Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duck Suspension: Freedom of Speech?!?!

In a recent issue of GQ magazine(, Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson discusses an array of topics but the one that landed him a suspension dealt with his answer to the question: What, in your mind, is sinful?

Phil Robertson responded, "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men." It is this response that gets the air time, especially on Progressive media outlets, but Mr. Robertson didn't stop there as he referenced the Bible. Specifically he paraphrased Corinthians when he quipped, "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offends, the greedy, the drunkyards, the slanderers, the swindlers - they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz offered a response by stating, "Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lie about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans - and Americans - who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such a public disdain for LGBT people and families."

Wow! Mr. Robertson is pushing "vile and extreme stereotypes" - where? In his response to the question about what is sinful - where does he push a stereotype? Perhaps its when GQ quotes Phil's thought on "modern immorality" as - "It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical." While I don't go as far as Mr. Robertson goes to consider two men, or more, engaging in anal sex as a sin; I do understand where Mr. Robertson may come to that conclusion based on his religious beliefs. Again though I ask Wilson Cruz - where did Phil Robertson push a stereotype?

All this being said, the rub on this situation is that Phil Robertson's freedom of speech and/or religion has been violated. I am sorry to say folks there has been no government clamp down on Phil Robertson and as far as I know he is still a free man and not in jail. Question that Progressives won't answer is: What if a member of the LGBT community was suspended from a show for stating their religious view on sin?

Personally I never saw the appeal of Duck Dynasty - perhaps I am not redneck enough - nor do I watch A&E all that much to begin with. I think Brandon Ambrosino ( sums it up well at the end of his article when he writes: "GK Chesterton said that bigotry is "an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition." If he is right - and he usually is - then I wonder if the Duck Dynasty fiasco says more about our bigotry than Phil's." By "our" Brandon refers to the LGBT community as he is gay.

Progressives and Conservatives need to learn that bigotry, racism, sexism, etc...flows both ways. While Phil Robertson doesn't talk for all Christians, he does for an unknown number. Obviously Christians don't interpret the Bible all the same or we wouldn't have Catholics, Orthodox, Baptist, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Episcopal s, Methodists, Protestants, Lutherans, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc. The final point to digest - Earlier this year a major retailer got into a PR mess in Minnesota because some cashiers refused to check out pork because it was against their religion - Imagine if that retailer fired them!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day

It is another Thanksgiving Day. What better message to read than from one of our Founders that started the official holiday. George Washington proclaimed this over 200 years ago.....

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Healthcare Insurance Bandaid

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3350 ( that will allow health insurance companies to continue to offer insurance policies that did not meet the grandfather clause of the Affordable Care Act or the minimum standards set in place by ObamaCare. Rep Upton (R-MI) sponsored H.R 3350 that passed 261-157 with over 30 Democrats voting in favor of it. Earlier this week, President Obama acknowledged that his pledge that if you like your health insurance you can keep it was not accurate. While President Obama did not say he lied to the public, he did recognize that "We put a grandfather clause into the law but it was insufficient."

Throughout the week, the drum beat has been that this misstep to dropped coverage only applies to the 5% of the market. While that is accurate, what is not discussed or even raised is that waivers were given to the rest of market until 2015. What will happen in October of 2014 when ObamaCare provisions of the law are applied to employer based health insurance plans?

President Obama also said during his press conference this week that, "We're also requiring insurers to extend current plans to inform their customers about two things. One, that protections -- what protections these renewed plans don't include. Number two, that the marketplace offers new options with better coverage and tax credits that might help you bring down the cost." A) The Executive Branch does not have power to make/alter law that is the power of the Legislative Branch. B) Offer more coverage or options never drops the cost of anything!

Now a Bipartisan bill has been passed by the House of Representatives, which President Obama plans to veto, ought to be given a vote in the Senate. Rep. Pelosi is accurate when she stated prior to Affordable Care Act being passed when she said that once we pass this bill we will know that is in it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Is Anarchy and Tyranny knocking at the door?

In reading Mark Levin's book The Liberty Amendments, I know that I have fallen off discussing the proposed Amendments to which I will return to them soon, I stumbled upon a curios passage Levin quotes of John Adams. The passage appears in Chapter Eight: An Amendment to Protect Private Property (p 139-140):

"Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into account the women and children, or even if we leave them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes, and a few trifles of other movables. Would Mr. Nedham be responsible that, if all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions who have no property, would not think of usurping over the rights of the one or two millions who have? Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them. The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet, " and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free."

John Adams wrote that passage originally in "Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States." The United States is a Republic and not a true Democracy a concept that retards the Progressive ideals; unfortunately it doesn't eliminate them. Despite living in a free society, governed by representative rule, liberty and protections of private property are eroding. The erosion isn't a recent occurrence; yet it has been kicked into overdrive in recent decades.

Our National Debt has topped $17 TRILLION! A number trivialized by Progressives and Big Government Spending Conservatives while ignored by the vast majority of journalist ( a term I use loosely). One must hand it to Big Government types though. While Mr. Adams crafts precepts restraining the poor, idle, vicious and intemperate, Big Government has crafted precepts more enterprising; entitlements. The current continuing resolution calls for the United States Federal Government to spend $3.4 TRILLION of which, roughly, $2.5 TRILLION is entitlement spending. That $2.5 TRILLION earmark does not include the subsidies dolled out for ObamaCare.

The foundation of a free society is the right to private property free from government intervention and seizure as well as protected by the same said government from others in society. Taxation, entitlements, and willful idleness are all elements causing the erosion of ones right to private property. The rich have the means to relocate while the Middle Class and poor do not. What happens when the Rich are no longer an option? Anarchy and Tyranny will take hold - That is the legacy the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y leave for those born in the 21st Century.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Obamacare failures is the shiny object

Over the past weeks, the Hamburg Post has been filled with blog posts reviewing the Amendments that Mark Levin proposes in his book The Liberty Amendments. Today, a break from that and a look at ObamaCare. The past week saw Congress grill various stakeholders in the development and roll out of the Federal website as it hasn't worked as advertised.

