Friday, September 22, 2017

Off the grid! What grid?





"I am thinking these storms might have an impact on not only those whose homes were affected, but also the new, yet to be released tax reform bill. Timing is everything. And the timing for the tax bill could not have been worse."



This storm which hit Puerto Rico was something else. It had barely come down from a weak Cat 5 to a very strong Cat 4 storm. Puerto Rico, who had been spared many strong storms in the past (mostly, due to the water to the east not being as warm as it west of her) took one on the chin from Maria. Just like Irma did to St. Martins and St. Thomas, Maria pretty much wrecked the island of Puerto Rico.

The ferocity of this storm was such that it did something very unusual. Rather than knocking out the power to part of the island, it knocked out the entire island. Over 3 million people, in this sub-tropical climate, are now living without power. Here is the real oddity however. To restore power, a new power grid will have to be built and installed. Why? The old grid is "gone with the wind".

I know the number one priority will be to get the juice back on as quickly as possible for the island. I was thinking however, since the grid needs to be totally replaced, wouldn't it be nice to get some lemonade out of this lemon? Take this opportunity to replace it with a "smart" grid which is also robust. One which could handle a natural or unnatural EMP event?

One article I read said this storm threw the island back into the dark ages. Without electricity, not much works. On a larger scale, this could happen to America if we got hit with a solar flare, or if the "Rocket Man" ever get lucky and get explode an EMP bomb over our country. Then we also, would be back in the dark ages.

I do know this country is going to be on the hook for fixing what has been broken in Puerto Rico. Just like with the American Virgin Islands. It would be nice to replace what has been broken with something which is better. Not only better, but tougher. Ready to withstand the next punch from Mother Nature better. 

If the estimates are correct, and Puerto Rico will be without power from 4 to 6 months, living down there might be out of the question for many people. Not just because there is no air conditioning, there will no way to store food. I am thinking there is going to be an exodus of people coming to the mainland until the island is once again habitable.

I don't know how much this trio of storms (Harvey, Irma and Maria) is going to cost this country, but it might be as much as a half trillion dollars with all is said and done. I am also thinking these storms might have an impact on not only those whose homes were affected, but also the new, yet to be released tax reform bill. Timing is everything. And the timing for the tax bill could not have been worse.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Walking while chewing gum....





"Stay tuned folks. I have heard the Speaker say many times that Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time. Well Mr. Speaker - now it the time to prove it."



Here it is, a drop dead gorgeous afternoon right before the start of another beautiful Minnesota autumn. That new season starts on Friday. Did I mention the fact that the world was suppose to end on Saturday? Never mind - already covered that. What I did want to talk about was not the end of the world, but the end of the year - the government fiscal year. Don't worry - we have plenty of time. Like a bit over a week.

Coming back from an ill advised five week vacation, Congress had a HUGE to do list. Even with working 24 hours a day, and if all the stars were lined up, getting everything done by the end of September would be daunting. But hold on. Right before the boys and girls of summer got back to work, we had an unannounced visit from a storm named Harvey. And did Harvey ever do a job on Houston! Not only Houston itself, but also our biggest gasoline refinery. What a mess!

Just as money and relief supplies were pouring into Houston, another small storm was spinning up off the coast of Africa. Soon, it got big enough for the weather folks to gave it a name - Irma. And Irma was growing into a monster storm. 

By the time it got to St. Martin, Irma was a strong Cat 5 hurricane with winds hitting 185 mph. It about wiped St. Martin off the map, and then hit St. Thomas with similar results. Still strong after St. Thomas, it then hit the north shore of Cuba and did a whole lot of damage. From Cuba, Irma set its sites on Florida. Even though the trip by Cuba caused Irma to lose part of its punch, it was still strong enough, and wide enough, to affect the entire Florida peninsula.

Shortly thereafter, a major earthquake hit Mexico City, and Hurricane Maria all but ruined Puerto Rico. Meanwhile back in Washington, Congress has still not finished the GFY 18 budget (due October 1st), settled the ObamaCare mess, nor the long awaited tax reform. Can Congress be a friend to all these places which just had natural disasters and still get their job done at home? In other words, can they still walk and chew gum at the same time? I will bet they wished they had those summer vacation days back. 

Stay tuned folks. I have heard the Speaker say many times that Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time. Well Mr. Speaker - now it the time to prove it. The President has told all who were impacted by these disasters that "we are with them, 100% of the way". Time to spit the gum out Mr. Speaker - time to get to work.



Mediate this Dayton!






"If you want more of the same starting in early 2019, vote for one of the clowns in the clown car. If you want normal government with normal governance, and a business/senior/citizen friendly environment - vote Republican. Not only for Governor, all the way down the ticket." 


If we are not the laughing stock of the nation right now, we sure should be. The man who was voted one of the worst Senators of all time by Time magazine, is living up to his reputation. He has actually eclipsed "The Body" in acting like a total buffoon while sitting in our Governor's chair. And if it were not for the Minnesota Supreme Court being stacked with Dayton appointed leftists, we would not be doing this dance right now. But we are, and Minnesota is going to pick up the tab for it.

I think it goes without saying, that Mark Dayton is referred to as "Marx" for a reason. Like most progressive statists, he HATES the fact that citizens believe the money in their pocket is theirs. Oh contraire, that money belongs to the STATE! Which gets to the nut of the nut in this entire post session kerfuffle. Those dastardly Republicans had the stones to offer the people of Minnesota some tax relief! And they put a "poison pill" in the tax bill so Dayton was "forced" to sign it.

So what does Dayton want out of this so called "mediation". He wants his money back. He wants to undo most everything which was agreed to in this past session. He wants a "do over". Like a little kid who lost a parlor game, he has now turned the game board over and threw the game pieces at the wall. "Wah, wah, wah", said the little rich kid.

