Archive for February, 2010

WHO’S THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION OF THE GAMC VETO?

February 26, 2010

I can only surmise the Democrats in Minnesota knew the Senate override of Governor Pawlenty’s veto of the GAMC(General Assistance Medical Care) was a given. There seems to be a lot of “grass-roots” organizations busily working and lobbying to get the override vote done, but its still three votes short in the House. The problem with this picture is these organizations are primarily located in the Twin Cities and they don’t have the “bully pulpit” that a major player of a political party has. The GAMC is not a program for the Twin Cities only, it’s for the whole state. Pawlenty and the Republican leadership are trying to sell us on the idea of moving the 32,000 people who are enrolled in GAMC to the Minnesota Care program. The Minnesota Care program was set up to be an addendum or help to people who have health insurance, but just not enough or the right kinds of coverage. By throwing an additional 32,000 people into the system that are uninsured will tax that system beyond its capabilities and intentions. In other words, it’s a stupid proposal that simply did not have proper thought and research before the Governor proposed it.

If nothing is done, you put the emergency rooms in the position of being the primary health care provider for these 32,000 people! That will end up costing the state,i.e. the tax payers, much more money to maintain that program. By putting these people into the Minnesota Care program, that is going to cost countless dollars to convert a system designed to be a health insurance supplement program to a primary health insurance provider. Who’s going to pay for this?

What Governor Pawlenty and the Republican leadership have lost sight of is the fact that they are dealing with the very survival of these thousands of people. It almost seems they have become a statistic to them, and a real “burden” on them in their efforts to be heroes in the tax-cut wars. This is “B” as in “B” and “S” as in “S”. This is truly a portion of the big state picture that this Governor won’t address and unfortunately nobody from either side in the legislature will address. After two terms of Pawlenty and one term of Ventura, we have had twelve straight years of budget cuts. Most every function of state government has been slashed to the bone. Along with that, Pawlenty has gone nuts cutting state-wide taxes. Actually, from the perspective of “Sven Minnesota”, his total tax liability has not been reduced due to the transfer of taxation to other areas to compensate for lost state revenues. Keep in mind, Minnesotan’s tax bite has been reduced over many years, and on a scale balanced to compensate for inflation, we spent much less now than we did 40 years ago! Let’s look at some of what we as Minnesotans have lost.

Forty some years ago we enjoyed “the good life in Minnesota”. Minnesota annually ranked first in the United States in quality of living standards. Our medical care system was second to none. We had the longest life expectancy of all the states. We had the top rated public school system in America. We were considered a regional center and leader in the arts. We were leaders in corporate America in technology and friendly work places. Crime was virtually non-existent. And yes, we had bragging rights. I can remember reading a story when I was in college in the 1970’s about a nationwide poll that debunked the myth that Texans were the biggest braggarts in the country. Minnesotans were! So much for the staid old Scandinavian’s we’re supposed to be!

Back in the ’70’s Minnesota really was considered the best state to live in and do business in. What happened? Matt Entenza has a campaign ad on the radio that tells a very compelling story of his life growing up in Minnesota. The ad ends with Matt saying Minnesota’s progressive programs allowed him to rise out of his unfortunate childhood and go on to college and become a successful leader in his field. He goes on to say he now wants to return Minnesota to those kinds of programs. Imagine that, progress versus repress, a novel idea. Governor Wendell Anderson adorned the cover of Time magazine holding up a Northern Pike and bragging about the “good life in Minnesota”. I think we were the highest taxed state in the country then, yes, even higher than perennial top dog Connecticut. You can’t complain when you analyze the results of that “over-taxing” period. We were overall number one in the country in most every category of quality of life standards.

What the parties won’t say is this dirty little secret now in Minnesota. We don’t having a tax and spending problem, we have a revenue shortage problem. That’s right! We have cut the taxes back so far, we don’t have the funds to pay the bills any more. There is no more budget cutting to do that will make a difference in our budget deficit. You can’t draw blood from a stone! There needs to be a tax hike to start paying the bills, especially debt service and humanitarian services. Thus, GAMC can continue in its present state and purpose, if we can find a powerful leader to overturn the pinhead’s veto. As soon as that is accomplished, it’s sack up time for the democrats. You can’t run and hide any longer. Our cities are dying because LGA funding has been cut to the point of near elimination, our debt is mounting, and we can’t even fund basic human services anymore. Face it, the state needs an increase in revenues, and right now, it must come from an increase in taxes. Now that I’ve gotten you anti-government, anti-tax people ticked off at me, too bad. Sometimes the truth hurts and the truth is Minnesota has a revenue problem! Thank you.

Cam Obert

HEALTH CARE SUMMIT AT BLAIR HOUSE…

February 25, 2010

…the republicans have already set themselves up for failure! The Congressional leadership of the republican party has already proclaimed they will oppose everything the President and the democrats propose. Now that’s what you call open-mindedness!

As I have been saying for quite sometime now, this tact of obstructionism is going to backfire on the republicans. The President already burned them with his televised chat with them, it was he versus 140 republicans and he out debated them easily. Now today, he will have Joe Biden with him, as well as many of the most articulate democrats in Congress and his cabinet. Watch out republicans, the tidal wave that will sink you is starting to grow!

Actually, I don’t think it will be a matter so much of debate, but more of a nationally televised exposure of the “Party of No’s” tactics. When they will either say nothing or hit up the President and democrats with their usual assortment of 30 second sound bites; “the democrats are leading us into socialism”, “the democrats are going to raise your taxes”, and “the democrats are going to explode the national debt”.

The democrats have already proven all those claims and others to be false. The problem for the democrats and the President is they haven’t done a good job articulating their position. The right-wing has stolen the spot light, and have run loose with no counter-claims coming from the democrats. The fact of the matter is, the CBO has signed off on the proposed bills and proven the democrats position to be accurate. Now te democrats need to turn up the intensity! Put the public option back in, and force the other side to put up or shut up. Remember, if the republicans don’t start acting like adults and doing the job they were elected to do, they will get burned! The tide is starting to turn on them.

