Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Marching Arts

Randy Salas has a great feature on the front page of the 'Source' section. This is Drum Beauty weekend, where corps from all across the country will converge in Stillwater, Sunday, for this annual event. Tonight they will be in Mankato for Thunder of Drums.
Santa Clara returns to Drum Beauty this year, as does a perennial crowd favorite, the all-male Madison Scouts of Madison, Wis. Both have been world champions of Drum Corps International (DCI). They'll be joined by three other top DCI units and three Minnesota corps. All but one of the latter also perform tonight at Thunder of Drums in Mankato, Minn.
But there are local corps as well. I have performed with both Minnesota Brass AND the Govenaires:
Also appearing will be Minnesota's three drum corps: the Govenaires of St. Peter, Chops Inc. of Minneapolis and, in Stillwater only, Minnesota Brass Inc.

These corps range in size from about 40 to 100 performers. Members can be any age, and the corps are essentially a part-time summer pursuit with mostly regional performances. Although all-ages corps compete with DCI corps at shows such as Drum Beauty, they have their own world championships, in early September in Rochester, N.Y.

In fact, the Govies -- as the Govenaires are called by fans -- won their division at last year's finals. But that hasn't changed the corps, which drum major and executive director John Mayer likens to "a traveling show band."Our corps is the same, but everybody else's perception of the corps has changed, which is kind of nice," said Mayer, who first marched with the Govies when he was 12.
If you are looking for a change, and a unique entertainment option, check out the websites. I have been involved in the Drum and Bugle Corps activity since 1978. For now I am on an extended sabatical. Maybe by 2010 I'll return to the field. I really miss it!


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Welcome, MN2020

MN2020, a new left of center think tank, has officially launched. Their first report is on the concerns facing rural Minnesotans:
The state is failing rural Minnesota. Today, the State of Minnesota's economic development policy is oriented towards large projects and larger cities. Efforts to aid rural areas are fragmented, unfocused or nonexistent.

Minnesota faces a stark, fundamental policy choice: do we invest in small town business development policy or do we return rural Minnesota to the buffalo?
Matt Entenza, his staff and fellows, will bring a refreshing look at the issues and create dialogue on what we need to do to make this state better for our children. A far cry from the politics of personal destruction that has become such common place on the Right.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Closing the Gap

MNMon's sister in Iowa reports what I heard yesterday. Here's the lead:
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson might be able to claim entry into the top-tier of Democratic presidential candidates if the results of internal campaign poll on Iowa caucus support are confirmed by outside pollsters.
The Likeliest (voters who attended the 2004 caucuses, voted in the 2006 primary, and say they are definite to attend next year's caucus) Caucus goers breakdown like this:

31% John Edwards
23% Hillary Clinton
18% Bill Richardson
16% Barack Obama
3% Joe Biden
2% Dennis Kucinich
0% Chris Dodd
1% Other
8% Don't Know/NA

If you haven't yet, be sure to read my visit with the Governor.


Lugar Lists

The ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tells it like it is:
"The window during which we can continue to employ American troops in Iraqi neighborhoods without damaging our military strength, or our ability to respond to other national security priorities, is closing," he said. "The United States military remains the strongest fighting force in the world, but we have to be mindful that it is not indestructible."

Lugar also said he believes the chances for success of Bush's strategy of boosting troop levels in Iraq to try to get the security situation there under control is "very limited within the short period framed by our own domestic political debate."

"The costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved," Lugar said. "Persisting indefinitely with the 'surge' strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests in the long term."
When those among the 20 percentile of the President's support group start changing their tune like this, you know it is only a matter of time before significant adjustments will be made.

Come November 2008, the War on Terror will be a significant campaign issue, but the war in Iraq will not. And for those not paying attention, NO, they were not one in the same!


Timing is Everything

A WaPo editorial is already speculating on what will happen come November when the President said he would hand over Iraqi' security:
It's not about whether the United States should pull out troops. That is now inevitable. The real challenge is to figure out the right timetable for withdrawal, whether a residual force should be left there and which American objectives can still be salvaged.

