Thursday, November 12, 2009

Know your memorials

A little pet peeve of mine is that none of the Rochester “Know your new neighbors” or “Know your new neighborhood” orientations include a tour of the Soldier’s Field Memorial. The first time I saw this magnificent tribute was in the evening. Lit-up, it rivals anything I have seen. Indeed, it is a humbling space and standing in the circle’s center, one can’t help but feel unworthy of the sacrifices made by our military.

So, it is with that aforementioned awe that I report an unfortunate exchange with a Post-Bulletin blogger. ( There was reprinted a poem from the memorial. A very poignant one. And in agreement with its sentiment, I said:

“I am humbled and unworthy. We are so much more grateful for those who put their lives on the line than for those who put their trite words and rants in letters to the editors.”

… which the blog owner chided as a “pitiful and tasteless” comment. Quite honestly, I was thrown aback. Huh? So I read, and re-read my words. I still didn’t get the objection. Doesn’t everyone appreciate the sacrifices our soldiers have made? Did the blogger think I was referring to the poem? Who knows? So I clarified:

“Only a misunderstanding of what I was trying to say could be construed as ‘pitiful and tasteless.’ My point was that Belau's words remind *us* that what we do here in these spaces, our little rants and partisan squabbles, are insignificant compared to the efforts and sacrifices put forth by our troops.”

Maybe that’s the end of it as far as the blogger's concerned. I don’t know. But it’s not the end of it for me. I stand by that sentiment unapologetically and with infinite humbleness and appreciation.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Boo-Hoo! Swimmers can't afford expensive swim suits.

The Post-Bulletin came-out today in support of a ban on high-tech swimsuits. I don’t agree with that, but maybe there is some common ground. Ban the high-tech Speedo!

But seriously. The PB (and others) are complaining that these high-tech swimsuits give the wearer an unfair advantage against which economically-disadvantaged swimmers can’t compete.


Private coaches offer an advantage. So do two-parent households where one is free to shuttle kids to practice. That’s life.

Hendrix couldn’t afford a proper left-handed guitar, he managed. My brother couldn't afford goalie equipment, he found something else he enjoyed: science. As a cross-country runner who couldn’t afford proper spikes, I couldn’t compete with those who did, but you know what? I completed against myself. If I bettered my previous time, then I won. Either way, life went on.

The playing field will never be level. Deal with it! But first deal with much larger issues like the fact that 20% of the world’s population doesn’t have potable water. Or, more than 40% of our urban high-schoolers are failing the classes they need to survive in our society.

Fix those inequities, *then* maybe we’ll find time to listen to the whines about proper swim attire.

If Healthcare is a right, why should we have to pay for it?

We don't pay a poll tax to exercise our right to vote and we don't pay for a license to exercise our right to free speech. So, if healthcare is a right, why should we have to pay anything at all for it? Shouldn't liposuction and hiatal hernia surgery be as cost-free as that “right” Minnesota guarantees in Doe v. Gomez?

Well, the answer is this: as it turns-out, we might *not* have to pay anything ... anything more than we do already. Here’s why. Most states already bridge insurance coverage to make it accessible and more affordable. In Minnesota, for example, this year’s budget for the “Health Care Access Fund” is $1.103 billion. With the federal government owning this responsibility, the state will need to collect less taxes, Significantly less. More than a billion less here in Minnesota.

Has anyone calculated this savings to state taxpayers? Probably not because most state legislators see this as a general fund windfall which they’re free to spend elsewhere. Let’s not let them.

No conversation on national healthcare should exclude a discussion on the state money that no longer needs to be collected for that same purpose.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bush was better at "Creating or Saving" jobs

If President Obama and congressional Democratic leaders insist on their disingenuous “created or saved” jobs nomenclature, isn’t it only a matter of time until someone points out the obvious: more people were working under the previous administration, 3.7 million to be exact, then thus-far under the current. Wouldn't that mean President Bush was better at “Creating or Saving” jobs than President Obama?

