government has lost over $10T since 1996? Well - maybe not lost. Just can not account for it. And most of the lost money is in the DOD budget. Okay - I will say it. Has much of this money gone into the dark, really dark programs?

Come on Bird! What are you saying? I saw both Independence Days movies. I still say the best line came from the first movie when an alien was captured and asked what they wanted with Earth. In a calm voice the alien answered, "We want you dead". Why? They wanted our planet. They wanted our resources, without us to compete for them.

Far fetched? Maybe. Or maybe not. If you believe the Drake Equation is valid, then there are tens of thousands of advanced civilizations in our galaxy alone. And if you believe in faster than light speed travel, take that number and multiply by the number of known galaxies. That is a huge number. If one of those civilizations wants a "Goldilocks Planet" like ours, what can we do to stop them?

In 2013, there was a big splash on the internet. The United States Navy was working with the Chinese Navy (in secret) to fight off an "extremely hostile alien presence" not that far off the coast of California. Huh? Aliens? I thought that was just science fiction? Maybe, maybe not. I find it interesting that the Air Force has once again developed a "space command" to be part of our defenses. And this is outside of NASA. 

What I do know is this. We have had a butt load of money go unaccounted for. Trillions over the past few decades. What are we doing with it? Preparing the planet for something sinister? Or is this just a "goof" in bookkeeping? Time will tell.

I will give you my take, and I would love someone credible to prove me wrong. I think we "found something" in 1947 in New Mexico. I think once we started to set off nukes, we got the attention of "someone". And for some reason, that "someone" crashed on our planet for reasons yet unknown. Then we reversed engineered "something" at WP AFB in Ohio, and have been using it for years. That "something" has cost a lot of money. Where has it come from? Black programs.

I have a lot more suppositions, but I will not go into them here. Suffice it to say, this planet is one of the best of the best in the galaxy. Our scientists know that from our Kepler telescope. Maybe our planet has become noticed. Maybe it is a target. That is why Russia, China, the United States, and who knows whom else, might be building a planetary defense which costs a boatload of money. 

According to the Drake Equation, there are tens of thousands (maybe more) of advanced civilizations in this galaxy alone. If we can assume that advanced civilization have solved the time and distance puzzle, there are uncounted millions of more galaxies in universe. And if we live in a multiverse instead of a universe, that number could be infinite. Plus, that is without factoring in time travel (which Einstein thought was practical).

All that being said, should we be visited in 2017 (like some believe we will), I hope we are betting on ET. However, if our visitation is like the alien from the movie Alien, we are indeed in tough shape if we don't have some kind of planetary defense.  

Please don't think I am a kook for penning this article. In the late thirties and early forties, a guy with a funny looking mustache just about took over the world. Based on just an empty promise. In 2017 or 2018, an alien presence from Zeta Reticulation or someplace else might come calling for a different reason. Maybe for our water. Maybe to eat our animals. Maybe us. Or maybe for something else. 

I am okay with trillions going unaccounted for if it is for the right reason. Slopping bookkeeping? No. Planetary defense? Yes. Not being paranoid, not being naive. Just realistic. If trouble comes knocking at our door, I really want to be able to answer the right way. And this is not science fiction folks- this is reality. 




They shoot horses, don't they?






"Where do we go from here? Tax reform, I hope. And I also hope the ruling party has their poop in a group on this one. If not, we might end up with another early morning session, where some brave Senator will have to put that horse out of it's misery also."



When I was a young man, there was a movie which was showing that I really liked. It was called "Thy shoot horses, don't they?" For the sake of this article, I will not go into the movie plot - but I will borrow the title to make a point. 

Last night, lying on the operating table in critical condition, was a very sick health care fix. It was given one final shot at life, and if it would work out, would be a long shot at best. In the middle of the operation, one of the doctors came in and pulled the plug. Dr. John McCain turned to the nation and said it was a mercy killing. Why? Well, they shoot horses, don't they?