The republicans have to get involved in the process of governing this country. They have an obligation to do that. By only obstructing, they will grind this government to a halt. They need to acknowledge that Barack Obama is the President and put their petty insecurities aside about that and get to work. They need to offer options or alternatives to the things the democrats are proposing. They can’t show up at press conferences with their budget proposal that contains no numbers! Talk about sophomoric idiocy! The republicans bark out two things, tort reform and interstate insurance sales. The tort reform proposal is only a veiled shot at the democrats “because they are owned by the trial lawyers association.” They obviously don’t understand all states have their own regulations regarding insurance. One state’s limits or rules don’t apply in another state. In the end, it’s the patient that gets screwed because of the bureaucratic red tape involved in insurance coverage regulations.

So hopefully, today’s summit will result in some positive moves to get the republicans to grow up and start doing the job they were elected to do, governing America! Now, as I ready to head to the “X” for the girls state high school hockey tourney this morning I’ll say thank you for your read. Here’s hoping the great Irondale High School Knight girls hockey team wins today and carries through to the state championship!
Cam Obert

WHAT DRIVES POLITICIANS?…

February 24, 2010

VP Joe Biden

Mayor RT Rybak

…Ego!

Certainly there is more to it than ego, but when it’s boiled down to the basic whys and wherefores, it’s ego. Some people believe they are in it to make a contribution to the betterment of our world, or they have a burning desire to be the catalyst to change the world into a better situation. Still the bottom line is ego. Because even a person with publicly stated noble intentions can’t do it without a strong enough ego to boost that person to that level of involvement or leadership.

The good thing about a strong ego is it drives people to get involved, to try to make a difference, and to try to do good things for their constituents. The down side, unfortunately, is ego usually exposes greed, self-promotion, and a lost vision of why they are there to begin with. American history is littered with the remnants of political ego run amok. Tea Pot domes, Checkers, JFK and his “womanizing”, Watergate, CIA-Contra, Monica Lewinsky, Cheeney and Scooter, William Jefferson, Gary Cunningham, John Edwards, Eliott Spitzer, etc, etc, etc. These are only a small sample of American political problems. I would say that even my two political heros of my life, Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey, were involved in things not suitable to the American palate. Fortunately for them, they didn’t have the blood-thirsty media jackals on cable 24/7 grinding away to expose the grimier political side of these heros.

Today’s political environment has forced people in politics to become two-faced. They now have to make promises of high morality to the public, while in the back rooms fueling their ego drives with smellier plans to advance their own agenda. There is no political party that is immune to this. Remember, ego makes people do things that aren’t exactly in line with ethics and morals. Greed and personal promotion sometimes make people do things that are not morally or ethically right and sometimes even downright illegal. Let me make this clear, I do not believe that all politicians are crooks, in fact most politicians are very good people and work hard for their constituents doing what they believe is right. One thing they all must have, however, is a solid staff behind them. The role of the staff is to keep the politician focused and honest. The staff needs to deflect all attempts from the outside to sway a politician. The politician in turn, needs to make sure his staff is not involved in any “funny business”. This brings me to the impetus for today’s commentary.

Desire to advance in the political world is almost natural. A person might feel they have done all they can do at one level, so now they seek to move to the next. Again, ego is what drives this desire, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In my mind, it’s a “not so comfortable” situation when a Joe Biden runs for Vice-President, but remains on the ballot in his home state as his party’s candidate for Senate. I think a politician needs to commit to a cause and move forward. I think “covering your bases” kind of smells of ego out of control. We have a situation here in Minnesota that is similar. Mayor RT Rybak(D), of Minneapolis ran for re-election to his mayoral seat last fall. Since he has been a great mayor, one of the best in the history of Minneapolis, in my opinion, his re-election was a slam-dunk. Here’s where it starts to smell a little bit. Mayor Rybak filed to run for governor the day after he was declared winner of the mayors race. Obviously he had the race for governor in his head all along. I believe that’s somewhat deceptive and a slap at the residents of Minneapolis that just re-elected him as their mayor. As I referenced earlier, the blood-thirsty media found a little dirt on the Rybak mayoral campaign a few weeks ago. Apparently, the mayoral campaign purchased the DFL statewide donor list last summer. The media questioned a Rybak for Mayor campaign official about it. The response was they needed to reach out beyond Minneapolis to find campaign donors. I don’t believe they had to spend that much on a “slam-dunk” contest in their favor for mayor. So really, I think the campaign needs to come clean on their rational for the purchase of this list. I think they can fix it by selling the list to the Rybak for Governor campaign, but I’m just not sure. I am convinced, as are many other Minnesotans, the list was purchased for the governor campaign. Now, the nit-wits from the republican party are suing the campaign. I’m not sure why, but suffice it to say, it will smudge the Rybak campaign effort. This is only the primary campaign! What happens when we get to the general?

Rt Rybak has proven he is a great administrator. He has done a great job managing the affairs of the biggest city in the state. I have no doubt, RT Rybak would be a great governor! He has the experience being a chief executive, and that’s what it takes to be a governor. If he gains the nomination, I will support him 100%. I’ll door knock for him, I’ll have his sign in my yard, and I’ll talk him up on this blog. Oh, there is another negative to his strategy so far. If, Mayor Rybak wins the general in the fall, which if he is the DFL candidate, he will, a special election will have to be held in Minneapolis to replace him as mayor. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars is that going to cost? Sometimes politicians make decisions or choose paths to follow that are wrongly driven by ego. This one of those situations.

