Friday, May 29, 2009

Dam Days - The Season Begins

This evening is the first official performance of the Summer season for Minnesota Brass, Inc. We will perform in the Dam Days parade in the Best little town by a damn site, Morristown, MN. Members will converge from all over the state and parts of Wisconsin and the Dakotas. We will meet in this small rural community and perform drum corps to a screaming throng of an unsuspecting audience.

We will make good drum corps . . . and then we will retire . . . to the beer tent, and deliberate on what lies ahead.

The 2009 version of this drum corps, one I have been affiliated with for over 30 years, will step off this evening . . . and heads will turn. We are on a mission, and that mission is to make history!

Resistance is futile!

Screech 2nd Baritone
MN Brass, Inc.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Fix Five to Eye

The Fix's Cillizza has the five Senators to watch during the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation process. Excluding the no brainers like "Judiciary Committee Chair Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and sherpa Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)" Chris thinks you show key on:
• John Cornyn (R-Texas): As a member of the Judiciary Committee, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a senator from a state where the Hispanic vote is big and getting bigger, there's a lot at stake in the Sotomayor confirmation for Big Bad John. Cornyn has made a point at the NRSC of recruiting moderate candidates in places like Pennsylvania, Florida, Delaware and Illinois but his own politics are far more conservative. How does he balance those competing interests? And, if nothing obviously disqualifying comes to light about Sotomayor, can he keep his colleagues in line to avoid a perception problem for his candidates on the trail next November?

• Jim DeMint (R-S.C.): The South Carolina Republican has been viewed as the conservative leader-in-waiting for the Senate GOP for some time. With the conservative base absolutely up in arms about Sotomayor, DeMint is the most likely figure to channel that anger onto the Senate floor and, in doing so, emerge as the next hero of the party's base. Conservatives could do far worse: soft-spoken and unfailingly polite, DeMint is hard to demonize, even for those on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum.

• John Ensign (R-Nev.): Ensign has publicly acknowledged an interest in running for president, which will be formalized by his trip to Iowa next week. That interest would suggest Ensign might be one of the leading voices in opposition to Sotomayor. But, Ensign also represents a state where one in every five residents is Hispanic, a number sure to increase by the time the Nevada Republican is set to stand for reelection in 2012. How Ensign positions himself on Sotomayor then will tell us much about how he sees his political future. Does he hold back on criticizing her in order to preserve his chances at another Senate term? Or does he go all-out in opposition to Sotomayor to raise his national profile and prove his conservative chops to Republican activists who have an outsized say in the identity of the next presidential nominee?

• Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): The Sotomayor selection is a gift for Gillibrand. Not only is Sotomayor from New York -- meaning that Gillibrand will get some national attention as one of the two home state senators -- but she is also Hispanic, a fact that should allow Gillibrand to make peace with a Hispanic community upset with her past positioning on immigration. Gillibrand -- with a MAJOR assist from the White House -- has done well in clearing the 2010 primary field of serious opposition and, if she plays her hand right in the Sotomayor confirmation, may close the window of opportunity entirely for any ambitious pols thinking of challenging her next year.

• John McCain (R-Ariz.): Even if McCain didn't have a primary challenge from one of the founders of the Minutemen, an anti-illegal immigration group, his status as the GOP's most recent presidential nominee would make him a major player in this debate. Like him or hate him, most (and we emphasize most) of McCain's colleagues respect him and will watch where he comes down on Sotomayor. If McCain ultimately gets behind her, it gives cover to other Republicans to do the same; if he opposes her, it makes life for the nominee -- and the president -- more difficult.
There are also the 8 GOP Senators who in 1998 voted for her confirmation - Bennett (Utah), Cochran, Collins, Gregg, Hatch, Lugar, Snowe and Specter who was GOP at the time and has since switched caucuses.

Conventional wisdom is after the early whining and whimpering the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor will become the next Supreme Court Justice without too much push back. The president's next nominee may not have it so easy.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Catholic Court

The boiler plate attacks on Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor were predictable, but they struggle reconciling with this fact. Sonia is a Catholic:
Sotomayor was raised Catholic and if she is confirmed, six out of nine, or two-thirds of the justices on the court will be from the faith. Catholics make up about one-quarter of the U.S. population.
I was prepared to vilify the President's picks as a pander play to some gender or racial group. But the more I read about Sonia, the more I realize she was the best choice for the position.

