Saturday, February 27, 2010

SD66 - Lean Rukavina

I am entering the SD66 convention as a 'Leans Rukavina' I like his position on Gaming, which separates him from many of the other Democratic candidates. I also like his straight forward, 'shoot from the hip' style. He is not intimidated by the process, and is not afraid to speak his mind or conform to some ideological expectation.

There are several of us who hope to have a viable Sub Caucus, but if not, we'll go uncommitted instead.

More on Rep Tom Rukavina, here!

I'll be tweeting live through about 2:0, then I have a hot lunch date with the beautiful and lovely Mrs. Flash. Don;t want to be late for that *smile*


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So Brown is Purple!

Remember this post:
Something tells me that the new Senator from Mass may just like being a Senator, and will be willing to at least make some moves to color himself Purple if he wants more then two years in Congress.
Now lets visit the business the US Senate conducted, yesterday, on the Jobs Bill:
It was almost time to vote on the Senate jobs bill, the first major vote since Brown's arrival. Republicans were counting on their new member to be their "41st vote," the number needed to sustain filibusters and shoot down any and all Democratic proposals.

Brown, his desk in the back corner, was the only Republican in the room as Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) offered a final denunciation of the GOP before the vote. "My friends on the other side of the aisle are looking for ways not to vote for this," he said, accusing them of putting "partisanship ahead of people."

As Reid spoke, Brown was leafing through a Senate face book, learning to recognize his new colleagues. As soon as the vote was called, he strode quickly into the well and interrupted the clerk as he read the roll.

"Yes," Brown said quietly, and then, having become Reid's first vote, he rushed out of the room before Republican colleagues arrived. He stepped into the hallway, then waited for reporters to assemble around him.

"I'm not from around here," he said. "I'm from Massachusetts."

Back inside the Senate chamber, Maine's Susan Collins, a Republican moderate, followed Brown's lead and voted yes. The floodgates opened, and the GOP filibuster was broken with two votes to spare.
Looks like Senator Brown likes being a Senator already.

Oh, and the folks who worked to put him in office are livid:
This did not keep Tea Party members from flaming Brown on Twitter. Here is a sampling of the Tea Party backlash against Brown:
solbeachdog: Scott Brown quickly exposed as just another New England progressive masquerading as a Republican. Disgusting."

PAC43: RT @Lanettetay: I am furious and sick about Sen Scott Brown voting YES for Harry Reid & Obama's Job Bill that is serious DEFICIT SPENDING!!"

Tigerstooth: RT @LiliaEP Scott Brown is an example of the progressivism that is creeping into the GOP that Glenn Beck talks about. #tcot #tlot #teaparty"
It appears that Democrats should have taken a different strategy in attacking Brown. Instead of painting him as a Tea Party extremist they should have simply called Brown a moderate. This may have led to the loss of his Tea Party support as seen in the tweets above.
Hmmmm, is that possibly a new strategy for the Left, paint the opposition as a Moderate so as to loose the support of their much needed fringe element. Might be a good one early on, to at least get primary challenges or, better yet, 3rd party candidates to step up and split the vote.

I still think that it is an eternity till November, and as the economy improves under the leadership of the current administration, the electorate will start to get it!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Paying forward!

The Growth and Justice Folks had an excellent Op-Ed in the STrib, yesterday! They start with a reality check:
Put down your coffee cup. Minnesota's state government needs to raise taxes by as much as $1 billion a year. Pick the cup back up. That's only four-tenths of 1 percent of our annual $230 billion in personal income. And it would still leave the total portion of our income paid in taxes smaller than it was a decade ago.
Then they get into details:
After a decade of cutting corners and underinvesting, our state's public structures are showing the strain, in ways that damage business interests. A few examples:

•Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Magnuson has been traveling around the state to make the case personally for no new cuts to Minnesota's stressed court services -- taking on the governor who appointed him. Courts and the rule of law are essential not just for public safety but also for conflict resolution and contract enforcement for businesses.

•Delays and deteriorating roads -- due to the state's fast-growing congestion and crumbling transportation infrastructure -- build higher costs into the prices of products produced or sold here.

•Our public schools are being forced, in effect, to loan money to state government. Students at Minnesota's two-year colleges pay the third-highest tuition and fees of all 50 states. And Minnesota faces a growing achievement gap between white and nonwhite, and between affluent and poor households. These trends represent an erosion of Minnesota's educational advantage, the bedrock of our economic success.

•We now have the largest percentage of Minnesotans without health insurance in recent history. Some 480,000 children, men and women now lack health insurance, and that population is expected to increase this year. State assistance with medical coverage, a program slashed deeply by budget cuts, actually helps remove pressure on employers to cover this expense.

