Monday, March 29, 2010

Demolition Man

It's Spring Break, but I will be taking no break. A long over due bathroom overhaul is taking place and we contract out a complete re-plumb of the main floor bath. Issues with odor and shoddy workmanship by the prior owner had created a situation that just had to be dealt with. Various bid quotes all came to the same conclusion, that who ever did the original bath install did not vent any of the piping, and used creative engineering to make it work well outside of code specifications. Over $6000 will be invested in plumbing alone to get things as close to code as possible. Permits are pulled and inspections will take place. Everything in this process will be above board.

I chose Artisan Plumbing and Remodeling for the work. They are a sponsor of AM950 and as long as I was making this type of investment, I wanted to be sure to spread the love to a sponsor of truth on the airwaves.

We began the Demo on Saturday and worked through the weekend to prep the area for today's work. Plumbers will be at it for a couple days before handing off. At that point we'll take over and lay new flooring, tile the tub surround, re-create the window that for some reason the original remodeler felt needed to come out.We are still debating glass block or just a regular well sealed Double Hung with frosting or tinting for security and privacy. The design and decision making is evolving like any major money pit endeavor.

Later this AM we will go to lunch and then shopping for tiles and flooring, leaving the trades folks to have free reign of the home while the sever the sewer line and water supply to begin the re-plumb process. Needless to say, posting will be light, or at least apolitical, as I focus on this extensive project. You can follow along at the PhotoBucket site. Otherwise, I'll throw up a few shots during the week just to keep me in check.

Enjoy the beautiful weather, and if you need any plumbing services, be sure to at least give Artisan an opportunity to bid your project. Tell them 'Flash' sent you, and that you are committed to supporting progressive advertisers.


Friday, March 26, 2010

No Room in the Inn

The tag line on this blog is "Being right, even tho you lean Left", but over the years my ideology has shifted more Right to the point I could adequately argue I actually lean Right (pro Defense, Pro 2nd Amendment, pro Death Penalty, Pro education Voucher, fiscal conservative, against both Stimulus bills Pres Bush's and Pres Obama's, uncomfortable with the TARP package, etc). But my voting pattern remains predominantly Democratic, and there is a reason.

See, within the DFL party here in Minnesota, I am accepted, and I can debate and work withing the systems for compromise in hopes of moderating what can be a far Left ideology that can make me cringe.

But with the GOP, if you aren't pure enough, they don't want you. The Pup Tent party is about purity, and if you won't tow the line, out you go. Look what happened to Specter, look what is happening to moderate GOP candidates who are now being challenged by far Right Tea Party activists.

Oh, sure it happens on the Left as well. Lieberman had his troubles, but like Randy Kelly locally, it was because they abandoned, wholesale, the party including endorsing candidate from the other party. To their credit they acted on principle. What we see now in the GOP is their candidates running further to the Right to preserve their purity, since the alternative is electoral defeat amongst their own.

John McCain is only a shadow of his former self. He has moved significantly to the Right. Once he was the compromisor, the one who could bring both sides to the table on issue like Health Care. But even though the primary funding mechanism that was part of his proposal during the Presidential campaign was adopted, he still aligned with the obstructionist party. He knew that any hint of breaking ranks for the betterment of the country, would have been electoral suicide. Even still he has to bring in Palin to prop up himself in a primary battle in his home state.

The other day, former Bush speechwriter, and conservative think tank member had the gall to speak his mind and let the GOP know that they made a mistake, and even shared ways to get them back on track. How was he rewarded with this frank talk and honest spiel, he has become a pariah of the party, and was fired from the 'think tank':
I have been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute since 2003. At lunch today, AEI President Arthur Brooks and I came to a termination of that relationship.

Below is the text of my letter of resignation.

Dear Arthur,

This will memorialize our conversation at lunch today. Effective immediately, my position as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute is terminated. I appreciate the consideration that delays my emptying of my office until after my return from travel next week. Premises will be vacated no later than April 9.

I have had many fruitful years at the American Enterprise Institute, and I do regret this abrupt and unexpected conclusion of our relationship.

Very truly yours,

David Frum
Frum has gone from being touted as a President Bush's former speechwriter to a 'disgruntled former staffer.

If there isn't room for the David Frum's in the Pup Tent Party, what would make me think they would have space for me.


Thursday, March 25, 2010


In the sulfurous year of 2010
If men do still exist by then,
The King of Kenya will, I warn ya, leave
A mark from Maine to California.

In his fetid wake I see
A country that looks less like me.
Where hate and prejudice once flourished,
The human spirit is sadly nourished.

So patriots keep thy powder dry,
The reasons I can’t tell you why, exactly,
But know that when at last I call,
You’ll have to come and shoot them all.
Good Dog!