There are tens of thousands of people who are madder than hell right now with John McCain. Traitor! Turn coat! However, I am not. I have addressed this issue before. For seven years now, the Republican's played liar's poker with not even a pair of aces to show. All that time, a better mousetrap could have been concocted which would have replaced the failing ObamaCare. But they did not. And to keep this charade from going on any longer, Dr. McCain pulled the plug.

I am going to take some flack for one for what I am about to say, but I don't care. John McCain has done some very heroic things in his life. And he has done some disappointing things while in politics. What he did last night (in my opinion), was one of the most heroic things he has done in his political lifetime. He stood against his party, he stood against his President, and he did right thing. He did a mercy killing on something which could have turned out to be catastrophically bad for the Republican Party for many years to come. 

If the Republicans had even the most simple and basic plan which they could have slipped right in once ObamaCare was repealed, McCain would have helped lead the charge. But they did not. All they had was the "skinny repeal" - with a promise they would work with the House in conference to come up with something "better". McCain could see the hand writing on the wall. Out of frustration, Paul Ryan might have just put the "skinny repeal" up for a vote as is. And if it passed the House, Trump was sure to sign it. Then we would have had a bigger mess than we have now. 

In all fairness, I will say this. Even though McCain was a big part of the solution by casting the deciding vote last night, he was also part of the problem. He too, like many in the GOP, campaigned on a "repeal and replace" platform. The Republicans who made that promise were either naive or bald faced liars. I choose to believe they were naive. Everyone thought that someone else had the magic key. In reality, nobody had a key to anything - except rhetoric.

Where do we go from here? Tax reform, I hope. And I also hope the ruling party has their poop in a group on this one. If not, we might end up with another early morning session, where some brave Senator will have to put that horse out of it's misery also.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Off with their heads!"






"I don't know if this healthcare flub will be fatal to the GOP or not. If they screw up tax reform, then it really will be the end. No more being a ruing party. Not just for a little time, but a lot of time. Maybe forever." 



No, this is NOT about Islamic Terrorists, and how they treat Christians, Gays, and other Muslims who do not quite "measure up". This is actually about the Lewis Carroll novel, Alice in Wonderland. When the Queen of Hearts did not like someone, or if someone did not look right, nor dress right - "Off with their heads".


Every one of these phonies who voted to REPEAL the last seven or so years, and are now voting NO, should meet the Queen of the Hearts. So here we are, with this POS for healthcare self destructing, and no help in sight. The ones who are voting for the status quo when they could at least vote for repeal when it counts? OFF WITH THEIR (POLITICAL) HEADS!

And repeal with what? As we head into the "skinny repeal", I sadly have to giggle. Big whoop. As they would say in the old country - "This don't mean spit". Will it mean that if we repeal ObamaCare we go back to the way things were? Nope. And we don't want to. For those who promised something with nothing to deliver, I will say again - "OFF WITH THEIR (POLITICAL) HEADS!

Well, now it is over. Repeal is dead. Maybe it will come back. Maybe it will not. The Queen of Hearts has every right to be upset with the ones who dropped the ball on this one. And who are the ones who dropped the ball? To start with, the entire GOP Senate and House who campaigned on repeal and replace and then tried to "fake it". And (this one is going to hurt) our President. He should have asked for a briefing on the "new plan". You know, the plan which never existed. 

Who is this Queen of Hearts who is going to remove heads due to the health care mess? Hint - nobody in Washington. Not even the President. The Queen of Hearts is us - the voters. The ones who expected so much more from the Party of Lincoln. 

I don't know if this healthcare flub will be fatal to the GOP or not. If they screw up tax reform, then it really will be the end. No more being a ruing party. Not just for a little time, but a lot of time. Maybe forever. 





Free riders, and those who are close to being one...





"But who are the real free riders? Everyone who rides a train or bus which is subsidized by the tax payer. The sad part is, we never even get a thank you, so we can respond with a 'you are not welcome' in return."      



Relax, all my liberal friends. This has nothing to do with welfare (although it could have been). No, this is about the nimrods who hop on the LRT, and ride it without paying. So what? What difference does it make? Quite a bit, actually. The people who do that obviously never heard the expression, "there is no such thing as a free lunch". Well, there is no such thing as a free ride either.

