10:30 PM | Posted in , ,
So, I have been tossing around the choice of Sarah Palin as Vice Presidential nominee. My first instinct was to chuckle and wonder if John McCain is TRYING to lose this election or if he had just forgotten to make a pick until the last minute and drew out of a hat.

Now that I have had time to think about the pick, I offer you these observations:

1. Despite what the talking heads would have you believe, this choice is decidedly NOT the work of a maverick willing to buck his party. This choice is little more than pandering to the ultra right wing base of the party that has long been unsatisfied with his perceived "moderate" positions. They demanded that he suck it up and follow the party line with a choice that would excite the far right and he did just that.

When the likes of James Dobson are heralding this choice, the rest of the population had better wake up and recognize that there is nothing maverick about either McCain or Palin. A maverick would not have buckled under the pressure from the religious right. A maverick would have chosen the best person to help them govern and then gone out to convince people that they knew what they were doing. McCain doesn't have to do that because he chose the person with issue positions that do not help him govern but definitely mollify segments of the population uninterested in good governance but come out to the polls for the politics of division.

Palin is little more than the 2008 version of George W. Bush. He too claimed to be a reformer and we all know how that turned out. We now live in an era of more divisive politics and a more divided country. If we want to play the who is more maverick game it has to go to Obama for NOT choosing Clinton despite large portions of the party demanding her addition to the ticket.

2. The only difference between Sarah Palin and the prototypical ultra right wing candidate is that she is a woman. This is clearly an attempt by the McCain campaign to attract the remaining few disaffected Clinton supporters.

While I certainly cannot speak for them and imagine that some will be swayed by this, I cannot help but wonder if they shouldn't be asking John McCain this question: Is this the best female candidate the Republican Party has to offer? Is your party so devoid of experienced female candidates that all you could come up with was a Governor of 18 months?

The Democratic Party offered up one of the most experienced and powerful women this country had to offer and although she did not win the nomination she remains a powerful force in the party. What John McCain just offered up should be taken for what it is: a full on slap in the face to every intelligent woman in the United States. He didn't choose her because her positions on the issues would be attractive to Clinton supporters. He chose her precisely because she is a woman in the hopes that THAT ALONE will win Clinton supporters over. My cousin, a Pennsylvania voter, said it best:

He can't possibly believe that simply choosing a female running mate will bring women to vote for him.

If that is his motivation, it is insulting to women. Women care about issues more than just gender. I don't care if she is a mom, a wife, a worker, a woman. She stands on the opposite end of every issue that I care about.
Due to some complications on my side as well as some complications with the C-Span website, I am running a little behind on providing the floor speeches of our Democratic delegation.

So, better late than never, here are the updates:

On July 30, 2008, Amy Klobuchar took to the floor of the Senate to discuss Republican obstruction (HERE, HERE, & HERE) and the affect that obstruction has had on legislation making its way through the Senate.

Mr. President, I come to the floor today with much dismay over the fact that we were not able to pass the energy extenders, the tax extenders, the package of important provisions for our country's economy because of this obstructionism on the other side.

Let me tell my colleagues why this was so important to me. We only got four Republican votes for this package. I think it is outrageous when you look at what we are dealing with.


Also on July 30th, Klobuchar discussed the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity Bill. You may recall that this legislation made its way through the House of Representatives in February with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, that bipartisan support DID NOT include John Kline or Michele Bachmann.

On August 1st, the anniversary of the I35W Bridge collapse, both Keith Ellison and Tim Walz took to the floor of the House of Representatives to speak.

This is a continued effort to highlight the floor speeches of Minnesota's Democratic delegation in Congress. For more floor speeches, visit the MNMuseTube Page.
A couple of days ago I wrote about the results of my recent polling in Senate District 16. Those results showed that despite the endorsement of Mark Olson by SD16 Republicans, Alison Krueger performs better with the general population.

In general election match-ups, the evidence is clear that Krueger is also the stronger candidate to go up against Lisa Fobbe (DFL).

A couple thoughts:

1. While Fobbe leads in both of these polls, I would say that the more important information is in the amount of that lead within each poll. If she leads by only 8% to Alison Krueger you can guarantee that this match up is far closer and far more to Krueger's advantage given the make of the district.