Every time I hear this man talk, or witness his actions, I am simply amazed. Amazed on how he could have defeated a fine man like my Congressman, Tom Emmer two elections ago. And even more amazed after seeing what a dunce he was in his first term, how he could have defeated an equally fine man like Commissioner Jeff Johnson in the last election. Many of the people in Minnesota (mostly in the Twin Cities), must have been on some kind of mood altering drug when they went into the voting booth (both times).

Well, Dayton's term is up in a bit over a year. Somehow, we need to survive this guy. The DFL clown car is already filling up with progressives, statists, lefties, and weirdos to be the next Governor. Fortunately, the Republicans have some very fine people also running to fix what Dayton has ruined. To let the people keep more of their money. To make Minnesota business friendly. To make Minnesota senior friendly.

If you want more of the same starting in early 2019, vote for one of the clowns in the clown car. If you want normal government with normal governance, and a business/senior/citizen friendly environment - vote Republican. Not only for Governor, all the way down the ticket. We need to rid this state of this disease called progressiveness. We can't do it with all these DFL hacks in there feeding the beast.

By the way, just as an aside, one of the candidates running for Governor this time around is Jeff Johnson. I am supporting Jeff for many reasons - one of those is he is a true conservative. How much so? His lifetime rating with the Minnesota Taxpayers League is 95%. I wonder what "Marx" Dayton's rating is? 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Is this the end of the world as we know it?







"What does this mean? Live for today and plan for tomorrow. If the end of the world happens tomorrow, and if you are in the faith - it is all good. Live your life and plan for tomorrow - that sage advice has never changed."





Okay. Maybe the smartest man in the universe was correct (that be Steven Hawking). We should have found another planet to live on. The world is coming to an end of Saturday. Now to be honest - I don't know which time zone nor which time. It could be Friday night if it happened in the WestPac. Or it could be 9 am EDT - or something like that.

Now some Christian numerologists are saying this is the right time and the right place. Many others in the faith are saying this is nothing more than hogwash. So where would we go? Is there somewhere safe? Calm down Earthlings. Let us first look at the facts. First, we are suppose to "end" by the collision with another planet. Which one? They are all in their usual rotations. Unless it is Nibiro - the infamous "Planet X". Even if Nibiro has been hiding behind the sun, it would have to haul a** to get here by Saturday.

So what is the right play? Live your life. I am planning to have a nice ham diner on Sunday. Yes, that is the day after Saturday. In spite of the hurricanes, the earthquakes, or whatever - we will all probably be here on Sunday. Why Sunday?  According to the Holy Bible, no man knows the time nor the date. So it could happen this weekend - or not.

So to my friend who might be cowering (I believe that number to be very low), fear not. I will say again - fear not. When the time comes, and if you are okay, it is all good, But I have been through this end of the world crap since 1969 when Jean Dixon said the slide of California into the ocean would start the end. Hello? We are still here!

What does this mean? Live for today and plan for tomorrow. If the end of the world happens tomorrow, and if you are in the faith - it is all good. Live your life and plan for tomorrow - that sage advice has never changed.

Betsy Hodges for Mayor!




"So good luck Minneapolis. Your City Council is a clown car, and your field of candidates for Mayor is like something out of a comedy."



I would like to go on record by joining my fellow Minnesotans Tina Smith and Al Franken with a full throated endorsement of Betsy Hodges for re-election. After looking over the field of candidates, I have decided that Betsy has some qualities which rise above the rest. Which qualities? In a crowed field of commies and progressives, Betsy has consistently had the most hair brained ideas. Therefore, for a city on a rapid decline, Betsy is the one to keep driving it into the ditch.

This endorsement did not come easy. There is Captain Jack Sparrow (yes, that is his name) who offered a compelling vision of what he would do to the City of Lakes. And the dark horse, Raymond Dehn almost beat out Betsy. This convicted felon wants to disarm the police in Minneapolis and turn them into London style Bobbies. Now that - is vision!

But Betsy is still my choice. For a city which is becoming ever so gentrified, with an escalating crime problem, Betsy recently laid out her vision for the fair city. Her two biggest issues - global warming and fighting Donald Trump. This woman has a future which lies way beyond the City of Lakes!

The business leaders like to cozy up to Jacob Frey as he might be one who is less loony than the rest, and might listen to common sense. Might. Even though he has raised a bundle of cash, his standing right now is in the middle of the pack instead of being a front runner. 

One of the things which really drew me to Mayor Hodges is her courage. After the Diamond shooting, Mayor Hodges abruptly fired the Chief of Police for being on vacation when it happened. Of course, also right after the shooting, the Mayor hopped on a plane and flew to the west coast to attend a fund raiser. Talk about chutzpah! Collecting money from the Hollywood lefties in a time of crisis! Only a special type of person would do something this brazen!

As a conservative, I like to always point to the city of Minneapolis. Why? The City of Minneapolis is exhibit "A" on how not to succeed. Be it traffic, schools, crime, poverty, you name it - the "blueness" of the city is starting to hollow it out. This once proud and great city is nothing more than a shell of what it once was. Many people don't even want to visit there anymore. And because of people like Betsy Hodges, who continues to drink her own bath water, she, along with many other progressives, think Minneapolis is Nirvana. Huh?

So good luck Minneapolis. Your City Council is a clown car, and your field of candidates for Mayor acts like something out of a comedy. In the paper today was a story about how black families continue to flee the city's education system. News flash - it is not only black families who are fleeing, and not only because of the education system. Wake up and smell the coffee Minneapolis. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The sudden death of the apology tour





"Today, at the United Nations, with the entire world watching and listening, Donald Trump sounded a whole lot more like Reagan, and a whole lot less than Obama."


Wow! I knew it might be good, I had no idea it would be this good! We now have a President, who instead of genuflecting to the esteemed United Nations, rather put them on notice. And put them on notice he did! The man everyone was afraid would embarrass this country instead acted like the leader of the greatest country on Earth. He did this country proud.

