Friday, April 29, 2005

Gettin' Hitched!

I just want to wish REW and Smartie all the best this weekend as they begin their life together! Unfortunately, I will be out of town, so won't be able to crash their festivities. But I am sure they will be surrounded by family and friends as they enter wedded bliss.

REW, since you will be married, you will now have to change your blog name to "The Power Liberals".

I wish you both the best!


The Press Conference Debrief!

I watched the whole thing. Couple beers worth. I won't go into details about the questions and answers, instead I'll touch on some themes that emerged. If you want a blow by blow, you can find them in the mainstream press (STRIB and PiPress)

So what did I get out of the hour plus, that the President can do no wrong, and he is not to blame for anything. The stock market is in shambles, and the economy is crumbling because of gas prices, and he has no control over those prices. Now, a year ago, when gas prices were stable, and the economy was vulnerable, he was still yipping about an inherited recession. So I have learned from the man, as long as you can find someone, or something else to blame, you don't ever have to accept responsibility.

Another theme that popped up with Energy and Social Security is the latest Meme. "We haven't done anything in the past 20 years". Hmmm, so if Reagan, followed by George 41 would have implemented an Energy policy, and strengthened Social Security, the current President wouldn't have to 'work hard'. Yes, he said 'It's hard work' several times. And I am sure it is, especially when you don't know what you are doing.

On Iraq, the canned response was 'We're making progress' When asked why the suicide bombings are at an all time high 'We're making progress'. When asked when we would bring troops home 'When the work is done', and 'We're making progress'

The education segment really rubbed me. He constantly stated 'All we are asking is that schools measure' 'For the last several years all we have done is shuffle students along' Now, that is a total fallacy, at least in Minnesota. I have been in the St. Paul School District since 1992. We have been measuring the entire time, and adjusting curriculum based on needs. We have a District level test, and a Statewide test, and NOW an added Federal exam. I can only hope the American people recognized this bold faced misrepresentation on this issue. NCLB does NOTHING but force districts to conform to an additional layer of testing, without adequate funding to carry out those federal mandates.

He ended with a rather wordy Social Security question from the press corps. The President reiterated his 'means testing' formula that for the first time addresses the solvency issue. We'll have to see how this plays out. It may be enough to at least begin addressing the long term viability of the fund (The President stated this would resolve 70% of the projected shortfall). However, the Dems insist they will not negotiate any type of SS reform that includes private accounts, while the President made clear he would not sign anything that didn't include voluntary personal accounts. (Yes, it was almost humorous watching the tug of war on terminology. The Right, almost exclusively using the term 'personal', and most everyone else using 'private')

A couple final items I noticed on Social Security reform. He has added the word 'Voluntary' to the 'personal account' term. He made it clear that these accounts are optional, and for those that do not participate, they can continue on in the current program knowing their investment will be protected by the 'full faith and confidence of the Untied States Government'. However, when he is talking about Social Security solvency, he talks about file cabinets full of paper. So here we have the same instruments, US Bonds, be interpreted two totally different ways, based on the context of his argument. So, Mr. President, are these Bonds worthless pieces of paper buried in a bunch of file cabinets, or are they legal notes back by the full faith and confidence of the US Government? Make up your mind!

So for those that didn't catch it, you missed:

1) It's not my fault, Reagan and Bush41 should have taken care of everything 20 years ago
2) It's not my fault, I can't control gas prices, that's why the economy is in the tank.
3) Bonds are worthless, accept when I am talking about voluntary personal accounts, then they are the greatest investment in the world.
4) It's hard work
5) Ignore the man behind the curtain

So on a scale of 1 to 5, It was a 4 beer Press Conference.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Idol Chatter

I hadn't watched last night's elimination show, but was caught off guard when CNN showed the travesty that took place. I can't complain, I haven't voted this season, but I will now. More on that later.

Doug gave his prediction yesterday, and then had a follow-up post this morning.

After last night, it became clear to me that there MUST be a conspiracy of some sort. Maybe all the other networks have phonebanks set up to vote for the worst, to screw up the show. I doubt that is the case, but there is THIS website, that encourages similar behavior.

All I know is that If the viewers want Scott that bad, then I will give them what they want. I will start voting next week, and casting my ballot for Scott!

Ladies and Gentlemen, your NEW American Idol:


Living in Oblivion

Krugman's latest column carries the header"

Paul Krugman: Living in oblivion

Of course, the Right would probably repunctuate and say:

Paul Krugman, Living in oblivion

Regardless, the point of the article is clear, The current administration is out of touch with mainstream America as they attempt to push their far Right wing conservative agenda. Now they can deny it all they want, but the squeaker the President pulled off in November was based on nothing else then a faux claim that he would be better able to deal with terrorism. Take that off the table last election, and the current President would join PaPa as a one termer.

Tonight, for the first time in over a year, the President will make another attempt to push his agenda to the forefront by staging (yes, staging; It's all theatrics with this administration) a prime time press conference. This is always a challenge for a man who clearly has a problem with impromptu environments. But you can bet the questions are probably cleared, the order defined, and the answers scripted. I'll be watching, if for no other reason, to see if Gannon/Guckert has been able to sneak in again!


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Beggars Can't Be Choosers

I had made a comment a few days ago over at Fishsticks place. The post was regarding the economic effects of the smoking ban, and who it was effecting businesses. I pointed out the 'new culture' that was forming as a result.
On another note, that we talked about, is the whole new culture that is being created. Hennepin Ave streets are now clogged with smokers, and the businesses are now complaining of a significant increase in Pan Handling as the smokers are being forced outside, creating a whole new market for the panderers.
Not only are the businesses being culled of their smoking patrons, the ones that do show up, crowd outside and are accosted by this new breed of panhandling. Approaching this captive audience while they take their 5 minutes to spank down a heater.