The various glitches being reported now have Democrats, that are up for re-election in 2014, asking President Obama to delay the mandate from six weeks to an entire year. First off, the President doesn't have the power to legislate which he has already done granting Congress, the Executive Branch and business exemptions from the law. The Affordable Care Act clearly states in the law the start date of the law and all of whom are to be part of it. To change this, delay or not, Constitutionally requires an act of Congress and a signature of the President.

That being said, America faces a larger problem with ObamaCare. Well it's not a problem if you enjoy being dictated to and prefer a loss of freedom. For Americans that prefer choice and freedom the current glitches are all part of the plan. In order for ObamaCare to work, it requires 7 million healthy Americans to sign up to pay premiums to cover the costs of less healthy users. Trouble is that the healthiest Americans, as a pool, are those between the age of 18-26.

Ironically the Affordable Care Act has taken these healthy American's off the payroll by allowing them to stay on their parents health care until they are 26. Without this low risk pool paying premiums, the funds will not exist to pay for higher risk pool users of the exchanges. Yet, this is just part of the complicated plan of cradle to grave nationalized health care.

Another aspect of the Affordable Care Act was to require health insurers to take on all Americans despite of their preconditions. Health care insurers, for the most part, already do this but the insurance premiums are higher for high risk pools than lower risk pools. Now with that option taken away from healthcare insurers, those of us in lower risk pools now must pay higher premiums.

Precondition pool is the Trojan Horse of the Affordable Care Act for Single Payer Nationalize healthcare system. Companies such as UPS have given notice to their employees that spouses will no longer be covered. Consulting firm Deloitte surveyed 560 companies and found that 9 percent of them plan to drop coverage over the next three years. We are also seeing a shift from full time employment to part time employment by firms to get under the 50 employee number that allows them to avoid a fine for not offering healthcare benefits.

Once the pool of preconditioned  Americans are no longer covered by employee based healthcare insurance the exchanges will be deemed a failure then the real push for Nationalized healthcare begins.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Term limits on the Supreme Court

Chapter 4 of Mark Levin's book The Liberty Amendment tackles the Judicial branch of Government( p49-50):

Section 1: No person may serve as Chief Justice or Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for more than a combined total of twelve years.

Section 2: Immediately upon ratification of this Amendment, Congress will organize the justices of the Supreme Court as equally possible into three classes, with the justices assigned to each class in reverse seniority order, with the most senior justices in the earliest classes. The terms of office for the justices in the First Class will expire a the end of the fourth year following the ratification of this Amendment, the terms for the justices in the Second Class will expire at the end of the eighth year, and of the Third Class at the end of the twelfth Year, so that one-third of the justices may be chosen every fourth Year.

Section 3: When a vacancy occurs in the Supreme Court the President shall nominate a new justice who, with the approval of a majority of the Senate, shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term. Justices who fill a vacancy for longer than half of an unexpired term may not be nominated to a full term.

Section 4: Upon three-fifths vote of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Congress may override a majority opinion rendered by the Supreme Court.

Section 5: The Congressional override under Section 4 is not subject to a Presidential veto and shall not be subject to litigation or review in any Federal or State court.

Section 6: Upon three-fifths vote of the several state legislatures, the State may override a majority opinion rendered by the Supreme Court.

Section 7: The States' override under Section 6 shall not be the subject of litigation or review in any Federal or State court, or oversight or interference by Congress or the President.

Section 8: Congressional or State override authority under Section 4 and 6 must be exercised no later than twenty-four months from the date of the Supreme Court rendering its majority opinion, after which date Congress and the States are prohibited from exercising the override.

Thus far I have been on board completely with Levin as to Amendments needing to be added that will lead us to more freedom and control over our lives. When I read this chapter the first time my knee jerk reaction was yes. I do like the notion of term limits on Justices while at the same time I struggle with the notion that 9 people can make decisions that drastically impact our lives.

With our country becoming more and more polarized, we have seen - especially in my life time - the courts outcomes are not based on Constitutional limitations rather by judicial review. That judicial review has turned the courts into a defacto legislature. The fact that 9 humans cloaked in black robes will judge cases in the purview, limited by the Constitution originally and later expanded in Marbury v Madison, without error is a fallacy. Humans by our very nature are flawed thus the 9 Justices are flawed despite their education and training.

Adding another layer that gives Congress more check and balance on the Judicial system while also allowing the States that same authority is interesting. What makes this additional twist more interesting is the limitations that Congress and the States have to override a decision.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Restoring the Senate

In Chapter 3, Mark Levin proposes the following Amendment that would restore the Senate (p33):

Section 1: The Seventeenth Amendment is hereby repealed. All Senators shall be chosen by their state legislatures as prescribed by Article 1.

Section 2: This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Section 3: When vacancies occur in the representation of any State in the Senate for more than ninety days the governor of the State shall appoint an individual to fill the vacancy for the remainder  of the term.

Section 4: A Senator may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the state legislature.

Prior to the Seventeenth Amendment, Senators were chosen by the State Legislatures to represent their State in Congress. Perhaps when the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified was the end of the Statesman in Congress. In recent years, money is spent insanely by outside sources - on both sides of the aisle - to help elect a Senator that the National parties want to see in Congress.

Returning back to the original intent of electing the Senate returns a vital State right Perhaps if this was in place, Minnesotans would have seen their Senators vote for placing a tax on medical device companies when Minnesota is home to one of the largest and respected medical device communities in the United States.

Some may attempt to argue that keeping the Seventeenth amendment in place protects our Democracy. Trouble is that we don't live in a pure Democracy; rather we are a Republic that uses elected officials to represent our interests. And one of those interests is to keep politics local which is lost when Senators are elected by popular vote.

