Monday, December 31, 2007

Books Read During 2007

Since I started blogging I have written an end of the calendar year posting which summarizes all the books I have read throughout the year. Not only has this proved to be a great way to reflect on what I have learned/forgot over the last 12 months but it has also proven to be a popular posting with my readers -- assuming I still have some readers after yet another year of excessive use of emoticons :-)

It is with great pleasure that I present my "Books Read During 2007" list for your enjoyment and intellectual guidance - assuming you want to see the world as I do ;-) For more focused blogging on books please visit my other blog at -- :

  1. "Not Quite the Diplomat" by Chris Patten. An interesting memoir from this British/European Union career diplomat who is now the elected Chancellor of Oxford University. While the book contains some valuable insights on European thinking it does not fail to also be "pompous" in his advice for the USA.
  2. "Gandhi - A Memoir" by William L. Shirer of the Chicago Tribune. Mr. Shirer was a journalist in India so he had interviewed Gandhi extensively. Personally this book provided me with great insights on Gandhi especially when I learned he was more of a "self-sufficiency is good" person than the socialist I always viewed him as historically. I have a greater appreciation for his work.
  3. "Applebee's America" by Sosnik, Dowd, and Fournier. A counter argument to Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone" to show that Americans really do want a "sense of community." Given their recent challenges I suggest the Roman Catholic Church should read the chapter on "Religion/Megachurches".
  4. "The Last Cowboy" by Jane Kramer. Published in 1977 this book is based on Henry Blanton, a hired hand on a ranch in the Panhandle of Texas who is so sexist that he fails to realize that his wife could supply the capital he needs to get a small ranch started simply by getting a job to supplement their income.
  5. "Freakonomics" by Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner. A very interesting thesis on how the "economics of society" (my phrase) are shaped by key decisions/historic events. The authors argue that the USA's "Head Start" program is a failure because it simply puts poor kids and bad teachers together thus perpetuating poverty.
  6. "The Road More Traveled" by Ted Balaker and Sam Staley of the Reason Foundation ( If you are a commuter who is often trapped in traffic you should read this book. The free market has MANY solutions to traffic congestion.
  7. "Monet" by Barnes and Noble Publishing. A beautiful collection if his paintings coupled with historical/personal background regarding the inspiration for his work. A short read but educational.
  8. "Juicing the Orange" by Pat Fallon and Fred Seen of Fallon Worldwide. This book is focused on the advertising industry and creativity. While this book provided great insights regarding how ad campaigns are created it is by far the worst book I read this year in terms of editing since there were typos and other errors on a vast majority of the pages. Really a bad reflection on Fallon's quality I believe.
  9. "The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister" by John O'Sullivan. This book explains how the Cold War was won by the "holy trinity" (my phrase) of President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II (JP II) , and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This book really made me think about the pope selection process since I Polish Cardinal (JP II) was named Pope just as the Soviet Union tried to tighten its grip on Poland. A great read!
  10. "Continental Drifter" by Dave Cameron. This Canadian author produces this memoir after traveling by bus/motor coach from the Yukon Territory in Canada to Key West, Florida in the USA. Cameron meets an interesting cast of characters along the way and the reader benefits by being able to enjoy his adventures while sitting at home.
  11. "Reading the Right Books - A Guide for the Intelligent Conservative" by Lee Edwards. If you are an avid reader you can't beat reading a "book about books" like this one although I think Mr. Edwards would have improved the book by including suggestions from "ideological opponents" such as Karl Marx. Reading both sides of an argument makes you a stronger debater of course.
  12. "Dossier on Hillary Clinton" by Amanda Carpenter. One half of this book is appendices and supporting documents so not a lot to read. Yes this is a classic "red meat" for conservatives but this book did not appeal to me although the section on the Clintons' fundraising provided some new insights for me.
  13. "The Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Franklin" by James C. Humes. I never tire of reading about the "First American" so I hope my readers will take the time to read about B. Franklin who created the "junto" meeting which has been so important to my political work.
  14. "Power, Faith, and Fantasy - America in the Middle East - 1776 to the Present" by Michael B. Oren. This tome is over 600 pages long so I joked with friends that I want to count it as two books! This is an essential document to read if anyone wants a better understanding of our current foreign policy challenges.
  15. "Why States? The Challenge of Federalism" by Eugene W. Hickok. Lovers of states rights/10th Amendment powers will appreciate this book. It re-inspired me to phase out the US Department of Education.
  16. "Truck" by Michael Perry. This Wisconsin writer restores an International Harvester truck while providing insights on small town/rural life from his "educated hillbilly" (my phrase) perspective.
  17. "Tailgating, Sacks, and Salary Caps" by Mark Yost. I love football and after reading this book I have a much better understanding of the National Football League's business model.
  18. "Hard America, Soft America" by Michael Barone. For me this book focused on "freedom versus welfare" and made me wish I could have several people in my world read it so I plan to buy several copies as gifts.
  19. "Women and Money" by Suze Orman. While I bought this book for my wife I read it for my own knowledge. Despite the title this book knows no gender. If there is a woman in your life be sure to buy them a copy especially for Mother's Day.
  20. "The Saga of the Pony Express" by Joseph J. DiCerto. An interesting book that focused on the romance, history, technological change, and Civil War implications of the famous Pony Express message service. Today's alpha males could still learn from these Pony Express riders -- amazing stories of fearless living.
  21. "An American Slave" by Frederick Douglass. The self-taught slave's autobiography. This was not only an impressive man to read about but is a must read for understanding the dark chapters in the USA's history.
  22. "The Secret Societies Handbook" by Michael Bradley. Honestly I was expecting more from this book which was filled with conspiracy theories but was short on historical/academic research.
  23. "The Bottom Billion" by Paul Collier. Focused on foreign aid programs for the world's poorest countries coupled with recommendations for changes. Sadly, Collier is still an advocate of even more government intervention including military invasion versus greater respect for property rights and free trade.
  24. "Shared Vision" edited by Tom Mason. This collection of essays is focused on the tenure of US Senator Norm Coleman (Minnesota) when he served as Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota. The "corporation-city partnering" discussed in this book was the most interesting section.
  25. "Infidel" by Ayan Hirsi Ali. The story of this Muslim woman's exodus not only from Somalia to the Netherlands to the USA but also from being a devout Muslim to an atheist. The great thing is that she finds a love for personal freedom along the way but loses her faith in God -- clearly missing what the USA's Founding Fathers believed. We are endowed by our Creator with the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" so I hope Ms. Ali renews her faith.
  26. "My Freshman Year" by Rebekah Nathan. Nathan is the pen name for a professor of anthropology at the University of Northern Arizona who goes undercover as a freshman student. While I do think she could have discovered deeper insights regarding student life I do think her experiment was important for college administrators across the country since they are so isolated from daily student life.
  27. "Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (so far)" by Dave Barry. A good reminder that I need to read more humor in 2008. Funny stuff especially about politicians.
  28. "Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg" by Carl Sandburg. Also a good reminder that I need to read more poetry in 2008. Some great working class/anti-government poetry here from the City with Big Shoulders.
  29. "The Book of the Founding Fathers" by Vincent Wilson, Jr. A pretty basic book with one page biographies and photographs of the USA's Founding Fathers but it still provided insights on these "dead white men" who created the opportunities we enjoy (take some granted) today. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
  30. "Into the Twilight Endlessly Grousing" by Patrick F. McManus. A great collection of outdoor/hunting humor especially his short story, "The Fly Rod", which makes me laugh as I type this posting. Again - read more humor in 2008 Todd!!
  31. "The Strenuous Life" by Theodore Roosevelt. This book was created from a 1905 speech given by President Roosevelt regarding the challenges and opportunities the USA faced at the time. A good read for the modern reader since nearly 103 years later the USA faces the same choices regarding isolationism versus neo-imperialism. I vote for free trade not invasions every time!!
  32. "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicolas Taleb. The author is a former financial trader who made his fortune by understanding "randomness" such as events like the September 11th terrorist attacks in the USA which are called "Black Swans" because no one believes such a bird exists until they see one. I enjoyed Taleb's explanation of the economies of "Extremistan versus Modiocristan" but honestly I am still trying to figure out this book. If nothing else it convinced me we all need to read more books.

With that I close out the year 2007 with great anticipation for the opportunities that 2008 will offer all of us.

Happy New Year and happy reading,


Friday, December 28, 2007

Great Things in Life - Part Two

In yet another installment celebrating a "life is half full" perspective here is Part Two in my series of postings entitled, "Great Things in Life":

  • Dental floss
  • Indoor plumbing
  • Home offices/telecommuting
  • My mother's bing cherry bars (still eating the annual Christmas supply!!)
  • Sporks
  • Free and fair elections versus political assassinations (Pakistan)
  • Naps
  • Four wheel drive vehicles (see my "Merry Al Gore Christmas")
  • Ceiling fans
  • Snow sledding

And finally -- "paychecks" -- so now back to work so I can write a "Part Three" in the future.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Al Gore Christmas

How sad that watching television at my in-laws on Christmas Day I was reminded of Al "The End is Near" Gore. While watching a local TV station broadcast of a burning fireplace I commented that "now this is an Al Gore Christmas since that fire is not releasing any harmful gases into the atmosphere................."