The number of free riders on the LRT is increasing. On the Blue Line for example, the percentage of people who do not pay went from about 2% in 2014 to 10% in 2015. Quite a jump. And why not? The chances of getting caught are slim, and if you do, you might just get a warning. Worst case? A ticket for $180. But the odds still favor saving the $2.25 by not paying a dime and just taking the chance. 

Considering all the boondoggles the Met Council has gotten us into, the LRT is probably the cheapest we have to pay for. Cheapest? Yup. According to a WCCO report from April 2017, the LRT costs the taxpayer just under $2 a passenger, per ride. Of course when there are free riders, the cost of that ride costs the taxpayers over $4. Big deal Bird! Chump change, ride.

Well, yes. That is, until you start adding things up. We the taxpayers not only pony up the $2 per ride (if the customer is a paying customer) for LRT, we also pay over $3 per passenger per ride for a bus. Now it gets really scary. We pay over $18 per passenger, per ride for the world famous North Star. AND, the grand daddy of them all is Metro Mobility. For that the taxpayer is on the hook for about $24 per passenger, per ride.

With ALL those subsidy dollars the good people of Minnesota are giving to the Met Council to keep these bright shiny things running, the overlords at the Met Council were finally forced to raise rates on the riders a whopping 25 cents per ride. And even with that, the riders howled in disgust. I would love to see the reaction if they had to pay the entire amount necessary to keep these things running.

There is the bottom line. Every time you see a free rider, they are not robbing the train. They are robbing the taxpayer. Or the other riders who have to pay a higher fare. But who are the real free riders? Everyone who rides a train or bus which is subsidized by the tax payer. The sad part is, we never even get a thank you, so we can respond with a "you are not welcome" in return.      


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sanctuary death






"Listen up Mayor Betsy and any other lunatic Mayors who decides to turn their cities into a haven for law breakers. The good people of this country have just about had it with your ilk. Maybe having you charged as accessories to murder will wake you up."



There is some good news and then some bad news to report. First the good news. Since Donald J. Trump assumed the office of President, border crossings are way down. And that is even without the WALL. Now the bad news. Still way too many people are either "jumping" across the border, or being human trafficked. What happened in Texas earlier in the week bears that out.

The feds have the truck driver of that semi in custody, and are prepared to throw the book at him. Right now, they are holding the death penalty over his head. They are trying to "lean on him" to expose more of the trafficking network. Why? everyone in the network is guilty of those ten deaths in the truck. But there was a surprise bit of news the other day. 

Two of the illegals in the truck were headed to Minnesota. Probably to one of our "sanctuary cities". Maybe the Twin Cities. Is that a problem? You bet your bippie it is! My belief on this matter is simple. Any Mayor, of any city, who condones a "sanctuary" status, is part and parcel of a trafficking network. In other words, Mayors who run "sanctuary cities" are guilty of being accomplices to murder. 

Whoa Bird! That is way too harsh! Not really. Just like peddlers of opioids should be held for murder when someone has a fatal OD on that poison, anyone in the entire trafficking chain, including the end user ("sanctuary cities"), should be held accountable. If "sanctuary cities" did not lay out the welcome mat (and broadcast it) to illegals, then maybe many would not have to die trying to come here. 

Listen up Mayor Betsy and any other lunatic Mayors who decides to turn their cities into a haven for law breakers. The good people of this country have just about had it with your ilk. Maybe having you charged as accessories to murder will wake you up. Meanwhile, the ten who died, receive no justice. Just a horrible death followed by burial in a land far away from their home.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The HELL'th debacle continues...





"The thing which will really be interesting is this - will the Senate Republicans look at today as huge 'win', slap each other on the back, and pack up for a month at home? Or will they roll up their sleeves, and work this issue until resolved?"



No, I did not make a typo in the title of this article. Just call it a double entendre. Or something like that. The Senate just voted (barely) to bring this healthcare issue to the floor for debate. Good luck with that one. By the way - what is being debated, and with who? Republicans against Democrats? Republicans against Republicans? And what is being debated? Repeal? Repeal and replace? Fix ObamaCare? I am getting dizzy.