From the current depleted baseline, the governor proposes to cut the state budget by another $1.2 billion. More tax cuts would inflate that damage.
There was another one I noted yesterday, too. The former Republican State Senator, now Republican Mayor os St. Cloud was on At Issue sharing his frustration with a depleted budget, cuts to local aid, and facing the tough decisions to now start limiting services, both safety and infrastructure related.In the SCTimes they mention:
St. Cloud and Stearns County officials say Pawlenty’s proposal likely would force them to reduce basic services again, on top of deep cuts they’ve already made.
St. Cloud’s leaders cut 10 percent from the city’s 2010 budget after losing more than $5 million in state aid since late 2008, Mayor Dave Kleis said Monday. Pawlenty’s proposal would reduce state aid to St. Cloud by an additional $4.97 million through the 2011 fiscal year.
Such reductions may help Pawlenty maintain his no-new-tax stance, but that approach simply shifts government costs to cities and counties, Stearns County Board chair Mark Sakry said.
“It may look like a good sound bite when you run for president, but it’s not helping the local taxpayers,” Sakry said.

The Right is in a precarious position. The State is cutting to the marrow and it is beginning to impact the electorates every day lives. If the Right isn't careful, and continues down the path of governmental elimination, they may just blow their chance to make up some ground both locally, and nationally!


Bayh - "Why I'm Leaving the Senate"

Bayh lays it on in a NYTimes Op-Ed, and he pulls no punches. He also provides solutions, so it is not just a bash fest.

He starts by sharing the problem:
While romanticizing the Senate of yore would be a mistake, it was certainly better in my father’s time. My father, Birch Bayh, represented Indiana in the Senate from 1963 to 1981. A progressive, he nonetheless enjoyed many friendships with moderate Republicans and Southern Democrats.

One incident from his career vividly demonstrates how times have changed. In 1968, when my father was running for re-election, Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader, approached him on the Senate floor, put his arm around my dad’s shoulder, and asked what he could do to help. This is unimaginable today.

When I was a boy, members of Congress from both parties, along with their families, would routinely visit our home for dinner or the holidays. This type of social interaction hardly ever happens today and we are the poorer for it. It is much harder to demonize someone when you know his family or have visited his home. Today, members routinely campaign against each other, raise donations against each other and force votes on trivial amendments written solely to provide fodder for the next negative attack ad. It’s difficult to work with members actively plotting your demise.

Any improvement must begin by changing the personal chemistry among senators. More interaction in a non-adversarial atmosphere would help.
After showing his frustration, more at the opposition from my first read, he also proffers ways to change the way things work.

Well worth the few moments to read!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Powerful Graphic

Today marks the anniversary of the Recovery act also known as Stimulus II. I was lukewarm on both the Bush Stimulus and then sequel of Stimulus II passed under Obama's watch, but the results can't be ignored:

If the Democratic Party, and their candidates, want to hold off the continued surge of Republican support, they need to recapture the new cycle from the Tea Partyiers, full out challenge and combat the misinformation for the Right Wing Smear machine, and get the truth out to the American People.

Lets look at some of those indicators:

Unemployment, the lagging indicators, is dropping

Manufacturing is in its 6 straight month of expansion

Quarterly GDP shows 5.7% growth

Home prices experienced 7 straight months of increases, before breaking that streak with a small decline.

Retail sales UP .5% in January

Consumer Confidence at a two year high.

And just announced today, this bit of news:
Housing construction posted a better-than-expected increase in January which pushed activity to the highest level in six months. The solid gain raised hopes that the construction industry is beginning to mount a sustained rebound from its worst slump in decades.
Its over 8 months till the midterms, and that is an eternity in political time. If we continue to see improvements in the economy, the people will start feeling it first, seeing it second, and begin to understand that it will take more than two years to correct 8 years of mismanagement.


UPDATE: File this in the Obstructionist Party Portfolio, In Washington they said it wouldn't work, back home they admit how well it is working.

Stimulating Hypocrisy: 111 Lawmakers Block Recovery While Taking Credit For Its Success

Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents' Day thought!

I saved this blockquote for the Holiday. Perfectly timely, and reasonably accurate:
With George Washington’s birthday comes the attendant mythology, hatchet and cherry tree, wooden teeth, throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac River – or the Rappahannock.

Of course, as the old joke goes, a dollar went a lot further then. Today, if you tried to hurl a silver dollar across the Potomac, chances are some member of Congress would snatch it in flight like one of those nature film grizzly bears grabbing a salmon in mid-leap.
That's just the beginning, the rest is pretty good as well, as it goes into the attempts to crack down on Lobbyists control in DC. You may want to read the whole thing!