So, what does the Big Brother city do. Why, make more laws.
A license to panhandle
Minneapolis police chief says his proposal would help control begging, not eliminate it

Minneapolis Police Chief William McManus wants to require a badge to beg.

After overseeing an ordinance in his former city of Dayton, Ohio, that required panhandlers to flash a government- issued photo ID, McManus is hoping the same idea can be used to curb panhandling in Minneapolis.

The city already regulates panhandling in front of cash machines, at bus stops and in restrooms, but the panhandling persists, especially in front of downtown businesses that would rather the panhandlers find another spot, McManus said.

Under the chief's proposal, police could arrest a panhandler who failed to wear the badge or who never applied for one. While many cities regulate panhandling through ordinances, only a handful in addition to Dayton has adopted licensing requirements. Among them: Cincinnati; Dallas; Greensboro, N.C., and Wilmington, Del.

"It's not a trick to get people not to be able to do this. It's just something that enables you to control it better," McManus said. Begging without a license would be a misdemeanor charge with a 30-day jail sentence and possibly a fine.
Now there is no hint as to the catalyst of this proposal. But talking to employees at the Restaurant I was at last week made it clear to me that the resurgence of panhandling on the Avenue had spiked considerably, and that customer complaints were many.

Of course, the city might want to recognize the lunacy in restricting someone's right to conduct business, and allowing the use of a lawful product in their establishment. But that might make sense, and we know we wouldn't want to do that.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Dealing the cards

Mitch called it 'Blink'ing by the Left. I figure if the Left is blinking, than the Right must be 'blind'. Either way, here is how things are playing out so far, you be the judge.

The minority leader is offering a deal. It's a package deal that centers on three of the '10' disputed judges.
That proposed deal, officials speaking on condition of anonymity said, would include allowing the confirmation of Richard Griffin and David McKeague, both of whom Bush has twice nominated for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. At the same time, Reid wants the nomination of Henry Saad scuttled. Democrats succeeded in blocking all three men from coming to a vote in 2004 in a struggle that turned on issues of senatorial prerogatives as well as ideology.
Hmmm. So the Right gets two and the left gets one. I don't know if I would necessarily call that a blink. See, if the majority gets anything less than what they want, it is a failure in leadership. But the deal could also include the input of the two Michgan Senaters (both Dems) to have a say on Saad's replacement. I'd call that a HUGE 'W' for the minority.

So call that a blink, but if it has even a remote chance of working out this way, call it a big win for the minority, and an embarrassment to the majority.


Place Holder

Crazy morning! I have something in the hopper, but it's not quite ready. It'll have to wait till lunch.

MCA testing in the building today, so I have to go monitor some students. I'll replace this post when an opportunity presents itself.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Grams Clucking!

It's all about Kennedy now (like it wasn't all along, anyway). Rod Grams has bailed on his desire to reclaim his former Senate seat. I wonder what kind of deal he worked out. MN-GOP Chair, perhaps?!?


Media Manipulation

It's beginning. As discussed here, the Right is trying to turn the filibuster debate into an attack on 'faith'.

Justice Sunday played a 6 minute video from Frist, yesterday:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist delivered a taped speech Sunday to a nationwide broadcast in which Christian conservatives, during other segments, attacked Democratic senators for blocking judicial nominees described in the program as "people of faith."
So you will continue to see the Right hone their message, and later move on to Race and Women as the reason the Left is frustrated with these far out Judges.

On a side note, the Right is also trying to outflank themselves in the Lexicon game. For those that actually pay attention, it was in fact Trent Lott, who coined the 'nuclear option' term:

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., coined the term "nuclear" option to describe this proposal; it is also called the "constitutional" option (the historic and more politic term recently adopted by the Republicans).
But the way the media is addressing it, you would think it was nothing but a Democratic ploy. See, the GOP has been using THEIR term for quite awhile. But then they found out it didn't poll well. For a party that accused Kerry of changing positions based on which way the wind blows, they are just as guilty themselves. So not only did they change the term to the 'Constitutional Option', but now are dumping the old term on the Dems. Even Doug got suckered in by the move. And when called on it, still hasn't corrected his post. I can understand. They would probably strip him of his blogging card and send him to ANWR if he didn't toe the RNC line.

Keep an eye on these guys, and don't let the media buy into this game. No one with an objective mind can say the media has a Liberal Bias. But to say they are lazy, would in most cases, be an understatement.


UPDATE: Doug has run a post today, properly attributing both terms to their rightful origin. Interestingly, he doesn't care for either term. Neither do I, for that matter. But if the GOP is going to throw around homemade vernacular, they should at least be honorable enough to own it!

Sunday, April 24, 2005


The showcase was a GREAT success. Great crowd, good friends, good song. Below is a picture of this year's Govenaire Hornline. I'm the 4th head from the left.


2005 Govenaire Horn Line Posted by Hello

Friday, April 22, 2005

Home Grown Part Deux

Tomorrow is the big day! The debut of the 2005 Minnesota Drum and Bugle Corps programs from the state's 4 drum and bugle corps. Other entertainment is lined up as well for a full evening of music.
The STRIB featured the Showcase in their Diversions spotlight this morning, with a nice picture of the Govenaires from St. Peter Minnesota.

If you have yet to pencil in something to do Saturday evening, I encourage you to consider attending this event. There is a nice mix that will certainly appeal to all tastes.

I'll be there, in uniform, as a Govenaire. After performing with Minnesota Brass for a good chunk of the last 25+ years, I made the jump to follow in my father and grandfather's footsteps to spend a year with the oldest competing drum corps in the world.

My earlier post is here, with more details.


UPDATE: Just bumping this to the top for the weekend. Enjoy!

