Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years later

I wrote my 9/11 story several years ago. The day was going to start with high level of nerves, and end with me being awarded full custody of my children. There was still a few bumps and bruises after that. But that ruling on that day proved to be the definitive conclusion to my domestic struggles.

Today those two boys are grown and graduated. The youngest, Bob, experiencing the freedom of adulthood, the the tribulations that go with it. Airman Nick, proudly serving our nation in the Air Force.

Yet, for most others, that day is marked by sadness and tragedy. As the memorial service in New York continues with the reading of the names of the innocents, I reflect on the impact on all of our lives of that day, that moment, that tragedy.

All my hopes for continued healing to all those who experienced loss on that infamous day.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

I am a WORLD Champion

Yeah, yeah, I thought I could get back in the swing, but my commitments to MN Brass on our drive to championships just took up what available spare time I had, and boy was it worth it.

This weekend we made history. After three consecutive runner-up awards I have finally reached the pinnacle of my activity, a World Championship title:

1. 98.35 Minnesota Brass
2. 97.45 Buccaneers
3. 95.55 Empire Statesmen
4. 94.35 Hurricanes
5. 93.13 Caballeros
6. 90.18 Renegades
7. 89.00 Alliance
8. 85.00 CorpsVets
9. 82.23 Kilties
10.78.95 Tampa Bay Thunder

This is the announcement of our placement and caption wins. So surreal!

Here some press floating around out there as well:

StarTribune Article


It was a hell of a ride . . . . can;t wait till next year to defend!!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

'Sconi Recall Wrap-Up

So the big 6 race recall day is over. We knew two would flip for sure, a 3rd was doable, and a 4th just short of a pipe dream. Going into Red territory in a special election environment is always tricky. Turnout is dicey, Koch brothers & friends pouring money in to save their power, and dirty tricks of deception were necessary for them to stave off the challenge.

Or maybe their electorate doesn't mind being told one thing and having their leaders govern in a different way. Maybe the rule of law and the constitution don't mean anything to them. Maybe they like sitting back and watching their rights evaporating, the constitution deconstructed, all for the sake of claiming victory. I mean, it's all about winning, right!

The impact of the pillaging of the people by the Right Wing Koch machine will not be evident immediately. Soon the grip of a Government drowning in the bathtub will have meaningful consequences. The electorate will get fed up, they'll look for a party with a plan, and a clear understanding of what it takes to lead. But what happens once they're elected, and things improve, as they usually do. Oh the horror, the electorate will chase them out of office for raising taxes.

It's a vicious cycle, but we've seen it play out way too many times. The electoral memory is way to short to have any real long term success.


Monday, August 01, 2011

Back from Lewisburg, the Ship Showdown!

HUGE Drum corps weekend as we took our mid-season excursion to the East Coast to go head to head with the 6 time defending, and 6 year undefeated Reading Buccaneers.

For the past three years we have finished runner up at World Championships. That, in itself, is a HUGE accomplishment for an organization that, when I first joined back in 1978, couldn't even make Top 10, the threshold for Finals. In the late 80's we finally took 9th, only to fall back to 11th the next year. We did that for a couple cycles until 1991 where our finalist streak began. It wasn't until the late 90's that we cracked into the top 5. 2009, our Nocturne show and the last time I was on the field, was our highest scoring finish to date. Last year was the first year we won both Horns AND Drums, but just missed the title. This year we're holding nothing back.

In 2009, we were 3 points back of Bucs at the midseason show, and finished 1.5 from them at Championships. last year. Last year we didn't go head to head with them early, but finished just a point way in the end.

This weekend, we nailed it. OK, we still took 2nd, 88.3 - 86.45 but won the music caption and was only 1.85 off the pace. We were very pleased with this first read from the East Coast judges. And the crowd was simply in love with our program.
This is the closest we have been to the defending champs this early. The chatter out East is this could be the year the giant falls, and the power house from the Midwest are the ones in the best position to do it. The Viking Ship against the Pirate Ship, a true show down.

