Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mark Felt is DEEP THROAT!

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Creaky Bones

A weekend of hard work and evening fun is a strain on this chronologically experienced body of mine. Hard marching and drill learnin' all weekend followed by the Memorial Day death march on Monday has reminded me that the ole body isn't the same spry and nimble vessel it once was.

The GOOD news is, my right knee is holding up tremendously. I had a complete ACL rebuild following the 2003 season, having tore it completely only two weeks before Nationals. My Dr. was able to fit me with a hinged brace and some mild pain medication that allowed me to perform for championsips, but any further season long marching would require surgery (gross picture of my knee post surgery is here). There is still stiffness in the knee, but I can perform with confidence knowing that the ACL is as strong, if not stronger, then it was before.

Of the past 27 years I have been involved in the Drum and Bugle Corps activity, I have been a performer for 18 of those season. My longest consecutive stretch was from 1986-1992. Recently, I have developed an every other year pattern, having marched MN Brass 99, 01, 03, and now 05 with the Govies. Although it was my intent to perform with MN Brass again next year, to celebrate their 60th anniversary, I am having second thoughts about making that commitment.

So what I am driving at, is my body is tired, my brain is mush, and therefore my political rantings for today may have to wait, until I recover, and get my synapses firing more consistently.

I hope you all had a great weekend!


Monday, May 30, 2005

It Was an Honor!

I performed this morning in the St. Peter, MN Memorial day service with the rest of the Govenaires. A simple, traditional service marked by vocal performances (Battle Hymn, God Bless the USA), The St. Peter Saints Marching Band (Star Spangled Banner and Stars and Stripes), along with a moving performance of Amazing Grace by us. Speakers included members of the local Legion and VFW posts, and the Mayor of St. Peter. The Main speaker was a member of the local police force who will be leaving soon on another Tour in Iraq. He has been in the service for a good part of 18 years.

The service concluded with the traditional 21 gun salute, followed by one of our members playing Taps. It was especially rewarding to be able to visit with my Godfather who is a long time member of the local Legion color Guard, and was a member of those presenting the colors.

Memorial Day is the kick off to the Summer season, and is spent by many at lakes, cabins, and parks. But I hope that every few years or so, EVERYONE has a chance to participate in a Memorial day service, especially if you have children. It is important that we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedoms.


Remembering . . .

From last years' Memorial day tribute I shared a little bit about my ancestry and their involvement protecting our freedom's:
My dad was the youngest in the family, and his father, being a widower soon after my dad was born, remarried. Gramma who was also a Widow, had several boys whom joined the clan, and it was a nice size rural farm type family. My dad enlisted in the Navy, and is a veteran of the Korean War. The other boys, including Grampa, were all vets of WWII. Gramma had 4 Star flags hanging in her window. One for Grampa Otto, who was a mail carrier in WWII (Otto drove ambulances in WWI) and one for each of her boys, Vane, LaMoyne, and Bob.

Bob didn't make it home. He was a casualty in Europe. His body was eventually returned and is interred in the Dummer family plot in Henderson, MN.
And Mom's side:
My maternal background is more domestic. I only have to go back a few generations to find Civil War veterans (one even buried right here is St. Paul) and a few more generations to find Revolutionary War descendancy. In fact, an Eaton family homestead, in Green Lake Wisconsin, was acquired through a War of 1812 Bounty Land Warrant.
I will be in Mankato most of the weekend, refining the Govenaire's 2005 competitive field show drill. But there will be time, to detour to the neighboring cemeteries, and pay my respects to my ancestor's who risked their lives, to preserve the lifestyle we have today.

On Monday, the corps will be participating in a traditional Memorial day service in Minnesota Square Park right on 169 just south of downtown St. Peter. It will be the first time I have participated in this ceremony, and it will be an honor knowing that some of those we will be paying tribute to, are those from whom I descended.

Have a SAFE and HEALTHY holiday weekend.


Friday, May 27, 2005

It's SuperTarget!

Faster then a checkout scanner, more powerful then a Wal*Mart rollback, able to leap out promotional endcaps in a few moments . . . . It's SUPERTARGET:
Target Corp. might be planning to super-size one of its St. Paul locations, according to neighborhood activists and real estate observers who say the company is interested in a Midway property owned by the St. Paul Port Authority.

Target is believed to be among bidders for the ailing Sheraton hotel property at Hamline and St. Anthony avenues, possibly to demolish the building, which is behind the existing Target at 1300 W. University Ave.
I didn't even know the local Sheraton was on the bubble. It always seemed out of place, nestled on the westbound 94 frontage road, across from a Hardee's.

I don't recall ever being in a SuperTarget, maybe once. But considering the morgue feel of the local Rainbow after Cub opened down the street, I am not sure what advantage would exists by saturating our economic environment with another low cost grocer. However, with the recently opened Wal*Mart cutting into Target's sales, they are feeling the pinch to reposition.
Union representatives of food workers have been keeping an eye on the possibility of a SuperTarget in Midway going up against the nearby Cub and Rainbow stores. Bernie Hesse, an organizer at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 in South St. Paul, said he's already hearing reports that the hours of some Target employees have been cut since the city's first Wal-Mart debuted last May in the former Midway Kmart. (The Midway Wal-Mart is a traditional store without a full grocery selection.)
So I'm luke warm on this one. As a consumer, it will open up choice and competition, thereby controlling prices, but at what cost. Merchandise saturation may undoubtedly create despair for the store that finishes on the bottom. KMart couldn't survive, yet the Wally World still seems to be thriving in the same locale. Cub almost ran Rainbow out of business, yet Roundy has re-injected life into that local Rainbow. Maybe a SuperTarget might be the kick in the tush that the area needs to keep the local conglomerates in check. Time will tell!