John McCain made it back to the Senate floor for the vote. My guess is most folks given the diagnosis that McCain was given, would have called it a day immediately. Not John. He is not quite done yet. And he used this opportunity to really lay into the process which got us here. Yes today, Senator McCain was the ultimate truth teller. We need more of that kind of "straight talk".

What are more truths as I see them? First off, the reason this bill will go nowhere is almost as solid as any law in physics. Fact - Healthcare costs have to go somewhere. Fact - If we insure everyone, the costs will ultimately end up in the national debt. The conservative Republicans in the House and Senate will not go for that. Fact - If we don't ensure everyone, the bleeding hearts on both sides of the aisle will cry bloody murder. It will end up being a HUGE election issue which would cost some people their seats. The result - a stand off in the Senate. This bill will go nowhere.

The other truth we have found out is this - Republicans have been playing "liar's poker" for the past seven years. They had nothing to put forward to replace ObamaCare - and they still don't. ObamaCare will continue to disintegrate in front of everyone's eyes, and our House and Senate will continue to look like Keystone Cops in their ability to repeal, replace or fix it. For a country which could send men to the Moon and bring them back in 1969, our current lawmakers can't even tie their shoes. I mean everybody - blue, red or otherwise. 

What is next? Besides the Russia issue, we will be "entertained" with lawmakers calling each other every name in the book and then resolving - absolutely nothing. By the way Speaker Ryan, how are we coming on the budget? The one which everyone is waiting for? The one which needs to be in place in slightly over two months? The one you promised would not be an omnibus mess? Just asking sir. Never mind - I think I know the answer.

My opinion has not changed. We are hosed folks. It is as simple as that. It is times like this I think it might be better to live under a Monarchy. Then someone can wave a wand and make a proclamation. I know - we fought a war to get away from that. But this system today sucks. Why? You say up, I will say down. You say black, I will say white. No gray - either black or white. If we don't agree, nothing will get done. And nothing has. 

The thing which will really be interesting is this - will the Senate Republicans look at today as huge "win", slap each other on the back, and then pack up for a month at home? Or will they roll up their sleeves, and work this issue until resolved. My bet is the former. Sorry, but that is the way I feel.  


Monday, July 24, 2017

Why they come here...



"Or it could the the hand of God, the master chess player, who always plans a million moves ahead. This would be an interesting question to ask your pastor."



Buckle up boys and girls - this is going to be a tough one. Years ago, I worked at a large church as an Executive Director. One day, one of the youth directors came into my office and told me he was going to leave. He and his wife were going to follow their passion to be missionaries in a predominately Muslim country. As such, for his remaining time with the church, he asked me to do a favor. Misspell his name on the church's website. Why? So nobody from the country he was going into could trace him back to a Christian organization. That could prove deadly to himself, his wife, and the people he would be staying with.

I also had another friend who was doing some mission work in another country - also predominately Muslim. When he would send a group email back to the states, he never used pictures of the people he was associating with, nor their names. He had and alias for everyone. Why? Same reason as above. The practice or proselytization of Christianity in that country could prove to be a death sentence. 

As we know, we now have a large group of people who have recently immigrated here from other countries. Many of the arrivals are Muslim. One might ask, if Christianity is such an affront to Islam, why would Muslims desire to live in a predominately Christian country? Why live here when besides the HUGE difference in religion, there are also differences in how woman are treated, tolerance for LGBT people, types of food and how woman are to dress? In other words, the social mores in America and the social mores in some Muslim countries are about as different as night is to day.

Then it hit me like a bolt out of the blue. People of faith will understand where this is now leading. Everything which happens in this world, happens for a reason. Everything we do, also happens for a reason. People who come into our lives, do so for a reason. Is it indeed possible, that even though having hundreds of thousands of Muslims come to this country might defy logic, might be happening for a reason. 