I did follow the Debt Ceiling evolution, but, for obvious reasons, was pretty preoccupied and focused on our mission. I'll review the deal later today. My wife leaves for Michigan, in the morning. Blogging can wait another day I think.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Debt Creation

I continue to tell other Right leaning fiscal conservatives that as much as they continue to support a Republican Party that says one thing, but then does the opposite once in office, they are supporting the wrong party. They scoff. Fair enough. As long as they consider FoxNews a legitimate news source there won't be much opportunity to show them the truth. But there is a Graphic that has been flying around Facebook for several days now. Take a look at the Left.

And for added reading, Bloomberg goes into some details.
House Speaker John Boehner often attacks the spendthrift ways of Washington.

“In Washington, more spending and more debt is business as usual,” the Republican leader from Ohio said in a televised address yesterday amid debate over the U.S. debt. “I’ve got news for Washington - those days are over.”

Yet the speaker, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all voted for major drivers of the nation’s debt during the past decade: Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and Medicare prescription drug benefits. They also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that rescued financial institutions and the auto industry.

Together, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News, these initiatives added $3.4 trillion to the nation’s accumulated debt and to its current annual budget deficit of $1.5 trillion.
You should read the rest.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Question for Conservatives

Next to 'The Fix', Cagle's blog with his assortment of Editorial cartoons should be a regular stop, and his collection of columns can be a must read.

Today's installment is 'The Question Conservatives Can't Answer'

The following fact was sent to numerous conservative pundits, politicians, and profitseekers:

Based on Tax Foundation figures, the richest 1 percent has TRIPLED its share of America’s income over the past 30 years. Much of the gain came from tax cuts and minimally taxed financial instruments. If their income had increased only at the pace of American productivity (80 percent), they would be taking about a TRILLION DOLLARS LESS out of our economy.

And a question was posed:

In what way do the richest 1 percent deserve these extraordinary gains?
Care to take a stab at it. If we were experiencing the boom we were led to believe would happen under these policies, they may be justifiable. But in reality, and as predicted by many of us, this only took money out of the economy, stalling it, and creating a catalyst for economic tumult.

Here, take a peek at the raw data in the article:
But based on 1980 dollars and IRS data, this is how U.S. income has been redistributed since that time:

• Incomes for the top 1 percent have gone from $148,000 to $450,000
• Incomes for the next 9 percent have gone from $46,000 to $50,000
• Incomes for the next 40 percent have gone from $17,500 to $15,000
• Incomes for the bottom 50 percent have gone from $5,400 to $3,750

Monday, July 25, 2011

Debt Denial

As mentioned below, my post on January 25th is as timely today as it was then. 6 Months ago, we could have implemented my plan and we would not be facing inevitable economic tumult. Now we have no choice but to increase the borrowing power of the Fed to keep our country solvent. However, for those of you not paying attention, the Right has never been concerned about the solvency of this nation or deep spending cuts for that matter. It has always been a political ballot box game to them regardless of the cost.

We lived a microcosm of this during the MN State Government shutdown and when the Governor called their bluff, they got cold feet, initially. They had no choice but to own an offer they thought the Governor would never accept.

I suspect something similar will happen in the next day or two. The President will agree to a smaller, shorter term offer as long as it extends past Nov 2012. I mean, we wouldn't want to go through this same process just before an election, that would be . . . what . . . putting personal political partisanship over the best interest of the country. No one would do that, would they?


6 Month Vacation

So, I stopped writing on January 25th, and ironically, that post is as timely today as it was then. More on that in the next screed.

Things have been going great, lately, so just a quick update.

Airman Nick is currently stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. He just completed Combat Readiness School and may deploy soon. He called the other day to say he probably won't get away on leave before then, so we'll have to rely on occasional phone calls and Facebook chat to stay in touch. He continues to be confident in his choices and grounded in his future. I am so proud of that young man.

