11:40 PM | Posted in , ,
While most Democrats fawn over the likes of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards I find myself gravitating to a man who really has no hope in the world of gaining the nomination.

So, Why Joe Biden?

Don't get me wrong, whomever the Democratic nominee for President is, there is a pretty solid chance I will be voting for him or her (although, I had considered a Rudy Giuliani vote until he started sucking up to the religious zealots of the Republican Party).

I am a huge supporter of Bill Clinton (perhaps it is because it was for him that I cast my first vote). However, Hillary Clinton has yet to impress me with either her speaking skills or her ideals. Is it her vote for the War in Iraq? Not really, since even Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War Resolution. Perhaps it is the feeling that twenty years is long enough for two families to dominate the Presidency. Perhaps it is an even more politically calculated feeling that tells me there are large segments of the population that have already developed an opinion of her and there isn't much she will be able to do that will sway their vote (I really don't want to live four more years under a Republican President!).

Barack Obama seems to be a fresh face with a lot of potential. His speech at the Democratic Convention in 2004 (Part 2) was one of the most awe inspiring speeches I have had the pleasure of witnessing. Yet, his utter lack of experience scares the hell out of me (remember, this President didn't have much experience either when he took the office and he has screwed things up almost beyond recognition). As the campaign becomes more and more about policy and less about pure personality I fear he will get hammered for this lack of experience. The Republicans will be more than happy to label him as another weak Democrat but this time will get to top it off with the lack of experience tag.

As for John Edwards, I simply cannot bring myself to support a guy who was part of the weak kneed colossal failure that was the John-John ticket of 2004. His views are wonderfully progressive and one would hope a Democratic nominee will take up his cause against poverty but it simply cannot be him.

But WHY Joe Biden?

First, Senator Biden is as strong a Union (A 91% rating from the NEA and a 100% rating from the AFL-CIO) supporter as any one could possibly be. As an educator I am always concerned about the tactics used by many Republicans that work tirelessly to chip away and eventually abolish the teachers unions that provide the relatively meager wage I currently enjoy.

Second, and far less calculated, is the sense of the man. When I see and listen to Joe Biden I see a man I would be proud to call my President. While others may disagree, I see a father figure or amusing uncle that always seems to have a bit of advice (probably good) to impart to you. I see a man of strength that Republicans would have a hard time portraying as a weak liberal as they are prone to do. This strength is evident in his passion, his eloquence, and yes, even in his loquaciousness!

Third, and very much related to the second, is his solution for the debacle that it is this Administrations handling of the war in Iraq. He cannot be pinned with the label of offering no plan for success because his plan is apparent and has even been parroted by at least one of the Republican hopefuls. The creation of a Federal System in Iraq may be the only way to quell sectarian violence at the same time keeping the country from breaking apart or falling into utter anarchy. As of right now it is the main thrust of my support for Joe Biden as I have yet to hear anything more than "stay the course" from this Administration (which, by the way, is not a solution!) and what appears to many as a pullout without a contingency for cleaning up the mess we created from the Democrats.

So, what to do about supporting a guy with little chance for success in becoming President in 2008? Well, Joe Biden for Secretary of State!

From the Biden for President Website:

A Five Point Plan for Iraq

1. Establish One Iraq, with Three Regions
  • Federalize Iraq in accordance with its constitution by establishing three largely autonomous regions - Shiite, Sunni and Kurd -- with a strong but limited central government in Baghdad
  • Put the central government in charge of truly common interests: border defense, foreign policy, oil production and revenues
  • Form regional governments -- Kurd, Sunni and Shiite -- responsible for administering their own regions
2. Share Oil Revenues
  • Gain agreement for the federal solution from the Sunni Arabs by guaranteeing them 20 percent of all present and future oil revenues -- an amount roughly proportional to their size -- which would make their region economically viable
  • Empower the central government to set national oil policy and distribute the revenues, which would attract needed foreign investment and reinforce each community's interest in keeping Iraq intact and protecting the oil infrastructure
3. Convene International Conference, Enforce Regional Non-Aggression Pact
  • Convene with the U.N. a regional security conference where Iraq's neighbors, including Iran, pledge to support Iraq's power sharing agreement and respect Iraq's borders
  • Engage Iraq's neighbors directly to overcome their suspicions and focus their efforts on stabilizing Iraq, not undermining it
  • Create a standing Contact Group, to include the major powers, that would engage Iraq's neighbors and enforce their commitments
4. Responsibly Drawdown US Troops
  • Direct U.S. military commanders to develop a plan to withdraw and re-deploy almost all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2007
  • Maintain in or near Iraq a small residual force -- perhaps 20,000 troops -- to strike any concentration of terrorists, help keep Iraq's neighbors honest and train its security forces
5. Increase Reconstruction Assistance and Create a Jobs Program
  • Provide more reconstruction assistance, conditioned on the protection of minority and women's rights and the establishment of a jobs program to give Iraqi youth an alternative to the militia and criminal gangs
  • Insist that other countries take the lead in funding reconstruction by making good on old commitments and providing new ones -- especially the oil-rich Arab Gulf countries
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3:26 PM | Posted in ,
The St. Cloud Times ran an editorial today that praises Michele's vote on a recent Student Aid Bill. Unfortunately, if you dig a little deeper, you find that the author misrepresented herself as the creator of her thoughts when they are clearly copied and pasted from the website of House Minority Leader John Boehner.

