Archive for March, 2013

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THE PAINTED GARDEN

March 28, 2013

THE PAINTED GARDEN

Jack Barkla “Done good” this year

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LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST vs. HANGING ON

March 28, 2013

Eventually, I guess, we all reach that point where we not only acknowledge we’re aging, but also make a conscious decision of what that life will be like.

I see it all around me-first and foremost in siblings….an oldest brother chose a life of recluse enjoying nature in Alaska; the next in line chose to reinvent himself after “retirement” as he emerged from serving community to serving as a shopkeeper and managed to create a whole new life for himself that has served him well for twenty years.  Another, disliking his “career” job seems less inclined to re-invent, but to enjoy what he worked for; despite continuing health issues.

One sister-the mom –became the snowbird far too early in life and the perils of constant traveling and indulgences along the way combined with a predisposition or perhaps bad luck, is caught in the scary world of dementia.  A younger sister, successful in her career, retired early and like our Grandma Bishop, lives life to the fullest in her world of nature.

And then there’s me-retired from a successful corporate career in my late 40s; started a new business focusing on events, and now that I’ve made great new friends, won lots of recognition through awards and press, and have been part of a team that delivered work that has become the case study for MPI Research for “Meeting Design in the Twenty-first Century”, my thoughts are turning to what’s next.  I have seen more years in my sixties than are left to unfold, so I keep trying to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up”…because I think everyone deserves at least three careers.

Six of us; all pretty different but generally we’re tolerant and supportive of one another because we are family.

Which led to the question…..

Is it the same with friends?  I’ve thought about this a lot over the past ten years…as school friends, early career friends and friends made along my life’s pathway have come and gone, re-emerged, or faded away.

I’ve thought about it because there is a trend, I think.  Some friendships pick up without a missed beat; some continue on because “it’s always been”; and some are definitely a nice experience but are they worth the effort to keep going forward?  Sometimes-not so much.

Once I thought that phenomenon was simply a natural progression influenced by circumstances in each person’s life…and sometimes, the many shared interests two people have.  Along the way, I’ve done some deliberate culling….if I merely “tolerated” someone first time around, I no longer feel obligated by long timeframes of acquaintance to continue a relationship where what is shared was simply criticism. Yet at the same time, old friendships not well-tended faded away – only to re-emerge in a time of need, to grow again, built on strengths not weaknesses.  Or like a recent reunion of the IBC team, we come together, and in the moment, ARE those people we once were 25 years ago.

I’ve never been big on status quo; I’ve never been big on preserving the way it’s always been or always been done; I’ve never had much patience for those who sacrifice life’s experiences simply to ensure a few more months or years of being here on earth.  I hope, instead, I am more like my mother – who at 75 years old was game for white water rafting….but drew the line at horseback riding in the mountains!

In the last year or so, I have thought a lot about this and have come to the conclusion that the world is made up of those that do indeed “live life to the fullest” whatever or for how long that might be; and those that live life cautiously and safely-whose goal seems to be to extend time on earth as long as possible…no matter the quality.  Or, is that in itself the issue – what is, indeed, quality of life?

Perhaps the real question to contemplate is why am I surprised that I am impatient – even with old friends whose focus today is “hanging on”?

 

 

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FRACKING Vs JOB POTENTIAL

March 26, 2013

Fracking may well be an answer to jobs and for those not working, that understandably is a #1 priority.

But I commend Senator Schmit and others that are requesting Minnesota SLOW DOWN!  The opportunity won’t go away while Minnesota assesses threats and what can be done to minimize them.

Fracking expansion before an environmental and health threat assessment is completed is not responsible.  In my mind, a job in the short term vs possible illness/early death is not a good trade off…and yet I understand how short-term relief takes precedence when there simply is no money.

We need to lobby for this assessment to get done quickly.  Those that see this as the only opportunity for employment will get that job sooner or they will learn the risks so they can decide if the short term gain is worth it.

The oil contained therein is not going away; its been there for millions of years….but life as you know it, may well be endangered.  Let’s find the answer QUICKLY!

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THE COST OF BEING A SINGLE WOMAN

March 21, 2013

 

I have always been aware of the social stigma of remaining single, but early in my life, I made a conscious decision NOT to marry and have children and have not regretted that decision or my reasons why for the last 37 years.

