Saturday, May 31, 2008
Dad, you're too slow! I did it myself! You snooze, you lose! All right people, click on this link and get over to my blog for some music. C'mon, let's get moving!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Rep. Betty McCollum, who supported the comedian's rival Mike Ciresi until
he dropped out of the race for the party's nomination for the Senate, complained
Thursday that she and other Minnesota Democrats will be on the same November
ballot as a candidate "who has pornographic writings that are
"Do they spend all of their time defending him, or do they spend their
time talking about issues that are important to this election?" McCollum told
The Associated Press in an interview. "The whole story was a shocking
What she's talking about is a 2000 article that Franken wrote for Playboy. It featured some of Franken's typically subtle prose, including this charming chestnut (again, from the AP dispatch):
At one point in the Playboy piece titled "Porn-O-Rama!" Franken called the Internet a "terrific learning tool," writing that his 12-year-old son was able
to use it for a sixth-grade report on bestiality.
"As a parent and an aunt, and talking to other parents, people are very concerned about the type of internet use that's out there, and how it has a potentially harmful effect on children," McCollum said. "Sexually explicit material is one of the things that parents are very concerned about, and want to make sure that they're steering their children away from."
I dunno. My son Ben is 12 and he has used the Internet in the past couple of days to do a sixth-grade report on Yankee Stadium. Guess my kid and Al's kid simply have different interests.
I have to admit - I find all of this very amusing. No one should be surprised about any of the things that have been coming out about Franken. He's never made any bones about being anything other than a professional smartass and the idea that anyone would have considered him a potential Senate candidate was always ludicrous on its face. You would have thought that the poobahs in charge of the DFL would have had the wit to do oppo on their own candidate, or at least a Google Search or something. They might have realized that there were some, well, issues here. Perhaps Ciresi will get back in the race, but it's going to be tough now. Somehow I don't see the DFL wanting to send Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer into battle against Norm, either.
Meanwhile, back in the fighting 4th, Betty has been hoping to get through this election without having to open her mouth. She has a highly credible challenger in Ed Matthews and I'm guessing that she would rather not have to engage anyone this time around, because she likely understands that any head-to-head comparison between the candidates will be highly disadvantageous to her. She essentially ignored her 2006 challenger Obi Sium and was able to get by with it, but that's not likely to happen this time around, because Mr. Matthews won't allow it. Betty is capable of lobbing highly scripted partisan attacks but she hasn't had to explain why she deserves votes in a long time. She might face that obligation this time around and that's not a happy prospect for her, especially if it means differentiating herself from an addled court jester on the top of the ticket.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Do you suppose that if Barack Obama were a Republican, he would get by with some of the dumb stuff he's said in recent days?
In recent days we've seen the Savior of the Nation make a few pretty amusing stumbles. Earlier in the month he seemed to get confused about the number of states in the Union. A little later, he repeatedly greeted the citizens of Sunrise, Florida by referring to their community as "Sunshine." Then yesterday, he seemed to get confused on a number of levels about what holiday it was, as this quote would indicate:
On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen
heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today — our sense of
patriotism is particularly strong.
I'm curious how precisely Barack Obama saw the fallen heroes in the audience. Memorial Day is meant to honor the dead. Perhaps he's channeling Haley Joel Osment. The surviving heroes in any Memorial Day gathering are there to honor their fallen comrades, of course, as is everyone else. Although Memorial Day is a fine day to thank veterans for their service - every day is, truth be told - we specifically honor living veterans in November. When certain evil Republican operatives, including John McCain himself, pointed this out, Obama spokesman Bill Burton set people right about things:
“Memorial Day is a day to honor our nation’s veterans, not a day for political posturing.”