I’m not happy about the potential of losing RT as the mayor of Minneapolis. Call it selfishness on my behalf, but RT Rybak is a great mayor of what I consider the greatest city in America, with the exception of the climate of course, and I don’t believe there are any capable candidates to replace him. Filling the governor’s seat is much easier. There are actually a few very capable candidates on the slate to do that. Those are my thoughts, I think RT Rybak is great, and I want to believe he got a little bad advice from his handlers on these issues I have addressed. Thank you.

Cam Obert

UPBEAT MINNESOTA SPORTS SCENE!

February 23, 2010

First, I must apologize to friend Steve Paul in Pittsburgh for writing on Minnesota sports, I don’t know sports that well in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and to my sister Gretchen, who is simply a sports hater! She has, however, taken an interest in Olympic hockey? By the way Steve, is Western Pennsylvania still a hot bed for high school linebackers? Most of which have gone on to Penn State, thus the nickname, “Linebacker U”.

The number one story in Minnesota right now is the Twins reporting to spring training in Fort Meyers. This is huge for two reasons. First, it means spring is coming and within two months we will start pulling out of this frozen hell we live in. Second, optimism abounds as the team is probably the most talented team coming to camp since the powerhouse days in the ’60’s! Even though the Twins have won their division five of the last six years, they have not been able to get past the first round in the playoffs. Not only have they added talent at positions of need, but the whole roster is coming to camp healthy. Joe “Gas Pipe” Nathan and Justin “I’m too wore out to play into September” Morneau have fully recovered from their respective surgeries and proclaim they are ready to go the distance. With the additions of Orlando Hudson and JJ Hardy they finally have a proven keystone combo that have a history of good hitting, Hardy, with power. They have the power bat of Jim Thome coming off the bench to pinch hit, and they have Carl Pavano in the starting rotation for the full season. Pat Neshak and Glen Perkins are also back and healthy.

The Twins have had a good run in the division for a few years now, and that shouldn’t be challenged this year. The other teams in the division really didn’t do much in the off-season to improve themselves. The White Sox will have a healthy Jake Peavy on the staff from the start, but starting pitching really wasn’t a problem for them. They lost a lot of under-achieving talent over the winter though. Cleveland will continue to slide and Detroit will have to over-achieve again like last year to be in the mix. They lost Granderson and gained 36-year-old Johnny Damon to play center. Look for Kansas City to be better as all those youngsters on their roster gain experience.

Another big story is the recent resurgence of University of Minnesota winter sports. The basketball team lost their hair and learned how to close out an opponent. They absolutely crushed Wisconsin and Indiana last week! Tomorrow night will be a tough test for them, they face Purdue at the Barn. The Barn will save them and I think it will be a tight game. I won’t predict a winner, bit I’m rooting my head off for the Gophers. The Gopher hockey team swept number 7 Colorado College over the weekend. This might have been the best two game series this team has played in two years! The team’s roster is still too thin, and they do have to optimize their talent to win, but if they can keep it up, they might make the Final Five! I hope next year they will be adding some size. They are still too small! In big time hockey, you need more than fast skaters to be competitive. The Minnesota women’s gymnastics team had their highest score of the season last weekend at the Pavillion against the hated Illini. Our own Lucy Ennis, formerly of the Roseville Gymnastics club, had a great meet.

The Gopher baseball team opened up their season in Florida over the weekend with a split with the Akron Zips. This should be a very good season for John Anderson’s(the best coach of anything at the “U”) Gophers. I believe “Baseball America” has them in the pre-season national top 20! Not bad for a baseball situated in this horrible climate.

The high school state tournaments start this week with gymnastics and girl’s hockey. My wife and I, with many of our friends will be attending the gymnastics meets friday and Saturday at the Pavillion at the “U”. Girls hockey also get started this week. I will be going to the “X” on Thursday morning to watch my own Irondale girls team compete. For the second year in a row, Irondale sports the two highest scoring players in the metro area! Now, because Irondale is a smaller school, more known for its academic excellence, especially technology and science, and their top rated marching bands year in and year out, when they do occasionally bust out with a good sports team or individual they tend to get over-looked by the media, especially the Star Tribune. The Strib picked a girl from Roseville Area High School as the top girls hockey player in the metro. I was shocked! Then I came back to my senses when I realized the Strib has had a long love affair with Roseville and Totino-Grace in the northern metro. This is really a slap at Irondale’s Gina MacDonald. Not only has she led the metro in scoring two years in a row, but she has played a major part in lifting a dormant program into the state tournament for the second year in a row! She is a senior who is going to Harvard in the fall to play hockey and get a great education.

My hometown of Alexandria has had another successful winter sports campaign. They will be sending their boys and girls hockey teams to state as well as their girls basketball team. There are indications that Alexandria may be becoming the “factory” in out-state Minnesota as Eden Prairie is in the metro area! Go big Red!

After losing Rodney Williams last year to graduation, I thought Cooper would be ordinary this year. I was wrong on that point. They are good, real good, even better than last year’s one-dimensional look. I am going to see them tonight at Irondale. Irondale also surprised me this year. Last year I proclaimed them as the worst high school hoops team I had ever seen, and now this year they have a winning record and have some good quality wins as well. They might sneak up on some teams this year in the sections. Bryan Sprang is their star, he’s the 4th leading scorer in the metro. His sister competed with my daughter in gymnastics for many years. I’ve seen a few of the power teams in the metro this year and the usuals are there again! Hopkins is really good, I’ve seen them once live, once on TV. This is a team that lost four starters from last year’s team and are back at number two this year! I am going to try to get to another St. Paul Johnson game. They are number one and are fun to watch. They are very athletic and very unselfish. They really are a joy to watch!