Winners and Loser

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Osama Paper

Bathroom Upgrade?
Drop your own bombs on this wanted fugitive. His face is printed throughout the whole roll.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Whose Waterloo?!?

The Right Wing pundits have been proclaiming that if the HCR bill passes, it will be the end of the majority for the Dems. Conservative David Frum seems to think, at this point, maybe it is the other way around:
Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.

It’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections. But:

(1) It’s a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November – by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs.

(2) So what? Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now.
His #1 is along the lines of what I have been trying to point out. 6+ months is an eternity in Politics. As the economy continues to improve, and the tangible benefits of HCR begin to take effect, we'll see the Left in a much better place than we do, now. Remember, a lot of the down polling is the volatile base of the Left. Expect that to re-solidify now that HCR is passed.

He also point out another aspect of the GOP strategy that confused me:
A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.
The Just say No strategy, failed two fold. The Left was able to still pass the agenda, and the Right marginalized their ability to clean up the messy parts of the legislation. The parts where there are legitimate concerns. But they wanted none of that, they wanted America to fail and then play the blame game on the current administration. It didn't work, and it just may cost them as the Tea Partiers splinter their base.

See, like I have been sharing all along, the bill had more GOP finger prints on it than Democratic ones. The Memory of the elephant isn't as good as it once was, and Frum wants his peers to know that:
Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.
And the final affirmation of reality comes in the closing:
We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
What voices is he talking about, well the ones who have vested interest in A) The success of the Bill and B) the failure of the GOP to stop it. Ironically, that is fire breathing talkers like Rush Limbaugh:
Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.
People scoffed at me when the likes of Rush Limbaugh were more of an asset than an enemy in the ideological fight. At least Frum sees it for what it is.

Read the whole thing!


Gettin' 'er Done!

Truth, leadership, and perseverance shined brightly over smear and fear. The Right on one hand was decrying the faux talking point of 'Government Run Health Care' (this bill couldn't be further from that) while complaining about cuts from the true government run health care program, Medicare and Medicaid.

Of course there aren't really 'cuts' to those programs, but a conscience efforts to reel in overhead costs and control spending. Isn't that a main tenant of the GOP platform. You wouldn't know that based on their votes, yesterday. The Right is going to find themselves in a perpetual minority once the electorate realizes what they have been doing over the past year and change.

But what does this Bill (PDF)/ (Crib Sheet-PDF) do, and how soon are the reforms going to take effect. Reuters has a nice time-line. Within the first year we'll finally see:
*Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted.

*Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

*Young adults will be able to stay on their parents' health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.

*Uninsured adults with a pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain health coverage through a new program that will expire once new insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.

*A temporary reinsurance program is created to help companies maintain health coverage for early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. This also expires in 2014.

*Medicare drug beneficiaries who fall into the "doughnut hole" coverage gap will get a $250 rebate. The bill eventually closes that gap which currently begins after $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage starts again after $6,154 is spent.

*A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.
Do you believe folks actually didn't support those reforms.

Next year we'll see:
*Medicare provides 10 percent bonus payments to primary care physicians and general surgeons.

*Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan service. New health plans will be required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients.

*A new program under the Medicaid plan for the poor goes into effect in October that allows states to offer home and community based care for the disabled that might otherwise require institutional care.

*Payments to insurers offering Medicare Advantage services are frozen at 2010 levels. These payments are to be gradually reduced to bring them more in line with traditional Medicare.
Understand, I am not saying this is the perfect piece of legislation, but it is much needed reform. As the electorate sees through the smear and fear, and begins to recognize the positive impact of this legislation. As the economy continues to improve through growth in GDP, improvements in unemployment, and boosts in manufacturing; the outlook for November will change dramatically.


Picture via Mother Jones

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Patrick's Day Redux

From a post in 2008, in its entirety:

My dad's side is all German. Heck, I have 4 generation all resting together at the Nicollet Lutheran Church Cemetery in Nicollet County. Talk about a genealogical gold mine.

Mom's side has the Eaton/Mayflower connection, and her mother is of the English Trowbridge family. The Trowbridge's arrived in the Mid 1600's and can be traced all the way back to King Albert the Great and Charlemagne.

Then Great Grampa John, (Grampa Turkey they called him) married a fine Irish woman of the Maher Clan. Margerette's Family Tree is littered with common Irish names like Clenane (Clenhane), Mulcahy and Hagerty's.

Margerette's Grand Mother, Catherine Hagerty came to the states from County Cork soon after the Civil War ended. Most of them ended up in Rice Coutny, Shieldslville/Erin area. Here is an 1875 Census shot of the clan:The Old Catholic Cemetery In Shieldsville is filled with Irish immigrants from the turn. Records indicate she is buried there as well, but I have yet to find her, but suspect she is near her son and daughter in law who cared for her in her last days. Their graves I did find, so think I am close.

