A huge thanks to all veterans

There are certain people in this world that I have always admired and will continue to do so. No, it is not a group of famous athletes or celebrities who consistently grab the headlines and have many people patting them on the back for their achievements. While those people are basking in their glory and praise from others, another group of men and women are quietly going about their duties overseas, some even risking their lives so that we can enjoy everyday freedoms here in the United States. The people who I am talking about are members of our military past and present.

Our military is strictly a volunteer one. Nobody forces anyone to serve. The men and women who sign up feel a strong civic duty for this country. They could all take the easy way out and just go to a college for a few years, get a job, raise a family and have a nice safe life. Instead, these men and women who join our branches of military go through a very rigorous training program of boot camp followed by deployment to some dangerous, crappy part of the world like Afghanistan or Iraq. Many will leave their loved ones and families at home for long stretches of time. They all know that they might not come back home alive but that does not stop them from serving this country. I greatly admire the sacrifices and commitment that these brave people make to be a part of our military. They are my true heroes.

Imagine if nobody volunteered to join the military. Our country would not even come close to being as strong as we are today. We would have a draft and there would constantly be huge protests across the country. Before long, our country would probably change to some sort of dictatorship and would we even run the risk of having some other country take us over. That would be our worst nightmare. But thanks to many men and women every year, this will never happen. They are indeed the true unsung heroes of this country.

Many people across this country will probably enjoy time with their families this weekend. Maybe you are having a picnic or cookout. I think everyone should take some time this weekend to reflect on how important our military is and especially the brave men and women who are a part of it. I especially wish people would think of the many men and women who have given their lives fighting for our freedoms. Memorial Day weekend is often thought of as the unofficial start of the summer season but let’s remember what it really is about and honor those deserve a heap of praise for their sacrifices so that you and me can enjoy a better life here in the United States.

The tragic Moore, Oklahoma tornado

I think just about everyone complains about the weather at one time or another during the week.  I know I certainly do. Last weekend was a prime example.  We got a lot of rain here in Minnesota so my outdoor plans such as playing golf  got canceled. I also had the misfortune of getting caught driving in a fast-moving thunderstorm which produced some hail. The hail pelted my new car and I was in serious panic mode to say the least! Luckily, I did not get any damage but I was ready after that episode to just raise my white flag at mother nature and just give up! You gave us a very chilly spring with unprecedented snowstorms and now a ton of rain! Please stop! My attitude and perspective on the weather changed completely the following day when I heard about the devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.

I cannot begin to imagine what those poor folks there had to go through. Very few people in this country have ever experienced being in a tornado, myself included.  And quite frankly, I would not want to know! Many people down south do not have basements and that would be a very unnerving thought without that protection and shelter. I would really fear for my life. My number one priority would definitely be to make sure my loved ones and friends were safe. Forget about any valuable possessions.  For the most part, they can be replaced.

The sad part about the storm is certainly the loss of life, especially of those poor young children in that elementary school. There are many grieving families in that community and my condolences go out to all those families who tragically lost loved ones. There are also many other people who suffered serious injuries and will have to face many surgeries and long days in the hospital and my heart goes out to those people as feel. Some of those people will have a lifetime of pain to go through. Many survivors did not have any physically wounds but deep emotional wounds and trauma. Seeing their houses get totally destroyed and the stress of what to do next, is certainly weighing heavily on many people of that town.  Many people do not realize but this type of storm also happened to the area in 1999, which makes it even more tragic and heart wrenching.  Just going through something like this one time in your life is bad enough but twice in 15 years? That is a very cruel act of nature. The chances of that happening to one town is very, very small.  There are many great, friendly and wonderful people down there and they deserve much better.

I would encourage everyone to chip in and help those people of Moore Oklahoma out.  Sending money is certainly the best way. It really makes me proud to be an American when I see how people bond together and help out each other during these tragedies. Complete strangers reaching out to help other strangers. That is the American way of doing things.  Those people really need our help and our prayers.

This tragic event will forever change the way I look at some of my minor inconveniences caused by some bad weather.  That bad weekend of weather that we had here doesn’t even pale in comparison to what those great people of Oklahoma had to go through. Many of us complain when the power goes out during a storm. The next time that happens, take a minute and think about the people in Oklahoma who had their homes destroyed or lost loved ones. It will totally change your perspective on how your life is affected by the weather. It really did for me. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people down there. The whole country and the world is behind you folks. Stay strong!!

