Archive for June, 2013

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MESSAGE TO MIKE LEE, R-Utah re IMMIGRATION

June 17, 2013

Your charge that (the Immigration Reform Bill) “grants broad new power to the same executive branch that today is mired in scandal for incompetence and abuse of power” needs a little editing at the very least so let’s look at the current status of all those scandals and mismanagement:

BENGHAZI INCIDENT ITSELF: 

So far, the only emerging suggestion for improvement is better security.  No one doubts that it was asked for prior to the night of violence, but let’s talk about who bears responsibility for denying the Administration’s request for funding to do that? I think it was the REPUBLICANS.  Maybe you should examine why that was.

BENGHAZI TALKING POINTS:

So we can’t find a concrete issue there  that is wholly owned by the Administration, so let’s switch to a five minute update on Meet the Press from a person sitting in for the Obama Administration reading talking points not prepared by her.  First you all chose to try to crucify her- knowing full well she was not involved; and now  enough evidence has been forthcoming to show that both Republican and Democratic members of the Obama Administration were involved in making decisions to capture a point in time in the talking points that was no longer accurate by the Sunday viewing of Meet the Press.  Once the facts were on the table in written proof, the noise on this faded….except for “Benghazi is a scandaland we are not through with this yet” When might you think it will be over?  It’s been weeks since you all have raged on this topic….you must still be looking for WHAT the scandal is that has upset you so.

THE IRS SCANDAL

I admit, it made my stomach drop when I first heard this.  Just as you all planned, the IRS is easy to be fearful of and therefore suspicious of,  I guess.  But once we learned the hyped “scandal” originated not with Obama, but with a conservative Republican employee just trying to do his job who sent the first file (that coincidently just happened to be a Tea Party organization) to IRS legal in Washington for further clarification on whether their actions were explicitly within the law. 

Unfortunately, legal counsel for all IRS resides in Washington so what a bonus to the scandal mongers.  This poor guy just trying to do his job the best he could had just created the perfect opportunity for the rest of you to cry scandal; why, the direction came from “Washington”!  Did you check the facts or did you all manipulate this on purpose to play on the average US citizen’s mistrust of all of you in Washington?

And now we even know what Washington told him…NOT to search for more of these, but if you do see more, let us know.

Back in Cincinnati, this poor little guy just trying to do his job the best he could amidst the flood of requests for non-profit status and with the absence of adequate number of  IRS employees to assist, made himself a list of buzz words to help him recognize cases that IRS legal wanted flagged for further review.  I call that conscientious; you call it a scandal.

I think the scandal occurred long before and  when the clerk ran a search expecting to quickly identify and process the few more that may be waiting in the stacks surrounding him, it surfaced.  His search uncovered a deluge – totally by accident- of political activists trying to skirt the law and requesting non- profit status . Too bad, so sad; they were all Republican-based.

Now whose fault was that again?  I simply cannot, try as I may, make the connection to Barack Obama.

THE “INVASIVE SPYING on CITIZENS by NSA” SCANDAL

We’ve looked at this backwards and forwards; in and out and upside down in the last days since this came to the surface. Oh yes, you mean the one the Bush Administration put in place after they were stopped from  actually eves-dropping  and wiretapping  at will without a court order?

Yes indeed, the one that Obama opposed at the time; still opposed when he ran for President in 2008, and slowly learned through 2009, that it was not as simple as he thought to get rid of ?   The one his staff (including those that were Republican carry-overs) convinced him he had to leave in place?  Oh yes, the one he said as this scandal broke he would WELCOME further debate on to find a better way? 

Ah yes, the one that has Congressional Oversight (and was just renewed by Congress)as well as Judicial Control?

That posturing does not even deserve my time. Look in the mirror for the guilty.

MISCELLANEOUS

And then we have the Press Scandal issue. Because it is the press, it seems there has been an unwillingness to share facts, or maybe the facts aren’t there- I don’t know, so for argument’s sake, let’s leave that one on the table until we know something concrete. 

That will give you more time to keep searching.  You thought Benghazi would be the strategy to pen in Hillary, but that did not work; now we have new issues…..not unique to Hillary… of bad moral behavior of her secret service guys.  They made the news, but aren’t exactly NEW news, so I am not sure that did the trick to turn the tide. 

Really guys, it needs to be something more subtle…Hillary survived 8 years of you the first time around; she has survived 4 years of you this time around…you are not going to be the influencing difference in whether she runs or not.  I know, if she runs, you lose.  But have you ever thought shouting scandal from the rooftops over the ants on the dinner table may be enough in itself to ensure you are not qualified as a party to take up residence in the White House?