Figures lie and liars figure.
Update. I was ranting about the Obama administration taking credit for jobs saved when all the while I should have carped about their misrepresenting the number of jobs created. Yesterday (10/29) the AP reported that the number of jobs “created” by the stimulus was overstated by as much as tenfold. “... the AP found ... jobs credited to the stimulus program that were counted two and sometimes more than four times...” They found more dubious things, as well, for example “the Child Care Association of Brevard County in Cocoa, Fla., reported that the $98,669 ... received in stimulus money saved 129 jobs ... though the cash was used to give ... 129 employees a ... raise.” And, “Officials at East Central Technical College in Douglas, Ga., said they now know they shouldn't have claimed 280 stimulus jobs linked to more than $200,000 to buy trucks and trailers for commercial driving instruction, and a modular classroom and bathroom for a health education program.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Open mic night

Jesse Jackson said he wanted to cut President Obama’s you-know-whats off. President Obama called Kanye West a “jackass.” Courageously anonymous Democrat Senators and House Representatives booed President Bush during his State of the Union address. Former President Carter called Republican Joe Wilson a racist. Wilson said Obama lied. Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the CIA liars.

Though they’ve all set bad examples, only one was *made* an example of: the Republican.

If there is a clearer example of Democratic partisanship, I haven’t seen it, but then again, I could be lying.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Welcome Guardian Angels, we’re thankful for community activism that goes beyond the collecting of signatures

Yesterday, we celebrated the inauguration of the local chapter of the Guardian Angels. Locally, there have been many detractors to this community patrol initiative -- one, for example, BLOGed from the safety of his ivory tower that a basketball court would do more to reduce crime in the area (talk about the subtle racism of low expectations).

The fact is, there are higher amounts of crime in parts of the SE and NW. The police know it. Apartment managers know it. Mike LaPlante’s neighborhood association knows it and so do the residents of these pockets of problems. If you’re not convinced, sign up for a police ride-along and stop pretending every block is as safe as yours.

We’re thankful for community activism that goes beyond the collecting of signatures.

Welcome Guardian Angels. God speed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Some day we’ll also honor the first Pole at the pole: Stashu Praski

It seems like every progressive-thinking town has a Martin Luther King Boulevard. Rochester has chosen to make its obligatory token gesture in the form of Gibbs Elementary. George Gibbs, some of you may know, accompanied Admiral Byrd on one of Byrd’s later Antarctic expeditions becoming the first African-American to reach the South Pole.

The naming of the school, though, was not without controversy and one has to wonder how honored Gibbs would feel if he knew that white guilt and not community input was the deciding factor in the name choice.

Worse, the school’s name is merely a gesture that slights the bigger issue, as do the MLK Blvds across the nation. If we really wanted to honor Gibbs’ commitment and accomplishments, wouldn’t we want the person leading the school, i.e., its principal, to be a person of color? And wouldn’t we want more than just 10% of the teachers to be men, especially when the presence of a positive male role model in children’s lives keeps them from being “at risk?”

That would honor Gibbs’ legacy. That would be progressive.

Dallemand's protectors

Rochester school Superintendent Romain Dallemand, whose contract is currently up for renewal, has some powerful friends. Stories about him in the Post-Bulletin, for instance, routinely have their comments section disabled. Others use the Obama defense, “if you have anything against Dallemand,” they opine, “you are a racist.” One told critics to “take off their hoods.” Such drama is hardly helpful for the students.

Here’s the hard truth. Dallemand must go (and so should his unapologetic enablers). He’s surrounded himself with expensive (and controversial) cronies and squandered not just $5000 on a desk, but a great deal of his political capital, as well. When the next levy request comes down, taxpayers will remember how the last bag of loot intended “for the kids” was spent.

“Give him props,” the Post-Bulletin’s editor said on his BLOG, for answering critics’ salvo by “waiving” an $8,200 raise. In fact, this clever maneuver was not as much a measured response as it was a nose-thumbing. Dallemand only *symbolically* waived the raise. He was never actually offered one. His magnanimous gesture merely staved-off the (potentially scathing) performance review that was scheduled. Now it’s time for the board to make a clever maneuver of their own.

What does Dallemand know about closing the so-called “opportunity gap” that no one else seems to know? Probably nothing. But let’s find out by looking at other candidates. Candidates that are less divisive.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oh! Stop breakin’ Walz!

8/13 update: Under pressure from critics of his healthcare reform plan, Democratic House Representative Tim Walz finally agreed to host a townhall meeting to hear from his constituents. Unfortunately, he’s holding it not in the district’s largest city (Rochester) but in Mankato, presumably so he and his handlers can blame GOP “mobs” “bussed-in” from Rochester for any opposition or outrage.

