Labor Day

September 3rd, 2012

Just the facts, ma’am…


This is a chart showing the unemployment rate from 1948 to 2012, marked every six years.  You can find the numbers for yourself at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Data page, plug in whatever years you want, and there it is:

Bureau of Labor Statistics Data

Take a look at trends.   This is not rocket science…

I’ve been seeing so much, opinions expressed by people who should know better, a handful or more I hear from regularly (maybe not so much anymore!), making statements so far in contradiction to easily discoverable facts, it’s so disturbing, and this mantra of “say it enough and it becomes true” is driving me nuts…

I went on a little Labor Day rant earlier:

Labor Day… Yes, it’s true, my great-grandfather on my mother’s side was a union organizer and buddy of Debs; my father often told us of being a kid hanging at the outskirts of the teamster strike and shootings in his Mpls. neighborhood by Hiawatha-Lake, guns going off and running to safety. Here it is Labor Day, and we should be expressing gratitude for 8 hour days, overtime pay, weekends, minimum wage, elimination of much child labor… and taking a day off! I’m seeing the rants of people clueless of those who gave so much and fought so hard for things today’s workers take for granted, so much so that they’ll roll over and give it up, act against their interests… and then when they’re hit with economic reality, to vilify unions (Wisconsin is just across the Mississippi from here) and blame the current unemployment rates and economic disaster on Obama? Even my life-long Republican father sitting in diapers at the nursing home had the sense to give Bush the finger every time his mug appeared. Repeating the propaganda over and over does not make it true, though it does a lot to keep me outraged and fighting! Dog grant me the serenity…

And let’s be clear — I have a personal and professional disgust about Obama’s support of coal gasification a la Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, and his fast-tracking SEVEN transmission projects, including “my” Susquehanna-Roseland and CapX? 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse (What does Obama’s Xmsn push mean?), and then there’s fracking… I spend hours writing the White House (rattling the cage enough to get a call from Lauren Azar!), the campaign, and pieces here, and you all know about that disgust in detail, but the alternative?  Romney is so repulsive, repugnant that I have no words, and I am going to have to hold my nose, and vote for Obama the corporate toady.  But more than that, if there’s any chance Romney could get in, it’s time to act and do what I can to keep that from happening.  It’s time.  I now feel I have to kick into gear and do more, the prospect of Romney getting elected is more than I can bear, and it’s a lot more than Seamus:


It’s a lot more than giving my Social Security to Wall Street, or Romney and Ryan’s desire to eliminate Medicare (though having health care in a few years is something I am so looking forward too).   This is a “Drill, Baby, Drill” guy, a proponent of nuclear power, his Energy Plan is embarassing, that he put something like that out in public, OH MY DOG, and yet, people aren’t rolling on the floor laughing?  WAKE UP!  Read the stupid thing:

Romney’s Energy Plan – much ado about nothing

How is it that someone this monumentally stupid, look up vacuous and there he is, he and his handlers, how can he be deemed Presidential material?  Did you see his facial expressions during his big speech last week?  OH MY DOG!  Scary… utterly phony.

And they’re calling this election close.  How is it that people I know and respect and care about can have their heads SO implanted?  In large part, I think we’re seeing the result of our “educational” system, zero critical thinking abilities…  So it’s time to do more than hitting reply and send the Obama team scathing emails about their horrible policy positions (don’t worry, I’ll be doing that too).  But its time ramp up the challenge to the falsehoods that are being tossed about, over and over, in an effort to make it true. I just can’t stomach it anymore.  I’ve seen one too many “Obama is responsible for this mess” rants.  I’ve had enough.

Again, Dog grant me the serenity… and this situation, yes, we do indeed have a situation, this is something that raises the obligation humans have to change the things we can.  Onward!

Here she is, Rhea, a German Shepherd at the Humane Society of Goodhue County and she needs a home!