BACK TO IMMIGRATION REFORM

All that aside, Immigration reform is needed for the country, for the immigrants and certainly for the Republican Party.  What about your lack of support in the last election do you not understand?.  Oh yes, got it.  That was before you started the scandal campaign that is working so well.

I’m thinking you all would be better served spending time looking in the mirror, identifying weaknesses, and misconnects with the American people. So far, looking for the Elmer Gantry in your midst that can “save” your party with soap box rhetoric is not working. 

And there is no doubt you all are not Shakespeare, so continuing to make “Much Ado About Nothing” is not the answer to moving the country forward.

 

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SYRIA and “TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE”

June 17, 2013

This is getting old.  As this brouhaha unfolds, we’ve already learned that Obama had staff working on the “what if” contingency of arming Syrian rebels…BEFORE the much-quoted Red Line Speech.

Yes, as I recall, I read that within the Administration they had been charged with researching who to arm AND what should be included as elements…before reports surfaced about the use of chemical weapons.

From my perspective, the “red line” comment was a calculated one – it not only bought some time to ensure we were not headed for a repeat of “Iraq has nuclear weapons” myth of the Republican initiated debacle in the Bush Administration but it also may have bought some time to ensure allies positions and prepare for a rollout prior to the G-8 face-to-face meetings with Putin  – do ya think?

But then, I admit, I did not agree with the Neocon Iraqi plan when I heard it and I think it has been proven I was on the correct side of that argument – but maybe that was just “luck”?

Nevertheless, I do not buy in to the apparent theory that everyone including the poor folks begging for quarters on the street corners have better ideas, better intell, and better solutions that the experienced mixed-party staff in the White House can come up who review and discuss all known details and what-ifs, then share perspectives, listen and learn from one another and then reach a consensus plan of action that balances risks and rewards.  Will that always result in an error-proof plan? 

Those clamoring for differing actions based on only your own limited knowledge and opinion  should pause for a minute.   Ask yourself if all the plans you have implemented in your lifetime have been not only trouble-free but also highly successful, with no negative consequences.  Many of the public questioners have been consistently wrong.

That’s why it is so puzzling to me that even the Press who are neither administrative, legislative nor judicial members of our governing system feel they know more and better than those engaged in that governmental process.

Don’t get me wrong.  I certainly believe in freedom of the press to report on “facts” as they see them and I accept those “facts” are often reported too soon or too late and are also colored by personal beliefs.  But please, the Press is not the ultimate authority sitting in judgment of the other three branches of government…except to report and then play the role that all citizens share.

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CLOSING OUT THE WEEKEND

June 17, 2013

One Minnesotan’s stance on Immigration:

A  letter to the Editor this week took the position that we should not allow additional immigration to our state, nor legalize those that are here illegally because Minnesota is getting too crowded…you know, it takes too much time to get “up to the lake” because of traffic caused by too many people.  The advice she gave to stop this was that found in a Native American belief – “Think seven generations ahead- about 140 years – and decide what type of world the children of that era will inherit.”

Really?   That may be good advice, and I am not sure if the writer is Native American or not, but if not, I expect the writer’s Goldberg family ancestors would not be here –as  most of the white migration to Minnesota started in in the 1870s. Were I a Native American then and could visualize what kind of life  Native American children would have in 2013, I am not so sure I would have let the Swedes, Norwegians,  or Germans set one foot in my territory!

Fifty Years of the Guthrie:

I attended my first Guthrie performance in 1964 when Tyrone Guthrie as the artistic director.   I missed a few years – my last two years at the U, my two years in Chicago, and some time right after I returned, but as I looked at the article “The Seven Stages of the Guthrie”, I experienced all but two – the Campbell and the Epstein eras….

Hero or What….

I am so trying to keep an open mind on the issue of privacy vs. security/Snowden the Hero or the Betrayer but the more I listen to the Press, the more I feel I am being pushed into an anti-Obama world; and of course, as the rebel, that makes me more inclined to side with him.

Just today, on Meet the Press,  David Gregory stated that Obama was critical of the Patriot Act when he first ran for President but he has not yet acknowledged that despite his “new position” now.  WRONG.  I heard the Press Conference myself the day the NSA news broke.  I specifically heard Obama reference his original opinion, the things he learned once in office that made him go along with a change in emphasis, and the fact that he welcomed the debate. 