Hang 'em High

I agree with Mitch on this point:
As much as I oppose the death penalty on principle, I not only favor it for the perp of this, perhaps the most ghastly murder I've read about recently (Warning: awful story, capable of sucker-punching your opinion of humanity in general. You've been warned)
I also would add this guy to the list:
RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- The Virginia Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the death penalty for sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad.
The principle I stand on, in my periodic dissent of the death penalty lies in the remote chance of executing an innocent man. In both of these cases, guilt is a matter of fact, far beyond the reasonable doubt standard.


Polling Numbers Leaked

In reference to my Cold Feet?!? post from yesterday, The Hill stated "Details of the polling numbers remain under wraps,"

Well, they're out now:
GOP polling shows 37 percent support for the GOP plan to deny Democrats the ability to filibuster judicial nominees, while 51 percent oppose, officials said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But it's not all bad news:
Several officials who attended the polling briefing said the survey also contained encouraging news for Republicans. The poll found more than 80 percent of those surveyed believed all judicial nominees deserve a yes-or-no vote.
And there is also this little tidbit I had inferred about in the post as well:
One judicial nominee, Idaho lawyer William Myers, already is waiting for a confirmation vote on the Senate floor. But conservatives would rather see the final showdown come over Brown, Owen or U.S. Appeals Judge William Pryor, who was given a temporary appointment by Bush after he was blocked by Democrats.

Conservatives during the last Congress accused Democrats of acting out of racial, religious and gender prejudice in blocking Brown, Owen and Pryor. Brown is black, and Pryor is a Catholic.
This will be a contentious debate, and a no holds barred showdown.

The Captain continues to share his frustration, even promoting a campaign to withhold donations to the RNC until they get the nads to follow through on the removal of the filibuster for judges.
Once again, I will not further support this leadership group until they can start demonstrating some basic competence. If the majority of the Republican caucus insists on maintaining mediocrity as the standard, then they can suffer along. When either Frist & Co. demonstrate a will to act and the skills to win, then I will give willingly and happily to the NRSC and the RNC. Until then or until the caucus gives us leaders that can, Not. One. Dime.
Today, he continues to make his point clear:
A funny thing happened on the way to restoring the Constitutional process, however; the GOP sat on the ball, a tactic well known by Minnesota Vikings fans, and one that practically guarantees a loss. This allowed the media to get back into the game, pushing the GOP around the field by constantly referring to their efforts as "radical", "extremist", and their nominees as "out of the mainstream" -- even though Brown, for one, overwhelmingly won re-election to her Supreme Court post in California, hardly a bastion of conservative electors. Now the more moderate Republicans in the caucus have lost their intestinal fortitude for standing up for due process and the reputations of their nominees, or at least they had up to now.
Ironically, it is the Dems holding steadfast, while the GOP continues to hedge as they evaluate the political impact should they continue down this path. Funny, it is usually the other way around.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cold Feet?!?

From The Hill:
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a leading advocate of the "nuclear option" to end the Democrats' filibuster of judicial nominees, is privately arguing for a delay in the face of adverse internal party polls.

Details of the polling numbers remain under wraps, but Santorum and other Senate sources concede that, while a majority of Americans oppose the filibuster, the figures show that most also accept the Democratic message that Republicans are trying to destroy the tradition of debate in the Senate.
With the first of the contentious judges approaching a vote on the Senate floor, it looks like they are hedging.

Another thing to note is how this will play out. The Majority is actually sitting on one of these judges themselves (William Myers, who has already been approved by the Judicial committee), choosing to wait for a woman (Priscilla Owen), an African American (Janice Rogers Brown), or a Catholic (William Pryor), to be first to come to the floor. That way they can turn it into a political anti-(insert demographic tag here) Democratic obstructionism vote. It's one thing to fight on principle, it's a totally different story when you politically maneuver to pander to the public. In any case, it appears to be backfiring, for now!


Body Double

From CNN:
Twin stands in for candidate
Political opponent says parade appearance was dishonest

Thursday, April 21, 2005 Posted: 9:15 AM EDT (1315 GMT)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Mayoral hopeful Julian Castro really wasn't in two places at once. His twin brother took his place in a parade this week, waving to the crowd of thousands.

Castro told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he had a conflicting event and didn't intend to deceive anyone.

"We can't help that we look like each other," said Castro, a City Council member and leading contender in next month's election.


What Liberal Media

From the mouth of Rove himself:
"I'm not sure I've talked about the liberal media," Rove said when a student inquired -- a decision he said he made "consciously." The press is generally liberal, he argued, but "I think it's less liberal than it is oppositional."

The argument -- similar to the one that former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer made in his recent book -- is nuanced, nonpartisan and, to the ears of many journalists, right on target. "Reporters now see their role less as discovering facts and fair-mindedly reporting the truth and more as being put on the earth to afflict the comfortable, to be a constant thorn of those in power, whether they are Republican or Democrat," Rove said.
Get that! Let me repeat this part:
being put on the earth to afflict the comfortable, to be a constant thorn of those in power, whether they are Republican or Democrat,"
When I made that suggestions a while ago (I'll find the link somewhere), I was chastised. It will be curious to see what those defenders of a Liberal media bias will say now that one of their own shares my view.


(via BoTML)

UPDATE: Well, I found the link. It was in a comment thread over at SitD

In me feeble and green attempt to defuse a liberal media bias complaint back last May, I said the exact opposite of what Rove implies:
"But we both know, if there is a bias at all in the media, it tends to lean towards the party in power, and that directions, is to the Right. And that is why GW continues to get a pass, over and over again!"
It was Ryan who called me on it:
"However, ever since Watergate and Woodward & Bernstein, the wary and allergically suspicious media has switched gears and they work around the clock to bring down whoever may be sitting in the White House, and it doesn't matter which party is in office."
So I wasn't chastised for me desire to defend the lack of a media bias, I was chastised for my ignorance in my early days in the Blogosphere.