My youngest officially completed his K-12 education. He claims to be committed to saving up some money so he can move out on his own. Maybe empty nest isn't as far always as I once thought *smile*

I am having an incredible time performing with Minnesota Brass, Incorporated, my 20th year on the field as a marching member. This is by far and away the most challenging book we have ever performed. This years' program in entitled VALHALLA! and takes our Viking hero, John, from immigration across the sea (Immigrant Song, Led Zeppelin) to our prayer/battle sequence (Mingus Children Hour of Dreams) where our hero dies in battle. From there we bury him at sea to our ballad of John Lennon's Imagine. And, of course, all Vikings who die an honorable death in battle are delivered to Valhalla with a ride from the Valkyries, which means Wagner's classic for the closer. Embedded below is our performance at TCF Bank stadium to give you a peek at us mid season. This weekend we head out to Lewisburg PA to go head to head with out main competition. Labor Day weekend is World Championships in Rochester NY.

I may not get into full daily posting mode, but I do plan on putting something out there a few times a week. Someone has to inject common sense in the midst of all the partisan gamesmanship!

Irregardless, it's GREAT to be back!!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bi-partisan Balancing

I was watching McCain this AM talk about the budget, and after seeing tea party style Republicans looking at peanuts for political gain as it relates to budget cuts (think Foreign aid, only .16%, that's POINT ONE SIX), McCain kept on harping about Agriculture Subsidies. But again, nice political buzz word, but eliminating those subsidies is again, ONLY .07% (yes, POINT ZERO SEVEN).

I've said it before, if we are going to make meaningful efforts in restoring the federal budget to sanity, we need to make the painful, yet not politically popular, decisions to reel this behemoth in. I propose the following:

1) Do NOT raise the debt ceiling. Force congress to make the cuts or revenue investments necessary to stop the growth in borrowing and begin buying down the debt, not increasing it.

2) A straight across the board cut, 15 % to start, on ALL budget areas INCLUDING Defense.

3) Revenue enhancements; not the least of which is rolling back the top tier tax bracket to pre-President GW Bush levels, adding a scant 3 cents on the dollar influx on adjusted Gross Income of the first dollars over $500,000

So that's the quick and dirty of where I am at, but coming off the heals of the President's Debt Commission recommendations, there is a bi-partisan piece of legislation being proposed that also recognizes the balanced approach needed to resolve the budget conundrum:
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner is about to heed his own admonition that Congress "put up or shut up" when confronting the dangerously high federal debt.

The Virginia Democrat and U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, are close to introducing a complex bill that would cut trillions in federal spending, raise some taxes and lower others, and spread the pain of cutting the federal deficit among just about everyone in America.

Nothing will be sacred. Everything is open for cutbacks or change to get spending under control, including defense, Social Security and Medicare.
And that is all I ever said that has to happen to make true and real budget reductions, EVERYTHING needs to be on the table, be it cuts or revenue.

No, as it the case with any legislation, by the time it hits the floor it will be sliced and diced. Radicals from both sides will play politics with amendments and slight of hand proposals to get members in vulnerable district to go on records with trick votes. The bi-partisan authors have a message for them:
The political cost is so high, Warner said in a recent interview, that the entire plan has to be a single bill - one up-or-down vote.

"The only way you realistically can get there is if you get... one package where everybody can say, 'I don't like a lot of it, but the sum of the good it does is worth the pain it will cost,' " Warner said. "At the end of the day, this is not going to be a painless process."
It's not easy, and it will hurt, but the hurt should be spread evenly.

If YOU want to try your hand it dealing with trillions of dollars in deficits, play the game. It kind of puts things into perspective.


Monday, January 24, 2011

RIP, Jack!

My mother would get a kick out of me, when I was just a wee little boy, when I would go into the kitchen, and grab a chair, and drag it into the living room. JACK was on, and I wanted to do the exercises with him.

I watched Jack through those early years, and followed his life as he reached each and every milestone, while accomplishing another unheard of feat for a man his age. Even at 70, he pulled 70 rowboats in a flotilla while swimming for 2 1/2 hours in the waters off Long Beach. Jack was immortal, or so we thought or at least hoped.

Like George Burns we couldn't fathom a scenario of a world without their hope, their spirit, their drive. But mortality is a reality, and at 96 Jack succumbed to respiratory failure while battling pneumonia.

I miss you already, Jack. Thanks for the memories!!