I also heard Andrea Mitchell using both Benghazi and IRS situation as examples of Obama mismanagement.  As far as I know at this point, the worst part of Benghazi was the disagreement and various changes made to the talking points Susan Rice used on “Meet the Press”.  Security issues themselves were a result of Republicans in Congress turning down the Obama Administration request for additional funds  to increase security.  To that I say, has the press ever tracked the compilation of “talking points” on any other issue in any other Administration?  My guess would be they are always massaged and most likely will show differing opinions of various Presidential staff’s beliefs.  

But her comment this morning re the IRS included the word “certainly” to describe it as a scandal.  That is several days after the conservative Republican originator has been interviewed in the Congressional Hearing and his description of what happened confirmed this was what we used to call at Carlson , “Shit Happens” when things went awry instead of as planned.   It was not a planned act; it was not a malicious act; it was a worker asking the IRS legal department for clarification on whether the file he was reviewing was an issue, and as we know today, that tax attorney simply asked to be advised if he found others. The reviewer then innocently enough, to help him do his job, developed a list of key words to use to search and was surprised and overwhelmed when there were hundreds of matches!  That was not a conscious act of targeting “tea party” folks; it was a lucky break that uncovered just how many people asking for non-profit status were actually involved in political activities-thus making their request for non-profit status illegal.

Syria-the new example of Obama’s ineptness.

Last week we learned a bit more on the Syria issue as well.  In fact, Obama and his administration began discussions of what steps they would take in terms of providing weapons some time BEFORE he issued the statement about the red line being chemical weapons.  He may have regretted the red line statement as soon as the Press started the spin of “how long does it take to prove chemical weapons were used,”  but nevertheless, he stood firm until all involved reached consensus based on evidence, that indeed a line had been crossed.  Had the Neo-cons followed a similar process in verifying nuclear weapons in Iraq, think of the lives and dollars we would have saved!   

Now, again I am not suggesting there were not mistakes made, but I am saying that little by little these “scandals” are being found to have little staying power….except in the Press…and thereby the public.  I can’t help but wonder if the Press is not simply acting like naughty little kids – with one of their own accused of misdeeds, the parent has become the enemy.

Snowden the Betrayer

As for Snowden – hero or villain- I think the Washington Post article detailing his life prior to becoming center of attention after the leak says a lot.  He betrayed us all in his delusional picture of himself and his quest for fame.  The real issue about Snowden in my mind is not what access he had as a contractor, but how in the world did he get the access he did without some kind of background check.  I may be wrong, but my theory is that he was not given the clearance that would allow him to do all the things he boasted he could do; on the contrary, as a talented hacker, he found his own way in to systems where he should not have been.  So when NSA officials deny he had the access they are not wrong in that he probably was not GIVEN that access, but stole it.  But time will tell.

The Iranian Election

In view of all of our own troubles, I would so like to believe that the election this week in Iran is sign of good things to come….but let’s not forget; the people may have spoken – but what about Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard?

And finally, the Louisiana Explosion

I am trying to remind myself that the Louisiana explosion  could have happened anywhere, but I admit, there is this nagging thought that will not go away…:why is it all those anti-federal government states have one disaster after another….and in the aftermath generally look for government disaster relief? “

I am beginning to think we should look at the age-old argument of Individual States Rights in a new way.  Of course there is an impact due to natural disasters, but how many of these tragedies could be avoided or at least lessoned if Individual and States Rights were at least in balance with safety and security.

For instance, the plan to rebuild More OK in exactly the same place that has been hit twice by tornados without insisting there are basements, storm cellars or SOMETHING, makes sense why?

After all, we know that Southern states receive more US government aid than they totally pay in in US taxes.  That means, if I had their view, I should be shouting – that’s “My” money being spent because they seem to do little to change – or recover – unless it comes from a federal fund.  I am not saying that but I am suggesting that whatever the issue, perhaps it is time we ask WHY does this happen over and over and what can be done to avoid similar situations in the future!

 

 

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PRETTY GOOD HUMOR

June 17, 2013

While the STRIB and News Channels are  still full of opinions and rants on the NSA programs, the Tip Sheet in the Travel Section of the STRIB today FEATURES an article on TRACKING APPS – with a prediction that users of these locater services in North America and Europe alone will reach 70 million by 2016.  And along with that prediction, the STRIB shared a list of top ten that does the best job.

Nothing wrong with that…I’m just sayin’…it is okay apparently for commercial and social media organizations to track what we do, like and don’t like every minute of our lives; it’s okay for us to track friends, family, and others, and it is even okay if  the government  tracks “immigrants” wanting to become citizens, but….

It’s a scandal that NSA has a list of phone numbers, NOT identified by name used to identify connections to numbers of suspected terrorists.  If a connection is clearly identified, the government then must get a court order/search warrant to match a name with a number.