I still think that President Bush continues to be treated with kid gloves. What he is facing in the media is nothing compared to the pummeling Clinton took.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Another Illinois President

Apparently, Bush hails from Illinois, not Texas:
Bushes claim Illinois P.O. box as home
A White House spokeswoman said the first couple lists Northern Trust, which handles their holdings, as their address for tax purposes

By Ken Herman

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

WASHINGTON -- They've got a house in rural Texas and a nice home-office setup on Pennsylvania Avenue. But for tax purposes, President Bush and his wife, Laura, claim a Chicago post office box as their "home address."
Utterly confusing. What purpose would it serve to not properly identify ones residency. Even if it may save him a few bucks in taxes, why even risk having the 'look' of impropriety.

The IRS states:
"As near as I can tell, it's OK," Internal Revenue Service spokesman Tim Harms said Tuesday after shopping the residency question among several people at his agency.
Yet the rules seem to be a little more definitive:
In general, the IRS frowns upon the use of a post office box as a home address on tax forms. Instructions for Form 1040 say, "Enter your box number only if your post office does not deliver mail to your home."
It's picking nits, really. But he is, after all, the President of the United States. What message does this send, and someone help me with why. If he is so darned proud of his Texas roots why wouldn't he simply list his Crawford address, or at the very least, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That is his 'home address', isn't it.

via JPS

Patty says 'No' to 6th

In today's PiPress (freebie on the stoop this AM), Patty tries to 'burn the bridge':
Speaking to Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party elders at a Hemenway Forum luncheon in Oakdale, she said, "I'm not going to run for the 6th District. The numbers show me that ? I will not win."

The numbers are from a poll she commissioned in late February. It showed that, statewide, voters viewed her favorably by a 2-to-1 margin. But in the 6th District, she said, 48 percent had a negative impression of her and 46 percent viewed her positively.
I simply don't buy it. I agree that the 6th will be a tough cookie to crack, but that doesn't mean she should turn her back on the run. She had a very formidable campaign going against a well funded incumbent. Should Klobuchar get the DFL endorsement for Senate, Wetterling would be the DFL's best hope at capturing this open seat.

I would still put my money on a Klobuchar Senate, Wetterling 6th pairing. It is so early that I am hoping Wetterling is choosing not to hedge her situation to allow for a more robust fund raising effort and a focused campaign. But when all is said and done, I hope she reconsiders.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

via CNN (and a tip from my comments):
VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany has been selected by the Roman Catholic church as the new pope.
. . .

"Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me -- a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord,"
9-2 odds and the under.

Not to sound morbid, but he is 78. So we will see this sequence at least once more in my lifetime.


UPDATE: Kathy is frustrated, Doug is pleasantly surprised.

Historical Redux!

It's been TEN years!

UPDATE: And Twelve years, and Sixty Two Years!


Just Another Frivolous Lawsuit

From CNN:
Bush supporter sues over 'W' logo
Jerry Gossett says the RNC and one of its suppliers copied his design for a campaign logo.

DALLAS, Texas (AP) -- A supporter of President Bush is suing the Republican National Committee and one of its suppliers, claiming they stole his design for the ubiquitous "W" bumper sticker logo in the 2004 campaign.
Mow you would think that the Grand Old Part would be a little more open and honest with it's own, but that doesn't seem to be the case. How does Gossett feel now about his political affiliation.
Gossett says he is a loyal Republican and voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, but has become jaded by his experience.

"The big RNC against little me, there was absolutely no chance to win," he said.
The New GOP, losing support one day at a time!


It's all Relative

This year marks the 100th anniversary of what is called Einstein's Miracle year of 1905. This article sums up those accomplishments well, and explains how they set the groundwork for his most famous observation, The Theory of Relativity, in 1919. To the layman, he shared it this way:
Einstein described relativity this way: "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."
Now even I can understand that!


Monday, April 18, 2005

JB's Shopping Cart

JB, over at Frater's, visited his local Liquor store to find out they were having a tax free day. Looking at his shopping cart, it is clear he is a member of the Far Right Wing.

In the process of saving $32.00 in taxes, his grocery cart consisted of:
1. One bottle Columbia Crest Gewurztraminer
2. One bottle Kendall Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon
3. One bottle Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Gris
4. One bottle Kendall Jackson Chardonnay
5. One bottle O'Keefes Irish Creme
6. One bottle Mother's Sour Apple Schnapps
7. One bottle Sauza tequila blanco
8. One bottle Kettle One vodka
9. One 1.75 liter Jim Beam Black
10. One bottle Shaker's Wheat vodka
11. One twelve pack Tecate
12. One twelve pack Boulevard Pale Ale
13. One twelve pack Pacifico Clara
14. One six pack Sierra Nevada Christmas Ale
15. One six pack Smirnoff watermelon (fiancee's)
16. One six pack Smirnoff madarin orange (ditto)
Had it been me, I would have picked up:

1. One Keg Busch Lite (I'm working on my figure, currently round)
2. One Bottle (1.75) Windsor Canadian
3. One Bottle Kahlua (wife)
4. One Bottle Midori (wife)

I probably wouldn't have saved as much money, but my liver would be much happier. . . what's left of it anyway.


100$ on Cardinal Ratzinger

Oh sure, you can bet on anything these days, so here are the betting lines on who the oddsmakers think are in the hunt for Pope:
Francis Arinze (Nigeria) 3 - 1
Joseph Ratzinger (Germany) 9 - 2
Jean-Marie Lustiger (France) 5 - 1
Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy) 7 - 1
Carlo Maria Martini (Italy) 7 - 1
Claudio Hummes (Brazil) 8 - 1
Arinze looks in good shape according to those the set the line. Ratzinger led the final mass this morning before the beginning of the conclave, so he will be much in the minds of the Cardinals when the beginning meeting. A couple Italians in the mix in hopes of returning the papacy to their country. And the South American Hummes completing the list of 'front runners' The odds drop off to 16 - 1 for the next person on the list. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any line on our very own Nihlist. My guess is he will be waiting in the wings to assist a deadlocked conclave and then be there for them to rally around as the consensus candidate. . . . or maybe not!