Enjoy the Holiday!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Don't Repeat History!

Buried in a Peggy Noonan article is the President repeating one of the items I have been trying to explain for some time:
"If the price of certainty is essentially for us to adopt the exact same proposals that were in place leading up to the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression . . . the result is going to be the same. I don't know why we would expect a different outcome pursuing the exact same policy that got us in this fix in the first place." He continued: "If our response ends up being, you know . . . we don't want to stir things up here," then "I don't know why people would say, 'Boy, we really want to make sure those Democrats are in Washington fighting for us.'"
I continue to scratch my head when folks support the very policies that got us into this mess, regardless of what side of the aisle you are on.

I think we need to start fresh, with everything on the table. The President makes it clear he is willing to do that!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Blue Dog Approach to Fiscal Reform

With all the sniping and posturing going on, the members of the sensible middle, mostly Blue Dog Democrats, continue to promote sound fiscal polciy while working towards common sense solutions. Here is their 15 point 'Blueprint' (PDF) for reeling in government spending. How could anyone on either side of the aisle have an issue with this.
1. Restore Pay-As-You-Go budget rules.
2. Put the lid on federal spending.
3. Cut programs that don’t work.
4. Reduce the deficit.
5. Balance the budget.
6. Be honest about our long term fiscal obligations.
7. Establish a bipartisan fiscal commission.
8. Improve transparency and accountability.
9. Establish performance-based budgeting.
10. Eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.
11. Account for every dollar.
12. Close tax loopholes.
13. Take the politics out of the equation.
14. Eliminate duplication and inefficiency.
15. Review and terminate unnecessary federal programs.
I would certainly think there was 60+ votes in the senate, and a majority of legislators in the House that could use this as a starting point.

If the Right wants to show they are the 'alternative' not the Obstructionists they have displayed, then start working with like minded Democrats who share the same sound fiscal concerns that the GOP party platform promotes. For if they can;t even get on board with the root of their own ideals, the electorate wills tart to get it, and the gains the GOP have made politically will start to fade. Do ya think they are even aware of that?


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A Pic Peek Back

I was rummaging through some Holiday pics from last December. You all saw the FamDamily, but I never posted this one:

Yeap, that's your host, my good friend 'The Doctor', his son, and my oldest Sgt. Tom. We are catching up while enjoying Holiday beverages at, you guessed it, our favorite watering hole, Rock Bottom


Monday, February 08, 2010

Who Dat, YOU Dat! Congratulations, Saints!

Now that was a pretty good game. It was very interesting the level of respect the Colts had. Down big, driving, and even though the outcome of the game was not much in doubt, there was still a level of expectation that Manning would pull off the comeback. And then . . .the pick!!

Congrats Saints, Who Dat!! . . YOU Dat!!


PS: Here is the USA Today Ad Meter page with videos of the Commercials. The Snickers one was truly the best.

Also ran across some interesting Drama in the Doritos 'Crash the Super Bowl contest. The ad involving the casket is being accused of stealing the idea from another. HE lays out his case, here!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Budget Reality and a Splinter

When I saw this it just reminded me of how well the Right can control the message by only telling half truths and incomplete messages. There are positives and negatives to any situation, the Right isn't very good about telling you the trade-offs. Someday we'll get to the point where the people will demand honest debate, until then, the spin-meisters get to decide what we see and hear.

This one points out what I have been mentioning, recently. I believe the GOP's biggest obstacle towards major mid term gains is not the resurgence of the Democratic Party, but the continued popularity of the Tea Party Movement and the potential splintering of the GOP base.

The Left has gone through that with the Green party presidential campaigns, and the Right with Ross Perot's Reform Party. We'll see if the GOP's memory is long enough to recall what happened last time they were fractured. Since they are much better at discipline, I think they'll figure it out in time.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Caucusing; W4 P14

The boys and I ventured to Como Senior High last night for the beginning of the DFL selection process known as the precinct caucuses. The youngest was still too young to participate, the Airman to be opted to observe rather then participate fully. That's fine with me, as we teach our children to think for themselves. They seemed to appreciate the idea of having candidates and elected officials pass through the room giving us their spiel. IT was a good first experience for both of them, and now they no the answer to the ever popular questions 'So what really DOES happen at a Precinct Caucus?"

Biggest disappointment was when the spokesman for Ramsey Country Attorney Candidate, David Schultz, came in and 90% of his statement was negatively attacking his opponents. Seriously, this is the Precinct Caucus and you have 1 minute. Seems that time should be spent on building up your own resumé, not attacking your peers. He is off my list of support for that office.