Margerette rests in Madelia, Minnesota along with Grampa Turkey's Parent's Seth and Clarissa Trowbridge. I have a long and historic connection to Southern Minnesota.

So to the Clenanes, Clenhanes, Mulcaheys, Mahers, and Hagerty cousins I must have all over the world, Happy St. Patrick's day from a fellow Irishman, even if it is only an 1/8


Bluestem Prairie pays tribute as well. I am going to scan that pic of Grandma when I get home.Here is GrandMa Eaton. She passed in 1994 so this was some time before that. I still miss her!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Peter Graves; 1926-2010

Marshal Dillon's little brother passed away last night, he was 83
Peter Graves, the rugged actor who starred in the hit TV series "Mission: Impossible" and whose career took a comic turn in the disaster spoof "Airplane!" has died. He was 83.

Graves was found dead Sunday afternoon in front of his Pacific Palisades home from apparent natural causes, said Officer Karen Rayner of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Graves had just returned from brunch with his family to celebrate his upcoming 84th birthday. He collapsed on the driveway before he could reach his house, said Sandy Brokaw, his publicist. One of Graves' daughters administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation but was unable to revive him, Brokaw said.
Most people of this era remembers him as the goofy pilot of the Airplane Movie spoof, but I recall him as the leader of the original Impossible Mission Force.

Peter and his brother James both grew up in Minneapolis.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Racino Railed . . . for now!

While butting heads with the members of the Senate Gov Ops Committee, Sen Sparks (DFL-Ausitn) chose to regroup rather then be defeated:
Horse-racing interests on Wednesday renewed their long-shot effort to establish casinos at two Minnesota race tracks, hoping to convince reluctant legislators that slot machine profits could ease budget deficits.

But by the end of the evening, it was clear there weren't enough votes to pass the bill out of a Senate committee. Its author, Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, withdrew the proposal before it could be defeated, with plans to attach it as an amendment to a key piece of legislation on the Senate floor later in the session.
The need for revenue is great, and this particular stream is one that has true bipartisan support.

House DFL Sponsored

Total Authors /CoAuthors
GOP 12

Juhnke ; Buesgens ; Hackbarth ; Doty ; Haws ; Holberg ; Cornish ; Brod ; Nornes ; Beard ; Hoppe ; Demmer ; Garofalo ; Peppin ; Gunther ; Benson ; Olin ; Solberg ; Otremba

Senate Companion

DFL -4
GOP - 1

Sparks ; Robling ; Scheid ; Langseth ; Metzen

That is a total author breakdown of 13 GOPers and 11 DFLers. At a time where it is difficult to find common ground anywhere in this splintered [political environment, this is just short of amazing. And Sen Sparks must know that a stacked committee may be a tough haul, but maneuvering his way to a vote by the entire body might just have a chance:
Sparks and Day said the proposal could be resurrected as an amendment to bills dealing with rural development, jobs, education or early childhood education.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Hurtless Locker

I watched The Hurt Locker, yesterday, and was not impressed, netiehr was Sgt Tom when he saw it:
"Hurt Locker made me laugh, the scene where he sneaks off base, and then walks back up to the gate, haha ask anyone who has been there, no way, no F'n way in hell would that ever have happened. Hollywood, really Hollywood!!! I need to become a military movie consultant! I wasn't impressed either, Dad!"
But apparently that doesn't matter, as it won best picture last night.

So if that means it was the best, all the other movies are not as good. Maybe I shouldn't waste my time with the rest of 'em.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Better than Expected:Jobs

A better than anticipated Jobs report with some silver lining on the inside:
several industries showed solid gains in employment, including health care and the service industries. Private business services created 51,000 jobs in February, the most of any sector. That's encouraging, since economists say hiring in that sector is a good measuring stick for the health of the overall labor market.

Also encouraging was the addition of 47,500 temporary workers, whose hiring often signals that employers are starting to gear up again. There have been nearly 100,000 temporary jobs created in 2010.
Yes, for those who keep trying to say that only Government is growing, take note -> ""Private business services created 51,000 jobs in February, the most of any sector.""

And on that note, no matter where someone is working, they are getting paid, and spending that money in the free market, creating demand. AS demand increases, so will the need to create more goods to meet the demand.

This is good news all around, well maybe not for the GOP, who needs to pray for a jobless stagnating economy. If the Left was smart, THAT is what they would be communicating to the electorate.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

It's Miller Time

For a moment, they were all on the same team!
PITTSBURGH -- Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller received a standing ovation in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night for leading the United States to an Olympic silver medal -- cheers louder than those given the Penguins' own Sidney Crosby.