And as you ponder on that, I am going to sort through all my notes and scribbles as I try to put them in context  to clear the deck for what I am learning about the “the New Digital Age” I just posted about on Facebook!

 

 

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SUNDAY AFTERNOON STREET SCENE

June 16, 2013

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The Gateway Fountain

The Gateway Fountain

I am tackling a new mission of exploration for the summer months – view every street from the river to 12th between Hennepin and Chicago….from the sidewalk.  I’ve certainly done Hennepin, Nicollet Mall and Marquette enough, so today I headed out to Second Street shortly before noon – to catch the church bells as background music for my walk.

It was a whole new world.  The Crossings at street level rather than the skyway; the red Calder up close and personal, the City of Lakes Building; the Tri Tech …all familiar from a few floors up, but I had to read the signs to recognize them on the ground! 

What used to be where the Downtown Cabaret is now with its eye-catching awning that unfortunately detracts from some great architecture?    What WAS the “Republic Title Building” before it became the “NEW Republic Title Building” and what is it now? 

Fun to see the welcoming gardens at 5th St. Towers up close, but a chance to look into the Canadian Pacific Plaza was disappointing – I wonder why they built a wall around nothing?  Although, the US Bank Plaza is not much better, I guess (sorry, Atlas Grill – what’s inside is good, but pretty boring entrance!)

GdB- I still do not know what it is; but I chuckled at the “poke fun” signs posted around its corner at second street that seem to indicate, no one else knows what that is either.

Then a familiar stretch…The Minneapolis Hotel, the Grand, CBS/WCCO Radio, and a bit further, the Minneapolis Club….the Baker Building and Peter’s Grill- how long has it been since I was in there?

Traveling on, the bells at St. Olaf were silent; and on the other side of the street, what is with that building entitled Downtown “Associates”.  Seems a little suspicious to me with all the windows tightly shuttered …and made me question –“ associates “ in what? – Business?  Non-Profits?  Criminals of some sort?

Next, another unnamed building caught my eye – a residence of some sort with an inviting green space being photographed by someone but iron bars protect the windows on the street. Hmmm.

 Maybe it was a subtle warning to me and other pedestrians –hopefully from a time gone by, but as I crossed 9th and entered no man’s land, I could not help but wonder….a stretch for two blocks with no signs, no windows- just  parking lots, and parking ramps and the backside of the Hilton rising above….and right in the middle, Ruth’s Chris Steak House.  If that was supposed to create the initiative for the updating of that stretch, I fear it did not work!  

But just as I was envisioning how scary this stretch would be on foot at night – and thinking about whether this was a planned or natural barrier to keep visitors OUT and away from us, a little ray of sunshine – the Ivy and Porter and Frye came into view.  And then at 12th, hope returned – the MCC  Hilton/MCC skyway and the MCC itself just ahead.

Along the way, I had walked past the League of Catholic Women and had struggled to remember what used to be there …fist I thought Charlie’s – but I knew better – that was more centralized – maybe 7th street and 3rd or so?  But now in front of me was Catholic Charities  in yet another familiar old building.  This time, I saw the plaque as I passed – the Architects and Engineers Building – now on the National Register of Historic Places.

And then….there it was….what I was curious about and why I picked second street as my route today ….the new installation in the center of the MCC Plaza. There is no doubt it can only be described in daylight as a twisted oversized balloon! Underwhelming, even though I know the technical applications light it up and reflect the “Mood of Minneapolis” by night. I know it was just installed, but I hope the next time I pass by, there is a sign as there is no explanation – not even the name- anywhere that I could see- either in the Plaza, in the Grant Street Entrance to Skyway/Parking Ramp or in the MCC Lobby across the street.  I did notice, however, the symmetrical shadows cast on the green and know that must have been part of the design process…..but that is not enough!  I’ll be back to see after nightfall at some point, and I am sure I will appreciate it more, but right now – it needs a little assistance. 

Once I was ready to move on, decided it was time to have some human interaction, so chose to return via Nicollet Mall so I could check out the old Capp Towers and see what new changes the Millennium has made so off I went on the inspection.   Nice job for the Millennium; Ok but not anything exciting at the Hyatt; the water ponds at Peavey still are gross, but the inviting sidewalk cafes at Brits/Vincent’s, as usual,  almost convinced me to stop and rest a minute.

But nothing beats the view I consider part of my own “front yard” – even with too much cement and not enough green space, coming through the arches of the NWNL/ING building to see the Gateway Fountain – with the Hennepin Bridge in the background- always signals a friendly “Welcome Home”.

