Monday, August 29, 2011

Yes, you need to pay more in taxes

Government budget cuts, we're always told, are "draconian" and cut government services "to the bone." That's always the rationale for higher taxes: We've cut everything we can cut, and there's just no alternative to increasing revenue.

Well, here are a few items that might make you think twice about the need for higher taxes.

First, the State of Illinois has spent thousands of dollars paying convicted sex offenders to babysit. That's here.

Then comes the City of Minneapolis, which is trying to lay off firemen, but is offering up to $84,000 a year for a new "Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator." Details here. How did people ever walk anywhere or ride a bike without a government "coordinator?"

Not to be outdone, the St. Paul School District is paying its superintendent - who already has a base salary of $180,000 - another $40,000 to move from the suburbs into the city proper, even though there is no legal requirement for her to live in the city, and even though she already owns a condo in the city. Details here.

Finally, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is spending $700,000 - more than the median cost of a home in the city's famed Sunset district - to add a 10-foot wheelchair ramp to the podium in their chambers even though none of the board members are disabled. The rationale for a ramp that costs $70,000 A FOOT is available here.

Just a little something to remember the next time you hear a public official complain that "we just can't cut any more from the budget."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Irresponsible and unpatriotric"

Just over three years ago, presidential candidate Barack Obama was angry. He was upset with President Bush's handling of the federal budget, and lashed out at the President. The full clip is below, but here's the money quote:

"The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up the national debt from 5 trillion for the first 42 presidents — number 43 added 4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have 9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic."

Got that? Driving up the debt is "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic."

So, 37 months later, here we are, and President Obama has already added $4 trillion in debt, much of it on the "credit card from the Bank of China," so that we now have $13 trillion of debt, just about $47,000 for every man, woman and child.

By his own definition, Obama is an "irresponsible and unpatriotic" president. Expect this clip to be seen in a lot of campaign ads next year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's baseball....Don't leave early!

I've been around baseball most of my life, and I've been fortunate enough to have been involved in a number of different capacities: Player, manager, sportswriter, broadcaster and umpire. I don't know how many games I've actually been around, but I know I have umpired more than 1,500 at the high school, college and town team level, plus played at least a couple hundred more, gone to at least a couple hundred major league games....well, you get the picture.

And I'm not saying that to boast, I'm just saying it to help explain the notion that in baseball, there's no way you've ever "seen it all." No two games are alike, and as the cliche goes, you never know what can happen, as evidenced by these two clips.

The first is from a minor league game in Omaha, and involves a bizarre triple play that begins with two runners on, and the batter hitting a long drive to center field. The Nashville outfielder gets a glove on it, bobbles it off his head, makes the catch and doubles two runners off base for a triple play.

He makes the catch for the first out, and throws the ball in. When the infielder steps on second, the runner who started the play on second is out, and with the throw to first, the runner who started on first (and has already rounded second, not thinking the ball would be caught) becomes the third out of the play.

The second clip comes from Atlanta, where a Braves fan makes one of the greatest catches of a foul ball that I've ever seen. It's stuff like this that always makes me reluctant to ever leave a game early, because you never know what you'll see. Enjoy:

Friday, August 19, 2011

An insight into Obama's priorities

You may have noticed that the stock market is tanking, the economy is stalling (again), unemployment remains over 9.0%, the federal government is running a deficit of more than a trillion dollars and housing values have stagnated. If you've noticed these things, you might think to yourself, "What's the most important thing government could do to help the economy?"

Well, here's what's at the top of Obama's list: More diversity! From The Hill:

President Obama issued an executive order Thursday intended to coordinate a “government-wide initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce.”

The order creates a council of deputy agency chiefs and federal workers tasked with developing a government-wide plan to improve diversity in recruitment, training, and promotion of federal workers. The plan is due within 90 days, and each federal agency has been tasked with developing its own guidelines within 120 days after that.

“The federal government has a special opportunity to lead by example,” said John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in a conference call.

Because, you know, the economy just isn't going to get going until we have more people of color and women in government. According to OPM's own numbers, minorities currently have ONLY 38.8% of the federal jobs, and women make up ONLY 43.9% of the federal workforce. Clearly our top economic priority needs to be increasing those numbers! Because if we can just turn over 50.1% of all government jobs to women, the economy will immediately pick up.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fair and balanced?

