Friday, October 31, 2008

Coleman's Texas Two-Step

In a just world, he would just resign and attend to his personal business. Instead he files a lawsuit against Franken to deflect.

Seriously, I can't believe I ever voted for this Guy:

The meat of the matter, the timing has nothing to do with politics. MinnPost:
Final thought: It’s possible McKim could be a Republican, and yet blame politics for the timing? After all, McKim may well have greater leverage in (now-undone) settlement talks in a campaign’s final days.

However, according to Frommer, McKim’s lawyer says “the timing was dictated instead by Kazeminy, who asked McKim over the summer to leave the company for 90 days — a period that was to end Friday.”
. . . and there is much more than the Coleman's are telling us:PiPress:
in March 2007, Kazeminy called Thomas and, “in that conversation, Kazeminy told Mr. Thomas that ‘U.S. Senators don’t make [expletive deleted.]‘ and that he was going to find a way to get money to U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota and wanted DMT in the process.” According to the suit, Thomas asked McKim whether they should follow Kazeminy’s orders and McKim told him it was not appropriate and repeated that to Kazeminy.

“In this same conversation, Kazeminy told Mr. McKim that he [Kazeminy] would make sure there was paperwork to make it appear as though the payments were made in connection with legitimate transactions, explaining that Sen. Coleman’s wife, Laurie, worked for the Hays Companies (”Hays”) an insurance broker in Minneapolis, and that the payments could be made to Hays for insurance,” according to the suit. “When Mr. McKim made further objections, Kazeminy repeatedly threatened to fire Mr. McKim, telling him ‘this is my company’ and that he and Mr. Thomas had better follow his orders in paying Hays.”

Too Much Life Going On

Blogging takes a back seat to everything else in my world. Family first, career next, chores third, blogging somewhere down about 153rd.

Yesterday was a crazy day, and today doesn't look much smoother. Bad time of year to get slammed, but it is what it is.

I'll be putting some things together for tonight, and will blog through the weekend as we lead up to the election. Sheesh, I haven't even done any endorsement screeds, but this years is a whole different world.

Maybe more later.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Now and Then

As we begin the final week of this historic election, lets go back in time.

Here is what the electoral map looks like today, via Electoral Vote. Look at all the pretty blue colors.:
Now, compare to 2004. Look at all the pretty pink colors:

Now, it ain't over till its over, but just sayin'!

Tonight Obama buys 30 minutes of Network airtime to close the deal. Personally, I think it is a risky unnecessary expenditure, but look at him now. I think he knows what he is doing.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Stevens (R-AK); Guilty x 7

The verdict is in:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A jury found U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska guilty Monday of all seven counts in his federal corruption trial.

The jury found Stevens guilty of "knowingly and willfully" scheming to conceal on Senate disclosure forms more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from an Alaska-based oil industry contractor.
I was leaning acquittal, but I wasn't there to see all the testimony.

The question now, is will Sen. Stevens gracefully exit and take care of his persona business, or will he pull a Larry Craig and drag as many fellow office holders he can down with him. With a week and change to go before the election, his entire reputation is at stake.


Smart Clock

So a few years ago we get one of those fancy clocks that is Atomic set with built in CST and CDT built in. Of course, we then changed the dates of Daylight Savings, so you know what that means. Our clock went off an hour late this AM.

In 40 minutes our home went from hustle bustle to pin drop silence. Mom, Dad and three teenagers all at the same time, taking care of business. Considering, it was a pretty smooth transition. Unfortunately, when I got to work, things were even crazier and they don;t even have a clock to blame.

Hopefully I'll have time over lunch to throw something up.



Sunday, October 26, 2008

FFL Optimator Week 8

The 3 - 4 Optimator are in a must win fantasy game this week. Solid performances by the club have been diluted by running up against teams who choose to have their season breakout games. The good news is I am still in control of my own destiny for playoff contention, so that is something.

Here is this weeks tilt (click to enlarge). Go JETS!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Missing Paul

6 years ago we lost Paul. I remember sitting at my desk and hearing the first reports come in from CNN of a small engine plane crashing near Eveleth. Later reports about the manifest trickled out and the magnitude of the reality settled in.

Paul was respected by members of both sides of the aisle for his genuine passion for the issues he fought so hard to defend and/or advance. There is no one like him today, certainly not in the Senate.

Paul, you are missed!


My Visit with Paul (Another Memorial site here, and the rest of my photos from the visit here)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Absentee Voting

I always thought it would just be easier to vote absentee and save myself the trip to the polls. Last night I was the 'witness' for an absentee voter. As with any process created by a bureaucracy, it was no simple task.Three envelopes, multiple signatures with a registration card and a two page instruction sheet. I needed to read it a few times just to make sure we did everything correct.