And by the way, we need more NICE RIDES at this location, as all can see!

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SATURDAY NOON

June 15, 2013

A LONG JOURNEY around the Heritage Trail this morning!

A first detour before the entrance to the Stone Arch Bridge to go in person to Mill City Museum to get two tickets to the August 6 Pub Crawl with Penny Peterson covering the 3 sites of Minneapolis Madams….a meander through the Farmer’s Market, and eventually I was back on a very crowded bridge heading over to Father Hennepin Park and my mission to purchase a walking stick!

A fun interruption, as I passed a biking couple midway across the bridge – stopped to look at Hennepin Island….I heard them refer to it as Nicollet Island and without thinking, interrupted (politely) and explained Nicollet was on the other side of the 3rd Ave Bridge…what they saw before us was Hennepin Island….well, we chatted for a while about the tour of the Water Lab etc, and then the woman mentioned she worked for MPRB which stimulated more conversation – she is project manager for the Franklin to Plymouth Bridge West Bank Bike and Trails upgrade this summer….AND as it turns out, a good friend of Eileen Kilpatrick’s! 

So, I continued on my way – smiling – despite some very inward –focused people that were on that bridge….parking bikes, sideways across the pedestrian path.   As they leaned on the rail to take in the view- forcing the walkers to put lives in danger as we had to detour out into the bike lane- pretty busy with bikes moving towards us at a pretty fast pace!.  They and some pedestrians walking 5-abreast that again diverted walkers into the bike lane could have been an irritation, but fortunately, most of us were en route to better things, and were forgiving.

I have had a note on my calendar since December to be sure I make this purchase at the Festival in June and alas, I may have missed it, but there was NOT ONE VENDOR this year selling walking sticks!  Of course, I may have been distracted by some great new textile vendors and three booths that demand I return tomorrow with more than $20 in my pocket:  # 181, 216, and 244!  Fabulous Hats! Some great summer tops, as well as all-weather jackets/cover-ups in great colors and fabrics!  But nary a walking stick.

I did take time to detour off Main to head out to Water Power Park- the first time of the season.  How fun to see parents reading all the displays; then explaining to their kids the Power of the Falls, and how electricity is made.  More memories of my own childhood and Happy Kranz “tutoring” us on what a turbine is, and how it helps make electricity that turns on the lights. 

Even if you are not a “car” person, walking thru the Classic Cars on Main Street is fun and today was no exception –Good people watching, and lots of 50s to 70s models brought memories of childhood to adulthood and a few “after the bars closed” “races “…but the best was a 47 International Truck!  I glanced at it in passing, and all of a sudden running through my head was  the music and the narrative of the opening mod of the IH Truck Show to introduce the 9370!  I may have been simply looking for a walking stick, but what I got was a flashback to old Cyrus McCormick…and the great team that brought that story to life and that made it a good day for sure.

Eventually, I made it to the end of the vendors and decided because of the humidity, I deserved a gelato break at Wilde Roast.  OH MY!  A new flavor – blackberry balsamic may just be my new favorite!  Be sure to try it next time you are hanging out on the riverfront.

By now, my feet were crying “help” as I had been walking , stopping, meandering for almost two hours – and surely, with detours and side trips, covered a lot more than the normal three miles so I headed over Merriam Street Bridge, thru Nicollet Island and on to Hennepin Bridge- grateful to be almost home.

Little did I know it was not time to let down my watch yet!  Midway across, I met a seven-member group of folks.  I saw them coming; I moved to the right hand edge of the sidewalk to give them as much room as possible but……they were not about to give an inch!  The guy on the end walked right into me and knocked me off the sidewalk and into the on-coming traffic!

Fortunately, the car in the lead had room and slowed down; I quickly scampered back up on the sidewalk and out of danger;  but do you think the band of seven even broke ranks to see what happened?  Of course not!

Bummer.  It had been a great morning until then!  Fortunately, home was in sight and I made it back without further incident…..but I think I will wait until at least tomorrow to head the other direction to the Convention Center Plaza to see the new installation there! 

 

 

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A JUNE WEEKEND

June 15, 2013

Of course, it will rain today – it’s Farmer’s Market AND the Stone Arch Festival!  Nevertheless, I am on a mission so rain or shine, I will be out and about- perhaps under an umbrella – as I want to register for Penny Peterson’s Pub Crawl at MCM…check out a couple things at the market, and then head over the Stone Arch to wander the Stone Arch grounds……and get a walking stick!  I need a weapon for the spider webs on the lower trail, and just maybe,  it will come in handy NEXT winter and save me from a few falls on the icy bridges!  But before I leave……

THOUGHTS ON INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS vs. NATIONAL SAFETY

Once again, individual rights are pitted against the safety of the country and all citizens as a whole.  This is not a new battle but one that has raged since the drafting of the Constitution and its Amendments.  The dialog is always good to have, and of course it raises the “emotion” quotient to new levels each time it pops up.  And for those of us who believe it is not EITHER/OR but a balance between the two, that is frustrating!