Now to peel the onion back a bit further. As we know, in some Muslim countries being a Christian is like being a dead man (or woman) walking. Every missionary practices the Great Commission of the Christian faith in a Muslim country, does so at his or her own peril. Is it indeed possible then, that God has led these people of different faiths to our country for a reason? To make it easier for followers of Christ to show them the love of Jesus? To show them that Jesus is truly more than just a prophet?

There are some secularists who love the term "Coexist". Secularists look at choosing a religion like going to Baskin Robins and choosing a flavor of ice cream. All the same, just different flavors. Christians on the other hand, look at their faith differently. They might look at this influx of people from other lands as being a tremendous opportunity. That maybe it was not just "chance" which brought them here.

It is an interesting question however. Why are they here? Some say for the generous welfare benefits this country has to offer. Others say for the opportunities this country has to offer. And a few conspiracy types think they are here to assimilate us rather than visa versa. 

Or it could the the hand of God, the master chess player, who always plans a million moves ahead. This would be an interesting question to ask your pastor. Should we invite them to our church? Should we offer them a Bible to read? Or should we just leave them alone, and coexist without assimilation? 

These are just some thoughts which have been banging around in my head for some time now. As usual, I am always interested in hearing how others think on this issue.    

How to fund THE WALL




"Time to move Congress. Your plate is overflowing right now and there is more to dish onto it. THE WALL is a no brainer. This week. Get it done."  



THE WALL. Have not heard much about that as of late. Do we still need it? After all, border crossings are down significantly since Donald Trump took office. Just the fear of what the President might do is spooking some of the potential border jumpers. But then we had this weekend. Nine human beings "cooked" to death in the back of a truck parked at a Walmart in Texas. Human smuggling. The other part of border security we don't hear enough about.

I like good ideas. And the idea that Donald Trump had in 2016 was a doozie. Use drug money to build THE WALL. Brilliant. Each year we capture 10 to 20 billion (or more) in drug money or from the sale of confiscated items. THE WALL is estimated to cost as much as $25B. Case solved, WALL built.

But now I am going to hitchhike on the President's idea on how to fund THE WALL. Once THE WALL is built, each year, every year, ALL money taken from drug runners or human traffic exploiters will be used to enhance our border security. Why? Because the law breakers are not dumb - they will find other ways to carry out their evil craft.

A big part of this problem is our fault. What do you mean us??? Us. It is estimated by the CDC that between the years 2000 and 2010, this country, the US of A, spent nearly one trillion dollars on illegal drugs. And a large portion of those drugs come up through the southern border. Plus, each year our government spends between 40 and 50 billion dollars trying to stop the flow of drugs. But with demand this high, the bad guys will find a way to supply our users.

Plus the human cost of drugs is staggering. The deaths alone are a jaw dropper, In 2015, the number of deaths nationwide from overdoses (all types of illegal drugs) was 50,000! Plus many of the people who overdosed (and lived) had big medical bills. But, the scariest part of the 50,000 number is this - it keeps going up every year. The number for 2016 (even though I could not find it), is probably higher than 50,000.

Drugs, human trafficking, terrorism, illegal jumpers. The list goes on and on why we should have built THE WALL yesterday. A nation without borders is not a nation. A nation without secure borders is just asking for trouble. Donald Trump promised to build THE WALL, now let's build it. We know where an almost unlimited source of money is to fund it. 

Time to move Congress. Your plate is overflowing right now and there is more to dish onto it. THE WALL is a no brainer. This week. Get it done.  

Sunday, July 23, 2017

How to Recruit Republicans in Minnesota







"Minneapolis - you are more screwed up than Hogan's goat is right now. Most of us outside the city know that to be true, while most inside the city don't have a clue." 



Today in the newspaper, there was a very nice (for the Strib) article about the new Chair of the Minnesota Republican Party. As nice as this new chair is, this has nothing to do with her. It does however, have to do with what I think is the best recruiting tool that Minnesota Republicans have - the City of Minneapolis.