By the way, not just the United Nations got put on notice. North Korea also got to hear it from the horse's mouth rather than his tweets. In no uncertain terms, he told the Norks if they continue on with this path, they will be vaporized. Okay - he did not say vaporized. He said completely destroyed (which in my book might be the same thing). To add insult to injury, he called Little Kim, "Rocket Man". Sorry Elton - had to borrow that term for effect.

And Iran? Holy cats! He as much as called Iran the biggest exporter of terror on the globe. Then he said (in so many words), the "treaty" we have with them is a POS! Hey Iran! You have also been put on notice. It is no longer Bebe blowing the whistle on you. President Trump has your number also. And unlike Bebe and Obama, Bebe and Trump are on the same page when it comes to your nuclear ambitions. Think we are going to let you become the next North Korea? Fat chance buster.

The Islamic State did not get off the hook either, nor did the country of Venezuela. Not since the days of G. W, Bush, when he called out the Axis of Evil, have so many bad guys been put on report at the UN. One word of caution however, to the brass at this worthless organization. Before you come up with a retort for Donald Trump, know this much. He is keenly aware of what and how much we sink into this joint every year. And how little we get out of it. Will he pull the plug on the UN? (Excuse the expression) - In a New York minute. 

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Our new sheriff in town is starting to feel his oats. The "Rocket Man" should know his days are numbered. Well. maybe he may not know it, as he is used to dealing with a "paper tiger". This sheriff, along with his chief deputy, Jim Mattis, don't believe in The Mouse that Roared.

No, they both come from the Colin Powell school of how to win a war. Powell said, "I don't believe in a fair fight. I like to go into the fight with overwhelming odds in our favor. First I like to find the head of the snake, cut it off, and then kill the snake." That with some minor paraphrasing was General Powell said right before the Gulf War started in 1991.

I know. Many on the Left are missing Obama reminding the world of what bastards we have been in our past. And we are so, very sorry for it. Reagan on the other hand, liked to gently remind the world that we saved it from despot regimes - more than once. That we are the "bright shining city on the hill".

Today, at the United Nations, with the entire world watching and listening, Donald Trump sounded a whole lot more like Reagan, and a whole lot less than Obama.


The Don-ing of the UN





"But what they use for peace keepers, resembles the "F" Troop more than soldiers trained to keep the peace. Maybe instead of blue helmets, they should have been yellow - for obvious reasons."



I don't like the UN. Have I mentioned this before? Maybe a few dozen times. So let me say it a bit stronger. I have a strong antipathy towards this rag-tag collection of useless PC cowards. Stronger message to follow. We all know the history. After World War I, which everyone thought was "the Great War", we established the League of Nations to ensure this type of war would NEVER happen again. We all know how that worked out.

World War II spelled the demise for the feckless League of Nations. After the war was over, the United Nations was formed. Why? To ensure this type of war would NEVER happen again. The United Nations was going to be the global peace keeper. However, since the dawn of the United Nations, we have seen many wars, a protracted Cold War which took us to the edge of a nuclear showdown, torture, genocide and on and on and on. The UN does however, know how to social engineer. The UN's publication Agenda 21 is proof positive of that. 

Today our President is going to address the UN. Supposedly, he is going to "lay down the law" about North Korea. Plus the Iran "non-treaty". What do I hope he is going to say? Do your job. Right now, you are about as useless as ice cubes at the North Pole. And what gives us the right to tell the UN all this? We have every right to scold the UN. We pay the lion's share of annual dues - about $8B a year. And - we are the landlord to this organization. 

Can you imagine a world without the UN? I can. It would look ---- a lot like this one. The UN is so ineffective, so feckless, if it went away nobody would notice. That is, except the progressives. We could turn the former UN building into a nice office tower or a upscale hotel. But Bird! Who would write all those resolutions when a country (like the Norks) misbehaves? Nobody. The UN resolutions which are written today are only good for fish wrap, fire starter or toilet paper. 

I am hoping that our President tells this esteemed group of bureaucrats this is their final warning. Become relevant, or we are pulling the plug. Do your job, live up to your charter, or leave. If the UN was truly interested in world peace, they would not only be taking the Norks to the woodshed, but also any nation (China, Russia) who help the Norks through the back door. The UN would mandate an embargo, a blockade, or whatever it takes to get the Norks to disarm. But no, they (like Obama) just write nasty letters and wag their fingers.

What about the peace keepers should the UN go away? If the UN really had peace keepers, they would be missed. But what they use for peace keepers, resembles "F" Troop more than soldiers trained to keep the peace. Maybe instead of blue helmets, they should use yellow - for obvious reasons.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Playing not to lose





"And South Korea - you are on your own. We will give you and Japan weapons which will give you parity with the North. But for us - we are done. Not just a little done - we should be done forever."


Have you noticed that every war (conflict) we have been involved in since our victory in World War II, has not resulted in a victory? We either play to a draw, or not to lose. Even the stellar victory we had in 1991 in the first Gulf War. We kicked butt and took names. We could have gone right into Baghdad and effected regime change right then and there. Could have saved the Iraqi people a whole bunch of suffering. But nope - after we kicked Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, we took our boot off Saddam's neck. Big mistake.

But the grand daddy of them all, the place where we have spent tons of bucks and sent thousands of troops year after year, - is South Korea. And for what? The armistice was signed in 1953, for crying in the beer. And we are still over there. With over 25,000 troops and spending about $750M a year (after South Korea kicks in the other half). Using my "bunny math", I am guessing we have spent north of $30B since hostilities ended. That number is much, much higher in Afghanistan, and we have only been there since 2001.

I guess as a citizen, as a retired vet, I can ask this question. What is the end game? Is it to still play to a tie? To try and not lose? Do we have a path to victory? I know, I know. The citizens don't want to hear what that is. Why? Because it is ugly.

