Friday, February 29, 2008

Goodbye, Bill!

Longtime WCCO anchor Bill Carlson has lost his battle with Cancer. He was 73:
Bill had worked for WCCO-TV for nearly 50 years, covering the Arts and Entertainment beat for WCCO-TV. He started his journalism career in 1951 when he joined WCCO Radio while he was still in high school.

He moved to WCCO-TV in 1959 after graduating from the University of Minnesota.

Bill did just about everything at WCCO-TV, including anchoring the news, reporting the weather, hosting game shows, movies, events and even did the sports.
Doing the A & E beat allowed Bill to garner fans from both sides of the aisle. This is one of those losses that kind of hits you. He seemed like one of the family.


WCCO Video Here

Spring Arrived . . .

. . . in the Midway at approximately 4:35 PM. I'll be in the garage the rest of the weekend if you need me.


Molnau Epilogue

I have heard the choruses defending this removal. I can understand and appreciate where they are coming from. However, the reality here is that it is ultimately the Governor that is responsible. Molnau, for all her faults, was a good administrator and that is what we need in this position. Her hands have been tied by A) The Governor and his unwillingness to work with the Legislature to pass a meaningful transportation bill, and B) the Legislature for not working more diligently to at least get certain bonding project out there.

To me, the action of yesterday came across more as a vendetta or bully politics. It will seriously effect the relationship of the caucuses as we continue into the session. It was unnecessary plain and simple.

I am done with this issue and will move on, like the Senate should have done yesterday morning.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Molnau Removed!

This doesn't seem right on so many levels. I'll have more tomorrow


Actual Phone Transcript


Joe: Hello, Midway Liquor!

Flash: Hey Joe, your favorite Keg Customer!

Joe: Hey Buddy. It must be Spring time. Not because it is getting warmer, or the snow is melting, but Flash is calling for a Keg!

Flash: That is exactly correct, so what should I start off with this year . . . .
- - -

And so it goes, another Winter is over, and it will soon be Spring in the Midway. I have placed my order and will be picking it up tomorrow after work. The majority of my evening will be spent in the garage, preparing for another season.

Ahhhhhhhh the fresh smell of beer Spring is in the air . . . . .

This evening, however, I will be at Rock Bottom, where they will be tapping their ESB, Extra Special Bitter ale. This traditional British-style Bitter ale is made with 100% British malt and hops, coming across nice and yummy with a bit of a fruity nose from the British yeast used in fermentation. I can't wait/ Oh, I can't wait till tomorrow, either


Save Molnau!

UPDATE: JFecke at BotML is live blogging
I have been as critical as most of Lt. Gov. Monlau as the next guy. I have sincere concerns about her ability to remain in her position as transportation head. But I am not at the point were I think she should be booted.

I have talked about this a few times. Almost four years ago I said this:
There are no legitimate reasons, or issues, that should cause the denial of Governor Pawlenty's appointment of Lt. Governor Molnau. Molnau will carry the bidding of Pawlenty to the Department. The Governor's softening on the Northstar rail, and other transportation issues, should ease the fears you may have. In fact, no matter who is running the department, the very issues that concern us, are those coming from the top, and denying Molnau will not prevent that.
In the time since I wrote that, there may be some legitimate reason that have developed, but that main premise still remains; "the very issues that concern us, are those coming from the top, and denying Molnau will not prevent that."

I mentioned earlier this year the point at which I could support a Molnau removal:
push that Transportation bill early and hold the higher ground. If you don't get what you want (you are in the majority remember, your call you set the agenda), then go for the Molnau jugular.
Not only did the Transportation Bill pass, but it was pretty unscathed. And with the assistance of sensible Republicans even the Governor's vetoe couldn't stop it. The support of over 10% of the GOP caucus is significant. This wasn't a token Liebermanesque bipartisanship, this was true working across the aisle/ Lets no damage that good will going on a Molnau vendetta.

Let's move on to the people's business. Molnau is a known and we aren't very sure what the Governor will do if she is ousted. When Yecke was denied we certainly got an improvement with Seagren, but I wouldn't count on lightning striking twice. Let us have Molnau simmer and do her work. She knows she is under a watchful eye. I think we have much greater power in having her know we can pull the plug at anytime, rather than pulling it now, and rolling the dice on her replacement.


- I will be forwarding this to my local Senators and Senate Majority Leadership, you should to!

Senate Majority Leadership

Sen. Steve Murphy

Senate Transportation Committee (LA's contacts below)

Committee Administrator: Billie Ball 651.296.1738
Legislative Assistant - Chair: Kelly Russell 651.296.4264
Legislative Assistant - Vice Chair: Steven Huser 651.297.8073

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Still Waiting . . . for HF2800 Response

I have yet to hear from anyone on the Right who can provide me any evidence whatsoever that the spending in HF2800 was ever in real dispute. We know from my review of the facts, and contact with the DFL party that large swatches of appropriations is going straight to MNDot to be spent at their discretion. The priorities list provided by the DFL and available on MNGOP websites seem to line up pretty well.

I have seen rhetoric regarding transit, and the LRT boondoggle on the Hard Right wing sites that are spending more time trying to figure out new ways to marginalize themselves, but that is all.