That was only one aspect of my Al Gore Christmas this year since the return drive from my parents' home in Iowa to our home in Minnesota had an extra 1.5 hours added to it due to a heavy snow fall. Yes the snow (the strong winds were more responsible) was deep but it wasn't a problem for us Mother Earth-hating SUV drivers who come equipped with four wheel drive and a desire to survive. The traffic delays were primarily caused by drivers in under-powered, "environmentally-friendly vehicles" like the famed Toyota Prius.

I have to ask -- can Al Gore be blamed for any traffic deaths caused when these global warming preventing vehicles left their drivers stranded in the ditches?

Regarding global warming I can assure readers it has not changed the nature of Minnesota yet since we still have heavy snow storms so I plan to keep the SUV as long as possible. My vehicle will be especially helpful if I have to drive my family's possessions up into the mountains to survive rising ocean levels if the polar caps melt :-)

Oh the weather outside is frightful,


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Crystal Ball

Today I was on a conference call with Dr. Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics ( at the University of Virginia. For me this was quite a flashback since Dr. Sabato's text books were key tools in my political science courses when I was a student at Iowa State University in the 1980's -- yes the good days when I was a Cold War Warrior, although with President Putin of Russia likely to serve as President or Prime Minister of Russia for perhaps the next 15 or 20 years via a "musical chairs" election strategy the Cold War could start again if it hasn't started already.

Dr. Sabato provided a very interesting overview of the 2008 elections for President of the US and the US Congress. Overall I think it is fair to say that 2008 is going to be "a Democratic year" so let me encourage my readers to watch your wallets because if the Democrats win the White House and make further gains in the US House and US Senate then taxes will indeed go up!!

Readers interested in Dr. Sabato's election analysis and predictions can register for his free (unlike the text books I had to purchase!!) newsletter entitled the "Crystal Ball." We only have eleven months until the November 2008 elections so you better start reading up on who's who this cycle :-)

Caucus 'til you drop,


Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Often it is the little discoveries that restore my hope such as my telephone call today to the City of Lilydale City Council in Minnesota.

Since I often travel to our state capitol in St. Paul I travel through the City of Lilydale (population 552) I am always intrigued by this little oasis of small government. Lilydale is a Minneapolis/St. Paul suburb situated on the banks of the Mississippi River. Not only does Lilydale have a yacht club it also has only ONE city employee whom I talked with today.

Lilydale is led by the self-described "fiscal conservative" Mayor Tom Swain who entered office facing a city budget deficit which they erased via creative government service outsourcing/contract negotiations along with the sale of some city property to raise the cash needed -- not via tax increases!!

Sometimes I wonder why I overlooked moving to Lilydale when I returned to Minnesota from Europe especially since I have a better understanding of how they manage their city government. Yes there are some well run big cities in the USA today -- Chicago and New York City come to mind (as do Minneapolis and St. Paul as examples of poorly run cities) but there is something to be said for decentralization of power via small suburban communities. It would be a sad day to see Lilydale annexed into a neighboring larger city so I hope they can keep their success going.

Size does matter,


Monday, December 17, 2007

Ross Perot

Granted Ross Perot sounded like a crazy man when he ran for President of the USA but you have to admit he is a damn good business man. Not only is he rich but he is about to get richer this week since he Perot Foundation is the owner of one copy of the only seventeen (17) copies of the Magna Carta that are known to exist today.

The Perot foundation purchased their copy in 1984 for US$1.5 million and are set to sell it via Sotheby's auctions on December 18th so an expected $20 to $30 million. Not a bad return on your investment Mr. Perot.

The Magna Carta is not only a rare document but it is also a vital document - especially to constitutional nerds like me - because most historians cite it as the first time in recorded history humans placed legal limitations on monarchs/dictators. This document was written in 1215 but it did enter into English law until 1297 during the rule of King Edward I. Clear evidence that royalty should not be trusted since it took a full 82 years for the Magna Carta to have the force of law!!!

The full text of the Magna Carta is worth watching if readers have some free time -- -- which we all should should have today since this document paved the way for the respect of human rights and freedoms.

Thanks King John,



At this time of year the conversations regarding American football are focused on which National Football League teams will make the playoffs (go Vikings!!) and the pairings for the college football post-season bowl games which are used to determine the national champion of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-A which is the highest level in college football. However this past weekend included college football games for the lower divisions (read - smaller schools) -- divisions that use actual playoff systems, not "bowl game match ups", to determine true, legitimate national champions for their respective divisions.

So here is a recap of the championship games played this past weekend in their respective divisions:

NCAA Division II -- Valdosta State defeated Northwest Missouri State
NCAA Division III -- Wisconsin/White Water defeated Mt. Union
NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Associations) -- Carroll College (Montana) defeated University of Sioux Falls (South Dakota)

The weather conditions during these games were poor overall and the stands were not filled but the fans were excited to be in the stadiums while the players hit the gridiron with everything they had in them. I enjoyed watching the games especially to see the great sportsmanship that was on display. For the vast majority of these players this was their last opportunity at football glory since their chances of playing professional football in the USA or Canada are nearly zero so clearly they played for the love of the game.

We need more of this love of competition in our public school labor unions,



In a victory for American consumers (via lower prices) and producers in Peru (via access to the huge USA marketplace) US President George W. Bush just signed a free trade agreement into law between Peru and the USA last week.

Peru's economy is growing at an impressive 7.5% annual rate so clearly they are building the market momentum needed to compete in the world economy. Lastly, there is a geo-political benefit from this new trade agreement since it helps the USA with its South American neighbors since similar trade deals are pending with Columbia and Panama. These two countries are vital allies in the "war on drugs" that the USA has waged - with our tax dollars - unsuccessfully for decades so I hope we sign trade deals with them in 2008 so we can move beyond the current failed, drug control policy to a policy of open markets that generate economic choices that extend beyond the drug trade.

Free trade not drug wars,


Empty Nest

While lifting weights at my gym earlier this morning I overheard a woman talking with a friend of hers -- she was on the machine next to me so I could not avoid it since my iPod decided to freeze on me today, talk about bad timing!! -- regarding her 19 year old son who is named "Jeff".

Apparently Jeff is still living in his parents' home but does not have a job, has no plan to get a job, and has no plans to attend any kind of post-high school school/training program. According to his mother, "Jeff parties all night and sleeps all day so he wakes us up sometimes when he sneaks back into the house.........." She went on to say that she fears that Jeff will end up in the military fighting in Iraq but she and her husband are putting their foot down -- as of March 1st they plan to charge him "US$100 per month for rent..........."

Now that sets the story for my readers so let me offer some observations on this situation:

  • I doubt very much that Jeff turned into an unmotivated welfare recipient (his parents' "welfare" not the general taxpayer - yet -- in the last month so it begs the question, "did the parents set down some expectations for Jeff when he was 10 or 11 years old or is his just another spoiled, suburban, rich kid that I often see dominating our local mall with their credit cards.
  • Assuming Jeff graduated from high school in June 2007 he has had about 6 months to sort his life out by now. Perhaps the "monthly rent" should have started a few months ago to "inspire" Jeff to get off the couch.
  • Iraq -- does this mother think we have a military draft in the USA? I see no way Jeff would have the motivation to even meet with a military recruiter unless of course he meets one while he is out partying some night.
  • Rent -- what does $100 per month rent teach Jeff? That all he has to do is get a 20 hour per week job to allow him to pay the $100 to keep his parents off his back?

Jeff has already consumed more time on this blog than he is worth so I will simply close out this posting by stating that he (and his parents) are the reason general taxpayers are robbed of nearly 50% of our salaries to pay for the alphabet soup of government programs -- NCLB, TANF, Head Start, etc. created to counter such unproductive citizens. Sadly this mother did not include me in the conversation since I would have coached her to drive Jeff to St. Paul, Minnesota's Dorothy Day Center to have Jeff work as a volunteer at this soup kitchen/shelter for homeless people.

Nothing wrong with getting Jeff to help local citizens whose lives are much worse than his pampered life especially if such an experience helps inspire him to get a job.

Experience is a great teacher,


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Women Love Sports

Finally I took some time yesterday to read my Men's Health magazines which have piled up due to work travel. As I read through the November edition ( -- yes I am catching up on the reading pile -- I noticed the results of an online poll the magazine created regarding women and sports. The poll was entitled, "Which of the three major sports do women find sexiest to watch?"and the results were as follows:

  • Football -- 50%
  • Baseball -- 35%
  • Basketball -- 15%

Source: a poll of 254 women - perhaps the only women who read Men's Health!!