The United States remains the world's greatest super power. We have "toys" in our toy chest which would rattle the soul of the fiercest hawk. Could we use them? Oh, yes. The collateral damage? Next subject please. If we were like the Russians, we would not give two toots and a holler about "collateral" damage. But we are not them. We are us. And we don't play that way.

So, here is the truth. Why are we sending another 3,000 troops into Afghanistan? Is it to win the day? Allow that country to be free and experience a democratic way of life? Or is it to continue to "play for the tie", and not to lose. Just asking.

As far as South Korea is concerned, I would tell them this much. Your capitol, being a stone's throw from the 38th, is hampering our defense of you. The year is 2017 - we are ending this right now. We will either end the threat along the DMZ (done with great harm to Seoul), or we are leaving and you can figure it out. After almost 70 years, we are done.

Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - get ready for bad news. We are not playing "peace keepers" or "tie breakers", or "nation builders" anymore - we are just going for the "V". And South Korea - you are on your own. We will give you and Japan weapons which will give you parity with the North. But as for us - we are done. Not just a little done - we should be done forever. Good luck and good hunting.




The new nature of banking





"A financial expert I went to see had some simple and maybe sage advice. If you have some money right now, go buy something you want. Or spend it on an experience like travel. Why? The value of money is slipping away. Soon, it might not be worth much at all."



This is a great time to be alive if you are looking to buy a house. Or to refinance a house. Or to buy a car. Or even a line of credit, using your house as leverage. The interest rates continue to be almost historically low. So low, many investors are calling capital these days, "free money". And for the most part, it nearly is.

First I will talk about the "ying" - how cheap it is to borrow money. Because the Fed has let our prime rate fall so low to keep the economy from crashing, the effects that even John Q. Public feels are profound. How so? About four years ago, my wife and I replaced both our autos. For the first (and probably only) time in our lives, we bought two cars at once. However, with both a generous trade in on our former cars as well as a 1.6% interest on the new cars, the sticker shock was not shocking at all. If the purpose of having just about free interest was to stimulate car shopping, it sure worked for us.

For houses, I am seeing adds all the time now for rock bottom interest rates. When we built this house 34 years ago, interest rates were so high, we needed to get an ARM (variable rate loan) just to qualify. Our ARM was 10%, with a ceiling of 16% and a floor of 4%. I hated it. I told my wife if interest rates ever returned to normal where I could get an 8% fixed, I was going to jump at it. I knew that we would never see historically low rates like our parents had on their houses - 4 to 5 percent. Boy was I wrong!

Today, you can get either an upfront mortgage or a refinance loan for somewhere in the mid to upper 3 percent range. Wow! That puts a whole lot of houses which at one time would have been considered affordable, in the affordable range.

Now the "yang". If you have any money in the bank, all it is good for is keeping your money safe. It surely is not good for making much interest. Most savings accounts, including a CD is good for maybe 2%, with a whole bunch of conditions. I remember well when I first started working at Control Data one of the older men I worked with was ebullient one day. He was going to take some money out of his savings, pool it with his brothers and a cousin, and then buy a 18 month, $100,000 CD. It was going to pay 10% per year, or 15% for the 18 month term. He, his brothers and his cousin, were going to walk away in 18 months $15,000 richer.

I think back with some bemusement on that old adage from a Twin Cities bank, "Tuck a buck a day away". Okay - for what? Money is the bank is no good other than a holding spot. Money in the market can be very good right now, or this house of cards could come crashing down - big time. Bitcoin? Maybe, or maybe not. Metals? Many financial experts think they might be okay. 

I would like to hand out some free investment advice, but I am as confused as the next person. A financial expert I went to see had some simple and maybe sage advice. If you have some money right now, go buy something you want. Or spend it on an experience like travel. Why? The value of money is slipping away. Soon, it might not be worth much at all.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Faster than a speck on a speck on a speck





"Myself, I would like to believe that we were all put here for a reason - to matter."



Here it is, a drop dead perfect Sunday on a early fall afternoon. Other than the Vikings stinking up the field in Pittsburgh, all is well. Here we are, situated nicely in our town, situated in our state, which lies within the greatest country the world has ever known. And we live on a planet which is perfectly suited for us. For those in the faith, we believe this planet was created by God this way for use to dwell on. For those outside the faith, the following is for you.

Every morning when you wake up, stretch your legs, get out of bed to make coffee, you are the center of the universe. Your eyes, your ears, your sense of smell, your tactile senses are what keep you connected with your universe. Some mornings, after you get up from a good night's sleep, you feel very good. In fact, you might as well be the master of your universe. Now if it is okay, let me burst that bubble just a bit.

You, I, and everyone we know, are really nothing more than a speck on a speck on a speck. Huh? What does that mean? We live on Planet Earth, a beautiful rocky planet situated a perfect distance from a star which is the right size and the right age. On our planet, we are spinning around, one revolution every 24 hours. Even though we don't feel it, this spin causes us to move at 1,000 mph every day we make that revolution.

In addition, our perfect Planet Earth travels around the sun once every year. It is that rotation, along with our 23.5 degree tilt, which gives us our seasons. On that trip around our sun, we are all traveling at 67,000 mph. Wow! Now that is moving! Wait a second! Not so fast. Our solar system, is also moving within the Milky Way galaxy. How fast? About 500,000 mph to make one revolution around the galaxy. 

Okay - Is not the universe expanding also? If so, how fast are we moving with expansion? Put your seat belt on bucko - this is a fast one. Our galaxy is traveling through the universe (through expansion) at 1.3 million miles per hour! Whoa! 

As we sit on Planet Earth, we are smaller than a speck. Our Earth, which is part of our solar system, is smaller than a speck in the Milky Way galaxy. Our Milky Way galaxy is smaller than a speck in the universe. So no matter how important we might feel, we are just a speck on a speck on a speck. And by the way, us specks are going a zillion miles an hour in all directions!