Levin surmises (p 46), "However, it will be opposed by the Statist, for he may pose as a democrat, but it is democratic tyranny that he favors." Levin continues (p 47), "Furthermore, state sovereignty is not a top priority for most senators because the state legislatures hold no sway over them. Therefore, situations arise where senators vote for major federal legislation over the strenuous objections of their own state." Guess that is why Sen. Franken and Klobuchar voted for the Affordable Care Act!

Source: Mark Levin's  The Liberty Amendments

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A case for Term limits

As I write this blog post this morning the United States government is still on shutdown and we are only days away from the Federal Government hitting the debt ceiling yet again. President Obama has repeatedly said over the past few weeks that raising the debt ceiling is not raising the debt of the nation. If it really is not then we should never have to raise the debt ceiling. Over the weekend I purchased a book - yes an actual hardcover book - The Liberty Amendments by Mark Levin.

The premise of the book is a look at a series of proposed Amendments to the United States Constitution to bring us back in line to intent of our nation forged by the Founding Fathers. The fact that we are under a shutdown and dealing with $17 trillion is debt illustrates that our Federal system of government has become too centralized and beaucratic.

Over the course of the next several weeks I'd like to take each Amendment proposed by Mark Levin and discuss it hear. The original post, as all my posts, are to be a starting point of conversation. My blog is not an echo chamber.

Mark Levin's first proposed Amendment deal with establishing term limits on members of Congress:

Section 1: No person may serve more that twelve years as a member of Congress, whether such service is exclusively in the House or the Senate or combined in both Houses.

Section 2: Upon ratification of this Article, any incumbent member of Congress whose term exceeds the twelve-year limit shall complete the current term, but thereafter shall be ineligible for further service as a member of Congress

For much of my life I rejected the notion of term limits being placed on elected officials, outside of the President of the United State, but with greater observation of what transpires in Washington D.C. my leanings tend toward limiting the time of those seeking office. In the beginning of our nation, holding office was seen as a service to our fellow citizens and at some point along the way those elected to office would return to private life.

Mark Levin, page 11-12, illustrates this by quoting Benjamin Franklin, "It seems to have been imagined by some that the returning to the mass of the people was degrading the magistrate. This he thought was contrary to republican principles. In Free Governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors & sovereigns. For the former therefore to return among the latter was not to degrade but to promote them. And it would be imposing an unreasonable burden on them, to keep them always in the State of servitude, and not allow them to become again one of the Masters."

In the 21st Century, and I'd argue for the better half of the 20th Century, those seeking political office do not see the "mass of people" as their superiors; rather they see them as their serfs. I know I paint a broad brush with that last statement but why else do 20 year Congress members feel justified in seeking another term? Granted turnover may not bring about the change one desires but knowing that the knucklehead in office can only be there for 12 years at the most gives us assurances that a bad apple doesn't have enough time to take root.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Syria: Obama wants War, defers to Constitution.

The United States Constitution is clear that Congress is the only body that has the power to enact war. Then in 1973, Congress passed and was signed into law legislation commonly known as the War Powers Act which gave the President limited powers to engaged American Armed Forces into conflict without prior Congressional approval.

The caveat to this lies in Sec 2 subset C:

The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

Today, President Obama came out to announce that after seeing the evidence - yesterday presented by
Secretary of State John Kerry - that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had crossed the line in using chemical weapons against his own people. The United Nations earlier today held a press conference that discussed the time table of the assessing the samples taken from Syria in regards to the use of chemical weapons. Now, the UN Inspector did state that the results will in no manner determine who used chemical weapons; rather it will simply confirm the use of the chemical weapons.

In his address today, President Obama made it clear he is prepared to go to war despite the fact that he wouldn't put "boots on the ground" or it wouldn't be "an open time table." Trouble is Mr. President that you don't have the power to engage Syria on your own. The War Powers Act, see above, is very clear that an imminent danger or a national emergency exists that will result in an attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions or armed forces.

That said, Syria is not a colony of the United States nor do we have armed forces on the ground there either. While the use of chemical weapons appears conclusive the deliverer of those weapons is still open for debate. I know some will point to the evidence that Secretary of State Kerry spoke about the other day but we must look at the Arab League source with a grain of salt.

I applaud President Obama for finally recalling his Constitutional law classes  when he said, "under the Constitution, the responsibility to declare war lies with Congress." I also agree with President Obama that the use of chemical weapons on ones own people is an "assault on human dignity." But I don't agree with, "It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons." Why is that many in the East, namely the Middle East, hate the West and namely the United States? Because we use our imperial might to right wrongs that WE feel exist.

No one will deny the use of chemical weapons is bad. The trouble is that Syria is mired in a Civil War and with war comes a natural "assault on human dignity". As Gen. Patton famously coined, "War is Hell!" Now, the United States should do everything diplomatically that we can to help bring an end to the Civil War; diplomatically not military.

Reactions on MSNBC after the speech today had a number of people surprised that President Obama would defer to Congress. It is President Obama's Constitutional duty to defer to Congress. Now the question is: What will President Obama do if Congress doesn't give him authority to engage in war?

**** I had to revise my original post to replace Vice President Biden with Secretary of State Kerry - I was watching the reply when typing with VP Biden in the background. I apologize for the oversight. ***

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Race Relations: Better or Worse under Obama?

Tomorrow President Obama will be giving a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on race. Since Sen. Obama became President Obama race has been a hot topic for many in the media and even those on social media as well. Originally, many viewed the election of Sen. Obama to the Presidency of the United States as a positive step toward improved race relations in the United States. Star Parker wrote, Racial Divide Worse Under Obama, initially, "There was exhilaration that the nightmare was over- finally. That wrongs have been righted, that we can get on with America's business without the ongoing issue of race looming, and that we can stop looking at blacks politically as a special class of Americans."

Star Parker was on to something here. America had elected its first black President four years prior to were piece. The trouble is the election didn't bring forth the calming aspect Parker, and others, wished for; rather it armed the media with a new talking point - race. From the time that Sen. Obama was elected President, those that oppose President Obama's ideals for America have been labeled racist. Granted there are parts of America that still harbor deep seated racist thoughts and that is not something that will completely go away.