As the witness, you are advised to go through all materials with the voter. First, if not registered, complete and sign the registration card. Then, go over the ballot with the voter to make sure they understand how many to vote for where. Furthermore, a brief explanation that a non vote on the Amendment is a No vote. At this point I hand her the 'Ballot Security Envelope' and walk away. I did not comment or promote any candidate or cause. I did my non partisan job of simply making sure she understood the process as a first time voter. As I sat on the couch waiting for her to complete the ballot, I did catch her eying the Vote Yes commercial that began playing. She watched the whole thing, then turned her head and completed the ballot.

Once she placed the ballot into the security envelope, I returned to the table to go over Envelope B. This is where the voter and witness record identifying information and sign to verify the voter has complied with the process. Once this envelope is signed and sealed, it is placed into a third and final envelope for mailing. The secret ballot is secure, in envelope A, which has NO identifying information. All Identifying information is on the outside of envelope B.

Over all the process was basic, yet bureaucratically time consuming. For me, I've always liked the fact that I can walk, yes walk, a block and a half to my poll the morning of the election. I stand there in line with my 'neighbors', and work my way to the confines of my curtain draped booth. All I have to do is show up with a heart beat, and sign my name on the dotted line. Its just as quick, and for me, much more rewarding.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Despicable Juvenile Acts

This is simply reprehensible:
Sprayed in black on the wooden siding of the garage behind the couple's St. Paul home, in letters nearly a foot high: "U R A CRIMINAL RESIGN OR ELSE! PSALM 2" On the alley side, "SCUM" was scrawled across both garage stall doors and a wooden partition in between.

The Colemans weren't alone. Vandals struck the garages and homes of five other Minnesota members of Congress late Tuesday or early Wednesday, spray-painting graffiti that called for them to resign and included a biblical reference to "Psalm 2."

In Minneapolis, Sen. Amy Klobuchar went to fetch the newspaper and found that the side of her home had been defaced, as did Kim Ellison, the wife of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, also in Minneapolis.

The garages of Rep. Michele Bachmann, of Stillwater; Rep. Jim Ramstad, of Minnetonka, and Rep. John Kline, of Lakeville, also bore similar graffiti.

Klobuchar and Ellison are Democrats; Coleman, Bachmann, Ramstad and Kline are Republicans.
We live in a civil society. We have a peaceful transition of power. For all the sniping, posturing, and bickering I still have a level of respect for my opponents like Michael Brodkorb, Mitch Berg, and yes, even Tom Swift.

We all have our different ways of presenting our case. But I am confident that to this day, if I met any of them out in public, as I do good ole neighbor Mitch quite frequently, we would greet each other with a 'Hi HowDoYaDo' not verbal mud balls and invectives. And certainly not violence and destruction.

This was a planned and coordinated attack on individuals who have devoted their lives and sacrificed their personal time to make this state and country a better place. Oh sure I don't agree with how some of them are navigating this road, but I have never doubted their personal commitment in their travels.

Our form of government survives because of the civility at which we approach our differences. Individuals who can not seem to understand that deserve the full and forceful imposition of the law, and the potential to lose the very rights our elected leaders are committed to protect. I have faith and confidence that law enforcement will track down these deviants, and punish them to the full extent of the law. We, as a people, are better than this!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Verdict Watch -Sen Stevens (R-AK)

Following closing arguments, yesterday, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) gets his wish, a verdict by elections day.
Stevens, 84, has been fighting a seven-count indictment accusing him of filing false statements on mandatory financial disclosure forms. The jury is scheduled to begin deliberating Wednesday.

In closing arguments, prosecutors said Stevens engaged in an elaborate scheme to accept thousands of dollars in gifts from Alaskan oil industry executive Bill Allen, who has admitted he tried to bribe state legislators, including the senator's son.

Stevens is not accused of bribery, but one prosecutor suggested he accepted gifts, concealed them from the public, and "took care of Bill" -- referring to Allen, the founder of oil services contractor Veco Corp.

The trial has revolved around a construction project at the Stevens family chalet in Girdwood, Alaska, about 40 miles from Anchorage at the foot of a ski resort. Allen, starting in 2000, helped organize labor, materials and subcontractors that doubled the size of the home.

In his closing arguments, defense attorney Brendan Sullivan said the government failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the jury should acquit Stevens on all counts.

He noted Allen had testified that Stevens would have paid whatever bills were sent, but that he decided not to tell Stevens the full cost "because I like Ted."
I am leaning acquittal only because of the burden required under our system of jurisprudence. But there are 12 jurors who may have a different take. Should the verdict be quick, this post will be updated accordingly.


UPDATE: No verdict today:
With Sen. Ted Stevens' fate and possibly the outcome of his re-election race hanging in the balance, jurors in his corruption trial declared themselves stressed out after a few hours' deliberations Wednesday and went home early.

Four hours after U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan declared, "the case is yours," the eight women and four men passed the judge a note.

