Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Franken Runs

Strib reports on this political shocker:
WASHINGTON - Comedian and radio talk show host Al Franken has begun calling Democratic members of Congress and prominent DFLers to tell them he will definitely challenge Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008, the Star Tribune learned Wednesday.
Franken is already prepared for the carpet bagger question:
"I'll be the only New York Jew in the race who actually grew up in Minnesota."
If nothing else, it will be a fun campaign.


Letter of the Day!

Isn't it amazing when truth and fact seem to interfere with the predisposed Right Wing meme of the day. Frustrating when the 'professionals' buy into it, but GREAT when they are called on it!

Strib sinks to blog's level

The Star Tribune's Jan. 24 coverage of the e-mail seeking policy students from the Humphrey Institute to work with Al Franken was below the Star Tribune's standards. It was biased and misleading.

Its most outrageous claim is that Professor Sally Kenney was using "a taxpayer funded tool not available to competing campaigns. ... It crossed the line into clear advocacy." Not only are we, the students, tools available to competing campaigns, we welcome any relevant opportunities to do policy work regardless of partisan affiliation. If you have such an opportunity, contact Career Services in the Graduate Programs Office.

Additionally, the e-mail did not even approach "the line into clear advocacy."

From what I can tell, the Star Tribune essentially republished an existing story on a blog known for biased and shoddy reporting. If it attempted to gather actual facts related to the story, it failed.

As a blogger myself, I'm sorry to see the worst of print and online journalism combined in this manner.



Monday, January 29, 2007

Gumper's Gone

One of my childhood sports heroes is gone. Gump Worsley has passed at the the age of 77:
MONTREAL -- Gump Worsley looked a bit out of place in goal during his 21-year NHL career - until they dropped the puck. Then, the roly-poly maskless man in the net was at his nimble best. Worsley, who died Friday at 77 after suffering a heart attack last Monday, used his 5-foot-7, 180-pound frame to forge a Hall of Fame career and help the Montreal Canadiens win four Stanley Cups in a five-year span.
Did you catch that, "Maskless Man". The guy was a goalie in the NHL and didn't wear a mask. I remember Gump, and watched him every chance I got. Hockey was relatively new to us, and he made it exciting.

Thanks, Gump, for making me the hockey fan that I am!


Friday, January 26, 2007

Winter Fun!

The Winter Carnival, St. Paul's nod to our Frigid Fanaticism, begins today. Here is the skinny:
St. Paul gives winter a polar-bear hug during the annual Winter Carnival chill fest, which starts today and runs through Feb. 4. Most events are on Harriet Island.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Cost: Free entry; $5 button gives discounts on some activities.

Forecast: Mild and windy today; cloudy and cooler Saturday; downright cold Sunday.

Ice maze delayed: Might open Saturday.

Getting there: Free shuttle buses from four downtown stops.

Parking: Try a downtown ramp. Downtown meters enforced until 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Meters not enforced Sunday.

Grande Day Parade: 2 p.m. Saturday
Find the complete schedule of all events here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Kerry Reaching for White Flag

Sources close to the 2004 nominee are saying he'll sit this one out. WHEW!!!!
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts , the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, won't make a second bid for the White House, sources familiar with Kerry's thinking told CNN Wednesday.

A source close to Kerry and a Democratic operative who worked for him in 2004 said the four-term senator from Massachusetts has decided to sit out the 2008 race, which has already drawn more than a dozen contenders from both parties.

Kerry made that decision within the past day and was expected to announce it later Wednesday, the source said.
Maybe he read my shorter Jonah Goldberg; "Don't Do It!". I stated in that post last Friday:
I'd start an 'Anyone But Kerry' committee, but frankly, his support has dwindled to the point that that isn't even necessary. So when Kerry announces, I think the crickets will out number the supporters. Unless of course, he wises up and recognizes that he had his chance.
Kerry is wiser than I gave him credit for.


One Last Shot for the President

Facing his lowest approvals of his presidency, and a hostile congress for the first time, President Bush was facing a tough challenge last night. He needed to hit a crushing shot out of the ball park, instead he dribbled a grounder in the infield and we still don't know if it is even a hit.

He stated we must
solve problems, not leave them to future generations
yet his borrow and spend policies have left us with a burgeoning deficit. He talked about
Our citizens don’t much care which side of the aisle we sit on — as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done.
after championing the most partisan political period of our time. Funny how your attitude is tempered, and your politics moderated, when you are stripped of your political capital and find yourself in the minority.