In attempting to cobble together the Administrations position on Transit, we find this for a year ago:
Establishing a formula to distribute motor vehicles sales tax revenues, with 60 percent allocated for state and local roads, 38 percent for Twin Cities metro area transit and 2 percent for Greater Minnesota transit.
And when we look at the PDF of the Governor's spending proposal, he has well over a Billion dollars, over 10 years, for transit.

So lets just let the Right marginalize themselves into non existence, while the rest of us work together to make this state a better place. And if I have to shell out an extra $150 to make that happen, so be it. Replacing a ball joint with a front end alignment could cost double that anyway. In the long run the state is probably saving me money!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's About the Funding: HF2800

For all his faults, and there are many, Mitch used to be THE best blogger in the state. But over the years he has become beholden to a failed and flawed ideology. Him, and the rest of his ScaifeNet partners are so caught up in memes and talking points they have gotten to the point they don't even recognize what is really going on. Case in point, the Transportation Bill. Mitch shares the meme:
he DFL’s 6-plus billion dollar Mass Transit Subsidy “Transportation” bill.
his pork-barrel monstrosity.
Lets see who wanted to spend how much, and what they were going to spend it on.

I sent requests to both DFL and MNGOP offices yesterday to ask about their take and priorities, both funding and spending, as the veto over-ride was being debated. Mitch kept on talking about Pork in the bill, mass transit subsidy, and 6.6 billion in taxes (or was that the MNGOP commercial, I can't keep the two straight). I was curious to find out where the priorities were. You know, actual facts not ideological rhetoric. The DFL responded quickly, and I thank their staff for following up with me. I have not heard from the MNGOP, yet, but can understand that, I guess. I contacted them both on the front end, using three addresses off their staff page, and through a back channel in hopes I could get some assistance that way. Regardless, their Taxapalooza and Minnesota Majority website provided me with some of what I was looking for.

On the spending front, we had a fairly unified legislature. Sure there may have been squabbles over some of the Light rail moneys, but that was less than 20% of the bill. The 6.6 billion broken down by the DFL looks like this:

· Trunk Highways: $3.4 billion
· County State-Aid Highways: $1.5 billion
· Municipal City-Aid Streets: $392 million
· Greater Minnesota Transit: $58 million
· Metropolitan Area Transit: $1.1 billion

Furthermore, the 'pork' isn't there, Mr. Berg. The majority of these broad spending guidelines are left at the discretion of MNDot. But there are some specifics in the bill:
The projects laid out in the bill are specifically 13 fracture critical bridges, including Hastings and Lafayette, and some language that makes sure Highways 60 and 14 get changed to 4 lanes.
MN Majority lists other projects that can be completed now that the moneys are there:
* I-94/I-694 from Brooklyn Blvd to I-494
* Hwy 100 north of I-394
* I-394 HOV lane conversion to MnPASS
* I-394 westbound auxiliary lane from Louisiana Ave to Hwy 169
* I-494 from France Ave to Hwy 212
* I-494 from Hwy 5 to Carlson Parkway
* I-494 first portion of Wakota Bridge
* I-94 from McKnight Rd to Hwy 120
* Hwy 100 auxiliary lanes from Hwy 7 to I-394 Hwy 169 at Anderson Lakes Parkway and Pioneer Trail
And yet, ScaifeNet proclaims the 6.6 billion spending are over board and pork barrel, but what did the GOP proposal look like (careful PDF) WHAT, over 7.5 BILLION. Almost 1 BILLION more than the approved legislation. That can't be . . . . Oh sure it can. The Right is good at finagling numbers. And where they wanted to raised a billion more than is in the bill, I can't find what they were going to spend it on. Which leads me to believe they weren't really in dispute of the spending formulas, only the funding portion.

The DFL funding was balanced and reasonable. I would have liked to see the Sales tax portion off the table, and an incorporation of some of the creative financing mechanisms in the GOP proposal included. But when someone refuses to negotiate in good faith you have no choice but to go it alone. And in this case, 6 brave and fiscally responsible Republicans recognized that.
· Five-cent gas tax increase: $160 million/year ($1.6 billion over 10 years)

· Debt service surcharge: $110 million/year when 3.5-cent cap reached in 2013 ($922 million over 10 years).

· Metropolitan area quarter-cent sales tax: $110 million/year ($1.1 billion over 10 years)

· Vehicle registration tax changes: $1.9 billion over 10 years

· Trunk highway bonding: $1.8 billion over 10 years
So that's where we are at. The GOP will point fingers without accepting responsibility. They chose to play hard ball and the DFL called their bluff. Sane and reasonable people prevailed and the future of our transportation infrastructure is on its way to the 21st century.

Instead of recognizing their failure, they are instituting a purity test and will go after the renegades within their caucus. That is fine, I guess, in the short term. All that will do is replace those members with true blue Democratic candidates. But that has been the case with these Right Winger ScaifeNet blogs of late. They do more to elect more Democrats than those on the Left. For that, I thank them!!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nader Endorses McCain

Ralph "The Egotist" Nader has announced his 3rd party candidacy. As we saw in 2000, this run will only serve one purpose, to allow for the split of the Democratic vote and allow for a plurality to continue us down this current insane path. Democrats all across the country are throwing bricks at their TV, while Republicans are cheering with joy.