From now through March, the snowiest month of the year, we’ll have all the high school tourneys, the WCHA tourney, and March Madness! Spring training will progress, we get a few Twins Grapefruit league games on TV this year, the regular season starts around the first of April, the Twins opener at home is in the first week of April, assuming the snow is gone by then! There is still over two feet of snow on the field at the park, with March on the door step! Of course, the crescendo for the end of winter sports is the Masters. I will be in front of the tube Thursday to Sunday, start to finish. It’s still the top sports spectacle in the world,er, next to the Twins winning the series!

Okay Minnesota, there you have it! Either sit back and enjoy the next six weeks, or get out and see as much as you can, or do a combination, as I will be doing. I do, however, need to get a loan from the bank for ticket purchases. It’s really expensive to watch high school sports! Enjoy, and thank you for reading this.
Cam Obert

CPAC AND MORE FROM THE WEEKEND…

February 22, 2010

CPAC! weekend

…I was baffled by the applause given to Dick Cheeney upon his introduction at CPAC. The wave sweeping the right-wing is budget restraint, spending cuts, and tax cuts, so how does Cheeney fit into this? He was second-in-command when the U.S. government went through the biggest expansion of government in any eight year period in the country’s history. He was the sitting VP when the Bush administration walked into a budget surplus of almost $200 billion, and left with a budget deficit of almost $2 trillion. He was Bush’s right arm guy when the administration secured a huge pharmaceutical savings package that was unpaid for. They just added it to the national debt. He spearheaded two wars, one of which was unnecessary and engaged on a basis of lies. Neither one of these wars was financed by today dollars. They had already blown all that money, so they simply piled that up on the debt. So why did the right-wingers cheer for him, even chanted for his political return? Because they are simply dumb! Now, if Eric Holder had the spine to do it, Cheeney should be investigated for his part in the government ordered “enhanced interrogation tactics” or “water-boarding”. These are acts of torture, which are against the law, and those ordering it or simply not stopping it need to be held accountable as law breakers. So go ahead, you short-memoried, blood thirsty righties!, bring him back. It would be most entertaining.

It was interesting listening to one speaker after another screaming Obama is a one termer!, say no to taxes!, say no to spending! Wow, all they do is whine and complain. They do not offer alternative plans, they can’t, they spend all of their time scheming to take down the Presidency of Obama. As a level-headed republican, Colin Powell, said on Sunday, President Obama still has three years to go on this term. If the government continues to flounder because of the pointless obstructing from the minority, the republicans will suffer worse than the democrats. He even questioned the patriotism of the extremists that are afraid Obama is going to convert the U.S. into a socialist state.

Our own Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty, addressed CPAC with nothing more than an assortment of the tea-baggers 30 second sound bites and smear attacks. He even used the Tiger Woods situation to totally embarrass himself and the state he represents. The tasteless “joke” was not received well at all, even on “Meet The Press” Sunday morning Pawlenty came off as a dufus rube from the South Saint Paul stock yards. He still laughed at his own attempt at humor, but the look on David Gregory’s face was mint! He obviously saw no humor in it! Just another cheap brainless shot from the right!

Thankfully, for the sake of the country, there were enough educated attendees at CPAC to make Ron Paul(R-TX), the straw-poll favorite for president in 2012. Paul was the original republican renegade of this era. Unfortunately, the wackos have pushed him aside and gone now for Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, et al. Too bad for the republicans, but the shelves are empty, they have no national leaders, in politics. Limbaugh, the Faux News personalities, and right-wing print pundits don’t count officially as leader.

Glenn Beck’s keynote address was nothing but a live version of his TV show. The usual taunts of socialism, Nazism, paranoia, and lies. Why does he have an audience? Are Americans really that stupid? He contributes nothing to the constructive debate about America today, only attacks and lies!

The vast majority of republican office holders have gladly taken their share of the stimulus package, it is documented and true. Also on the record, is their bitter vitriol aimed at the passage of said bill. How do these two-faced liars expect to be re-elected? They are as phony as politicians can be. The administration needs to make this a center point of their upcoming campaign season. America needs to wake up, America needs to see and understand the facts, America needs to start resisting the lies and half-truths coming from the opponents of our President.

According to Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, the stimulus package has been working. They have cited facts in not just their own states, but across the country, the stimulus money has had a very positive impact on a very bad economy. So please, before you want to disagree with this, please consult the CBO web-site for proof. Charlie Crist(R-FL), is in a tough fight for the nomination for the open Senate seat in Florida because he too, embraced the arrival of the federal stimulus money to Florida. The tea-baggers and their candidate, Marco Rubio, have vilified Crist for his “chuminess” with the enemy, President Obama. While the leader in the Florida State Senate, Rubio brought forward many very rich spending bills which Governor Crist vetoed. I am concluding the extreme right memory deficient and they suffer from “don’t confuse me with the facts” syndrome.

With the latest news out of Toyota, I’m beginning to wonder how they will ever recover from this mess. As I stated the other day, there was a small blurb in the local paper about Toyota employing two former staffers from the NHTSA, the oversite entity regarding such things as recalls. They reported a couple incidents from 2002 and 2003 that didn’t “smell right” regarding some safety issues. Toyota was able to duck recalls and thus avoid the PR mess and loss of sales that comes with publicized recalls. Now, they were just caught crowing about cutting corners on the recent floor mat recall. It saved them $100 million. Obviously this benefited Toyota, but what did it do for the affected car owners? Toyota’s CEO will appear before a Congressional committee this week to start explaining. I still think Toyota is in a mountain of trouble, and I think there will be some people from NHTSA that will be going down as well. Very sad times for Toyota, and predict it will get worse before they can turn it around. They still build great vehicles, and potential buyers need not be concerned.

This is about greed. When is enough enough? We witnessed here in Minnesota with some people who had the world by the tail, had more money than they and their heirs couldn’t spend in a lifetime. It still wasn’t enough! Now they will be spending most of the rest of their lives in prison. I guess enough, wasn’t enough for them! Might be the same at Toyota, it’s really too bad! Thank you.