Things had become "kind of stressful," jurors said, and they asked to go home for some "clarity." They left without reaching a verdict.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fired Up!

NO . . not about the latest poll showing Franken with the lead:
The latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows DFLer Al Franken at 39 percent to Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's 36 percent. Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley was the choice of 18 percent of likely voters.
Now, ScaifeNet will get all up in arms about the MN Poll and its leanings, but anything they say will have to contradict almost every other poll, sans the outlier Survey USA numbers. They also show things tightening, but with a Coleman lead.

Both the SUSA and MN Poll had about 10 point leads for each candidate, and both polls have tightened to where the other numbers have been at. Trends clearly show this race is no longer Coleman's to lose, as much as it is Franken's to win:
Star Tribune
10/16 - 10/17 1049 LV 39 36 18 Franken +3
10/16 - 10/18 655 LV 39 41 18 Coleman +2
Research 2000
10/15 - 10/16 600 LV 41 39 18 Franken +2
10/08 - 10/12 1019 LV 38 36 18 Franken +2
10/07 - 10/07 500 LV 43 37 17 Franken +6
Minn. Pub. Radio
10/03 - 10/05 418 LV 41 37 14 Franken +4
Star Tribune
09/30 - 10/02 1084 LV 43 34 18 Franken +9
09/30 - 10/01 725 LV 33 43 19 Coleman +10
OK, now where was I, Oh yeah . . Fired Up . . . I turned on the furnace last night *grin*


Monday, October 20, 2008

Bachmann's Bumming

Rep. Bachmann has done what has been pretty standard from Minnesota Republicans this cycle. Taken a perfectly safe seat and thrown it in play. Like Erik Paulson in the 3rd, and Sen. Coleman before him, Bachmann's hoof 'n mouth problems have created a national buzz, filling her opponent, El Tinklenberg's, coffers to overflowing. A once slam dunk GOP seat, is now trending the opposite direction. Keeping in mind El also has the Indy endorsement, so no third party candidate to siphon votes, really makes Michele look in trouble.

This morning, even WaPo's The Fix is in and the game with an interesting comparison:
'Anti-' Maimed?

The ghost of Mike Pappas may be coming back to haunt Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

In 1998, Pappas, then a freshman Republican congressman from New Jersey, was cruising to reelection when he took to the House floor to read an homage to independent counsel Kenneth Starr set to the tune of the children's classic "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Um, not smart. The song caused a national fervor and led directly to Pappas's defeat at the hands of five-time "Jeopardy" champion Rush Holt.

Bachmann could be headed down that same ignominious path after comments she made on MSNBC last week in which she expressed concern that Barack Obama holds "anti-American" views.

The remark, which quickly drew national attention, has re-invigorated Democratic candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg (awesome name!), who has raised more than $600,000 since Bachmann's appearance Friday on "Hardball."

National Democrats, buoyed by an internal poll last week that showed Bachmann leading Tinklenberg by a narrow margin of 42 percent to 38 percent, are pouncing and are set to begin $1 million worth of television advertising in the district tomorrow.

Bachmann, elected in 2006, should have had little trouble holding this suburban Twin Cities district, which President George W. Bush carried in 2004 with 57 percent. But she has been a lightning rod for controversy throughout her first two years in office and is now in the fight of her political life.

Could "anti-American" be the new "Twinkle, Twinkle Kenneth Starr"?
Today, Speaker of the House Pelosi is in MN campaigning and you can be sure that the Speaker will comment on the Bachmann kerfuffle, keeping this little issue running for another news cycle.

Ad to that the Censure Petition that is gaining steam, and I'm guessing Rep. Bachmann's twinkle is flickering just a bit more than she wants it to.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

We're 25, We're 25!!

I know, the Vikings could have won that game 3 times in that slopfest, but today we will have something to cheer for. Gophers backed in:

20. Ball State 7-0 357
21. Georgia Tech 6-1 338
22. Tulsa 7-0 321
23. Boston College 5-1 281
24. Florida State 5-1 190
25. Minnesota 6-1 149
Others Receiving Votes
Northwestern 62, Virginia Tech 62, Vanderbilt 61, Michigan State 15, North Carolina 14, Kentucky 10, Maryland 10, Cincinnati 9, Oregon 8, Arizona 6, California 3, Oregon State 2.
Others Receiving Votes
Northwestern 62, Virginia Tech 62, Vanderbilt 61, Michigan State 15, North Carolina 14, Kentucky 10, Maryland 10, Cincinnati 9, Oregon 8, Arizona 6, California 3, Oregon State 2.
Dropped From Rankings
Virginia Tech 17, North Carolina 18, Michigan State 20, Wake Forest 21, Vanderbilt 22, California 25.