The President talks the talk
A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care.
but fails in implementation. A tax deductions of health insurance is a noble idea, but with millions of uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions, this deduction puts nothing in reach for them. We need a comprehensive plan, not a band aid that looks good on paper.

For the rest of his delivery, it was all 9/11 all the time. It seemed like he said 9/11 911 times.

Gulf War II:The Vengeance (From the Onion, via Fecke) will mark his legacy, and there is no escaping that. I supported regime change in Iraq, but had confidence in our Commander in Chief to conduct that change in a reasoned and responsible manner. He has not. Now we are forced to 'surge' in one last attempt to rid Baghdad of the resurgents that continue to murder innocents. I understand and support this call, but with the understanding that by November, as the President stated in the Surge Speech, security is handed over to the Iraqi people, and redeployment begins.

One of the most powerful paragraph in President Bush's delivery, told it like it is. And whether you are unconditionally supportive of his actions, or a peacenik waiting for you dream, it is something you should heed:
Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: "We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse." And Osama bin Laden declared: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.
There was also an admittance, it seemed, on the administration's part that they are somewhat responsible for the Hornets nest in Iraq, as the power vacuum in Iraq created an opportunity for those whom we are trying to rid the world of:
"We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq."
See. Mr. President, that is exactly what you ended up doing.

The tributes at the end seemed almost out of place. Traditionally, these tribute are injected within the context of a domestic proposal, or international moment of valor. Last night they were tagged at the end, almost out of the blue, with limited context. And something else was missing.

I was following his speech via the released text, and when he started doing those tributes at the end I was thinking "he hasn't said the State of the Unions is "?"." So while he was hyping on Mutombo, I did a quick search for 'Union' and there it was. We didn't miss it at the beginning of the speech, where everyone else puts it. There it was, in the final sentence
"the state of out Union is Strong"
Maybe he was saving the best for last. I am hoping the best is yet to come!

I know . . such a dreamer!


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

SOTU Speech and Dem Response

Complete text links are here:

SOTU Speech

Democratic Response

A lot to digest. Thought the President did pretty good. It is funny how you kind of lower your standards for him knowing he just isn't a very good speaker.

Interesting health care proposal, better sell job on the surge, he must have said 9/11 911 times/

Most interestingly was how reserved the audience was. Granted the Dems are in control, but there are more than enough Republicans to drive applause. Maybe his 28% approval rating carries into the congressional chamber, regardless of party makeup.

I'll have more in the morning.


The Answer is . . . . 24

What is the hit show on Fox staring Keifer Sutherland? . . . Nope.

What is the bottom of the President's approval rating? Ding Ding Ding Ding!!

CBS has him at 28 right now. And after tonight's speech, the question will be how low can he go!!


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Gov. Bill Richardson, President?!?

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is now a Presidential contender.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Sunday he is taking the first step toward an expected White House run in 2008, offering extensive experience in Washington and the world stage as he seeks to become the first Hispanic president.

"I am taking this step because we have to repair the damage that's been done to our country over the last six years," said Richardson, a Democrat and former congressman, U.N. ambassador and Energy Department secretary.

"Our reputation in the world is diminished, our economy has languished, and civility and common decency in government has perished," he said in a statement.
I like Bill. He is my preferred candidate from either side of the aisle. But we have a long road to travel to make his Presidential hopes successful.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

YAWN . . Hillary's "in"

Sen. Clinton's announcement makes the obvious, official. She is running for President:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton jumped into the fray as a 2008 presidential candidate with the words "I'm in" posted on her Web site.

"And I'm in to win," she added in a statement, announcing she has set up an exploratory committee that can gauge opinions and raise money for a presidential campaign.

Clinton's announcement comes on the same day that the next president will be inaugurated two years down the road: January 20, 2009.
Visit her official website for more details.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Foreshadowing Kerry

A shorter Jonah Goldberg - DON'T DO IT!! The Subhead tells it all:
When he asked his closest backers whether to try again for the White House, the silence was deafening.
The questions now is, if a dreamer asks his confidantes if he should run again, and they say no, will he listen. Something tells me, no.