And of course Obama completely rejects the idea of political posturing on Memorial Day, which is why he lit into President Bush yesterday:
Obama said President Bush is asking the troops to do too much with too
little, such as interacting with civilians without the necessary translators and
handling nation-building tasks that could be done by the State Department and
"We're asking them to be teachers, social workers, engineers,
diplomats. That's not what they're trained to do," the Illinois senator said
during a town hall-style meeting at the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las
Heavy use of private contractors, such as Blackwater, also hurts
troops, Obama said. Contractors are paid many times what U.S. personnel make,
but they aren't subject to the same rules and their misconduct inflames
anti-American sentiment, he said. And when troops return home, the Bush
administration doesn't do enough to help those suffering from combat stress or
to help them get civilian jobs, Obama said.
So the question becomes this -- is Senator Obama, dumb, dishonest, tired or intellectually lazy? I know, this is a harsh and typically mean-spirited Republican way of looking at things. I remember well how gentle and understanding that our portside friends have been with the malaprops of Mr. Quayle and Mr. Bush. Since they are Republicans, J. Danforth Trustfund and Chimpy McHitlerburton deserve the gimlet eye; it's just wrong for me to dwell on such things in the case of the man who is here to bring needed change to America.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Representative Greiling recently called on the Star Tribune to dismiss metro columnist Katherine Kersten for a piece she wrote about about the Tarik ibn Zayad Academy TiZA), an Inver Grove Heights charter school. Kersten used her column to report on activities at the school that were explicitly religious in nature and included an eyewitness account from a substitute teacher. Rep. Greiling's response:
Kersten’s reckless journalistic standards have diminished this paper’s
credibility. Worse, they have threatened the safety of the children and staff at
the school, which has been forced to take extra security measures in the wake of
recent death threats. While I value a broad range of opinions from a variety of
perspectives, I value the facts even more. Kersten’s gross distortion of the
facts in this case should compel Star Tribune management to ask for her
In other words, shut up, she explained.
So far, Kersten's job is safe. Meanwhile, the story continues and KSTP-TV kept digging on the story. And today it got really interesting.
First, the Department of Education ordered changes at TiZA because it was offering religious instruction, which is a no-no for charter schools. This is what Kersten's column said. So, apparently, Kersten didn't grossly distort the facts after all.
Then, something even more important happened. A KSTP crew went to the school looking for a response to the ruling from the Department of Education. And the cameraman was attacked.
You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
And you don't criticize Obama's wife
Senator Obama laid down another Line That Must Not Be Crossed today on Good Morning America. As it turns out the Tennessee GOP posted a video mocking Michelle Obama's statements in a speech she made in Madison earlier this year.
Today Obama went into high dudgeon mode:
“If they think that they’re going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful, because that I find unacceptable — the notion
that you start attacking my wife or my family,” he said.
“For them to try to distort or to play snippets of her remarks in ways
that are unflattering to her I think is just low class and I think they — most
of the American people would think that as well,” he said. “I would never think
of going after somebody’s spouse in a campaign.”
I would agree with Obama if his wife had not been out on the hustings. But she has been. Certainly Obama's opponent was the subject of plenty of scrutiny while her husband ran for president and remained so throughout his presidency. And I'm certainly old enough to remember all manner of attacks from the portside concerning the deportment and demeanor of Nancy Reagan, culminating in the infamous book that Kitty Kelley wrote about about her a full four years after she'd left Washington. It's a little late now for the Sir Walter Raleigh stuff.
Sen. Obama needs to understand that he's not going to be able to proscribe the debate. I certainly understand the impulse - it's a hell of a lot easier if you don't have to face tough questions or suffer the strafing that comes from the media, blogosphere, etc. And I certainly understand the desire to protect one's family from attack. It gets rough and if you're not willing to subject your family to scrutiny, you shouldn't run. That's why Colin Powell is a private citizen today. And Sen. Obama needs to understand one other thing - the Tennessee GOP's attacks are nothing compared to what he'll face should he actually get the office he seeks. He won't be able to whine to Robin Roberts about Kim Jong Il or Hugo Chavez or Ahmedinejad.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
The Democrats aren't the ones falling apart, the Republicans are. The Democrats can see daylight ahead. For all their fractious fighting, they're
finally resolving their central drama. Hillary Clinton will leave, and Barack Obama will deliver a stirring acceptance speech. Then hand-to-hand in the
general, where they see their guy triumphing. You see it when you talk to them: They're busy being born.