Very interesting results especially from a sports marketing standpoint so here are some questions/observations that come to mind:

  • Hockey - clearly women don't find the fighting to be sexy. Personally I hate the fighting because it clearly distracts from the game itself. How many times does a football game stop all action as everyone watches two players fight? Crazy damn game.
  • National Basketball Association -- if NBA Commissioner David Stern wants to tap into the female market like the National Football League has (via their pink team hats for example -- Mark Yost's book on the NFL is a great read on this subject) then he should playing cleanse the NBA of its current crop of convicts and part-time rappers.

The best news -- couch/TV time in America is safe and sound since men like me have a 50% chance that our wives will want to watch a football with us :-)



Stillwater has troubled waters

Early this year I posted a commentary about the City of Stillwater, Minnesota raising the property tax on Loome Books in Stillwater by 50% thus forcing the store's owner to close one of his two stores since his budget did not plan for such a substantial - unjustified if you ask me - property tax increase. At the time I called this action the "worst form of government book burning" because tax policy forced a book store to close thus reducing the availability of books/knowledge.

So today's newspaper brings incredible news from Stillwater, Minnesota. I am amazed how government works (doesn't work in this case) as evidenced by the news that the Stillwater Library plans to "cut hours to save money" ( .

So the city government-operated library which is funded by property taxes taken from businesses like Loome Books is now cutting its business hours to save money even though Loome Books was given a 50% property tax increase. So the vital question here is -- "where the hell did all the tax money go that the city raised?"

Mayor Ken Harycki of Stillwater is quoting saying, "We spent many millions of dollars building a first rate facility, and it seems a shame to close it." A shame indeed but who did the budget planning for this facility? Even worse from a local business impact perspective is news from the library's director, Lynne Bertalmio, is says they will pursue new rental revenues to meet their budget gap by renting out the library for "weddings, graduation parties, birthday parties.." in direct competition with local venues that offer such services I am certain.

Bottom line -- the residents of Stillwater have a local book store (not one of those hated "big box stores" but a main street business taxed out of business to raise more funding for the city government only to see their library's business hours reduced.

A double loss,


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Growing Minority

Some of my readers can probably identify with my childhood experiences which included the following:

  • Pen ink on your hand
  • Leaning across your school desk for writing exercises
  • Using a pair of scissors that not only hurt our hand but also left you with poorly cut paper

Remember? Do the cheer with me now -- "We're Here, We're Left Handed, Get Used to it!!"

Yes, we of the left-handed world have suffered for generations as the only minority not protected by state and federal laws. Although we could probably bring a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to remedy our "victim hood" but why should we add even more to the class action lawsuit business just to pay the boat payments for trial lawyers :-)

But now comes good news for us southpaws via The Daily Telegraph newspaper in the United Kingdom --

"The percentage of people who are left-handed has risen in the past 100 years, from 3% to 11% while 24% of people use their left hands to wave."

Unfortunately this quote was not clear if the research used was only for the United Kingdom or for the world's population but either way it is a very interesting trend. One day we will have a majority of the world's population which will clearly cause major societal changes such including a huge increase in poor penmanship!!

Left on baby,


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Steve Fossett - tribute

Recently the family of explorer Steve Fossett requested that the search and recovery mission for him in Nevada be called off so that he could be declared legally dead. What a sad day for not only his family but for anyone that appreciated Mr. Fossett's love of adventure. There is one other group of people - the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) -- who mourn his loss. Mr. Fossett was the incoming president of the NESA so as a member I was personally inspired to see him playing this role because I was confident that he would take the NESA to an entirely higher level of success.

For better than anything I could write in tribute to Mr. Fossett is this memorial that the NESA has compiled on its website which can be viewed at:

To state the obvious here -- Mr. Fossett's death is a huge loss for his family and our nation. He is exactly the kind of person the current presidential candidates should have considered as a running mate or Cabinet member. At the NESA level we have big shoes to fill in terms of finding a new president but am confident the organization will reinforce its commitment to America's youth as a tribute to Mr. Fossett's memory.

On Eagle's wings,


Monday, December 10, 2007


"The taxpayer - that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination"

Last week I attended a conference of state legislators from around the USA ( One evening I had dinner with a group of legislators (the state will remain anonymous) so eventually the conversation turned to tax policy. In a rare moment of personal candor :-) I stated that I am , "tired of legislators just tinkering around the edges, I want to see a legislative debate over some fresh, revolutionary ideas such as scraping our state income tax system to be replaced by a sales tax system.

The legislator sitting across from me at dinner responded to my comment with perhaps the most predictable response possible -- ".......but a sales tax is a very regressive tax so it will hurt the poor people............." My immediate response to counter this worn out record was that the state legislature should use a guide such as "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" whereby the basic human needs of - food, clothing, and shelter -- would be completely tax free. Yes property taxes and taxes on utilities (included in the definition of "shelter") would go away in my plan!! Consumption would be taxed (via a sales tax) so the rich would definitely pay their "fair share" (as the old saying goes -- not my phrase but I had to throw it in) because if they purchase a Hummer they would pay accordingly. At the same time lower income people would actually see tax relief since their basic needs would not be taxable events and they would never pay income tax so overall that is a pretty darn good deal.

However, let me address the question of "fairness" from another perspective. Is it "fair" for a state government to raise income taxes on the rich to the point that the rich choose to move to a state that does not have an income tax? Once a state chooses to "soak the rich" they tend to drive the "job creators" to leave the state. Is it any surprise that a Minnesota icon like 3M announced earlier this year that they are exploring options to relocate some jobs to low tax, overseas location as noted in this quote:

A report in the Pioneer Press quoted Pat Campbell, the company's chief financial officer, as mentioning the United States, Western Europe and Japan in connection with possible areas the company would move its operations from. "All of our key operations are in high-tax areas," he said.

Eventually the only taxpayers left in a high tax wil be the poor people with very few employment options. So I ask the legislative decision makers -- "So once we are all living in poverty in Minnesota will life be 'fair enough' to meet your goals?"

Revolutions were never led by moderates,


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Presidential Campaigns

"Big decisions are taken at small meetings, small decisions at taken at big meetings"
Chinese proverb
How appropriate this proverb is for China since a small governing elite send their decisions, made in small meetings to the People's Congress which is a large meeting but only meets every five years.
I was reminded of this proverb while watching some of the American presidential candidates interviewed on the Sunday "talking head" TV shows today. Gone are the smoke-filled rooms populated by political party bosses who determined who the presidential candidate was going to be during the party's convention. That old system is clearly obsolete today when you look at the Iowa Caucus process and the mega-star power of Oprah Winfrey. As a native Iowan I am a huge advocate of the Iowa Caucus process because it forces/demands that candidates focus on retail politics whereby they must meet voters on a very decentralized level since the caucuses are held in people's living rooms, VFW halls, etc. These small events coupled with the mass rallies that Oprah Winfrey is hosting in football stadiums for Senator Barack Obama has placed a few more nails in the smoke-filled room culture's coffin -- those days are clearly gone and today's party nominating conventions are merely four days of earned media not decisions.
Speaking of decisions the next stage of decision making will take place in the March 2008 time frame when the Democratic and Republican parties will likely know who their nominees are so these people will then start selecting their vice-presidential running mates. Since this process is coming quickly I had a few observations on possible and impossible presidential tickets so here we go:
McCain-Lieberman: When Senator Joe Lieberman was up for re-election to the US Senate in 2006 his Democratic Party endorsed a challenger in the primary election so Lieberman ran as an independent and he won. At the time I wrote on this blog that he should not re-join the Democratic Caucus in the Senate but he did. If Senator Lieberman and Senator McCain (Republican) want to really be the mavericks they claim to be they would run as a team assuming Senator McCain wins the Republican nomination. I don't believe that will happen but of course these two men could run as an independent (note: there is no official "Independent Party" in the USA) team thus creating a "third party" candidacy that could clearly affect the 2008 November elections.
Obama-Winfrey: Yes, a historic ticket -- with two African-Americans -- of US Senator Barack Obama (Democrat) and TV mega-star Oprah Winfrey but alas it is impossible since both of these people are residents of Illinois which the Constitution does not allow but with her money Oprah could buy a home in any state she wants of course!! This shouldn't be a problem since Senator Hillary Clinton chose to become a New York State resident to launch her political career once her and Bill stripped the White House of most of its furniture as they left in 2001.
Ah, the combinations are endless so perhaps worthy of a future posting here. Readers comments are most welcome in case I overlooked any interesting possible tickets.
Enjoy the race,

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Here is a great example of how government actually causes "crime" simply by create a mandate in this case - bottle deposits on soft drink containers, water, tea drinks, etc.