Crosby beat Miller to score the game-winning goal in overtime Sunday as Canada defeated the United States 3-2 for the gold medal in Vancouver. Despite being on the losing team, Miller was chosen as the tournament MVP.

Olympians for both teams were introduced before the game, with Miller drawing the loudest and most sustained cheering. Crosby also was given a standing ovation, but it was less enthusiastic than Miller's despite his vast popularity in Pittsburgh.

"It was a good tournament," Miller said before the Sabres lost to the Pens 3-2. "Hopefully, it made some hockey fans here in the United States."
MIller was resting, last night, so those 3 goals scored by Pitt were not against him.

The Olympics were a great run, and a great Gold medal game, now it is back to business as usual.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

38 Flip Floppers Sitting in a Tree

So when then Sen John Kerry changed his vote when a bill was stripped of its funding mechanism, the GOP Smear machine used it to pummel him for being a flip flopper. Remember those cute wind Surfing ads. Yesterday, something completely different happened.

38 member of the GOP caucus, who all voted FOR those disadvantaged and most vulnerable among us, turned their back on those folks. They did a complete 180 on the EXACT SAME PIECE of legislation. There was no amendments, or adjustments. It was the EXACT SAME BILL! What changed was the pressure from the Presidential Candidate we call Governor, and the vice of the "pup tent" party tightening down.

The most vulnerable on the list is Marty Seifert, who now has lost his presumptive status as the GOP nominee. The Tea Partiers won't touch him, and the moderates now see him for who he is, a flip flopping, finger in the wind politician.

The Left has been dealt a hand that only they can screw up. However, maybe they will surprise some folks, and put out a full frontal assault to the Ideologue party. You know, a GOP that says one thing on one day, and the exact opposite a few days later.


Monday, March 01, 2010

From Get 'er Done to Gridlock

GREAT article on the CNN website about who much used to get done in Congress, and why it is hard to get anything done, now. In an article entitled "Blame yesterday's reforms for today's gridlocked Congress"; David Frum, writes:
Washington (CNN) -- At the end of his career, former House Speaker Tip O'Neill was asked how Congress had changed between the 1950s and 1980s. O'Neill answered: "The people are better. The results are worse."

* snip *

Take this quiz. Name the most important legislation enacted in the 30 years between 1950 and 1980.

Overwhelming isn't it? Civil rights. Voting rights. Interstate highways. Medicare. Medicaid. The deregulation of the airlines, natural gas, trucking, rail and oil. The immigration act of 1965. Clean Air, Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Acts. Supplemental Security Income in 1974. I could fill the whole screen.

Now ... the next 30 years.

There's the Reagan tax cuts of course. Deregulation of the savings & loans in 1982. The Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Welfare reform in 1995. Medicare Part D. What else?

Leave aside whether you are liberal or conservative, whether you approve the measures mentioned above or disapprove. It's hard to dispute: Congress just got a lot more done in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s than in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.


You hear many grand, sweeping explanations. Let's try just one simple one.

Congress in the first period was controlled by a handful of committee chairmen, who owed their positions to seniority. The committees did their work in secret. Bills written in committee typically could not be amended on the floor of Congress. The institution was authoritarian, hierarchical, opaque. And stuff passed.

In the mid-1970s, Congress underwent a revolution. The power of the committee chairmen was broken. The number of subcommittees proliferated. The committees met in public. Amendments multiplied. Congress become more open, more egalitarian, more responsive. And stuff ceased to pass.

Again and again, today's gridlock can be traced to yesterday's reform.
Read the whole thing. He goes on to talk about the evolution of the filibuster, why lobbyists matter, and the end of bipartisanship due to ideological loyalty.

However, a reason bipartisanship is difficult, is how the true politicians politician flips flops at the hint of a politically driven need. Take Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, for instances, who in 1995 said that reconciliation is:
“the rule of the Senate,” and one that allows for “majority rule.” “Is there anything wrong with majority rule?” he asks. “I don’t think so.
In supporting this tactic, he helped ram through President GW Bush budgets that have shown to be economically devastating to the country.

But now that the tables are turned, Gregg is thinking reconciliation is bad:
"That would be the Chicago approach to governing: Strong-arm it through," said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who briefly considered joining the Obama administration as commerce secretary. "You're talking about the exact opposite of bipartisan. You're talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River."
I think Frum makes some good points, and the article itself is a great Cliff Note to the evolution of Congress over the past 60 years. But it is also the transition to 'Win at any cost' politics that is stalling our elected leaders from getting work down; and the minority, regardless of which party it is at the time, seems content with that.

If there is a sincere desire to change the way congress works, the electorate must understand it can't be done by hiring the same people over and over again, and expecting different results.