At the same time, as Star Parker had hoped that "we can stop looking at blacks politically as a special class of Americans" the media did just that. Anytime a black politician or candidate for office voiced an opposing view of President Obama's agenda - the media and more specifically social media - labeled them as an Uncle Tom. How does that promote race relations?

In a recent town hall in New York President Obama answered a professor's question by saying, "Fifty years after the March on Washington and the 'I Have a Dream' speech, obviously we have made enormous strides. I'm a testament to it, you're a testament to it, the diversity of this room and the students who here are a testament to it. And that impulse toward making sure everybody gets a fair shot is one that found expression in the civil rights movement and then spread to include Latinos and immigrants and gays and lesbians." Now, on social media when one invokes the "I Have a Dream" speech and the famous lines where Martin Luther King implores America to view people not based on the color of their skin rather on the merit of their character by any white person that person is persecuted by many in the black community.

Why is it so wrong for people of all color to invoke those sacred words of MLK? Is it not better for America, better for race relations that we all have a common theme, a common thread from which to weave the future? MLK nailed it. Unfortunately we have failed. We can point fingers to the past all we want.

Governor Bobby Jindal recently wrote an Op-Ed for Politico, The End of Race, where he points out that, "Racism is one of the more tragic features of the human condition. Like greed, envy and other sins, it has been around for thousands of years, on every continent." Gov. Jindal continues, "Here's what I've found in Louisiana: The voters want to know what you believe, what you stand for, and what your plan to do, not what shade your skin is." Gov. Jindal parents came here from India around the time of MLK's assassination.

Louisiana, the Deep South, voted in Bobby Jindal as Governor of the state. A colored man, a child of immigrants - why? Because of his ideals, his beliefs, his plan - not the color of his skin. Louisiana is the same state that David Duke hails from too.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman (CBC), Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio stated in response to a question on the trajectory of race relations in Niall Stanage piece Black Lawmakers Lament Flaring of Racial Tensions under Obama, "Right after the election of the president, I would have thought it was going in a positive direction, but I am not so sure anymore."

In the same article, CBC member Rep. Barbara Lee of California said,"The country, for whatever reason, has not confronted race in the way that it should. With stop-and-frisk, and all the issues around income inequality, you really have to wonder [how much things have improved.] But I think a lot of it is to do with the idea that race has been an issue that we can talk about."

Niall Stanage does hit the nail on the head later in the piece when stating, "Put those economic factors together with the high-voltage legal cases on the killing of Trayvon Martin and the curtailment of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and it is easy to see why black politicians, and liberals in general, are ambivalent over where things stand." Stanage is guilty of what many in the media and on social media equate - black politician to liberals. Not every black politician is a liberal but as I stated earlier for some reason those black politician's that speak non-liberal talking points are labeled Uncle Toms.

The melting of race today in America is taking place. The Ruling Class understands that if America completes the melting of race into a society of merit of character they have lost control and are in danger of office. It is time for America to embrace MLK and view less on skin tone and more on character. Race relations are in a similar boat that ethnic relations were in Boston, New York and other major cities in the 1800's. It took time for the "Natural Born" citizens to accept the Irish, the Germans, the Swedes, etc...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hamburg City Council Agenda - August 13, 2013

Hamburg City Council Agenda
August 13, 2013

  1. Call City Council Meeting to Order
    1.  Pledge of Allegiance  
  2.  Public Comment (Individuals may address the City Council about any non-agenda item(s) of concern. Speakers must state their name, address, and limit their remarks to three minutes. The City Council may not take official action on these items and may refer the matter to staff for a future report or direct that the matter be scheduled for a future meeting agenda.)  
  3. Agenda Review (Added Items) and Adoption
  4.  Consent Agenda (NOTICE TO PUBLIC: All those items listed as part of the Consent Agenda will be approved by a single motion, unless a request to discuss one of those items is made prior to that time. Anyone present at the meeting may request an item to be removed from the consent agenda. Please inform the Council when they approve the agenda for this meeting.) 

  • MNSPECT Minute for August 2013 
  • Mediacom Channel Lineup Changes 
  • 2014 Local Government Aid Notice 
  • Wireless Service Letter (Councilmember Odoms) 
  • Relay for Life (September 21, 2013) 
  • Carver County Fair (August 7-11, 2013) 
  • Cash Flow Statement for May/June 2013 
  • Delinquent Utility Bills Report   
  • Nuisance Complaint List 
  • Building Permit Activity Report 
  • Water Wells Usage/Water Consumption Report  
 Fire Department Report

  •  Certificate of Recognition for Firefighter Scott Karels 
  •  Fire Chiefs Convention 
  •  Training Reimbursement  
  • National Night Out  
  •  Bike Helmets  
  • HFDRA 2012 Reporting Year Forms (Notice from State Auditor) 
Diana Kroells – Hamburg Lions Club

  • A Little Library        
 John Rodeberg – City Engineer (S.E.H.)

  •  City Street Improvements/Maintenance for 2013 
    •  Robert Avenue Improvements (Change Order)  
Old City Business (Memo)

  • Revised NIMS Training Program (Requirements) 
  • Tax Forfeited Lot on Brad Street o Assessments on Parcel 45.2000010 
  • City Assessment Policy 
  • Free Health Screening for Employees  
Public Works & Utilities Department Report

  • Pavers for Community Center Door 
  • Community Center Repairs 
  • Cleaning/Televising of Sanitary Sewer Lines  
  • LMCIT Loss Control Recommendation Letter o Sanitary Sewer System Assessment 
 City Clerk/Treasurer Report

  • County Road 50 Detour for Closure of TH 25 in Sibley County  2014 Budget Workshop Meetings o August 26 th , 27 th or 28 th , 2013 @ 7:00 PM o September 3 rd , 4 th or 5 th @ 7:00 PM  
 Approve Payment of Added July 2013 Claims ($96,690.05)

  •  City Clean Up Day Billing (May 4, 2013) Approve Payment of August 2013 Claims  
 City Council Reports

  • Councilmember Odoms Report (Streets)
  • Councilmember Bob Gregonis (Water/Sewer) 
  • Councilmember Lund Report (Parks) 
  • Councilmember Trebesch Report (Buildings) 
  • Mayor Malz Report  
 Adjourn City Council Meeting                                                        

Friday, August 2, 2013

Drug Use: When to Wage War and When to Regulate

In a recent story done by the AP, New Zealand is looking to regulate the market on designer drugs with the goal to make them safer for those using them. See the article here: Now, the new law doesn't legalize marijuana or cocaine; rather the intent is to force designer drug makers - which was illegal prior to the law - to adhere to the same regulatory body that pharmaceutical companies do.