Thoughts on the White House scandals

Like most people in this country, I value people who are honest and are not afraid to tell the truth even if it may mean swallowing your pride and admitting that you are wrong. Usually people who lie compound that lie with others and before long, their credibility is totally lost. I expect the politicians we elect to office, whether it be your local mayor or the president of the United States, to be honest and forthright with the people who elect them. They owe it to the people with whom they serve and work for. The latest allegations regarding Benghazi, the IRS and the AP just reinforce my belief about many politicians. They are very dishonest and will do anything to protect their own rear end and power. You need to look no further than our current administration to see examples of dishonesty with the American people.

All of the facts on these stories are not completely out so I cannot definitely pinpoint the blame on any one person or groups of people. But as they say, where there is a lot of smoke, there is a huge fire and my suspicions are building with each new revelation and story. If the elected officials in Washington think they are pulling the wool over the eyes of the American people, they are completely wrong!! We are a lot smarter than you think and you are not fooling anyone!!

The Benghazi story has cover up written all over it. There are so many questions that myself and many people have about what went on that fateful night when 4 brave Americans lost their lives. The White House made up this story that the attack on our embassy was the result of a demonstration caused by the release of a video. The truth was that it was a full blown terrorist attack. Why did President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton come out and lie to the American about what really happened? There were eyewitnesses at the scene who described exactly what happened. Is our government that incompetent in not knowing whether an attack is terrorist related or not? If so, we are in serious trouble as a country. Extra reinforcement should of been ordered immediately and that was denied. I give so much credit and admiration to the brave Navy Seals who went in and did the right thing against orders to hold down. Where was Obama during this whole attack? Why is he not saying where and what he was doing during the hours of the attack. I find it very appalling that on the next day, he decided to fly off and continue to campaign instead of staying at the White House and monitoring the situation. To me, that shows a sign of very poor leadership in a time of crisis. The same can be said about Clinton. She has a lot of answers to give as well.

Of all the scandals, the IRS one might be the most troubling one. Targeting people just because they have a certain political or religious belief is just flat out wrong and goes against the very nature of why this country is so great. We have the right to express our political views and nobody should be punished or singled out for doing so. I think it is a very healthy thing in our country to have various points of view. When a government agency steps in singles out those people, then our freedom of speech goes completely out the window. That type of oppression happens in other countries with dictatorships and communist rule. It should never happen here. This IRS story is ongoing and more details will come out in the coming days. My main question is who is behind these allegations and who gave orders to target conservative groups. My suspicion is that someone from the White House gave orders to target these groups. If that is true, then President Obama may be in a heap of trouble but the facts are still not out and may never be. I find it rather interesting that one of the top IRS officials responsible for targeting these groups is now in charge of the IRS role in implementing Obamacare next year. That is absolutely outrageous!! She should have been fired!! Instead she is playing a huge role in 1/6th of our economy. Imagine that!!

The timing of these stories is rather interesting as well. Both of these scandals started to develop just before the election. It seems to me and many others that the investigations were delayed just to protect Obama and help him get reelected. It is refreshing to see the major networks finally start covering these stories and asking some hard questions. I thought the press really protected Obama during the Benghazi terrorist attack. The story was totally shoved unto the rug by many of the major networks. Only Fox really covered the story and the ongoing investigations. Imagine if a Republican president such as George Bush was in office and these things came out. We would have nightly stories for months about his administration and their coverups. There would be no end and he would probably get run out of office. I hope the press shows absolutely no favoritism toward the Obama administration during these scandals and hopefully their reporters will ask the tough questions about what has been going on.

These scandals are almost certain to damage Obama’s weak presidency even more. There are many important issues that our country is facing today such as high unemployment, the weak economy, immigration and national security. Instead of tackling these important issues, Obama is now faced with spending time trying to sort these scandals out and possible protect himself. A distraction this country does not need. I just hope the officials involved in these scandals just do the right thing and be honest with the American people. These scandals affect everyone in this country. In the meantime, I better stop for now before the IRS comes after this blogger from Minnesota.

 

 

The mockery of marriage in Minnesota

Last Tuesday, May 14th, my home state of Minnesota made it official by becoming the 12th state in this country to legalize same-sex marriages.  People in the media were calling this day one of the most historic in our state’s history and folks were actually commenting on how this will make Minnesota a much better state to live in. While many supporters of same-sex marriages were no doubt in a celebratory mood, there are many thousands of Minnesotans, like myself, who are completely outraged over this mockery of real marriage.