USA Today
20. Pittsburgh 5-1 292
21. Georgia Tech 6-1 282
22. Ball State 7-0 274
23. Florida State 5-1 258
24. Northwestern 6-1 177
25. Minnesota 6-1 165
Others Receiving Votes
Boston College 159, Michigan State 92, Virginia Tech 77, North Carolina 28, Oregon 27, Cincinnati 26, Vanderbilt 20, Kentucky 15, Wake Forest 14, Maryland 12, Arizona 11, Fresno State 4, Illinois 4, California 2, Notre Dame 2, Colorado 1, East Carolina 1.
Dropped From Rankings
Michigan State 17, Virginia Tech 18, North Carolina 21, California 22, Vanderbilt 23.

Next up, Purdue. Gophers need to win, must win, they have something to prove!


Powell Endorses Obama

Colin Powell becomes another one of the memorized. I wonder what viral and vicious attacks the Right will come up for one of their own. CNN reports:
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced Sunday that he will be voting for Sen. Barack Obama, citing the Democrat's "ability to inspire" and the "inclusive nature of his campaign."

"He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Obama displayed a steadiness. Showed intellectual vigor. He has a definitive way of doing business that will do us well," Powell said.
The former Secretary of State talked about McCain as well:
Powell said he questioned Sen. John McCain's judgment in picking Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate because he doesn't think she is ready to be president.

He also said he was disappointed with some of McCain's campaign tactics, such as bringing up Obama's ties to former 1960s radical Bill Ayers.
Powell told Wolf Blitzer last February:
"I have voted for members of both parties in the course of my adult life. And as I said earlier, I will vote for the candidate I think can do the best job for America, whether that candidate is a Republican, a Democrat or an independent," he added.
And most people agree, that person is Senator Barack Obama!


Friday, October 17, 2008

West River Road

Since we're talking about biking, I took a pre-planned jaunt with my wife, today. The West River Road under the 35W bridge is finally opened. We knew that it was more hilly than we prefer, but wanted to make the run at least once before the season is over.

We started our normal path, a shot down Minnehaha West, across Snelling, and a left (south) on Aldine. Now its across the pedestrian bridge and a few more blocks to Marshall. Once on Marshall it is a 'no hander' down the monster hill to the river bridge, changing to Lake Street once you are across. All that is left is a sharp right down to the river road, and then along the River we ride.

It was up and down, but not too bad. Beautiful fall colors and the river to our right. It all seemed serene until we went under 94 then the Washington Avenue Bridge. In the distance we see green. and I don't me green grass but green what turned out to be beams of iron, and we knew what is was. The remnants of the 35W bridge, lined up like an old green 'Erector Set', twisted, turned and numbered for the investigators. We stopped and stared at the twisted metal, knowing it once was a major arterial connection to the big city, and there it was, an organized scrap heap waiting to be moved.

We shoved off and could see int he distance the new bridge. A slow climb up under the 10th Street bridge brought us directly under the new, bright white, 35 W wonder. What a beut. A clean, elegant addition to attempt to erase a scare on our city. We slowly peddled under the bridge, watching workers still tweaking their masterpiece. I'm glad we made the effort.

We continued our ride to the stone arch bridge and connected back to our normal loop, up to 5th, through Dinkytown, around the new Gopher Stadium and hooking up with the U of M Transitway. We connect with Energy Park drive at Raymond, go under Snelling and weasel our way to the Hamline pedestrian bridge before gliding back up to Minnehaha, just a half block from home.

Just under 15 miles, on a beautiful Fall afternoon, with a side of history to go along with it.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two Years Since Mike Passed

One of my best friends died two years ago today, at age 42. The Doctor and I, along with the lovely Mrs. Flash will be visiting the cemetery. With Cigars in hand, a 6 pack of beverages and possibly even an order of Nachos, Mike's favorite, we'll reminisce at his grave site, tossing Jalapenos on him one at a time. It will be bitter sweet, but Mike deserves a visit.

Nothing is for granted in this world. Take a moment to hug your kids and check your health. Mike did everything right, but it still wasn't enough. God took him way to soon.

Cheers, Mike, you continue to be missed.

Saying Goodbye!
I Lost Another Friend Yesterday
Out of the Funk
Steam Boat Pilot and Today: Hunter's Heart Failed
Fanaris, Michael W. age 42, of Champlin

I know the debate was last night, but since Mike was a Righty, political sniping will have to wait for another day.

UPDATE: A White Flower mix, a Sam Adams Octoberfest, and our Cigars. A tribute to Mike, laying at his feet. - Flash

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Last Chance

Tonight is the final debate. As long as Senator Obama shows up with a smile and heart beat, he'll be fine. McCain, on the other hand, needs to hit it out of the park. Schieffer Moderates:
And unlike at the other two debates, the candidates will sit at a table facing one another.

CBS News' Bob Schieffer, host of "Face the Nation," will moderate the debate and told The Associated Press on Sunday that he will be seeking more on what each will bring to the presidency.