From the St. Cloud Times:

Letter: Bachmann is right to oppose student aid bill
By Kate Sorenson, Anoka
Published: July 21. 2007 12:30AM - Last updated: July 21. 2007 12:52AM

Thanks to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for standing up to a Democratic proposal that would allow virtually anyone who works for the federal government or a nonprofit organization — including members of Congress and lobbyists — to have their student loans forgiven at taxpayer expense.

What does John Boehner's site say?

"Led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), House Republicans today are mobilizing to defeat a Democratic proposal that would allow virtually anyone who works for the federal government or a non-profit organization – including Members of Congress and lobbyists working for non-profit entities – to have their student loans forgiven at the expense of American taxpayers."

Kate's Letter:

This misguided proposal was included in the so-called "student aid" bill brought to the House floor recently. It was a bill that came under fire for creating nine new federal spending programs and for failing students with gimmicks, hidden costs and poorly targeted aid.

What does John Boehner's site say?

"This misguided Democratic proposal is included in the so-called “student aid” bill brought to the floor today by the majority leadership in the House, a bill that has come under fire from House Republicans for creating nine new federal entitlement spending programs."

Kate's Letter:

Democratic leaders last year promised they would work in a bipartisan manner to rein in runaway entitlement spending in Washington if put in charge of Congress, and would limit congressional perks and privileges. Instead, they brought a bill to the floor that creates nine new government programs and allows members of Congress and lobbyists to receive financial benefits at taxpayer expense.

What does John Boehner's site say?

"Democratic leaders last year promised they would work in a bipartisan manner to rein in runaway entitlement spending in Washington if put in charge of Congress, and would seek to limit congressional perks and privileges. Instead, they have brought legislation to the floor that would create nine entirely new entitlement spending programs and allow Members of Congress, lobbyists, and others to receive new financial benefits at taxpayer expense."



What do Bachmann supporters say about this obvious display of intellectual dishonesty?

3.
Len H from St. Cloud
Comment Posted: 7/21/2007 2:48:38 AM

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

6.
olaf flagenwagel

Comment Posted: 7/21/2007 6:42:48 AM


nicely done mr austin. attack the messenger. nevermind what the writer said is true.

the dems passed a bill full of pork and michele voted against it. good!

now, get off your high horse and come up with an original thought of your own.

*Interesting choice of words!

19.
Dennis B
Comment Posted: 7/21/2007 8:48:00 AM

All I we heard about this bill was random increase of eligibilty, (the reason Bachmann opposed it). This is the first I've heard of forgiving student loans. Why weren't we told this in the first go around with Bachmann's veto?

If Kate Sorenson is guilty of plagiarism then we need more of it!

60.
angel carver from among the people
Comment Posted: 7/21/2007 1:29:53 PM

Grandma Carvers always said, "I approve of plagiarism, as long as you can get away with it".


62.
Archie from Coon Rapids
Comment Posted: 7/21/2007 1:41:56 PM

Mr Austin:

Illegal copyright is about the lowest on my list of societial infractions, If people have an IQ as high as a pair of sneakers they immedeiatly recognize who said what, Plagerism is a great tool for attacking "the message"

This site and others are filled with violations of copyright laws, the most abused is the printed media that is walked on every day,

It is not wrong to copy ideals of others that you agree with, only change a sentence structure and you have another original, Like the smoking ban, totally unenforcable.

*As to the content of the Bill, I found the section that Ms. Sorenson (or should I say John Boehner) is referencing and I found no instance where it gives either lobbyists or members of Congress loan forgiveness.

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1:55 PM | Posted in ,
Latest news: Olson switches from Senate to DFL 6th District race
By Lawrence Schumacher lschumacher@stcloudtimes.com
Published: July 17. 2007 12:30AM - Last updated: July 17. 2007 1:08PM

Orono tax lawyer and bank owner Bob Olson announced today he will seek the DFL endorsement in a 2008 6th Congressional District race.