OH!, It doesn't end there. Lines for the next name (Benedict at 3-1 followed by John Paul at 7-2), and how many days of Conclave (2 and 3 days are tied at 6 - 4), are also posted.

Anything to make a buck I guess.


Friday, April 15, 2005

Going Nuclear!

So the GOP is threatening to go nuclear by changing the rules in the middle of the game. I am unsure why they would be so self destructive and arrogant. I realize there is a level of frustration when they put up extremist judges for approval and don't get what they believe should be an obligatory rubber stamp. We all know that many of Clinton's judges never even made it out of committee. But where is a mind set that thinks they can just change the rules to benefit only themselves. Do they think they will be in the majority forever.

I have always commented that the difference between the two sides is that the Right lives for today, whereas the Left lives with a vision towards tomorrow. And the actions that are being displayed by both sides on this issue certainly supports that theory.

Flying through the various sites on the net has discovered the following roll call on this issue.

All 44 Dems, plus Jeffords for 45. Both GOP Senators McCain and Chaffee are certainly a lock to preserve the current rules of the Senate leaving us with 47. Since the Vice President breaks all Senate Ties, 51 votes would be needed to stop this nonsense. Of the remaining 'moderate' Republicans, 4 would be needed to protect our republic. Some of the fence sitters; Collins (ME) Hagel (NE), Snowe (ME), Sununu (NH), Gregg (NH), Lugar (IN), Warner (VA). God knows that there is no chance our own Senator Coleman (notice I didn't put it in "quotes", Mitch. It is a respect thing!) would waffle on this one. He owes the administration his job, so he'll do exactly as he is told on anything even remotely close.

So after all that, I only have this question for my Right leaning and far Right friends. Why is it so important to force through a handful of extremist judges, considering the precedent that may be set in A) allowing the Left to do the same thing when it's their turn, and/or B) risking a stalemate on the floor for other legislation, by the Left, in retaliation for this juvenile move?

Seems to me that the Right should be more worried about setting this precedent than anyone. But like I said, they have a hard time looking into the crystal ball with their 'I only care about the now' attitude.

So over the weekend, give this issue the Empathy Test. What would you be saying if, say, the Democrats controlled the Senate and President Hillary Clinton was able to have this power?

Yeah . . . I thought so!


The Tragedy of April 15th

While the Right rallies, and shares their disdain for contributing to the betterment of society, let's not got lost on the true tragedy that should be remembered today.
April 15, 1912

At 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the British ocean liner Titanic sinks into the North Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. The massive ship, which carried 2,200 passengers and crew, had struck an iceberg two and half hours before.
Put that in your perspective pipe and smoke it!


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Here we go again!

Oh Oh, I wonder if the Ole Cap'n of Fishsticks has seen this:
I'll freely confess my biases. I'm the son of a public school principal, and I attended public schools all my life. But this point has always seemed blindingly obvious to me; of course there's an advantage for private schools in that they don't have to educate anyone difficult. Learning disabled? Out! Troublemaker? Out! Don't have money? Out!

Public schools, meanwhile, take anyone and everyone, and do the best they can. For all their work, they're ridiculed by the right as bastions of high treason and sloth.
This has always been the harbor of refuge for the anti voucher ilk. And regardless of what you hear from the other side, it has more validity than they will acknowledge.

I still am open to the idea of a system where half the state aid would travel with a student to a private institution, leaving the other half in the public system, thereby raising the pre capita expenditure. But I have yet to be convinced that this would be nothing more than the first step in a long term game plan to disrupt the public school systems.

Now that I have poked the Captain, we'll see if he awakes from hibernation and defends himself once again.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A raise, what's that?!?

With all the local furor going on about Bachmann, a few other bloggers chatted about George Will's column.

From Doug:
Money for classrooms without raising taxes

From the column:
The idea, which will face its first referendum in Arizona, is to require that 65 percent of every school district's education operational budget be spent on classroom instruction. On, that is, teachers and pupils, not bureaucracy.

Nationally, 61.5 percent of education operational budgets reach the classrooms. Why make a fuss about 3.5 percent? Because it amounts to $13 billion. Only four states (Utah, Tennessee, New York, Maine) spend at least 65 percent of their budgets in classrooms. Fifteen states spend less than 60 percent. The worst jurisdiction -- Washington, D.C., of course -- spends less than 50 percent.
Rather than simply raising taxes, this proposal would fix one of the principal reasons voters distrust such tax-hikes - they fear not enough of the money will go to the students and teachers.

George Will and Jay Reding call it the 65% solution. I'd like to call it the "Give Flash a Raise"
Hey, I'm all for a raise, but I am not sure this proposal would significantly provide that avenue.

For the record, I voted against the last two referendum that the St. Paul School Board pushed on its' Citizens for the very reason George Will brings up. Too much money in my opinion being spent on administration and not on the classroom. Until I saw a sincere and significant attempt by the School Board to reduce those cost, they weren't getting a yes vote from me.

Although the financial numbers in the article look striking
Nationally, 61.5 percent of education operational budgets reach the classrooms. Why make a fuss about 3.5 percent? Because it amounts to $13 billion. Only four states (Utah, Tennessee, New York, Maine) spend at least 65 percent of their budgets in classrooms. Fifteen states spend less than 60 percent. The worst jurisdiction -- Washington, D.C., of course -- spends less than 50 percent.