"By now, we've all heard their talking points," he said. "We've heard the general outlines of what they are talking about. The time has come to be a little more specific."
Listen, with all the talk about who is the best leader, Sen McCain struggles with just running his campaign. Recent comments by his brother points to the tumult:
WASHINGTON - Frustrations inside John McCain's camp boiled over on the eve of tonight's presidential debate as the candidate's brother unleashed an e-mail blasting the campaign's "counter-productive" strategy.

"Let John McCain be John McCain," wrote Joe McCain in a missive sent out shortly before midnight Monday. "Make ads that show John not as crank and curmudgeon but as a great leader for his time."
It seems clear that on one hand, you have Obama driving the bus, guiding it down the road, and making the necessary adjustments as road conditions or detours present themselves. Whereas the McCain campaign keeps looking for short cuts and continuously finding itself in the ditch, only to be behind another percentage point or two.

Sen. John needs to find his groove tonight. He needs to talk directly to the people about his vision for tomorrow, and where he wants to 'lead' this country. He needs to carry through with his comments about Obama at the Lakeville rally, commending and honoring his service and patriotism, while distinguishing the differences between them on policy and principle. He needs to be calm, cool, but grandfatherly, not curmudgeonly.

I think tonight we see a new, fresh, John McCain. A risk taker in the sense where he finally takes off the gloves after realizing the clutch and grab is no longer working, and simply sits down for a little 'Straight Talk'. THAT is what could be a game changer tonight, and playing on the media cycle for a day or tow. If he remains in combative mode, he'll simply look like the same angry old curmudgeonly man brother Joe is frustrated about. And even I, an Obama supporter, knows John is much better than that.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Brain

Oh Oooooo!:
What's good for the heart may hurt the brain, according to a new study of the effects of alcohol.

People who drink alcohol -- even the moderate amounts that help prevent heart disease -- have a smaller brain volume than those who do not, according to a study in the Archives of Neurology.

While a certain amount of brain shrinkage is normal with age, greater amounts in some parts of the brain have been linked to dementia.

"Decline in brain volume -- estimated at 2 percent per decade -- is a natural part of aging," says Carol Ann Paul, who conducted the study when she was at the Boston University School of Public Health. She had hoped to find that alcohol might protect against such brain shrinkage.

"However, we did not find the protective effect," says Paul, who is now an instructor in the neuroscience program at Wellesley College. "In fact, any level of alcohol consumption resulted in a decline in brain volume."
I'm going with the prevention of heart disease angle and will take my chances on the shrinking brain. People tell me I have a big head anyway *laughing*


Economic Indicators

While the market is attempting a recovery, there are other, not necessarily financial, signs that the tumult is in full tilt:
An out-of-work money manager in California loses a fortune and wipes out his family in a murder-suicide.

A 90-year-old Ohio widow shoots herself in the chest as authorities arrive to evict her from the modest house she called home for 38 years.

In Massachusetts, a housewife who had hidden her family's mounting financial crisis from her husband sends a note to the mortgage company warning: "By the time you foreclose on my house, I'll be dead." Then Carlene Balderrama shot herself to death, leaving an insurance policy and a suicide note on a table.
There's many more in the article, But for anyone that thinks this is just a bump in the road, well, things will get worse before they get better.

The bright side . . .a savvy investors knows there are a lot of good deals out there, and the bottom has been determined. Today should be another good day at the Market.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Krugman Receives Economics Nobel

Conservatives heads exploded simultaneously at the announcement of political gadfly Paul Krugman's Nobel:
Paul Krugman, a professor at Princeton University and an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science on Monday.

“It’s been an extremely weird day, but weird in a positive way,” Mr. Krugman said in an interview on his way to a meeting for the Group of Thirty, an international body from the public and private sectors that discusses international economics.

Mr. Krugman received the award for his work on international trade and economic geography. In particular, the prize committee lauded his work for “having shown the effects of economies of scale on trade patterns and on the location of economic activity.” He has developed models that explain observed patterns of trade between countries, as well as what goods are produced where and why. Traditional trade theory assumes that countries are different and will exchange different kinds of goods with each other; Mr. Krugman’s theories have explained why worldwide trade is dominated by a few countries that are similar to each other, and why some countries might import the same kinds of goods that it exports.

Mr. Krugman has been an Op-Ed columnist at the New York Times since 1999. A collection of his recent columns can be found here.
No word yet on the extent of the damage to the Right Wing egos. Updates to follow.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Astronomical Quote

There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.

- Richard Feynman
US educator & physicist (1918 - 1988)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A New Mattress

From Trever:
I think the market starts a modest rally, today. The bottom is no lower than 9000 and I just can't see it going below that. Also, there is an awful lot of bargains out there, companies that got caught up in the 'panic' but are sound stable companies not as effected by the mortgage/credit crunch. Today will be a good day, and we need it!