 

However, “The Cost of Being Single” as outlined in the STRIB today was a real EYE-OPENER!

 

Of course I knew the disparity in WAGES between men and women in the corporate world from the 1960s to the early 1990s.  I accepted it, quietly sought to improve the situation for others and moved forward as best I could.  I definitely was of the mind that quietly out-smarting, out-performing and successfully lobbying for those that followed me was a better strategy for success of women in the workplace overall than confronting head on the blatant discrimination experienced by most women in “untraditional” roles in the 1970s.  And over all, it worked for me…and created a pathway for others that followed.

 

Of course I’ve understood that a married male counterpart had financial benefits I did not have in terms of not only salaries, but applicable deductions/costs.  Of course I recognized that two-income families had a financial advantage over me – particularly those without the expense of families.

 

However, I had no idea that the disparities went further than that. 

 

Consequently I bought into the “family” mantra that along with being the dumb one, I was also fiscally irresponsible.  I was caught in a bit of a trap, here, as I knew they had no idea how little I was making, and projected the incomes of males in similar positions unto me; and hence, the judgment….and yet, I could not bring myself to share what I was actually being paid, as to me, it would reinforce their original assessment – I was the dumb one to work for that little money. 

 

Today, however, an article in the STRIB shed new light on disparities that even I, in the midst of it, had no idea were happening!

 

Comparisons of single women to married women show that over a lifetime, unmarried women pay almost a MILLION DOLLARS more than their married sisters for taxes, social security, health and housing “thanks to more than 1000 laws that provide legal/financial benefits to married couples” NOT extended to those of us who remain single women.

 

The most egregious to me personally is the regulation that IRA options allow MARRIED women to withdraw money from IRAS early for medical or education expenses WITHOUT penalty.  This is a very personal issue as those of you who know me personally, know of my fall and resulting health issues in 2002. 

 

The fall coincided with the first recession of the Bush Administration following 9-11.  I had almost no income through three years of physical therapy and who knows the amount of medical bills.  This was exasperated by the fact I learned today that SINGLE WOMEN pay more for insurance than married women do.  So yes, as a small business owner who was self-insured, I had a high deductible catastrophic insurance because that was all I could afford-and paid more for it than either a man or a married woman would have.   And thus, the medical bills just kept coming and coming-quickly depleting “emergency fund savings” and then forced me to tap into a devalued IRA account and before I could work again, what originally was over $200,000 in IRA savings were gone….impacted first by a devalued market and second by a need to withdraw funds paying a 10% penalty – that married women are exempt from!

 

I suppose it is my fault I did not recognize these disparities but I wonder how many other single women had no idea just how much their lives have been impacted by this discrimination. Remember, the study quoted in the STRIB projects the overall inequity for single women at $1 million for just these four categories with no projections for salary discrepancies that once existed and may still be a factor today.

 

Make no mistake, it would not have changed decisions I made, but knowing this may have protected me from falling further in the trap of accepting I was the dumb or irresponsible one all those years and saved me a lot of time trying to figure out how I could be such a loser at personal finances when I generally was known in my business life as the opposite!

 

Guess the lesson learned going forward is that these statistics are startling. When presented in a single article, I am sure there are circumstances overlooked, but we are at a juncture today that as we look toward Social Security and Medicare reform and cost savings, I suggest we look to REDUCE the advantages given to married women/married couples.  I know better than to think single women would get a favorable adjustment upward, but after all, what is socially and politically acceptable for the SINGLE woman should apply to all, don’t you think? 

 

NOTE: And although this was not a test, I expect majority of women reading this nodded yes, and majority of men said no-as some things never change. 🙂

 

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THE MAYO MODEL vs. CLEVELAND CLINIC MODEL of MEDICINE

March 17, 2013

Thank you; Thank you; Thank you to Paul John Scott for the article and to the STAR TRIBUNE for putting the Mayo request front and center on the Opinion Page as Scott so succinctly explained the difference between Mayo and those medical models driven by private enterprise and the quest for profits.

