February 10, 2013

It’s Sunday; so time to clean up the desk of all the “thoughts” scattered across my desk.  And for now, that might hold my interest so I don’t work myself into a frenzy just thinking about having to drive out to Plymouth tomorrow afternoon in the storm to see my tax man!

AMERICAN STEW:  I was intrigued by this article in STRIB this morning about a new book by Colin Woodard entitled AMERICAN NATIONS.  Woodard points out that the divisive political times in which we now live have roots WAY before the United States existed…and in fact go back to early settlements in the New World.   He maintains that instead of a United States of America, we represent eleven different backgrounds/philosophies – each very different from the next and pretty much all traced back to from whence we came and how we got here. And for the last 200 years, these nations have been vying for dominance of the federal government…finding power in coalitions with nations whose philosophies are if not similar, at least are tolerable at the time.  These coalitions are more commonly known as political parties.   Check it out – the descriptions of each make sense.

I’d rather be a Yankee combined with the Left Coast and friends of the Midlands and New Netherlands  than the alternative; so guess that explains my Democratic Party leanings.  Interesting as I ruminate on that, I recall that since school days, I have mostly been predisposed against Appalachia, the Deep South (except for Scarlett and Rhett – of course!) and the “Wild West”.   Even as I started to travel, I had no yearning to see those areas, and the time I have spent in them since has not really changed my pre-disposition against them.    So I guess it is nice to know it is not just a political divide – it’s in my genes! 

I may have to order the book to learn more about this…at least on the surface, it has some merit.

SOUTHERN COOKING and HEALTHCARE:  I have never liked “Sweet Tea” and would always choose Roasted Chicken or my mom’s “Cuban Chicken” over Southern-Fried any day (maybe it was just toooo much time in Louisville and that awful Colonel Saunders hotel I had to stay at when visiting Appliance Park J) but  I could only chuckle when I read this week that “southern cooking” increases the odds of a stroke.  Maybe it’s the conversation that accompanies the food…that generally “strokes” me out.

 Seriously, doesn’t that raise the associated issue…..healthcare costs?  See, once again, these Dixiecrats can be blamed for the problem!J  Perhaps Affordable Health Care they so vehemently protest would be MORE affordable if they gave up their bad habits.

FACING REALITIES:   For the last five years, the Republicans of Scott and Carver County had their way and held firm:  No tax increase to offset the cost of modernizing the metro transportation infrastructure.  So our seven country metro area became a five-county region as Scott and Carver “opted out”.

I was encouraged to read that Shakopee is now beginning to recognize they are not immune.  If they want better transit, they will have to pay for it.

Of course, they love living out there in the exurbs but most jobs, retail, entertainment and other cultural events are not located there so they have become the very people causing the traffic problems and super-stress on our aging infrastructure…yet up to now, continue to chant loudly “no additional taxes”.

Sometimes I think they are more than simply selfish…perhaps even bordering on not so smart…or at least thinking that the rest of us are not so smart!

Just how hard is it to assess the cost of this foolish position?  What is their own estimate of assessed value of their time?  What does it cost per year for car(s).  Be sure to include the license, the garage, parking,  gasoline, maintenance, upkeep, insurance, and depreciation.  Just how much does a 3-4 car garage (even without a Romney elevator) add to the price of your house?

Add to those facts, add the statistics on the Express Bus usage from that area.  It is setting records – 17,000 passenger miles in just November – one month!  That tells us the youth in the exurbs may “get it” – or at least do not want to give up jobs and benefits of access the other five metro counties have to our core urban areas.

I think it is time for the Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen-Xers out there to face the reality – your opinions do not mesh with the world anymore.    

Meanwhile, I was glad to read this week that many urban dwellers like me have helped to keep MN cost of transportation congestion per person UNDER the national average.  And for that, I say, KUDOS to Metro Transit not only for MNPass lanes and better traffic monitoring, light rail and the great bus service.  Add to that the NICE Rides in the summer and our own feet, and as a state, we are moving in the right direction – with or without Scott and Carver County.

RADON:   I hope residents of Dakota Country saw the article this morning on radon.  Who knew, “State is a Radon Hotbed’?   Perhaps you, like me, have been unaware of the radon threat that occurs naturally and is the # 2 cause of lung cancer.  Please read the article and if you live in Dakota Country, GET YOUR HOUSE CHECKED!.

THE IMMIGRATION FOCUS:  Were I an immigrant in the 21st century, no matter where I came from, I would run as fast as I could towards the Democrats.  I find it incredulous that even the Republicans advocating for immigration reform do not seem to “get it”.  When presenting their arguments for reform within their own party AND to the Press, they use “winning/regaining power” as the # 1 reason they need to rethink their strategy.  Pretty easy to see it is a self-interest and not an understanding that they, too, once came from immigrants.  Every day, they amaze me…and every day I am amazed by those that hear them and do not question!

However, I guess I have to be honest with myself, though, as I think back as a woman, trying to survive the old white-bread businessman’s world of the 1970s-1990s.  I was fully aware of their feelings and subsequent manipulations, but chose NOT to cry discrimination.  I guess-because I recognized I was smarter than them-I knew that sooner or later I would “win” the battle.  I can only hope that new immigrants listening to these guys are having similar thoughts!

DRONES AND THE CIA:  We all seem comfortable and understand the “traditional” CIA purpose and responsibilities and are comfortable with how they operated…undercover spies collecting intelligence for others to act on, or if all else fails, become the one (as the romanticized heroes of the “spy” novel bestsellers of the later 20th century) to ‘take-out” the enemy through any means possible.

And then, during the Bush Administration, the world changed and we recognized fighting terrorism is not quite like fighting diplomats and armies of another country.  Enter drones and their use….a policy Obama has continued and relied upon –once he received the Justice Department ruling that had not been asked for in the previous administration.

So here we are.  The old “rules” don’t apply; the old “issues” are not relevant.  And we are just not sure about drones…and neither are our enemies.

I listened to the hearings; I have been listening to all the press speculation, questions, discussion, and issues.  And I have not heard anything but “noise” to help me resolve in my own mind what I think.

Perhaps history could provide-if not answers- at least some examples to learn from.  What was the reaction to the first gun? What’s been the world impact?  What about the first fighter airplane, atomic bomb, missile, truck bomb, nuclear weapon, or suicide bomber?

My instinct says we need to sort out the facts from the fiction of the new technology represented by the drone – separate from politics.

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