This news comes via the December 2007 issue of State Legislatures magazine which reports that the State of Michigan "loses US$10 million per year" - correction State Legislatures editors, TAXPAYERS ARE LOSING $10 MILLION PER YEAR OUT OF THEIR POCKETS -- due to smuggling.

Yes smugglers (others might call them "entrepreneurs" or "arbitragers") from Michigan's neighboring states of Ohio and Indiana - states which do not have a bottle deposit law which is currently 10 cents per container for products purchased in Michigan.

Imagine the distorted economics the State of Michigan has created here -- despite historically high gasoline prices people ("smugglers" as the article says) are still able to transport empty bottles from Ohio and Indiana to Michigan to collect 10 cents per bottle AND make money while doing it!!!

So should Ohio and Indiana state governments simply create a 10 cent bottle deposit law to help Michigan taxpayers? No, why not let the good citizens of Michigan continue paying out tax dollars to clean up the environment while also create income for the smugglers. Given the economic basket care which Michigan is today I would not be surprised that some of these smugglers are Michigan residents who are simply trying to make a living.

Yes instead of worrying about how to tinker with the bottle deposit law the State of Michigan (one of the few states with a FULL TIME state legislature which meets throughout the year) should do things like the following list to boost their economy:

  • Turn Michigan into a right to work state to save their auto industry from the labor unions that are driving them into bankruptcy
  • Elimination of their state income and corporate income tax
  • Elect a mayor that will actually work with property owners to clean up Detroit's burned out ( resulting from the 1968/69 race riots) downtown buildings
  • Create an aggressive foreign exchange program for high school and college students (via tax credits) with Canada to drive greater free trade opportunities via NAFTA simply by getting people to develop personal connections to overcome anti-free trade rhetoric from labor unions

Walk the ditches,


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Red Sea

While sitting in a taxicab in Washington DC (WDC) today I had a conversation with the driver who emigrated from Ethiopia to the USA before a section of his country split off to become the independent nation of Eritrea.

When I heard that the driver was Ethiopian I mentioned that when I worked in WDC in the 1980's I worked with a woman from Ethiopia who highly recommended that I dine at a local restaurant called "Red Sea" so I asked the driver if he knew the restaurant. As it turns out Red Sea has been closed for years due to a boycott led by the Ethiopian community in WDC. Their boycott was a protest against the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia because as a result Ethiopia lost its access to the Red Sea (the sea not the restaurant!).

Perhaps the Ethiopia-Eritrea divorce is too recent for the wounds to heal but I expressed my hope to the cabbie that one day these two nations become major trading partners -- they are NOT today -- with each other versus the current practice of massing military troops along their mutual border.

Not only did WDC lose a nice restaurant the the consumers/taxpayers of these two African nations lost when the trade barriers went up between these two nations. Their political leaders clearly have their own interests, not those of the average citizen, in mind with their current policies.

Trading nations are not warring nations,


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Snow in the Swamp

While working in Washington DC this week I started my day by watching the local TV news which included numerous reports of school closings/delays due to the light dusting of snow in the area. It always seems that a 1 inch snowfall closes down Washington DC so I say -- give us a blizzard of 2 feet so they are never open for business!!

Enough of my wishful thinking on using nature to shut down government. As I walked downtown today during the snow fall I was stopped by people in parkas who were surveying pedestrians about the "harm caused by global warming............" to which I just had to laugh since the falling snow covered me so I personally so zero impact from global warming.

Yes -- timing is everything you Mother Earth First activists!! If you want to make an impact on the global warming debate they do your sidewalk surveys in August since Washington DC is little more than a swamp covered with concrete thus creating perfect HIGH humidity conditions that make pedestrians really believe global warming is going to kill us. I really hated living in Washington DC during the summer but a nice hike in the mountains of the George Washington National Forest just west of Washington DC offers cool refreshment.

Hike more and march less :-)


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

For the Students?

Today I attended our monthly "leave us alone"/center-right coalition meeting for Minnesota. This is the core group I am building to lead nothing shore of a political revolution to move us away from our high tax structure status.

Our guest speaker at the meeting was the Executive Director of a charter school -- which is still a public, no tuition school in Minnesota but the school has some freedoms such as being an "at will employer" meaning they can actually fire bad teachers!! Wow, I definitely learned something today. But what really stood out for me during this presentation was that this school has a current waiting list of over 300 students. This fact, coupled with my own local charter school's waiting list of about 320 applicants for their 24 annual kindergarten slots tells me that market demand for these alternative schools is not being met.

Sadly, many of our current state legislators - who swear they do what they do because they are doing it "for the students/kids" - have no idea what market forces are or simply refuse to acknowledge such consumer demand. The perfect example is the legislation introduced by a state representative that would have capped the number of charter schools in Minnesota. There is absolutely NO way such legislation would help the students and parents who clearly want charter schools based on the hard evidence of waiting lists/applicants for open slots.

So forget it students and parents -- you will go to the school we tell you to attend because we are spending your money for you because this is a perfect way to help the teacher unions grow in power while keeping you (our future workers!!) down on the economic ladder.

Markets not Marxists,


Monday, December 03, 2007


Our Minnesota state government announced last week that we have a budget deficit of about $374 million which led the majority party who controls both chambers of the legislature -- the "DFL", Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party -- to immediately call for a special legislative session to address this latest "crisis". Their plan included a key provision to employ currently unemployed people to paint, repair, and build state government buildings!!

Amazing - exactly what we don't need -- more government employees building even more government buildings.

Today "government" is the largest employer/industry in the State of Minnesota. Nearly 400,000 Minnesotans are employed by government entities which include -- local government, local schools, state colleges, other state workers (clerical etc.), non-postal federal workers, and the US Postal Service. This totals a full 1/6 (or 17% ) of Minnesota's current work force.

After "government" our second largest industry segment in Minnesota is "Health Care and Social Assistance" with another 368,000 workers. Given the high level of government regulation in the health care field we could easily consider these people to be government employees.

SOURCE: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Security, July 2007,

As the recent state job report noted our "growth" for the last quarter was a completely anemic 0.1 percent so we need MUCH bolder ideas coming from our legislative leaders versus the DFL's 1930's style President Roosevelt make work program painting and repairing government buildings. Minnesota should sell non-essential assets like the State Office Building then move all legislators and staff back into the state capitol where they belong. The proceeds from such sales should be used to phase out our personal income tax system.

Minnesotans deserve their personal wages not paint brushes,


Friday, November 30, 2007

Website Traffic

Well the current Nielsen Ratings for website traffic have been released!! Sadly I have to report to SpaceBeagle readers that this blog did not make the list :-(

Here are the most visited websites according to Nielsen as of October 2007:

Nielsen Net Rating – October 2007

In Millions

33.2 Yahoo! News
30.2 CNN Digital Network
29.8 MSNBC Digital Network
9.5 Fox News Digital Network
5.3 BBC News
3.9 Oprah
3.8 New York Post
3.3 NPR
2.6 Chicago Sun-Times
2.3 Newsmax
1.5 The Washington Times
0.1 HumanEventsOnline

I will have to review this list a bit more later to offer more observations but two rankings that really stood out for me when I first glanced at this list include:

BBC News - 5.3 million
Oprah (Winfrey) - 3.9 million

Now this is amazing because it was always said that the "sun does not set on the British Empire" yet the Beeb's website only has 1.4 million more visitors more than Oprah Winfrey's website. Given the historic, geographic reach of the BBC news services versus Oprah's comparatively short career these are impressive results.

Perhaps they are doing it already but if not the Obama for President campaign (which Oprah has endorsed) should be buying banner ads on Oprah's website today!!

A second observation -- granted it is probably biased given my love of sports -- is that I do not see the ABC/ESPN family (owned by Walt Disney Company) represented in this list at all which really shows how much market share the USA's traditional broadcast TV stations (ABC in this case) have lost in the new Internet Age.

Space Beagle needs more eyeballs,


Thursday, November 29, 2007


Last night the wife and I watched our local television news which included a story regarding a grassroots movement that calls itself -- "Critical Mass".

Overall I thought the reporting was poorly done but here is what I was able to gather. Critical Mass is a group of bicyclists which organizes mass gatherings where they all ride together to "re-claim the streets.........." based on one of the group chants that I heard them yell during the story which went --

Leader: "Whose Streets?"

Gang: "Our Streets?"

What the hell? What do they mean by "our" streets? The streets are the domain of bicyclists only? Since gasoline taxes - which are paid by automobile drivers like myself not bicyclists -- are a primary source of funding for street paving perhaps we drivers should have our own chant.

Now I admit that in some of the footage in this news report I did see numerous bicyclists simply enjoying the freedom to ride their bike complete with costumes for some of the riders. However, many of the Critical Mass members simply created public safety hazards by violating all traffic rules and traffic lights.