As a Righty, Goldberg admits that he should love a Kerry Candidacy, stating:
As a conservative columnist, there is nothing I should want more than to see Kerry whack his forehead against the concrete wall of history one more time. Why? Because attacking Kerry is always good copy. And, if my North Star were the GOP's good fortune, I would light a candle every night at my Lee Atwater shrine in prayer that the Kerry baloney leap once more into the grinder.
But he also understands the bandwagon effect:
Disliking Kerry isn't just for right-wingers anymore. It's as American as apple pie. Despite enormous name recognition; despite the kind of sympathetic coverage that only alleged victims of the "Republican attack machine" get; despite constant efforts to stay in the news, wads of cash from his wife and last campaign, and despite enormously impressive hair, he's near the bottom in all important rankings of serious candidates.
I'd start an 'Anyone But Kerry' committee, but frankly, his support has dwindled to the point that that isn't even necessary. So when Kerry announces, I think the crickets will out number the supporters. Unless of course, he wises up and recognizes that he had his chance.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

The 3 Rs

I don't know about most people, but when I heard about TPaw's 3 Rs program, I couldn't help but ask myself, Self!!! Why does the governor want to turn all high schools into remedial redirection programs for troubled students. Now after reading a bit more, I realized that HIS 3 R program stands for "rigor, relevance and results". What his advisors or handlers don't realize is that the 3R term is already in use academically. Thus my confusion.

Most all Middle Schools and I believe high schools have 3R programs. These 3 Rs stand for "Responsibility, Re-education and Reality." It is a support program for students with Behavioral or social issues that interfere with not only their success, but the success of others in regular education classroom.

I only bring this up to point out how completely out of touch this Governor must be as it relates to Education. He hijacks a term already used for remediation of troubled kids and is using it to tout some form of rigor. He is arguing for 70% funding in the classroom without telling anyone that the state average is already 69+%. He is calling Minnesota High Schools 'obsolete' without sharing that we rank TOPS in graduation rates of all 50 states:
The states with the highest high school graduation rates were New Hampshire, Minnesota and Wyoming, all around 92 percent.
I'm not sure who the governor is playing to, but I take offense, as an educator, the he is even implying that we are doing anything short of the very best with the limited tools being provided us by his administration. We will persevere, we will succeed, and it will be in spite of the continued bashing by GOP leaders and other out of touch politicos who are too busy trying to prevent the sterling results that those of us in the public school system continue to produce.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Obama Joins the Fray

Obama's in, shocker there. On February 10th, he'll tell us if he is in it for the long haul. Nichols has some insight on that:
As Obama made the rounds of state party conventions, fundraising events and rallies during the 2006 Congressional election season, grassroots Democrats remembered his inspired speaking in Boston, rather than his uninspired votes in Washington. And they gave him a welcome that most politicians can only dream of.

The message from the party base was clear: Clinton had not closed the deal. There was an opening for another first-tier contender in the Democratic race, and Obama could take it.

Instantaneously, Obama was a contender and thus began the process that culminated with Tuesday's announcement of the exploratory committee.
Which will lead to his official announcement in February.

The plot thickens.


Inching Closer to DC

Our beloved Governor has now officially signed on the dotted line:
Gov. Tim Governor Pawlenty says he's co-chairing a committee that will explore the possible presidential candidacy of U.S. Sen. John McCain.
Reports that Gov. T Paw is "very happy being the governor of Minnesota" may be grossly exagerated.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Anatomy of a Deception

Joe lays it out great, but here are the crib notes:

The Republicans scream foul on the Minimum wage bill:
a Republican Congressman reported "something fishy" in the bill: an exemption for American Samoa, where the Del Monte company, through its Starkist subsidiary, packs tuna for sale around the world.

What's the really fishy part? Supposedly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband owns a good deal of stock in Del Monte, which is also based in Pelosi's California Congressional District.
But wait, it's not true. Somebody tried to wish it true on the Wiki, but there are too many eyes to allow that to sit there. Besides, Joe states the Samoan exemption has been in the bill since 1999, Del Monte wasn't there till 2002.

But the point isn't what the Righties did, but what they are trying to do. Joe catches 'em on it:
This purported "story" isn't about spurring debate or getting real facts into the public domain, it's about establishing a media narrative that's favorable to leaders who want to keep the rich and the poor exactly where they are, who are pushing a war that has made us less, not more, secure, and who seem to care little for the common good to which they are committed by solemn oath.
Take a visit to MNCR and read it all in its full context. I'm just sharing!


Friday, January 12, 2007

Thomas Vilsack - Citizen

Iowa Governor Thomas Vilsack steps down today, as Gov. Elect Chet Culver takes the oath of office later this AM. This may put Vilsack at a slight early advantage since he will not be burdened by a current gig. He will be able to thrust himself out there independent of any electoral constituency. With some big dogs in the race, or soon to announce, Vilsack will need every advantage he can get. Being the Former Governor or Iowa, the first caucus state, can't hurt!


