Wednesday, February 28, 2007

MN GOP Jokes About Medical Misfortunes

A need for common sense:
"Just imagine that you are a teenage girl. You are out shopping with your friends in the mall. And all of a sudden, you need to go to the bathroom, like now. You can't wait. You have to go. You are sitting there in absolutely excruciating pain and discomfort," Aldritt told a Senate committee. "You go up to an employee … and they say, 'No. Our bathroom is only for employees.' "

Aldritt has ulcerative colitis, which causes rectal ulcers. Sufferers need to go to the bathroom urgently and frequently.
There shouldn't have to be a law, but if you are inflicted with these kinds of conditions, and/or know someone who is, you already know the urgency involved.

But there is a deeper issue here, it is how the Republican party and their operatives are treating those inflicted with theses maladies. They simply don't care, they have no sympathy or even desire to reach out. To them it is a joke, and that is what is sad about the state of their party. Their defense:
"In my heart of hearts, I just don't believe that we need legislation that dictates that level of involvement in businesses," he (Micheal 'MDE' Brodkorb') said. Simple human decency, he believes, would require that businesses make their restrooms available to those in need.
That's a former MN GOP opposition researcher and a paid GOP party operative talking. What this collective refuses to understanding is if simple human decency were enough, there wouldn't need to be the law to begin with. Do they even listen to the pleas of the afflicted:
But Jim Fennell says people in need have been turned away from using nonpublic store restrooms.

"Many times, people are refused and embarrassing things happen," said Fennell, regional executive director of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.
It's no wonder my slow move to the Right keeps running into brick walls that show the total lack of compassion and sympathy by the leaders and faces of the Republican party. Pathetic of them if you ask me.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Caligula at the Oscars

I watched the 4 hour marathon last night. A few surprises (Alan Arkin) but most went according to script. Some Oscar trivia involved Helen Mirren and Peter O'Toole, both up for Best Actor/Actress Oscars. Helen won, with her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II; while Peter missed out for the 8th time. No one could deny Forest Whitaker's version of Idi Amin so it was just another year where Peter was up against a simply stellar performance.

As the title suggests, both these actors starred in one of the greatest historical films of all time, Caligula. Say what you want about that movie, but Guccione did an amazing job capturing the tumult that was the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.

No shocker that Vice President Al Gore walked away with the documentary Oscar for 'An Inconvenient Truth'. Watch the Righties get all up in a fervor over this. Some didn't even wait for the award to be announced.

That's the quick take! What was your favorite Oscar Night Moment? Was it the shadow dancers, or Ellen too far removed from her comfort zone? You tell me!


Friday, February 23, 2007

Vilsack to Vamoose

CNN reports:
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Democrat Tom Vilsack is abandoning his bid for the presidency after struggling against better-known, better-financed rivals, a senior campaign official told The Associated Press on Friday.

Vilsack left office in January and traveled through states holding early tests of strength. He had faced a tough challenge from rivals such as New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards, who have had more success raising money and attracting attention -- even in Vilsack's home state of Iowa.

Vilsack was scheduled to make a formal announcement later in the day. The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the Democrat's statement.

Vilsack was the first Democrat to formally enter the 2008 race when he announced his candidacy in November. He conceded at the time that he faced a difficult race.
Vilsack would have contributed much to the debate. I wish he would have hung in there a bit longer.



I had a little chat with Al Franken yesterday. What stuck me most was his candor and sincere desire to just mingle with the group. He spent considerable time with everyone, to make sure they had ample opportunity to share their concerns.

I took a moment to talk about Iraq, the surge, and what the next steps should be. Al's knowledge of the region, his interaction with the troops and Iraqi citizens during his USO excursions, was refreshing. He knows what he is talking about, and it is coming from experiences not advisers and major party talking points.

Al's not a groomed candidate, but that is what I liked most about the evening. I've seen other candidates in similar environments and they would tip toe on egg shells. It is early enough in this cycle that Franken can still be himself, as he searches for Candidate Franken. I hope the two remain close friends, if not one in the same!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cell Phones and Driving

I saw the MythBusters episode a while back comparing Drunk Driving with Cell Phone driving. It didn't surprise me that the effect on the driver was very similar. I would almost argue that the Cell Phone driver was more impaired.

The MN Legislature is looking at banning Cell Phone use while driving, a measure that is in effect in many other states, New York being a prime example. As with the smoking ban, I question the need for behavior to be legislated, but unlike the smoking ban, where ALL parties have a choice in the matter, driving is different. I can't choose a cell phone free lane any more than I can choose a drunk free lane. So we have laws to protect the public good in cases where choice is limited.