Again -- whether it was the poor reporting or simply Critical Mass' lack of message clarity I could not determine what they want. If I had to guess I would say they hate automobiles and want to "re-claim" the streets for environmentally friendly vehicles but that is just a guess.

I do know that if Critical Mass continues its practice of traffic anarchy that someone is going to get killed in a traffic accident. Once that happens then like all political movements throughout history Critical Mass will have a martyr from which to drive t-shirt sales!!! :-)

Remember your hand signals,


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Perceptions of Americans

While traveling to Madison, Wisconsin (the state's ancestry is about 90% German) this past Thanksgiving Day weekend I purchased a copy of the Middleton Times-Tribune (MTT) newspaper. Middleton is a suburb of Madison and my personal practice is to always buy the local newspaper in the communities I visit so I get a sense of what is going on beyond my world and those topics that USA Today chooses to be noteworthy for us to know.

An article in the MTT entitled, "Exchange Students Love America, not crazy about the bread", focused on the experiences of 25 German high school students who were the guests of Middleton residents from October 4 to 25 this year. The one comment that caught my eye was from one of these students who was asked this question by the MTT reporter:

Question: "What will you tell your friends about the USA and Middleton when you arrive back home?"

Response: "My prejudices were not confirmed: there were not as many fat people and not as many McDonald's."

Wow, clearly the media and schools in Germany are failing to educate people just like they are in the USA. From my perspective the best education is "experience" which was confirmed for me in 1986 when I was a college student touring the now defunct (thank God and Reagan!!) Soviet Union. While I traded on the black market I realized first hand that the USA intelligence community was wrong -- this was not a nation to fear anymore because it was rotting from the inside. This was confirmed for me in 1991 when Boris Yeltsin climbed that tank to declare the end of the Soviet Union (essentially -- my shorthand version of their history).

So if my "Big Government is Great" friends out there want to save the world then they should support my campaign to eliminate all personal income taxes in the USA. This would then give Americans more money to pay for foreign travel so the citizens of the world can better understand each other.

Travel not Taxes,


Monday, November 26, 2007

Grey Cup

Since 1909 the Canadian Football League's ( championship game - the Grey Cup - has been played thus it is a much older game than the National Football League's ("NFL" of the USA) Super Bowl. This year's Grey Cup was played on 25 November in Toronto between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and my Winnipeg Blue Bombers (yes the nearest CFL team to my state of Minnesota). Sadly the Roughriders defeated the Blue Bombers by a final score of 23 to 19.

As regular readers of this blog know I love all forms of "football" (not soccer) and the Canadian game is particularly fun since they only allow 3 downs for 15 yards versus American football with its 4 downs for 10 yards (for a first down). This rule differential makes the Canadian game very focused on having a successful passing offense. Although the 2007 Grey Cup resulted in only 42 total points I am certain I would have enjoyed seeing this game in Toronto.

The 2008 Grey Cup is set for Montreal, Quebec which would really test my limited French language skills but the bigger issue for an American like me in terms of traveling to such a game is that it follows the American Thanksgiving Day holiday thus a logistical challenge.

Beyond the game itself I noticed a short sports story this weekend that noted the Buffalo Bills of the NFL have reached an agreement to play some of its regular season games in Toronto to capitalize on their fan footprint which caused the Canadian Football League's Commissioner to speculate that the NFL would eventually add a franchise to Toronto thus moving in on the CFL's territory. This article reminded me of the CFL's expansion into the USA in the early 1990's - an expansion that failed miserably.

Instead of trying to poach each other's fan base let's have the CFL and NFL teams play each other via some "inter-league" games like the American and National Leagues do in Major League Baseball. Yes the rules are a bit different but that could be addressed simply by requiring visiting teams to play by the home team rules. Such a match up could find my Minnesota Vikings playing against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Winnipeg using the 3 downs and 15 yards for a first down format.

This would add yet another exciting aspect to the game of football that would help drive ticket sales for the Vikings to help ensure their games do not face TV black outs.

NAFTA would then be an acronym not for the North American Free Trade Agreement but instead for the North American Football Teams Agreement :-)

Football not checkpoints,


Oprah Winfrey

With the Iowa Caucuses set for January 3, 2008 the presidential election season is at our doorstep so the political endorsement process is also picking up steam. Today's news coverage noted that the queen of TV talk shows - Oprah Winfrey -- is doing a campaign tour with her endorsed presidential candidate -- US Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois).

Now this political match making is interesting from several different angels including:

  • Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill, was called "America's first black president" despite his being whiter than I am so clearly being "black" is a state of mind not pigment :-)
  • Hillary could be the first woman president in American history but yet perhaps the most prominent/respected/influential woman in the country, Oprah Winfrey, does not endorse Hillary
  • Hillary insists she is not playing the "gender card" as she pursues the White House although her book title, "Living History", is a clear subtle reminder of the opportunity for voters to make history by electing her president.
  • Does Hillary's campaign feel Oprah is playing the "race card" by endorsing a fellow African-American (Obama)?
  • Both books -- Audacity of Hope by Obama and Living History by Clinton have appeared on Oprah's TV show but I can't find them endorsed via her book club --

Speaking of books -- Hillary Clinton made the old Benin (Africa) proverb, "it takes a whole village to raise a child......." famous via her 1996 book , "It Takes a Village" , but a quick search by her publishers would have found that this same book title (and subject matter) was published in 1994 by Jane Cowen-Fletcher so clearly Hillary did not break any new research ground with her book.

Personally I am a "fan" of Oprah Winfrey's work although I don't watch her show or read her magazine but because Ms. Winfrey developed a product (herself) that she brought to the market to become the multi-millionaire celebrity and philanthropist that she is today leading me to conclude that the old proverb Hillary loves should be re-written to become "It Takes a Market" not a "Village" to make a person. Her active support of Senator Obama should send a powerful signal to potential voters for Hillary Clinton. To better understand Ms. Winfrey's politics I would love to know the results of her taking this political worldview quiz - - because part of me would love to see the current political system shaken at its core via a presidential campaign by a woman that I have respect for -- Oprah Winfrey NOT Hillary Clinton.

You go girl!


Friday, November 23, 2007


First a belated Happy Thanksgiving Day to everyone out there -- what a great American holiday in that we set aside a day just to eat food and watch American football!! Does it get any better?

Thanksgiving Day (November 22 this year) also marks another key date known as "Black Friday" which is considered the most important shopping day in the country because it serves as a barometer for the economic performance of the nation's retail industry. I was reminded of this fact yesterday when I picked up our two local newspapers from our patio yesterday morning. Each newspaper was rather think in terms of news articles but contained numerous sales advertisements from a full range of retailers -- Target, Macy's, Fleet Farm, Sears, JC Penney's, WalMart, Best Buy, Office Depot, Kmart.................. -- you get the idea.

The news media is peppered with stories of shoppers walking around stores at 3 am in search of good bargains so it got me thinking about the average consumer. I personally know people (having heard them talk about their plans during our Thanksgiving meal) that approach Black Friday as a project -- they review the sales ads, check the stores' hours, and map our their day so they can satisfy their desire to shop.

Now let's pause a bit to consider this consumer mindset --

Finding a good deal on a sweater or that flat screen television is a personal objective that totally consumes their time and effort. But how many of these consumers will exert this same amount of energy to "shop" for a school for their children? How many consumers read the "sales advertisements" from schools (they don't exist) or compare product features ("class curriculum")? No I don't have scientific polling on this but anecdotal evidence tells me that essentially ZERO consumer research is completed when it comes time to send our children to school since most of simply use the "default" choice by sending our children to whichever school the school bus will deliver them to for instruction.

American consumers can choose to shop at Target or WalMart for the exact same products but in most cases have no choice when it comes to which school to send their children to which is the issue that the media should be focused on during Black Friday.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Third Parties

During lunch today I attended a local chamber of commerce's (in Minnesota) monthly lunch meeting. This event featured a conservative talk radio personality and a former President Clinton White House staffer/now public affairs consultant.

After their prepared remarks the moderator asked a series of locally important questions -- transportation funding, school referendums, etc. Once this round of questions was completed the audience members were given the chance to ask questions.

Sometimes we hear what we want to hear so I might have sat there with my biased worldview - me biased!!?? I prefer to call it "accuracy." Now the theme I kept hearing was that the "base" (conservative voters in particular) need something to get them mobilized for the 2008 elections. As one of those voters I completely agree -- throw me a bone candidates!! Give me something to be inspired by versus sound bites that have been pre-approved by your focus groups. The 2008 presidential campaign needs a high profile loose cannon who throws out fresh ideas but at the same time is electable -- former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich perhaps comes the closest to these parameters however I fear if he were the nominee he would go down in flames like Senator Barry Goldwater did in 1964.

