Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trump for Prez?

Into the republican presidential race enter none other than Donald Trump.

For most of us on the conservative side of the political spectrum, and I would assume many on the other side as well, Donald Trump is a hard guy to envision sitting in the Oval Office of the White House. I'll admit it's a tough sell for me as well. If one word comes to mind right off the tip of the tongue when you think of Donald Trump, it's abrasive.

But there are a couple of other things that I think of when I think of old Mr. Trump, real estate mogul and businessman. For one, if he were to become president, you'd be hard pressed to be guessing where he stands on any given issue. Whether or not you would like or agree with any position he might take, you would know exactly what he thinks. The man has practically made a second living from speaking his mind and cutting right to the chase when he does it. But, at times it can get downright nasty. Whether or not you like Rosie O'Donnell, for example (and I do not), the feud between her and Trump some years back when she was originally on The View fell just short of a boxing match.

You have to admit the exchange did make for good TV.

But he is also a smart guy, and of course he is a businessman. He's also not a politician per se. I say per se because most politicians like to say what they think the American people want to hear. Donald Trump says what he thinks, and he doesn't particularly care what anyone else thinks about that.

I am interested to see how he performs throughout the campaign cycle, and I hope he gets at least enough traction to be able to sit in on the debates. While the last thing we need is one more talking head on the stage taking up valuable time, I do think he could add both comic relief and high value entertainment to the entire debate. And there's one more thing he could add to the debates as well.

He could actually get democrats watching republican debates.

And that could prove valuable since while debates are filtered, mainly by a limit of time, we all know how filtered the mainstream media is, especially when it comes to republicans. So if more democrats are tuned in just to see what antics Donald Trump might deliver, they might just get something out of the debates that they won't get anywhere else.

Do I think that Trump would make for a good president? Like I said, it's a tough sell for me. I like the fact that he is transparent, that he likes small government, that he believes that China is a threat both politically and economically to the future of the United States, and that he really does believe in American exceptionalism and is a proponent of a strong military force. All good things. I also think that, being a businessman and not being a politician, he would be great for improving the economy, and especially slashing the budget and I think could even dramatically reduce the national debt.

Again, good things.

So where do I think he might go wrong? It really does come down to his abrasiveness. One sentence could destroy a relationship with a foreign national, and even send the United States into an all-out war. If Donald Trump were to become president he would need to have a guy in his cabinet to stifle him just a bit. You want people to tell the truth. But just like you don't necessarily want to come right out with it and tell your co-worker she's a whale as she stuffs her fifth donut into her face, you don't want to say exactly what's on your mind about important issues. There needs to be a delicate balance between the truth and how that truth is presented. And Donald Trump would have difficulty with that, and in some instances I think it could cause some Americans, and even some foreign dignitaries to tune out when it comes to what President Trump would want to convey.

If for no other reason one thing that Donald Trump would most definitely accomplish? I think he would make for the most entertaining presidency the country has ever known. And interestingly enough even that could be a plus for the country in an off sort of way.

When politics makes for good TV people will watch, and having more eyes and ears tuned into our government and the most powerful man in the nation cannot be a bad thing.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Clint Eastwood Attacked By The Left

If I said, "Here we go again," would I sound too cliché? But here we go again. We are living in a time when the left can pretty much say whatever it wants to. Bill Maher can openly attack Sarah Palin and her family and make terrible off color jokes and get away with it. Nigh time talkies like Jay Leno and David Letterman (now both retired incidentally) can say horrible things about conservatives. But whenever a conservative or republican has anything to say, it's lights out and full attack mode on.

And such was the case at the Spike TV awards where Clint Eastwood made a joke about Bruce Jenner, calling him "Caitlyn Somebody," that has the left calling for Eastwood to never see any stage again, and of course the joke will be removed the airing of the awards show.

Notice I said Bruce Jenner and him.

Quite frankly I don't give a rats ass what parts you have surgically removed or altered, your DNA is your DNA and it doesn't lie. Bruce Jenner is a man no matter what he wants to be, and calling him a hero and courageous for being someone who is essentially mentally ill is just stupid.

I refuse to be politically correct about this.

I am tired of the glorification of progressive ideology. Actually, not so much being able to talk about progressive issues. Fine. It's a free country and free speech is free speech. Everyone is entitled to it. But rather what bothers me is the in-your-face ramming down the throat progressive ideology and shutting down anyone else who happens to have an opinion that differs.

You cannot do that. It is unconstitutional.

It is high time that the American people begin to wake up and realize that their thoughts are being controlled by the media, and by the left that controls it. It needs to be realized that the people nodding their heads and agreeing with shutting down the speech of guys like Clint Eastwood, Vince Vaughan, and Rush Limbaugh are simply not paying attention  to what's really going on. They are allowing themselves to be lap dogs and slaves to an ideology they probably don't even fully understand. They are allowing themselves to be lead by the hand to a world in which there is no gray area, and where only the speech of the left is allowed or acceptable, even when it is as downright cruel as some of the things said on the right.