The Star-Tribune sent staffer Mike Kaszuba to Cannon Falls today to live-blog the President's visit. In the space of four blog posts, Kaszuba managed to find three people with nice things to say about Obama. Who were they?

Well, the first was a man described as having "sympathy" for the President. "I blame Congress for most of the problems," he said.

Then came a fellow who said Obama needs to attack Republicans more. "We tend to forget what he's accomplished in two years," he said.

Finally came a review of Obama's speech. "I thought it was terrific," said a guy named Bruce Roberts.

So who were these three? Well, the first guy, named Bud Widholm, was described as "a retired state employee."

The second, Tim Bowes, was "a public school teacher from Red Wing."

And Bruce Roberts? "A professor at St. Olaf College."

So there's your sampling: Three guys who make their living as recipients of taxpayer dollars. Yes, I'm sure they think deficit spending, higher taxes and a bigger, more intrusive government are all wonderful things. Another nice bit of balanced reporting by the mainstream media.

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Olympic symbol

This is making the rounds right now as a replacement emblem for the 2012 London Olympics. Funny, but the British riots are a very serious symptom of the sickness that is consuming European society.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Congratulations to the unions that spent nearly $30 million in order to retain the Democrats' minority status in the Wisconsin Senate. That has to make your members feel really good about seeing that "union dues" deduction line on their paychecks.

In a somewhat related story, it was announced today that cleaning up and repairing the Wisconsin Capitol building after the union thugs occupied it earlier this year cost taxpayers about $8 million. Seems like we could have hired quite a few teachers with that money, eh?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

He's just not that bright

Over the past couple of years, I have argued here, here, here and here, that Obama just really isn't that bright a guy. I've yet to read anything that would change my mind.

Now Bret Stephens, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has come to pretty much the same conclusion, and has a long list of evidence. You can read the piece here, and it's worthwhile.

As the U.S. loses its AAA credit rating for the first time in history, unemployment stays over 9.0% and the economy continues to tank, we sort of have to ask ourselves: "Really? We elected a guy who never ran a business, never ran a state, never served even a full term in Congress and never held a real job in the private sector in his adult life? Really? We turned leadership of the free world over to him? What the he** were we thinking?"

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What liberals really think about you

It's all summed up quite nicely in a piece you can read here, by someone named Jacob Weisberg, writing at the website. Weisberg is a classic liberal, who believes we need higher taxes, and that ultimately, only government can solve problems. He's a little pessimistic right now, because, as he puts it:

"...there's no point trying to explain complicated matters to the American people."

See, there's the problem: You and I are just too stupid to understand that there's nothing wrong with trillion-dollar deficits extending into the foreseeable future. We're too stupid to see what a genius Obama is, and how he could save the world if we'd just let him do whatever he wants.

Thank goodness we have upper-crust elites like Jacob Weisberg to do the thinking for all of us dummies out here. Now if we would just stop having elections - and hand our votes over to geniuses like Weisberg and Obama - they could fix the world and save us from our own stupidity. Wouldn't that be great?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Noel Evans, RIP

March was a difficult time for me. I had a much-loved aunt dying of cancer, and visited her for the last time. A fellow Gideon succumbed to heart disease. A former co-worker and friend was lost to cancer. Looking for a little respite from the death that seemed to be surrounding me, I was looking forward to working at the State High School Hockey tournament.

But instead of finding an escape, in my first hour I had two of my regular season-ticket holders show up without their usual companions. First, a man from Hudson, Wisconsin, showed up without his son, who had been wheelchair bound since a motorcycle accident. They sat on the disabled-seating platform at the top of my section and we had great visits every year. But his son had recently contracted pneumonia and was unable to beat the infection. Just a few minutes later, the husband of an elderly couple from Woodbury who attended every year arrived without his wife. He explained to me that she had passed just a few weeks earlier, and in one of their last conversations in the hospital as death neared, he told me that she reminded him to "get to the tournament and tell Tim how much I enjoyed talking with him."

All of this tore at my heartstrings. And then along came Noel Evans.

Noel was one of the very first people I met when I moved to Red Wing in 1980. A dentist, his office was down the block from the newspaper office where I worked. He had a son, Erik, who was a gifted hockey player, and Noel was anxious to meet the new guy who would be covering hockey. He loved to talk about sports, and we hit it off immediately.