At no time during this chamber lunch event did I hear the speakers or the audience discuss the possibility of Minnesota's major third political party -- Independence Party (IP) -- becoming a force in the 2008 elections. Now the IP is not my party but neither is the Democratic-Republican Duopoly that rules our nation and state today.

Personally I am old school (yes - not just in my clothing much to my wife's dismay) so I would love to see the now defunct "Free Soil Party" (FSP) revitalized. Originally the FSP was formed by abolitionists working to eliminate the institution of slavery in the USA in the 1848 timeframe but in 2008 I think they are needed again. Why you may ask? When slavery was legal in the USA your plantation master took 100% of the wealth/earning your labor generated. Today -- once you add federal income tax, state income tax, Social (in-)Security taxes, sales taxes, unemployment tax, capital gains tax, death taxes............ -- government overall takes nearly 50% of the wealth we each generate thus making us "half-slaves" I guess.

So let's bring back the Free Soil Party to fight for the single issue of eliminating personal income taxes which not only violate our pursuit of happiness but also our personal privacy.

Martin Van Buren would be proud,


Monday, November 19, 2007

Bill and Hillary Clinton

Late last week I noticed a short Associated Press news story that reported -

"Clinton Foundation Raised $135 Million"

The foundation here is the William J. Clinton Foundation ( - former President of the USA and former Governor of Arkansas of course. This money total was for the entire year of 2006 according to records filed with the Internal Revenue (dis-)Service. But what was fascinating from my perspective is that the story noted that "donations jumped by nearly 70 percent since 2005 when the foundaiton rasied more than $80 million."

So in one year (2005 to 2006) the foundation's fundraising jumped by $55 million!! Now that isn't bad since President Clinton left the Oval Office in January 2001 so a full 4 to 5 years after he left office the fundraising skyrocketed.

With some basic research journalists and political opponents could make a strong case that the Clinton Foundatin is a quasi-extension of and/or an in-kind contribution to the Hillary Clinton for President 2008 Campaign. How can I make such a claim? One is basic "brand equity" since the Clinton brand name is out doing "good things" for communities such as the foundation's new healthy schools initiative:

"The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced in August a $20 million commitment to expand the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program. The expansion will allow the Healthy Schools Program to focus its efforts in states with the highest prevalence of obesity, which include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and West Virginia."

For those of you keeping track at home there are 20 states listed here including the first caucus state - Iowa -- along with some key swing states and states with large African-American populations thus providing resources (name identification) to help Hillary cut into any black voter base that US Senator/presidential candidate/Hillary rival Barack Obama (D-Illinois).

The reality is that political contributions are like a rain storm -- the water will flow along the ground until it finds a crack in the earth. Due to current campaign finance laws contributions to presidential campaigns are capped at $4600 per contributor but of course contributions to the Clinton Foundation are unlimited and of course tax deductible.

Granted I might be reaching too far and risk a cease and desist order from the foundation or campaign's attorneys but if I get such an order I will of course blog about their legal actions.

But before that happens perhaps readers can review the history that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Clintons have together.

1.) Johnson Foundation and Clinton Foundation:

As noted earlier in this posting the Johnson Foundation recently gave a $20 million grant to the Clinton Foundation's "Healthy Schools Initiative" this year.

2.) Johnson Foundation and "Hillary Care" health care reform:

In 1994 the Johnson Foundation paid $2.5 million to be the lead sponsor of an NBC "two hour prime time special........." focused on Hillary's proposed health care reform which would have brought nearly 25% of the US economy (health industry) under direct government control.

Coincidence? Impossible but prove me wrong since I like to be right as much as possible :-)

So readers draw your own conclusions. I doubt the Federal Elections Commission will be reviewing this network of contributions so be sure to empower yourself via the Internet tools you have available to explore these relationships.

Thanks for educating me,


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Minnesota vs. Iowa State University

Saturdays at this time of year in the USA are dominated by college (American style my European friends) football and today is perhaps one of the most important Saturdays of the entire season since it is the last game for most of the football teams. Two teams in particular -- the University of Minnesota and my alma mater, Iowa State University -- ended their seasons today with no prospects for a post-season bowl game appearance for either team.

As a native son of Iowa, a graduate of Iowa State University (ISU), and a Minnesotan by choice I am launching this grassroots campaign to encourage the athletic departments of these two fine universities to reach an agreement to set aside one of their non-conference games (PLEASE QUIT PLAYING KENT STATE UNIVERSITY ISU!!!) each season to play the "Jack Trice Memorial Game." Ideally after several years of playing this game it would become a rivalry on par with the "trophy games" played for Floyd of Rosedale, the Little Brown Jug, and Paul Bunyan's axe.

So who was Jack Trice?

Mr. Trice is famous today because ISU's football stadium is named Jack Trice Stadium but historically he is recorded as ISU's first black athlete and first ISU athlete to die as a result of injuries - in 1923 - sustained in a football game against the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Interested readers can see the entire account of Jack Trice's story at this website -

With the 2008 football season already scheduled - along with several other future seasons - it would take several years to arrange for a Minnesota vs. ISU re-match to honor Jack Trice. In October 2008 it will mark 85 years since Mr. Trice died following the injury he received in that long ago Minnesota vs. ISU game so there is no better time than the present to begin this grassroots campaign to get this rivalry renewed.

As a first step in this campaign I am sending this blog posting to all my Minnesota and ISU contacts to get them involved in lobbying the Athletic Directors, university presidents, and the respective boards of regents to approve this memorial football game. Ideally this game could be the foundation for a fundraising campaign dedicated to creating a "transition fund" for former Minnesota and ISU football players once their playing days are over since so few players find successful in professional football. Such a fund would aid former players who need financial assistance as they develop post-college/non-football careers or perhaps suffer medical problems caused by past football injuries after their playing days have ended.


Jamie Pollard
Iowa State University

Director of Athletics


Joel Maturi
University of Minnesota
Director of Athletics

Not only should our football teams compete on the gridiron but we alumni of both schools should compete with each other in terms of money raised each year for this cause. I have to believe Jack Trice would be very proud of such a fund.

Write a check,


Friday, November 16, 2007

Voter Identification

Okay, my family (especially my wife) and friends know that my mind works in "interesting" ways so today's experience is a perfect example. Following a business meeting this morning in a St. Paul, Minnesota coffee shop I walked around the corner to visit Garrison Keillor's (author and radio host -- "Prairie Home Companion") book store -- Common Good Books ( "CGB" - .

While I walked to their front door I noticed that US Representative Betty McCollum's district office was across the hall from the book store -- make a mental note on this one for later in this posting. Once I walked into CGB I knew I had entered territory that freedom loving libertarians like me rarely tread since I immediately noticed a "Congratulations Al" sign attached to the book shelf holding Al "Nobel Peace Prize" Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" book which is focused on global warming (aka "climate change" in case the global temperature goes down thus allowing Gore-bot to comment on weather patterns at all times).

Flash back to my coffee shop meeting first -- as I left my colleagues I mentioned I was going to "check out Garrison's book store........." so they warned me not to buy anything so Mr. Keillor doesn't make any money. Since I suffer from a disease that a friend of mine in London calls, "hyperbibliophilia" -- which is the condition where you have a number of books at home that you have not read yet BUT you still buy a new book when you see something you like -- I did purchase a book at CGB.

In an effort to add to the nation's consumer debt "crisis" I paid for the book with my credit card so they sales clerk asked for my identification/drivers license to verify I was who I said I was since I was using the card. Personally I like being asked for identification in an effort to fight consumer fraud.

Now remember US Representative Betty McCollum's office mentioned earlier? She is a Democratic Party colleague of US Representative Keith Ellison who has introduced legislation that would forbid state governments (personally I have to believe this is unconstitutional) from requiring voters to show identification when they vote in elections since such a requirement would be used to intimidate minority voters to suppress their voter turnout.


So do these same minority voters pay for anything via a credit card -- perhaps when they purchase a book at CGB? In this Garrison Keillor's evil master plan to suppress reading among the minority community??

Now that is devious.