ANYONE who votes for Nader just may as well pull the McCain lever, it means the same thing. And ANYONE who thinks other than that is simply not living in the real world.


Friday, February 22, 2008

TX Debate Debrief

I watched the first 90 minutes of the shindig last night. Oh sure, there was a tussle in the middle, that's what debates are for. Yet, for the most part, there were kumbaya moments and assurances that they will go forward together no matter what the outcome.

The best part of the evening was the actual debate on health care. Most debates are parsed stump speeches and scripted exchanges. Tonight these two went toe to toe debating the difference of their plans. When the moderators wanted to move one, the candidates resisted as this was an issue important to both of them. I am not sold on Universal Health Care, but I do acknowledge we have a health care crisis. Continuing down the same path is not the solution so a new direction is needed. Like immigration I am still in the evaluation phase of where I am at. As I review the differences, all we get from the Right is universal health care won't work, without any semblance of what they plan on doing about the current situation. If they want to complete for my support on this issue I will need something a little more concrete than that.

I don't post videos very often, however, for all of you that think Hillary Clinton is a mean power monger, you need to watch her closing statement. A classy, sincere, respectful appeal, honoring her opponent, and ensuring everyone, that regardless of what happens, a unified Democratic Party will go forward. There simply is no other outcome if we want to rescue this country from the grips of the last 8 years.

American Idol v.07: Top 24

My Idol viewing was time shifted this week. That will change as the high school basketball season comes to a close. Idol is quality time with the lovely Mrs. Flash, so we have to adjust our viewing schedule.

I was closer on the girls than the guys. The guys who were tosssed were the same ones who had minimal if any face time leading up tpo this weeks show. That can;t help. Although they did point out Kelly clarkson was an Idol who was slighted inthe lead up to the first season.

My rankings for the week with the goners in Bold

* Ramiele Malubay
* Asia'h Epperson
* Syesha Mercado
* Carly Smithson
* Kady Malloy
^^Top 5 was really close^^

* Alaina Whitaker
* Amanda Overmyer
^^Next Tier^^

* Brooke White
* Alexandrea Lushington
* Joanne Borgella (Surprised only due to the build up for her, but not her performance. Not a shocker

* Kristy Lee Cook - Diged a bullet, can she survive next week
* Amy Davis The voters got it right

The Guys

* Jason Castro
* David Archuleta
* Robbie Carrico
* Danny Noriega - Sanjaya with talent!
* Michael Johns
^^Top Tier^^

* Colton Berry I liked Colton. His lack of face time cost him
* David Cook
* David Hernandez
* Garrett Haley Nerves showed but considering how awful Chikeze and Luke were he should have had another week.
* Jason Yeager - Crooner needs to shine next week if he wants to survive

* Chikeze Eze
* Luke Menard
^^ The two luckiest people of the night. They were simply awful ^^

As Always, Bogus Doug has the detailed take!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

McCain's Flowers

Remember Gennifer? McCains Gennifer may be named "Vicki" according to the NYTimes. However, in McCain's case, it could be a double edged sword. Where rumors of an inappropriate relationship may be just that, it is the fact that Ms. Iseman is a lobbyist for the Telcoms that could undermine his momentum.
(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain's advisers are denying assertions The New York Times published that McCain once had a close relationship with a female lobbyist whose clients had business before his Senate committee.

The newspaper reported in its online edition Wednesday that aides to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign were so worried about the relationship that they confronted McCain and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman.

"Our political messaging during that time period centered around taking on special interests and placing the national interests before either personal or special interests," the paper quoted McCain's former top political adviser, John Weaver, as saying. "Ms. Iseman's involvement in the campaign, it was felt by us, could undermine that effort."
Now, of course, the campaign is in full denial mode:
"He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election," campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said in a statement.
But that can't distract from the reality that some within his circle were concerned
Aides to Sen. John McCain confronted a telecommunications lobbyist in late 1999 and asked her to distance herself from the senator during the presidential campaign he was about to launch, according to one of McCain's longest-serving political strategists.

John Weaver, who was McCain's closest confidant until leaving his current campaign last year, said he met with Vicki Iseman at the Center Cafe at Union Station and urged her to stay away from McCain. Association with a lobbyist would undermine his image as an opponent of special interests, aides had concluded.

Members of the senator's small circle of advisers also confronted McCain directly, according to sources, warning him that his continued ties to a lobbyist who had business before the powerful commerce committee he chaired threatened to derail his presidential ambitions.
The general public/electorate has show that they can be quite forgiving theses days when it comes to 'romantic relationships'. But McCain's 'straight talk express' has been "centered around taking on special interests and placing the national interests before either personal or special interests". THAT is what may cause his train to derail. I wouldn't be surprised if they chose to let the 'romantic relationship' side of the story become the story. That's a battle they could probably win. The other one may cost him the Presidency.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lucky Thirteen

Is it the beginning of the end. There is thirteen days till March 4th, a date that will either clinch the nomination for Barack Obama, or thrust Hillary Clinton back on to the stage. With only the New Mexico feather in her cap, Sen. Clinton is in a must win situation in key delegate rich states of Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania down the road. A sweep their, especially with a double digit victory, will keep her in the game. And I think that is important should Sen. Obama get the nod.