Monday, January 17, 2011

McCain on Obama: "I believe he is a patriot"

Did you catch McCain's Op-Ep in the WaPo, yesterday? Here's a snippet:
President Obama gave a terrific speech Wednesday night. He movingly mourned and honored the victims of Saturday's senseless atrocity outside Tucson, comforted and inspired the country, and encouraged those of us who have the privilege of serving America. He encouraged every American who participates in our political debates - whether we are on the left or right or in the media - to aspire to a more generous appreciation of one another and a more modest one of ourselves.

The president appropriately disputed the injurious suggestion that some participants in our political debates were responsible for a depraved man's inhumanity. He asked us all to conduct ourselves in those debates in a manner that would not disillusion an innocent child's hopeful patriotism. I agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments. We should respect the sincerity of the convictions that enliven our debates but also the mutual purpose that we and all preceding generations of Americans serve: a better country; stronger, more prosperous and just than the one we inherited.
But this is the part that that hit home (emphasis mine):
I disagree with many of the president's policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country's cause. I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals. And I reject accusations that Americans who vigorously oppose his policies are less intelligent, compassionate or just than those who support them.

Our political discourse should be more civil than it currently is, and we all, myself included, bear some responsibility for it not being so. It probably asks too much of human nature to expect any of us to be restrained at all times by persistent modesty and empathy from committing rhetorical excesses that exaggerate our differences and ignore our similarities. But I do not think it is beyond our ability and virtue to refrain from substituting character assassination for spirited and respectful debate.
Read the whole thing, he's on to something!


Thursday, January 13, 2011


Last night:
At a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do -- it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds

President Brack Obama
January 12, 2011
I thought Right Wing blogger Allahpundit recognized the positives of last night:
right after the line “it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy,” he punctuated it with “it did not.” He’s not playing the “climate of hate” game here
and this part:
Ace heard a different speech than I did, I guess, but for what it’s worth, this is playing remarkably well thus far among righties on Twitter: Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, Jim Geraghty, Andy Levy, S.E. Cupp, Philip Klein, and Ace’s own co-bloggers Drew and Gabe all thought it was rock solid.
I don't presume that this crazed mad man acted out based on words of others. It seems more clear each day that he was acting independently, irresponsibly, and delusionally.

However, isn't it enough to give us pause that maybe our words matter. Isn't it enough that the mere chance that something like this could happen by some kook taking words literally, rather than rhetorically. It is hopefull to see members on both sides of the aisle beginning to recognize this.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

AZ in Pictures

I thought these three cartoons did a decent job of recognizing the fractured debate even this incident has caused. At this point, I see too much finger pointing and not enough reflection.

I continue to pray for the recovery of all those injured, and for those greiving the loss of loved ones.


Monday, January 10, 2011

We Are All Responsible as Words Matter

President Bill Clinton, April 2010 (emphasis mine):
"What we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold - but that the words we use really do matter, because there's this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike," he said.

"One of the things that the conservatives have always brought to the table in America is a reminder that no law can replace personal responsibility. And the more power you have and the more influence you have, the more responsibility you have."
And I agree, the perpetrator of this horrendous attack is the one who is solely responsible, but it is a time to reflect on our words and how they effect others.

If we truly believe our positions are the correct ones, can't we successfully impress them on others without the incendiary dialogue. I know during President Bush's first term I was falling into that trap, but upon his re-election I'd like to think I dialed it back and stayed on the high road. Can't we all!?

My heart and prayers go out to the Victims of Arizona's tragic events. May the healing begin!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Governor Dayton!

I just like saying that. Not because he was my first choice, or even my preferred choice. Heck, he spent most of the election on my 'No way in hell' list. But the Right wing smear machine has already started the hatefest by taking a page out of the National Republican book.

See, it isn't about what is best for Minnesota. It's about their way or the highway. For them, elections only have consequences when the Right wins. When they lose it is to stop, stonewall, and HATE until everyone is beat into submission. Minnesotans tend to be smarter than that.

I've grown tired of the Strawman fights the bought and paid for blogs of the local Right stir up. They know if they ever had to actually debate real issues they'd get swallowed up. I refuse to fall into their heartless and soulless trap.

I'm going to stick to issues, because only juveniles stomp up and down demanding their way or the tantrums will continue. Us grownups are willing to do more than that.