2. This is a highly conservative district and very difficult for the DFL to compete in but the nearly 50% advantage Fobbe shows against Olson shows that she can win if SD16 Republicans show up to the Primaries to get back at the Republican Party for snubbing their choice. While these polls don't necessarily reflect an absolute snap shot of the race, they do indicate a certain level of competitiveness between a Fobbe/Krueger race and a Fobbe/Olson race.
10:16 PM | Posted in , ,
I tend to guage the success of a Democrat upon the level of irrationality coming from the keyboard of local Conservative echo chamber, Gary Gross. Given the complete breakdown in sense and coherence he has displayed in response to the Obama acceptance speech, we just might have the most successful Democrat in the history of this country.
This administration wants an ownership society. When you get laid off, you’re on your own. Can’t get unemployment? You’re on your own. Please.

That's the best you have Gary, is please? The shot must have hurt because the normally verbose Gross could muster only one word.

This guy’s an idiot. Either that or he thinks we’re idiots. I don’t know which is worse.

Such excellent analysis, I cannot imagine why people aren't flocking to the Republican Party. If this is the best response you can muster, it may be time to pack it in.

9:40– If John McCain wants to debate, that’s a debate I’m willing to have. (Yeah right. You’re a chicken shit. You’ve avoided the townhall meetings.)
So, how much petty name calling can one person add into a post? Has the Republican Party sunk so low that the best its got is foul mouthed cursing. Excellent work, my friend. But hey, what do you expect when one is watching Fox News in order not to miss the appropriate smears.

Frankly, this was another all-style, no substance performance. Sen. Obama is the quintessential empty suit. Michael Steele is right- He’s all platitude and no attitude.

Word before the speech was that this would be a workmanlike speech. It wasn’t. It was just about platitudes.

As I said before, if you didn't hear the specifics of change in this speech, then you were intentionally ignoring them. It would not have mattered if Obama had laid out the exact dollar amount he would have appropriated to each budgetary item, Gross wasn't there to hear any of it. He apparently was there to use cuss words and bring up old tired smears that have been debunked time and time again.

So, in case you were perhaps using the facilities and honestly didn't hear the specifics, lets go over them again:

So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president.

Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes -- cut taxes -- for 95 percent of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Sen. McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American -- if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime -- by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less -- because we cannot meet 21st century challenges with a 20th century bureaucracy.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility -- that's the essence of America's promise.

5:30 PM | Posted in
H/T to my friend Ollie Ox over at Bluestem Prairie:

Michele Bachmann successfully made it onto the list of Washington's Best & Worst of Congress. While she probably would have liked to make the list on the best side of the equation, it is unsurprising to those of us that cover her that she made it onto the worst side.

Clueless

1. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)

2. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

Brown has a knack for the impolitic; Bachmann clung to George Bush so tightly after this year’s State of the Union address that some joked he might need a restraining order.


It appears as though even the people on Capitol Hill recognize what I and others have been screaming from the rooftops for years.

On a side note, I too would like to add high praise for McPherson Hall at Minnesota Central who doesn't get enough coverage and enough kudos for the quality material he covers. Go check him out...

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
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Over the past couple of weeks I have been conducting three separate polls to try determine the state of the race in Senate District 16.

While Mark Olson supporters have been loud and very vocal about supporting him despite his personal problems, it appears as though his opponent is garnering more support from the general population. According to our poll, Krueger is leading Olson 56% to 43%.

While I have covered several aspects of this ongoing campaign controversy, you should go to Lloydletta's Nooz, Dump Mark Olson, and What the Republic Can Do for more information from both perspectives.

I will have more information on the two general election polls in the coming days.
9:35 AM | Posted in
Has anyone else been less than satisfied with major cable news (I rarely watch broadcast news) coverage of the Democratic National Convention? It seems to me that they spend most of their time with talking head pundits telling you what is going on at the convention rather than letting you watch the proceedings and decide for yourself what is transpiring. They only show the major, primetime speeches and diss the rest of the interesting, if occasionally boring, speeches and goings on. Could it be that they have an agenda to foment or are they just to cheap to spend the money to have actual reporters actually report. I have taken to watching the CSPAN coverage, which simply lets the speakers speak without all the punditry. MSNBC has had the most palatable coverage but they have been pretty much Democrat cheerleaders. CNN and Fox continue to find controversy where there is none, searching the hall far and wide until they find that one Clinton delegate who tearfully admits they still are having a hard time accepting Barack Obama as the nominee, setting them up as a salient exemplar of "massive" dissension in the ranks. Oh well, after all, they wouldn't have jobs unless they were able to create the controversy they hunger for, especially where there is none. Just another indication that the media is no longer about reporting the news and has become mere "infotainment". Maybe I'll go see a movie instead.
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9:22 AM | Posted in
Hello, I am Will Servant and I want to introduce myself to those of you who are regular readers of LitLoC. First I want to thank the Political Muse for allowing my rants onto this august blog. Second, a little about me. I am a Central Minnesota progressive (in the progressive sense of the word) with plenty of opinions on just about everything. I have a personal blog as well, The Way Things R, at 108flavors.blogspot.com (shameless plug) where I wax philosophic on matters political and otherwise. I hope to contribute a more pithy and less verbose commentary to this blog, on the wild and wacky world of politics as well as other relevant topics, from time to time. I'll be posting my first words of substance soon. Hope you enjoy.
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9:00 AM | Posted in
Over the past few weeks I have been in search of some brave souls to join me here on "Liberal in the Land of Conservative". Three people have expressed interest and over the next few weeks they will be joining the blog and adding their voice.