I’m on the Board of HSGC, and tour regularly looking for those special dogs that grab me, yes, it does happen, three times so far!  I’d seen her a week before, when I brought in Kady-Kate for toenails, this was before Rhea went off to be spayed, and she was my kind of grrrrrrl (and had those pangs… hmmmmm… 3 dogs… one more??? FOUR dogs?  No can do in City of Red Wing, 3 is the limit.).

She’s a 3 y.o. GSD.  She’s now been spayed, and as a part of that, had bloodwork done and now we know she’s not just any shep, she’s a special shep, young, beautiful classic coloring, perky, and she has EPI.  That’s Endocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, meaning she needs the EPI drug to help her process her food, and she’ll need it for the rest of her life.  It’s fairly cheap, and she should do fine as long as she’s taking it.

To adopt Rhea, contact the Humane Society of Goodhue County:

Phone 651-388-5286. Because she’s off recovering from spaying, she’s not on site, but let them know you’re interested in her and they’ll set up a meeting.

She’s a diamond in the ruff, she needs training, some love, and YOU!  Just look at that face:




Is this a shep or what?


EEOC gets slapped

April 4th, 2012


In today’s STrib:

Class-action suit alleging sexual harassment of female truckers at Iowa company backfires

When I started driving truck in 1983, few companies would hire women, and the crap we had to put up with was disturbing.  But those companies that would hire women knew the good deal they were getting and consistently hired without a hassle.  Make no mistake about it, I loved to drive, it fit my personality well, nothing is better than heading west through Wyoming on a beautiful Wednesday or Saturday morning, looking for antelope butts on the horizon, waking up, a 2 or 3 step “commute” to work, with a quart cup o’ coffee or two going down the road.  Yet I hated it at the same time, particularly on the receiving end, people who ordered the stuff but didn’t seem to want it and made it a chore to get unloaded.  It’s an addiction, and one that’s hard to break, that’s why I’m not fit to work for anyone and need road time — this “job” now is perfect that way.  On the other hand, I feel all those miles, to say I’m “high mileage” is an understatement, and my back, L rotator cuff, and hip are forever screwed up, glucosamine a necessity, movement is difficult and I’m in constant pain.  Those days had a lot to do with my going into law, and were the way I paid for a B.A. – the pay is great but try getting through college in a truck, class between trips to CA, faxing assignments in…  I don’t know what I was thinking and don’t know if I’d do it again knowing how hard it was.

You drive that thang?

I pulled into the Hammond truckstop,
tired, beat and worn
Feelin’ every bump in the 800 miles
I’d put on since dawn.
As I backed it up and I hit the brakes,
the cowboy next door yelled,
“Ohhh, baaaa-by, you drive that thang all by yourself?”

I took a quick look around the cab,
there was no one hiding there.
Just all my worldly possessions,
and me sittin’ in the chair.
He saw me pull in, he saw me back up,
and yell at the boss on the phone.
Tell me, why don’t he think I’m able
to drive this thing alone?

I’m the large car passing you by
don’t gawk, wink, or bat an eye,
‘cuz I’m a busy woman
with loads of things to do.

I’m the large car passing you by
and bubba, don’t you be surprised
I do this just as well,
and maybe even better than you!



February 10th, 2012

I know, TMI, but our dear Summer-doggy really did it this time.

Three months ago or so, we blamed Little Sadie for chewing the tails off the Wubba, we found it tail-less on the floor of the van, lost until this appeared at the “tail” end of a “Summerhenge” a couple days ago:


SUMMER ATE IT…  OH MY DOG!!!  … and it took months to go through… so DUH, ex post facto we checked the van, and there are indeed two of the tails still missing…

Are they in the dog?

Just now, all three were in the van for a bit when we went to lunch, and here’s what we found on taking them back into the house:   NO LEASH!


SUMMER!!!!  There is no trace of any part of the leash in the van, not a thread.  This little red piece is all that’s left.

