Friday, October 30, 2009

Off to Ioway

Pheasant Opener weekend in Iowa. The Dr. and I are getting ready to depart. This is our 3rd trip in 4 years after skipping last year. We both are long over due for a get away.

I'll tweet updates in my absence so watch the sidebar. Goal is to be back around 3 bells Sunday.

Have a GREAT weekend and I'll be back Monday. I suspect I'll fill you in on my decisions for School Board. Looks like a split 2 and 2 ticket for me this year.


Thursday, October 29, 2009


It wasn't that long ago I was all for Instant Run Off Voting (IRV). The concept of pluralities electing candidates concerned me. When a clear majority of those with similar ideology were splitting their votes, minority candidates were being elected, and a majority of our citizens were going unrepresented.

I think Jesse Ventura would still have been elected, but the Pawlenty regime, most likely, would have never occurred. On a national level, Bill Clinton may have never seen the oval office (Perot effect), and if so, Al Gore most certainly would have made it in (see Nader, Ralph).

However, watching the squirming going on in Minneapolis has made me re-visit my views. The uncertainty of counting, the concerns of a drawn out process due to the complexities of the ballot, and the reality of this confusion disenfranchising those most vulnerable leads me to the conclusion that we simply aren't ready, yet.

Until technology can catch up and we have confidence in the machines and their ability to walk voters through the process, I am reluctant, at this time, to support the change.

The debate has been rolling in both local forums, and I have followed the arguments, pro and con, on both sides of this issue. At this point, I am not ready to roll the dice. I am willing to watch Minneapolis before I turn the reigns of our voting process, here in St. Paul, over.

I am not saying never, I am just saying, not now.

I ask you to vote NO on the St. Paul Instant Runoff Charter Amendment. The time will come, now just isn't it.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Centrical Uncertainty

The WaPo attempts to dissect the fluidity of the Health Care reform package, especially as it relates to the Moderates:
"I really want to get to yes," said Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats. Unless the public-option language is dropped, however, he said, he probably will align with Republicans to block the measure.

Other moderates said they are undecided on the opt-out plan. "I'm skeptical about what Senator Reid has proposed," said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Like Lieberman, she opposes a government-run insurance program that would compete with the private sector. But Landrieu gave Reid slightly more reason for optimism, noting that she will "stay open to a principled compromise."
There is also mention of the trigger approach being proposed by Sen. Snowe, the loan GOP affirmative on the Senate Panel:
Some moderate Democrats are more comfortable with the "trigger" approach that Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) has advocated, saying that a variant of a public plan is more likely to win 60 votes. Under Snowe's approach, a public plan would be available only in states where private companies do not offer policies at broadly affordable rates.
And it is beginning to look more like Sen Ben Nelson of Nebraska may be a greater obstacle to holding the caucus together then Sen JoeMentum:
Reid's more immediate concern may be Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who, unlike Lieberman, has not pledged to vote for debate to begin. Nelson told reporters that he wants to see the bill and a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office before deciding. Although he has not ruled out supporting a public option, Nelson said he wants to make sure it would not become a "government-run, big-government insurance" company.
The Public approach to a competitive option has always been a stickler for me. Co-ops and private, non profit participants that states like MN has may be a more reasonable and cost effective direction to go.

Ideas are still being tested, and it is clear congress is playing a media game to find out which ides, and even which words, will gain the most traction. If nothing else, this has been an interesting case in the legislative process.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Senate Bill Doppelgänger

Donklephant reviews the Senate Health Care revisions that will officially be released today. The touch on two things, the Opt Out clause for the states, and the Public option:
So this would be a federally funded plan that allows states to opt out if they so choose. That means we’re going to see the blue states adopt it and the red states reject it, plain and simple…even though the red states usually have the highest number of uninsured and underinsured folks.

Personally, I’m not a fan of a federally run system. I’d rather have the federal government give states seed money to build their own public co-ops and have the states figure it out themselves.

I also think it’s unclear whether or not Reid can get the 60 votes he needs to avoid passing this thing via reconciliation.

However, putting all that aside…let’s remember the most important part of health care reform…
Also expected are new rules on insurers to prevent them from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions and from dropping customers’ insurance once they become ill.
Yes, the plan is bound to have flaws since politics is the art of the possible, not the ideal. But if we can outlaw the pre-existing conditions clauses and lifetime coverage caps, that will go a long way towards delivering the type of health care we all deserve.
This is the first I have seen of serious consideration being given to the States, where decisions like this really belong. There is also a long way to go to try and find the balance between mandating coverage and how to consequence those who refuse. Finally, a commenter on the article paints and interesting picture as well:
I’m not sure when we got the idea that “health insurance” should pay for everything. I tried to use my auto insurance policy to pay for my tune up last week, and the evil insurance company wouldn’t pay! I tried to use my homeowner’s insurance to pay for my electric bill, and the immoral insurance company denied the claim!

Insurance is used to cover rare events; only in health care do we think that an insurance policy can cover every cost, every time.

. . .