First of all, Scott clearly tells the story of what Mayo came to the Minnesota Legislature about.  Mayo is NOT asking for a handout- they expect nothing to help finance the buildings they will add to their complex.  However, as good citizens, they recognize their plans will place a significant burden on the existing infrastructure in Rochester. The expansion they plan will create additional Minnesota Tax REVENUE of $3 billion.  Yes; THREE BILLION.  Mayo has asked the State Legislature to commit that an estimate $500,000  of that $3 BILLION generated by the Mayo-financed expansion will be returned to the city of Rochester – NOT THE MAYO CLINIC – to accommodate OVER TWENTY YEARS TIME necessary infrastructure needs such as roads, transit and sewer and municipal parking.  Yes, these are all things normally provided by the government.  Yes, these are normally things paid for by assessed Minnesota taxes. 

Boil it down:  All that is asked is that if they build it, peoiple will be able to get there.

In exchange, Minnesota will have an additional $2.5 billion more tax income over 20 years than they have today – to be spent wherever else there are needs in the remainder of the State of Minnesota.

However, if Minnesota does not feel that is a good return on their investment, then the Mayo Clinic will shift expansion plans OUT OF MINNESOTA to an alternative site.

The inability of House Tax Committee Chair Ann Lenczewski to comprehend that makes one wonder at the level of competency we have in handling our state finances.  What’s not to understand:  $2.5 billion dollars in additional MN state taxes to allocate wherever you wish in Minnesota  comparted to $0 in additional MN state taxes to spend.  $3 billion is wishful thinking and is not an option.  You cannot tax what does not get built and grown.  Pretty simple concept.

But MORE IMPORTANT is the story of the Mayo Clinic and how they practice medicine vs medicine practiced elsewhere in Minnesota, and most certainly, as I can attest to, in our own metro area.

Friends have heard me complain for years about the health care system in Minneapolis.  I am not disputing the expertise or skill of medical practioners here; but I am disputing the compensation system and the overwhelming influence of private industry influence on the medical care we are prescribed and the care we receive.  It is inconvenient, much is unnecessary, and most is expensive.

I recognize if one does not know there is another way, one cannot really understand what I am talking about.  I also recognize because I was born and raised in the Mayo system, and until 25 years ago, continued to consider them my primary care physician, that I have experienced a very different type of care, with excellent results at a lower cost than what most of our nation as a whole generally experiences.  And a key point in that difference is care does not necessarily translate to expensive tests and treatments at the Mayo Clinic.  The key word in my book is CARE.

So if one is concerned about Medicare costs, as we ALL should be, the answer is not to transfer more of those costs from government to individual; it is to obtain better care at less cost.

TRANSLATION:  The focus should switch from punishing those in need to regulating those complexes- such as the Cleveland Clinic model – who are totally controlled by private industry.  Private industry is driven by profit.  Think about it.  Read the STRIB article. 

 

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URBAN TROUBLESHOOTERS

March 16, 2013

I’ve been a pioneer in using social media and digital messaging to create a better interactive and engaging event- and I have been well recognized and rewarded for doing so. And yet, I continue to search for more impactful tools – tools that convey a sense of warmth and meaning.

I have been advocating for art and culture as a medium – harking back to my own “good old days” at BI in the’ 70s and CMG in the’ 80s when “People to People” Welcome Cocktail Receptions were often my trademark planned into the incentive travel award we offered our Fortune 500 clients.   And yet, try as I have, the integration of arts and culture has not trumped “pretty”; the “WOW Factor”; good food and good entertainment as the stars of the event world. And all those that know me, know how frustrated I am when the awards banquet turns into a theme party instead of a chance to celebrate and learn from the awesome performance of others.  Over twenty years, I have not learned how to communicate effectively HOW to do it better as the fun of a party with costumes and lots to drink presents a challenge for which I do not have the skills to compete!

So I did my own thing, experimented where I could, and finally found a way, through the use of digital applications, to change things up in a more impactful way than an ordinary “special” event .

But that has not stopped me from thinking about how we can do it better.

Early in 2012, I attended a city program called Plan-It Hennepin…and EUREKA! – I found what I was looking for.  As part of that experience, I participated in a week residency by Charles Landry that focused on creative city-making and knew I was on the right track.  It is the essence of every world class city in the world.

Yet, to date I have not found the opportunity to experiment in how I can achieve what I am looking for through this medium.

Meanwhile, this month, I have spent my fair share of time at Mayo – and between appointments, I re-acquainted  myself  with the “Mirror to Man” art of my past found through-out the much smaller Mayo complex of the 1950s-1980s….and along the way, experienced the explosion of new art since added to the collection and displayed through-out the “grown-up”  Mayo complex.  Experiencing the Mayo philosophy (care for the well-being of its patients along with their medical needs) again ignited the overwhelming desire to bring this medium into my work.