Since risks are greater in today’s world than in the 1700s, and the argument for 250 years has no WINNER, perhaps a new approach to this age-old discussion may be in order.  We have certainly learned that MY WAY or the HIGHWAY has a high failure rate- except in creating the NOISE surrounding the discussion.  I suggest we RETHINK the discussion and experiment with sharing ideas to form a consensus that perhaps will trump either side.

After all, it is the world we live in today driven by fresh thinking for old issues, a whole lot of new issues, and good result achieved by listening to each other rather than just talking or wanting to win political points.  Throughout the world, countries and individual citizens of those countries are embracing this new thought process and yet we, who think we are world powers and world leaders, have been sabotaged by the ineptness of our Congress.

And that sums up my stand on Snowden’s actions.  He is not a hero; and perhaps he is not an enemy either but indeed, he has betrayed his country.  We have always had two very emotional points of view on rights vs safety; we have always had loud and sometimes rowdy discussions on this, and we have always benefitted and grown from each.  Snowden chose to betray his country’s long standing process in exchange for self-importance and to be captured in time in a snapshot of “it is all about me-I can ignore a time-tested process in exchange for my own ego’s needs ”.  That is not being patriotic, that is being immature and self-focused. And by so doing, he also betrayed his own generation that was in the midst of wrestling with these issues – just as all American generations have done in the past.  We have yet to see if his egotism and self-righteousness will have long term impact – maybe, maybe not.

And if I am fair, I suppose I should not point the finger at just Snowden, his role models in Congress have not really had their country in mind these past years either.

 

 

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THOUGHTS FROM MY DESK

June 12, 2013

UNIVERSITY CAMPUS AND SURROUNDS
Yesterday I was a bit early for a meeting with the National Park Service folk at Dunn’s on East Bank at University and 6th, so had a bit of time for people-watching.
One of the staff was first to catch my eye…turquoise, black, and white stripped dress…skirt at mid- thigh, top with deep V neckline in back revealing undergarments half way down her back-without a care in the world….an emerald short shorts clad young lady came in paired with a guy in salmon skinny jeans and matching plaid shirt…two determined couples on the front sidewalk were pretending the sun was out and refused to move in spite of the rain…lots of singles with computers and smart phones, working away – or chatting on-line…
As I looked around, I also noticed a great mix of cultures and a spattering of gray-hairs….which brought me back to reality.
Just like in my day, the UM campus and its surrounds reflects the times and welcomes all.
And isn’t that the way it SHOULD be?!!!!
THE WEATHER
I keep reminding myself that JUNE as “Happy Summer” is a figment of our imagination and of a 20th century marketing campaign aimed at the bridal market. For years and years, I have scoffed at the concept of the June Bride-wondering why they didn’t move to September when weather would be better…knowing full well we have only a 50-50 chance of nice weather in June. Every year, an unrealistic dream of “June” gives us the motivation to keep moving forward from January to Memorial Day weekend when “it will change”. But when I look back, I recognize that half the time, I have been disappointed! BUT…surely this is the WORST in memory. (Or do we say that every year, and conveniently forget?!!)
Once again, I can barely see the Stone Arch Bridge…35W and all points beyond including the University campus and Saint Paul are totally obliterated from view. Even the Water Lab on Hennepin Island looks like a ghost out there in the river someplace. This is not healthy-I guess I will have to do a skyway walk for my daily outing- even though I will feel like a rat in a maze! But maybe being grumpy about the skyways will also distract me from the fact that all this rain increases the tick population and for some reason, keeps them around later in the season. My worst summer nightmare come true.
IRS TARGETING SCANDAL OR A CHILD’S GAME OF “TELEPHONE”Each day we learn more details on all the “scandals” that have erupted lately, but today’s update on the IRS Targeting certainly gave me some food for thought.
It appears that the “IRS Scandal” began with a conservative Republican IRS worker in Cincinnati. As he sat quietly doing his job, processing requests for tax-exempt status, he reviewed a case that seemed gray, not black or white-due to its level of political activity. So he sent it along to Washington to get help and council on whether this particular case did indeed qualify for tax-exempt status.
He got his answer and the Washington manager asked him to flag any similar cases he found for additional review. Note he was not instructed to search for similar cases; merely to flag for additional review.
And here is where it gets tricky. The conscientious employee then developed a list of “key words/terms” as a guide to assist him in efficiently complying with his supervisor’s request to flag similar situations. When he tested that list, he did not just get a few matches, he received HUNDREDS of matches and thereby inadvertently stumbled on fraudulent activity that was not even suspected nor on the radar as part of his job responsibility.
YES, hundreds of new organizations looking for tax exempt status despite an over-abundance of political activity within each –a ratio that made them ineligible for tax-exempt status and at the same time signaled a concern…were these companies committing fraud as they masked their purpose to escape paying taxes?
Not a scandal, an accidental discovery of fraudulent activity against our government and country.
Reading this, I think this a good example –not of IRS Targeting- but of adults playing that childhood “telephone” game…remember the one that taught us how a message changed as it was passed from kid to kid around the circle?
I could not help but laugh when I learned that this spying on the Tea Party was not initiated by an evil Democrat in the Obama Administration but by a conservative Republican IRS worker – just trying to efficiently do his job.
Yes indeed, truth is often stranger than fiction!
But isn’t that a function of free press…to sort through it all and preserve the facts – NOT fuel the assumptions and misunderstandings? One can understand the posturing of the opposing political party, but I for one am raising an eyebrow at the press. What was their motivation to accept at face value and blow it up, rather than dig for the truth?