Our straw poll results for W4 P14 was:

St. Paul-W4 P14
7 Sen John Marty,
5 Matt Entenza
4 Rep. Thomas Rukavina,
2 Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher
1 Rep. Paul Thissen,

3 Uncommitted (I was in here)

Surprises include, Mayor Rybak holding his own outstate, Ruckvina's strong showing on a shoestring budget. Now we wait and watch to see if the field will thin a bit now that the first round of preference voting has taken place. With Senate District Caucuses in just a few weeks, I suspect we'll not so a lot of movement as the results of the next round of delegate selection will be much more definitive in what the makeup of the state convention will be.

On the Right, the Rep. Tom Emmer juggernaut continues. It was an amazingly strong showing for someone competing against Rep. Marty Seifert, and candidate who has been running for governor for what seems like forever. If I was a betting man, I would put my money on Emmer for the GOP endorsement as his momentum continues, and the establishment Republicans committed to their ideology goes with the "further to the Right" Emmer.

So the DFL is still herding cats, while the MNGOP begins the beating till morale improves philosophy. There is a reason the MNGOP has done so well in the Governor's race over the years, they coalesce around a candidate much sooner, and have a much easier time plugging their nose for the sake of party Unity. The folks that make up the DFL simply have stronger principles, and find it much harder to do that.

Complete results here.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Moving forward, together?

The main thrust of what I witnessed during the President's spiel at the House GOP retreat, was not his humbling and conciliatory opening, but his clear grasp of what is truly happening in Washington. The National GOP has only one goal right now, and that is to simply vote now, regardless of whether ideological support should exists. He called them on it:
I didn't understand then, and I still don't understand, why we got opposition in this caucus for almost $300 billion in badly needed tax cuts for the American people, or COBRA coverage to help Americans who've lost jobs in this recession to keep the health insurance that they desperately needed, or opposition to putting Americans to work laying broadband and rebuilding roads and bridges and breaking ground on new construction projects.

There was an interesting headline in CNN today: "Americans disapprove of stimulus, but like every policy in it." And there was a poll that showed that if you broke it down into its component parts, 80 percent approved of the tax cuts, 80 percent approved of the infrastructure, 80 percent approved of the assistance to the unemployed.

Well, that's what the Recovery Act was. And let's face it, some of you have been at the ribbon-cuttings for some of these important projects in your communities. Now, I understand some of you had some philosophical differences perhaps on the just the concept of government spending, but, as I recall, opposition was declared before we had a chance to actually meet and exchange ideas. And I saw that as a missed opportunity.
Why is it the Right so adamant about Political purity of ideological purity especially when it is inconsistent with that constituency?

And on Health Care reform:
I mean, to be fair, the status quo is working for the insurance industry, but it's not working for the American people. It's not working for our federal budget. It needs to change.

This is a big problem, and all of us are called on to solve it. And that's why, from the start, I sought out and supported ideas from Republicans. I even talked about an issue that has been a holy grail for a lot of you, which was tort reform, and said that I'd be willing to work together as part of a comprehensive package to deal with it. I just didn't get a lot of nibbles.

Creating a high-risk pool for uninsured folks with preexisting conditions, that wasn't my idea, it was Senator McCain's. And I supported it, and it got incorporated into our approach. Allowing insurance companies to sell coverage across state lines to add choice and competition and bring down costs for businesses and consumers -- that's an idea that some of you I suspect included in this better solutions; that's an idea that was incorporated into our package. And I support it, provided that we do it hand in hand with broader reforms that protect benefits and protect patients and protect the American people.

A number of you have suggested creating pools where self-employed and small businesses could buy insurance. That was a good idea. I embraced it. Some of you supported efforts to provide insurance to children and let kids remain covered on their parents' insurance until they're 25 or 26. I supported that. That's part of our package. I supported a number of other ideas, from incentivizing wellness to creating an affordable catastrophic insurance option for young people that came from Republicans like Mike Enzi and Olympia Snowe in the Senate, and I'm sure from some of you as well. So when you say I ought to be willing to accept Republican ideas on health care, let's be clear: I have.

Bipartisanship -- not for its own sake but to solve problems -- that's what our constituents, the American people, need from us right now. All of us then have a choice to make. We have to choose whether we're going to be politicians first or partners for progress; whether we're going to put success at the polls ahead of the lasting success we can achieve together for America.
Lets just say I cringe when anyone tries to say that this administration and the majority party is trying to ram through anything without consultation and incorporation of ideas from the minority. IT pains me to see reaching out taking place, ideas merged, and then the opposition votes 'No' anyway.

The President is being a leader, and his long overdue move to the middle is going to create an opportunity to keep this economic recovery going. I just wish people would sit back and owrk together to make that happen, rather then obstruct the policy just out of spite. That goes for both sides of the aisle.