What? That makes no sense! The City of Minneapolis has turned into a cesspool! And that - is why it makes total sense. It is true, many times when the Republicans are in charge, they bumble around a bit. Just look at our Congress today. HOWEVER - they don't turn things into a unholy mess like Democrats can. Just look at what DFL rule has done to the City of Minneapolis. And even though many who live in the city are so drunk on DFL kool aide they can't see it, those of us on the outskirts of the city can see it just fine, thank you.

When Dave Hann was in the Minnesota Senate, he said it well in 2014. (If I may paraphrase just a bit) - "The result of one party DFL rule in Minnesota, and especially in Minneapolis, has been no accountability". Bingo. The crooks have been running the jail house. The inmates in charge of the asylum. It is a mess. Zero accountability. Fortunately, since Senator Hann made this proclamation, the Republicans have taken back the Senate. So this legislative session was better than the past ones. Not great, but better. But Minneapolis is still a mess.

Anyone who thinks that maybe we should return the Minnesota House and Senate back to the DFL and elect another statist Governor like Dayton, need look no further than the City of Minneapolis. Right now, this city tilts so far left, Republicans have been all but driven out of town. Just about every Minneapolis election is between the DFL, the Green Party and the Communist Party. In other words, left, lefter, and pure leftist. 

Years ago when the Vikings were playing Anoka County for patsies, there was talk about putting the new Viking stadium in Blaine. Not just the stadium, but the entire complex. This project would have breathed new life into a undeveloped area of Blaine. Plus, it would have allowed people to attend a Vikings game without having to venture into the expensive and sketchy downtown area. Instead, they pulled the plug on Anoka County and built the stadium downtown. Now to see the Vikings, Twins or Wolves, one must venture into Whoville.

I have often said that Minneapolis is an island. It is an island of nuttiness in the middle of normalcy. Many are asking this question - when are we getting our state back? The key to getting our state back, is to get the metro back - in particular, Minneapolis. How we do that, escapes me right now. It might be too late. Even if we can get Minneapolis back, the damage the DFL has done might be unfixable. 

How do we recruit more Minnesota Republicans? Show them the other side of the coin. Show them Minneapolis. This is what happens to a city, or to a state, when (as Senator Hann put it), there is "no accountability".

Minneapolis - you are more screwed up than Hogan's goat is right now. Most of us outside the city know that to be true, while most inside the city don't have a clue. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Minneapolis Truth Teller






"Grow up Minneapolis. Time to change. Time to return to the nice city you once were. And Betsy - time for you to go back to la-la land."



I have said many times that truth tellers are in short supply. Amen to that! As most know by now, yesterday was not a red letter day for Mayor Betsy. In fact, I think she wanted to find a rock to crawl under. She held a presser to tell the media she FINALLY was able to get rid of the burr under her saddle - that would be her police chief. Not only get rid of her, but introduce the new chief. And tell the minions that Minneapolis was again, "One Minneapolis".

Whoops! Hold the phone Mayor! Seems like you were firing the wrong person! Well maybe the wrong person. I personally don't think Harteau has been a highly effective police chief. But she is only a small part of the problem in Minneapolis. One of the protesters who came to Betsy's presser to make his feelings known, was a friend of Philando Castile. And he was pissed. 

When Betsy said she was getting rid of the chief and promoting the assistant chief, the place erupted. "We don't want him either! And Mayor, we really don't want you! You are the problem. You need to go, and take your entire staff with you!" Wow! So much for "One Minneapolis". Betsy had just run into the worst kind of person she could imagine - a truth teller. 

What is the problem then, in Minneapolis? It is very simple. It is being run by idiots. The council looks and acts like the bar scene from Star Wars. Not just a few of them - all of them. These are the "managers", the gurus of the city. Mayor Betsy and the Minneapolis City Council. 

The young man wearing the "I Am A Man" tee-shirt was yelling truths at Betsy. No, this city is not all right. It is beset with big time problems. And having the Mayor running around sprinkling fairy dust on everything, does not cut it. Having the ideologues on the city council drive Minneapolis business interests out of town while ignoring the growing poverty problem, also does not cut it. 