Thursday, May 26, 2005

It's Carrie!

As predicted, Carrie pulls it off!

GREAT show last night (I only saw the second half) The highlight for me was the Musical montage towards the end. Carrie's duet with Rascal Flatts, and Bo's rendition of 'Sweet Home Alabama' with the current members of Lynard Skynard, were simply magic.

The Season;s over, Summer is around the corner. Now I can get on with my life and not be tied to the Tube on beautiful Weekday evenings!


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Quit yer beefin' !

Owen's confirmed!

The rights of the individual being supplanted by the rights of the corporation has begun!

And he thought the deal was bad!


Disappointing Idol - 5/24/05

What a let down. Both Bo and Carrie stumbled on original tunes that did not do anything to showcase the talent and genres that brought them to the brink of Idoldom. When they had the opportunity to pick their 'favorite' song of the season, they didn't choose very wisely either. Frustrating!

I'll stick with Carrie as the pick for tonight. She fits the 'pop star' mold much better than Bo. I'll tune in for the big reveal tonight, but probably after it is already over, and I can Zip (thank God for TIVO) past the filler and get right to the meat.

Idol had another great run, but crashed and burned at the end. I don't know what the producers were thinking!


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

True Colors

If anything, the reaction to the Filibuster flame out has created an alignment that is defining individuals political ideology more specifically then we have recently seen.

Hard Lefties and Righties are denouncing the deal as a failure of the respective leaderships. They're calling their own Senators, who participated in the deal, turncoats and/or RINO/DINOs. Those of use in the middle, the left and right leaners, moderates if you will, are content with the preservation of minority rights, Senatorial rules, and constitutional control.

On the Right we have Mitch, who's first gut instinct prompted a 'You Suck' post directed at Frist. After sleeping on it, he hasn't changed his tone. Captain Ed is so ticked he continues to promote his "Not One Dime for the NRSC" campaign.

On the other side, we have TalkLeft who is just livid, calling the deal a 'sell out'. The Kossacks are directing us to Feingold's statement:
This is not a good deal for the U.S. Senate or for the American people. Democrats should have stood together firmly against the bullying tactics of the Republican leadership abusing their power as they control both houses of Congress and the White House. Confirming unacceptable judicial nominations is simply a green light for the Bush administration to send more nominees who lack the judicial temperament or record to serve in these lifetime positions.
And from the Middle, Jeff has a nice capsule laying out the winners and losers:
So who are the winners and losers in this thing? Well, the members of the Democratic caucus are the big winners. Yes, it would've been fun to force Frist into ignominious defeat, but this comes pretty damn close. And while I've never thought Frist held very good cards in this one, it's impossible to believe the GOP would've gone ahead with this deal if there were, say, 51 solid and certain votes for the nuclear option.

Other winners? Centrists--God bless 'em. Now that they've worked together on this, maybe, just maybe, they'll start to work on softening the tone in Washington. And the American people win, because it would've been terrible to see the Senate turned into a pale imitation of the House.

Losers? Frist. And how. Hindrocket is furious, and I expect that will be the general consensus on the right. Frist had, theoretically, 55 + 1 votes for the nuke; that he couldn't keep those 55 + 1 together on this indicates that Frist is, indeed, the marginal leader we on the left have come to love. This has to effectively kill any chance Frist had for 2008; the right wing wanted victory here, and denied that, they will turn on him with a vengeance.
And another take from Purplestater at Centerfeud:
I have been following this debate with mixed feelings. On the one hand, there is no question that Bush's judicial picks are way more conservative than I would like; I would expect nothing else from this administration. And as a matter of abstract principle, I have no philosophical problem per se with appointing judges who are are originalist in their interpretation of the Constitution, and less inclined to citing international law as a basis for decisions in constitutional matters, which I see as a worrisome trend.

But practically speaking, a Bush-appointed judiciary will tend to reinforce the conservative social agenda, which seeks to poke holes in the wall of church/state separation in the name of "moral values". It will be more inclined to rule in favor of state and federal constitutional amendments that permanently relegate gay people to second-class citizenship. And since this is really just the warm-up for the Supreme Court nominations to come, liberals rightfully are fearful of a coming assault on Roe vs. Wade.
So if you are one who wanted to know how wingy (or batty) your favorites blogs were, or if they were more leaners then Kool-aid drinkers, this is the issue you can use to test them. If the hate the deal, they are outside of the middle, if they are at least content with the actions of the Fantastic 14, they are as moderate as they claim.

Of course, I can't let this recap endm without directing you to the local Snark. A taster:
Top 11 Things the Republicans Get in Exchange for Surrendering on Judges
11. Democrats agree not to compare Bush to Hitler except in extraordinary circumstances.
10. John McCain gets a better parking spot.
9. Democrats agree not to filibuster Lawrence Tribe should Bush appoint him Chief Justice.
8. Hillary will be allowed to choose only one in ten judges.
Read the rest.

I'm just thankful we can move on and try to get something done other then this perpetual 'King of the Hill' game.


Monday, May 23, 2005


14 Senators (7 Dems, 7 Repubs) have reached a deal to avert the imposition of the Nuclear Option. The deal is virtually identical to the deal I posted on here last week.

I guess watching the wheeling in of cots for an overnighter was enough to dot the i's and cross the t's on the deal

I am in the middle of Dinner (grilled surf and turf, alfredo, green beans) but will be back later to link to the terms and comment regarding this consensus.


UPDATE: CNN story here. Powerline not happy here, so that must mean it is a pretty good deal. John's a good guy, but he is a member of the 'our way or the highway' brigade. His frustration only points out that it is probably a fair compromise!