Clint Eastwood has an opinion. He is entitled to it. His joke is no worse than any other joke that has been said by lefties on the stage of similar ceremonies that don't get banned or cut out or ridiculed or attacked.

It's just sickening to me that we continue to allow the media to have their say with a leftist agenda in mind, and so few people call it out for what it truly is. Really folks what we are dealing with is the worst form of censorship. I call this...

A load of bullshit!


4 Reasons To Shop Menards Home Improvement Stores

When it comes to shopping for anything to do with the home, you won't find me browsing the aisles of Lowe's or Home Depot. For a variety of reasons I simply find the entire customer experience at Menards to be the best. Here are a few of the things that I think are worth considering the next time you need anything for a home improvement project, or are just looking for a few household items. Menards stocks everything from household cleaners, to milk and potato chips among of course the regular home improvement store fare.


  • Excellent customer service
One thing I find at Menards is that cash registers are always well manned, and therefore getting through the checkout process is virtually quick and seamless. As well, I find the employees to always be helpful and informative, and most importantly available. Based on my experiences at all three home improvement stores, at Menards employees always seem to be happy. It stands to reason that it seems Menards is not only a great place to shop, but a great place to work, and I enjoy supporting any company that is doing well by their employees.

  • Great prices, and rebate programs that helps keep cash in your pocket
Besides just great prices, Menards regularly offers mail-in rebates to customers which helps to keep costs for any project low. While the rebates are redeemed for in-store credits, since trips to the "hardware store" are a common trip for most people, it is of little concern. You'll always have something you'll need for which you can redeem those in-store credits. What's more, Menards also regularly has 11% rebate offers for every single item in the store. So when a big project is at hand, this can add up to big savings as well. The rebate program also helps Menards to offer better prices since they make money on the interest between the time of purchase, and the cashing in of the rebate checks. It adds a bit of a hassle to get your money back. But in the end I think it is time well spent, and I personally really like the rebate program at Menards.

  • A commitment to stocking many MADE IN THE USA items on their shelves
With the economy still in the dumper a bit, and with more focus these days on jobs and the value of American labor to help improve the economy and foster the middle class, I can appreciate any company who has a strong commitment to the American worker, and fostering American manufacturing. Made in the USA is not hard to find when you are browsing the aisles at a Menards store.

  • Clean and organized, and fully stocked shelves
It's rare you'll find an empty shelf at a Menards store. Especially when it comes to sale items advertised in the paper. Nothing is more frustrating than finding an item you need is on sale, only to find that it has been understocked for the sale. Menards manages a clean, organized, and fully stocked store nearly all the time. I have never had to ask for a "rain check" on any item advertised.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

No More Lifetime Handouts For the Poor

When it comes to the epidemic of poverty in our country, many people want to help. The truth is, however, that what we ultimately wind up doing is not helping the people, but perpetuating the problem. There are so many examples one can point to that clearly demonstrate that welfare and food programs are doing nothing to solve the issue of poverty. If nothing else, all of the statistics clearly point to the fact that the problem is only getting worse, and since the inception of welfare programs instituted largely during the Great Depression era the number of people on the poverty level is substantially higher today.

Part of the problem is the way that the welfare and food programs are set up. The system does not encourage work, and for many people once you are on the dole, you never get off of it.

And it's not just government programs that can be to blame for the failure of welfare and food programs. Churches, for example, are large contributors of food to families in need. To either the government officials, or church officials, one question should be asked.

If the same person has come to my door for the past 30 years needing some help, how has my program worked to help that person?

Fixing the problem is difficult. But not because it is complex. It is difficult because many people, especially politicians, are convinced that even bringing up the issue of welfare reform is political suicide. Moreover, many Americans are simply convinced that taking anything away from the poor is cruel and inhumane.

In my opinion, keeping a person on the dole is akin to keeping an animal in captivity. Or perhaps, it can even be akin to a form of slavery. The fact is that the true potential of an individual cannot be realized when it is trapped in a system for which there is no foreseeable escape.

Welfare programs should be designed to seek to help those who truly need some help. But it should not be designed to allow individuals who have no interest in helping themselves continue to receive benefits.

Imagine, if you will, being an investor. A businessman comes to you and says he wants to expand his business. He invites you to fork over some cash to invest with him. He tells you to contribute money every single month. All the while the business does not expand. The investment dollars are only paying for the daily operating expenses of the current business. How long do you continue to invest knowing that the dollars are not improving the business? How long do you continue to invest knowing that the businessman has no intention of using the money to improve the business? And if the money keeps coming anyway, what incentive does the businessman have to do anything about improving the business?