As for the much touted 'appellate courts set policy' video, here is the complete video, within context. It has an entirely different meaning when you view the full two minute clip rather than the 26 second smear clip floating around the net.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering on Memorial Day

This morning I point you to two Veterans day posts. One on my civil war ancestor Ansel Eaton, and the other one is my Uncle Bob Dummer, who died in Europe in WWII.

Take a moment to thank a vet, remember a lost loved one, and thank those who place themselves in harms way, so the rest of us can enjoy this beautiful day.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Conlon to Resign

MinnPost reports the impending departure of the conscience of the St. Paul School Board:
St. Paul School Board Member Tom Conlon -- a rare elected official in St. Paul and Minneapolis who is a Republican -- said today that he will resign his post in July when he moves to North Carolina to run an historic inn.

Conlon was first elected to the school board in 1991 and has been re-elected four times.
Tom is moving to North Carolina to fulfill a dream:
"I am excited for this opportunity to become a managing partner and innkeeper of the Cedar Crest Inn in Asheville, North Carolina," Conlon said. "This has been a goal I have looked at for some time, and an opportunity arose that made this possible.

"At the same time, I am sad to leave the school board and my birth city of St. Paul," he said. "I’ve had a wonderful 18 years of service, and I loved nearly every minute of it. I am grateful for the confidence the citizens of St. Paul placed in me all these years. I will miss serving St. Paul’s families with their constituent needs, the policy discussions, my colleagues and our district staff, and my city."
Director Conlon was a bright spot on the board. A voice of reason and common sense not diluted by an ideology that restrict ones ability to commit to the future of a child's education without breaking the bank in the process. Most recently he was the lone NO vote on the renaming of Webster Elementary school. A vote that was the only correct one on that issue.

Tom, you will be missed, and here is hoping the voters of St. Paul can find a new conscience to keep the District on an appropriate course.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Losing Ground

Donklephant points us to the latest Gallup demographic break down by ideology. Key demos are slipping by the GOP:
Gardner points out:
the biggest losses are among those who have a college education, but the losses in many important demographic groups like Gen Yers, Midwesteners and moderates are also significant because that’s where the GOP has to be strong or else they’ll lose a generation of voters.
The current in fighting amongst the Right is creating an ideological vacuum that this survey shows is costing the GOP long term voters.

Our political system does not work very well when a party has unfettered control of the process. Checks and balances are the hallmark of our republic. The Right's implosion could have long term effects and unfortunately, they have no interest in the future of the country, just their petty power grabs. What's even worse is the local ScaifeNet's inability to see this and are spiraling down the same rabbit hole.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Power Quote

via the Moderate Voice:
“Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.” — John Kenneth Galbraith

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Looking forward w/Hindsight

Brunswick at the STRIB points it out:
Pawlenty's ultimatum reshaped session-ending negotiations. It may also mean that he will have taken almost sole ownership of budget cuts that cities say will force them to pull cops off the streets and hospitals say will force them to cut vital programs and thousands of jobs.

The move comes amid continuing speculation about Pawlenty's political plans, whether he is running for reelection in 2010 or setting himself up for a bid for national office. In part, Pawlenty is betting on a vigorous economic recovery to boost state revenues and reduce the kinds of cuts he might have to make. But given the potential pain that could be felt by a broad range of Minnesotans, the go-it-alone strategy that delights anti-tax conservatives could carry risks for someone intending to seek a third term.
Of course, TPaw has no interest or desire to seek a third term. It is way to politically risky to his future national aspirations. That's why he is rolling the stubborn 'who cares about the little guy' dice. His only constituency at this point is the far Right base that will be integral in selecting the MNGOP sacrificial lamb ticket of 2012. Why anyone would stand in line for that slaughter confuses me. But that is what it will be.

However, in his selfishness, the Governor is not considering what his actions will do to the future of the MNGOP caucus:
Depending on the impact of Pawlenty's decision, some see moderate county commissioners overseeing local hospitals or city council members hit by local government aid cuts deciding that the Capitol is the problem, labeling themselves as reform-minded DFLers and running for the Legislature in many swing districts.