Cam Obert

TIGER AND TOYOTA-GOING IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS!

February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods gave a great “explanation of things” this morning. The pre-event build-up was tremendous. Tiger was vilified relentlessly for “orchestrating” the meeting. Tiger is the biggest personality from any walk of life in the world. He has always maintained full control of matters about him. He has earned that, and the public must respect that. I think it’s great that he has tried to shield his wife and kids from the non-stop prying of the media and public. He is the star, not his family. Why can’t people respect that? I think Tiger did a great job explaining what’s going on today. I think he was honest and forthright, and anything beyond what he covered today is nobody else’s business.

In my opinion Tiger owes nobody an apology for his past behavior except his wife and family. He should have never gotten married in the first place. Good looking masculine stars that travel the world have temptations thrown before them all the time. With Tiger, this will never change because when he becomes an “elder” of the golf world, the attraction to his star power and wealth will still be there. What Tiger did is not unusual. This is what guys do in his position. Being a huge fan of Tiger’s, I’m afraid that “forcing” this marriage to continue and this nonsensical “sex addiction” therapy will only hamper his ability to continue on top of his golf game and his ability to stay on top of the golf world. Yes, I feel bad for Tiger and I feel bad for his family. But I believe this is a result of a marriage that should have never been. I wonder how much of the marriage was a product of his handlers and sponsors telling him to get situated in a nice marriage that will be good for pushing their products. Hmmm.

Tiger will bounce back though. He has a stronger will than anybody I have ever known or known of in my life. He will literally “will” himself back to the top. I will back him all the way!

Toyota, on the other hand, has almost gotten to the point of permanent damage. With two more huge recalls announced this week, the hole is just getting deeper. Now with millions of vehicles world-wide subject to recall, the world is now wondering what kind of quality control process does Toyota use and how have they been so successful in hiding it for so long?

In Toyota’s march to overcome General Motors to become the”biggest” car company in the world, did they focus so much on that goal that they forgot what got them rolling in the first place. Toyota’s growth began as a result of building great quality vehicles and growing a network of happy and loyal owners. I suspect that aspect of the equation got lost in the desire to be number one. Toyota was lauded at their ability to swing with the market so quickly. At one point, they offered more SUV’s than any other company, they lead the way with hybrid technology and production with the Prius and were the first to challenge Detroit in the production of full size pick-up trucks. But at what cost? Time will tell, but I think Toyota and the U.S. government better come clean soon.

Why did I say that? Toyota has on the payroll, in their Washington DC offices, two former NHTSA staffers as “lobbyists” I guess. There was a little blurb in the local paper here last week about two sizable potential recalls from 2002 and 2003 that were squelched by Toyota and the NHTSA. The “insiders” from Toyota convinced the NHTSA to not force a recall, but to let Toyota handle the problems with internal service bulletins. I was with Nissan at the time and I always wondered why Toyota never seemed to get hit with recalls. Nissan was always out front with handling quality issues with their vehicles, they seemed to never wait for the government to force them to engage recalls. In the long run, I appreciate that, because now who is the credible company? All the auto manufacturers lobby in DC, I’m just not sure to what level of inside help they have.

My advice to Toyota; come clean now with your owner base and the public. The longer you avoid it, the harder it’s going to be to win them back. Gosh, I’m not sure I’d like to be selling Toyota now! Anyway, as I’ve said for the past few years, all car companies make good cars, including Toyota, so you’re probably not going to make a mistake by buying any of them. My preferences now are Nissan, based on the decades of great quality vehicles they have produced, Ford and GM vehicles because the market has forced them to improve and they have, and for sheer quality and value, Kia and Hyundai. Thank you, and have a great weekend.
Cam Obert

CPAC TURNING A HARDER RIGHT? …

February 18, 2010

…Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan must be spinning in their graves! CPAC, Conservative Political Action Conference, is becoming more and more influenced by the extremists from the far right end of the Republican Party. Last year, the keynote speaker was non-other than Republican party leader Rush Limbaugh. It’s even worse this year. The keynote speaker is nationally renowned racist and lunatic, Glenn Beck. How can Americans take this seriously? It has become an extension of the failed tea-bagger convention in Nashville a couple weeks ago. The only things that are absent from CPAC are an appearance by Sarah Palin, they couldn’t afford the $100k fee she charges, and the raging racist Tom Tancredo. That role will be comfortably filled by Beck, who has accused President Obama of being racist, and claimed the left-wing progressive movement has its roots in Nazi Germany. Here’s the scary difference between Beck’s role at CPAC and Tancredo’s at the Tea-Bag party time is Beck is the main speaker!

The list of speakers for CPAC includes these intellectual powerhouses, Dick Armey, Tucker Carlson, Liz Cheeney, Ann Coulter, Jim DeMint, Michelle Bachmann, and Newt Gingrich. These are anything but mainstream conservatives. These are total right-wing extremists. Dick Armey may be certifiably insane or just plain old senile. He not only doesn’t make sense when he babbles away, but he can’t respond coherently to queries from the press about his “movement”. Tucker Carlson is just very weak, I’m surprised CPAC signed him up, he’s not that loud of a rant artist. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again about Senator Jim DeMint(R-SC); he might be the dumbest person ever voted into an elective office. I only ask you to listen to him or read a policy statement from him. You will be shocked this man is in the U.S. Senate. He’s a racist raving lunatic that appears at tea-bag rallies with signs and chants deriding our black President! Again, in case you missed it, he is in the Senate! Liz Cheeney and Ann Coulter are in the haters group. Liz Cheeney hates President Obama and his policies, but can’t quantify it or offer her ideas that are better and Ann Coulter is just a plain old racist hater. To hear her speaking in public and writing about her absolute disdain for religions and nationalities that are not the same as her’s is repulsive! This is a dangerous world, she should be more careful! Newt Gingrich! Newtie! The God-father of political hate and extreme partisanship in Washington. All the talk around DC now is about the dysfunctional Congress. It has been traced back to when Gingrich became Speaker of the House. The Congress, prior to him, functioned on a balanced program of negotiation, cooperation, and compromise. In order to do this responsibly, the members must have respect for one another and for the institution. Since Gingrich introduced a hunkered down enemy mentality, it has only gotten worse. It’s like telling a child they can start doing dangerous or daring things, but failing to give them limits. The right went wild, spawned the likes of Rush Limbaugh, et al, and it’s just become a domestic political world of negative sniping, “gotcha journalism”, and using fear tactics rather than facts to get the message out. Thank you very much, Newtie!