There is only one hope for Minneapolis before it turns into a smaller version of Chicago or Detroit. Clean house. Bring in adults to run the place. The hippies, yuppies and the dippiest who are currently in charge, need to go sit in Powderhorn Park and write some poetry. Adults who understand gentrification, poverty, hunger, policing, attracting and retaining business, and just plain common sense, need to be hired immediately. 

One more truth this young man shouted at Mayor Betsy - "This is our house". Bingo, Betsy. You may be focused on the upscale growth of the warehouse district, but there are still a bunch of people who live in your city who are being squeezed out of affordable housing. "This is our house" means "we live here" to that young man and his friends. In other words, they live in realville.

One final thing before I close this out. ANY police chief worth his or her salt would look the Mayor in the eye and inform her that "broken window" policing will be enforced. And part of "broken window" policing is turning illegal immigrants over to ICE. Being a sanctuary city is a huge statement in and by itself. It says Minneapolis does not care to enforce the law. And until immigration law changes, what we have is the law of the land.

Grow up Minneapolis. Time to change. Time to return to the nice, well run city you once were. And Betsy - time for you to go back to la-la land.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Healthcare, plus something else...






"If we are going to 'fix' our healthcare system from cradle to grave, there is a whole lot fixing which needs to be done. If we don't address the end of life issues, I fear we will go back to the days of warehousing old people into nursing homes, many to a room, just waiting to die." 



The nation's eyes have been so focused on healthcare, they are missing the crisis which is developing behind the curtain. Part of it is our fault. I mean our fault due to the prowess, skills and ingenuity of our medical community. They have come up with medications and treatments which allow us to live longer. Unfortunately for an ever increasing number of people, that means living your final days in a care facility.

What is the issue Bird? Is that a bad thing that people are living longer? Not a bit except for one thing - money. If a person has any kind of assets that he or she would like to leave to the family, a few months in a care facility or assisted living will take care of those assets in short order. At $225 to $250/day for a care facility, assets can evaporate in a New York minute.

What about long term care insurance? Yes, it is out there. Costs a mint. Plus most plans have a ton of exclusions. But, still some are fortunate enough to have it, and it has worked for them. Some, not many. And certainly not all. So here is the "something else" about our healthcare. The population of geriatric folks is going to keep going up. How we care for these people also needs to go up. Both in facilities and caregivers. 

Now comes the ugly part. Once the assets run out, the person becomes Medicaid eligible. And in these days of healthcare squabbling, who pays for Medicaid is a hot potato. Should it be our broke federal government, or soon to be broke states? $225/day for care times hundreds of thousands of people on Medicaid can add up fast.

Was this topic just fodder for a Friday article? Not really. We went through this issue with my Mother. Between assisted living and the care facility, we saw her assets disappear faster than snow in May. And then started the laborious task of dealing with the county to get my Mother Medicaid assistance. It was tough - real tough. 

If we are going to "fix" our healthcare system from cradle to grave, there is a whole lot fixing which needs to be done. If we don't address the end of life issues, I fear we will go back to the days of warehousing old people into nursing homes, many to a room, just waiting to die.   

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Will Somali immigrants and Americans ever coalesce?





"Stay tuned - this story is not yet over. As the UN and their VOLAGS continue to spin out of control, someone needs to bring sanity to this insanity. Until we get the round hole in the round hole instead of the round hole in the square hole - we will continue to have problems in Minnesota."



Living on the outskirts of the Twin Cites, has been like living by ground zero in this whole immigration debate. Have there been quite a few changes as of late? For sure. Many, many new Somali immigrants. Some have come from the Middle East, but mostly from Eastern Africa. How has it been going so far? Depends who who ask. If you ask the "Chameleon Mayor" of Minneapolis who panders to every group on the planet - things is going swimmingly. If you ask folks in central Minnesota - not so much. 

So what is it? Okay - I will be a truth teller. Going down to Cedar-Riverside right now does not look like it did when I was a student at the "U". Many times it looks like it is another country. There - I said it. Now send in the hate mail.

Do I hate Somali People? Absolutely not! Do I think these people have been to hell and back with their civil war? Absolutely yes! Do I think that Minnesota is a good place for these people to resettle? Once again - absolutely not.