When Rep. Kim Norton was contemplating running for the state House, she actually was conflicted about whether she would seek the Republican or DFL endorsement. A moderate who grew up in a fiscally conservative family, she eventually decided to run as a DFLer in her Rochester district. She sees many moderate Republican colleagues struggling with their votes at home and their loyalty to Pawlenty.
Next cycle it won't matter if the Governor is from the Right, the veto pen will be made moot thanks to the actions of the current office holder.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Packing at a Picnic!

LaCrosse County had them packing:
TOWN OF ONALASKA — Anyone who expected to see “Rambo” or “Dirty Harry” types at a picnic Sunday celebrating the right to openly carry handguns would have been disappointed.

On the contrary, it was a sober and decidedly nonflamboyant group that assembled in the neighborhood park adjacent to the Marvin Gardens subdivision.

Many were former military personnel, and the consensus seemed to be that they wanted to put a sensible face on the issue of openly carrying handguns — a right that Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen recently said exists in Wisconsin.
Most secure picnic ever! I wonder if Joel was there.


Now We Just Have To Clean Clean Clean

After only two drill camp weekends, the complete drill is on the field. Never in my 19 years on the field have we learned drill so quickly or performed the first official run through of the season so early. This is no to say it is easy. We worked or butts off on this complex coordinated animation. And they other amazing sign of an incredible season is everyone was there over the course of the camp. Also, we did have a soprano whole that took only a few days to fill and we are back to 58 bodies for 50 horn spots, plus Pit sops Ray and Roger for 60. Below is my closing drill set (yellow highlight)
This will be another historic year. Regardless of our finish, it is shaping up to be one amazing time on the field.

Mark your calendars NOW for one of these local field show performance opportunities:

June 20 - Drum Beauty, Stillwater MN
June 21 - Drums Along the Red Cedar - Menominee, WI
June 22 - Thunder of Drums - Mankato, MN
Aug. 22 - Sounds of Minnesota; South St. Paul
Aug. 23 - Drum Corps EXPO; St. Peter, MN

For me, I have a pre arranged day off. Quality time with my wife, lunch at Granite City, and my finger on the pulse of the frantic antics at the Capitol

Screech 2nd Baritone
Minnesota Brass, Inc.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Sgt. Tom!

Marine Sargent Tom is . . . holy crap 23 ?!? Seems like just yesterday I was teaching him how to walk.

I hope you have a GREAT day Son!

Proud Marine Dad!

Timmeh Punts

So the Governor is throwing a temper tantrum since he can't have its way.
Pledging that there would be no government shutdown or special legislative session, the Republican governor said that every bill sent to him by the Legislature would be subject to his surgical veto pen, and later Thursday, he applied seven line-item vetoes to two bills. Pawlenty said he would use his executive powers to address a $3 billion disparity between expected spending in the DFL bills and anticipated revenues
Tough to be rejected by the electorate. Now, I don't fault him for using every tool that he has at his disposal, he is the Governor. But wouldn't a true leader listen to the people? Wouldn't a true leader recognize that their polices and practices have been soundly rejected? Wouldn't a true leader work together with other dually elected representatives to come to a fair conclusion to this situation? YES, a true leader would. But when you have an empty suit with national aspirations whose constituency is NOT the people of Minnesota but the base of the Republican party, then you get the juvenile temper tantrum we see on display.

The Governor has made one thing perfectly clear, he has absolutely no interest in a third term. His eyes are set on the 2012 sacrificial lamb spot on the GOP ticket. It is the only thing that can reasonably explain him turning his back on the real people he is suppose to be representing. Not the faux constituency the GOP continues to represent.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Seeing Eye Hubble

The tricky mission to replace a camera and other maintenance begins this AM. Errant space debris makes this the trickiest of walks, thus the need to have an emergency shuttle on the pad in case it is needed.

Live on NASA TV!



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stimulating the Economy - Epilogue

Following President George W Bush's re-election to his second term, I went down to the local dealership and purchased and brand spanking new Pontiac Gran Prix.It was my duty to stimulate the economy the best I could. Yesterday, the lovely Mrs. Flash went down to the local credit union and paid off that beauty 6 months early. It's all mine now.