UPDATEL I guess I spoke to soon, today was not rally day. Overseas futures markets looked promising, but that didn't pan out as the day progressed:

Dow -678.91 (-7.33%) 8,579.19

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Town Hall Free for All

Debate #2 is in the books, and McCain falls flat while Obama coasts.

Seriously, McCain needed some kind of knockout along with a major flub on Sen Obama's part and neither happened. Obama continued to look presidential and solidified his growing base while moving more independents and common sense Republicans into his camp.

Favorite lines:

McCain: Well, you know, nailing down Sen. Obama's various tax proposals is like nailing Jell-O to the wall.

and for Obama

Obama: . . . Sen. McCain, I think the "Straight Talk Express" lost a wheel on that one.

AS the evening progressed, McCain become fatigued and agitated, Obama remained calm and cool.

Both sides had their share of misrepresentations in the debate, the key ones;
Both candidates oversimplified the causes of the financial crisis. McCain blamed it on Democrats who resisted tighter regulation of federal mortgage agencies. Obama blamed it on financial deregulation backed by Republicans. We find both are right, with plenty of blame left over for others, from home buyers to the chairman of the Federal Reserve.


* McCain misstated his own health care plan, saying he’d give a $5,000 tax credit to “every American” His plan actually would provide only $2,500 per individual, or $5,000 for couples and families. He also misstated Obama’s health care plan, claiming it would levy fines on “small businesses” that fail to provide health insurance. Actually, Obama’s plan exempts “small businesses.”


McCain lamented that the U.S. was forced to “withdraw in humiliation” from Somalia in 1994, but he failed to note that he once proposed to cut off funding for troops to force a faster withdrawal.
In the end, consensus gave this one to Obama,
Fifty-four percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey conducted after the debate ended said that Obama did the best job in the debate, with 30 percent saying Sen. John McCain performed better.
not so much because he out performed, which he did, but because the stakes were so much higher for McCain and he didn't do anything, or at least not enough, to move this race from an Obama juggernaut, to a game changer. He has one more shot, and that is a week from today.


The Bird Flies in Iraq

Marines being Marines. Looks like, considering where they are, that things are at least someone palatable.Sgt. Tom is on the far left.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Economic Tumult

I am afraid it will get worse before it gets better.

The extremes are out there:
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A man distraught because he could not find work shot and killed his mother-in-law, his wife and three sons and then killed himself inside a home in an upscale San Fernando Valley neighborhood, police said.

Authorities said the man had an MBA in finance but appeared to have been unemployed for several months and had worked for major accounting firms, such as Price Waterhouse.
and more practical signs of the changes going on:
COLUMBIA, Missouri (AP) -- Forget about the outdated notion of thrift shops as the refuge of the working poor, the down and out or the vintage fashion hipster. In these troubled times, the powerful lure of a secondhand retail bargain is attracting a whole new breed of customer.

The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries International, the nation's two largest charitable resale organizations, report year-to-date sales increases of 6 percent to 15 percent.

The gains are even more pronounced in the private sector. In an industry trade group survey of more than 200 resale and thrift shops, nearly two-thirds of those businesses reported higher sales in 2008 compared to the previous year. The average sales increase: 35 percent.

Consumers "can't change the price of gas. They can't change the price of food. They can't make the stock market go up again," said Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops. "But they can control the price of clothes and furniture by being a savvy shopper."
I have been fortunate to make good choices while being in the right place at the right time. A bargain basement Fixed rate Mortgage, a new vehicle purchase at 3.90 through JP Morgan Chase, and a savvy domestic adviser in the lovely Mrs. Flash.

I am somewhat unaffected by much of what is going on in the Wall Street fortresses. I think the market is at its bottom end, where as 7500 was the bottom about this time of year in 2002, and by Christams it was up over 1000 points. You can figure that 10,000 is the bottom here (give or take a couple hundred) with the holiday boost just around the corner. By the end of the year, the market will be rebounding, the country will be ready for new leadership, and the recovery will be well underway.

But for now, we have some bumps and bruises left to treat, but know that . . . this too shall pass!


Queenie Squeaker

Seriously, we should be 1 - 4 and interviewing Cowher, Billick, Linnehan, and other candidates for a vacant coaching spot. But Noooooooo, we had to get an assist from the refs on a face mask no call and other TLC throughout the game.

Ugly Ugly Ugly

Next up, DeTroilet . . . Whoooopee!

However the Spaten Optimator is 3 - 2 with Highest Points For in the league. Not bad after starting 1 - 2 and putting together a couple key wins. However, Westbrook has broken ribs to go with his gimpy ankle so I won't be coasting just yet.