A company penalty of $500 or $750 per employee not covered will ensure that many companies bail out of providing health insurance, as the typical family policy is thousands of dollars more (and companies pay, on average, 80% of the insurance cost). The penalty for a company will have to be on the order of $6 to $7,000. The penalties for individuals will have to be closer to that amount to force people to buy insurance (even if they don’t need it).

The real test will be if the Constitution allows the feds to compel individuals to buy health insurance. The Congress may have to pass an amendment to facilitate it.
Now it was pointed out that companies are not required to buy any insurance at this point, so to think they would all of a sudden take a penalty hit, regardless of the size, when they are voluntarily providing coverage now, is somewhat flawed. But the final point is quite valid, how will the Constitution be interpreted regarding the mandating of coverage?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Seven Years

My heart and prayers goes out to the family and friends of those lost n a Northern Woods seven years ago, today. I recall hearing of the crash, praying for the passengers, and later finding out who all was aboard.

A few years ago I visited the memorial near the crash site. It was a solemn and serene setting. I would encourage everyone to make that pilgrimage at some point.

All my hopes!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

TV Tantrum

Seriously, is this all he's got:
Officials at the Moose Lake Sex Offenders Program began unbolting the two dozen 50-inch plasma television sets at the center on Tuesday, just hours after Gov. Tim Pawlenty called the purchase "boneheaded" and ordered a search to find out who made the decision.
Why the Governor would micromanage such a monumental cost savings to the state I have no clue, other then pandering for publicity after running around the country for several weeks. Savings you say, of course:
State officials said the televisions, which were mounted in common areas, made it easier to supervise patients at the 400-bed facility.
These TVs allow for easier supervision, fewer employees, less cost to the facility, and savings to the tax payers. But, in order for the Governor to understand that, he would have to be forward thinking and understand the process of incarcerating large numbers of individuals and keeping them content to avoid disruptions and disturbances. Apparently he could care less about that.

Isn't ANYONE going to call him on this. The only bonehead in this fiasco is the Governor himself.


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Truth Hurts

Axelrod reveals the reality of FOXNews on ABC's 'This Week', (via Politico):
"It’s really not news — it’s pushing a point of view. And the bigger thing is that other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way, and we’re not going to treat them that way. We’re going to appear on their shows. We’re going to participate but understanding that they represent a point of view.”
Seriously, there isn't much more to say when the truth is spoken so clearly and succinctly!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Missing Mike

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the passing of one of my best friends. The lovely Mrs. Flash and I will be meeting The Doctor at the cemetery around 6:ish for beer and cigars. Its what we do.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Its Snowe(ing) on Health Care Bill

Sen Olympia Snowe is on board the Baucus Bus:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Health care reform advocates got a major boost Tuesday as Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, a key GOP moderate, announced she will vote for the Senate Finance Committee's $829 billion health care bill.

Snowe, one of the senators in the bipartisan "Gang of Six" that initially negotiated the committee's bill, has been considered one of the few GOP senators likely to support a bill emerging from the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Her vote isn't necessarily one of support, but one that acknowledges progress:
"People do have concerns about what we will do with reform, but at the same time they want us to continue working -- and that is what my vote to approve this bill out of committee represents," Snowe said during the committee's final deliberations on the measure.

"Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it. Is it all that it can be? No. But when history calls, history calls. And I happen to think that the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress (taking) every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time."
We still a far from a final product, but we are further along then we have ever been.


Showdown, Phase One

The first vote is today:
The Finance Committee is expected to vote on the plan Tuesday. The vote represents a potential turning point in the health care debate. Baucus' committee is the last of five congressional panels to consider health care legislation before debate begins in the full House of Representatives and Senate.
And it is no shock that the industry smears got richer, and the administration's search for truth was more diligent:
America's Health Insurance Plans concludes that, under the Baucus plan, the costs of private health insurance would rise by 111 percent over the next decade. Under the current system, costs would rise by 79 percent, the report said.

. . . .

The White House blasted the report Monday, calling it inaccurate and self-serving.

"This is a self-serving analysis from the insurance industry, one of the major opponents of health insurance reform," White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said.

"It comes on the eve of a vote that will reduce the industry's profits. It is hard to take it seriously. The analysis completely ignores critical policies [that] will lower costs for those that have insurance, expand coverage and provide affordable health insurance options to millions of Americans who are priced out of today's health insurance market or are locked out by unfair insurance company practices."
If there is one thing I have learned in my quest for answers, it has become quite evident that when the industry speaks, you can be almost assured their words are the opposite of reality. Today the grown-ups get to decide, the time for talk is over.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Really?!? The Nobel?

OK, so I wake up to this:
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, a stunning decision that comes just eight months into his presidency.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it honored Obama for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

The president had not been mentioned as among front-runners for the prize, and the roomful of reporters gasped when Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Nobel committee, uttered Obama's name.

The president, who was awakened to be told he had won, said he was humbled to be selected, according to an administration official.

The Nobel committee recognized Obama's efforts to solve complex global problems including working toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
I have no doubt the President would have been a front runner in a few years, but 8 months of health care pandering does not a Novel Prize winner make.