Not to worry, we bought a brand new Chevrolet Equinox last fall to do are part during the last election cycle as well.



Donklephant has the goods via First Read:
* Diane Wood - 7th Circuit
* Merrick Garland - DC Circuit Court of Appeals
* Sonia Sotomayor - 2nd Circuit
* Elena Kagan - Solicitor General
* Jennifer Granholm - Michigan Governor
* Janet Napolitano - Homeland Security Secretary
Narrowing it down, it leaves us with . . . .
Personally, I think Napolitano won’t be picked because vacating the Homeland Security spot would give Republicans a very easy way to criticize Obama on national defense.

So my bet is on Kagan because of her background at Harvard law and her affiliation with the University of Chicago. Also, the administration has been hinting that this person would come from a non-traditional avenue, and while that might be a head fake, I think it would rule out Wood.
All I know is this will be a slow and deliberate process. Now rush, no hurry!


MORE: WaPo points out President Obama's desire for empathy in a justice:
After Souter's plans to retire became public, Obama spoke of empathy as "an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes." He said he would look for someone "who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory."

"It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives -- whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their communities."

Obama addressed empathy in his second book, "The Audacity of Hope," placing the capacity to understand others "at the heart of my moral code." To be able to empathize with people richer and poorer, more liberal and more conservative, is to be "forced beyond our limited vision," he wrote.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lothar

My Good friend and long time Drum Corps compatriot would have been 48 today. He went out doing what he loved, collapsing of a heart attack near the end of opener while performing in Preliminary competition at World Championships:
Kiltie mellophone player Joel "Lothar" Magnuson, collapsed in the early moments of the prelims performance at the DCA Senior Drum and Bugle Corps Championships in Scranton, Penn., on Saturday evening, September 3, 2005. He was taken by ambulance from the stadium.

The Kilties reluctantly re-started their performance, this time - "for Lothar." Afterwards, as the Kilties left the group-photo bleachers, they were told that Joel had passed away. Outside the stadium, Joel's horn was placed at the center of a circle of all the members, and the corps song, "Auld Lang Syne" was played for his memory.
Tribute and link page here.



PS: Looks like some of the links are broke but you get the gist.

Also the Picture above left was taken just moments before he dropped, doing what he loved, and no hint of what was to come.

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Flag

Mom ordered up some flags and was kind enough to pick me up an extra one. The tattered rag from Menard's wasn't even a year old yet, but I know the new one will last much longer.

You can order flags direct for your Congress Critters. We opted to order our through Sen. Klobuchar's office.

Flag Requests

This bright vivid nylon flag with embroidered stars is of a far better quality than the ones at the store, and a bargain to boot:

3' x 5' Nylon - $9.00
3' x 5' Cotton - $9.25
4' x 6' Nylon - $13.50
5' x 8' Nylon - $18.00
5' x 8' Cotton - $20.00

If you are looking to replace yours or start a tradition of your own, you can't go wrong by going straight to the source.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Snip Snip Here, Snip Snip There!

President Obama begins the slice and dice:
NEW YORK ( -- The White House on Thursday will detail a proposal to save $17 billion next year by eliminating or reducing 121 federal programs, according to a senior administration official.
The President had always said he would line by line the budget, and although it seems these cuts are somewhat reserved, it is the first step to identifiy duplicity within the system and streamline the way we do business. Some of the nuggets going by the wayside:
Among the programs on the president's chopping block:

* A long-range navigation system now made obsolete by the GPS. Cost: $35 million.
* An early education program called Even Start, the performance of which had been poor. Cost: $66 million.
* A Department of Education attaché position in Paris. Cost: $632,000.
* The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, which only pays out 20% of its funds in awards every year. Cost: $1 million.
* A program that pays states to clean out abandoned mines even after the mines have been cleaned out. Cost: $142 million.
We are barely 100 days in to the new administration, and the President continues to remain fully engaged in the process both domestically and internationally. The Chicken Little's of the political wonk world will just have to sit back and watch how it is done. They have created a bar so low that this President will continue to be rewarded with huge approval ratings and consistent support from the electorate.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On Brett Favre

I like Brett! At his peak he was arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the league . . hell, in the history of the game maybe! But he is done. We saw last year how ineffective he can be these days.