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SCRIBBLINGS

June 11, 2013

My desk looks like a POST IT NOTE advertisement – filled with notes and reminders – so this morning before I head off to a riverfront meeting at Dunn’s on University/5th… I am DETERMINED to clean it up – sharing some thoughts and sending the rest to the trash!

A PEAK AT THE TRUTH

Sunday, Cub tried to diffuse the impact of the latest gimmick from Wal-Mart by hinting in their own ad about the practice and then trying to redirect buying decisions away from lowest price to best value….

It’s a start, but the fact is, no single concerned individual  has time or knowledge to accurately weight and judge this issue in a vacume.  It takes time, money, and global comparisons to gather data and assess the issue. Add to that, environmental impact studies, a review of net contribution or drain on your community, and of course, the staffing practices to get the clear picture. 

So instead, we make decisions based on location, convenience, or a favorite employee to guide us.  That’s okay, I guess…just don’t kid yourself that you are shopping at Wal-Mart because of good price.

I’ve talked before about Wal-Mart practices and my feelings about them so I won’t bore you again; I will just lament one more time how corporate size and/or profitability often trump good citizenship in our world….and that makes me sad.

But I did perk up at this morning’s news that Amazon is getting into the grocery business and including home delivery.  Yes, even though I don’t like what that did to Barnes and Noble and the book industry, Wal-Mart could not be a better target in the big box, grocery model.  This might be fun to watch.

SIDEWALKS IN ST LOUIS PARK

The push to add sidewalks in SLP is a good sign!  The suburb “dream world” of the last 40 years is being revisited and found to be “wanting” at last!

It’s good to see the beginnings of change…that perhaps our emerging world of the future is moving away from the “car is king” mentality and walking and communicating with neighbors is being encouraged.

R.I.P. Jim Sandquist

The obituary told the story of this Fendermen member, the Mule Skinner Blues, and garage rock of the ’60s…along with something I did not know about another locally-based legend – Amos Heilicher.  Amos’ success with pop music began with “The Mule Skinner Blues”.

IMMIGRATION AND THE REPUBLICANS

A new twist on the immigration bill – that has nothing to do with the bill itself.  Yesterday, the STRIB front page story had a subtitle:  “Republicans are split over how much to cooperate with Obama.”  The story went on to say “Conservative activists are “dead set against anything associated with Obama”…EVEN IF it could prove to be the answer to their own party’s erosion AND help the country. 

In my  past life in the corporate world so admired by the Republicans, that attitude would be cause to encourage an employee to leave or be fired…perhaps it is time for the American people to do the same!

Meanwhile, kudos to Kelly Ayotte, NH Republican for having the courage to tell it like it is: “the broken immigration system we have now” is “unworthy of a great nation”.  Good for her.

BLAZING A NEW TRAIL

Obama and Xi…both men of the 21st century searching for common ground on world problems by talking and listening to each other. 

We know well the limitations of 20th century diplomacy…so perhaps the time has come to end the posturing of angry old birds who know best and unite to address world issues through interaction, engagement, conversations and collaboration.

WE ARE OUR OWN WORST ENEMY

In terms of good skin and good hair.  Last night, someone, once again, complimented me on “aging well” and  “good hair” and although I stopped myself before ranting, it did start me thinking:. 