Riding back to Minneapolis on the Mayo shuttle, I was re-energized.  I have to try one more time to figure out how to illustrate to our industry how we are missing the boat.  It is not about pretty; it is not about Wow; it is not about a digital trick or game…it is about connecting emotionally to create memorable experiences that deliver the strength and clarity to accomplish our client’s  goals and deliver desirable outcomes.

So needless to say, with that percolating in the back of my brain, I was immediately drawn to the “Cities are turning to artists as urban troubleshooters” feature in the Strib this morning.

As I read, I learned that national policymakers are watching the Twin Cities as we experiment in using art to help with an urban problem, and as Saint Paul is now doing.

“There’s no doubt the Twin Cities is leading the charge on this…you have a creative ecology that spawns this work much faster and in a more leading-edge way than other cities” said Carol Coletta, head of ArtPlace, a Chicago-based consortium of foundations, federal agencies and banks that finance art projects similar to those now taking place in Saint Paul.   Sounds like a lesson learned and somewhat forgotten from my Meetings Production days where I repeatedly relearned that remarkable creative talent often trumped that found on either coast.   And of course, I already am aware of CreativeCityMaking, Irrigate and Arts on Chicago …I simply struggle with how this rich resource we have here can become integrated into our world of events, adult-learning, and objective achievement  in the world of our clients, the business community.

 

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JOB TRAINING

March 16, 2013

In 2012, Obama introduced an initiative in his State of the Union to “cut through the maze of confusing job training programs”….as he identified we were spending $18 Billion to administer 47 different and over-lapping training programs.

Finally, a year later, the House has taken up the initiative, moved the authority to a business-led workforce investment board to determine local job training needs – in effort to better match job and education needs at a local level.  That makes sense.

So far, so good…The House bill has now passed with NO votes from the Democrats….and yes, the DEVIL is indeed in the details!

The “decider” in how to spend these government funds generated through taxes we pay will be THE 51% MAJORITY of the new advisory board that is made up by LOCAL BUSINESSMEN – not the government who is doing the investment.  Equally egregious, all programs to aid VETERANS, in addition to Native Americans, sex-offenders, seasonal farmworkers and youth have disappeared.  Spending based on the new act is frozen at $6 billion dollars a year for the next seven years.

Hmmm.  What about the BUSINESSMAN who lost the recent election that led to the disarray in their party did they not understand?  How many of these House representatives that think they are the “experts” have ever been an integral part of a major business operation?  As an executive in a past life, I can assure you that many of the good cost saving and investment ideas within a business come from the people doing the work – not from those casually observing from the executive suite.  And that is just my first concern.

What about a hierarchial “the boss rules” do they not understand?  Infallibility is not an automatic outcome of BOSS or POWER.

And, what about taking the people’s voice out of the hands of their own future and placing it in the hands of  the robber barons who have already influenced the shift of wealth away from the middle class and into the hands of the few do they not understand ?

In fact, what about their loss of a second Presidential election because of greed and hubris that has now torn their party into shreds and has created the need to reinvent themselves do they not understand?

I find it interesting they did not make the checks/balance be one of the three arms of our federal government?  Oh yes, that’s right…they are a bit concerned that the mess they have produced in their own party may lead to losses in 2014…so this insures-in case of more losses in the 2014 election- no influence by those awful Democrats led by that guy who not only does not look like them, but worse, does not believe the methods hatched mid-20th century are necessarily relevant to governing or world influence in the 21st century.

All those questions come to mind with just the FIRST problem – the attempt to take the power of government from the people and shift it to business.   And typical Republican, I guess, let’s only look out to tomorrow – so what they still cannot comprehend is that the many businesses, like my own successful business of 20 years, are NOT led by Repos!

I think the only hope for these people is to employ a clairvoyant to contact all the Brits that were as frightened as our Republican leaders are when world leadership of the British Empire was challenged by the “upstart’ Americans.  Perhaps sharing some “lessons learned” from the past might give them pause….but honestly, I doubt it!

And then there is my second objection.   A new means invented to disenfranchise those non-whites that will soon become the majority in the US?  Oh my, gerrymandering may not be fool-proof; what else can we do to be sure the majority does not get their way?