Now there is chatter he may come out of retirement, again, and wear purple. Listen folks, I bleed purple. I want nothing but the best for my club and I live for the day we can finally hoist the Lombardi trophy. But not with Brett. It would be tainted, it wouldn't be 'ours', it would still be part of 'theirs'

Should the Queennies bring Favre on board as a player, I will sever my allegiance with the club until he is no longer wearing my Purple. He is not, nor will he ever be a member of the Purple, He is too Green, and it will be a long frustrating season for me should all this rumor mill action come to fruition.

There . . I said it . . sue me!


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tough Choices at SPPS

The tumult that is St Paul Public Schools comes to head, today:
Tonight, the district might provide some answers.

Administrators in the St. Paul School District will present the school board with a wide-ranging view of where they think the district should be headed.

The names of three elementary schools the district plans to close for the 2010-11 school year will be revealed. So will more details about the plans that will overhaul how St. Paul educates students, from changing how the district decides which school students should attend to changing the way teachers and staff are evaluated.
Along with these difficult decisions, is a look at how school choice is provided.

In a letter I wrote to the School board in February 2004 I offered
suggestions to trim the budget that included:
3) Regional Choice: Currently, there are 5 area Superintendents. Areas A, B, and C include the traditional schools that encompass the school district. Choice can still be provided, but the choices could be limited to the schools within your Area, be at A, B, or C. This would build community, limit transportation miles, and undoubtedly save money.
Last week, in the PiPress, they laid out the District's latest budget cutting maneuvers which included:
The recommendations would reduce the number of application preferences and divide the city into three regions, with students being able to attend any school in their region. Seven schools would remain as citywide options. The three-region plan is estimated to save $2.2 million in transportation costs.
At a time of serious budget strife, it is great to see the Board and district administration looking at serious modifications to the system, even though they were in my view over 5 years ago. Imaging the amount of money that could have been saved during that time if the decisions being made were more proactive rather than reactive. But now is notthe time to look back, it is time to look forward and make the necessary course corrections to stabilize how we provide for the children. Isn't that the most important thing!


Monday, May 04, 2009

Mitch says Strom is a Liberal

Really, he said that:
Making It Official
After years of insisting he’s “Not the DFL’s Monkey”, rumor has it that former Strib columnist Nick Coleman attended “Drinking Liberally”, the weekly local liberal party
So, according to 'mitch' attending DL makes you a liberal.

See, Strom was a guest not to long ago at DL, so, according to "mitch's" logic, that makes Dave a Liberal!

Connect the dots people . . .

Oh, and this howler in the comments:
There was a local leftyblogger who used to throw a wonderful summer get-together at his place, where he invited people all across the aisle. Later on, I heard that the leftybloggers who attended asked him to stop inviting conservatives.
This is a bold faced lie, as Mitch knows this is not the truth. He will now make up another howler to try to justify his deception.

ScaifeNet, trying to change the story one lie at a time!


Camp One Photos

Half the drill is under the belt. First outdoor Wednesday rehearsal slated for this week. We'll be at the old SEARS outlet center on Spring street just East of Hoover.

Here a a few pics. I'm the porky old guy in the fishing hat!


Thanks to BUHL for stopping by and shooting the photos. More here.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Legacy Building

Justice Souter to retire:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After more than 18 years on the nation's highest court, Justice David Souter is retiring, a source close to Souter said..

Souter, 69, will leave the Supreme Court after the current term recesses in June, the source said.
This is the surprise one, as conventional wisdom had money on the two older justices, especially Stevens to go first:
Souter's departure will leave the two oldest justices -- and the most liberal -- still on the bench. Retirements for John Paul Stevens, 89, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 76, have been rumored for years, with many expecting that one or the other would be the first to give the new Democratic president a Supreme Court vacancy.
For me, the #1 issue in the election was the Supreme Court, and took a high enough precedence that I was willing to plug my nose on a variety of other issue to ensure court balance. a two or even 3 vote edge for either ideology is not healthy.

Over the next few years, President Obama will have no fewer than 3 opportunities to mold the bench. Let's hope he does it with the constitution in mind, and the protections it offers.