The Fourteen:

Democrats: Byrd, Lieberman, Nelson, Landrieu, Pryor, Inouye, Salazar
Republicans: McCain, Warner, Snowe, Collins, Chafee, Graham, DeWine

The deal (PDF):

We respect the diligent, conscientious efforts, to date, rendered to the Senate by Majority Leader Frist and Democratic Leader Reid. This memorandum confirms an understanding among the signatories, based upon mutual trust and confidence, related to pending and future judicial nominations in the 109th Congress.

This memorandum is in two parts. Part I relates to the currently pending judicial nominees; Part II relates to subsequent individual nominations to be made by the President and to be acted upon by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

We have agreed to the following:

Part I: Commitments on Pending Judicial Nominations

A. Votes for Certain Nominees. We will vote to invoke cloture on the following judicial nominees: Janice Rogers Brown (D.C. Circuit), William Pryor (11th Circuit), and Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit).

B. Status of Other Nominees. Signatories make no commitment to vote for or against cloture on the following judicial nominees: William Myers (9th Circuit) and Henry Saad (6th Circuit).

Part II: Commitments for Future Nominations

A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.

B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.

We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word “Advice” speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President’s power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.

Such a return to the early practices of our government may well serve to reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the advice and consent process in the Senate.

We firmly believe this agreement is consistent with the traditions of the United States Senate that we as Senators seek to uphold.

SPPS Budget

Tonight the St. Paul School board will receive Superintendent Harvey's contingency plan for the 2005-06 budget. Since there isn't an education funding bill passed yet, contingency's must be made to ensure a balanced budget. Highlights

- reductions of $4.5 million to school budgets
- reductions of $6.3 million to central service budgets
- If the legislature does pass a K-12 funding bill that provides additional resources, the district will work to restore cuts to school and districtwide service budgets.

Other facts offered by District administration

** Saint Paul Public Schools is facing a $15.3 million deficit for the 2005-06 school year.

** Over the last five years the district has cut more than $50 million from its budget.

** The deficit is caused by state funding that has not kept up with rising costs.

** The contingency plan was developed with help from a district budget team and input from school site councils and the public.

** It includes difficult decisions and painful reductions that none of us wants to make. Those decisions:
Textbooks - $1,960,198
Delay the purchase of new textbooks and some replacement of textbooks for one year. This leaves a budget of $725,000 for
emergency purchases.

English Language Learner Program - $1,005,517
Eliminate 12.0 ELL educational assistants and 7.0 ELL teachers. This means that fewer staff will be provided to schools. Less native language support will be provided to students and parents.

Special Education - $1,501,227
Eliminate 4.6 FTE educational assistants, 9.45 FTE teachers and 7.5 FTE social workers. This will increase case loads.
This represents less than a 5% reduction but is the most that can be cut without losing federal revenue.

Family and Community Involvement - $146,629
Eliminate separate office and reassign remaining duties to other personnel, with continued budget support for the Children's Initiative and the Parent Information Fair. There will be no central office support for family involvement activities.

Student Wellness - $175,147
Eliminate .4 FTE educational assistants and 1.85 FTE nurses.
Building staff will assume more responsibility for the health needs of students.

Operations & Maintenance - $1,254,900
Eliminate 10.0 FTE custodians, 1.0 clerical support positions and 1,450 hours of seasonal grounds time. This will mean that two additional buildings will close early, there will be reductions in frequency of cleaning tasks and less frequent grass cutting. Implementation of more energy conservation programs and the re-bid of the phone system will save on utility costs.

Boys/Girls Athletics - $179,205
Eliminate teams with low participation and delay new equipment purchases. More reliance on fund raising.

Safety & Security - $154,100
Eliminate 4.5 FTE safety & security assistants. These positions are moved from school to school to meet daily security needs. There would be less flexibility and longer response time.

Senior Staff Reduction - $150,000
Eliminate one senior staff position and reassign duties as appropriate.

Salary and benefits - $376,194
Reduce 6.5 staff in the Business Office, Human Resources, Communications, Legal and Assessment. This will decrease customer service to schools and programs.

Permit Fees - $200,000
Increase fees for the use of district facilities. Some groups could be excluded due to higher fees.

Materials and Supplies - $63,954
Require automatic deposit of paychecks reducing postage, paper and envelopes. Also reduce photocopying and food purchases.

Research Evaluation & Assessment - $27,500
Eliminate PLAN and BST test expenses. MDE is expected to provide new tests in 2005-06.

Interest on Loans - $70,394
Borrow for less money to meet cash flow needs of the district, saving on interest costs.

Equipment Purchase and Repair - $50,336
Reduce or delay equipment purchases. In cases where leases are paid in full, don't upgrade to newer equipment.

Human Resources - $18,500
Reduce advertising of vacancies. Find alternative sources for candidate pools.

Travel and Conferences - $32,430
Allow less travel for conferences and conventions. Fewer staff development opportunities will be open to staff members.

Gifted and Talented - $100,000
Reduce support for projects or consultation. Eliminate support for Confratute and reduce materials for classroom teachers.

Belwin Lab - $16,113
Limit the number of students who can attend and have fewer supplies on site for students.

Student Information Systems - $97,149
Purchase 100 fewer computers for schools. Currently about 500 are purchased each year.

TV Production - $5,000
Eliminate taping and broadcast of School Board meetings. Reduced information provided to the community.

Attendance Action Center - $32,632
Eliminate .34 FTE and do not replace retiring social worker. Schools would have to absorb more costs.

Instructional Technology - $23,656
Eliminate maintenance contract on school library systems and support for AV parts. Schools will need to pay for these services if they chose to keep them.