Wait just a minute Bird! Are you a racist or something? Nope - a realist. But I will say this. Why in the world, would a practicing Muslim from Africa, come to an area of the country which is butt ugly cold, very Catholic and Lutheran, and also (gasp!) mostly white, want to live here? One more time? Why in the world would they want to come a half a world away to start a new life in this tundra?

Here is the bottom line as I see it. To come to this country, to keep PART of your culture, with the goal to assimilate into the whole - that should be the immigrant's dream. The Hmong have done that beautifully. If you cannot assimilate, or maybe chose not to, a Judeo Christian country might not be the right place to be. 

Now the bottom to the bottom line. If America decides to stay a mostly Judeo Christian nation, problems will persist. Plus, if any newcomers decide to assimilate us rather than visa versa, problems will persist. This is not a hit piece nor a rah-rah for the home team. It is simply the world as I see it. For peace to reign, either newcomers need to assimilation to a degree, or this country needs a major sea change. And I am betting on the former.

Until then, we can expect more problems in central Minnesota. And maybe even Cedar Riverside. All the pandering of the mythical Mayor of Minneapolis will not help until we solution this.

Stay tuned - this story is not yet over. As the UN and their VOLAGS continue to spin out of control, someone needs to bring sanity to this insanity. Until we get the round hole in the round hole instead of the round hole in the square hole - we will continue to have problems in Minnesota.




The final battle...






"We cannot help you win this one John, but we can pray for you. We can pray for the doctors treating you, and pray that God will give you the strength and comfort going forward."    


I have to say, once the news broke yesterday about Senator McCain, many were shocked, some saddened, and some inexplicably, gleeful. The type of brain cancer McCain has been diagnosed with is one of the worse kinds.

I am on record of saying this before, and I will proudly say it again. John McCain is a hero of mine. Always has been, always will be. It is as plain and simple as that. Has he been a disappointment at times as the senior Senator from Arizona? Yes. Was I disappointed in his campaign to be President in 2008? Yes again. However, that does not diminish the fact he is still a hero to me as well as to many, many others.

John McCain comes from a long line of service. Both his grandfather and his father were four star admirals. Many former sailors my age worked for John McCain's dad at one time or another while serving. He was Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces when I served in Okinawa. John McCain finished his career after being released in 1973 and retired at the rank of Captain. 

John McCain's journey in the Navy was not an easy one. Selected to attend Annapolis, right after graduation and commissioning, McCain wanted to be a naval aviator. And he became one. While stationed on the USS Forrestal in 1967, a massive fire broke out on the flight deck. The ship was almost lost, and men died fighting the fire. McCain was almost one of them. But he survived it to fight another day.

Later in 1967, while on a bombing run over Viet Nam, John McCain was shot down. Injured in the landing, he was taken prisoner by North Vietnamese regulars. He was then sent north and put in the POW camp known as the Hanoi Hilton. He was held from 1967 to 1973. While there, guards beat the hell out of him. So much so, he still has debilitating injuries. All the while, he stayed true to his shipmates, and to his country.

John McCain has been called a Maverick while serving in the United States Senate. And at times, he really has been. At times, has lost the respect of some conservatives and party loyalists. Some feel he is too cozy being in the Senate "club" and having close friends on the other side of the aisle. That may be true, but in these days of constant rancor, at times John McCain appears to be one of the few adults in the room. I know some will disagree with that statement, but I think many times John McCain has shown himself to be a true statesman. 

In any event, Senator McCain is now coming to the end of his journey. A doctor was asked on the news this morning about the prognosis for this type of cancer. Best case - 14 months. And those 14 months will be filled with radiation, chemo, discomfort, and yes, losing capabilities. 

To Captain, and Senator McCain, I say this to you sir - you are one of the toughest men I have seen of in my lifetime. The battles you have fought have been epic - but this one will be the toughest. I know you will fight hard - you always have. We cannot help you win this one John, but we can pray for you. We can pray for the doctors treating you, and pray that God will give you the strength and comfort going forward.