To eliminate job training access for Veterans, Native American, sex-offenders, seasonal farm-workers, and youth is simply unbelievable.  I read that portion over and over – sure that I was misunderstanding, and then slowly realized that indeed, I was not.  The white supremist male caricature is alive and well in our US House of Representatives.

This is not only egregious, it truly saddens me and makes me ill…that we have a good share of our citizens who simply refuse to consider after 150 years, that they are not RIGHT! 

 I pondered the inclusion of veterans in the group NOT being allowed to benefit from the job training program-it did not compute.  War is always the Republican answer to show the might of the US; a strong military defense is paramount – so why would those returning soldiers who they sent to war not be helped when they return?  And then the light bulb went on and enlightened me. 

The wars since 1950 and the resulting loss of American lives have not been fought with boots on the ground from a representative mix of just their sons and daughters, have they?  Our enlisted forces represent a mix of ALL Americans:  white men, women, African-Americans, the GLBT community, and immigrants of all races and ethnic backgrounds from around the world.

The exclusion of youth in general from job training over the next seven years is also puzzling…and so far, I cannot resolve in my mind why this group has been excluded.  Is it the last breath of the angry old white birds- or possibly the recently-hatched young birds that are fighting for the final say in the Republican party that was the impetus to exclude all youth from help? 

As what about the $6 billion dollars cap per year over next seven years?   The amount may be accurate if all those groups ignored are not included; I have no way of knowing  Were I writing this from a Republican perspective about a bill drafted by a Democratic majority, I might just be thinking:  ” it may be that the businessmen ‘deciders’ have already calculated how much additional profit they can harvest if they are in charge of the spending and can control expenditures to only benefit existing businesses, rather than to support innovation and growth-especially were it to come from any of the groups they hope to disenfranchise.”   The point is, a casual reader cannot discern the intent nor a realistic budget amount, as the article did not give an explanation of how they arrived at the amount, nor the amount.

 We know Obama’s original identification of the problem and initiative to fix the issue certainly expected costs to go down.  But without a lot of time spent fact-checking, I simply do not have the facts at hand to know what might be a reasonable cost savings.

Similarly, the seven year limitation raised several questions.  Lots of suspicions flash through my mind, from after seven years, there is a chance the young Tea Party House members will have children that just may be reaching the age they need a job to start their own careers….or that seven years is the time frame they are looking at to rebuild their party and resume majority in House, Senate, White House and Supreme Court appointments.

 But my hunch would be that the budget numbers and time frame may need some additional scrutiny as well-just because these folks have proven over and over, we should not trust them at face value.   

So, with several issues – imagined or real- I now will leave it to the Senate to strip away the Republican hubris.  The issue itself is real; the need to reform is real; the need to help train-to match to need- our youth, immigrants, women and all the currently unemployable is real.  So being an optimist, I trust we will wind our way through the process and eventually develop a plan acceptable by all to address this very real initiative introduced by Obama.

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EVENT SOLUTIONS….

March 11, 2013

OK, one too many times I have been questioned about why I am not at Event Solutions….and since I am grumpy and trying to get out of town, I am going to answer with honest candor.  Much of what they are teaching at Event Solutions are things I was doing and teaching others to do 30-40 years ago.

I know the topics seem revolutionary and forward-thinking. I know they benefit a large audience.  They simply do not hold interst for me.

Yes, I am stsill interested in the big picture and growth for the future; Yes, I am glad the subjects are still being taught to educate those who have not had the fortune to have been involved in performance improvement/incentives/world travel/ and creating events that matter for as long as I have.  Unfortunately the classes offer no new value to me as I continue to serach for how to apply new adult learning ideas and basic principles to a future world.

So the cost of attending a conference in a location I did not like on my first trip in the 1970s and still do not find fun nor exciting just to see and be seen and hang out does not seem fiscally responsible to me.  Add to that Tutera, Bailey and all have become a “Been There; Done That” experience in my mind.  It was good the first time they were featured; but……

And yes, I will skip at Bahamas trip with the ISES bunch as well.  I accept I am jaded by how lucky I have been in my life, but once upon a time the ballroom sections of one the Bahamian hotels were informally called, not A, B, or C but CHERYL, JUDY, and PAT because they generally were reserved for us non-stop January-April.  So again, been there, done that, don’t need to repeat – even though the structure and perhaps the content of the gathering appears at least on the surface to hold promise and I applaud those involved in bumping up the quality of education a notch for their efforts.