Let's face it, the "War on Drugs" has been a global failure. At the same time the drug trade has illustrated to perfection the lucrative money one can make in a free market; granted this free market is the Black Market. The violence witnessed in Mexico and along the US/Mexico border is over the illegal trafficking of drugs. Fields of poppy litter the landscape of the Middle East all in an effort to raise funds for the warlords in the region.

While I am not a drug user nor do I promote the use of abortion as a method of birth control, I recognize the limitations and markets government makes when waging war or making something illegal. Early in the 20th Century America saw the rise of the Mafia mainly due to the prohibiting of alcohol. Some have argued that the side effects and social ills of alcohol differ little to illicit drugs. Not to mention that prescription drugs are a hot commodity and have the same harmful impact if misused as illicit drugs.

The sky will not fall, drug use will not rise dramatically and chaos will not reign in the streets if countries adopt a more regulated approach to illicit drugs. Now, I am typically a proponent to government intervention into the Free Market or our private lives. When the drug trade fills to coffers of those that deem us harm and if regulation can bring about a safer product  then I am open to the notion of government intervention. Often times people confuse the concept of limited government as no government and that is simply not a honest assessment of the thought process.

New Zealand is onto something here and I hope our government will take notice. We have already seen a few states legalize recreational use of marijuana with little public disruption. Perhaps it is time to take a deeper look into all drug use.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Democrats Mire Clinton's Chances for White House

Prior to the 2008 Presidential election, Sen. Hillary Clinton was poised to take the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Then an freshman Senator with very little political resume juggernauts to the head of the class and takes the nomination away from Sen. Clinton. President Obama put Sen. Clinton into his cabinet to keep her politically viable. The former Secretary has new issues now as she attempts to mount another run at garnering the Democratic nomination for President in 2016.

Yes, I know it is only 2013 and perhaps that is why we are seeing this story brew now and not later as many of us realize that voters have short term memories. Brewing story is the comparison of Secretary Clinton to Anthony Weiner's wife Huma. In case you haven't been up on current events Mr. Weiner is running for office in New York; yet he continues to have been sending out lewd texts and tweets to females under the guise of Carlos Danger. Huma, who was an aide to Secretary Clinton and a close friend, has been sticking by her husband.

The media has been not kind to Huma though in regards to her husbands actions; yet the same media gave then First Lady Clinton a pass as a litany of women were touted of having extramarital affairs with President Clinton. Some in the media are speculating that why women like Huma or Secretary Clinton put up with their husband's immorality is it suffices their own political pursuits. That being said, I find it interesting that the media is starting to turn up the heat in the comparison to Huma and Hillary.

Could it be that the Democratic Party is just providing lip service to feminists by flirting with the notion of nominating a female to the top of the ticket? Then to give the DNC cover as to why not Clinton, or a female with similar credentials, stories portraying women as enablers instead of an innocent bystander are leaked. What is the Democratic Party afraid of? What is America afraid of?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

President Obama is seeing the light!

Today President Obama will be traveling to Chattanooga, Tennessee to deliver a speech at the distribution center. The speech is reportedly going to include a "grand bargain" that President Obama feels will bring more jobs to America; specifically more middle-class jobs.

Senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer said (,"As part of his efforts to focus Washington on the middle class, today in Tennessee the president will call on Washington to work on a grand bargain focused on middle-class jobs by pairing reform of the business tax code with a significant investment in middle-class jobs." Finally the President understands that private business creates jobs not the government; yet the government can put forth hindrances that will delay or destroy job growth.

 President Obama can start reforming the tax code by removing the tax or fine that employers must pay for not providing health care to their employees. Next, President Obama can lower the tax rate on dollars earned by companies outside of the United States as they will be taxed in the countries they are doing business in too. Finally, President Obama can raise the tariffs on all imported goods - regardless of where the company is domiciled. If a company wants to avoid the tariff then they must build and sell those goods here in the United States while being subject to business tax code here.

These three elements will increase job growth and innovation inside of the United States. In a global economy that we are in now, we cannot compete directly on labor costs until other emerging markets establish a middle-class similar to ours. By raising the tariffs on goods produced outside of the United States it will force companies to weigh the options of producing and selling goods here. There is a reason why Ford, GM, Cat, and Deere have opened plants in India - among the multitude of reasons is the structure India has for taxing goods manufactured outside of the country and sold inside it.

I have renewed optimism in President Obama if he is serious about reforming the business tax code to make it conducive to a pro-business job growth environment. At the same time I am skeptical that the "grand bargain" will come at a hefty price tag that results in more deficit spending and increased debt load that we will be passing onto our grandchildren's children.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

President Obama - Phony Scandals and Jobs

Saturday morning President Obama spoke to the nation as he routinely does on a weekly basis ( President Obama opened his address highlighting a few of his accomplishments over the past four and half years - "We saved the auto industry, took on a broken health care system, invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil, and changed a tax code too skewed in favor of the wealthiest at the expense of working families."

President Obama is accurate that the auto industry is better than it was four years ago, but the Ford is leading the way and they didn't take bailout money. In regards to the "broken" health care system, why then is there a one year delay in the implementation for businesses but not individuals? Then we move onto American technologies - guess Solyndra bankruptcy is a forgotten aspect of that strategy, the Keystone Pipeline still isn't in place. Oh yeah, you go Buffet to agree with you on the "tax the rich" scheme in exchange for keeping the pipeline on the back burner so Buffet's railroad company can thrive.