It is nothing I do.  Think about that.  It is nothing I do because I do nothing- include worry and fret about wrinkles or hair color.  Ok, I admit, I do my best to tame my curls – although I have tried to go au natural in my past and my hair caregiver of the last 45 years is once again trying to convince me to just go short and let it wave.  That aside, I have not put chemicals on my hair after ONE TIME in my 20s of letting someone “give me highlights”.  My hair is healthy, that’s all. 

I do not now, and never have, use a lot of make up; I do not worry about sunscreens- I stay out of the sun because I am allergic to too much-again, a lesson learned in my 20s. Yesterday’s news that up to now, sunscreens may have protected you from skin cancer…but….they and the sun itself have contributed to early-aging wrinkles and skin damage should be a wake up call to everyone. In fact, I do not even use facial soap.  Frequent use of plain ole water does the trick!

The key to my success?  Accepting what I was given instead of trying to achieve some beauty portrait image in a magazine.  Of course, in the beginning, that was not a conscious decision – I had no money to waste on beauty; I had very little time to spend in my first 25 years of my career on beauty “treatments; I had that sun allergy and the scars from infected sun “bumps” to discourage me; and I had bad “first experiences” to discourage me.

So, for me, my “good hair and skin” was an accident….but based on what we know now, doesn’t this obsession with beauty set bad examples for  those that follow? 

OUR MINNESOTA SENATORS

It was refreshing to read this morning that both concur they knew about the NSA programs.  Franken agrees with Obama that a general conversation about balance between privacy and safety would be worth it.

Whether you agree or not with the current status, as Minnesotans, we can be proud that our Senators admit they have knowledge when other legislators looking for the next scandal are screaming they were uninformed.  Hmmm.  Makes me proud of MN – no matter what comes of all this.

AND FINALLY, A GOOD CHUCKLE 

One can only laugh sometimes at what is considered important news!  Why just this morning I learned shoppers in wealth category of $5 mill or more will change their spending habits in the second half of 2013.

It seems that high-end purses and jewelry “have lost some of their appeal” so 33% of these folks are rethinking and will be doing more “traveling” while another 20% plan to “eat out more”.  Whatever.

HAVE A GOOD DAY

 

 

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TRAITORS and TERRORISTS

June 10, 2013

Less than three months at a job and this high school drop- out becomes a whistleblower and a traitor to his country.

Yes, I understand he was a soldier in Iraq (after he originally failed his military exam) and I heard his excuse that he carefully evaluated data  he disclosed  so no individual people would be harmed and public interest would be served.  To me, that is bogus.    Did he go to a supervisor with his concerns?  Did he push further if he did not get answers or at least a discussion?  Maybe he should have goone to his own congressional representatives.  Did he think about the big picture or only his moment of fame?  And why in the world did he go to Hong Kong?  Does this crazy not know it is now a part of China?  These are not the actions of a caring, rational person…these are the antics of  egotistical publicity seeker – at any costs.

I believe an American has not only RIGHTS but DUTIES as well.  When those two are in balance as the forefathers envisioned, the country generally “works”.

Snowdon had options available to him, but as far as we know, he chose not to use them, but to attract attention and create his moment of “fame”, he chose to endanger all US citizens instead. I have  difficulty distinguishing what he did on the guise of a concerned “whistleblower”  with actions of others caught in terrorist activities.

For me, there are some real issues to be looked at and learned from in this incident: 

  • ·         What is the balance point between national security and personal individual rights?
  • ·         How could this guy “fly under the radar” on any background checks for a job that gave him access to this material?
  • ·         And how much of the Press response is to the incident itself vs. is a reaction and payback to their issue with Obama  Admin and the AP incident – still percolating as we determine real scandal or what?

For me, a balance is necessary.  That may not be the case for others.  A nagging thought tells me it is time for a discussion of Constitutional Rights (and Responsibilities)   of both individual and government.   We all know the world has changed in 250 years.  Perhaps we need a general discussion about the impact of that on today’s realities and what we as citizens need or want to do about it.  A pro-active step might help us clarify a lot of today’s issues….religion, guns, and now privacy vs security.

 

 

               

PS: Right after I posted this, I caught Pawlenty on MSNBC NOW. With trepidation, I stopped to listen to what he had to say…fearing what that might be. What a nice surprise – he seems to have the same arguments I just raised. Balance between individual rights and security….and total disdain for Snowdon. Perhaps the above was not just a personal “rant” after all, but some insight shared by others that says a general public discussion is needed.