This is not the debate President Bush wants to have come September, when a slew of reports will be issued assessing the results of the troop surge. Already, the administration is preparing the ground for kicking the real choices into next year. Where once the White House seemed to be saying, "Give us until September," its spokesmen now seem to be insisting that we won't know much by then after all.
This is the President's last chance. There is no other alternative. The Surge works, security is turned over, and redeployment begins. Or, the surge doesn't work, and redeployment begins. Either way the outcome is the same.

Dione continues:
Time is running out, because most Americans no longer believe the administration's promises that the commitment in Iraq will turn out well if only we are patient. This is why we need to begin planning our withdrawal now rather than waiting until the Army and the reserves hit the breaking point. Oddly, President Bush has more of an interest in this than anyone. "The more time passes, the more our options narrow," says Kurt Campbell, the chief executive and co-founder of CNAS. "Left unchallenged, the president would fight to exhaustion, and we can't afford to fight to exhaustion."
The dialogue needs to begin in how to leave, because leaving will happen, how is crucial to regional stability.

A new 'middle of the road' think tank has produced some of their own reports. The Center for a New American Security (CNAS)
the report, written by James Miller and Shawn Brimley, has the virtue of defining three sensible goals for American policy: to prevent the establishment of al-Qaeda havens in Iraq; to prevent a regional war; and to prevent genocide. Miller defines the right objective for those who want to end the war: "There should be a much better plan for withdrawal than there was for entry."
Some may say to at least have a plan, 'cause as each day passes, it sure seems this administration is playing it by ear.

But that's just me!


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Battle for the Base

via the Strib, Sen Obama shares where the Right may have gone wrong:
"Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and faith started being used to drive us apart," the Democratic presidential hopeful said before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ, of which Obama is a member.

"Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian right, all too eager to exploit what divides us," he said.
I believe the electorate is on to this. There is a scramble of the Right Wing bass, as the immigration issue splinters them, and the Christian Right flexes their muscles. The GOP has always been a master of message control, so it will be interesting to see if they can reel in their constituency and position themselves for retention of the White House. At this point, it is looking more like a long shot, but never count them out.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Baby!!

To the most wonderful woman in the world:

THANK YOU for being my wife.

May the next 7 years be as fantastic as the first 7!!

Your Hubby!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Animated 9/11

I caught on the news last night the new animation of what exactly happening to the towers at the time of impact. The severing of the support beams, the instant inferno that followed. The researcher are pretty convinced that the initial damage is not what doomed the towers, but the following inferno that fatigues the metals to the point they could no longer do their job of support.
"When the developers of the World Trade Center first designed the complex, they did take into account of an accidental plane crash," said Christoph Hoffman, one of the study's lead researchers. "The only thing they didn't anticipate is the fire. If the crash impacts the water line, then a fire can burn for a long time."
The graphics are amazing. Video can be found on YouTube.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Secret Weapon

This has been a Paris free zone, but I simply couldn't pass this one up. It had just enough crossover appeal I thought I could slip it in. Enjoy!

Richardson Interview Epilogue

Several things happened following the completion of the interview that humanized the Governor. First, I shared with him the story of a custodian at my former school.. This individual asked me whom I was supporting for President. When I told him Bill Richardson, this guy went nuts. He was convinced that the Governor is the best candidate and was so frustrated at how RIchardson was being ignored by the media. The Governor asked me what this guys name was and in an impromptu gesture, pulled out a small signature card and wrote a simple note and signed it for the custodian. Later that day I met up with Greg and he was simply thrilled.

Second, he looked at me and stated "I'm really sorry about the Iraq issue" He wasn't apologizing for his position, he was acknowledging the difference we have, and the emotional investment involved. I felt a sincere level of compassion.