However, if you are in the faith, you know that your speck, my speck, everyone's speck, all matters. We all matter a whole lot more than just being  "specks". Myself, I would like to believe that we were all put here for a reason, for a purpose - to matter.

That way being a speck on a speck on a speck is not insignificant - it is kind of cool. It is cool knowing that in the scope of the universe, we may all be infinitesimally small - but in the eyes of the Creator of the universe, we are not small at all.

London bridges falling down...





"In real life, terrorists would love to take down a London Bridge. Why? The image. Just like taking down the twin towers. Stay vigilant folks. The bad guys are still out there."



Another terror attack in London. The main question which needs to be asked is where the next one occur. Paris? Brussels? Madrid? Munich? The fact that there is going to be another attack goes without saying. Why. Future behavior is usually no different than past behavior. However, I have a deeper question to ask. 

Here is my deeper question - why? What is their purpose? What is their end game? Bring Europe to its knees so that it will reject western ways and adopt Islam? Kill all who follow the Cross? Extract revenge for many in Europe being allied with the United States? ISIS never tells us the reason for what they do. All they do is claim responsibility.

The Muslim Mayor of London has been interestingly mum on a response to these London terror attacks. Because these attacks have been perpetrated by Muslim terrorists, I would think his voice of condemnation would have been the loudest. Nope. In fact, he referred to the latest terror attack in London as an "incident".  Please Mayor Kahn, give us a break!

I have said this ever since 9/11. Until a country has control of its borders, until there is an iron clad method of knowing "who is who" within the country, the chance of bad apples getting "inside the tent" and  doing dastardly things, are very good. How bad is it in Europe right now? Bad, bad. I think there are numerous "sleeper cells" over there, just waiting for their time. 

Having a terror problem is kind of like being addicted to something. First you need to admit there is a problem. Any substance abuse counselor will tell you that until you face your problem, you will not get better. Same is true to terror. A country must admit it has a terror problem. How do I know? We went through that for eight years with Barack Obama refusing to call Islamic Terrorists what they are.

London bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London bridge is falling down, my fair lady. So goes the nursery rhyme. In real life, terrorists would love to take down a London Bridge. Why? The image. Just like taking down the twin towers. Stay vigilant folks. The bad guys are still out there.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

New energy - a return to Wardenclyffe?





"The questions I have for the scientists are quite simple. Was Tesla onto something viable, or was he just "chasing smoke and mirrors". And second, is it worth the investment to rebuild Wardenclyffe and pick up where Tesla left off?" 


I will admit it. I am a sucker for science. I am also a sucker for technology. There is so much new right now, so much just primed to jump off the drawing board and make the transition market products. What fascinates me more than anything else right now, is new energy. The holy grail. The golden fleece of the new era. In the very near future (I believe), we are going to crack the code on clean, cheap, abundant energy. 

One of the smartest men in our history was Nicolas Tesla. Even though Elon Musk has named a car company after him, Tesla gets nowhere near the credit he should for some of his very innovative thinking. But the one thing he really wanted to hang his hat on, never happened. That would be wireless energy. 

He was so sure he was right, he convinced some financial backers to help build a wireless transmission tower in Shoreham, New York. It was called the Wardenclyffe Tower (although many referred to it as the Tesla Tower). Tesla was fascinated with Marconi's radio wave propagation theory. He wanted to prove Marconi correct and then up the game. He could do so by being able to transmit messages, faxes, and even telephone calls across the Atlantic, all the way to London. Thus, he needed the Wardenclyffe Tower built to do so.

Once he was able to prove Marconi right, his next step in using his tower was to transmit electricity without the aide of wires. He thought the Earth was a natural conductor, and using the Earth as well as the atmosphere, electricity could be transmitted all over the world - without any wires.

That was around the turn of the 20th century. If he had been successful, our energy problems today, our global warming debate today, would be extinct. However, his biggest financial supporter, J. P. Morgan did not feel same love Tesla did. Morgan pulled the plug (so to speak) on the project, and all work stopped.

The questions I have for the scientists are quite simple. Was Tesla onto something viable, or was he just "chasing smoke and mirrors". And second, is it worth the investment to rebuild Wardenclyffe and pick up where Tesla left off? I think the answer to those questions are well worth spending some R+D dollars either by the government, private industry, or both. 

One more thing for all my investor friends who deal with J.P. Morgan. Remind Mr. Dimon that his company, by being cheap, might have cost this world well over a hundred years of clean and free energy. How is that for an investment Jamie? 

Friday, September 15, 2017

A man for all (and any?) seasons...





"Mr. President - there are many out here who still believe in you. However, there are others who are not saying, 'I told you so.'  It is time for a win sir. A win which is good for the country and a win your base can believe in. Good solid tax relief is an excellent place to start."



We have a very good friend whom I will call Mary. We have known her for years. She has not had an easy life, some tough health problems. But you would never know that from talking to her. Why? Day in, day out, Mary never changes. You never have to worry about "which Mary" you will run into when you greet her. Always nice, always the same.

Let's contrast Mary with our chameleon President. The opposite of our friend Mary, the question often becomes, "which Donald Trump am I dealing with today?" I know, I know. There is a big difference between being a candidate in a very crowded field, and the person sitting in the Oval Office. But sometimes Donald Trump does some things which leave his loyal followers scratching their heads.

Take for example our once in a lifetime opportunity to fix our broken tax system. This had gone from "bedrock principles", to trying to shoot a moving target (or targets). This, "let's simplify our tax system so much so we could do our taxes on a postcard", seems to have become lost somewhere in the Potomac. And, "we must have a corporate rate no higher than 15%", seems to have become a variable rather than an absolute. Plus, "only the rich" will pay more? Now the definition of "rich" has shrunk down into the middle class.