It cracks me up that President Obama, and others, tout that 7.2 Million new jobs have been created over the past four and half years. President Obama, and others, how many people have left the job force over the past four and half years? Mr. President, when you took office only 81,023,000 not in the labor force while the latest data says 89,717,000 which is a difference of over 8 million people. So, let's be honest, that 7.2 million new job creation is a facade and an empty number.

President Obama is correct when discussing "trends that have been eroding middle-class security" in regards to technology making jobs obsolete, "global competition that makes others moveable, growing inequality and the policies that perpetuate it". As we demand cheaper products, higher wages and easier ways of doing things - skill sets will change and people will need to adapt. To this challenge, President Obama stated that "reversing these trends must be Washington's highest priority." Hmmm...that sounds like central planning to me and that is not something that a free society requires.

It is time for Washington to stop picking winners and losers. I am not saying to unregulate the market; rather regulate intelligently in a manner that doesn't pick winners and losers. North Dakota and areas in Texas are seeing job booms because of fracking of shale for oil and natural gas. That is using current technology to create high wage jobs for the eroding Middle-Class. Now, this will require many to re-tool their skill sets and that is something every American should constantly be doing without the guidance of Government. As a side not, the sand used in fracking is used also in producing solar panels.

President Obama is correct when he said, "Washington has taken its eye off the ball." but not for the reasons he states. "Phony scandals" are not phony Mr. President - violating our rights as citizens or sitting idly by as four Americans die in a foreign land are serious events. Unfortunately, far too many media outlets shutter at the thought of doing their job of investigating civil right violations by Washington. These scandals are not just President Obama; rather they are scandals for all in Washington.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Juror B29 States, Zimmerman "got away with murder"

This morning on Good Morning America, Juror B29 spoke with Robin Roberts. During the morning interview Juror B29 stated that Zimmerman "got away with murder" and expanded on that by saying, "You can't put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty. We had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence." Juror B29 this is how our justice system works. We don't get to add assumptions or bring our prejudices into the case; rather we are to focus on the facts presented.

Juror B29 rationalized here confusion and ultimate not guilty determination which pundits are seizing on by framing the jury instructions the fault for not coming back with a guilty verdict. Juror B29 said, "That's where I felt confused, where if a person kills someone, then you get charged for it, but as the law was read , if you have not proof that he killed him intentionally, you can't say he's guilty."

Here is a link to the jury instructions:

After jury selection at the start of the trial a lot was made that all six women were white. Ironically now the narrative being pushed is that the only minority, Juror B29, on the jury originally thought Zimmerman guilty. Why do we need to invoke race when the race of the juror's had no factor in discussing the facts of the case and applying jury instructions? Remember, the excuse was laid out if Zimmerman was found not guilty it had to be because there was no minorities on the jury. Now, Juror B29 is found out to be a minority!

But I digress. Sybrina Fulton issued a written statement in response to Juror B29's comments( "It is devastating for my family to hear the comments from juror B29, comments which we already knew in our hearts to be true. That George Zimmerman literally got away with murder. This new information challenges our nation once again to do everything we can to make sure that his never happens to another child."

While I agree that our Nation is challenged with preventing senseless death, but I don't agree that with the narrative of Martin being this innocent child. The challenge that really faces our Nation starts with media bias and the lack of investigative journalism. As I write this, KARE11 just had a story on a vigil that took place today in Minneapolis in a neighborhood that recently experience a killing of a child by unknown assailants.

When it comes to violence and senseless death of anyone, let alone a child, it starts in our neighborhoods. We need to assert ourselves and let it be known that criminal activity will not be tolerated and the senseless death knows no boundary. Regardless if you feel Zimmerman "got away with murder" or it was justifiable on August 6th get out and meet your neighbors. August 6th is National Night Out. If there is not one planned in our neighborhood then pony up and make it happen. The actions that lead to Martin's death could have been prevented by both Martin and Zimmerman.