Poll after poll have been consistent in showing that over a half of Minnesotans do not favor same-sex marriage. A huge chunk of the support for this type of union comes from only a few areas, the Twin Cities metro area and Duluth. The Twin Cities area has one of the highest gay populations of any area in the country so it is no real surprise for the area’s support. The authors of the same-sex marriage bill in the state legislature are both openly gay and when you combine the fact that Democrats control both the House and Senate in our state’s legislature, you have a high probability that this type of bill would get passed. The vote in  the House and Senate pretty much went along party lines with only a few Republicans voting yes. I wonder how many of those people in out-state Minnesota who voted for Democrats in last falls election saw this coming. They say that elections have consequences and this one certainly did. Many are not very happy and the passage of this bill may spell the political death of many Democrats in our legislature. Which I might add may be a great thing for this state!! They have also made this state one of the highest taxed ones in the country as well.

The common theme of many politicians and people who supported this bill was this, “Why deny two adults who love each other the right to get married?” Really? Is that what marriage is all about? Just about love? I love my family members, does that mean I can marry them? Of course not! I have some rather hot looking cousins whom I love but I cannot legally marry them in this state. This type of logic used by supporters of gay marriage leaves open the possibly of so many types of marriages. What about polygamy? Why limit marriage to just a couple of people? If I love more than a couple of women, why can’t I have the right to marry all of them at the same time?  Of course being married to one woman may be tough enough! Where do you drawn the line in redefining marriage? The fact is that most people in this state have the right to marry, gays included. Nobody will stop you if you want to marry someone of the opposite sex. That is a basic right for everyone. If homosexuals want to have the right to marry outside of that agreement, then that should apply to straight people as well, right? I think politicians and supporters of same-sex marriages are ignorant to how redefining marriage may lead to many different legal definitions of marriage in the future. The possibilities are endless.

One of the biggest issues concerning this bill is the protection of religious institutions and individual’s religious freedoms. There are certain provisions in this bill that protect churches. For instance, they are not obliged to conduct a wedding of a gay couple. But what about some individual, such as a photographer, who will not agree to participate in a gay wedding. Suppose he or she gets sued for discrimination? What about Christian colleges who are forced to offer a gay and lesbian club for students? Since gay marriage is legal in this state, will schools be teaching this lifestyle to the children?  I can just imagine the uproar and potential problems arising from many school districts in this state. Many thousands of parents will be very upset if their children are forced to be exposed to a lifestyle which is completely against their religious beliefs. The passage of this bill is certain to create many legal discrimination suits all over the state from both religious and homosexual people. It could get ugly to say the least!

I don’t think there has ever been an issue that has divided so many in this state.  Supporters say that people will eventually accept same-sex marriage which may be true but that does not hide the fact that it is a sinful lifestyle according to my and many people’s beliefs. God created marriage to be between a man and woman, period!! It is clearly stated in the bible what God’s position on homosexuality is. As is the case with all sinful sexual types of lifestyles, the consequences are many and painful. The average lifespan of gay or lesbian is much lower than that of a straight person, they are more likely to have serious health issues such as aids and other sexually transmitted diseases. Many suffer from depression and emotional problems especially younger people. I personally know a young man who went into counseling and changed his life around. He is now happily married to a beautiful woman and they have a couple of beautiful young children. Unfortunately, our media portrays homosexual relationships are being equal or just as appealing as heterosexual ones. Sure there are some homosexual partners who have been together for many years but according to many studies, only about 5 percent of all homosexual relationships last more than 3 years.

Society is much better off if we leave marriage alone and do not force same-sex marriage onto people like what just happened in Minnesota. Traditional marriage has not been perfect, I have to admit that, but it is still a solid institution which is a very critical part of our culture and our children. Having children raised in a good family setting with a loving mother and father is the best way to produce good people in our society.  I do not deny that same-sex couples cannot raise good children as well but there is no comparison what is the best for a child. It concerns me that many children, who are up for adoption, will not have the choice of having an adopted mother and father to raise them.

On August 1st, same-sex couples will start having  marriage ceremonies around this state. I am sure the liberal media in this area will cover these events like a blanket.  The great thing about this is that I do not have to watch or listen to it! One of the local radio stations in the Twin Cities, WCCO even wants to have a live ceremony on the air. If that happens, I will personally boycott and not listen to that station ever again.  In the meantime, if you are a divorce attorney, you might want to live in Minnesota because there will be many new cases in the next few years. Same sex marriage is the law in this state but I still recognize traditional marriage as the only true marriage. As the phrase goes, “often imitated but never duplicated”.  Same sex marriages will never equal the value of traditional marriages in this state or anywhere in this world.