Hey, I like the guy. If I was the king maker I would pick him over Hillary. But he is untested in a national GOP dog fight, and we saw what they did to a war hero like Kerry. Imagine what they will do to a kid like Obama. Hillary, for all her faults, and there are many, is pretty Teflon to the GOP attack machine. There is a reason her negatives are high, but they are also unwavering. People already have a pretty good opinion of her. The GOP attack machine will be muted and they will have to debate the issues. And we all know that when it comes to the issues, the GOP is left in the dust.

OK, lets look at some numbers (excuse the formatting).

OHIO 141 Delegates

RCP Average 02/06 - 02/18 - 52.7 38.0 Clinton +14.7
SurveyUSA 02/17 - 02/18 733 LV 52 43 Clinton +9.0
Rasmussen 02/13 - 02/13 754 LV 51 37 Clinton +14.0
Quinnipiac 02/06 - 02/12 564 LV 55 34 Clinton +21.0

TEXAS 193 Delegates
RCP Average 02/11 - 02/18 - 50.2 42.6 Clinton +7.6
SurveyUSA 02/16 - 02/18 660 LV 50 45 Clinton +5.0
CNN 02/15 - 02/17 529 LV 50 48 Clinton +2.0
Rasmussen 02/14 - 02/14 577 LV 54 38 Clinton +16.0
InsiderAdvantage 02/14 - 02/14 403 LV 48 41 Clinton +7.0
TCUL/Hamilton 02/11 - 02/13 400 LV 49 41 Clinton +8.0

PENNSYLVANIA 158 Delegates
Quinnipiac 02/06 - 02/12 577 LV 52 36 Clinton +16.0

So the three state run is certainly doable, and we will find out over the next two weeks if the Sen. Obama movement can sustain itself for that long without anything to draw from. Hey, I just wanna win. The future of this country is at stake, and we have already seen the damage that can be done with 8 years of a GOP White House, I don;t want to imagine what another 4 will do.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blue Wins!

I've been waiting, like most of the country. I almost went with the loser, so glad patience won out.
TOKYO (AP) -- Toshiba said Tuesday it will no longer develop, make or market HD DVD players and recorders, handing a victory to rival Blu-ray disc technology in the format battle for next-generation video.

"We concluded that a swift decision would be best," Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida told reporters at his company's Tokyo offices.

The move would make Blu-ray - backed by Sony Corp (SNE)., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic brand products, and five major Hollywood movie studios - the winner in the battle over high-definition DVD formatting that began several years ago.
I've been enjoying my new toy since last July. My standard DVD player looks amazing on it as is. But the upgrade to HiDef DVDs has waited till the latest tech war was over. Now that it is, competition will begin, deck prices will drop, and the consumers will be the ultimate winners.


Friday, February 15, 2008

DeKalb Tragedy

I've been to DeKalb so many times I could drive it in my sleep. Back when I had the Grand Am I could do it, door to door, on a tank of gas. NIU was the perennial home of Drum Corps Midwest Championships. My first time there was about 30 years ago, and I have been on campus over half those years, most recently in 2005.

Having spent a considerable amount of time in that community brings closer to home the events of yesterday.
DEKALB, Illinois (CNN) -- A gunman dressed in black stepped from behind a curtain at the front of a large lecture hall at Northern Illinois University on Thursday and shot 21 people, six of them fatally, then shot and killed himself, said university President John Peters.

"A lot of people were screaming. Everybody started running for the door," said student Zach Seward. "It was just complete chaos."

Four died at the scene, including the shooter, and three later died at a hospital, officials said.

At least 22 people, including the gunman and a graduate student who was teaching an ocean sciences class, were shot, Peters said.
I'm not going to go off on another Conceal Carry tirade, we don't have all the facts yet. However, you can bet Mitch will be following it closely. A commenter there notes:
it looks like the high school shootings of the 1990s have become college shootings of the 2000s.
An unnecessary waste, no doubt; preventable, probably; how preventable, we'll have to see as the investigation unfolds. For now my heart and prayers go out to the families of those effected and the many many lives that have been permanently and irreversibly changed.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Smoking Theater

I was suprised that Mitch missed this one:
Barnacle's Resort in Lake Mille Lacs turned its normal Saturday night business into a play, testing a loophole in Minnesota's smoking ban. The production included programs and buttons that said "Act Now!"

"You are looking at a stage. You are looking at a playhouse," said Mark Benjamin, a nonsmoking lawyer who worked the bar dressed in Shakespearian garb. "Those are not cigarettes—those are props."

The law allows actors and actresses to light up in theatrical performances—but it doesn't define what that means. The idea of stretching the definition came to Benjamin at the Renaissance Festival, an annual event where people dress up in costumes.
I had been aware of this loophole when I was talking to someone at Rock following a Ron White. I had asked what the show was like now that there is smoking ban in place. Guy said Ron was up there spanking heaters like there was no tomorrow. So I looked up the statues and sure enough, the theater exception.