Friday, July 19, 2013

President Obama hits and misses today

President Obama interrupted the daily White House Press Conference to say a few words about the fallout from the Zimmerman not guilty verdict. Below are the words spoken by President Obama along with some commentary by myself.
Well, I -- I wanted to come out here first of all to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is -- is very much looking forward to the session.
Second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks there are going to obviously be a whole range of issues -- immigration, economics, et cetera -- we'll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.
The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave an -- a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.  
First of all, you know, I -- I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle's, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they've dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they're going through, and it's -- it's remarkable how they've handled it. Hey Mr. President - I know it is not politically opportunistic for you but what about Zimmerman's family? The question begs asking while belittles the tragedy none.
The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal -- legal issues in the case. I'll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.
The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a -- in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury's spoken, that's how our system works. Amen Mr. President.
But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son.Actually you said that "if I had a son it would look like Trayvon Martin."  Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn't go away. Mr. President, I completely agree.
There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.
And there are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often. While I recognize that the examples are reality they are also generalized and stereotypical.
And you know, I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. Mr. President, you mentioned context above - but now we lose context in Florida?
The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.
Now, this isn't to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It's not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. Now we are back to context but the issue in Florida lacks context. Mr. President, why are you not giving this speech or working into this speech the senseless bystander deaths in Chicago and Los Angeles as gangs shoot at each other?
We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history. At what point does the next or even the current generation take accountability for themselves?
And so the fact that sometimes that's unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain. Perhaps the reason why Black youth are believed to be violent is the role models the black community chooses to emulate. Hip Hop and Rap perpetuates the stereotypes of black youth and society. We all should emulate role models that stood for principle and held themselves more accountable to their actions than others as the standard bearer. Some examples of yore are John Adams, Fredrick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Abe Lincoln or MLK. Recent examples could include - Bill Gates, Oprah, Daymond John, John Tillman, or the late Steve Jobs.
I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. Agreed Mr. President but the media attention on this issue doesn't sell newspapers or get people elected - that is the real tragedy.
So -- so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there's no context for it or -- and that context is being denied. And -- and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different. By lacking context in ones life is not an excuse to lash out because of frustration. Mr. President, let's examine why the white male teen might have seen a different outcome. Yes, one possible reason in the case of Martin/Zimmerman is that Zimmerman may not have followed after learning the teen was white. Another possible reason why the outcome may have been different is the white male teen more than likely would have been less confrontational with Zimmerman - because us White Fathers tell our kids that if a person in authority asks a question, no matter how ridiculous it may be, to answer in a polite manner. Now, I am generalizing to be fair but so are you, Mr. President.
Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? You know, I think it's understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family. Amen Mr. President!
But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it's important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government -- the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels. The Jury spoke and verified what the local police originally thought - Zimmerman was justified. 
That doesn't mean, though, that as a nation, we can't do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I'm still bouncing around with my staff so we're not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus. Fair enough.
Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it'd be productive for the Justice Department -- governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists. No one will deny that the police in many areas in the United States have an image problem. Once we start nationalizing this - where does it stop? Wasn't the notion of bringing diversity into the police force to help improve the mistrust? Then again, the juries not guilty verdict verifies the assessment of the officers on the scene the night Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.
You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing. Will need to check into this before passing judgement but from what I hear it sounds like a good program.
And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way, that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and in turn be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously law enforcement's got a very tough job. Yet, Mr. President - the black youth of Chicago continue to kill each other with no end in sight. 
So that's one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And -- and let's figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training. Code for another layer of public union employees and red tape.
Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations. Mr. President, the Tampa Bay Sentinel already did that and found that if we took away Stand Your Ground laws it would have a disparate impact on blacks in Florida.
I know that there's been commentary about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.
On the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we'd like to see? Mr. President, while Zimmerman didn't use the defense, when his head as hitting the concrete there wasn't a way to exit but death. Other cases that have invoked Stand Your Ground defense were very similar - see the Tampa Bay Sentinel article. 
And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? If Martin felt his life was in danger with threat of death; yes. Let's remember though, Martin was seen atop Zimmerman throwing punches toward the ground. 
And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.
Number three -- and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them? Mr. President, America can reduce its bias in all manners of life. By doing that it will help all children not just black boys. The justice system, the police scrutiny, the guarded mentality of non-black society stems not solely from a racial bias but a bias reinforced by hip hop, rap and other modes of entertainment. I am not naive to the fact that we are all a tinge racist while others are a lot more than a tinge. Those feeling frustrated or with more than a tinge, I'd venture come from a home with a single mom, dad or are being raised by a single grandparent. We need to promote, in all communities, the importance of the family unit. Studies have shown that children in a family unit are better members of society; in general.
You know, I'm not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program. Thank God!
I'm not sure that that's what we're talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I've got some convening power. Oopps, I spoke too soon.
And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they're a full part of this society and that -- and that they've got pathways and avenues to succeed -- you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we're going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that. How about we gather their parents first! 
And then finally, I think it's going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven't seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have. I agree - keep the politicians, the haters, the gin factory workers all away from the conversation of race. Let's start the conversation of race in our backyards around a fire pit. Let's get out and talk to our neighbors. 
On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there's a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy. Amen, Mr. President. We do need to look at the content of our character. Let's get the ball rolling. Let's go through all the laws this land and strike out laws that call on race for justification of a law and insert character. We have made a protective class, we have made a second class, we have made lessor class of people through our legislation. A crime is a crime - murder is murder - torture is torture - it is no more egregious if it done between races, by the same race, sex, or sexual orientation.
And let me just leave you with -- with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don't want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn't mean that we're in a postracial society. It doesn't mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they're better than we are. They're better than we were on these issues. And that's true in every community that I've visited all across the country.
And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we're becoming a more perfect union -- not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.
All right? Thank you, guys. Amen, Mr. President.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Detroit files for Chapter 9!

Today, emergency manager Kevyn Orr filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy as he was unable to obtain "secure agreements with enough bondholders, pension funds, and other credits to restructure the city's debt out of court"( Governor Richard Snyder wrote ( to Kevyn Orr and Andrew Dillon (State Treasurer in Michigan), "I have reached the conclusion that this step {filing Chapter 9} is necessary after a thorough review of all the available alternatives, and I authorize this necessary step as a last resort to return this great City to financial and civic health for its residents and taypayers. This decision comes in the wake of 60 years of decline for the City, a period in which reality was often ignored." Gov. Snyder concluded after reading Mr. Orr's Financial and Operating plan in conjunction with a report to creditors that filing Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection is:"

  1. Right now, the City cannot meet its basic obligations to its citizens.
  2. Right now, the City cannot meet its basic obligations to its creditors
  3. The failure of the City to meet its obligations to its citizens is the primary cause of its inability to meet its obligations to its creditors
  4. The only feasible path to ensuring the City will be able to meet obligations in the future is to have a successful restructuring via the bankruptcy process that  recognizes the fundamental importance of ensuring the City can meet its basic obligations to its citizens."
The city of Detroit is estimated to be $18.5 billion in debt. At first thought one may ponder the thought of why doesn't Detroit raise taxes to cover the obligations. Gov. Snyder stated in his letter, reference above, "a vital point in Mr. Orr's letter is that Detroit tax rates are at their current legal limits, and that even if the City was legally able to raise taxes, its residents cannot afford to pay additional taxes." 

Unfortunately, Detroit is just a microcosm of poor management by our government officials of taxpayer money and the bloated pension funds of public union workers. In the private sector if a company files Chapter 9 and a pension exists concession are made on behalf of the pension group. Public Unions feel entitled to their pension funds despite the fact that their underfunded pension is an obligation that the city, state or country cannot meet. In Detroit, two of the biggest bond holders agreed with Mr. Orr on a plan to get some money back for the money borrowed while the Public Union gives up nothing. 