Finally, I took it upon myself to bring a simple graduation card for the Governor to sign for my son. He was very gracious in accommodating this request. "Josh - Congratulations and all the Best - Bill Richardson.

I look forward to visiting with the Governor again, and maybe that time, he will be on a ticket, stage to regain the White House, and restore credibility to out national policies, both foreign and domestic.


Monday, June 18, 2007

EXCLUSIVE:5 Minutes with Governor Bill Richardson: The Transcript

Following is a complete transcript of the interview portion of my visit with Governor Bill Richardson. The Governor was extremely gracious and sincerely concerned about the future of our country. I hope the following captures some of that. Tomorrow I will have an epilogue to touch on some of the post interview exchange we shared.

- - - -

The Governor's responses are in BOLD

I am going to start with a question I asked Senator Obama Last Spring. How do we make sure we have a healthy debate within the party without providing ammunition to the opposition in the process.

Two things, One I think it is important that this be the campaign, the Democratic Primary, where the heart and sole of the Democratic Party comes forth. For that to happen, two steps need to take place. One, I believe we should all agree, all the Democrats, to stay positive. To not attack each other. Yes, to differentiate ourselves on the issues, and I believe I have a big difference with other candidates on the war in Iraq. Secondly, to participate fully in all debates, To try and make as many of these forums as possible. Not just the officially sanctioned DNC forums, but also those that other groups; Native Americans, African Americans, Environmentalists the various constituencies the Democratic Party put forth. But most importantly, it is important we make the selection of the next President not on who's the biggest Rock Star, or who's the biggest celebrity, or who has the most money, but on who has the best vision for the country and who is the most qualified.

As we move through the campaign process, how are you preparing for the "Smear Boaters" post endorsement. You know they will be gunning for whomever the nominee is.

Well you have to understand the Republican Party. They're the party of the Status Quo, they're negative. Looking at their debate, I see where that party is at; defending an unpopular President and an even more unpopular war in Iraq They're defending torture and they want to expand torture. That was the message I got from the debate. They want to basically instill the politics of fear when it comes to immigration. They are going to use every wedge issue, they are going to be negative But we have to be ready we can't just sit back and let them take shots. We got to be able to respond!

So you are hoping we don't sit by during July and August like what happened during the last race that might have been key

That's right, I want us to stay positive as Democrats, but I believe it is important that we realize the Republican Party is desperate to hang on to Power in the executive branch,. And they are going to be throwing every piece of mud at us and we should be ready to respond and just give them doses of their own medicine. Not get negative personally, but just expose their record, a record of huge deficits, a failure to act on the domestic needs of this country, education, Health care, a disastrous foreign policy, a misadventure in Iraq and a lessening of the American spirit, a morale that is very down, a very nation that is very divided. I believe all we have to do is talk about their record

Let's talk about Iraq for just a minute (I pull out a picture of my son, Cpl. Tom) I'd like to introduce you to my son

Oh Wow! He's a handsome Kid

He is currently training in Miramar after doing 6 months on the Iwo Jima

I believe we should give the President this last chance, using the surge, to prepare to turn Iraqi security over to the Iraqi's in November. Isn't that soon enough? I've been pretty hawkish, I've been actually supporting the President even through this 'surge', with an understanding when he made his announcement that in November he turns over Iraqi Security to Iraq and begin redeploying troops

No, I disagree! I believe what's happened is our troops have become the targets. When 61% of the Iraqi people basically say that it is OK to shoot at an American soldier, and 72% of the Iraqi people want us out within a year. I believe that our support there has reached a point where it is best to withdraw. I believe the surge, the President's policy, is basically going to cause more sectarian violence, more of a civil war.

What I would do as President is use the leverage of a withdrawal to try to bring a peace a reconciliation among the three groups in Iraq. One where they divide oil revenues, they divide themselves into states, as three different states. They have a federal Government heading them, an all Muslim peace keeping force. Iran and Syria would participate. That would be a tough negotiation, but I don't believe those countries would want to have a huge influx of refugees. I believe very strongly that this war has caused enormous damage to the United States. What I would do with our troops is redeploy them to bases in Kuwait where they ARE wanted. In Afghanistan where I believe the we DO have a threat of Al-Qaeda.