I will allow them to introduce themselves and hopefully their writing and their perspective will continue to grow this blog and demonstrate that this land that was once firmly conservative is increasingly becoming a land of liberals, progressives, and independent minded citizens.
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6:38 PM | Posted in , , ,
For all the discussion of dis-unity in the Democratic Party, there has been surprisingly little discussion about the lack of enthusiasm and perhaps even dis-unity in the Republican Party.

Two items for consideration:

First, for all their demagoguery of the drill issue, it appears as though they are unwilling to come right out and say that the party stands for drilling everywhere:

The GOP’s presumptive nominee, John McCain, doesn’t support drilling in ANWR, and the majority of the committee’s members didn’t want to put the platform at odds with him, according to Congressional Quarterly.


So, the choice for Republicans is to put aside their love of oil drilling and support a candidate and a platform that simply does not reflect that love. Most Republicans in this area did not support John McCain (including Michele Bachmann) but have since put aside their distaste for him to shill for him. How many more principles are they willing to forego for the sake of the (R) behind a candidates name?

Second, there is the issue of anthropogenic climate change. While most sensible human beings have acknowledged that it exists, the base of the Republican Party is vehemently opposed to any and all acknowledgment of its existence. Yet, when they vote this November, it will be for a party now willing to accept the existence of anthropogenic climate change:

"Increased atmospheric carbon has a warming effect on the Earth," The Hill reported the draft document as saying. "While the scope and long term consequences of this warming effect are the subject of ongoing research, we believe the United States should take measured and reasonable steps today."

What will the deniers in the Republican Party do now? Will they give up their denial and vote for a party acknowledging climate change or will they give up another belief for the sake of the (R)?
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9:03 PM | Posted in , ,
The Obama Campaign put out a video on Sunday introducing Joe Biden:

5:00 PM | Posted in , ,
In honor of Joe Biden as the Vice Presidential pick for the Democratic ticket, I am going to offer up some posts from the archives highlighting the man who I originally supported as the top of the ticket but am more than pleased to see back on the ticket even if it is as the VP.

Biden on Iraq:

Joe Biden has put out his first campaign video in Iowa:



From the Des Moines Register:

New Biden TV ad pushes Iraq exit

By ABBY SIMONS
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
August 18, 2007

With an Iowa cornfield as his backdrop, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden opens the first of his televised Iowa campaign ads the same way he has begun nearly 70 stump speeches across the state this year.
12:00 PM | Posted in , ,
In honor of Joe Biden as the Vice Presidential pick for the Democratic ticket, I am going to offer up some posts from the archives highlighting the man who I originally supported as the top of the ticket but am more than pleased to see back on the ticket even if it is as the VP.

Biden and education:

Education is of the highest priority to me as a parent and as a teacher. Beyond any other issue it is education which drives my vote for any given candidate. I have seen the systematic attack upon education by Republicans. Do they support education? Of course, but the problem is that they seem to have no understanding of how to educate and this has lead them on a foolish quest for more bubble tests, punishment over praise, and a constant blame game upon the unions that they believe have destroyed education. I have yet to find a Republican whom I could support purely because of their continued insistence upon weakening PUBLIC education.

They seem to believe that using a one size fits all testing method given on one day and assessing the most basic forms of knowledge can somehow result in an accurate portrayal of a students abilities. This is but a snapshot that certainly has some uses but to use such data as a cudgel on those schools that don't make "adequate progress" is shortsighted and foolish. It tries to invalidate an entire year of assessments given by teachers to provide a much broader and accurate portrayal of a students abilities.