Monday, October 06, 2008

A Note from the District

In my work E-Mail box this AM
As we are currently in the political season with elections coming up in only 4 weeks, it has come to my attention the need for we, SPPS employees, to be careful in what messages we are sending our students. To be more direct, the message we must be sending our students is the importance of citizenship and voting. We cannot be sending any messages that may be persuasive or influencing them to vote for one candidate or another. Kids are impressionable. With that being said, through the advisement of the SPPS Legal and Communications departments, employees need to refrain from wearing any political gear that indicates support of a particular candidate while on SPPS grounds.
I was always one to A) not wear my politics on my sleeve (or anywhere else for that matter), and B) call out those that do when they are within the building.

The downside is, I wonder if that means I have to take my Obama picture down off my Bulletin board in my office.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tale of Two Polls

The local right clings onto the Survey USA numbers, the Left on the consistently accurate Minnesota Poll. Remember, Polls are only a snap shot in time.

Now, let's take a trip down memory lane; October, 2006:

Star Tribune 11/05 - 11/06 747 LV 34 55 7 AKlo +21.0
SurveyUSA 11/03 - 11/05 710 LV 40 56 1 AKlo +16.0
Rasmussen 11/01 - 11/01 500 LV 40 54 2 AKlo +14.0
U. of Minnesota 10/23 - 10/28 663 LV 33 55 8 AKlo +22.0
Zogby * 10/23 - 10/27 LV 43 51 6 AKlo +8.0
Mason-Dixon 10/23 - 10/27 625 RV 40 50 5 AKlo +10.0
SCSU. 10/15 - 10/27 494 LV 31 56 5 AKlo +25.0
Rasmussen 10/25 - 10/25 500 LV 39 54 6 AKlo +15.0
SurveyUSA 10/21 - 10/23 606 LV 39 55 1 AKlo +16.0
Zogby * 10/10 - 10/16 737 LV 43 50 6 AKlo +7.0
Star Tribune 10/06 - 10/11 818 LV 34 55 5 AKlo +21.0
Rasmussen 10/04 - 10/04 500 LV 40 57 1 AKlo +17.0
SurveyUSA 09/25 - 09/27 616 LV 43 51 3 AKlo +8.0

And the actual results
Democratic Amy Klobuchar 1,278,849 58.1%
Republican Mark Kennedy 835,653 37.9%

Just a bunch of numbers to stare at.


Friday, October 03, 2008

To The Rescue

The Bailout Bill Rescue Plan passes:
"We have acted boldly to prevent the crisis on Wall Street from becoming a crisis in communities across our country."
True Bi-Partisan support
Switching votes

Republicans picked up 26 votes in favor of the bill among caucus members who'd originally voted against it on Monday, while Democrats picked up an additional 32 votes.

According to preliminary numbers, 172 Democrats voted in favor of the bill while 62 opposed it; and 91 Republicans voted for it and 108 voted against it.
I have a lot of reservations about this approach, and probably would have voted no, still. But that doesn't mean I don't recognize the dire straits we are in and accept the fact that something had to be done.

This bill is far superior to the House product that John McCain tried to railroad through. It failed for a reason, and this one passed because help and protection to the consumer became more of the focus, instead of protecting corporations.

Now we'll see if it can be implemented correctly. There was a time that Congress gave authorization for action and once it left the chamber, everything got screwed up.


Mr. Nice Guy Meets Pitbull

The debate is in the books. Biden was crisp and clean, Palin exceeded all expectations, but then all she had to do was have a heart beat for 90 minutes to do that.

Let's tackle John's questions as a post debate guide.

1. What kind of question are being asked and do you think they are good and or relevant to the issues facing the U.S.

The questions were very generic, boiler plate stuff. Very disappointed in Ifill's inability to draw more from the responses rather than sticking to some pre-formatted time frame. Lehrer did a GREAT job keeping the candidates on topic, and expanded responses and rebuttal as the debate flowed. Ifill, not so much!

2. What kind of answers are being given by both candidates.

Sen Biden excelled and staying on topic and addressing the questions specifically. Gov. Palin clearly had a pre set scripted and she stuck to it. She was not answering questions, she was deciding what pre rehearsed answer she could use for a particular moment. She performed admirably only because she was able to stay on script. We sill don't know how she would perform in a free form environment.

3. Who is best answering the questions?

Again, Biden actually answered questions, Palin only did when the pre rehearsed/memorized script just happened to line up with the questions. This didn't happen very often.

4. Who won the debate?

Who won?!? What is winning, OK, I'll call it a draw. Biden didn't shove his foot in his mouth, Palin stayed on message and was able to shake the cobwebs from her dismal interview performances. If wining is performing below expectations neither did. If winning is who had a knock out punch, neither did.

5. Any other thoughts you may have.

The big phrase by all the talking heads is last night was no game changer, and John McCain needs a game changer. He is fading so rapidly he may make Dukakis' performance in 1988 look like a close one.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

VP Debate Potpourri

I'll be in the garage. WiFi is working a little better now that I moved my access point a little bit. I won't be live blogging, too tough to keep track of what is going on. But I will interject a few comments over here, and maybe here.