Vote once please,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Job Creation

"State loses jobs for 4th-straight month"
Pioneer Press headline - November 14, 2007
Yes indeed, that was today's headline on the front page of my local newspaper's business section. The state government's job report for Minnesota's economy shows that our, "year-over-year job growth rate was just 0.1 percent last month, compared with 1.2 percent for the nation."
So if you are a student ready to graduate at the end of this semester or Spring Semester 2008 this is not very good news and even worse for the state's taxpayers since you state university graduates are very likely to take your newly-minted, taxpayer subsidized college degrees out of state in search of employment. Even worse from a macro-economic standpoint is that if Minnesota has essentially zero job growth then it makes it nearly impossible for us to recover from the terrible housing market we have here currently. Who the hell is going to buy a bigger home or a first home when job prospects are this poor?
Enough of the gloom - let's think big with a tax revolution for Minnesota. Something completely out of character for the state is needed so here is a proposal that I have NOT run through any econometric modeling nor focus groups of voters so there may be some flaws I have not addressed below but it is a starting point for reform:
First -- instead of debating increases to make our state personal income tax rate the highest in the nation at 9.7 percent like legislators did during the 2007 session the legislature should cast a vote to eliminate ALL personal income taxes.
Second -- personally I don't want some "revenue neutral" solution that would replace the "lost money" the state would see via the elimination of income taxes but people that think like me do not have a majority in our legislature. So let me be "pragmatic" by suggesting that the revenue loss from the elimination of personal income taxes be offset by an increase in our state sales tax rate only equal to this revenue differential.
Third -- yes I know the old line, "but, but sales taxes are regressive and hurt the poor......................" Enough of that already -- set aside the class warfare rhetoric to think in terms of the economic activity that would be caused by the elimination of all income taxes in Minnesota. Those evil, greedy rich people would probably buy automobiles (think of the Ford Motor plant being closed in St. Paul due to poor sales), boats, and second homes in small towns that have negative economic growth rates today. Yes the rich (and the middle class since they also pay income taxes) would have greater disposable income to actually purchase things which help the state's poorer economic classes improve their job prospects thus offsetting the increase state sales tax rate.
Fourth -- such a proposal beats the "tinkering around the edges" thinking that currently dominates our state legislature and would place Minnesota in the small fraternity of states that have zero personal income taxes.
But sadly the central planners in the legislature do not want us taxpayers to keep more money in our pockets because we would probably make crazy spending decisions such as choosing to send our children to private schools by paying the requisite tuition with our income tax refunds versus sending our children to the public school system or even worse - taxpayers might be able to save more money for retirement in personal retirement accounts instead of having to rely on the Social Security "safety net" that the government has tried to convince us will exist when we retire.
Revolution not rhetoric,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Since I grew up in a small town in Iowa I have no memory of public protests in our downtown - unless of course you count the farmers who gathered for coffee time in the morning to complain about the weather and the market price for their crops :-)

However, once I entered college in the 1980's I witnessed my first "die-in" -- yes similar to the sit-ins that were popular in the 1960's but in this twist protesters would apply fake blood then lie around in an area of campus to protest US military intervention in Central America or other region of the world. I had a flash back to these college days over the past few weeks as I watched the news reports of anti-government protesters in Burma (Myanmar) and Pakistan.

So who primarily led these protests?

Burma -- Buddhist monks

Pakistan -- lawyers

Wow, just imagine a Buddhist monk with a law degree!! Now that would be an excellent candidate for the US Congress.

We should all be encouraged by these protests because in Pakistan the lawyers are protesting because the current government is not respecting the "rule of law" which is a fundamental Western value that allows us to live safe and productive lives in the free world. Another reason to be encouraged is that the military junta's rule in Burma is clearly over since they have zero moral authority to justify their rule because when you have to utilize riot police to beat, imprison, and even kill peace-loving MONKS then you clearly have reached the end of your rope.

Protest away for better days,


Monday, November 12, 2007

United Nations - Havana

In my ongoing campaign to relocate the United Nations from New York City to a non-USA city let me offer a new candidate city --

Havana, Cuba

Earlier this month the United Nations General Assembly voted 184 to 4 to "urge the United States to lift its trade embargo against Cuba." Personally I have never needed a UN vote to urge me to support the lifting of our trade embargo since open borders will force Dictator/President For Life Fidel Castro out of power faster than our current foreign policy which is to sit and wait for him to die. However, the UN vote is very interesting because shouldn't the UN "support" the American trade embargo as a way to keep American imperialism - via the import of American products and services (those not made in China of course!) - out of Cuba so they can live in their socialist paradise without yankee corruption?

The key of course is that the UN vote was simply another way to poke the USA in the eye. I did not see the full roll call vote but am really curious who the three countries were that voted with the USA on this issue.

So let's help all parties involved here but moving the UN headquarters to Havana, Cuba from New York City. Such a move would create much-needed jobs in Havana and would help drive increased trade to counter the USA embargo.

I will rent the U-Haul,


Sunday, November 11, 2007


As bowlers know -- three strikes in a row is not a "hat trick" but instead it is called a "turkey" and Benjamin Franklin was a strong advocate of the USA declaring the turkey as our national symbol but the Founding Fathers opted for the more stately -- bald eagle -- as our symbol.

So I don't know what old Ben would have thought of the road trip that my daughter and I did this weekend to Wabasha, Minnesota - home of the National Eagle Center (NEC)( which is focused on ecology and wildlife management to keep the bald eagle off the Endangered Species List.

We really enjoyed the classroom lecture that ended with a feeding of the eagle. The NEC is located on the banks of the Mississippi River in a two story, very modern building complete with classrooms, video presentations, children's activity area, and of course the gift shop. While I did find the NEC educational they are clearly still developing the building since it felt a little thin in terms of scientific and cultural (Native American Indians for example) exhibits. Personally though I love to see that the NEC has chosen to feature Stephen Colbert ("Colbert Report") on their website since he has adopted the eagle as his symbol because as he book title says, "I am American (and you can too)".

If readers find themselves in Southeastern Minnesota I would encourage them to pay the NEC a visit -- especially since your federal tax dollars were used to create it :-)



In the USA today of course is a national holiday marking Veterans Day while Canada celebrates the same holiday as Remembrance Day. This holiday is set aside for all of us to pause to give a prayer of thanks for the military veterans who served and died in service to their country while safeguarding our freedoms. Personally I have never served in any capacity in the US Armed Forces and at my age if I am called up to serve then we are truly in trouble but thankfully today's wars have become isolated affairs watched, and sadly manipulated in many cases, from afar. Perhaps that is the most consistent aspect of "history" -- the dates and names change but the script reads the same across the generations.

As a lover of liberty and the American way of life let me offer my sincere and heartfelt "thank you" to the men and women (whether gay or straight) who serve or have served in our military. I will never forget my grandfather's World War II stories of his time stationed in London. My grandfather's job was loading the bombers for their missions to Continental Europe including D-Day. The one story that I will never forget is my grandfather's description of his travel to and from London for the war which I paraphrase below:

"At the beginning of the war we were shipped over from the East Coast to London on board the Queen Mary in the middle of a storm and I was sea sick the entire trip. As the war was ending I was recovering from surgery so I was shipped back home on board the Queen Mary again, but this time the sea was very calm."
John Petersen, US Army
As a lover of literature I love the symbolism in my grandfather's trips aboard the Queen Mary - stormy sea at the onset of war and calm waters as the war ended - if only I had had the forethought to capture my grandfather's war experience in a systematic way it could have provided the material needed for a short book for our family to enjoy.
Sadly my grandfather did not live long enough to see me marry the woman that I love -- yea, I got married instead of buying a red sports car in my mid-life :-) -- but as it worked out my wife and I married on Veterans Day (November 11) so this holiday has double special meaning to me each year.
May my grandfather rest in peace and may all couples experience calm seas,

Friday, November 09, 2007

Seven Days

The following post is a correction and apology to American football fans everywhere. In my earlier post here -- "Tuesdays and Wednesday" -- I noted that Tuesday and Wednesday nights were the only evenings that football fans had to go without televised American football games thus I suggested Major League Baseball should make sure World Series games were played on those nights if possible.

Well I stand corrected since I simply did not look hard enough to find football games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights -- yes Virginia such games do exist which should be enough to put theologians and atheists out of work since this is clear evidence there is a God AND he loves football!!

So this week I am proud to say that I will have watched a football game for seven nights in a row (yes - my wife is traveling this week so that helps my quest a bit!!) including a very entertaining rivalry game between Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University. No, these two schools aren't national powerhouses but they did play with a lot of heart. I would have gladly played for them back in the day had I been given the opportunity.

So I stand corrected and will promise my readers that I will read the sports pages more closely since missing a football game during the week makes absolutely no sense :-)

See you in the bleachers,


Election Results - parks and recreation

Another result from the USA's November 6th elections was the approval of a ballot referendum authorizing my local city council (Apple Valley, Minnesota) to spend $14.4 million on current and future parks and recreation facilities. This ballot issue was supported by 59% of voters because essentially if you voted against it -- like I did -- then you just hated children although I have two children myself plus I live a much more active lifestyle than the average citizens in our community.