It reminds me of when the St. Paul City Council, in a feeble attempt to out law strip clubs, forced them to be in a separate room. So what did the clubs do, the used a plexiglass wall instead of a regular sheet rock one. 3

Now lets see how long they can get away with it.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

American Idol v.07 : The Final Cut

Yes, I'm a closet popster. Below are links to this years' Top 24 thanks to YouTube . I wanted to be consistent so these are their original audition unless noted when I couldn't find the original clip. (All 12 gals were in YouTube, only half the guys and one of them it is their Hollywood week since no audition video was found. Interesting state there)

My pre-apologies for those that don't care, but frankly, there is more to blogging than just politics and Drum Corps! For everyone of you that chooses to blow me off the day after an episode, 3 screaming teeny boppers are stumbling upon Centrisity. Not only are they peering into the AI crystal ball, they get to actually witness political rhetoric for the first time. Molding young minds is the ultimate goal!

However, the real questions isn't who is going to win, it is whether BogusDoug will follow along.

The Gals:

* Joanne Borgella
* Kristy Lee Cook
* Amy Davis
* Asia'h Epperson
* Alexandrea Lushington
* Kady Malloy
* Ramiele Malubay
* Syesha Mercado - Top Lady?!?
* Amanda Overmyer - A Personal Favorite
* Carly Smithson - Another Favorite
* Alaina Whitaker
* Brooke White

The Guys

* David Archuleta
* Colton Berry
* Robbie Carrico
* Jason Castro
* David Cook
* Chikeze Eze
* Garrett Haley
* David Hernandez (Hollywood week)
* Michael Johns
* Luke Menard
* Danny Noriega
* Jason Yeager

Sen. Amy Stands Firm On FISA

Sen. Klobuchar took a lot of heat for her position to extend the old FISA law while the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 was being drafted.
She continued; "I believe it was what we needed to do at the time. We take these votes that won't make everyone happy, but people have to understand my main focus here is to balance the need for getting the information and civil liberties. And I do think there is a much better way to do that."

She did make it clear that the permanent legislation WILL have to go through the Senate Judiciary committee, unlike the temporary extension. She also stated she will not vote for an additional extension, placing the pressure on Congress and the administration to get a permanent piece of legislation in place.
Over the past week or so, that permanent legislation was being formulated and tweaked. The various issues with FISA are confusing, and only the wonkiest of wonks could follow it with any sense of understanding. Sen. Amy consistently sided with the Democratic Senators concerned about the direction the FISA rewrite was going, in an attempt to clean up and fix the version. And in the end, when those attempt were not successful, there was no choice but to vote against the bill.

The Final Vote
lists those senators who had the courage to stand up to the gutting of our freedoms, and those that cowered under the scare tactics of this administration.

Soon we will have competence in the White House, and the 8 year of adolescence will be replaced with grown-ups who will have the citizens in mind, not their own personal special interests. Int he meant time, it is comforting to know Senators like Amy Klobuchar will stand and be heard.

Thank you, Senator!! It is sincerely appreciated.


UPDATE: I want to be clear, the fight is not over. The Senate version not travels to the House, where cooler minds and clearer heads may just fix this thing yet. But there is only one way to make that happen. Contact your Congress Members and let them know you re not ready to give up your privacy right to corporate conglomerates and unchecked administrations. Ollie has the details:
Firedoglake is also offering an opportunity to remind him of that discussion; the group blog has posted a petition Tell House Members to Stand Firm Behind the RESTORE Act!
Oh, in case you are wondering why this is so important. FDL has the answer:
The US Constitution and the principle that no one is above the law suffered a numbing setback, Tuesday, when every Republican Senator, Independent Joe Lieberman and 18 faux Democrats voted to gut the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, one of the most important bulwarks again tyrannical government since 1789. The Senate voted 68 - 29 to ratify the President's massive illegal spying program and provide immunity for the telecoms who invaded the privacy of millions of innocent Americans.

The Fourth Amendment has been handed down to us unchanged for over two centuries:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Almost none of that is left if today's bill stands.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Poor Form!

This is the type of thing that makes me nervous about the inexperience of Sen. Obama or at the very least his campaign.

Aligning with Marxist Revolutionaries like Che Guevara may fire up the left Wing of the Left Wing party, but alienates the moderates who are familiar with Che's complete resumé.

The Senator will be fresh meat as it is for the Rabid Right. We don't need to become a sitting duck for them. Maybe once he catches wind of this himself, he'll do the right thing and corral his workers.

This isn't a deal breaker for me, but it could be for enough people to make a difference in November.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Rush Lost

Rush had a shot at their first Grammy this weekend. In the category for Rock Instrument, Malignant Narcissism was nominated. I had a feeling the snub was on as Main Monkey Business was a much better instrumental on that album, but the quality of the album was way too good for them to snub entirely. Now they are 0 - 5.