The Republicans? Busy dying. The brightest of them see no immediate light.
They're frozen, not like a deer in the headlights but a deer in the darkness,
his ears stiff at the sound. Crunch. Twig. Hunting party.
Meanwhile, Noonan's colleague Kim Strassel also is like the horse that walks into the bar:
This anger is the best way to describe today's political landscape. Ever
since Republicans were routed in 2006, and more recently with their loss of
three special elections, the party has been in a debate about what changed in
the country and what to do in response. In the primaries, as Mike Huckabee
pitched to evangelicals, Rudy Giuliani pitched to fiscal conservatives, and Mitt
Romney pitched to anything that moved, some went so far as to declare the
"death" of the Reagan coalition.
Encouraging this panicked discussion has been a new theory that the
nation is experiencing a seismic political shift. A few short years ago, we were
supposed to be on the verge of a lasting conservative majority. Scrap that.
Do you think this is a little bit over the top? I sure do. It's quite possible that 2008 will be a big year for the Democrats. I'm going to do what I can to prevent it from happening. But I'm not convinced yet that it has to be. In fact, I think there's reason for optimism. Why? Plenty of reasons. Here are just a few:
- The Democrats aren't really any smarter than before. While Republicans have a well-deserved reputation for not learning from their mistakes, especially at the national level, there's no evidence that Democrats have learned anything, either. Tactically, they have done some smart things in terms of framing debates, but a lot of the candidates who are winning elections are running as moderates or even conservatives. Once these candidates get to Washington, they won't be able to pretend to be something they aren't, especially when they start taking marching orders from the Pelosis, Reids and Murthas of the world. When these solons return to their districts and their constituents, they will, like Lucy, have a lot of 'splainin to do.
- The headlining Democratic candidates aren't going to look as impressive in the fall as they might now. Barack Obama may be able to bluff his way through November, but he's shown real trouble dealing with anything approaching actual scrutiny. Here in Minnesota, the likely Senate nominee is Al Franken, who will bring to his campaign a very unflattering paper trail and lots of video antics that will flood YouTube and anyplace else that Republican operatives can place them. One well-connected blogger, Michael Brodkorb, has staggered the Franken campaign several times already. Norm Coleman, for all his faults, will be smart enough to bring in the operatives he needs to finish what Brodkorb has started. And Jesse Ventura won't change the equation this time. (Side note: you may have heard about Jesse's appearance the other day at the Mall of America, where he was signing copies of his book. Ol' Jesse was barking about how he wanted to take on Norm again. The MOA and Jesse had elaborate crowd control procedures in place, including issuing wristbands in advance to control an expected throng. From what I heard, they didn't need wristbands to control this throng.)
- What happens at the local level will be just as important as what happens at the national level and there are good candidates to support. I've been writing a lot about the race here in 50B and we have an excellent chance to elect Lori Grivna this fall. Incumbent Kate Knuth is no longer the fresh young face; instead, she's part of the DFL team that has already jammed the largest tax increase in Minnesota history down the throats of her constituents. And she wants to do a lot more of the same. And Lori is quite prepared to explain precisely what more of the same would mean.
- Even if the worst-case scenario takes place, there will be opportunities in the ashes. Suppose the most dire predictions come true - Obama wins and wins easily and brings 5-6 new Democratic senators (including, egad, Franken) and 20-30 new Congresscritters. What would happen? Well, you can assume that the emboldened Democrats will try to ram through their entire agenda - taking over healthcare, global warming, whatever the hell the teachers' unions want this time, etc., etc., etc. They might even get some of it passed. People will notice that, though. And people will notice that a lot of unsavory people will be wielding a lot of power; they'll notice that by giving the keys to Barack Obama, they've also unleashed the Murthas and Pelosis of the world. We can try to explain that to people all we want in this cycle, but most likely the message won't get through. Sometimes you have to experience something to learn from it. A very large percentage of the electorate doesn't remember what life was like in the 1970s. An Obama administration with large Democratic majorities in both houses would set up a replay of that time. Who thinks it will turn out better this time?