Olson, who decided to leave a crowded DFL field in a 2008 U.S. Senate race that included Al Franken and Mike Ciresi, becomes the second DFLer to challenge U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

Stillwater trial lawyer Bob Hill entered the race earlier this summer.

Olson, who founded the American Sustainable Energy Council, ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn, in 1994.

He is a majority owner of St. Stephen Community Bank and a member of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce. He owns a townhome in St. Cloud.

The 6th Congressional District covers all or most of Anoka, Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington and Wright counties and includes the St. Cloud area.

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While I understand the need for Michele to remain anti-government (except, of course, when it comes to subsidies for the family farm and government funding for private schooling) so that she can continue to claim to be a good Republican I just cannot fathom how someone can be opposed to providing grants to organizations that build low income housing.

Yesterday, Michele felt it necessary to vote against this:

AN ACT

To authorize appropriations for the Housing Assistance Council.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Housing Assistance Council Authorization Act of 2007'.

SEC. 2. ASSISTANCE TO HOUSING ASSISTANCE COUNCIL.

    (a) Use- The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development may provide financial assistance to the Housing Assistance Council for use by such Council to develop the ability and capacity of community-based housing development organizations to undertake community development and affordable housing projects and programs in rural areas. Assistance provided by the Secretary under this section may be used by the Housing Assistance Council for--
      (1) technical assistance, training, support, and advice to develop the business and administrative capabilities of rural community-based housing development organizations;
      (2) loans, grants, or other financial assistance to rural community-based housing development organizations to carry out community development and affordable housing activities for low- and moderate-income families; and
      (3) such other activities as may be determined by the Housing Assistance Council.
    (b) Authorization of Appropriations- There is authorized to be appropriated for financial assistance under this section for the Housing Assistance Council--
      (1) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2008; and
      (2) $15,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
*The Dump Bachmann Blog has already documented Michele's opposition to Native Americans and given the fact the Housing Assistance Council has part of its special focus on Indian Country one has to wonder what she has against Native Americans.

*What confuses this vote even further is that Michele voted FOR H.R. 1851 that provides money for low income housing. So, Michele, either you are opposed to government assistance for some and in favor of government assistance for others, or you are just closing your eyes and giving it the old eenie meenie miney moe treatment!
10:38 PM | Posted in
The Mark Olson trial took place during my vacation so I have not had a chance to comment on the results. The St. Cloud Times had several articles covering the events.

Latest news: Olson trial opens with testimony of stormy marriage
By David Unze dunze@stcloudtimes.com
Published: July 11. 2007 12:30AM - Last updated: July 11. 2007 6:06PM

ELK RIVER – Mark and Heidi Olson had been married less than two years when the cycles of good and bad in their relationship included for the first time an allegation that he had abused her.

*I would be interested to hear from the previous attorneys Mark had to see if the reason they were dismissed is because they wouldn't go for the abused husband defense.

Jury hears from Olson's wife
By David Unze dunze@stcloudtimes.com
Published: July 12. 2007 1:10AM


The jury later heard Heidi Olson say her husband had pushed, grabbed, wrestled or thrown books at her at least three times after they were married and before the Nov. 12 incident.

They also heard Heidi Olson admit that, just a few months into her marriage with Mark Olson, she punched him once in the chest when she was angry with him.

She also admitted using a knife in a separate incident to stab holes in the drawer of an antique dresser that Mark Olson had bought.

*It seems as though both of these individuals have anger issues. However, I was always taught that a real man NEVER hits a woman. While some might cite the fact that he "pushed" her rather than "hit" it seems to me that those that try this defense are quibbling this egregious behavior away.

Testimony Wednesday from Olson's brother, Brian, showed that Mark Olson is a deeply religious and spiritual man who had strong beliefs that the man must be a strong presence at the top of the family structure.

*Olson believes in the subservience of women and apparently cannot accept an equal partnership!

An incident two days after the election — and three days before the alleged assault — involved Heidi Olson's autistic son, she said.

Mark Olson had reacted to a mistake the autistic son had made during a game of Monopoly.

Heidi Olson thought Mark Olson had been too harsh, and she wanted to discuss the matter.

*This poor boy was apparently a victim of Olson's distorted world view and child services really ought to investigate this incident further. What kind of "man" gets worked up at a boy (an autistic boy at that!) over a game of monopoly?

Olson went to their home after church and wanted to go out to eat with his wife and talk.

But she told him by phone that she had no baby sitter and couldn't leave. Heidi Olson then realized that Mark Olson was calling her from his vehicle parked in the couple's driveway.