So as the CPAC conference grinds on this weekend, you’ll hear about how weak the President is on terrorism, how the stimulus package did nothing for the economy of the country, and health care reform is a sneaky socialistic plot being conjured up by head Nazi, Barack Obama. Of course, by every measuring instrument there is, this administration has been much more effective on Homeland Security and terrorism matters, the stimulus package has done so well at warding off a depression, that 111 Republican members of Congress so far, have claimed victories in ribbon cutting ceremonies celebrating the use of stimulus funds, while at the same time in Washington railing against the bill. They all voted against it. Can you say HYPOCRISY? There is now so much pressure on Congress to get a health care bill with public option, that 11 Senators and 114 members of the House have signed a petition to get a bill passed then fix the bill to add a public option via reconciliation. This plan is gaining momentum, and it should, because prior to his election and for a few months after the inauguration, the polls showed Americans favor a public option health care reform bill.

This is not what the classic, or should I say classy?, conservative Republicans had in mind for their party. Unlike the group today, Eisenhower, Goldwater, Nelson Rockefeller, Bob Dole, Howard Baker, Ronald Reagan were/are Republicans that were liked and respected by all colleagues and media, regardless of what side politically they were. It’s war now, and nobody knows when to back off, or to be civil. Partisanship has been worse in our history, in the earlier years of the democracy, sometimes things were settled by fist fights, beating with sticks, and even gun fire! But we’ve moved beyond that, at least until the leadership of Newt Gingrich in Congress. This is a sample of the character of the former Speaker, while his wife lay in bed dying from cancer, this rotten SOB served her with divorce papers! There’s a classy move! Anyway, watch CPAC this weekend, and if you think I’m wrong, spell it out to me. Remember to use facts and not rhetoric, and as I always say, read, research, study, and understand the topic before speaking. If the extremists on both sides would do this, there would be so much less name-calling and fear-mongering. We would actually be able to carry on civil discussions about today’s world. Thank you.
Cam Obert

OBSERVATIONS FROM FLY-OVER LAND!

February 17, 2010

Senator Evan Jellyfish Bayh

I was up at my usual 5:30 this morning to settle in with my coffee, the paper, and Morning Joe on the TV. To my surprise, the headline over the banner of The Star Tribune was yet another shriek about Lindsey Vonn. I’m being sarcastic, of course. I know, most people disagree with me on this Lindsey Vonn “thing”. In a nutshell, NBC’s coverage of the story of her shin has been overdone and the local media in the Twin Cities has gone way overboard in the coverage of her shin. Here’s what bugs me. There are thousands of athletes competing in Vancouver, all with compelling stories of their own, and yet all we hear about is the shin! Our local media needs to understand there are hundreds of Minnesotans competing in the Games as well. I don’t mind them being “homers”, but spread it out. As I told my wife about the headline story, she told me I spend too much time on this stuff, it’s not important and get over it! I guess I was told!

It has really struck me these last weeks as I do venture out in morning and afternoon rush hours how many people drive big SUV’s and big pick-up trucks. Here is the amazing factor however, almost all of them are driver only occupied. Why do people need to drive these gas swilling road hogs? Do they really need to drive to work everyday, by themselves, in a vehicle that gets around 10 miles per gallon or less? If they are using the vehicle for work to haul or tow payloads, that’s one thing, but to drive to work, park in a lot, and drive home at night, why? If they have a boat to tow or a trailer to tow that require more than a six cylinder engine sedan to do the job, then with the savings in gas, buy a small economical car to commute with. You might wonder why I think it’s my business to comment on this? It’s simple. The world has a finite amount of petroleum to be used. The burning of fossil fuels is harmful to the atmosphere. So, a big V-8 engine has twice as many cylinders to burn gas, therefore doubling the amount of pollutants going into the air compared to a four-cylinder economy car. The gas guzzling SUV or truck will also use more than twice, almost three times as much fuel as the little economy car. That’s why it’s my business and that’s why I am disgusted with every huge SUV I see going down the road with only a driver. My family and I traveled to Italy a couple years ago and I was struck by the absence of SUV’s and big personal trucks. We went to many of the big metro areas, and everyone commutes in little cars, motorcycles, and motor scooters. How come the Italians don’t need big trucks and SUV’s in their garages? When we were there, gas was about $9 a gallon. No doubt, that drives the behavior! Maybe we should try that in the good ol’ U.S. of A.! I was selling cars when gas went over $3 per gallon the first time. You should have seen the SUV and pick-up trade-ins we accumulated! They had lost so much of their value, too. I don’t know what else will work to get this “big truck” penis extender attitude out of the Americans’ heads.