SUMMER!!!!  We can’t afford surgery on you!  Now what?  And there’s no vet on duty tomorrow… we shall see…

For now, she’s on the floor in her favorite spot, snorin’ and fartin’ as usual, always under my desk or she shoves the lamp out of the way so her big butt fits in the corner.  We’re supposed to feed her canned pumpkin, that’s supposed to be good for moving things around.  And call if emergency…

It’ll probably appear in April!



A little birdie told me there was an op-ed in the STrib that I had to read.  Sure enough…

Right here in Minnesota, a windfall of bad policy

The birdie cocked his shining eye and said:

Ok, how cool is it that I now have my answer to the question “what could Carol and Jason Lewis possibly agree on?”

It’s close but not quite. Not by a long shot… and close doesn’t count.   Lewis is not doing anyone any favors with this piece.  He’s agitating by deviating away from the problems with this project, and by unreasonably tying it to selected others, both projects and people, he’s misfiring.  He may get people worked up, but they’ll miss the boat too.

Look at the way he frames sand mine opposition and AWA Goodhue Wind Project opposition, and his claim that “environmental activists” are stopping the fracking sand mine, but ignoring the on the ground environmental activists who are tracking, (photo)shooting eagles, pulling in USFWS to document the eagles.  And he’s framing mine opposition and AWA Goodhue wind opposition as separate universes when there are many opposed to both and for a variety of reasons.   He also frames it as a partisan issue when it is not — there’s strong bi-partisan support for wind.  There is strong bi-partisan opposition to wind.  Has he forgotten that the Green Chameleon was a champion of wind, coal gasification, and transmission?  Has he forgotten that Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum bought in hook, line and sinker and promoted wind generally and C-BED specifically, that the 2005 Energy Omnibus Bill from Hell couldn’t have passed without him, and look at the way it turned out… somehow the plans for the first C-BED wind project out the chute had a turbine and substation on Sviggum’s land???  What, Lewis didn’t forget… he didn’t know?  Oh, right… uh-huh… oh, my…

And he ends on this note, which is blatant misrepresentation:

… silica sand mining (primarily used to make glass) has been a fact of life in the upper Mississippi Valley for as long as anyone can remember. In fact, there are sand- and gravel-mining operations in every county in Minnesota, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

Really!!!  And there’s no mention of the Wabasha County silica sand mine moratorium, begun a couple months ago. Statements like that don’t do anything for his credibility, and don’t help us get any closer to a turn-around of the PUC decision.

I do trust my “little birdie” doesn’t really think Jason Lewis is expressing my take on this!!!

Here’s the whole thing, get out the waders:

Right here in Minnesota, a windfall of bad policy

September 17, 2011 – 3:32 PM

Wind-energy projects are damaging to nature, to taxpayers and to residents, but onward they buzz.

If you want to know what’s wrong with the nation’s energy policy, look no further than Goodhue County, Minn.

Environmental activists are blocking a job-creating and profitable sand-mining operation that is vital to the newest energy technology that’s releasing copious amounts of shale gas and oil from far beneath the Earth’s surface. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is ramming through a taxpayer-subsidized, 78-megawatt wind farm that promises little in the way of abundant or affordable power.

Indeed, were it not for the sophistry of the political entrepreneurs behind America’s newfound obsession with wind, the citizens of Goodhue County might be casting their lot with the likes of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., last seen chasing wind developers out of Hyannis Port. They might also be enjoying the economic benefits of domestic energy exploration.

Instead, it now appears that residents justifiably alarmed with the placing of more than 300 massive wind turbines in their back yards have but one last chance to stop the Texas-based AWA Goodhue Wind project.

The county is asking for reconsideration of the PUC’s June site permit allowing T. Boone Pickens to dump his surplus of GE wind turbines in Minnesota after similar plans in the Lone Star State failed a basic test of supply and demand. Let’s hope, for the taxpayers’ sake, that it succeeds.

Pickens, who has a knack for publicizing energy policies that coincidentally include his own projects is set to cash in on both federal and state subsidies for going “green” in Goodhue.