Mainstream PopSter, Bruce 'The Boss' Springsteen got the nod, if you could call him 'Rock' *rolling eyes* Yeah., I'm a little perturbed!
Rush lost the Grammy for the Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the pre-telecast Grammy Award ceremony in Los Angeles this afternoon. The song Malignant Narcissism off of their 2007 album Snakes & Arrows had been nominated along with The Ecstasy Of Gold from Metallica, Always With Me, Always With You from Joe Satriani, The Attitude Song from Steve Vai, and the winning entry - Once Upon A Time In The West from Bruce Springsteen. It was the 5th time in their career that they had been nominated in this category, and the 5th time they have lost. Rush's past nominations in the Best Rock Instrumental Performance category were for YYZ in 1981, Where's My Thing? in 1992, Leave That Thing Alone in 1995 and O Baterista in 2004. No surprise really.
Not a big surprise, I guess, but if you have heard the song, you would know they were in the running.


Friday, February 08, 2008

The Visit with Sarge

Everything went according to plan last night. It was sure great seeing Tom again, and being able to catch up on all that has happened since his last visit. Having spent a little time with his brothers, and knowing that they will get him all to their selves on Saturday, it was time for us to go. The first order of business was to get to Rock for our first beer together. What a milestone moment

Later The Doctor and his son showed up. We lived not too far from each other for awhile, so our boys got to know each other very early on. They hadn't been able to chat in probably 10 years, so this was quite the reunion. Both these young men have turned into outstanding adults.

Of course the conversation turned to politics and both these gentleman seemed very engaged in the process. While The Doctor and I don't always agree on ideology, we did agree on advice to our sons. Ask Questions. Keep asking questions until you have enough information to make an informed decisions. Ask questions of those both on the Right and the Left. But keep asking questions. If you do that, you will feel comfortable and confident in whatever decisions you make.

Sgt. Tom and I then ventured back over to St. Paul for this week's Drinking Liberally. Sgt. Steve Sarvi, Democratic candidate for the 2nd congressional district was there to discuss his campaign. He has just wrapping his Q & A when we arrived but I could see Tom listening intently. We made it over to the candidate where they greeted each other and started talking a foreign language. Not in the literal sense, but if you put too service men in a room they start talking with acronyms I don't even understand.

But then Tom started asking questions, questions he had asked me about how things are in the Middle East and Iraq specifically. Did I say how important it is to ask questions? In this case they were all relevant as Tom has received orders and will be going to Iraq in August for a 6 month stint. His time will be spent in the green zone primarily as an aircraft maintenance inspector.

The highlight of the evening was when Sgt. Sarvi pulled me aside later to compliment me on what I fine young man Tom has become and to not worry about his impending journey to Iraq. I knew already that Tom had turned out just fine, but it is always nice to here it from someone else.

Tom stops by again on Saturday. I will only see him briefly as he collects his brothers for the day. It is their turn to catch up and it will begin with lunch with GrandMa and GrandPa. They too are eager to see their grandson and catch up on time that has passed by.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Visit from Sgt. Tom

My son is coming into town this afternoon. I haven't seen him in some time. He turned 21 last May, so this will be my first opportunity to sit down and have our first beer together. We are tentatively planning on meeting up with The Doctor and his son at Rock Bottom for an early dinner. Then I hope to make it to DL at the Chatterbox to hob nob with another Sergeant, Sgt. Sarvi, candidate for 2nd District Congress.

Sgt. Tom was a Right leaner last time I talked to him in person. I am curious to see what he has to say regarding the current situation after almost 4 years active duty. We'll have plenty of time for that this evening.

Tomorrow, my parents will hopefully get a turn in and take him out to lunch and then Saturday he will take his brothers for the afternoon for some long overdue sibling catch up time. Maybe if we keep him busy enough he'll realize he needs to come into town more often.

For now, I just want to give him a big ole hug and THANK him for his service!


3 Months

Yesterday I made it to the 3 month mark in my latest attempt to quite smoking. I made it almost 4 years once before, and started again. But I'll take 3 months. Like in any recovery I have a simple motto:

"I didn't have one yesterday, I haven't had one today yet, and I don't plan on having one tomorrow."

It seems to be working so far.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

GOP Blocks Stimulus!

It is times like this that you wonder if they care at all:
``The president has made it clear that he doesn't want that extension of unemployment benefits,'' Republican Senator John Thune said.

A Split Decision!

The Dems split the states, the votes, the delegates and the momentum. I keep bouncing back and forth between these two candidates. I am not sold on Sen. Obama's ability to keep his supporters energized and engaged throughout the process. As is usually the case with a Hope and a Prayer campaign, the burnout rate is high, and the longer this race goes on, the greater chance these new supporters will fall off the wayside. He is also fresh meat for the rabid right. Just the other day, GOP candidate Huckabee went right for the Mideast jugular of Sen Obama, and this was just a softball.

Sen. Clinton is the known, which is good and bad. Her negatives are high but aren't going anywhere. The Right has had 16 years to beat her up and I doubt they have anything new that will effect the electorate. But there is also a large swath of new blood Obama delegate that, short of him being in the Veep slot, will pack up their toys and go home. They are caught up in the frenzy and will return to apathy if 'their guy' doesn't win. It is a double edge sword no matter who gets the nod at this point. What I have found with Clinton supporters is that they want a Democratic candidate in the White House first and foremost, and will commit to work hard regardless of who the nominee is.