Heidi Olson came out of the house and met him at the rear of their house. She told him to leave, she testified, and Mark Olson then began to measure the distance of a portion of the house where they had planned an addition.

*What is wrong with Mark? Was that really the appropriate time to go measuring the house when you are trying to resolve a conflict? It seems like a passive aggressive way of marking ones territory!

She described another incident in which he repeatedly threw Bibles at her during an argument, bruising her arms.

*A "deeply religious and spiritual" man using the Bible to physically harm another person? If this isn't the antithesis of everything the Bible stands for I don't know what is.

Olson recounts mistakes, arguments
By David Unze, dunze@stcloudtimes.com
Published: July 13. 2007 12:30AM

In testimony that was at times slow-moving and wandering — testimony that required the judge to intervene to get Olson back on track — the eight-term lawmaker from Big Lake didn't deny that he put his hands on his wife, Heidi, during an argument Nov. 12 at their house. He also didn't deny that she ended up on her back on the ground.

*This doesn't shock me in the least! I have been in Mark's House Office and listened to him dance around whatever issue he was being asked to support. It actually is a remarkable skill he possesses to speak for a considerable amount of time yet say nothing and wear you down.

Jury finds Olson guilty on 1 count
By David Unze, dunze@stcloudtimes.com
Published: July 14. 2007 12:30AM

ELK RIVER — Resolute in the face of a domestic assault conviction, state Rep. Mark Olson said Friday that he has no intention of resigning his legislative seat, even if asked to do so by colleagues.

*If this isn't a sign of the utter stubbornness of this man I don't know what is. However, it may be an excellent chance for Jim Huhtala to run against a Republican and an "Independent" Olson. I would find it hard to believe that the Republican Party would allow him back into their good graces.

Mark Olson, an eight-term legislator who was jettisoned by the House Republican caucus after his arrest in November, thanked the jurors for their attentiveness during the trial and said again he believed he was innocent of the crimes with which he was charged. He also expressed frustration with a system that forced so much of his and his family's personal life into the public spotlight through a trial.

*Way to take responsibility for your actions Mark!
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10:28 AM | Posted in , ,
On the day after George W. Bush commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby I thought it might be appropriate to compile a list of rules one must follow so that YOU too can be a good Republican and receive preferential treatment.

Disclaimer: this is not my list and I don't recall where I came by it. I did, however, add a few extras!

30 Rules for Being a Good Republican

1) Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you are a millionaire conservative radio jock, which makes it an "illness" and needs our prayers for your "recovery."

2) You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.

3) You have to believe that the US should get out of the UN, and that our highest national priority is enforcing UN resolutions against Iraq.

4) You have to believe that government should stay out of people's lives but it needs to punish anyone caught having private sex with the "wrong" gender.

5) You have to believe that pollution is ok, so long as it makes a profit.

6) You have to believe in prayer in schools, as long as you don't pray to Allah or Buddha.

7) You have to believe that a woman cannot be trusted with decisions about her own body, but that large multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind with no regulation whatsoever.

8) You have to believe that you love Jesus and Jesus loves you, and that Jesus shares your hatred of AIDS victims, homosexuals, and Hillary Clinton.

9) You hate the ACLU for representing convicted felons, but they owed it to the country to help out Oliver North, Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, and other religious organizations.

10) You have to believe that the best way to encourage military morale is to praise the troops overseas while cutting their VA benefits.

11) You believe that group sex and drug use are degenerate sins that can only be purged by running for governor of California as a Republican.

12) You have to believe it is wise to keep condoms out of schools, because we all know if teenagers don't have condoms they won't have sex.

13) You have to believe that the best way to fight terrorism is to alienate our allies and then demand their cooperation and money.

14) You have to believe that government medicine is wrong and that HMO's and insurance companies only have your best interests at heart.

15) You have to believe that providing health care to all Iraqis is sound government policy but providing health care to all Americans is socialism personified.

16) You believe that tobacco's link to cancer and global warming are "junk science" but Creationism should be taught in schools.

17) You have to believe that waging war with no exit strategy was wrong in Vietnam but right in Iraq.

18) You have to believe that Saddam was good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney was doing business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

19) You believe that government should restrict itself to just the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

20) You have to believe that the public has a right to know about the adulterous affairs of Democrats, while those of Republicans are a "private matter."

21) You have to believe that the public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades but that Bush was right to censor those 28 pages from the Congressional 9/11 report because you just can't handle the truth.

22) You support state rights, which means Ashcroft telling states what locally passed voter initiatives he will allow them to have.

23) You have to believe that what Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest but what Bush did decades later is "stale news" and "irrelevant."