Thanks in part to Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s dogged effort in extending federal “renewable energy credits,” AWA Goodhue will no doubt share in the $23-per-megawatt-hour “windfall” reaped by solar and wind projects nationally.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Energy Information Administration reports that, by comparison, subsidies for coal and natural gas come in at just 44 and 25 cents per megawatt hour, respectively.

It gets worse.

State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, is calling on the PUC to decertify the project as a Community Based Energy Development eligible for the Minnesota’s CBED tariff (read rate hike) in the Power Purchasing Agreement between Xcel Energy and AWA Goodhue — if for no other reason that the word “community” in this case statutorily means based in Minnesota, not Texas.

The Minnesota PUC, like successive Republican and Democratic administrations, seems hellbent on ending local control over wind developments that swallow up thousands of acres, relying instead on the state’s renewable energy standards.

Enacted under the euphemistic title of “next-generation energy” legislation in 2007, the ill-advised mandate means that Minnesota utilities are now busy passing along the costs to ratepayers.

Because generating power from wind is about as reliable as, well, the weather, utilities will still need to pay for steadier sources as backup. As a result, a Beacon Hill Institute study says the average Minnesota household will have paid an extra $1,814 for electricity by the time the standards are fully implemented.

Regardless of the economics, it’s becoming quite obvious that these mammoth wind developments are every bit as damaging to Mother Nature as anything the fossil-fuel industry could dream up.

For the price of intermittent power, nearby homeowners put up with 400-foot towers with flashing lights; high-voltage transmission lines; flickering shadows from 95-foot rotors, along with the potential for dangerous ice shards flying off the blades during winter, and near-constant high- and low-frequency background noise disturbing to the human ear.

Estimates vary as to how many birds are slaughtered each year due to wind power, but it’s certainly in the tens of thousands.

The Washington Post reports that “one of the nation’s largest wind farms, the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area near Livermore, Calif., has killed an average of nearly 2,000 raptors annually, including more than 500 eagles, over four years, according to federal agencies and bird watchers.” Hardly good news for the bald eagle along the Mississippi flyway for migratory birds.

Where’s the Endangered Species Act when you need it?

Meanwhile, hope for a more-sensible energy future remains hostage to a few activists who get their talking points from movies like “Gasland” (environmentalists used to love natural gas until they realized you had to drill for it). Hydraulic fracturing, known pejoratively as “fracking,” has the potential to dramatically alter America’s economic landscape by lowering the costs of domestic energy production.

The Rand Corp. (a nonprofit research organization) says there are 800 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil — three times the reserves of Saudi Arabia — in the United States alone. Remarkably, “if the full potential of domestic oil and gas production could be achieved while also increasing imports from Canadian oil, all of America’s liquid fuels could come from secure North American sources within 15 years,” notes the American Petroleum Institute in a study released last week.

One key component of fracture drilling is silica sand, ubiquitous in the sandstone bluffs throughout southeastern Minnesota. That’s why another Texas company, Windsor Permian, wants to start constructing sand mines and transportation facilities in and around Red Wing for its operations in the lucrative Permian basin. And it plans to do it with no “renewable energy credits” or state CBED tariffs.

It seems that something which is viable needs no subsidy — while all the subsidies in the world won’t make viable that which isn’t.

Alas, the Goodhue County Board adopted a one-year de facto moratorium on the Windsor project earlier this month, despite the fact that silica sand mining (primarily used to make glass) has been a fact of life in the upper Mississippi Valley for as long as anyone can remember. In fact, there are sand- and gravel-mining operations in every county in Minnesota, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

No matter, because for now our energy future is just blowin’ in the wind.

* * *

Jason Lewis is a nationally syndicated talk-show host based in Minneapolis-St. Paul and is the author of “Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States’ Rights” from Bascom Hill Publishing. He can be heard from 5 to 8 p.m. weekdays on NewsTalk Radio (1130 AM) or online at