Their continued blame of unions for the inadequacies or failure of schools is nothing more than a veiled attempt at breaking the union and moving closer to a privatized education system in which the haves get great education and the have nots are left to fend for themselves on the bottom rung of the free market. I am often reminded of their claim that supporting the troops means you must support the war. If, as they insist, by not supporting the war we are demoralizing the troops, shouldn't they also recognize that not supporting teachers and the organizations they run is as equally demoralizing?

Joe Biden has unveiled his vision for education. These are all items that will help educators and children to succeed. It is a bold vision to be sure, but we need a bolder vision than the test, test, test mindset of the past seven years.

Some Highlights:

Biden's plan would add two years of preschool to the public school system. It would fully fund Head Start and other early childhood programs, and expand education and nutrition programs that begin at birth. Biden said he believes the earlier children start their education, the better prepared they will be for life.
Biden said he wants all Americans to have access to college. He proposed credits and grants up to $12,000 per child to help cover the average costs at a two-year-college, or half of the average costs at a four-year college. His plan would also allow families to claim tax credits for more than one child per year.
Biden proposed expanding the maximum amount available in Pell Grants from $4,310 a year to $6,300. Legislation signed by President Bush in September would increase the current amount to $5,400 by 2012.
Biden proposed hiring an additional 100,000 teachers to help reduce class size, aimed at average classes of 18 students. The federal government would assist states in doing so by providing $2 billion a year in grants to attract more teachers and pay for incentives. He added that teachers should be able to start their careers at a minimum of $45,000 per year.
7:00 AM | Posted in , ,
In honor of Joe Biden as the Vice Presidential pick for the Democratic ticket, I am going to offer up some posts from the archives highlighting the man who I originally supported as the top of the ticket but am more than pleased to see back on the ticket even if it is as the VP.

Biden does custodial work for a day:

My pick for the Democratic Presidential Nominee, Joe Biden, has a video out in which he spends a day working as a custodian. I understand that it isn't much more than a publicity stunt, but I firmly believe that the world would be a much better place if we all had a better understanding of the work others go through. Good Work Joe!

'Joe Biden Walks'
5:00 PM | Posted in , ,
In honor of Joe Biden as the Vice Presidential pick for the Democratic ticket, I am going to offer up some posts from the archives highlighting the man who I originally supported as the top of the ticket but am more than pleased to see back on the ticket even if it is as the VP.

Attack Dog Biden:

Joe Biden describes Giuliani as "the most under qualified man since George Bush".

12:00 PM | Posted in , ,
In honor of Joe Biden as the Vice Presidential pick for the Democratic ticket, I am going to offer up some posts from the archives highlighting the man who I originally supported as the top of the ticket but am more than pleased to see back on the ticket even if it is as the VP.

This is from December of last year:

You may not like his politics, his verbosity, or even his thinning hair, but there is one thing you have to acknowledge about Joe Biden. He is not going to sugarcoat his beliefs and he is going to tell you what it is that he wants to do in a realistic manner. THAT is what we need in a President. We do not need someone desperately telling us everything that we want to hear or giving us glittering generalities about "staying on offense" or "defending freedom".

There are some nice personal story articles out there that talk about Biden:

ABC NEWS: "Who is Joe Biden?"

This man isn't just blowing smoke when he tells you he understands hardship:

Tragedy Strikes

However, Biden's victory celebration was short-lived. Just days before he was set to be sworn in, his wife, Neilia, and their three children got into a car accident. Neilia and their youngest child, 18-month-old Naomi, were killed. His two other sons, ages 4 and 3, were seriously injured.

Biden got the fateful phone call while at the Senate.

"I said, 'She's dead, isn't she?' I don't know what the hell made me say that. And I walked out," Biden said. "I was so angry."

Biden even contemplated suicide as a rational option after the accident.

"I never went to the bridge," Biden said. "I'd get up in the middle of the night, go out and take out a bottle of Scotch & and I'd sit at the table and I'd try to make myself just lose it. I couldn't bring myself & but the hardest part is you feel guilty when you realize you want to live. If the love was as great and as profound as you believed it to be, why would you still want to live?"

However, with the help of his friends and family Biden was pressed on and continued in the Senate, with a few alterations to his lifestyle. His sister and family moved in to Biden's home to help with the children.

"Being a single parent is hard," Biden said. "I couldn't afford to have someone take care of my kids. But I had my mother, my brothers, my sister  I had a family that just took care of me."