 

 

 

My mother’s special mom

Tomorrow is a big day for many people around this country as we celebrate Mother’s Day and pay tribute to the millions of moms who have meant so much to us. I cannot thank my own mother enough for all the things that she has done in my life. I credit so much of who I am as a person to my mother and late father. Usually in the case with any remarkable woman, there is someone who helped raise her and that would be my late grandmother, who was equally as caring, loving and generous as my mom.

I have been very lucky and blessed to have two of the greatest grandmothers in the world. Both my dad’s mother and mom’s mother were very special women who did so many good things for their families and others. They both lived into their 90’s and I have so many fond memories of both. My mom’s mother lost her husband (my grandfather) when I was around 8 years and shortly thereafter, bought a nice, small little house. That house soon became a favorite hangout place for myself and many of my cousins who are about my same age. I have so many childhood memories of riding my bike to visit her and being greeted at the door by her overly zealous dog. My grandmother or as we used to call her, Granny, loved it when anyone, especially her grandchildren, stopped by to visit. She really loved her grandchildren and did so much for us. Whether it was cooking meals for us, giving us spending money or providing a place to stay for a few days. She was like a second mother to me. Besides my parents, she was by far the most influential person in my life and played a huge role in my upbringing.

I went off to college and one of the people I really missed my Grandma. During breaks when I came home, she was always one of the first people I would visit. She always wondered how I was doing with my studies and how college life was. She would always fill me in on how everyone was doing. Those visits continued after college when I landed a job here in the Twin Cities. She was very worried about me living in a big city by myself and wondered how I was coping. My grandmother was getting up in age and started having trouble hearing but still enjoyed visiting her.

One night I received a call from my dad saying that my grandmother had fallen during the night and they had to take her to the hospital. My heart sank when I received that call. Was she all right? She was okay but the family decided to put her in a nursing home. It was sad to hear that but at least she would get the proper care that she needed. For 3 years, that was the place to go to see Grandma. It was not the same as her house but we still had some very good chats.

Eventually her health went downhill as well as her memory. The last I saw of her was on a Christmas night. I knew it might be the last time I ever would see her alive so it was a very emotional evening. Before I left her, I gave her a gentle hug and she smiled at me. A month later, my grandmother passed away. She had lived a good long live and raised a wonderful family of 4 and had many grandchildren to enrich her life.

My grandmother was a strong family person who passed down her faith, values and good character to her daughters and son. So many of my mom’s good characteristics are the result of being raised by someone like my grandmother. It is amazing how one person’s life can have such a chain reaction effect on so many others. Those same positive characteristics got passed down to my cousins. This Mother’s Day, let’s remember not only our mothers but our grandmothers as well. For every good mother, there is usually a grandmother who had a role in positively shaping that mother. And hopefully, that special mom will continue the chain to her daughter or daughters.

The joy of buying a new vehicle

There are few things in life that give a person more excitement over a purchase than buying a brand new vehicle. Perhaps buying a nice house would be the top item but driving out of a car dealership with a brand new shiny car comes in a very solid second. I personally experienced that thrill this past week. I have bought a few new cars in my life and the thrill never gets old. I wanted to immediately take off and go on a long road trip to test out my new vehicle, however, it was getting a little late at night and I had to get up for work.

I am sure many of you who are reading this probably have had a vehicle of some sort for a long period of time. That vehicle becomes a part of your life and you become attached to it. The many memories of those road trips, trips through the snow, times when that car or truck broke down in the middle of winter or perhaps you had some romantic dates with that vehicle. Such was the case with my old vehicle, a 2006 Saturn Ion. I still remember the day I bought that car on warm spring day in 2006. It was by far the best car that I have ever owned. Very reliable except for a few glitches. I had so many memories of that car, the long road trips to northern Michigan and Minnesota, driving through the streets of downtown Saint Paul and Minneapolis in all kinds of conditions and of course, driving around with my ex girlfriend in the front seat. But like most things, cars do not last forever especially when you drive about 13000 miles a year like I do. It was time to say goodbye to my car. I decided to trade it in and get a new one. Perhaps somebody new is now experiencing the joy that I had with my old car.