Here’s hypocrisy for you. Governor Tim Pawlenty(R-MN), just presented his 2010-2011 budget for the state. Again, he has proposed cutting costs on every state detail but a couple, education, veteran’s affairs, etc. He did this last year too, was voted down in the legislature, and by an “executive” order type thing, he cut budgets on his own. That decision is now being reviewed in court. Now our Governor, who is running for president in 2012, is running around the country touting his budget slashing ways, his holding the line on tax increases, and relentlessly bashing the federal stimulus package. At the same time he is doing these things, there is the inclusion of the $387 million dollars coming to our state via the stimulus package. Under Pawlenty for seven years now, the state level taxation has been cut, the costs have been cut to the bone, and he claims he’s not taxing us more. What has happened, however, is the increase in state and local “fees”. He claims these are not taxes but are fees! Local governments have had to make up for the loss of state revenue by increasing property taxes to meet their commitments. He bluffed his way through until this year when people have finally figured out there payout to taxes and fees has never gone down, in spite of the Governor’s crowing about not raising taxes. On scale allowing for inflation, Minnesotans’ are now paying out less in taxes in almost 100 years! C’mon Pawlenty, you’re a fraud and you know it. It’s time for the lying to stop at the Governor’s office.

With the retirement of Evan Bayh(D-IN), the focus has once again been put on the dysfunctionality of Congress. As many politicians and pundits wonder what happened to civility in Congress and political interaction, an interesting story was revealed by a Washington Post writer. The days of Tip O’Neil and President Reagan meeting after work for drinks, Bob Michael and Barney Frank chatting after work over a drink, and politicians from both sides playing golf together on the weekends ended when Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House. On his orders, the friendliness with the “enemy” was over. He would not tolerate any members of his caucus being on friendly terms with anybody from the other side. Because the wedge was driven in about 14 years ago, it has had time to congeal and strengthen. It has gotten so bad now that the new right, or wing-nuts, are driving the platform of the Republicans. Their party leader is now Rush Limbaugh, a man who has never been elected to anything! The Democrats have split now with centrists of “spineless Evan Bayh” and the progressives of the President.

It has gotten so bad, the politicians are becoming such gutless cowards, the U.S. Senate Democrats with a 59 to 41 majority don’t have the balls to pass any legislation. The democratic controlled Senate of the Commonwealth of Virginia just passed into law a bill to allow persons to carry concealed guns into bars and restaurants. These jellyfish are running scared of the tea-baggers! What rational could possibly justify bringing a gun into a bar, legally? Oh, Arizona already passed that one! I guess that’s why the liberal Senator John McCain is in trouble in the primary. Mr. tea-bagger, JD Hayworth, will probably beat McCain. Hayworth is saying McCain is too liberal, too soft because he opposes torture. When Hayworth says he’s for torture and water-boarding, the tea-baggers go crazy! There’s today’s observations, oh, by the way, how’s that “hopey-changey” thing doin’ for ya?
Cam Obert

TREE TRIMMING AND REMOVAL, SPRING’S FIRST STEP

February 16, 2010

As we head into the second half of February, it’s time to start thinking about the yard and landscape. What? It’s still going below zero and there is over 30 inches of snow on the ground, at least here in Minnesota. If your vision for your beautiful landscape includes trimming and/or removal of trees, you have about 45 days left before it’s too late.

Here is why this is the time of the year to do tree work. If you need trees trimmed, you need to have it done while they are in full dormancy. By pruning and trimming while the tree is dormant, it will have to endure much less stress. In fact the healing process will begin in earnest immediately, so when insect and disease season comes around, the cuts or wounds will be healed over sufficiently enough to ward off problems. Whether trimming yourself or having professionals doing it, it is best to not paint over the wound. The tree will be much better off by letting the air get to the cut and heal over naturally. Here’s another tip. Do not cut down or trim off more than a third of the total size of the existing tree. Two problems result from this drastic a trim, a tree will be very stressed and may not survive and the result after the trim will be an ugly unnatural looking tree. My suggestion is, if you believe a tree requires that much trimming, just remove the whole tree.

Another reason to trim and/or remove trees now is the ground is frozen. Your turf or landscape won’t get so badly damaged by dropping limbs and trunks with the ground frozen underneath. A good snow cover also helps cushion the falling trees and limbs. The only thing that can’t be done too easily is grinding the stump out when the ground is frozen. I personally am not a fan of stump grinding anyway. Just have the trunk cut off at ground level. If your tree stump will be in a landscaped bed, have the tree guys leave a flat top stump 20 or so inches high. You can use the stump for potted plants! You can also leave a stump as high as you need to have a chain-saw sculptor come in a make a landscape masterpiece for you!

Whether trimming or removing whole trees, get as much of the tree debris up that you can. Some will get buried in the snow, so you’ll have to wait until spring to finish the clean up. Remember, do not rake the yard until it has completely dried from snow melt and spring rains. If you think the turf is dry enough to rake, check some grass crowns at various place around the yard. Make sure they are greening up, and are anchored in the soil well. Simply give them a little tug, make sure they don’t pull out to easily.

If you live in Minnesota, there are certain tree species that should be removed. The Department of Natural Resources has listed the Buckthorn and the Chinese/Siberian Elm as noxious vegetation. Buckthorns spread considerably by birds who eat the berries of the tree, and then leave their droppings all about. The Chinese/Siberian Elms are called “prodigious seeders” by the DNR. There are times in late spring early to early summer when it look like a blizzard is blowing through your neighborhood. These are the seed from these Elms. It doesn’t take long for the lawns, beds, and gardens to be taken over by Elm seedlings. Cottonwood trees, though not listed as a noxious tree, are very much a mess to the suburban landscape. It’s not just the snow storms from the trees’ release of its’ seeds but they drop branches and limbs all year-round. The “cotton seeds” get into everything. They clog up air conditioner condensers, they clog swimming pool skimmers and pumps, they fill garages with cotton, and they sprout unwanted seedlings wherever they land! Because Cottonwoods are a “soft wood” tree, they are very vulnerable in heavy thunder storms and heavy early and late season snow falls. Another soft wood tree to consider removing is the Silver Maple. These trees are very messy, from the release of their “helicopter” seeds to the dropping of branches and twigs year-round. They will also ruin your lawn, landscape, driveways, sidewalks, and house foundations because they have very aggressive surface growing roots. They grow fast, and are beautiful bright yellow in the fall, two things that home owners value. But, the negatives, in my educated opinion, far out weigh the positives.