It is not just the tax fix, it is also "the Wall". All of a sudden this impenetrable "Wall" the Mexicans were going to pay for, is starting to look more like a screen door. In fact, some seem to think it has become a bargaining chip to be used in negotiations with the Democrats. To the untrained observer (like me), it is starting to look like we are on the cusp of granting amnesty to 800,000 "Dreamers" - and also giving up on the wall. What did Mr. "Art of the deal" get in return? That is besides some very temporary good will from Chuck and Nancy? Good question. 

I know part of what he was been doing is behavior modification for the Republican leadership. That is very clear to me. The President is still smarting from this boner called "Repeal and replace", which turned into a big, fat nothing burger. That being said, right now it looks like Trump is playing every position on the field for both teams. Hello? Grounded in bedrock? Where are you?

One more thing. He as much told the Norks they were going to see "Fire and fury like the world has never seen" if they launched another missile. Last night, they launched another over Japan. I hope the President is not turning into another Obama with vanishing red lines. 

Mr. President - there are many out here who still believe in you. However, there are others who are not saying, "I told you so."  It is time for a win sir. A win which is good for the country and a win your base can believe in. Good solid tax relief is an excellent place to start.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A pimple on his arse...





"The little kid from North Korea might have pushed too hard, too far this time. As Nikki Halley said, "He longs for war". Well little guy, you wish might be our command. God help your people junior. They are about to pay a steep price for your immaturity."


Well, the little butt head did it again. Perpetrated an act of war on a sovereign neighbor. Flew another missile over Japan. How did Japan react? The same way as the first time. The population was sent to duck and cover.


I wonder once again - does this little runt have a death wish? Does he wish to be the last leader of a country which is about to be incinerated? What gives with him?  Listening to the President today talking about his tax reform proposal, he is focused on that GDP growth like a laser beam. The two hurricanes? He is hoping we can still sneak out a 3% GDP in spite of them. If not for the hurricanes - who knows how high the growth could have been.

One thing this President does not have time for, is more war. It is expensive and distracting. He wants both Iraq and Afghanistan to be over with a "W". But what about this distraction from the Korean Peninsula? This little kid who keeps kicking sand in our faces? Our President looks at him like a pimple or gnat on his behind. A major distraction to what he wants to do. And he is not going to put up with it much longer.

What is Trump going to do? More sanctions? More letters? More UN resolutions? Nope. Water off a duck's back. I think Trump is now going to nuke up South Korea and Japan. I really do. Japan has every right now to lay waste to the Norks for overflying their territory twice with missiles which could have been nukes. With over 4,000 nukes, we could nuke up both these countries in a heartbeat without hurting our readiness. 

Recently, Secretary Mattis was asked by a reporter if he was bothered by the daily threats we were getting from the Norks. His reply - "Nope." However, if the Norks overflew our country like they did to Japan, he would probably nuke them. Now we understand how the Japanese feel. They just want this to stop. If it has to be war, then war it is.

The little kid from North Korea might have pushed too hard, too far this time. As Nikki Halley said, "He longs for war". Well little guy, you wish might be our command. God help your people junior. They are about to pay a steep price for your immaturity.

Responsible and responsive






"The taxpayer part of me, who hates this entire train scheme, is glad progress is slow and clumsy. However, the former Contract Manager in me is hearing nails on the chalkboard with how this turned out for the four bidding companies. Good flipping grief!"



This posting is going to seem like a bit like inside baseball. Maybe even boring at first. But please stick with me. Yes, there is a point to all this background information I am about to get into. How do I know this stuff? Lived it for years. It was a big part of my craft.

I will address this from a government's position. If there is some outsourcing which needs to be done, and the government does not have the where-with-all nor resources to do it, a solicitation for outside bids is prepared. Normally, for a huge project (like for example, the SWLRT), first an RFI (Request for Information) is sent out. Interested bidders then submit kind of a brag sheet, why they should be considered to bid on this project and prove they are capable of handling the business. Sometimes the government will do some due diligence on bidders they know little about. Why? They need to determine the bidders are responsible. In other words, should they win, they are up to the task to complete the job.

Once responsible bidders are determined, a solicitation called RFP (Request for Proposal) is sent out. Now it is "game on". Proposal teams from all companies bidding now go into hyper drive. The solicitation is gone over with a fine tooth comb. Questions are drawn up on ambiguities or missing parts. There is usually a bidder's conference a week or so after release of the RFP so these questions may be addressed. All bidders usually attend. 

What does all this have to do with anything? Most of us have probably heard that the bids to do the major construction on the SWLRT have come in to the Met Council. Speaking as a former contractor, many dollars (lots of dollars) and many hours go into making up a responsive bid. The bid is gone over with a fine tooth comb to ensure the price could be a winning price and everything in the bid was responsive to the solicitation.

Four bids came to be the major contractor on the Southwest LRT. Then something extraordinary happened. The Met Council threw all four of them out. The new chair of the Met Council said not only were they all non-responsive (highly improbably or impossible to happen), but they were all outside the price window the Met Council had set up. 

As a former contractor who had been down the bidding path many, many times before, this is what went through my mind. This bunch of neophytes who comprise the Met Council, don't have a clue on what they are doing. Because of their inept business practices, they just cost four companies millions of dollars in B+P (bid and proposal) dollars. Shame on the Met Council! And shame on Mark Dayton for appointing this group of know nothings.

The taxpayer part of me, who hates this entire train scheme, is glad progress is slow and clumsy. However, the former Contract Manager in me is hearing nails on the chalkboard with how this turned out for the four bidding companies. Good flipping grief!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Too big to drain?







"It is going to take much more than just sending Donald Trump to Washington or electing a Republican Governor in 2018. It is going to take the citizenry, crying in unison, 'Enough is enough! Drain that swamp, and evict the swamp dwellers!'" 