They want to be Prez!

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore has formed an Exploratory committee . . . and nobody noticed:
Gilmore said in interviews last month that he didn't see a true conservative running for president, and said he would assess his own chances for a presidential run.
Just another Anti Giuliani/McCain candidacy

And lest not foget Dodd:
“I am not going to run again — this is not a warm-up,” Mr. Dodd said. “I realize I am not a household name, but in 12 months we’ll still be talking about primaries. It is a long way away, and there are plenty of chances to break through.”
Maybe I should throw my hat in the ring?!? I'll update my sidebar later.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sen. Coleman: Pandering or Positioning?!?

The unified voice of the Bush administration, the man pegged to push much of the Bush Administration and GOP nonsense is now turning his back on them . . . . for political gain:
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., on Wednesday called for "a rethinking of our strategy in Iraq" and said on the Senate floor that he will oppose President Bush's plan to add U.S. troops there.
Sen. Coleman had an opportunity to show Minnesota he is a leader, and willing to recognize this final opportunity at victory in Iraq. But instead he is worried about electability, and would rather position himself for re-election and pander to the electorate.

I hope the DFL is getting their Flip Flop commercials ready. A simple one could be a caricature of Normy licking his finger and putting it up in the breeze to see which way the wind is blowing . . . and then shrugging his shoulders.

What a weasel!


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Beginning of the End!

I want so desperately to support the necessary fight against terrorism. There are bad people out there, and they want to kill us. What makes them even more dangerous, is they don't care if they die in the process. That is what makes this battle so much more difficult.

For about 4 years we have 'shocked and awed' and declared 'Mission Accomplished'. Now the President states "the situation in Iraq is unacceptable"

I agree, it is unacceptable, but I don't believe we can turn our back at this time. The key passage in the President's speech involved turning over control of Iraqi security by November. In order to do this, an influx of 20,000 troops are needed to work along side current Iraqi forces to restabilize Baghdad, and focus on the Sunni resurgency.

Regardless of what you think of this President, there was one indisputable truth in his speech tonight: "defeat in Iraq would mean a sanctuary for extremists"

I may be in the minority, but I am willing to give President Bush till November, and then I expect a timetable for redeployment. Iraq needs to take ownership, and we will now give them a deadline, not open ended promises.

The commitment till than must include completing the rebuilding of infrastructure, and getting Iraqi citizens back to work.

My support doesn't come unconditionally, for I have a son who just may be a part of this process. But we must be aware of the consequences of an unstable Iraq in an already unstable region. Walking away now is not an option, presenting the Iraqi government with our ultimatum is.


Progress in Darfur

Hope is reported via CNN:
KHARTOUM, Sudan (Reuters) -- Sudan's government and Darfur rebels have agreed to a 60-day cease-fire and a peace summit sponsored by the African Union and United Nations as steps toward stopping the violence in west Sudan, a visiting U.S. official said Wednesday.

"President [Omar al-]Bashir agreed to the start of a peace process that includes a 60-day cessation of hostilities," said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, while visiting Sudan.

Saying the temporary truce provides a "cooling-off period," Richardson told CNN that "I think it is a step in the right direction. ... I'm very excited about this breakthrough."

"What we were able to do is set up a political process that puts pressure on both sides to reach an agreement, not just on a cease-fire, but to have United Nations peacekeeping troops, to secure the borders, to stop some of the killing and the famine, " he said in the CNN interview.
Cheers to Gov. Bill!! Call it campaign posturing if you want, but this is the forgotten mess due to the distraction of Iraq. Now we hope that those currently in agreement are truly sincere in their desire to move forward in a civil and peaceful manner!



How does Webster define 'surge':
Main Entry: 1surge
Pronunciation: 's&rj
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): surged; surg·ing
Etymology: earlier, to ride (at anchor) probably in part from Middle French sourgir to cast anchor, land, from Catalan surgir to heave, cast anchor, from Latin surgere to rise, spring up; from sub- up + regere to lead straight; in part from Latin surgere -- more at SUB-, RIGHT

intransitive verb
1 : to rise and fall actively : TOSS <a ship surging in heavy seas>
2 : to rise and move in waves or billows : SWELL <the sea was surging>
3 : to slip around a windlass, capstan, or bitts -- used especially of a rope
4 : to rise suddenly to an excessive or abnormal value <the stock market surgeed to a record high>
5 : to move with a surge or in surges <felt the blood surging into his face -- Harry Hervey> <she surged past the other runners>
transitive verb : to let go or slacken gradually (as a rope)
Many of us hope the White house is referring to "rise and fall actively" while the skeptics are thinking more along the lines of "to rise suddenly to an excessive or abnormal value"