Welfare programs can be thought of the same way. You are investing dollars into an idea that you will help the poor to get back on their feet, and get off the dole. Only the truth is that the dollars are only paying for the daily operating expenses and nothing more. There is no expansion, and the result of the dollars spent are static at best. This is largely a zero gain investment.

It needs to be clear that welfare reform should not be considered by anyone to be cruel in any way. Even churches should appreciate welfare reform. After all, it is in the Bible where it says, "Feed a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime." Yet churches have virtually no work programs, but their food programs rule the day.

So, what should be at the heart of an effective system of welfare? Education and encouragement to seek employment. And I'm not talking about higher education when it comes to that term. But rather educating people on money management, how to conduct themselves in an interview for a job, and how to write an effective résumé. Things that will have greater impact on the lives of the poor than simply handing them a few dollars and a loaf of bread.

Some of the reforms I would institute would include many things. And again, the system would be geared to helping individuals who truly need the help, while leaving behind those who have no intention of truly benefiting from the help they are being offered. It may seem cruel. But at some point it simply makes no sense to me to be an enabler simply because. In no other areas of our society do we accept this, but when it comes to poverty we do it openly.

At some point the weakling chick must be tossed from the nest to ensure the survival of the stronger chicks. 

  • Welfare recipients would be required to seek work, and would be required to report the results of their job search efforts.
  • Welfare recipients would be required to do a specified number of hours of community service such as keeping up parks, street cleanup, and other projects deemed beneficial to the communities in which they are receiving benefits.
  • Welfare recipients would be required to attend job training sessions such as how to conduct oneself in an interview for a job, how to write a résumé, and would be educated in areas of money management, how to open a savings account, and how to balance a checking account and how to avoid credit pitfalls such as payday loans and title loans which are devastatingly destructive to poor communities.
  • Welfare recipients would be required to be tested for drugs. Welfare recipients tested positive would be required to seek rehabilitation in order to maintain their benefits. Failure to pass drug tests in the future would make them ineligible for future benefits.
  • Welfare benefits would not be unlimited. Benefits would be reduced on a graduating scale over time, and at some point it would be expected that the benefit of work would outweigh the value of the benefits. Benefits would also eventually expire.
Comedian and radio personality Dennis Miller once said of the system of welfare, "I don't mind helping the helpless. I mind helping the clueless, and these days there are more clueless than helpless." An effective system must be one in which productivity, responsibility, and real hope is encouraged and offered. The system as it stands today offers none of that, and therefore poverty remains an epidemic, and one that is expanding rather than contracting even though more and more dollars are spent on these programs each and every year.


Walmart's Focus Should Be On Customer Service

It seems that Walmart is making some efforts to improve employee satisfaction. Among some of the changes, say Walmart officials, employees will now be able to wear denim on the job, and can choose between blue or khaki pants. As well, music played in stores will also be changed to reflect employee preferences, and temperatures in stores, which are controlled at corporate headquarters, will be increased a couple of degrees to address concerns by employees that stores are too cold to work in.

Wages are also being slightly increased.

But one area where I think Walmart needs to double down is on customer service. In particular, it needs to man up its cash registers with cashiers, and dramatically speed up the entire checkout process. One thing I have observed nearly every time I step through a Walmart checkout lane is how slowly items are scanned by the cashiers. And interestingly enough, it seems Walmart's checkout time is the slowest of anywhere else I shop. Even the so-called "speedy" checkout is as slow as ever.

While great prices are definitely a factor that continue to influence my choice to shop at Walmart stores, more and more I find the checkout process to be wholly frustrating. And I think Walmart could fix this problem easily, and with little added cost. It would not necessarily even require additional hiring. A system could be put into place to determine if there are a set number of customers on average in any lane, that cashier trained employees could come to the front and man up a register to increase the flow of customers checking out.

In addition, Walmart could create incentives such as paying cashiers monthly bonuses for having the fastest checkout times. It would be easy enough for a computer program at the cash register to take a time when the ticket is first opened, to the time the ticket is closed.

One thing Walmart needs to be aware of is that while great prices are certainly a driving factor to their continued success as a business, at some point when the economy begins to dramatically improve, customers may be willing to pay a premium for service, and as well, there may be innovators in business out there willing to take on Walmart and use customer service as their core niche.

I don't think Walmart is going away any time soon. And I think it's great that Walmart is addressing at least some employee concerns, and do think that happier employees make for better customer experiences as a general rule. But happier customers will also be willing to spend a little more at every visit if they know they can get in, and get out in a reasonable amount of time and with less frustration overall. Even for myself, there are times when I may need only a couple of items, but will choose to shop somewhere else for them simply because I know it will take me longer to get what I need and get out of the store to get on with the rest of my day. I am certain there are other customers who make similar choices, and with that, Walmart potentially loses millions of dollars a year simply because the checkout process is not well managed.