I'll be scratching my head over this one.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Trigger Option

Bi-Partisanship is gaining steam. The idea of a a trigger towards a competitive option is getting a little traction in the GOP community.

First proffered by Sen Snow (R-ME) and now supported by former Senate Majority leader Frist, we may just be on to something:
Roberts: Let’s zero in on this idea of competition in the marketplace. Many Democrats believe the way to really get competition in the marketplace is to put forward a public option, which would have a government-sponsored health insurance program out there competing with the other ones. Would you support that?

Frist: A public option as a backup that is not federally controlled, but is controlled at the local level with local ownership.

Roberts: Are you talking co-ops?

Frist: It can be a co-op, but even the co-op people – it’s kind of a new concept, but the idea of not having government out there controlling prices out there undercutting the insurance market. And that’s the big fear. At the end of the day, you’re going to have to have some sort of a backup of a public plan. And at the end of the day, if the private sector doesn’t step up, you have to have some other kind of trigger coming into play.

Roberts: So you’re talking about Olympia Snowe’s idea?

Frist: Olympia Snowe. And it’s what we did in 2003 with the Medicare Modernization Act, which was the prescription drug plan. If the private sector does not step up, and there’s not more than two plans there, a public plan that has local control, local and private implementation, has to step in.

Roberts: It sounds like the plan that’s being written in the Senate Finance Committee is something that you might support?

Frist: I’m coming out very strongly in support of what’s going on in the Senate Finance Committee. It’s bipartisan. I hope that it ends up being bipartisan. If not, it’s going to be a destructive bill. But it’s bipartisan. People working together. So we’re on the way there. I would not endorse the bill the way it is now. There’s still about 400 amendments out there so hopefully that process can come together.
Wow, even Frist gets it, did you catch that:
I’m coming out very strongly in support of what’s going on in the Senate Finance Committee. It’s bipartisan.
And not only that, Frist is a Doctor which gives him a bit more credibility in health care related discussions.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Dome Under Construction, Set 2 of 2

From the stands, an interesting look at the dome, the rolls of SuperTurf and padding stacked for install. An 18 wheeler parked in short center for perspective. Check out the stands in the retractable Right field in various stages of assembly. All photos taken around January 1982, a mere 4 months before the stadiums first games.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Dome Under Construction, Set 1 of 2

I believe it was January 1982. The snow was flying on the outside, but only a few months till opening and the construction of the Dome was in its finals stages.

Frequent commenter 'The Doctor' and I slipped on our suits and did a walk through of the stadium in transition. The Right field stands were pulled down as for football, but without turn the cement pocks for the bases gave the field a very baseball look.

Today, pics from the field, tomorrow or Monday, pics from the stands. (Click to enlarge) The picture at the end if the quick repair job of the dome after the November 1981 deflation. Interesting seeing the roof without its inner lining.


Friday, October 02, 2009

The Final Series

Although the Queenies (read Packer Lite) get the dome to themselves for the next couple years, the Twinkies get one final regular season run this weekend.

In the Winter of 81/82, The Doctor and I visited the under construction venue (yes, we have known each other that long). In suits and tie, looking like a couple of wannabees we walked the halls, traversed the stands and ventured onto the concrete field. Rolls of turf scatter the infield as the awaited to be installed. Soon security saw us an wondered down to the field. We exchanged pleasantries, admitted we really didn't belong, and followed the security guard down the 3rd baseline where he took us out through he Twins clubhouse and back into the winter afternoon.

I have pictures and will be scanning them later today and posting them here over the weekend.

I like the dome, and building anything in Minnesota without a roof option is a huge mistake. That is the main frustration I have with another budget stadium being built downtown.

Stop back over the course of the weekend, maybe even as early as this afternoon, for the photos of a stadium in transition.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Community Gathers

Recall the incident from last week. From the STRIB:
Derrick Thomas was on his bike with home in his sights, returning about 1 a.m. Wednesday from hanging out with his girlfriend and cousin in Brooklyn Park.

Before he knew to be terrified, Thomas, who has autism, found himself flying over his handlebars and writhing on his back on the concrete. Standing over him, he said, were three men armed with an ax, brass knuckles and a gun.
The community will not tolerate this form of behavior and are gathering this evening in a show of solidarity to the victim. More on the Rally Against Racist Attacks:
Residents of Brooklyn Park plan to hold a rally Thursday night in reaction to the beatings last week of two black men that authorities have characterized as hate crimes.

The Rally Against Racist Attacks and in Celebration of Diversity will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Hartkopf Park, 7300 Florida Av. N. The park is near the site of the attacks. (ed- If raining the rally will be at Zanewood Community Center at 71st Street North and Zane Ave North. )

Carol Woehrer and Linda Freemon planned the demonstration after reading news accounts about the beating, deciding, in Woehrer's words, "we shouldn't wait until something even worse happens."
Yes, that's frequent Centrisity commenter, Linda. Why don't you check your schedule and see if you can join them. Racism isn't a partisan issue, it is a human moral issue!


UPDATE: Due to weather, event has been moved to the inclement weather location. Rally will be at Zanewood Community Center at 71st Street North and Zane Ave North.