Monday, December 15, 2008


How a dog can change your life
and what’s wrong with ignoring the needs of the U.S. auto industry!
By Charlie Leck

A reader posted a comment on one of my recent blogs, telling me she also has a dog named Jasper.

Odd? I think so, because it’s an odd name. I don’t ever remember hearing of another dog with that name. Now I learn that an old and good friend has a Jasper also. [Molly, we’ll have to have them meet up some day!]

I certainly hope her Jasper is as wonderful as mine. She writes that her dog doesn’t have strong loyalties and that the grass on the other side of the fence (literally) always looks greener to him. When she lets Jasper out, he immediately goes over to the neighbor’s house, eats the cat food and finds a comfortable bed on which he can rest.

My Jasper has been wonderful for me and it was very bright of us to get him. He exercises me daily, something that I had gotten out of doing. My first walks with him were of about a quarter mile or so. Now it’s no problem to walk with him for 3 or 4 miles. The weather is having some impact on our exercise. Neither of us likes these very frigid conditions and he’s had it with the great outdoors after 5 minutes or so.

Last weekend the weather turned balmy, so we were able to take him over to the dog park for a couple of hours. I got a nice long walk in and I immediately realized how much I miss those strolls.

This wonderful guy has literally changed my life. For the last couple of years I’ve spent nearly every day at home by myself, reading or writing. Both my muscles and spirit had begun to atrophy. That’s not good. Now I have a responsibility to him. He needs his exercise and I don’t have options about that. We pick the warmest part of the day and head for the trails and spend an hour or so wandering together. I chat with him all along the way. He’s not a great conversationalist, but he gives every impression that he is a good listener.

When I sit at this desk, writing, he likes to lie right at my feet and sometimes directly on top of them. That keeps my toes warm. His snoring is gentle and rhythmic and doesn’t bother me.

Today’s Star-Tribune (the newspaper of the Twin Cities) has a good column by our former U.S. Senator, Mark Dayton, about how to fix Minnesota. He criticizes our Governor’s “no new taxes” pledge. If ever there’s a time to raise taxes, especially on the upper-income citizens, it is now. Tough times, like these, call for those of us who can afford it to make sacrifices and contributions to the general good of the entire population. That’s always been part of the American spirit and it’s wrong not to tap into that character now.

Jasper is in complete agreement with me on this matter. Instead, we are both afraid that our state legislative bodies with curl up in a tight fetal position and, to the detriment of us all, do nothing.

Lorie Sturdevant’s column about the U.S. Senate election recount process here in Minnesota was certainly worth reading. Jasper and I hope this incredibly close race teaches people that it is crucial to exercise your constitutional right to vote. I am astounded when I meet people who don’t vote.

Jasper also agrees with Rick Taft’s letter in this morning’s local paper.
“Those senators who want to guard the taxpayers against the auto industry never batted an eye when sending this country into perpetual debt bondage to make war against a country that never did anything to us. What a bunch.” [RICK TAFT, WOODBURY]
I agree with Taft. We’ve only dropped a cool 3 trillion dollars in Iraq alone. That’s not a misprint – trillion – 3 of them to pursue an absolutely stupid and unnecessary war. However, we can’t pump 15 billion into the auto industry. Japan has a long history of subsidizing its auto industry, to help it compete against us. It would, I think, have disastrous affects if we allow the U.S. auto industry to go under.

I’m not a William Kristol fan, but I read him regularly to try to retain some balance in my thinking. Kristol’s column of today (15 December 2008) has an interesting take on Congressional assistance for the auto industry. It might be worth your time to read Kristol’s opinion on this matter.

“Now there are other ways to explain the disparate treatment of G.M. and Citigroup. Finance is different from manufacturing, and banks from auto companies. It may be that the case for a huge bank bailout was strong, and that the case for a more modest auto package is not. Still, it seems to me true that the financial big shots haven’t been treated nearly as roughly in Congress or in the media as the auto executives, who have done nothing remotely as irresponsible as their Wall Street counterparts.” [William Kristol]
Well, the warmest portion of the day is approaching, so I’m going to take Jasper out for about a 45 minute walk.

Come on back tomorrow!

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