Give our Democratic House Representative Tim Walz a break. Of course, he doesn’t want to face opposing views from the golden age “mobs” on his health care plan. If you were a Democrat, would you? After all, the Left’s idea of “free speech” and “constructive public discourse” is the “RNC Welcoming Committee” so you can understand that they see as intimidating weapons of mass destruction: loose dentures (one sneeze and they’re deadly projectiles) and tennis ball-equipped walkers (very painful to the shins).

Fine to be irrationally afraid, Rep. Walz, but understand that what your octogenarian domestic terrorist constituents are hearing is, “shut up and go back to watching ‘Matlock,’ we know what we’re doing. And never you mind that pain-in-the-ass constitutional prerogative to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, either. This is too important for discussion and certainly too important for dissention.”

Indeed. And a settled matter, to boot!

Democrats already have the pre$cription for what ail$ you and have been over-prescribing it for years. Now bend over and drop your drawers.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The DNC mobs are calling the kettle black and all I can say is, “Don’t taz me, bro!”

“Free speech for me but not for thee.”

The latest whines coming from the left suggest that Democrats don’t find imitation to be the sincerest form of flattery – recent conservative “dissidence,” for instance, apparently knotting their shorts.

Perhaps all that medical marijuana has “cured” the left’s ability to remember last year’s RNC convention here in Minnesota. Recall how the radical Democrats, who were plotting a lot worse than the Republicans' shout-downs, found hoards of civil liberties groups to support their disruptive, violent, and in one case, anarchist plans.

Now that a few conservatives have learned the finer points of “organization” and “free speech” we're suddenly “a mob?”

Well, if that's the case, then all I can say is, “Don’t taz me, bro!”

Monday, August 3, 2009

Then they came for my potato chips

“First they came for the motorcyclers riding helmetless,
but I said nothing because I didn't ride.

Then they came for the smokers who smoked in public,
but I didn't say anything because I didn't smoke.

Then they came for my Ruffles.”

If health care is a right, then with it comes responsibility -- responsibility to not burden our communal health care resources. That means banning bungee-jumping, sunbathing, a sedentary lifestyle and other dangerous activities, as well as mandating exercise and a healthy diet.

What is it they say, “be careful what you wish for.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Minnesota DFL and Iran’s Guardian Council: “There was no fraud”

One has to wonder if the United States, Minnesota especially, has the moral authority to question the validity of Iran’s recent election.

Al Franken ballots turned-up in the trunk of one official’s car; a few DFL-leaning precincts reported more votes than there were voters; and, in one case, a Franken-favoring election night result was used over the Coleman-favoring recount total.

Franken supporters say the accusations are unfounded allegations. Ahmadinejad’s supporters are saying the same thing.

$65 Billion? Bernie “made-off” with much less

It is the nature of a Ponzi scheme that some people profit. Their testimonials, after all, are what attract the necessary new investors to perpetuate the scheme. Though his earliest investors lost their principal, they accrued significantly higher than legitimate returns for some time. That is to say, Madoff did not pocket every dollar entrusted to him. Many of his investors took home vast amounts, too, and it ought not be callous to say that those who lost their principal might have fared better had they invested in reasonable, lower-interest insured investments rather than chasing a higher yield.

Gordon Gekko said, “Greed is good.” P. T. Barnum said something, too, something about one being born every minute.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Professors behaving badly

The facts are not in dispute. A neighbor observed two men forcing their way into a home. The police arrived and ordered one of the suspects -- the one who claimed to be homeowner and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. -- to show i.d. Gates (initially) refused and grew belligerent. The situation quickly escalated and resulted in his arrest during which Gates ranted something like “you don’t know who you’re messing with.” But it was, in fact, Gates who didn’t know who he was messing with. Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, is one of the most highly regarded men in the field of racial profiling and if anyone was likely to tread carefully, it was this officer.

Gates, and others with little sense of what the police deal with every day on our behalf, said the police overreacted. President Obama, admitting he did not know all of the facts, nonetheless chimed-in saying the police acted “stupidly” and insinuated they were racist.

In short, Gates created a situation that less highlighted the plight of African Americans than it did shine a spotlight on the quagmire police wade through every day.

Obama has already backed-off his initial comments and Gates will likely soften his criticism, perhaps blaming his incendiary comments and actions on jet lag. (He’s already admitted the neighbor did the right thing in calling the police.) But he’ll need to do more. Police are not doormats; a professor who commands respect ought not to have a problem giving it. “Your mama,” is not just an inappropriate response in a contentious situation, it is a devolution into precisely the stereotype he is employed to instruct that African Americans are above. Gates’ actions are a setback for the civil rights cause.