Just yesterday I was almost broadsided by some kook driving erratically, weaving through traffic like they were late for their own wedding. When the dude flew by me, there was the cell phone glued to his head. I confirmed that only a few blocks away when this lunatic was forced to stop at a red light, thereby proving there is no need to fly and weave on urban streets, the lights will equal us out anyway.

In Virginia, they are starting with teens:
Under the bill, drivers ages 15, 16 and 17 would not be able to talk, send text messages or snap photos with a phone while on Virginia roads. The ban would also apply to hands-free devices but would allow teens to use a phone during an emergency.
The law has already passed their Senate, so now heads to the Governor's office for his expected signature.

Minnesota was one step ahead of Virginia, having enacted similar legislation a couple years ago. It has been in effect since January 2006:
Drivers under the age of 18 will be prohibited from talking on a cell phone while driving, except in emergencies. The law applies to those with learner’s permits and provisional licenses except in emergencies. The teenagers will not be allowed to use a wireless phone, handheld or hands free, when the vehicle is in motion, effective Jan. 1, 2006. (Art. 2, Secs. 64-65)
The author of the current legislation doesn't think an all out ban would pass, so they are pushing for an increase in consequence after the fact, if a phone was being used at the time of the infraction:
Drivers can keep dialing -- but at their own risk. Police would be able to double the fine for speeding or another moving violation if a cell phone is being used at the time of the offense. That could raise the cost of some tickets to $250, the bill's backers said.

Some lawmakers argue that the proposed law would be hard to enforce. Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, said drivers would have a simple defense mechanism: "If you have an accident, you just hang up."
The shame here is not that they are trying to pass a law, it is that there are people out there who think they actually need to be on the phone while driving to begin with. Let's not wait for legislation, when you are driving drive. The Phone call can wait till later.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Britian Bailing

WaPo reports:
LONDON -- Britain will withdraw around 1,600 troops from Iraq in the "coming months," aiming to cut its force to below 5,000 by late summer if Iraqi forces can secure the southern part of the country, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday.

British troops will stay in Iraq until at least 2008 and work to secure the Iran-Iraq border and maintain supply routes to U.S. and coalition troops in central Iraq, Blair told the House of Commons.

"The actual reduction in forces will be from the present 7,100 _ itself down from over 9,000 two years ago and 40,000 at the time of the conflict _ to roughly 5,500," Blair said.
Like it or not, this year is the beginning of the end in Iraq. Soon we will be standing alone and it won't be the swell of Peacenicks pushing for withdrawal as much as it will be the sentiment of the international community.

The Surge proposal by the president comes at the perfect time. A final effort to cull the country of resurgents that are creating the instability, and then turning over the cleaned out areas to Iraqi troops. The people of the region must become responsible for their own security sooner rather then later, and this is their last opportunity.

I made my case clear when the President presented his plan last month:
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.
Now is not the time for faux resolutions that will only hamper this final effort. I was embarrassed for those that pushed and supported the recent resolution. (Can you believe I am actually on the same side as Kline and Bachmann on this one) Now is the time to rally around our troops and support this effort. It is clear that the anatomy of this war will change over the course of the next 12 - 18 months. Some decisions will be based on Iraq's ability to govern and secure themselves, others will be based on politics, and the race for the White House. But one thing is clear, the American people will not allow us to stand alone in this fight, so let's work together to see the surge and purge succeed so that we can bring our troops home.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The New Agenda

Now that the DFL is in the majority in the Legislature, a new direction is being charted for the betterment of Minnesotans. We sat down with Majority Leader Sertich for an informal breakdown.

We spent some time on education funding, specifically the desire to provide all day kindergarten to all districts. I was fortunate to find an all day kindergarten when my youngest attended Maxfield. These programs exist today based on the individual districts' ability, or desire, to fund them. The current proposal would increase a Kindergarten students' funding number to a full 1 point, from the current .5. I commented that it is almost sad we are still talking about this in 2007. It should have been a done deal long ago.

We talked about the struggle of formulating a universal health care package, one that will assist in providing coverage to those that need it, while easing the burden on those that currently subsidize the care of those uninsured. I segued into the smoking ban issue where Rep. Sertich emphatically exclaimed "It will pass!" Although he is with me in that it should be a business rights issue and not legislated, public opinion (70%+ in favor of a ban) along with a lobbying push makes some sort of a ban likely. In action yesterday, some compromise was reached in the Senate version:
The proposal approved Monday would phase in the requirements for ventilation, depending on how much alcohol the bar sells as a percentage of its revenue.

Another amendment removes a provision that allows counties and municipalities to impose stronger ordinances than any state statute.