24) You have to believe that trade with Cuba is wrong because it is communist, but trading with China and Vietnam is just dandy.

25) You have to believe that the rich know what's right, and the poor choose to be poor.

26) You have to believe that hunting is a challenge, but art is a waste of time.

27) You have to believe that money can solve all problems, but education is a waste of money.

28) You have to be against abortion, but against sex education as well. And welfare for the single moms. And health care for poor families. And taxes for good schools and after-school programs.

29) You have to preach Christian values while promoting capital punishment.

30) You have to believe that the AIDS virus can be cured by ignoring it.


Could these be our recent additions?

31) You have to believe it was appropriate to execute the Mentally Retarded as Governor of Texas but the 30 month sentence of a convicted liar was "too excessive".

32) You have to believe that what William Jefferson did was outrageous but somehow ignore Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Mark Foley, and other Republicans because its not that bad.

33) You have to believe that there is a Fourth Branch of government consisting solely of Dick Cheney.

34) You have to believe that Bill O'Reilly is "fair and balanced" but Dan Rather is horribly biased.

35) You have to denounce the mainstream media as leftist propaganda that must be stopped but celebrate the conservative leanings of talk radio as the triumph of capitalism.
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12:31 AM | Posted in ,

It seems as though congratulations are in order for Central Minnesota Schools!


From the St. Cloud Times:

Most area schools pass tests
By Dave Aeikens, daeikens@stcloudtimes.com
Published: June 26. 2007 12:30AM

Most area high schools scored near or above the state average in state writing tests.

Results were released this morning for the 2007 Basic Skills Tests and the new Graduation-Required Assessment for Diploma test, which students must pass to graduate.

The state average for the BST writing test for 10th-graders was 92 percent of students passing. In the GRAD test, for ninth-graders, 91 percent of students who took the test passed.

In Upsala and Eden Valley-Watkins secondary schools, every student who took the Basic Skills Test passed. All 10 of the St. Cloud Area Learning Center students who took the GRAD test pass.

St. Cloud Technical and Apollo, the area's largest and most diverse high schools, finished below the state average in both tests, with more than 82 percent passing.

The tests assess how well students' writing demonstrates the skills needed to graduate, and results show schools how students in some specific categories are performing. Those categories include gender, ethnicity, low income, special education and English language learners.

This year, Minnesota tested both ninth- and 10th-graders as the state moves the writing test from grade 10 to grade 9.

The state's 2007 overall passing rate of 92 percent for the 10th-grade writing test was similar to the overall rate from 2006.

The St. Cloud ALC was the only school in the region to have all students who took the GRAD test pass.

"I'm so proud of the work they did on their writing," said Julia Espe, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Most districts topped the state average of 91 percent. Kimball topped 98 percent, with one student out of 60 not passing the test. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa had one student of 64 not pass, coming in at 98.4 percent. Melrose and Sauk Centre hit 97 percent.

In Kimball, two ninth-graders got the highest possible score.

"I think at the secondary level, we've got some instructors that are very good at teaching writing and work with the students very well, giving them good background on how to write," Superintendent John Tritabaugh said. "I attribute a lot to the secondary staff."

Sartell-St. Stephen, Sauk Centre, Rocori, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Little Falls, Swanville, Becker, Big Lake, Holdingford, Kimball and Melrose all topped the state average.

In the BSTs, Sartell-St. Stephen hit 99 percent, with two out of 209 not passing. Sauk Centre and Becker topped 97 percent. Rocori had more than 96 percent of its students pass.

Apollo had 83 percent pass and Tech had 86 percent pass.

Compared with other area high schools, Tech and Apollo have relatively high ratios of students who don't speak English as a primary language and who are low-income, which studies have shown can be a factor in academic performance.

The ALC, which serves students who have trouble fitting into traditional school settings, had 75 percent of its test-takers pass.

Espe said she is pleased with the results in St. Cloud's high schools. She said plans call for more work and program development for students who are still learning English.

"It is a process we believe where continuous improvement is key. We will do more work. We will be focusing efforts to improve these as we do other scores," Espe said.

Milaca, Foley and Pierz all finished slightly below 90 percent in the BSTs.

The Legislature repealed the state's math and reading basic skills tests in 2005. State graduation requirements are being phased into Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment-II tests in 10th-grade reading and 11th-grade mathematics.

Beginning next year for reading and 2009 for mathematics, selected questions on each test will be included in requirements for student graduation.

*While I will not divulge which of these is my school, I do want to say excellent job!

*Now for the politics of the whole thing! I found it remarkable how quiet the story chat was on this particular story. The naysayers seem quick to point out failure but hard pressed to offer praise for our public schools.

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