Bottom line? We have work to do. The key for those who believe in conservative ideals is to campaign forthrightly and with vigor in this cycle. We have good candidates to support and many reasonable arguments to make. It may not go our way. But if we make honest arguments and still lose because people aren't accepting the message, we'll have laid down a marker. And we'll have established something for the next campaign. As the wise man said, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. And if, like Peggy Noonan, you're worried about the hunting party, don't forget that some hunting parties are led by Elmer Fudd.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
At a minimum, Greiling should be ashamed. More anon.
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We
have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in
1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to
Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this
what it is –- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly
discredited by history.
We don't know specifically the identity of "some," of course. Based on what I can tell, the some could apply to hundreds of American politicians, thousands of European politicians and millions of people around the world.
For some reason , Barack Obama thought that George W. Bush meant him, and responded this way:
It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack. It is
time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and
failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no
action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of
American power -- including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy - to
pressure countries like Iran and Syria. George Bush knows that I have never
supported engagement with terrorists, and the President's extraordinary
politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure
the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.
Just a couple of things:
Obama is wrong, of course. Reagan never negotiated directly with countries like Libya or North Korea. Neither Kennedy, Nixon nor Reagan ever directly negotiated with Cuba. Nor have any of their successors. If Obama believes that we should directly negotiate with all nations, regardless of how heinous the governments of those nations are, he can certainly pursue that should he get elected president. But he'll be the first president in a long time to do so. Maybe the only president.
Second, Obama has one definite credibility issue on the matter of talking with Hamas. One of his advisers, Robert Malley, was in regular contact with Hamas. Once word of that got out, Obama fired him. Apparently Obama was shocked, shocked that this sort of activity was going on in his establishment.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
So the Republicans lost a special election down in Mississippi last night, which has led to a lot of sackcloth and ashes on the starboard side and glee on the port side. It would appear that there's no reason to even have an election and we should simply concede power to the mighty Democrats and our next president Barack Obama, who conclusively demonstrated his inevitability yesterday in West Virginia.
Well, Mr. Dilettante is always ready to be the on-deck deejay for the Titanic dance party. So in honor of our inevitable, impending doom, here's a selection of happy songs to brighten the mood of Republicans everywhere. Pick your favorite from among the following:
First, the pride of Rockford, Illinois gives Republicans some good advice. From Budokan, it's Cheap Trick, with:
Next, it's native son Robert Zimmerman explaining it all to the despairing masses, with:
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Next, resplendent in a sequined red velvet dinner jacket designed to assuage despairing red state partisans, Marvin Gaye gently suggests a potential strategy for Republicans in the fall, with:
Got to Give It Up
Finally, daring young modern Beck provides the anthem that will lead the GOP to victory in '08, including extensive footage of the recommended Republican transportation option, with:
Vote early and vote often - it works for the Democrats!
The "Message to the World" meme states: You have 150 characters to send a message to the world. Punctuation doesn't count. Well, all righty then. Ahem....
The golden rule works. Love your family. Tell the truth, especially to yourself. Learn something from mistakes. God is there for you. Laugh. Rock on.
Brought it in under 150.
And so we pass it on. That means you, Stinger and Heidi.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Their message has been consistent - South Dakota generally, and Sioux Falls in particular, have far lower taxes and business operating expenses than exist in Minnesota. For years they have been telling us that a business could save up to "a million dollars a year by moving to Sioux Falls," and they always assure us that they have the facts to back it up. And for years, they have talked at length about the predations of the political class in Minnesota, particularly the bien pensants who currently run the Legislature.