Consultants and Contracts - $236,104
Reduce workshops and collaborative initiatives with schools. Less central support of schools or programs in crisis situations.

Substitute Teachers - $225,408
Reduce costs through closer management of absenteeism.

Sabbatical Leave - $120,000
Place a one year moratorium on sabbatical leaves.

Dues and Memberships - $38,730
Reduce the number of organizations to which district belongs. Could result in higher, non-member fees for some events.

Superintendent's Contingency -$28,977
Fewer dollars that the superintendent can make available to schools when emergency situations arise.

Storehouse - $60,000
Combine the mail delivery with the food delivery to buildings.
One less truck and driver will be necessary.

Transportation - $450,000
Change all charter schools to a fourth tier on the bus schedule.

TOTAL: $8,800,000
There is enough here for the Right to pick on and say "It's about time" and for the Left to say "how much more do we have to cut". But the reality is, here is what is being effected, and how the District administration is handling it. So nitpick away, but it sure looks like scraping bone to me!


Drinking with the MOB

A belated thank you to the King of SCSUScholars for hosting this past weekends' outstate MOB gathering. As usual, I was to the left of everyone else at the shindig, but that didn't stop us from having a great time. I spent most of my evening chatting with the writer of Wog's Blog. His deeply personal take on his own trials and tribulations makes for a fantastic read. I encourage you all to visit him frequently to check the speed of the latest curve ball life has tossed his way.

The next official gathering may not be until the State Fair, but if that is the case, you can bet there will be several unofficial ones between now and then. And of course, there is always Drinking Conservatively at Keagan's Thursday nights.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Transportation Bill reborn?

With all the hub-bub regarding the fee -vs- tax debate, the legislature has a GREAT opportunity here. Since the Governor has now set the precedent for what is a fee, all we have to do now is resubmit the Transportation Bill, as is, with one correction. Don't call it a gas tax, call it a per gallon Highway Maintenance fee. This distinction would actually be more accurate then the Current Tobacco fee proposal, since the payer of the fee will actually see a direct benefit from the revenue, a common distinction made between what is a fee and/or tax.

Don't get me wrong now, If it walks like a duck, it's still a Duck. But if Governor Pawlenty wants to continue playing linguistic lambada, then the legislature should call him on it and finally get things done!


Friday, May 20, 2005

Fox Hunting

FOX is taking a dive in the ratings:
April '05 marks "the sixth consecutive month where FNC declined versus prior month in M-F, primetime P25-54 (every month since Nov '04),"
The numbers:

Oct. 04: 1,074,000
Nov. 04: 891,000
Dec. 04: 568,000
Jan. 05: 564,000
Feb. 05: 520,000
Mar. 05: 498,000
Apr. 05: 445,000

CNN is still floundering on it's own (443k (FOX) vs. 304k (CNN) in April) but the site notes:"In April 2005, FNC's weekday primetime demo average decreased 25% compared to the year-ago, while CNN increased 27%."

I've tried watching FOX, and my dislike for their format doesn't have much to do with their total lack of objectivity (They're as Fair and Balanced as Mitch fisking a Coleman column). It reminds me of a 24 hour morning show, with back slapping buddies and coffee cups. It just has always come across to me as a juvenile network. AS for CNN, they've been playing to the White House ever since GW backed in for his first term, but at least they display a consistent level of professionalism when they wank.


via NewPats

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Done Deal?

It appears that a bipartisan group of Senators have reached an agreement that will prevent the need for Frist to drop the Nuke:
A bid to end the Senate standoff over President Bush's judicial picks would let five nominees advance to a final vote while preserving the right of a minority of senators to block two others.

A draft of the deal, which CNN obtained Thursday, would allow up-or-down confirmation votes on five of the seven nominees whom Democrats have blocked -- including Priscilla Owen, whose nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals faces debate in the Senate this week.
So Owens will squeak by, but:
nominees William Myers, a pick for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Henry Saad, for the 6th Circuit, would remain blocked.
How can a small group of Senators wield such power, and forge an agreement leadership couldn't even muster? Simple math:
Six Democrats would vote to end debate on those nominees. In exchange, six Republicans would vote against the "nuclear option" to limit judicial filibusters, leaving the GOP a vote shy of a majority on that step.
Now watch the scramble for credit. The Majority leader, who all but refused to support any compromise, knew he never had the votes lined up. Let's watch him wiggle for a few days, and try to salvage his Presidential aspirations.


Sith Happens

From the diaries:

I have a similar poster from Lewinskygate hanging in my garage. But this one is MUCH better.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Simply beautiful!


Their evening with the Guv

Recently, the NARN and some other members of the Right side of the blogosphere attended an invitation only gathering at the Governor's mansion. This morning Nick Coleman was railing on them for their back slapping, kool-aid drinking gala. I must say, I don't agree with Nick's take on the event.

To the victor goes the spoils, and as much as I, and others in dissent of the current administration, continue to be frustrated with the stubborn antics of their ways I congratulate the attendees for this FANTASTIC entry into the main stream fray. There are those on the Left who would like to package this meeting into a colluding intrusion of the openness that are the Blogs. But this adds credibility to our medium. It shows that the 'big guns' are watching, and paying attention, and are willing to engage the pundits in a way that may reshape how political campaigns are navigated.

Of course, not all of the local Right Wing echo chamber were invited, and their snubs have not gone unnoticed.

So if you are interested in hearing their take on the great evening they had with the Governor, visit the links below. My hats off to them for their successes. But all that does is make the opposition stronger. Enjoy your brief time at the top, for you are still out of the mainstream, and the natives are getting quite restless.