In our precinct, when the dust settled, it seemed that the electoral ratios were reversed when you looked at who stayed to actually caucus and agree to the heavy lifting through to November. Listen, if we want to switch to a primary state, then that is fine. But if we re going to be a caucus state, we should caucus and the straw polls and binding ballots should be the last order of business, not the first. I'm afraid a large number of our National delegation will have to plug their nose* to cast their binding ballots, since there won't be any committed supporters of the candidate that are actually delegates.

My situation may be different, being a campus precinct and the large number of students that did the Hit and Run instead of stay and work. Were other peoples' observations similar regarding actual caucus participants, or was mine an anomaly?

*I don't mean that in the literal sense. The Democratic party has two outstanding candidates that are light years better than the best of the best the opposition can come up with. The Country has tried it their way for almost 8 years and look where that has gotten us. The electorate is smart enough to know we have a real mess to clean up!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My Caucus Live Blog

Since I did not have a dog in the fight, and feel that either viable candidate is light years better than 4 more years of the same, I cast my ballot proudly, for:

Governor Bill Richardson

Maybe more later.

Super Duper and my Leanings

Today is the beginning of the process for us Minnesotans. I will walk down to Hancock Elementary to participate in the first step of selecting our next President. I like walking, if possible, to my polling place and caucus location. Something homey about that.

Since Richardson dropped out, I had decided to ride the rest of this one out. We have two very competent and qualified candidates. Either of them will be a marked improvement over the current president and Light years better than anything the GOP will run against us. But I want to win, we need to win, and the events over the last week has nudged me in a particular direction. This is only a primary, yet one of the candidates has shown they aren't quite ready for the mud and slime that GOP will throw at them. They will be fresh meat for a Rabid Right hoping that the Democratic Party will be sucked into the vacuum of Hope and a Prayer politics, without the substance necessary to make it through to November. The alternative has high negatives of their own, but they are a known, and the GOP has nothing left to throw at them. They have shown they can stand up to anything that has ever come their way, and come out of the smoke successfully. At this point I will probably still show my support for Gov Richardson, but I am leaning just ever so slightly to one of the remaining candidates, and I may not make the final decisions till tonight.

In the Senate race I have also been staying below the fray. I dabbled a bit with Coleman and am watching his participation very closely in the FISA/PAA process. With the current Administration on the outs, and Senator Norm up for re-election, he needs to balance his votes well. He may even be forced to vote his constituency and conscience, instead of taking his marching orders from the President.

A few things of inched me closer to a decision. The annoying Robo calls by one particular candidate have been a major turn off. And the support of my loval congress woman usually is an indicator to support the other guy. However, recent polling showing that one candidate is clearly the most electable of the three has moved me closer to Al Franken, and unless something significant happens during the course of today, that is who I will be caucusing for this evening.

The Republicans have had over 7 years in the White House, and controlled both legislative houses early on. They have shown they do not have the judgment necessary to lead this country, in fact, their decision have created a tumultuous environment not only economically, but globally as well. I may agree with them on the 2nd amendment, and fiscal restraint, on public funding options and the War on terror. But support on those issues aren't enough to allow them to remain in control of the White House. There is a lot more to this race then personal preference on a handful of issues. We have internationally healing that needs to take place, and economy to save, and an education system to salvage. The GOP has shown they just aren;t up to it, so it is time to put the grown-ups back in charge.


Fiddling with FISA

The Senate is debating the Protect America Act (PAA), again. It is a modification to the expiring PAA legislation that we talked with Sen Klobuchar about last fall. The Senator took a lot of heat for her vote to authorize that flawed piece of script, but she said the extension was needed to provide time to re-write the law while still allowing the intelligence community to do their job. She assured us that another long term extension would not be acceptable.

True to her word, we are getting down to brass tacks. The Senate authorized, through unanimous consent, a short 15 day extension to finalize the details of the PAA. There was two bills that came out of committee, one from the Intelligence committee, and a much better version from the Judiciary committee. Unfortunately, the Judiciary bill was tabled in favor of the Intel bill, a move that Sen. Amy voted against!

Our Senator, and prosecutor is committed to seeing the rights of US citizens protected, while still providing the necessary tools to the federal government to protect us from the evils that want to do us harm. That commitment will become more evident as the final version of the bill takes shape through debate and amendments.

In speaking with the Senator's office, I have discovered she is in full support of a key piece of this new legislation. I have been told that "yes, the senator will be supporting Sen. Dodd's motion and opposing immunity for the telecoms". I also oppose immunity, but do want to make sure we are careful in not allowing the regular court system to be caught up in making our intelligence gathering operation open to the scrutiny of a public court system. That may be a bit tricky.

But the adjustments to this bill go beyond simple Immunity. Last week EmptyWheel at Firedoglake took us to school:
Feingold argued that immunity was just one part of the SSCI version of the FISA bill that sucks: just as importantly, the SSCI has inadequate protection for the privacy of Americans, particularly when they communicate with people in other countries.