Under the 65 percent rule, Arizona, which spends 56.8 percent in classrooms, could use its $451 million transfer to classrooms to buy 1.5 million computers or to hire 11,275 teachers. California (61.7 percent) could use its $1.5 billion transfer to buy 5 million computers or to hire 37,500 teachers. Illinois (59.5 percent) would transfer $906 million to classrooms (3 million computers or 22,650 new teachers). To see how much money would flow into your state's classrooms, go to
So I go to the website and look up Minnesota:
Current Classroom Spending: 63.6%
National Ranking: 11th
1st Class Education Proposed Increase: 1.4%
Increase to the Classroom: $92 Million a Year
-- Without a Tax Increase!
We're close, and $92 million seems like a lot of money. But keep in mind that about 85% of the St. Paul School District budget is Teacher Salaries, I am not sure how they are gonkulating the 63.6 figure. I think I'll have to do some digging.

But Doug, thanks for the thought. You could always donate part of your tax refund to me *grin* My W-2 actually went DOWN this past year!


UPDATE: These figures are from the St. Paul Schools Executive Budget Summary (PDF)

SPPS Schools most recent Budget shows $400 million in expenditures in their General Fund Budget (The General Fund includes all regular and Special Education activities, student, and district Support services, as well as building grounds operations and maintenance)

in Millions
Total- - - - - - 2003/04 - - - - - - - 2004/05
Revenues - - - - - $406 - - - - - - - - $396


Wages/Benefits - - $348 - - - - - - - - $344
Total Expenses - - $405 - - - - - - - - $400

Other expenses listed for 04/05 are Purchased Services $31, Supplies and materials $15, Capital Expenditures $8, and 1$.6 in Other (again these figures are all in million.

So it looks like the Salary percentage is 86% in 03/04 and 04/05, which is the one I recalled when I posted. HOWEVER, the salaries are not broken down by Administration/Teachers/Classroom Assistants, etc., (so I put a strikethrough on the word Teachers in the above post). I will see if I can find this breakdown.

My quest will be to see if Building Administrators are included in the 65% or the 35%. I assume, without having read the site in depth, that they are referring to District expenses and administration, not building expenses and administration.

I'm still digging

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Empathy Test

I am not going to get into the spat going on between the Pro Bachmann/DumpBachmann factions. But I will sit back and watch the squirming that continues to show the lack of basic objectivity and understanding going on in the Right Wing Noise machine (read NARN and their surrogates)

Whenever I first look at a situation, I always give it the once over with the 'Empathy Test'.
"How would I perceive the same or similar behavior if the party affiliation was reversed."
Actually, it is more of an objectivity test. I pride myself in not hopping on every Dump Bush band wagon just for the sake of the free ride. I am clearly the most centric of the active Minnesota bloggers, but still caucus with the DFL as their views match my vision for the future much more closely than the other side. My ability to be objective is one of my strengths

So let's look at the two recent Bachmann incidents. First, let's start with "Two in a Bush". Eleventh-Avenue-South published a report of Michelle Bachmann lurking at a JustFair rally. There is a photograph clearly showing Ms. Bachmann cowering behind a bush, peering at the rally. Now, why she wouldn't just observe from a distance, or even enter the periphery is beyond me. One of the defenses of this situation comes from Mitch
tittering about a a series of out-of-context photos of Michelle Bachmann
Ahhhh. Nevermind the definitive evidence she was there, and observing, and lurking. Let's just spin away into a tangent regarding context with out even attempting to justify the behavior. So what do I do. Hmmmm, How would the Right react if, let's say, A notable Lefty Senator was lurking in the same spot, and the rally was on some pro Rightie issue. Cameras clicking, bloggers blogging. The Noise machine would be spitting out ad hominems till they ran out (no, I don't think they would ever actually run out, like 'facts' they just make 'em up as they go along) It would be a free for all. But since it is their 'gal', the behavior is acceptable and those Lefties are just pickin' nits.

So then a few days later, we have the Scandia Scandal. Mitch does a nice job of paraphrasing the two versions:
So, depending on who you believe, either:

* A group of Bachmann's dissidents asked a series of respectful questions, purely in the interest of dialogue. Then, after the speech, a group of them followed Bachmann into a rest room, purely to ask her a question. There was a misunderstanding, Bachmann ran out of the bathroom hysterically claiming to have been threatened/detained/accosted. It was much ado about nothing.
* A mob of howling partisans disrupted the speech. Then, when Bachmann visited the rest room after the event, a group of her hecklers followed her, tried to prevent her from leaving, etc, etc.
Pick your version, but I tend to think she was running to hide in, not needing to use, the bathroom. I agree that it was poor form to follow her into the restroom, but I wish I could have been there when she came shrieking out, only to be followed by a 'petite' lady and a taller elderly one. Keep in mind she was in constituent country and was there for a town hall meeting. If she wasn't going to stand up to her detractors, why show up to begin with. But enough of that, on with the Empathy test. I can just hear the howls of cowardice if the EXACT SAME THING happened to a Lefty senator. "How dare that person 'hide' in the bathroom to avoid constituent concerns." and "How dare they cut off the meeting early when they start hearing what they don't want to hear." or even "What business does this person have of representing anyone if they aren't willing to at least address the concerns of those they speak for at the legislature."

All you folks can squabble all you want about the details and the intricacies of what actually happened in either case. But NO ONE can come close to convincing me that Ms. Bachmann's behavior would be tolerated by the NARNiacs if the party affiliation of the individual was reversed. It's not about the truth with them, or the facts, or even the honest debate of issues. It is about Spin Control, message control, and ego control. Oh yeah, and the Big 'W'. They want to win, cause everyone wants to be a winner, and in their case, it is at any cost!.