Shot In the Dark
Dayton -v- Machine
Cap'n Ed
Bogus Gold

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Riddle me this

Impressionist Frank Gorshin, the ORIGINAL Riddler has passed away. He was 72.

Probably my favorite of all the Batman TV Villans. May he rest in peace.


Galloway -vs- Coleman

My two favorite Galloway quotes from yesterday's showdown:
Now, I know that standards have slipped over the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer, you're remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice.
and the best:
"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives -- 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies, 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever, on a pack of lies."
It is clear who won this showdown if you have a truly objective mind. It was a beautiful thing.


Idol 5/17/05

Down to the final three. Each candidate sang three songs, one chosen by renowned producer Clive Davis, one they chose for themselves, and one picked by the judges.

1) "I’ll Never Love This Way Again"
2) "Chain of Fools"
3) "On the Radio"

Vonzell had one of her best evenings, but just isn't in the same league as the other two. I believe she has a fantastic career ahead of her, but she should be the one going home tonight

1) "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me."
2) "In a Dream"
3) "I Can’t Get No Satisfaction"

Bo was on fire. for his second tune, the one he picked, he went a cappella. I thought it was a little shaky, but everyone else seemed to like it. The judges all said this was Bo's night. I am not so sure. He is a safe bet to move on, but he hasn't locked in the title yet

1) "Crying"
2) "Making Love Out of Nothing at All"
3) "Man, I Feel Like a Woman"

Carrie was pure Carrie. I felt she was over and above the best of the evening. Consistent, strong, controlling, energizing. She performed flawless vocals and every time had the crowd on their feet. I truly believe Carrie is the one to beat next week.

So barring a total phone fiasco, it should come down to Carrie and Bo. There was, for the third time, a phone number gaff. Ryan announced a wrong number for Vonzell during one of her tunes, but immediately corrected himself when they came back from break. It won't matter anyway, as talented as Vonzell is, she simply doesn't have a chance against the other two powerhouses.


UPDATE: Vonzie's gone. It's down to Bo and Carrie

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Fili fumbling

The Senate leaderships have failed to reach a compromise, both feeling they are bargaining from strength, Reid and Frist insist they have the votes on their side, and therefore failed to reach a reasonable compromise. The final showdown should happen this week.

But there is a group of Dems and Repubs that are negotiating independently. And if they can create a block large enough to control those 10 votes in the middle, they'll have more power then I think they are given credit for. Here is their proposal:
Even as Frist and Reid gave up efforts to reach a compromise, a small group of Democrats, who have been meeting with Republicans also eager to avoid a showdown, floated a proposal to clear the way for confirmation of some of Bush's blocked appointees.

Under the proposal, circulated in writing, Republicans would have to pledge no change through 2006 in the Senate's rules that allow filibusters against judicial nominees. For their part, Democrats would commit not to block votes on Bush's Supreme Court or appeals court nominees during the same period, except in extreme circumstances.

Each member would be free to determine what constituted an extreme circumstance, but Republicans would bind themselves to not changing the filibuster rule for the next two years.
Currently, they would agree to let votes happen on "Richard Griffin, David McKeague and Susan Neilson, all named to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals." Along with "William H. Pryor Jr. for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Janice Rogers Brown for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia." They would continue to block "Henry Saad to the 6th Circuit Court, Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit and William G. Myers III to the 9th Circuit."

On a side note. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is one who has publicly mentioned she will not vote in favor of the rule change. But with three bases closings in Maine, you got to wonder if that was a ploy by the White House to negotiate for her vote, in return for a couple bases back. Pretty sneaky if ya ask me. Take away something you have no desire to cut, so you can give it back anyway in exchange for a vote. That the one I'll be watching closely.


Best Headline of the week

. . . and it's only Tuesday!

Wog had a little fun taunting the PiPress for their misguided headline:
Did a double-take when I read the following headline in the Pioneer Press this morning, regarding the approaching end of the legislative session:

As Capitol Clock Ticks, Anxiety Lifts

In my experience, the Capitol becomes a nut house in the final days of session as the consequences of 4 1/2 months of sitting on asses comes home to roost in a flood of last minute sausage making.
Today, I believe the PiPress has eliminated any ambiguity, in the following headline.
Smith whizzes past reporters


Monday, May 16, 2005

Endorsement Denied

After a rocky start, the Minneapolis City DFLers dug in for what would be a long day. After multiple ballots, and McLaughlin in the lead. The only thing they accomplished was adjourning.
Minneapolis DFLers went home late Saturday without endorsing a candidate in the mayoral contest between incumbent R.T. Rybak and his main challenger, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.

After five ballots, McLaughlin led 53 percent to 45 percent. Both candidates got 45 percent on the first ballot, but McLaughlin continued to climb. He did not, however, reach the 60 percent of the delegates required to get the endorsement.

McLaughlin called the results evidence of dissatisfaction with the mayor.
Each candidate had their own spin, Peter's much more positive then R.T.
McLaughlin called the results evidence of dissatisfaction with the mayor.

"This is a huge win," he said. "They're not satisfied with the performance of the sitting mayor."
I am not that keyed in to what happens in Mpls politics, but I have met the mayor on several occasions. He has pulled up a stool at Rock Bottom just to hobnob with the patrons. I found him personable and engaging. Once you meet him, you get the strong feeling he is a 'get things done' kind of guy, which is why he probably said :
"Now we're moving on to my turf, going out and talking to real people," he said of the coming campaign.
RT will do well on the campaign trail, and will easily survive the primary. But we have seen in Minnesota that any thing can happen, at any given time.

There is no such thing as a sure thing, at least not in Minnesota politics.