If you have maples of any variety, they should be trimmed now. If you wait too much longer, they will bleed like crazy as the sap starts running. A “bleeding” maple doesn’t get hurt by this, it just makes a mess. If you want Ash trees removed, check with your local forester on the local policy for Ash removal. The Emerald Ash Borer is beginning its march through Minnesota. If you have Oaks to trim, do not wait past the first of April. The cuts or wounds will need the time to dry and heal before the Oak Wilt spores start blowing about the neighborhoods.

A properly pruned tree will make for a prettier and healthier tree. The middle of trees should be “opened up” every few years to keep air and sunlight coming in. In one season, you’ll notice how much prettier, balanced, and shaped your tree is. Dead and diseased limbs should be removed, they become hiding places for insects and disease.

This is a reprint from last February. I get lots of questions about this topic, so I thought it a good idea to run it again. If you do have questions, either comment on the post, or e-mail me at;camobert@comcast.net
Thanks a lot, I hope this helps you.

Cam Obert

VEEPS ON PARADE!

February 15, 2010

Veep Joe Biden

Dick Cheeney

The irrational attacks on the Obama administration over the past several months by former VP Dick Cheeney took a turn for exposure yesterday. While appearing on the ABC show, “This Week”, a couple things became very clear. Cheeney’s very sharp, and very inappropriate for a former office holder, attacks on the administration were dulled down. Either somebody got to him and told him to throttle back or because this is the first time since the attacks began that he has met the media in person. Most of his attacking has come from his house, e-mailed to Politico, therefore he didn’t have to answer any questions. The other thing that became clear is his irrational responses to questions of the difference between the handling of the shoe bomber and the “Undie-Boy” bomber. You can’t respond by saying it’s a different time and circumstances. Sorry, Cheeney, not this time. Another point to be made is that despite his attacks, the current administration is following almost all the standards, policies, and procedures of national security set by the Bush administration. Two major changes instituted by the Obama administration are the discontinued use of “advanced interrogation tactics”, a code term for torture and water-boarding, and the banning of foreign retention of captured “accused terrorists”.

President Obama has been way too slow in moving detainees from GITMO to American jails, charging them with a crime, and trying them. These people have been held in Guantanamo for up to many years without being charged! Part of the Obama plan was to show the world, lead the world, to a more decent humane way of handling these situations. The thought being, in the future our allies will be much more supportive of us on the world stage, and that the countries without a stake in the world action will become stronger allies of ours because we comport ourselves in a more civilized way. The message to the enemies is, we will kill you or catch you and try you, and if found guilty, will either sentence you to death or to life terms in a super max prison. Attorney General Eric Holder’s biggest problem was when he made such a big deal of trying Khalid Sheik Mohammad in the South Manhattan Federal Court. He did this without consulting with the President first. By making a big production of this situation, he has awakened all the wing-nuts to what a “the sky is falling” disaster that will be the result of trying KSM in New York City. I guess they thought it might alert al Qaeda to make NYC a target for a terrorist attack! That would be a novel move. Now Mayor Bloomberg even caved in to the tea-baggers.

Cheeney is desperate to re-write the history of the United States from 2001 to 2008. I guess even he has figured out what a disaster he and Bush caused. But, as Vice President Biden said yesterday, “you can’t re-write history and you can’t have your own facts”. Biden, forced to get in the gutter where Cheeney lives, only long enough to cover Cheeney’s false accusations, did a great job of showing, with facts, how much the present administration has accomplished in this “war on terror”. They have killed 12 of the top 20 targeted persons of al Qaeda. They have kept the leadership of al Qaeda on the move so much that they can’t get anything accomplished. To Cheeney’s delight, Obama has pumped over 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan to fight a non-existent enemy. He has increased to attacks by drones nine-fold since Bush left office. This is where Obama is losing his base. The drone attacks are being carried out in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. So the U.S. has engaged yet another sovereign country in a military action. The problem with the drones is they kill many innocent Pakistanis too. The “surge” in Afghanistan produced a mis-fired rocket that killed twelve innocent Afghans. This is really an internal conflict. It’s the corrupt Karzai regime versus the Taliban. The Taliban only want control of Afghanistan, not world dominance.

Another question came to mind yesterday while watching the Sunday talking head shows. What significance does Liz Cheeney have? She was a bureaucrat in the State Department under Bush. Why do media types give her a venue to spew her father’s revised look at history? I always knew Dick Cheeney as being an evil dark-side operative, but I think his daughter might be right of ol’ Dad! Cheeney himself still loves the war option. He’s backing Obama on the greater occupation of the sovereign country of Afghanistan, and without saying it directly, wants to engage Iran in a war. It doesn’t end with him. He can’t even show remorse for the tens of thousands of people killed in Iraq. The is a chicken-s**t war hawk, that took seven deferments to avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam. He loves, with the rest of the chicken-s**t neo-cons, loves to send our troops into harms way. This is not a very stable human being.

David Brooks, of the New York Times, said it kind of right yesterday when he noted the distractions and the moral grounding the politicians have caused by making national security a political talking point and wedge must be ended. These discussions need to be carried out by the nations leaders behind closed doors. Those involved must be willing to give and help work toward a united front on security matters. Biden had to go public yesterday because Cheeney’s relentless attacks needed a response. But it should be over now. Both sides need to shut up, stay out of camara and microphone range, and get to work. If Liz Cheeney is going to seek public office, why has she tied herself to this polling champ? Dick Cheeney’s approval rating was 19 when he left office. He is a meteoric star now having risen to an approval rating of 35. She better hurry, when stars get bright you know what happens next! Thank you.
Cam Obert


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