I'm not sure how much the Sioux Falls Development Council pays these gentlemen to spread their message, but my sense is that they could spare a lot of expense by simply broadcasting the deep thoughts of my representative in 50B, Kate Knuth. Ms. Knuth managed to get elected as a fresh new face in the 2006 election. She is very young and she shares the certitude that many young people have about the decency of their beliefs and the efficacy of their plans to fundamentally change the corrupt world they've inherited.
While it's difficult to get much of a sense of the scope of Ms. Knuth's vision from the sketchy information on her campaign's issues webpage, this week it was her turn to attach her name to one of those DFL press releases that reliably run each week in the local newspapers, in this case the Sun-Focus. (It's always interesting to note the similiarities in writing style that Kate Knuth, Bev Scalze, Paul Gardner, Mindy Greiling and other north suburban legislative deep thinkers share, by the way.) And Kate Knuth has big ideas:
I support an innovative plan to transform the way Minnesota schools are
funded - one that would significantly moderate skyrocketing property taxes and
provide every Minnesota student access to a top-notch education. The
groundbreaking proposal, which will be in play next year, begins increasing
school funding starting in 2010 and can be phased in over the course of several
bienniums as economic conditions allow. It simplifies state school funding,
reduces property taxes and lays a foundation for every student to succeed when
they graduate from high school.
Sounds good, doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to "moderate" their property taxes? But since schools are a local matter under the jurisdiction of local school boards, how would she fund it? You know the answer, of course -- by making the rich pay their fair share, that's how. And that means by shifting the burden to the state, which gets the money from income taxes.
As we said, Kate Knuth is young. She hasn't spent a lot of time in the business world; in fact, I'm not sure she's spent any significant time in the business world, as she's pretty much spent her adult life splitting time between academe and her current perch in the legislature. As a result, I suspect she doesn't quite understand how people who don't travel in her circles live. There are many bright, productive people who earn a lot of money and pay a lot of taxes right now. Many are high-level executives of small or large companies, or entrepreneurs who build their own enterprises and whose innovations lead to good jobs for their fellow citizens. Because such people are bright and productive, they are in demand and they have highly transferable skills. Such people have options. And the Dan Hindbjorgens of the world are more than happy to provide enticements to get such people to leave Minnesota. And when the Kate Knuths of the world start braying about fairness, smart and productive people well understand what fairness implies. And when the braying gets loud, the dulcet tones of Dan Hindbjorgen start to sound better and better.
Kate Knuth could understand all that some day. Anyone who earns degrees from the University of Chicago and Oxford has demonstrated that they can learn. It's quite possible that if Kate took the initiative, she could build her own business or rise to an executive position with a Minnesota company. And perhaps some day Kate may raise a family and learn the impact that well-meaning governmental ministrations have on individuals and families. In other words, she might understand the things that her opponent, Lori Grivna, understands well. If Kate Knuth values education, she ought to concentrate on her own education a little more. And the voters of 50B should not hesitate to offer a new syllabus in November.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
150 years ago today, President James Buchanan made the biggest mistake ofhis presidency (which is saying something given the US split under his watch),and granted Minnesota statehood. He had one last chance to get with the British and re-attach it to Rupert's Land, but instead he made Minnesota a state. And the rest of America has been paying for it ever since.
As they say, read the whole thing.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 09, 2008
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
1. Transportation basics (roads and bridges) should be funded first to relieve bottlenecks before sinking millions of dollars into rail projects serving very limited geographical areas or as a convenience to visit a casino up north! While the current transportation budget of nearly $5 billion will expand due to the tax increases passed by our legislators, the fact is that transit earmarks have taken away revenue for roads and bridges.
2. The Metropolitan Freeway System 2007 Congestion Report by the Department of Transportation indicates increased congestion on the main arteries going through our district: 694 and 35W.
3. In conversations with district residents, the need for bus service between suburban cities has shown some support. Bus lines retain the flexibility for ridership needs and can be adjusted accordingly to serve our community residents.