Supporters who had hoped for a streamlined process are witnessing their first major hurdle in what is considered the Senate's most business-friendly committee, the Business Industry and Jobs Committee. It rejected a proposal to give bars until 2009 to comply with a full ban.
It was refreshing to have such a candid opportunity to visit with house leadership, especially on what was amounting to a very busy day, the Holiday not withstanding. This was even more evident, when Rep Aaron Peterson spent a half hour with us. Rep Peterson was gearing up for a major floor debate on his Renewable Energy Bill. He has been committed to this issue for some time, and now had a bill that was being recognized as having "the strongest renewable-energy standards in the nation" Peterson acknowledged that his communication with the Governor's office was positive, providing he could get a clean bill out of the house that would avoid a conference committee. Last night, he was successful:
he legislation, which passed 123-10, mandates more production of such things as wind, hydrogen and solar power and sets in motion a timetable to increase the state's use of renewable energy for the next 18 years.
Thanks to Reps. Sertich and Peterson for taking the time out of their busy days to meet with us, and to Zack for the invitation.

I would gladly accept an invitation from the GOP House leadership, have your people E-Mail my people.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Spring Arrived . . .

. . . at approximately 8:25 PM this evening. That is when I tapped the first keg.

Let the thaw begin!


Opening Communications

Spent my morning blogging time meeting with DFL legislative leadership. I will share more specifics later this PM. Very open and refreshing discussion. It is great to know that bloggers are being accepted and respected in the dialogue.

It would be great to have the same opportunity with the GOP leadership. They are free to contact me if that is an option.

I am off to have lunch with the lovely Mrs. Flash, but I should be back later this afternoon to recap my morning.

Enjoy this beautiful President's Day!


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Carpet Bagging

Matt points out:
MN GOP Party Chair Ron Carey held a Press Conference today letting everyone know that he doesn’t like politicians like Al Franken who have lived out of state.
A commenter did the research:
Michelle Bachmann
born in Waterloo, Buchanan County, Iowa, April 6, 1956

John Kline
born September 6, 1947 in Allentown, Pennsylvania

Jim Ramsted
born in Jamestown, Stutsman County, N.D., May 6, 1946

Norm Coleman
born August 17, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York
Careful, Ron, your ingnorance is showing again.

Al Franken said it best:
"I'll be the only New York Jew in the race who actually grew up in Minnesota."

Al Franken, Senator?

The Right will continue their barrage on Franken for one simple reason; they have a weak and vulnerable incumbent.

Coleman has been struggling with his political identity lately. His run to the Middle, and in some cases even to the left of Amy, has disenfranchises members of his base. The middle is where this battle will be won, and any Democratic candidate, especially Al, will have no problem making a case to these fence sitters. Coleman, on the other hand, will need to shore up his base, and in doing so, will have a difficult time playing to moderates like me. Since he can't seem to make up his mind from one moment to the next, I suspect the Minnesota electorate will just give up on him. If the MN GOP was wise, they may look for an alternative to Coleman's candidacy, but I have never thought of the Right Wing in Minnesota as wise.

I look forward to this race and am glad it is starting so early. It will give me something to do over the Summer.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's Getting Hot in Here . . .

Spring is just around the corner, so Summer can't be too far behind. With the long term forecast looking at 40's by the end of the month, the ole garage just may be seeing its first keg before March.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It Is By Your Actions, Not Your Words.

The on again off again Edwards blogger kerfuffle is evolving towards a conclusion. Panda Amanda (Marcotte) has resigned, after being fired, but not really fired, and then hired back even though she wasn't really fired to begin with, but she did resign.

In her resignation post, she posted a letter sent to the NY Times. it speaks volumes to the true nature of this situation:

As for Donahue, it's amazing how some people feel it is OK to put others under a microscope for personal or political gain. Especially when they have their own issues. But upon further review, this whole situation will turn out to be a plus plus for the Left. Edwards was able to sterilize himself early enough so there will be no back lash a year from now. A smart political opponent would have maybe waited until a more damaging moment to spring this faux scandal. Now Amanda is back to being a Panda, with no conflict of interest to hold her back, and plenty of time to dig up the dirt that is most certainly out there.


Monday, February 12, 2007

On Iran

Without comment:
At a farewell reception at Blair House for the retiring chief of protocol, Don Ensenat, who was President Bush's Yale roommate, the president shook hands with Washington Life Magazine's Soroush Shehabi. "I'm the grandson of one of the late Shah's ministers," said Soroush, "and I simply want to say one U.S. bomb on Iran and the regime we all despise will remain in power for another 20 or 30 years and 70 million Iranians will become radicalized."

"I know," President Bush answered.

"But does Vice President Cheney know?" asked Soroush.

President Bush chuckled and walked away.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

It's Official - Obama '08

Barack Obama will announce his official candidacy for President of the Unitied States. The declaration will take place in Springfield Illinois, on the steps of the old state capitol. He will then begin a tour of the early caucus/primary states to continue building support.