So I admire the service of your son and I want him to be proud, but I want him to be safe, And as President, I want you to know that I would withdraw our forces as rapidly as our commanders say we can do it.

I graduated a son this year, tomorrow is his Open House celebration. What can I tell him, and my younger two boys what a Richardson Administration will do to assure them a shot at the American Dream?

You can tell them a Richardson Administration would say young people have a huge stake in this election. I would say to them a Richardson Administration would, # 1, attack a problem that hopefully their generation won't have to face. And that is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This is a planet that is today, dirty. That unless we take drastic steps to reduce green house gas emissions we are going to leave his generation a planet that has a less quality of life. Secondly, you can tell them that a Richardson Administration would attack, in a bipartisan way, the issue of the deficit. His generation is going to be loaded with a defect of 8.8 trillion dollars. In a bipartisan way I would commit to him that we would end the deficit and try to generate an economy that is inclusive of the middle class a globalization that today does not include the Middle Class. Third, I would say to your sons, that a Richardson Administration, also in a bipartisan way, is going to try to deal with the safety net for his generation, and that is Social Security and Medicare. We got to find a way that Social Security and Medicare are preserved, are economically sustainable in the out years and that we stop telling young people that Social Security and Medicare are going to be there forever for them. That requires also a bipartisan solution.

Most importantly I want you to tell your sons that a Richardson Administration will try to bring this country together. We are deeply divided over Immigration, over Iraq, over a whole variety of strains on the middle class. Instead of thinking of ourselves as red states or blue states, rural and urban we should think of ourselves as a united country. One way to bring this country together is to say to the body politic, Congress and the administration, that basically has today a dysfunctional relationship, that we got to resolve the problems in this country in a bipartisan way! We got to heal this country, we got to bring people together. We got to unify this country on the basis of common goals.

As JFK Said, it is important that we start thinking about how collectively we can help this country rather than a government that is basically saying everyone is on their own. That is not America

And to do that we need Governor Bill Richardson as our President



DIGG this!

Friday, June 15, 2007

EXCLUSIVE:5 Minutes with Governor Bill Richardson - A Teaser

I had an EXCELLLENT visit with Democratic Candidate for President, Governor Bill Richardson. As is his style, he was very candid and forthright, especially when I challenged him on his Iraq position.

Full transcript will be up on Monday, I have a Graduation open house to prepare. If you are in the neighborhood, tomorrow, stop by and celebrate with us.


Father's Day Prelude

More here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bill -v- Resumé

Ryan Lizza has an incredibly candid peak at Gov Richardson, on 'The New Republic'

Here is an excerpt that really caught my eye:
Although many Democrats are smitten with Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, Richardson is enjoying a moment of heightened voter interest, even passing the psychologically crucial barrier of double-digit support in one Iowa poll. He is both the hot-dog-and-ballgame everyman and the seasoned international statesman. The latter is particularly alluring to an electorate yearning for the anti-Bush: someone with the foreign policy chops and diplomatic skills to repair America's tattered reputation and alliances, someone who understands the granular nuance of nuclear proliferation and the Iraq conflict and who isn't afraid to talk to our enemies.
Lizza pulls no punches here. But in the end you recognize what a regular Joe Gov Bill is. We could really use that in a leader right now.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Making a Move

The post debate poll is out in New Hampshire. Hillary takes a commanding lead, and Gov. Bill surges:
According to a new CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters released Monday, the New York senator has surged into the lead, with 36 percent support. Obama has held fairly steady at 22 percent, while Edwards has lost support. He's now at 12 percent. (PDF)

The debate got another player into the game -- Bill Richardson, whose support has reached 10 percent.
The Governor is staged to be a serious player in the endorsement process. It is still anyones to win, well, accept maybe Kucinich!