Now, Feingold suggested no one had been blogging about these other topics--to which I complained that I had (and McJoan from DailyKos pretty much agreed I won't shut up about them). Here are some highlights:

Minimization (the process by which the government segregates out US person data and eventually destroys it):

Overseas Spying (addressing the fact that through the use of Pixie Dust, Bush appears to have made it legal to spy on Americans overseas)

Mass Collection (the FISA program aims to allow basket warrants, which will provide the legal justification to do data mining)

Votes on these key amendments are expected by the end of the week. Posturing and fancy footwork is taking place on the economic stimulus package that may delay the Act from moving forward. But the 15 day clock is running out, so I suspect we will have closure on this issue soon enough.

This is all real wonky stuff, and EmptyWheel has been doing the heavy lifting. But I wanted to follow up with our Senator to see where she was at following the events of last fall. It sure seems, at least in these early goings, she is doing a fine job of walking that fine line between protecting the country, and protecting our rights in the process.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Even the VIKINGS could be the Giants!

I was one of those rooting for Miami New York. Probably the best football game I have seen in a long time. Games like this don't happen very often.

CONGRATULATIONS to both squads for a fantastic evening of football.



Some pics. She turned her back right as the camera clicked. Oh Well. Tons of people, place is packed, There is an overflow room I have not seen as well. Enjoy the pics.


The crowd builds. The Place holds about 4000 and the Fire Marshal will re-evaluate once it reaches capacity.

The UpTake will be running another live feed.


Mayor Coleman and Vice President Mondale


Working off my lap today. No tables, but I do have a front row bleacher seat. Here are some pics of the environment. It is filling up pretty quickly and the lines were wrapped around the place.

More later.


Another Day, Another Candidate

Page A8 of the STRIB, and the slide show on their website capture 'Linda' greeting her candidate. That's her beaming smile bottom Center:
Today is Hillary. I'll miss the first part of the game, today. Who cares, that is what TIVO is for. I'm only interested in the commercials anyway!


Saturday, February 02, 2008



Press Row

Senator Barack Obama!!


The After Pictures showing the sardines in waiting.

The Wave

The Traveling Press Corps is here, so the Senator can't be too far behind.


Frequent commenter 'Linda' looking forward to meeting her candidate!

Special thanks to Nick Kimball (on the Left) for assisting me in getting media credentials for the event. Nick is one of Sen. Obama's Media Coordinators.

The Uptake recording the growing crowd. They will also have a live feed of the event, reliable connectivity permitting.


I will be Checking in here from now and then. Press is set and we are waiting for the doors to open. Free WiFi is an unexpected luxury. So watch for pics from time to time.

Here is a couple showing the stage set.

Obamathon and More

I have secured an opportunity to see Senator Obama, today. I'll be part of the media throng in attendance. I also am in contact with the Clinton Camp for tomorrow. Should be a full weekend if things fall into place.

Monday will be a busy day on Centrisity. A follow-up on FISA following conversations with Sen. Klobuchar's office and a run down of the weekend's rally's.

Oh yeah, and I guess there is some football game on tomorrow.


Friday, February 01, 2008

From Scrappy to a Love Fest

I didn't watch South Carolina, so was only influenced by the media sound bites. I didn't want that to happen again. Although I still had domestic chores, a much needed grocery store run for Super Bowl Chili fixin's, I set up my TIVO so I wouldn't miss a clip.

This debate should be a must watch for all Democrats, especially those that struggle with supporting the opponent of their favored candidate. The congeniality of both these Senators should lay to rest any acrimony that anyone thought existed between them. The transcript won't do it justice, but Obama started off:
I also want to note that I was friends with Hillary Clinton before we started this campaign; I will be friends with Hillary Clinton after this campaign is over.

She has done -- she's run a -- we're running a competitive race, but it's because we both love this country, and we believe deeply in the issues that are at stake.
Their differences were spelled out quite well, and in debate terms, this one did its job. It showed that not only are these candidates light years better than anything the Republicans could possible nominate, but provided the necessarily distinct between the two so voters could vote based on issues, not personalities.

Some have criticized me on my VeepStakes post. To be fair, this was right after the other debate, where the acrimony between the two front runners was evident. But I stuck to my guns and predicted a Clinton/Obama ticket while ruling out a potential Clinton Vice Presidential run. The final question of the night dealt with just that:
let me say this. And I said this at the top. I respect Senator Clinton. I think her service to this country has been extraordinary. And I'm glad that we've been walking on this road together and that we are still on that road.

We've got a lot more road to travel. And so I think it's premature for either of us to start speculating about vice presidents, et cetera. I think it would be premature and presumptuous.

I can say this about -- about who I want not just as vice president but as a cabinet member. Part of what I would like to do is restore a sense of what is possible in government.

And that means having people of the greatest excellence and competence. It means people with integrity. It means people with independence, who are willing to say no to me so, so that, you know, no more yes-men or women in the White House.
and Clinton follows:
Well, I have to agree with everything Barack just said.

This has been an extraordinary campaign, and I think both of us have been overwhelmed by the response that we have engendered, the kind of enthusiasm and intensity that people feel about each of us. And so, clearly, we are both dedicated to doing the best we can to win the nomination, but there is no doubt we will have a unified Democratic Party.
The Cons are flustered and fractured. A unified Democratic party will return to the White House, and restore the dignity and credibility that office deserves.