When I spoke with the Senator, I asked him "how do we make sure we have a healthy debate within the party without providing ammunition to the opposition during this process?" He stated:
(B)y talking about issues. I think it is entirely legitimate for Democrats to have a debate about the best way to achieve universal health care, what is the best way to bring our troops back home from Iraq, what is the right balance between security and civil liberties. Those are all, I think, legitimate topics to debate. I would hope that in a Democratic primary we make sure that we always assume good faith on the part of our opponents.
A very refreshing look at what may lie ahead in his campaign.

I'd take him over Hillary, but still prefer Richardson, with a level of intrigue towards Al Gore. And it's only February . . . . '07!!


Friday, February 09, 2007

Kline -vs- Ramstad

The other day, a statewide effort was made by statewide peace activists in an attempt to deliver petitions and discuss policy with congressional staff members. A small group of constituents within the respective districts were going to visit there Representatives local offices to begin the dialogue. Ramstad's office served coffee, Kline's called police!

Lakeville Dad has the skinny on how to treat constituents:
We were received with great hospitality, offered coffee or water and invited to set up our posters and pictures, and given extra chairs for additional visitors. The first contingent at 9am met with Chief of Staff Lance Olson in the Congressman’s office to explain the purpose of our project and deliver the letter to the Congressman. We were assured that it would be faxed to D.C. immediately. Mr. Olson showed us the facilities and offered us copies of Congressional reports and other news releases. Every hour or two he stepped out into the reception area where we settled, to greet newcomers and urge them to sign the guest book.
. . . and how NOT to:
Osskopp said Kline's Burnsville office deals only with constituent services. When it was pointed out that all of the people in the group were constituents of Rep. Kline, he clarified that the office is there for the "other" constituents of the district. Whether by that he meant only for those who had voted for the congressman or share the congressman's beliefs, is unclear.
You may disagree with Congressman Ramstad's politics, but he knows how to be a part of representative government. Kline has much to learn.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Which is it?

The party which invoked spirited debate while demanding an up or down vote is now changing their tune. Seems it is now OK to stall votes when you are in the minority:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Republicans used a procedural maneuver Monday to keep Democratic leaders from moving forward with a nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq.
I would vote no on the measure, but I certainly wouldn't participate in stymieing the process. Reid is pissed:
Reid addressed his Republican colleagues harshly.

"We’ve seen politics in this war before. Politics gave us the 'Mission Accomplished' banner. Politics gave us a Vice President who said the insurgency was in its 'last throes.' Politics gave us a Defense Secretary who promised America the enemy was just a few 'dead-enders' who would be stamped out in days.

"We’ve had enough politics. Four years into this war, what we need is a strategy that will succeed in Iraq," he said.

Reid had earlier remarked, "The President must hear from Congress, so he knows he stands in the wrong place, alone. A loud, bipartisan message from this Body will give him another opportunity to listen… to listen and change course to a plan to gives our troops the best chance for success."
And for those on the Lieberman watch, it looks like he sided with the GOP.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Quickies

Congratulations to the Indy Colts. I would have given the MVP to the Offensive line. Seems all Payton had to do was a) show up, and B) Win the game, to get the extra hardware. I'm fine with that. I was rooting more for Tony Dungy than the Colts. He deserved a ring considering he had the Tampa Bay title stolen from him. With the monkey of their backs, it will be interesting to see if they can establish themselves as the new dynasty. Will we hear the Colts listed off in the future with Pittsburgh, San Fran, Dallas, and/or Green Bay.

My Chili turned out nummy. I start with 6 pounds of hamburger on Saturday morning. You do the math from there.

Commercials were anticlimactic. They can all be seen here. Ones that come to mind; the Bad Comb over (Siera Mist), Snickers Kiss, and the Fist Bump to a slap (Bud Light. My kids bought right into the change *grin*). My favorite was the Coca Cola Factory inside the Soda machine. Very ingenious.

Next year it will be the Vikings losing to the Colts. You heard it here first.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Evolving War Resolution

Fecke reports on the compromise resolution by GOP Senator Warner that is gaining steam(via WaPo):
Democratic and Republican opponents of President Bush’s troop-buildup plan joined forces last night behind the nonbinding resolution with the broadest bipartisan backing: a Republican measure from Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced the shift, hoping to unite a large majority of the Senate and thwart efforts by the White House and GOP leaders to derail any congressional resolution of disapproval of Bush’s decision to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq by 21,500.

Although the original Democratic language was popular within the party, it had little appeal among Republicans. Warner’s proposal drew support from both sides, and it was retooled last night to maximize both Democratic and Republican votes.
I have made it pretty clear where I am on the 'Surge':
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.
With that in mind, I would vote 'No' on this resolution. But Fecke begs the question:
will Norm support the Warner resolution, or will he oppose it?
To which the answer is clear, BOTH! *laughing*