Monday, June 11, 2007

Busy Week

It will be a hectic week. Last two days of students, which brings its own challenges every year. Wednesday will be all about securing staff equipment. Thursday will involve preparation for the final stages of building remodeling.

Friday is set to be the most exciting. With a Graduation open house looming on Saturday, there is still much to be done. But Gov Bill Richardson is coming into town and that requires making the time for another '5 minute' exclusive. I have already been in contact with the campaign, so it looks like Friday morning I should have an opportunity to visit with the Governor from New Mexico.

Then Saturday, the graduation celebration for my son Josh. Many family and friends will be stopping by the new and improved homestead. I found a GREAT contractor who was able to finally repair my dormers and paint them all pretty. I'll have some pics soon, but if you are looking for a qualified and competent 'no jobs too small' type of contractor, let me know. These guys are excellent!!

Bare with me this week, it's going to be an interesting ride!!


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Fork meet Scooter:Part Deaux

The case is now in its twilight, after having followed it for some time. Although the appeals will continue, a 30 day stay at the White Color country club awaits the felon. There is speculation that Libby will get a reprieve and be allowed to remain free during appeal, I am not so sure. The conviction is pretty solid and the ball is in the President's court.

Will Bush sit back and watch a trusted advisor go to prison for protecting the administration, or will the President have courage and pardon him. There really is no downside for Bush. The 36% still supporting this administration wouldn't waffle over a pardon to Scooter. This 36% are the lemming who would follow Bush anywhere, even over a cliff.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Family Tragedy-A Time for Healing

Last week I received a difficult phone call. It was from my sister informing me of the untimely passing of my cousin.

Many of you may recall my gloating last fall of the election of Tim Willson, Mayor of Brooklyn Center. It is his daughter who passed. Mom shares her insight:
As I write this I feel like someone has kicked me in the stomach. I have always been a little uncomfortable when things seem to be going well. It's like I'm waiting for the thunder bolt.

Yesterday I let my guard down

I am now seeing up close how someone you love deals with a child's death. Sitting in their Living room listening to the Chaplain who arrived after the police were there was an experience I don't want to deal with anytime soon. Don't get me wrong he was so kind and so caring, but talking about this beautiful girl being with God. I wanted to scream...I wanted to get out of there. Thank Goodness for my daughter who was also there.
I will be attending the funeral, today. The circumstances surrounding her death are still under investigation, and the family asks that their privacy during this difficult time be respected. Soon the Mayor and his wife will release a statement and you can be sure it will be filled with words that will make it clear how much they loved and cherished their daughter.

Hug your children today. Be strong for those around you when they face tumult in their lives. You can't even begin to imagine how much it is appreciated.

Cousin Kurt

UPDATE: Strib article on the arrest and charging of the dealer.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Thompson Factor

With the entrance of Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson in the GOP Presidential fray, we may get a glimpse of what it takes to be competitive after the early front runners are already entrenched. Rasmussen gives us some numbers:
Twenty-two percent (22%) of Americans say they will definitely vote for him if he’s on the ballot in 2008. Thirty percent (30%) will definitely vote against him. That net deficit of eight percentage points (22% for minus 30% against) is better than all other candidates in the race except for Barack Obama.

Still, the actor enters the race trailing the top three Democratic candidates by 3 to 10 points.

Against New York Senator Hillary Clinton, Thompson attracts 44% of the vote. That’s three less than Clinton’s 47% total.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama leads Thompson by seven points, 49% to 42%.

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards has the biggest edge over Thompson, 47% to 37%.
These numbers show not how strong Thompson is already, but how vulnerable a Clinton nomination would be to the Democrats White House hopes. What is the most surprising to me, is the strong showing by Edwards in these head to heads.

No word on how Gov. Bill Richardson would match up. He is still flying below the radar. I have some xciting news regarding Gov Richardson and his upcoming visit to MN. You can be sure I will keep you posted.