Friday, May 13, 2005


As the GOP Smear machine revves up, and the Right Wing echo chamber picks up their orders, I offer this distraction:

This isn't about Reid 'breaking rules'. It's about distracting the electorate from the reality of the Right. And if those FBI files were so secret, then why were they already discussed here (6/3/2004). Keep in mind, as well, that the only reason there is still a vacancy in Michigan, is because Clinton's nominees weren't even allowed the dignity of a hearing, let alone an up or down vote the GOP is so desperately trying to state is every nominees' right.


Thursday, May 12, 2005


The local conswervatives are scrambling to create a budget that fulfills the needs of the state, while generating enough revenue to accomplish that goal. Being bound by the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" (funny, I can't find the text of the pledge. The link on the Taxpayers League site brings up the Caucus Resolution in PDF. David, anyone, can you help me out here) has created some conflict within their own ranks. However, like the linguists that they are, they have found wiggle room.

It is simple, we don't call anything a tax anymore. The latest is the debate regarding the Cigarette tax.
Northfield Rep. Ray Cox, a Republican, has sponsored a bill that would raise $50 million per year in fees, which equals about 17 cents per pack, on cigarette distributors to pay for the state costs of cigarette smoking. His bill calls that a "cigarette cost mitigation fee."
Ahhhh, after however many years of calling it 'the cigarette tax', it is now a 'cigarette cost mitigation fee'. What does the Governor think:
Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said Wednesday that Pawlenty talked to him about the idea of a fee on cigarettes to pay for health care in April.

"The governor talked to me about it. I listened. He called it a health care fee and we listened but did not make any commitments. I did the research (into) what $1 per pack raises. It's $260 million annually ? That tells me he might have some interest in that fee," Johnson said.
So does that mean the gas tax is a 'highway maintenance fee', the sales tax is a 'purchasing fee', and income tax is really a 'state revenue enhancement fee'

Ahhhh, I get it! See, I have no problem with individuals sticking to convictions, and standing for what they believe in. But when intelligent people use linguistic gymnastics, instead of accepting responsibility for their flawed philosophies, they create a credibility gap between themselves and the electorate.

REW, you were looking for some things to ask David Strom, I'd like to hear his take on his pledge signers doing the linguistic lambada. I don't suspect he is all that thrilled about it.


Anthony Axed

Anthony's gone. In spite of the best performance of the evening, Tuesday, it still wasn't enough to survive. I'll admit, he was the weakest of the remaining 4 in overall performances, but if voting is for the performance of the evening, he got slighted.

Next Tuesday, the final three.

I'm off today, so I'll be back in a bit.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Idol - 5/10/05

The 'votefortheworst' site has been pushing Anthony this week since Scott finally took his last walk. But after last night's performances, they may want to re-evaluate their strategy.

Anthony had clearly the best combined performances of the other three survivors. He finally came out and nailed both tunes, with a high degree of stage presence and quality. Carrie seemed in her element, but her first tune seemed to go on forever. Bo, (Sorry GiGi) sounds more plastic everyday. And Vonzell was shaking so much in her first song, the you could feel the vibrato in her voice, and that wasn't necessarily a good thing. If I were to rank last nights combined performances, it would go:


We've seen how the voting works this season, so anything can happen. But if we are suppose to vote based on the nights performance, Vonzell should start worrying. But that won;t happen. Anthony is going home.


UPDATE: Another Phone Number gaff. Reality TV Magazine is reporting an error in the phone numbers listed for those with Closed Captioning on. Screen shots are on their site. With only 4 contestants left, and a phone number formula that remains consistent (the number corresponds to the order you perform) I don;t see this as requiring a replay. But it still calls into question the credibility of the technicians on the show. Let's see how this plays out.

UPDATE II: Fox's Response posted by a moderator on the AI Community board:

MAY 10, 2005

During the second round of songs on the Tuesday, May 10 live broadcast, the closed-caption graphic listing call-in numbers for the various contestants was identical for every performer. While the producers and network acknowledge the closed-captioning error, the correct call-in number for each performer was still read by Ryan Seacrest and broadcast on screen during each performance, as well as the show recap.

The producers and network apologize to our hearing-impaired viewers for any confusion, and the situation was immediately corrected for our tape-delayed west coast broadcast.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

And so it begins . . or continues!

I have gone on record already with my opinion of a Clinton presidential candidacy. It's not that I don't think she would make a good candidate, or even a great president. But in this day and age of Smear boaters and mud slingers, there would just be too much material for the Right to grasp on to. I long for a presidential race that might actually be based on ideas, and visions. One that concentrates on the future of our Republic, and honest debate on how to get us there. No matter who the Dems pick in 2008, the RNC smear machine will load up with both barrels and never let up. The have shown over the last few months they aren't on the correct side of the issues (Social Security, Filibuster, Schiavo, etc.) so they have to attack people and personalities.

Do you think they could wait a few years, or at least till after the midterms. Nope, they won't let up. And they will tie any Left wing contender to every possible investigation, and hammer the MSM until they relent, screaming liberal bias if they don't.

And so it begins:
A conservative watchdog group with a history of dogging the Clintons urged a Senate panel on Monday to investigate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton over a Hollywood fundraiser for which a former staffer faces charges.