But as with the advocacy campaigns for "Pre-K" education if parks are "for the kids" then the herd mentality tends to take over as was the case with this vote. Now I love parks and recreation programs but instead of simply voting in higher tax levels I offered two suggestions when I talked with my fellow citizens about this ballot vote. I proposed that instead of taxing ourselves more we should consider:

  • Forcing our city council to sell/privatize our municipally-owned liquor stores then use the proceeds to improve our parks and recreation department. Question -- what type of employees should a city government have if it must employ people at all -- liquor store workers or park rangers/sports managers? I say -- SELL THE BOOZE AND BUY SOME SOCCER BALLS!!
  • Forcing our city council to sell our municipally-owned golf course to the highest bidder but since this sacred cow is protected by the city bureaucracy and local "pride" I guess then my back up option/suggestion to the city leaders was to combine the senior center upgrades with the proposed golf club house upgrades so we end up with a joint use facility. Now doesn't that make sense given that many retirees spend their time playing golf so they would be on site anyway or I am just reinforcing a stereotype?

Raising taxes is NOT the only solution assuming we have any desire to think creatively but given our political leadership today such critical and creative thinking is an unknown exercise.

See you at the park,


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Election Results - wages

November 6 was Election Day here in the USA so I plan to post a few post-election observations this week. Today's posting is a response to a Duluth, Minnesota voter who voted for the "moderate Democrat" running for mayor - Don Ness - because she said Mr. Ness has promised to implement a "living wage".

From an Economics 101 perspective the living wage concept is completely false since the "wage" is not set based on any principles of economics. But the larger problem is that voters like this woman become completely dependent on government for their quality of life versus taking it upon themselves to improve their station in life. Personally I would much rather move to a cabin in the woods to live off the land versus having a life dependent on government soup kitchens but that is me :-)

I was reminded of this Duluth voter's quote when I noticed this employment ad in my community newspaper which I quote below:

Awesome Career
Government Postal Jobs!
$17.80 to $59.00 hour entry level
NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED (note - I added the all CAPS here)
Now hiring! Green Card OK. Call 800.370.0146, ext. 102 Closed Sundays
So with "no experience" it appears most anyone who wants a job can pursue this opportunity which pays an annual salary (based on the hourly rates mentioned in the ad) of $34,176 to $113,280 assuming you work 40 hour weeks all year.
Now that is what I call a living wage especially since you could get these nice paying jobs with no college education debt apparently. Again -- why does any government feel obligated to create living wages when government jobs like these are available?
Personally my idea of a living wage is much higher than government leaders are mandating employers to pay so I have no use for their central planning since I much prefer to build my own income versus being reduced to a mere vassal of the state.
Live free or die on food stamps,

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

God and the White House

Today's USA Today newspaper (November 7) contained an interesting article entitled, "Bishops to guide voting faithful on life questions", which focused on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' role in the 2008 presidential elections.

What caught my attention in this article though was a chart entitled, "Where They Pray", which noted the official religion that each of the 16 Democrats and Republicans running for the President of the USA has stated for themselves. I did a quick tally of their chosen religions to determine the following results:

  • Roman Catholic - 5 candidates
  • Baptist - 3
  • Methodist - 2
  • Unitarian Universalist - 1
  • United Church of Christ - 1
  • Episcopalian -- 1
  • Mormon -- 1
  • Evangelical Presbyterian -- 1
  • Church of Christ -- 1

Now that is what I call diversity!! The most telling result here of course is that 5 of these 16 candidates (31%) are Catholic. Clearly our country has come a very long way in terms of religious tolerance since President John F. Kennedy's (the first Roman Catholic to become President) in 1960.

So that is a good thing but the story that USA Today failed (or refused?) to note in this article is that my people - the Lutherans -- do not have one of our own seeking the White House in 2008. Forget about whether or not we are ready for a woman or an African-American in the Oval Office what about the salt of the earth, German-American farmers who are the backbone of the Lutheran Church?? When will we see our day in the sun?! To quote US Representative Maxine Waters who was quoted after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, "no justice, no peace..............." Of course we Lutherans aren't going to riot in the streets burning and looting Korean-American businesses because we envy their success -- no we will probably just sit in our church pews with VERY serious frowns!! :-)

Perhaps we can draft Lutheran-in-Chief , Garrison Keillor, to leave Lake Wobegon long enough to campaign for the White House? Just imagine the high dollar fundraising events that would be catered by the church ladies bringing hot dishes. Now that would revolutionize our modern day campaign.



Monday, November 05, 2007

United Nations - relocation

Today I officially became a pragmatist regarding the United Nations ( in terms of the old phrase -- "1.) Get the USA out of the UN and 2.) the UN out of the USA."

Part One -- Personally I can never see the day when the USA leaves the UN as a member especially given our "Permanent Member" status on the Security Council which allows us to exercise veto power (as the other Permanent Members can if they choose) over UN decisions we consider not in our best interest. Sadly -- we have this legal power but clearly don't use it enough given fraud like the Iraq "Oil for Food" embezzlement/payola program.

Part Two -- However, getting the UN out of the USA is not only a great idea but it would also benefit the poor.

So the relocation of the United Nations from its current home in New York City, USA to a new city/country is my new personal campaign so volunteers are welcome to this cause. This campaign will appear periodically on my blog so for now let me just outline a few reasons why this relocation would be good for humanity:

  • Moving the UN to a low cost location would reduce the overheard costs thus allowing the UN to use more of its current budget resources to "help" the world's poor.
  • Moving the UN from the USA would eliminate all charges of American Imperialism since we exercise our sovereign right to deny visas (to our political enemies) for access to American soil since New York City is in the USA of course.
  • Parking would improve in New York City since the diplomats at the UN would go away - especially good since they never pay their parking tickets anyway.
  • The UN building could be razed to make way for yet another Donald Trump development - something that would actually generate economic activity versus the UN which simply takes the dues the USA pays.
  • Jobs would be created in the new host country once the UN moves. Given the genocide currently underway in Chad/Darfur region (as noted by the UN itself at -- perhaps moving the UN there with its thousands of jobs would help stabilize the region.

More reasons for this relocation will follow in periodic postings so readers' suggestions are most welcome so we can build momentum for this campaign.

Calling Two Men and a Truck,


Football Records and Recommendations

For American football fans like me that is an exceptional weekend of football -- to be capped off with Monday Night Football tonight of course -- so here are some records and recommendations that I would like to offer to fans of the game:

  • Iowa State University - my Cyclones secured their second win of this season against the Kansas State University Wildcats!! Yes only two wins this season but I was impressed the Cyclones played all four quarters and were consistent. This is encouraging for next year (now I sound like the Chicago Cubs fan that I am - "wait 'til next year")
  • Notre Dame University -- finally after a 44 year drought the US Naval Academy Midshipmen defeated the Fighting (not this year) Irish after three overtimes. I always cheer against Notre Dame no matter whom they play so since this 44 year old record was broken it is doubly sweet. Touchdown Jesus!!!
  • Minnesota Vikings -- Vikings' running back, Adrian Peterson (AP), rushed for a National Football League record of 296 yards so congratulations to him and the Vikings on their win against the San Diego Chargers. AP's running is very impressive but I fear he will shorten his career (like I did years ago) but seeking out people to hit instead of saving his body a bit more by running out of bounds when possible. I hope he has a 20 year career in the NFL but he needs to think long term about his physical well being.
  • Minnesota vs. Iowa State -- The University of Minnesota plays in the Big 10 (which of course has 11 members!! I hate these mega-conferences football has created just for leveraging TV revenues but of course that is up to them) Conference and Iowa State University plays in the Big 12 Conference. Recommendation - instead of playing NCAA Division I-AA schools like Kent State University (which ISU lost to this year!!) I want Minnesota and ISU to play each other. This has historic importance because ISU's stadium is named in honor of Jack Trice. Mr. Trice was a black/African-American who played for ISU in the 1920's. He died in a hospital after being injured during a game between Minnesota and ISU. So like the great rivalries for the Little Brown Jug, Floyd of Rosedale, etc. I want Minnesota and ISU to play a memorial game in honor of Jack Trice to raise funds for sports medicine student scholarships perhaps or emergency room facilities -- still developing this proposal which I plan to blog on later this month.
  • New England vs. Indianapolis -- while I am no star chaser I would love to sit with Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy (whom the Vikings should have named our head coach years ago) and Indianapolis quarterback, Peyton Manning during a football game but that is impossible since they only get one "bye week" with no game so they probably would rather spend the time with their families :-) But I was cheering for them during this Sunday's game against New England. This was a huge game because both teams were undefeated going into this game so unlike in a government program (see I never miss a chance!!) one of these teams had to lose. Sadly New England won the day even without the use of their video taping equipment used to spy on teams -- another reason to cheer against them.
  • Boston College -- since I considered going to college in Bean Town I was cheering for the Boston College Eagles this week especially since they were sitting in the apparently cursed, "number two", ranking in the college football team rankings. The Eagles could have used some Doug Flutie hail Mary passes on Saturday since they lost to the Florida State Seminoles -- who of course wrote a check to the Seminole Nation so they could continue using their Native American Indian nickname.

Again, a great weekend of football followed by some couch time with Monday Night Football tonight.