Rome was not built in a day. Nor were our federal and state governments. Both are big - very big. Both have grown both by design as well as organically. They both thrive in areas which have recently come to be known as "swamps". And both swamps are so corrupt, so dysfunctional, so counter-productive, candidates have threatened (once elected) to "drain the swamp!" and fix this mess. Guess what? The swamps are alive and doing well. Why? They might be too big to drain.

Years ago, I did some Naval Reserve training at a base just south of Washington DC. Actually, it was close to the border of Virginia and North Carolina. The base was right outside an area known as The Great Dismal Swamp. It was a big joke before I left for training with many of our friends. In fact, they threw a Dismal Swamp party for me before I left. 

The Great Dismal Swamp is in the wrong location. It should be in Washington. Why? Because it is massively big, and unmanageable. Our former CEO President, who campaigned on draining this monster, is finding out he might not be up to the task. It is just too big, and too entrenched. How do I know? How is the healthcare fix coming? Stuck in the quicksand of the swamp. The debt? Why is it now over $20T? The swamp got a hold of it. The GFY 2018 budget? It is in there someplace, being swallowed up by a bog. And the long awaited tax reform? Sinking fast. I can hear it saying, "Glug, glug, glug". 

What have we done in The Great Dismal Swamp which is of note? We have investigated this President and his family with a fine tooth comb. Hillary even mentioned in her newest excuse book that she knows, in the bottom of her heart, Trump and the Russians were closer than two peas in a pod during the past election. Is there proof? Of course not. But the Democrats (who are consummate swamp dwellers) are going to keep picking at this scab until Trump is out of office.

Are we stuck with the swamps in Washington and St. Paul going forward into infinity? Are they really too big to drain? Seems that might be the case. Too many swamp dwellers like the stale, damp and musky feel of the swamp. Many swamp dwellers have become quite wealthy living there. Why in the world would these dwellers want to change it?

Who owns these swamps? We do. Who is responsible for uncomplicated governments becoming unmanageable by existing in these swamps? We are. Who can fix them? We can - but it is going to take much more than just sending Donald Trump to Washington or electing a Republican Governor in 2018. It is going to take the citizenry, crying in unison, "Enough is enough! Drain that swamp, and evict the swamp dwellers!" Good luck to us all...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Another box canyon...





"Remember voters - you get what you vote for. Two terms of Dayton has resulted in 5 out of 7 of the Minnesota Supreme Court Jurists being his picks. And now you see the result."


Thank you Dayton selected Minnesota Supreme Court! Now this state has found itself in yet another box canyon. Go to mediation, huh? Go figure it out yourself, huh? Well that ain't gonna happen. Both sides are dug in, and the result will be - shutting down of government. What? The state is going to shut down again? Sooner or later - but first the government will shut down. 

What just a dang minute! What does that mean? It means that since the Governor has defunded the most important part of state government, the government will soon cease to exist. And when that happens, government shuts down.

What does the Governor what? The abrogation of the tax cuts. He HATES tax cuts. It works against his very soul. He wants seniors taxed, the rich taxed, the middle tax taxed, and if need be, the poor taxed. This is the drug for the Loony Left - other peoples tax money. And nobody is more "hooked" on this, than Dayton is. 

What dos this mean? There is no way out of this box canyon. The Right has issued strict orders to quit our money hemorrhaging with our sky high taxes. Dayton on the under hand, has his "nether region" in a vice by a bevy of special interests. Special interests who can only survive on your taxes.

So what did this "Dayton heavy" court do to settle this intractable issue? Nada. Punted. I don't know how much we are paying this group of slugs, but I for one, would like a refund. They left this state in a box canyon. My hope is the House lets this veto stand, and everything then folds up. After that, Dayton the Governor will find himself to be as effective as Dayton the Senator. Hey Minnesota - you voted for this (*bleep*) twice - you deserve what you vote for! 

Remember voters - you get what you vote for. Two terms of Dayton has resulted in 5 out of 7 of the Minnesota Supreme Court Jurists being his pet picks. And now you see the result. Total and continual, financial dysfunction.


Aftermath





"What we should have learned, is this type of thing is going to keep on happening until we get a whole lot smarter about preparedness. Until then, we just await the next punch from either nature or a rogue, outlaw country."  



The twin storms of Harvey and Irma are finally over. Residents, who left the storm areas for safety, are now starting to filter back. Many in Houston are stunned at the amount of damage caused from a yard of rain. With the other storm Irma, many in Florida are relieved that Cuba took enough starch out of the storm to cut down the amount of damage it could have done. However even with that, there still was damage. And about half the state remains without power.

Reading about the aftermath of these two storms gave me pause to think. This morning I got up, went into the kitchen and made coffee. In Florida, half the residents can't do that. It takes electricity. According to Governor Scott, if might be quite a while before all power is restored to Florida. Meanwhile, many houses in Florida are uninhabitable. No place to store perishable food. No air conditioning. No cell service. In a sub-tropical climate, that is uninhabitable.

Then my thought was this - what about all those people who have jobs? How do you work if you have no place to stay? To shower? To eat? My wife, the retired school teacher, had one better. What about the schools? When are they going to be in session? And the kids? Will they be in a good place to learn if they still don't have a livable home to back to?

Back to Houston for a minute. It is one thing to have so many homes right now be determined to be unlivable due to the flooding. However, there is something else to consider. In the paper this morning, the issue of the lost cars was addressed. For a city which thrives on private transportation, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of care are either "flood plain" cars or totaled. How do you get back to any sense of normalcy when you are both without a home and a car?

Department of Homeland Security, please take notice. We saw this during Super Storm Sandy. We saw it during Katrina. Irma was particularly bad for Florida as it was almost state wide. Supplies could not be pre-positioned. What if we had something even more wide spread than a 400 mile wide hurricane like Irma? Like a solar flare disrupting our power grid. An attack on our power grid through cyber terrorism? Or the biggest fear of all - the Norks being able to effect an EMP strike on this country, ruining many parts of our power grid.