The fundraiser is the focus of a federal trial set to begin Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Prosecutors charge that former finance director David Rosen understated the cost of the star-studded August 2000 gala, which raised money for Clinton's senatorial campaign. Rosen denies the charges.
We'll have to see how the trial unfolds. But you can bet no matter what the outcome is. This will dog Hillary, and be added to the list of probable mud slinging come 2008.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Celeb Blogs

Mitch points us to the new HuffBlog and torments some of the contributors (and rightfully so, I may add). But the PiPress also had an article pointing directing us to some 'celebrities' who are gaining popularity in the Blogoshpere.
Nothing's new about celebs using Web sites to cut out the middleman, i.e., those pesky reporters (who, us?). Melanie Griffith, of all the unlikely pioneers, started her own site in 2000. But stars are now using blogs to break news, as with Spears announcing the Pregnancy on hers. Liberal columnist and author Arianna Huffington soon will launch the "Huffington Report," a left-wing group blog with starry contributors Gwyneth Paltrow, Larry David and Warren Beatty.
Amongst those linked:

'FORMERLY ROSIE'I happen to know that frequent Centrisity commenter, GiGi, is addicted to Rosie's Blog. They even have a Rosie's Buddies Community site.

'STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS' More Britney, if we haven't had enough of her already. I mean, now that she's married and all, who cares, Right?!?

'SAJAK SAYS' Pat has joined forces with the Right Wing echo chamber to get out the latest talking point in his style.

PAMELA ANDERSON'S BLOG It's a fake, they say. And not a very good one at that!

'MRS. L'S MONTHLY' Rosanne Cash's blog, and probably the best one on this list.

'MELANIE GRIFFITH.COM' Far from a bandwagon jumper, Melanie has been posting since 2000.

'SERENA'S SCENE' Moments in the life of a tennis star.

'ZACH BRAFF'S GARDEN STATE BLOG' An inside perspective from an Indie movie director.

That oughta be enough to keep you busy the rest of the day!


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Erlandson's Future

Mike Erlandson, the outgoing DFL Party chair, hinted about his future the other day. Previously on a short list of DFL Senate Candidates, it now looks like he may make a run at Mary Kiffmeyer for Secretary of State:
Erlandson acknowledged that "a lot of folks talk to me about a lot of things," but that he's most interested in running for secretary of state, now the job of Republican Mary Kiffmeyer, in 2006. One of the job's chief functions is "to get people to come out and vote and that's what the party chairmanship was all about," he said. Despite his history as one of the state's top partisans, Erlandson said he would be less partisan than Kiffmeyer.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Officer Down!

I woke up to the news of a fallen protector this morning.
Police were conducting a manhunt throughout the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood on the East Side of St. Paul after a vice officer working undercover was shot dead early this morning. Two suspects were at large.

Sgt. Jerry Vick was pronounced dead at Regions Hospital this morning, Chief John Harrington told reporters during a 6 a.m. news conference. Vick had been shot in an alley near Seventh and Forest Streets after exchanging shots with two suspects outside Erick's Bar around 2:20 a.m. The alleged gunmen fled on foot.
This is not that far away from a shooting not that long ago, which left a warrant officer in the hospital.

We talk a lot about education and other social service funding. But the men and woman that protect us day in and day out seem to fly below the radar, until something like this happens.

I've had my scanner on most of the morning. The current perimeter is set up at Arcade, Maryland, Johnson and 3rd street. Avoid the area if at all possible and let the force do it's work.

My heart and prayers go out to the Vick family, and the proud men and women who protect me and my family from the vermin that roam the city streets.


UPDATE: From the PiPress:
At least one suspect in the early morning shooting of an undercover St. Paul vice cop was in custody, and heavily armed officers looking for a second suspect consumed the city's east side in a massive air and ground search.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation wouldn't discuss details of the person who'd been taken into custody, but one source said he was "likely involved."

MORE: The STRIB reports both suspects in custody:
St. Paul police took two suspects into custody after a wide-ranging manhunt through the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood, where a vice officer working undercover was shot dead early this morning.

Six other people also were taken into custody Friday morning; police believe they may have been witnesses to the shooting or have knowledge of the case.

"We are not in a position to say that we are certain at this time that we have the suspects in custody," Police Chief John Harrington said around 9 a.m. "The investigation will continue."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Bipartisan Plea

There was a GREAT editorial in the STRIB this AM. Two former Minnesota US Senators joining together to preserve the Senate and it's historical process. Republican Dave Durenburger and Democrat and former Vice President Walter Mondale on the same page. That itself is a a breaking news story. Let's see what they have to say.
The American people should know that the proposed repeal of the filibuster rule for judicial nominees by majority vote will profoundly and permanently undermine the purpose of the U.S. Senate as it has stood since Thomas Jefferson first wrote the Senate's rules. We join together, across party lines, in an urgent plea of support for the current Senate rules.
Now others dispute whether it is in fact a break from tradition. The rules have been tinkered with over the years. But the main premise is accurate, and their description of the body's function, it it's true purpose can't go unnoticed:
Today's rules allow a screening of judges by the Senate. Most presidential nominees are confirmed, but there are always a few instances where the nominee is unable to obtain the Senate's approval. We think this process has been good for the judiciary and good for the country. This Senate rule has led to a stronger, less partisan, truly independent court. Weaknesses in judicial nominees are usually exposed in bipartisan Judiciary Committee hearings. If presidential pressure forces a partisan vote on the floor, you can often count on a bipartisan vote on the floor not to confirm. Both of us have seen this happen and value this exercise of checks and balances.
The words of party elders should speak volumes. I hope those in a position of influence take head.