Now, I am thinking about playing one of the many VP Debate Drinking Games (of course, this one sounds the best) Although, taking a pull when van Palin says Hockey or pit bull vs Biden putting his foot in his mouth should be enough to get a nice buzz on.

Feel free to share your plans in the open thread below. Tonight will be the most fun of all the debates. Its a beauty contest, and Palin has already won one of those *grin*


UPDATE: OK this is the one I'll play tonight:
For Sarah Palin:

1. Every time Palin mentions one of her kids by name, take the number of drinks corresponding to that child’s number in her brood (e.g. 1 drink for Track, 2 drinks for Bristol, 3 drinks for Willow, 4 drinks for Piper and 5 drinks for Trig). If she does not give a name, take 1 drink.
2. When Palin mentions 9/11 in a textually-relevant manner (e.g. “We need to prevent another attack like the one on 9/11″), take 1 drink. When Palin mentions 9/11 in a gratuitous, textually-irrelevant manner (e.g. “When my son Track was sent over to Iraq on 9/11…”), take 2 drinks.
3. If Palin uses the phrase, “hockey mom”, drink until she takes the self-satisfied smirk off her face.

For Joe Biden:

1. Every time Biden chuckles condescendingly at Sarah Palin, take 1 drink. Every time Biden chuckles condescendingly at moderator Gwen Ifill, take 2 drinks.
2. Every time Biden refers to himself in the third person, take 1 drink. If he uses his full name (e.g. “When people ask me, ‘Joe Biden, how did you become so good looking?’”), take 2 drinks.
3. If Biden points out that despite being less than 1/100th the size, Delaware has more people than Alaska, drink until you see the bottom of your glass.

If either candidate says:

1. Russia, take 1 drink. U.S.S.R., take 2 drinks. Swimming the Bering Straight, take 3 drinks.
2. Hillary Clinton, take 1 drink. Bill Clinton, take 2 drinks. Monica Lewinsky, take 3 drinks.
3. Dick Cheney, take 1 drink. Tricky Dick, take 2 drinks. Sucking dick, take 3 drinks.

Finally, if at any point Biden uses the phrase “I know Geraldine Ferraro; Geraldine Ferraro is a friend of mine. Governor, you’re no Geraldine Ferraro,” chug your beer, turn off your TV
UPDATE II: Oooooo, Palin Bingo

Biden v Palin

Paul Begala posted his 10 rules for winning debates. Some are obvious, others a little more obscure, but #1 is the most important:
1. Debates are easy. It's a dirty little secret, but for all the hype, debates are easier than news conferences, town-hall meetings or in-depth, one-on-one interviews on Sunday morning television. You hit your mark, you deliver your lines, you try not to pass out or throw up, then you declare victory. So relax, candidates, you might even have fun.
And the one that most surprised me on the list:
4. Don't cram. If your debate prep is dominated by propeller-heads, you're in trouble. I love the nerds, Lord knows, but they can overwhelm you. In 1984, the brilliant Richard Darman overloaded Ronald Reagan with minutiae, perhaps in an effort to dispel rumors that the Gipper had lost a step.

The strategy blew up in the Reagan campaign's face. In his first debate with Walter Mondale, Reagan stumbled and stammered. There was too much new information clanging around in his brain. But by the second debate, he blew away concerns about his age. He did this not with a rapid-fire recitation of statistics, but with a classic Reagan quip: "I will not use my opponent's youth and inexperience as an issue in this campaign."
Tonight is going to be fun. Both candidates will be at there best. Palin just needs to make it through with a heart beat, Biden without his foot in his mouth. I will be watching strictly for entertainment value.

With that, I leave you this:

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Congratulations Twins

The Twins front office has consistently done it the old fashioned way. A strong and robust farm system, properly preparing talent for the big step to the majors. We are able to withstand the departure of big ticket players by having fresh young talent waiting int he wings. Players like Hrbek, Puckett, and many others stick around cause they appreciate the commitment. Other choose to move on to follow the money. But no matter what, over the years, we have shown that a small market club, doing it the old fashioned way, can be successful See 1987 and 1991.

We lost last night. I won't say we lost to a better team. In a just world the tiebreak would be head to head during the season, making the regular season actually . . . . count for something. In that scenario, Twins win the division and move on (they won the series 10 - 8). But that is not how it is. 162 games mean absolutely nothing and we play game 163. A game decided by one bad pitch and a White Sox catcher with a steely grip to snow cone the ball while being steam rolled by Cudyer. GREAT BASEBALL.

Congratulations to the AL Central Division Champion White Sox!

I actually listened to a good chunk of the game in the garage. It is how I generally start the season and a sure sign of Spring in the Midway with baseball blaring from the cave. Now we wait till next year, when pitchers and catchers report. This Twins teams was expected to hold their own, but not be able to compete. We proved the naysayers wrong . . . The Old Fashioned way!