UPDATE: Here's an article in Wednesday's STRIB.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Romeo and Juliette spur Hatfields and McCoys

Sometimes you can't makes this stuff up:
Family feud erupts after teens date; 6 wounded
Monday, April 11, 2005 Posted: 12:35 PM EDT (1635 GMT)

CRESCENT CITY, Florida (AP) -- Members of neighboring families shot at each other, wounding six people, as part of a long-running feud that victims said peaked when a girl from one family began dating a boy from the other one.

Six people ages 14 to 22 were taken to hospitals Sunday for treatment of gunshot wounds. Two remained hospitalized Monday, one in serious condition.
So 6 wounded and several witnesses, what do you supposed happened.
However, he said investigators had been stymied by the families' reluctance to talk to authorities. "We get out there and nobody knows anything," Ryan said.
*shaking head* I have nothing more to add!



Sometimes I wonder if Spring break is worth it. This morning was chaotic, and my lab was in shambles in someones feeble attempt to 'help out'. I'll be sure to tell them I don't need their help next time. Not that I asked for it to begin with.

I'll have something later, but for now go over to Tom's place and read his synopsis of this weekends' Humphrey Day Dinner.


Friday, April 08, 2005

Power Vacuum

Stagflation is a common buzz word these days as nothing seems to be going right with the economy. Inflation scares have created a steady rise in interest rates that are now effecting long term rates(read Mortgage rates). Gas prices are skyrocketting effecting prices all across the consumer spectrum.

The job market continues to disappoint, after being teased in February with a revised 240,000. Economist believe the growth to continue, but March's rate came in at 110,000, well below the hopes, and significantly below what is needed to keep pace with the job market as a whole:
The report marked the eighth time in the last 10 months that payroll growth has come in well below forecasts by most economists. It also is less than the 150,000 gain in employment seen as necessary to keep pace with population growth.
The current administration successfully embedded the meme of an inherited recession during the last election cycle, but at some point they will have to accept responsiblity for the sluggish behavior of the market forces. Since they have no real plan, other than to continue to pad the pocketbooks of the wealthy, we have seen a steady stream of smoke and mirrors. They have been distracting the public with social issues, instead of spending their time on the reality of the current economic situation.

At some point, the party in power will have to address these concerns. As mentioned before, the vacuum created by a lame duck presidency is causing a level of turmoil in the majority party. They have lost their ability to lead, since they are floundering without a future leader.

On the other hand, the minority party is sitting on their hands during an opportunity for them to position themselves for victory in the 2006 midterms. They have become obsessed with raising money, but not with platform positioning. I realize we are a year away from serious campaigning and message delivery, but now seems like an opportune time to take a leading role in the debate.

The failure of the administration's Social Security plan, the fumbling of the Schiavo issue, and the wallowing of the economy have placed them in a very vulnerable situation. If the Left sits back too long, they will miss their chance at prime time. It is not too often, lately, that the minority party has been in a position to control the debate. And if they wait much longer, the ship will have long left port.


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Let There Be Light!

Congress is looking at extending Daylight Savings time:
Lawmakers crafting energy legislation approved an amendment Wednesday to extend daylight-saving time by two months, having it start on the last Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday in November.
I'm all for it. Watching the Sun set at 5:00 in the afternoon can be mood altering. However, trick or treating in daylight kind of takes the fun away.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

MInority Coveting

Doug asks a GREAT question today.
Did we like being a minority party so much we're getting nostalgic for it or something?
He's commenting on this article found at the Moderate Voice. What got Doug all worked up?:
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner III, R-Wis., told cable industry executives attending the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. conference here on Monday that criminal prosecution would be a more efficient way to enforce the indecency regulations.
These guys are having a struggle corraling their own. This lack of leaderhip along with the splintering of their base will not bode well over the next year and a half. Of course, I won't have a big problem with it. The small tent party will have fewer and fewer to draw from as they build their campaign war chests. All the Left has to do is sit back and watch them impload, and then come out with their own ideas.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Loner Presidency

No wonder the Rovian machine keeps trying to rally their base. It is becoming more and more apparent that that is all they have left for support.
Here are the approval ratings for presidents as recorded by Gallup in the March following their re-election:

Truman ----- 1949: 57%.
Eisenhower - 1957: 65%.
Johnson ---- 1965: 69%.
Nixon ------ 1973: 57%.
Reagan ----- 1985: 56%.
Clinton ---- 1997: 59% .
Bush ------- 2005: 45% .
Almost makes one want to fell sorry for the guy.


Jennings has Lung Cancer

From the Houston Chronicle:
Peter Jennings, sole anchor of ABC News since 1983, told colleagues and friends in an e-mail today that he has lung cancer.

"As you all know, this is a challenge,'' Jennings wrote. "I begin chemo-therapy next week. I will continue to do the broadcast. There will be good days and bad, which means that some days I may be cranky and some days really cranky!''
I wish him well.


The Final Word

Illinois lost. UNC was just too much for them and after laying a big fat egg in the first half, it was a forgone conclusion who was going to pull this one off.

My Wife, a big Michigan State fan, was all UNC last night. So it made for an interesting watch together.

The Final results in my sister's office pool are in. She had asked me the morning of the first round if I could share my picks with her. After seeing Kansas drop out in the first round, I was much the ridicule by her, and LearnedFoot as being 'mathematically eliminated' in the first round. As you can see by the results, the strong overall picks by this prognosticator were too much for anyone to overcome, even after losing my champion in the first round. The strong sheet of my sister, Linda F prevails.

Final Points Correct Champ
1 Linda F-----210 45 KA
2 Rich Reed---204 41 NC
3 Dan G-------200 40 DU
54 Vic D-------122 29 IL
55 Jason W-----116 27 KA
56 Jim K-------106 26 KA
It's all good. Now we enter a state of sporting doldrums, where all we have to look forward to is a Puppyless NBA playoffs, which simply doesn't match the energy of the NCAAs. Of course, there is always baseball season, but that is just an excuse to turn on the radio and drink beer in the garage.

