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.



Thursday, November 01, 2007


My day was consumed with a business trip "up north" to Duluth, Minnesota which is a vital port city on Lake Superior. The chamber of commerce was hosting a town hall meeting so I attended so I could do some networking to expand the monthly "leave us alone"/center-right political coalition meeting that I organize in St. Paul, Minnesota.

If any readers are interested in attending the coalition meeting that I organize or in another state (and some non-USA locations that I know of) please feel free to contact me via this blog. But first I need to see you if you pass my ideological litmus test so please take one or both of these web-based political quizzes so I have an idea of how you view the world:


Since I have visited Duluth several times I knew my way around a little so it was fun to walk around the downtown after the meeting I attended. Overall the downtown seemed vibrant although I did see several for sale/for rent signs -- it would actually be nice to have one of the empty condos I saw as a weekend retreat but first I have to reduce our income taxes so we can afford such an asset. Oh yea, government is there to help us :-)

While walking back to my gas-guzzling, Mother Earth-hating SUV I noticed a campaign office for one of the mayoral candidates since their election is set for November 6th. So I spent a few minutes talking with the staff in what appeared to be a VERY relaxed atmosphere since the election is only five days away. Since I don't know either of the mayoral candidates I asked the staff person to describe them for me to which he replied --

  • one considers himself to be a "moderate Democrat", and
  • the other one is viewed as more conservative

What? The choice is between a "moderate" and a "more conservative" -- that sounds like they are both dancing around in the middle just focusing on getting elected not leading a revolution. Duluth's major issue is the public pension liabilities it has for current and retired government employees. No where in the campaign literature that I saw did either of the candidates tell the truth -- pensions for government employees is the best example to show that welfare reform has not gone far enough since we need to take these pensions off 'auto pilot' by moving them to 401k retirement plans like most private sector employees have today.

As the saying goes, "Duluth is a great city on a great lake................" but there won't be any "great" changes after the November 6th elections I fear.