Over the course of the day, more information will be leaked released, but tonight we will find out the definitive answer.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Richardson Rolls up Sleeves

Since the current administration is preoccupied in the Middle East, a New Mexico Governor, and presidential hopeful, works towards peace in Darfur:
Khartoum, Sudan — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Monday pressed Sudan President Omar al-Bashir to open the wartorn Darfur region to U.N. troops, part of a global push for an elusive peace in the African nation.

Richardson, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, met privately with al-Bashir for nearly an hour at his mint green residence and emerged talking progress. He provided no specifics, but the two plan to meet again Wednesday and will issue a joint statement.

“The meeting was good. We made some progress,” Richardson told local reporters, choosing to keep details private as negotiations continued.
This isn't so much promoting my early preferences in the 2008 Presidential Sweepstakes as much as it is wondering why the current administration has just dropped the ball in this region. Sure, they have played lisp service to the genocide in the region, but it is clear they have different priorities. It is fortunate we have an experienced diplomat stepping up and away from their more domestic obligations to see if they can't make a difference. There even seems to be 'luke warm' support for the White House:
McCormack shrugged off any suggestion that the administration resents the private diplomatic efforts of a potential Democratic presidential candidate.

“I wouldn't call it freelancing,” he said.

McCormack said the administration's new special envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, had met with Richardson before his trip. Natsios has experienced a number of frustrations in his initial dealings with the al-Bashir government and is now seeking Chinese help to apply economic pressure on its Sudanese trading partner.

Back at his hotel, Richardson told an Associated Press reporter traveling with him that he and al-Bashir discussed the U.N. peacekeeping force, a cease-fire, protection for humanitarian groups working in the region, increasing sexual violence against refugees and a potential conference with rebel leaders.
While Bush prepares to inject a bunch more troops into Iraq, lest not forget the tragedy in Darfur. Hopefully Governor Richardson will make some progress.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Moving the State Forward

The Doctor has been getting worked up over nothing. As I previewed this Strib article this AM, there is no attempt by any major faction of State government to jack up taxes. There is a desire to tap into a Gas Tax increase to rebuild a neglected highway infrastructure, but that is unlikely to gain any traction. Most all agree something needs to be done sooner, rather then later, but increasing the gas tax will not be the revenue stream approved.

Other priorities seem to line up pretty well within the three branches:
All three players, for instance, list health care reform. All three cite education spending and reform. The Senate and Pawlenty include "energy independence" and greater use of renewable and alternative energy sources on their must-have lists.

Pawlenty and the House list fiscal restraint. The Senate does not. The House and the Senate list property tax relief. Pawlenty does not.
The House will outline their goals later today. But the growth in their rolls from moderate to right leaning suburban districts will be represented by their vision:
"We're a fiscally moderate caucus," Kelliher said of the sprawling 85-member majority that now includes significant numbers of moderates from the suburbs, exurbs and rural areas.
So relax, Doctor, there is nothing to worry about. Now that the adults are in charge of the house, something will actually get done. And if the Senate gets too carried away, they have a 'check' to pass through it he house, and the balance that is a GOP Governor and his veto pen.

I am looking forward to one of the most productive State Government sessions in a long time. It's about time we get things done for the people, and not politicians.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mitt makes a run at it!

Mitt "I have a better chance than he does" Romney has filed exploratory papers for his presidential bid.
"After talking to my family, I have decided to take this initial step of forming an exploratory committee in order to raise the resources and build the campaign organization required to pursue the highest office in our country," Romney said in a statement.
The article goes on to share who else will enter the crowded field:
Other Republican candidates include Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who have established exploratory committees. California Rep. Duncan Hunter and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore have said they intend to follow suit. Others said to be mulling a bid include Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New York Gov. George Pataki, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, and former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Superteam!

Bloogers have taunted each other many times over the years. But it is usually a bunch of made up and/or overly exagerated clap trap from the Right.

Fecke makes it fun.Read the latest developments here!


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Farewell, Mr. President!

The nation says goodbye, today. I'm at work doing clunky computer update stuff, but I'll be listening to the service via NPR.
Goodbye, Mr. President! We all can learn from you and your life. Let's hope we do!


Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Wishing you and yours a healthy, happy, and successful 2007!