Like I said, you keep asking the same question; I guess it’s time I shared the real answer.  Maybe I won’t be asked again.

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MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHT-STARTERS

March 11, 2013

 

COLLABORATION  AT THE STATE LEVEL

 When Dayton put forth his original budget, I clearly heard him say “This is Plan A’ – followed in the next breath with comments about the first step as we move to Plan B or C.

 

To me that signaled “Here’s the first pass; look at it and lets go from there to draft a final plan.

 

That approach is spelled C-O-L-L-A-B-O-R-A-T-I-O-N.  What about that do the Republicans not understand?  But judging from the cries, whines, and accusations from these folks ever since, I think they assumed they were in Pawlenty land – My way or the Highway.  So we have heard a lot of loud NOS to Plan A…but constructive, workable alternatives? Not so much.

 

And so Dayton himself is left to submit his own Plan B while they smile and claim “victory” when they should be hanging their heads in shame.   Same old…same old.  I am not impressed.

 

Now they will have a second chance.  Do we REALLY think they will catch on?  Guess we have to wait and see.

 

EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

 

Recent stories have launched a new Legislative discussion – the methods and costs to educate students with special needs.  And once again I have to ask:  WHY do we always focus on the problematic outcome and not the issue?  Could we discuss how we could better understand and thus control CAUSE so that perhaps we can afford the investment in educating those that are affected?. 

 

Although we focus on special “needs” because they deviate from the norm, do we ever ask – what are special strengths of these children and what are we doing to harness those strengths for the better of society as a whole?

 

Again, I am reminded of a circumstance I have highlighted before.  Thorkil  Sonne was opening a company to fill an established need – performance testing software.  As he outlined the desired skills for new employees, he recognized “neuro-typical” or “normal” people generally did not have the skill set to do well in his company; however, his autistic son was a perfect fit.  Sonne’s company now utilizes a significant number of people with autism in his workforce.

 

Sometimes I wonder if our unsuccessful search for the one answer for the cause and increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism may not be simply explained, as “we have not found the answer yet.”  Perhaps the increase of autism as we migrated to a world of computers, software and all things digital is simply the result of  evolution. Our world today needs many different skills than the world of yesteryear.  Think about it.

 

 

 

 

 

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FILIBUSTERS. CPAC, 2016 ELECTIONS and more…

March 8, 2013

Rand Paul’s Filibuster

A live filibuster!  I don’t like the approach he took; don’t agree with much of what he stands for, but I applaud Rand Paul for reminding our national statesmen what a filibuster is and how to do it.  We the people they all represent now need to insist this stalling/objections technique is indeed returned to its intended purpose for all.  Ban the silent filibusters!

After a normal legislative debate or hearing, if one is not knowledgeable and passionate enough about the issue to filibuster with thoughtful comments and reason, one should get out of the way.  Simply vote your opinion and/or that of your constituents, and hope you are in the majority.  Silent obstructionism is cowardly.

At the same time, I was pleasantly surprised to see the “angry old birds” put country over party. Now I am sure they were partly motivated by concern over dividing rifts in their party that threaten its very existence;  thus were  inspired to tack a bit towards reality. But nevertheless, McCain had to go far to put down the Fonda innuendos, and Graham certainly rose to the occasion by asking where the objections were when drones were invented, produced, and used on George W.’s watch.

All in all, I still think a filibuster staged for drama and not results is the last gasp for air and before it is done by either party, some hard questions should be asked.

On this occasion, it is a simple question:  Does the party- that for some reason prides itself on its fiscal responsibility- have any idea what the Paul stunt cost our nation? 

Add it up:  prep time plus 13 hours delivery of legislative and support staff salaries…costs just to have the sound, lights, heat, building available…all the press coverage….not to mention the cost of time lost that impact other more vital topics.

And since the focus was nonsensical and far removed from a “real” issue, perhaps an invoice for that total cost should be sent to Rand Paul directly for payment out of his “Paul for President in ‘16” campaign fund.

For that was the REAL reason for staging this show, I think!

CPAC

What can one say when this Republican gathering adopts a theme of “The Next Generation of Republicans” for their upcoming strategic gathering……and then invites Mitt Romney, Sarah Palen, Newt Gingrich, and Donald Trump as the “thought-leaders”.  OMG!