Five months till football season!


Monday, April 04, 2005

Angels and Demons

After finishing The Da Vinci Code recently, I was encouraged to read the other Langdon book written by Dan Brown. Angels and Demons was drafted before the more recent Da Vinci Code. Most I have spoken with feel this is a much better piece of work as well.

I am listening to the 5 CDs on my excursions to Southern Minnesota and I have been able to complete the first two over this weekend. Ironically, the premise of the book centers around a threat to the Conclave following the recent passing of the Pope. A rather timely education on the intricate and sometimes archaic procedures and practices surrounding the selection of a Pope. The book is getting very good. I don't think I am going to wait almost three weeks until my next trip to Mankato to finish it up.


Spring Break!!

I am off this week, which one may think would mean more time for blogging. But, alas, that will probably not be the case. It is not very often during the school year I can cram the various duties and personal appointments one must do during normal business hours. So that will be my mission this week.

This AM was one of the firsts of those appointments, a trip to the eye doctor to see how I am doing and see if laser surgery is an option. He is still reluctant to recommend it for me, but the technology has come to a point where it is now my choice. A few year ago, the limits of the operation were still beyond the nature of my situation. At this point I am leaning no. But I'll do some more digging.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Odds and Ends

You MUST see this photo (It's safe. This is a family blog). It is funny and oh so true!!


From 'Wog':
Now you can pack heat in a bar but you can't have a pack of heaters.
It's a drum corps weekend. I'll be back Sunday night!


Snark Alert

LearnedFoot, as his Lefty alter ego Footrios (a play on the left's favorite blogger Atrios) is stompin' on Mitch this AM. A tribute to April Fools' day no doubt, but a gas nonetheless.
Mitch Berg: Big, Green Booger of the Apocalypse

Sound the Maurice Gibb Emergency Broadcast System Sustained Beep:

Jive talkin'. -The Bee Gees

There's no bigger jive talker than Mitch Berg who spittles out the Shit in the Dork blog. This numbnuts wingnut makes a habit of constantly dissing the highly respected Star Tribune journalist Nick Coleman. I for the life of me cannot understand why, since Coleman is the calm, moderate voice of reason in that otherwise radical right-wing rag.
The Koolaid Report can be a hoot. I don't usually agree with their politics, but no matter what they are yippin' about, it almost always brings a chuckle.

Read the whole thing.



My alternate activity when I am not blogging, domesticating, or working, is Drum and Bugle Corps. I have been involved in the activity as a performer or administrator for over 25 years. Over the last few years, I have slowed down my involvement to make time for those formative teen years and the demands they bring to the home.

The last time I marched a full season, was 2003, with Minnesota Brass, Incorporated. After taking last year off, I am fulfilling a dream, marching with the Govenaires, the oldest continuously competing Drum Corps in the world. My Grandfather marched in 1928 and my father in the late 50's and early 60's. I have always wanted to fulfill the family's Govenaire legacy, and that is why I have chosen to travel to southern Minnesota every other weekend since January.

Although the Govies have done a few parades, the official kick-off the 2005 season will be at the Minnesota Music Showcase:

This event will highlight not only the three competing Drum and Bugle corps in Minnesota, but will add some other homegrown flavor as we show our support to more than just the Marching Arts idiom.

VSA Arts is an organization creating a society where people with disabilities can learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. They will have several performers participating in the evenings festivities.

Also, the East Metro Music Academy, which provides individual and group music classes to several hundred people by utilizing donated space at recreation centers in the Twin Cities east Metro area, will join us.

Along with Chops, Inc (the 3rd Minnesota Drum Corps), Minne-Brass (Minnesota Brass Inc.'s entry into the DCA mini-corps competition.) and Brio Brass (a 40-member non-traditional brass band where audiences are likely to hear fluid ballads, rousing marches, rollicking polkas, pop of all eras, show tunes, funky rock, and LOTS of JAZZ!) will round out the slate.

Emcees for the program will be Lynne Warfel-Holt of Minnesota Public Radio and Allen Costantini of KARE-11 TV, both of whom are drum corps fans and have drum corps in their family backgrounds.

Pencil in the date, and join other Minnesota Music supporters as we put on a display of homegrown talent that will fill your evening. Tickets are only $5.00 and the venue is the Highland Park Senior High Auditorium (Montreal/Snelling in St. Paul).

More information is available at the Graphic link in this post which will also be pinned to the sidebar. I knew you all were wondering how long my homage to Robert Blake would last. Well now that spot will become a Drum Corps only zone, until after Labor Day weekend.

I hope to see you all there.


"The Smoking Ban"

"The Smoking Ban" (to be sung to the tune of "Candy Man").

[Lyrics by JB Doubtless, Saint Paul, Chad the Elder, and the Nihilist In Golf Pants. Accompanied by Atomizer pulling on a Camel Light.]

What can cure lung cancer?
emphysema too?
reduce heart attacks and a venereal disease or two
the smoking ban can
the smoking ban can
the smoking ban can 'cause
it's legislating love and makes your clothes smell good

Is it based on science?
or wishful thinking junk?
it really doesn't matter, when the DFL's in charge, punk
the smoking ban can
the smoking ban can
the smoking ban can 'cause
your habits are obscene and ruin our good mood

The smoking ban makes
every business quake
their property is the government's possession
talk about your left wing lesson
you can even call it an obsession
(or naked aggression!)

Smoking Ban, Hey it's the Smoking Ban
Everybody put out them smokes, cuz
It's the Smoking Ban....
The complete lyrics are at Fraters'

I've shared my frustration with this issue and I have nothing more to add. If you want my view delivered in another way, read what Mother Nature's Son has to say.