It really is amazing that in 2017, going on 2018, we are still this vulnerable. How vulnerable? We are one tragic event from being cast back into a lifestyle from the 1800's. The lack of urgency to fix this vulnerability by this administration, just like previous ones, is jaw dropping. We should never lose power to this extent from a storm, no matter how big and how powerful it is. Our power grid should be totally robust, rad hardened, and redundent. 

Every night on the news, we will watch the slow and painful recovery from these two storms. We last saw it during Super Storm Sandy. What did we learn from that storm? Not much, actually. What we should have learned, is this type of thing is going to keep on happening until we get a whole lot smarter about preparedness. Until then, we just await the next punch from either nature or a rogue, outlaw country.  


Monday, September 11, 2017

Is this COEXIST?






"Do I forgive those who attacked us sixteen years ago? Our faith teaches us that we must. However, I do remember. And like most of us, I will NEVER forget. Can I say that one more time? WE WILL NEVER FORGET!!!"   



When I woke up this morning. my Amazon friend Alexia informed me today was September 11th, also known as the day of "service and remembrance"? Huh? Since when? Since Obama? The day is officially called Patriot Day. Nothing more, nothing less. I will however, give my "AI" buddy Alexia credit for one thing - remembrance. It is the day we will never, ever forget.

It was sixteen years ago, and yet it just seems like yesterday. My wife and I were still working, my parents, my wife's parents, were still alive. Both my daughters were still in either high school or college. Then on that beautiful September morning, my generations Pearl Harbor happened. The great sucker punch. A gut shot from an enemy most of us did not even know we had. And our world has not been the same ever since.

Some on the Left will tell us that we kind of deserved it. You know, those George W. Bush (and his dad) expansionist leanings. Bringing our brand of corrupt filth into the Muslim world. Through the wonderful world of Common Core and revisionist history, once we got sucker punched on September 11, 2001, we discovered it was our fault. We need to learn to coexist with the people for hate us and would still like to kill us. Well, here is a news flash. Our naivete helped bring about 9/11, and our continued naivete could bring about something even worse.

Do people in this country hate Muslims? Some do - mostly because of 9/11. But most do not. Even after the sucker punch, most still do not. However, that really has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. Why do I say that? In the eyes of Islamic Terrorists, it is irrelevant if we hate them or not. They hate us, and that is all that counts. Much of their hatred for "people of the cross" is ancient, and might just go on forever. It is as if the Crusades never ended, and Richard the Lionhearted was still in charge.

It is hard to COEXIST with a group of people who will sacrifice their own lives to take ours. It is hard to assimilate with those who eschew assimilation. It is hard to accept the faith of those who believe our faith is corrupt and an abomination to their god. Get the picture? COEXIST must be a two way street.

Do I forgive those who attacked us sixteen years ago? Our faith teaches us that we must. However, I do remember. And like most of us, I will NEVER forget. Can I say that one more time? WE WILL NEVER FORGET!!!   


Sunday, September 10, 2017

City of Loons






"Is there hope for the folks in the City of Minneapolis? Not a bit. They don't want to change. They just want to travel down the rabbit hole even deeper. Thus, that is where they will stay." 




Bird! Why, why do you keep picking on the once great City of Lakes? Why? Because you just answered your own question. The "once great" speaks volumes. It is as if the city leaders (boy, is that an oxymoron!) get together every morning and try to figure out ways to make this city more unlivable. So far, they are doing an excellent job.

Of all the bone headed things Minneapolis has done recently, the most recent one took the cake. Getting rid of as many parking places as possible to keep those fire breathing, horseless carriages out of town. This is social engineering, behavior modification at its best. Does this make sense at all? Only in the mind of a Euphorian. And if you are not a Euphorian, don't even try to understand.

On Sundays, I like to read the expanded version of the editorial pages. Why? Good fodder for the Bird. Today, the editorials were full of people opining on what a dumb a** thing the City of Minneapolis is doing by getting rid of all those parking places. One writer brought up and excellent point. Our mass transit system, although very expensive to build and maintain, is not up to the task of getting people from point "A" to point "B" more conveniently than an auto does. That has been the rub of mass transit for years. If mass transit can be better and cheaper than driving one's own car, if might work. If it doesn't, it won't.

Anyone been downtown as of late? It is the city which does not work well any more. The Far Left has coopted just about everything and everyone. Retail downtown is all but dead. Besides, who wants to shop in a place where parking is scarce and expensive, crime is NOT under control, and shopping options have become very limited. How about movie theaters, like I went to when I was young? Forget about it!

But don't worry - the power elite is also trying to get rid of as many businesses as possible. Make it very expensive to do business while operating in a regulatory hell. Five years from now, we will have been forced to build even more LRTs which terminate downtown. Why? Most of the businesses will be located elsewhere.

Rent downtown is obscene. If you are a Yuppie, the North Loop is okay. However, if you are not a person of means, good luck. Gentrification has become the word of the day in downtown Minneapolis. 

So what then, is left in Minneapolis? The pan handlers. The avant-guarde. The bohemians. The artsy-crafty class. The counter culture. The Antifa and Resist! crowd. Oh yes - I almost forgot. The thugs who would love to separate you from your cell phone and/or wallet. 

I addressed this a few days ago. Only 8% of all Minneapolis cops make Minneapolis their home. 92% live in cities other than Minneapolis. Why? Nobody knows the underbelly of a city better than the police who patrol there do. Get the message?

For those who have the means to do so, get out of Minneapolis now. This is not going to get any better. How do I know? Look at the crop of loons who are running for Mayor. Look at the City Council. Look at the Hennepin Commissioners (that is, except for Jeff Johnson). The bench of loons is deep and wide in Minneapolis. 

Is there hope for the folks in the City of Minneapolis? Not a bit. They don't want to change. They just want to travel down the rabbit hole even deeper. Thus, that is where they will stay.