What is it about losing the 2008 and 2012 elections do they not understand?

I am beginning to see signs of desperation and meltdown here…..

 

2016 Elections

 Really folks….I know it is not as much fun, but could the pundits please focus a little on what lies before us in 2013 before picking Presidential favorites for 2016 and starting that incessant polling that means absolutely nothing?!!!

Fracking Discussions in Illinois

The negotiations between the oil industry and the environmentalists in Illinois represent a promising first step, although the list of provisions is not all-inclusive by any means.

For example:  What’s the impact of silica dust to air pollution to human harm as truck after truck hauls sand through your neighborhood every day?  What does the additional of 600-800 filled to overflowing dump trucks daily using your roads and bridges do to the infrastructure and who pays for repairs?  What is compromised in citizen traffic use on those same roads?  What is the cost of car repairs-dents and window damage- from flying debris?  What can be done about noise abatement?  What is the estimated impact on property values along the routes? And then there is the immeasurable loss in aesthetic value-as the beauty of the drift-less country along the Mississippi is destroyed.

Nevertheless, Illinois is making a first step in the right direction, I guess, and I am glad to see that discussions and collaboration are taking place at a state level and not being left to an individual neighborhood, village or township with no resources to fight the big guys. I expect some good first precedents will be set in this process that we can learn from and expand as needed.

Muslims…Exemplars of Western Ideas

A great column by Steve Chapman appeared in the Strib today.  After reading it, it made me pause and think…I suggest it become mandatory for all!

His comparison of crime/terrorist statistics for US/European Muslims vs. the track record of our own “right-wing extremists” is pretty enlightening and good food for thought for all.  If nothing else, it should trigger some fact-checking activity that jars the white “supremists”  a bit.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that “fact-checking” exercises for some will focus efforts on only right-wing resources…not any more known for truth and accuracy than those on the very left! 

At any rate, the article stopped me in my tracks; made me think twice about some of my own opinions, and see a totally different picture than I would have expected.  Good topic and good writing!

Minnesota Manufacturing Jobs

Interesting study results regarding the difficulty of filling the open Minnesota manufacturing jobs …the standard, unqualified/lack of education response appears to reflect – at least in part – a myth.

Hopefully, the study becomes a first wake up call to motivate these companies to understand they, too, need to take a look at where they stand…stuck in the 1950s or on board and moving forward to take advantage of 21st century talent, opportunities, and resources.

From what I read, this study was well worth it.  Now, how do we move forward, guided by the results?

Employment Progress

Employment statistics now mirror those of March, 2008, during the Bush Administration. What, you did not hear the celebratory bells and whistles?

I expect that is because it has now become difficult for the Republicans to continue to point to Obama as the culprit who is doing nothing to create jobs. Funny how numbers and dates give us a perspective that cannot be argued,  isn’t it?

That aside, we can only hope the Republicans will now turn from that distortion and hype to finally coming together collaboratively with the Democrats to seriously address identifying issues and crafting solutions that lead to continued growth.

Softly, though, out there in background, I am starting to hear the rumblings of the new Obama attack….Is ”It’s the economy, stupid”  being replaced with “It’s the debt ceiling, stupid”? 

The good news I guess, is that Obama has made a bold move….after trying for four years to work with McConnell and Boehner-both far too intent on making him a “one term President” and at the same time  trying to rope in some of the unruly factions of their own changing party dynamics. The President has drawn a line in sand and signaled a new approach.  He has now done an end run, has had two meetings with Republicans he invited to the table at the suggestions of informal party leaders , and we will see if this approach works to get  the disgruntled back on track and working together as they are paid to do, to solve the issues of this country.   Meanwhile, I have chosen to close my ears to the public whines of two kettles calling the pot black with their taunts of “leadership”.  I am convinced they will never see Obama leads for the generation he is; not for the generation he and others are replacing.

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Check out www.NobelPeacePrizeForum.org.  If you have an open schedule this weekend and are not drawn to the magnet of the Auto Show, this gathering at Augsburg and University of Minnesota campuses should not be missed. Brother Ali will be delivering a message that from reading his opinion piece in the STRIB today, I trust should not be missed.  All I can say is what will it take to wake up white Americans to the multicultural future of our city, state and country!