The salesperson at the dealership was outstanding and very thorough. I had done my homework ahead of time and pretty much knew what I wanted as well as the price range I was looking for. My sales guy showed me a couple of vehicles and one really stood out. It is kind of like being in a public place and some attractive person stands out in the crowd. I saw a vehicle which was just the one that I was looking for. It was a nice looking midsize car with a gold color. I asked the sales guy about the engine and horse power. Perfect!! I took it for a test drive and decided it was the one.

The financing part and all the paperwork is always a hassle. I several payment options thrown at me. The car was a little over the price range that I was looking for but I decided it was well worth it. The staff was outstanding in explaining the different options. I have good credit so financing was not a problem. After initialing several pieces of paper, the deal was completed and I was given the keys to my new car.

The next day, I pulled into my work parking lot and everyone was wondering who’s new car that is. I waited a few hours before coming forward with my confession. So did you get a nice raise? was a question that I was jokingly asked a few times. I still get some grief over that new car. People ask me if they can borrow it for a spin, wash it or switch cars for a day. But my asking price is way too high!!

I will never forget those days when I bought a new car. There are certain days you never forget and driving off with a brand new vehicle is one of them. I was grateful for the outstanding service and help at this dealership in Inver Grove Heights. They are true professionals and made my buying experience a very pleasant and relaxing one. I look forward to driving my new car this summer. It will be lots of fun to drive it to the golf course, lake and my annual summer road trips to northern Minnesota. I spend a lot of time in my car and having a new one is a great blessing.

The Jason Collins announcement

Typically, when you turn on ESPN during late April, you probably expect to see endless highlights of playoff games and major league baseball along with post NFL draft discussion. That all changed last Monday when Jason Collins became the first active athlete of any of the 4 major sports to come out and say he is gay.  Judging from the coverage that ESPN and many of the networks gave the story, it was like this was the biggest and most dramatic story in about a decade. Oh my!! breaking news, a professional athlete just declared he is homosexual. Let’s cover this wall to wall and forget about the other more important stories and news!

Quite frankly, I do not understand why this story is such a big deal. Sure Collins is the first active professional athlete to come out and say he is gay but he is not exactly the first high-profile person to make such an announcement. There have been many politicians, actors and other celebrities who have come out with their admissions. It should come as no surprise that a professional athlete finally came out. I am willing to bet there are about 25 NBA players who are gay and are keeping it as a secret. Many probably do not want to announce it for fear that it would be a major distraction for the team. Others are probably fearful that it could cost them a spot of the team if their sexuality was known. Some general manager or coach may not like the idea of an openly gay player on their roster and find an excuse to cut or release him or her.

I would have absolutely no problem having an openly gay teammate. I do not agree with their unnatural lifestyle but what matters to me is what kind of teammate and person they are. We could hang out as well and be good friends as long as we did not try to force our lifestyles on each other. I think most athletes in sports feel the same way. If an openly gay guy is a good teammate, works hard in practice and is not some self-centered egomaniac, he will find himself easily accepted. Sure,it might be a little awkward in the locker room. I often wonder how gays are able to control themselves while showering with their teammates.

This story really brings up the issue of tolerance in our society and how we deal with it. Suppose someone you were close to you announced that he or she is gay? How would you react? The same holds true of other lifestyles in our society. I find it very disturbing that our culture seems to be increasingly accepting of gays and their lifestyles while at the same time, putting down Christianity. Imagine if some famous athlete declared he or she was a new born again Christian? Unlike the Collins story, the media would totally ignore that story. I imagine he or she would be roundly criticized and told to keep their religion to themselves. Imagine if somebody in the media criticized a homosexual or lesbian and told that person to keep their sexuality to themselves? That media person would be a marked person forever!!

Shortly after Collins came out with his announcement, there was widespread praise from many people including the president who gave Collins a phone call. Some even went as far to call Collins a hero and compared him to Jackie Robinson? Really?  That is really stretching things. There is absolutely no comparison to what Robinson went through and what gays go through today.  A gay person is far more accepted in our society today than what Robinson had to put up with in 1947. Not even close!! Homosexual and lesbians should feel lucky that they live in this country and not some middle eastern country. Collins would be a real hero if he lived in Saudi Arabia and made the announcement. Our country for the most part is very tolerant of gay people.

I wish Collins the best of luck in trying to find a new team. I hope he will be judged not by his sexual orientation but rather his ability to play in the future. Sadly, I can just see the widespread criticism and calls of discrimination if no team signs him. I just wish we could stop the fascination with this overblown story and issue. There are far more important issues in this world to deal with and should get more attention.