A Red Wing high school grad, he lettered in baseball and football, and lettered in baseball at St. Olaf. He got his dental degree at the University of Minnesota, and he loved Gopher sports his whole life. After a two-year stint in the Air Force he returned home to Red Wing and ran a dental practice for the next 35 years. But describing Noel as just a "dentist" or a "hockey parent" doesn't come close to doing him justice. Noel was the sort of guy who was part of the fabric of Red Wing, and evidence of his involvement was everywhere.

He was a Jaycee, and was their "Young Man of the Year" in 1966. He coached Little League. He taught Sunday school at United Lutheran for 25 years. He was a member of the Rotary and Lions and Kiwanis clubs, as well as the local American Legion post. He was chairman of the school board, and he helped found the Red Wing Amateur Hockey Association. His name is on the Red Wing High School Wall of Honor.

It was hard to NOT find Noel around Red Wing. If the Lions were selling peanuts or collecting old eyeglasses, Noel was there. If you went to the Kiwanis pancake breakfast, Noel was over the stove, flipping pancakes. If you went to a high school football, basketball or hockey game, chances are Noel was somewhere in the bleachers.

When hockey began in Red Wing, there was no local arena. Having driven his children all over southern Minnesota in search of ice time, Noel decided to spearhead the drive to get Red Wing its own rink, and over the years my stories in the Red Wing paper quoted him any number of times. The effort succeeded, and when Bergwall Arena opened on Valentine's Day in 1983, Noel had the biggest smile in the place. His love of Red Wing and his community involvement were unmatched. Even in retirement he mowed lawns for the city and was a substitute rural mail carrier. His whole life revolved around serving others.

After our kids grew we saw each other less, but bumped into each other from time to time, and we always saw each other in March at the state hockey tournament. He and a couple other locals shared some season tickets in my section, and it was always a highlight of the weekend to catch up, ask about each other's children and hear his thoughts on the tourney.

Last March, he approached me at Xcel Energy Center, walking with a bit of a limp. Because he was 74 years old, and still very active, I assumed he had undergone a knee or hip replacement. No, he told me, they had found cancer in his lungs and it had already spread. In all likelihood, he said, this would be his last state hockey tournament.

Which just didn't seem possible. And it still doesn't, even though I attended his funeral today, and he was laid to rest on the outskirts of Red Wing, just a couple slap shots away from his home. The church was filled to overflowing, and the minister said, "Noel's smile told people more about Christ's love than any of my sermons ever did."

Leaving the church, I had a moment with his widow, Alberta, and I told her that "Every kid who ever skated at Bergwall Arena owes something to Noel." Which is true enough, but again, doesn't do justice to the legacy of a great guy who did so much for so many, and did it all with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. Thank you, my friend, and God bless.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Summer Wind...

No political statement here, just something that amuses me: A New York City construction worker spending his lunch hour with a karaoke machine, belting out a Sinatra tune. In fact, I heard Wayne Newton sing this same song just last week out at Treasure Island, and this guy has 10 times the chops that Newton had. Enjoy:

Great moments in government

Just a little sampler from the news today, with a common theme: Next time the government says it's running out of money, just remember that it still has enough money to do these things:

Click here to read about the ticket given to an 11-year-old girl for trying to save an injured bird.

Click here to read about the 4-year-old forced to shut down her lemonade stand.

Click here to read a similar story from Wisconsin.

And here for one in Georgia.

Click here to read about the public employee union that hired a private investigator to harass high school kids at their homes.

And just so you know this isn't just a recent phenomena, here is a story from 1934, when a private businessman was fined and jailed by the feds for not charging enough for his service.

Government. Yes, let's have lots more of it.

UPDATE: Just to show that Canadian government can be as stupid and money-wasting as our own, here is a story about a government health agency handing out $50,000 in free crack pipes. According to the story, the aim of the project is to "reach out to the rising number of crack cocaine smokers."

NOT a parody!

"The Spending is Nuts"

The Powerline Prize winner (see a couple posts down for details) has been announced. It might not have been my favorite, but it's very, very good, particularly the ending. Enjoy:

Monday, August 1, 2011

"For God and country. Geronimo."

I'm not normally one to recommend anything from the New Yorker magazine, but the August 8 issue contains a remarkably detailed account of the Seal Team Six raid that killed Osama BinLaden. It's written by Nicholas Schmidle, who obviously has some very good sources in the intelligence community, and in the White House as well.

Click here to read the story, and marvel at the capabilities of the American military.