The authors then give a hometown example of success.
Partly as a result of such checks and balances, our Minnesota federal bench has been recognized for decades as among the strongest in the nation. Minnesotans nominated to the federal appellate bench have outstanding records and include Warren Burger, former Gov. Luther Youngdahl and Justice Harry Blackmun. In our time, two Minnesotans were nominated by Republican presidents to the Supreme Court and confirmed by Democratic Senate majorities. In 1979, with a Democratic president and Senate, and two Republican senators from Minnesota, we agreed that a "Minnesota balance" could best be struck if President Jimmy Carter nominated both Democrat Diana Murphy and Republican Robert Renner to District Court vacancies. All of these appointments were confirmed under the current debate rules that Senate leaders now want to eliminate.
The warm fuzzy editorial take a turn into reality, as the two Senators call it as they see it.
Now, this administration believes it should have a right that no president has ever had in our history, to demand that his judges be confirmed by a strict party-line whip system. The recent attacks on federal judges, many of whom already are conservative Republicans nominated and confirmed during 16 years of Republican presidents and 14 years of Republican Senate majorities, propose a new type of judge, compliant with religious and political tests that would radically undermine America's ideal of an independent judiciary.
We have a system that works. A process that respects minority rights and protects the electorate. A system that allows for honest debate, a moderation of impulse, and built in chek's and balances. IN the words of two former Minnesota Senators
Let's keep it this way.

Scott's gone . . . finally!

Although Scott wasn't the lowest common denominator on Tuesday, the voting public still made the correct call.

The finalists are done to quasi crooner Anthony, Pop Hopper Vonzell, Country leaner Carrie, and Rocker Bo. At this phase of the game, it is a battle for where the latest ousted candidate's votes will go.

And here's a little redux. I went through my E-Mail and found a list of the top 12, broken down by gender, with my preferential order.

So Girls, in order

Nadia GONE
Lindsay GONE
Mikalah GONE
Jessica GONE


Anwar GONE
Mario GONE
Scott GONE
Constantine GONE

Funny how Constantine grew on me during the finals, as I had him in the cellar out of the shoot.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Idol 5/3/05

Interesting show last night. Much to my amazement, Scott was NOT the worst last night. His rendition of On Broadway was spot on, and although his second number wasn't up to the level of his first, the combined performance was not the least appealing. Anthony laid a big egg with 'Poison Ivy', which most certainly was enough to put him on the chopping block, even though he redeemed himself with the ballady number he did later in the evening.

On a side note, 'votefortheworst.com' is a dead domain. The website I mentioned here takes you to a generic search engine location (iTools.com). I have tried doing some quick googling and have not found any mention that explains the disappearance. But you can bet the legal to at FOX probably had something to do with it.

So tonight, Anthony is gone, and we'll have to put up with another week of Scott.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

St. Paul Electoral Redux - 2001

Some give and take in the comments regarding the Coleman endorsement prompted me to do a little research. I didn't recall how close the last mayoral race was, but do recall the tumult of the campaign. So here is a little history lesson on what happened after the endorsement in 2001

Benanav was the DFL endorsed candidate, but there were several DFLers that chose to continue on into the primary. St. Paul doesn't have a 'DFL' primary, it is an open primary if more then 2 candidates are in the race. Benanav WON the primary, with Kelly in 2nd. There were 16 people in that primary. Benanav 11,441; Kelly 10,006; Long 6,456; Blakey 4,564, Kessler 2,187; Megard 1,989 and the rest with under 350 votes. (PDF)

So they went on to the general Election in November. In that Election Kelly had 29,819 and Benanav 29,416 with 320 write-ins. Talk about a close race! Of course, that was before the city found out Kelly was a DINO.

Swiftee brought up the school board slate, which, believe it or not, I do share some of the same concerns he does. I will be reviewing that race some time soon as well.


Tech Stuff

In between spatterings of frustration regarding his personal trials and tribulations, Wog snuck in a very helpful post detailing some free tech stuff out there that could prove to be helpful to all. I have a few of them, but 'OpenOffice' was something I was unaware of, and it is exactly what I have been looking for lately (a free MS Office type program)

Browse through the post and maybe there is something there that you may find useful.



The latest Gallup Poll, conducted April 29 to May 1.

Job approval, 49 disapprove, 48 approve

Amongst other goodies are these little gems

Handling of - - - - Disapprove - - - Approve

Foreign Affairs - - - - 49 - - - - - - 45
Iraq - - - - - - - - - -55 - - - - - - 42
Economy - - - - - - - - 53 - - - - - - 43
Energy Issues - - - - - 52 - - - - - - 34
Gas Prices - - - - - - -67 - - - - - - 27

I guess the bright side is they can't get much lower, so as we lead into the midterms, he'll be able to tout his improvement in poll numbers.


Monday, May 02, 2005

It's Coleman, Chris that is!

The City DFL has selected Chris Coleman as their standard bearer. Coleman edged out Ortega for the DFL endorsement. A little about Coleman:
Chris's roots in Saint Paul run deep. He is a lifelong Saint Paul resident, born in 1961 as one of six kids in a classic Saint Paul, Irish American Democratic family. His mom, Bridget, grew up on University and Farrington, raised the family and operated an Irish imports store. His dad, Nick, Sr., was born and raised in Frogtown and championed human rights, justice and progressive causes as Majority Leader of the Minnesota state senate.
Nick, Sr. is also the father of another noted Coleman, who writes a column for the local rag on the other side of the river.

I am still undecided on the race. The DFL endorsement hasn't been a successful stepping stone in St. Paul mayoral races. From the STRIB:
Coleman said he was humbled and would work "28 hours a day" to deliver a victory to the party, which hasn't seen its endorsed candidate win the mayor's race since 1989.
I have known Randy Kelly since the late 70's when I interned for then Brooklyn Center Legislator Bob Ellingson. His office was right next door to Kelly's, and allowed for opportunities to share insights. Kelly has changed much since then, and when he hopped on the Bush bandwagon last Summer, it was quite disappointing.

Randy will have to work awfully hard to convince me to support him in the upcoming election, I am a true undecided. However, if the election were held today, I would be more inclined to vote for Coleman. We'll have to see how the campaign unfolds.