If Americans don't wake up soon, Detroit will not be the last major city to file Chapter 9. Governments need to re-tool their budgets with everything on the table. No sacred cows exist. A bailout is not an option. I as a Minnesotan do not need to bailout Detroit for their bad decisions over the past 60 years nor does any other American need to.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jury Acquits Zimmerman on the Facts, Society?

Late last night the jury in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin 2nd Degree murder trial announced that they found George Zimmerman not guilty based on the facts of the case. In listening to the morning shows, the narrative is not about the facts rather about the social aspect of this tragic event. While the Justice system worked, many are pushing for the Department of Justice to levy criminal charges against George Zimmerman on violating Trayvon Martin's Civil Rights.

The NAACP wrote to the Department of Justice(, "The most fundamental of civil rights - the right to life - was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Maritn. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation."

Rev. Al Sharpton said on NBC's "Meet the Press"(," The trial happened. The verdict came in. It does not exhaust the legal options of this family and the bigger community of civil rights. We now have a position on the books in the state of Florida where an unarmed teenager who committed no crime can be killed and the killer can say self defense." Rev. Sharpton is accurate that an unarmed teenager was killed in Florida but Rev. Sharpton ignores the fact that Martin was seen by an eye witness of Martin atop Zimmerman throwing punches prior to the fatal shot from Zimmerman's gun. No one is denying that Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. The jury took the facts presented and made a decision based on that while part of society is not.

If the Department of Justice moves forward with Civil Right violations in this case it will be a political solution and not one based on the facts of the case.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lunar Historical Site - WHAT?

Right now the unemployment rate hovers around 7.6 percent, the Fed is discussing on raising interest rates, medium incomes are falling, and student loan rates are doubled while no significant new jobs have been created as promised by Obama's stimulus plan. Still no budget has been passed by Congress under the Obama administration, but Rep. Eddie Johnson (D-TX) and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md) have proposed a bill, HR 2617, called "Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act".

I cannot make this up. We cannot figure out how to maneuver money around so military bases can have fireworks for the 4th of July but two Democrat House of Representatives are pushing a bill that would preserve the landing sites of the Apollo missions on the moon. Yes, I said on the moon. Rep. Johnson and Edwards fear that with private space travel will lead to the destruction of the famous lunar landing sites.

Can you imagine our grandkids coming to the house asking for us all to buy candy bars in an attempt to raise money so their 8th grade class can go to the Apollo Lunar Landing site on the Moon! I understand that we have a lot of bigger issues going on - jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, oh did I mention jobs - to deal with but let's take up time to discuss and vote on the "Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act".

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July America

"It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonefires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to other from this Time forward forever more." - John Adams 

John Adams wrote the above quote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, discussing the importance of the Declaration of Independence and his vision of commemoration. While the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on July 2, 1776, it took the  Continental Congress two days to approve thus spawning July 4th as the birth of our nation. The United States of America will turn 237 years old today. Think about that for a second. 237 years old! 

The United States is but an infant when compared to the other 195, or so, countries. Egypt, which has its own issues right now, tops the charts as the oldest country in the world. King Menes founded Egypt in 3150 BC. That is over 5000 years ago! Other old countries include - India (3000 BC), Ethiopia (2500 BC), China (2100 BC), Iran (625 BC), San Marino (301 AD), France (486 AD), Bulgaria (632 AD), Japan (660 AD) and Turkey (900 AD). I know what you are thinking...Where is San Marino? I too.

So I Binged it and went to the CIA website to learn more: It exist in Europe. 

Despite our infancy, the United States has quickly become a Super Power. As with any nation, the United States is not without the sins of birth; yet it is among the freest nations in the world today. Our Founding Fathers, despite their faults, crafted a form of government to protect the liberties of its citizens by limiting the powers of government while ensuring the periodic change in leadership took place in a peaceful manner.

Over the past 237 years, the United States has endured growing pains. With many of America's early sins  addressed - slavery,suffrage, religious intolerance -  new sins have emerged as America transitions into adolescence. The adolescent America feels entitled, invincible and arrogant. To humble the adolescent America is not to destroy it or to pacify it; rather time is upon us to remind the adolescent America that with power comes responsibility and decorum. July 4th enables America to pause and take inventory of our responsibilities and decorum. Take time today to re-read the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Federalist Papers. Take your own inventory.

Earlier this week a poll mentioned the Supreme Court's approval rating hit an all-time low. Why I bring this up is it is important to the adolescent America taking an accurate count of inventory.

The Supreme Court's role, in our form of government, is to be a check on the actions of the Legislative and Executive Branch as it pertains to the Constitution. Unfortunately, over the past 50 or so years - perhaps longer - the Supreme Court has seen Chief Justices ego's and partisan politics override that duty of the office they hold. Justices of the Supreme Court ought check the ego and politics at the door prior to entry as they have an immeasurable responsibility to uphold the Constitution and nothing more. 

Chief Justice John Roberts, only 57 years old, last year handed down an opinion that many observers view as a defining moment of the Supreme Court under his reign. The issue at hand was the Affordable Care Act; commonly known as ObamaCare. The 5-4 decision paved the way for the United States government to mandate that every American purchase a product or face a tax for not doing so. Chief Justice Roberts in his opinion acknowledge that Congress doesn't have the power to mandate such a purchase still ruled ObamaCare Constitution based on Congress power to tax. The stretch by Chief Justice Roberts to interpret the power to tax by Congress illustrates the arrogance of the adolescent America we endure today.

As we embark on celebrating our Great nation birthday with parade's, BBQ's, parties, and fireworks - take time to reflect on our infancy and inventory the adolescence. Engage each other in conversation to the importance of handing the next generation a nation whose adolescence is in better shape then when we inherited it. Let's encourage every American to break the chains of entitlement and demand more of our society by instilling in the adolescent America the concept to prospect each other not by the nation we came from, the person we share our life with, or the exterior of our frame; rather to employ, treat and engage each other based on the merit, the word, and the fact we are all Americans.