Biden also made the decision to commute daily to Washington from his home in Delaware. To this day, Biden still rides the train every day to work.

"My being home every day was sort of the touchstone for me. And even though all three of my kids now are out and they're grown up, I still go home every day," Biden said.
Another from the NY Times: Biden Campaigns With Ease..

Mr. Biden has survived so much personal and political catastrophe that not much about this race — not his distant standing in the polls nor his own missteps — seems to get him down. It is the last, great ride of his White House ambitions, and this time, unlike 20 years ago, he seems determined to make it right.

“This has been the easiest campaign I’ve ever run in,” Mr. Biden said cheerfully in an interview in a van at the Iowa City Airport, where he was about to board a four-seat airplane and head off into the icy December blackness for an event at Grinnell College. “I haven’t had to game anything. For real. I know what I believe, I know what I want to do, and I’m just comfortable saying it, and laying it out there.”

Biden at the Des Moines Register Debate:



Biden was a debate WINNER!

Joe Biden: Biden was extraordinary today. Not only did he speak specifically and with authority on issues both foreign and domestic, he was able to tie all of his arguments together under the umbrella of taking action and setting priorities. Biden also beat back the toughest question of the day when moderator Carolyn Ashburn asked him whether his past verbal gaffes in relation to race reflected a level of discomfort with the issue. "I got involved in politics because of the civil rights movement," Biden said with real emotion, adding that his career in the Senate reflected that commitment. When he finished speaking, all of his rivals offered a "huzzah" for his answer. Biden also played to Iowans' vanity by praising them as the foundation of democracy and asserting their right to be first. A complete performance by The Fix's Iowa darkhorse.
7:00 AM | Posted in , ,
In honor of Joe Biden as the Vice Presidential pick for the Democratic ticket, I am going to offer up some posts from the archives highlighting the man who I originally supported as the top of the ticket but am more than pleased to see back on the ticket even if it is as the VP.

This is from over a year ago:

An article appeared yesterday in "The Guardian" by Niall Stanage. It is an excellent depiction of Joe Biden as a man of practicality and candor.

A question of substance

Niall Stanage

August 13, 2007 9:30 PM

"How far can candor and substance take a politician? People claim to crave these virtues. Mourning their absence from civic life has become routine on both sides of the Atlantic.

The battle for the Democratic party's presidential nomination suggests the picture is more complicated. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware has as much substance as any other candidate. He is more candid than any of them. There is nothing wild-eyed about his policy positions. Yet opinion polls typically put his level of support below 5%. There is still plenty of time for Biden to improve his standing. He certainly deserves to do so.

Biden was first elected to the Senate 35 years ago. Now, presidential campaign aside, he is best known as the chairman of the foreign relations committee. Foreign policy is Biden's lifeblood. On Iraq, a proposal he put forward in May 2006 has been slowly but consistently gaining traction. It can be read in detail on Biden's website. In essence, it involves federalizing Iraq and creating three largely devolved regions."


Check it out:

Iraq: A Way Forward


"In an interview last week, Biden also noted that his first action if elected president would be to ask the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to convene a meeting of regional powers, including Iran and Syria, to discuss Iraq's future.

There are, of course, no guarantees that any of this would work. But, at a minimum, the proposals illustrate Biden's seriousness of purpose."

Whether it would pull us back from the precipice of failure that this administration has brought upon us can never be known. However, it should be noted that the Biden plan represents the only realistic solution blending military and political aspects to come from any of the candidates (either Republican or Democrat).

"Admirably, he seems to regard the glibness that is often the norm in presidential campaigns as a personal affront.

In the CNN/YouTube debate last month, he reacted with genuine impatience to sloganeering about pulling US troops out of Iraq immediately. "Let's get something straight," he said. "It's time to tell to start to tell the truth. The truth of the matter is if we started today, it would take one year - one year - to get 160,000 troops physically out of Iraq, logistically. That's number one. Number two, you cannot pull out of Iraq ... unless you have a political solution. I'm the only one that's offered a political solution."

It was a classic Biden moment - impassioned, serious and not overly concerned with eliciting approval.

Such views are among those that have exposed the senator to his share of sniping from the liberal blogosphere. He has been by turns conciliatory and confrontational in response. His campaign took exception to a suggestion by Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that he had sought to avoid a recent bloggers' convention. But Walter Shapiro last month reported Biden's complaints about the oft-expressed intention of the ultra-liberal netroots to "take back" the party. "They don't own the Democratic party. What are they talking about?" he pondered.

Biden's uneasy relationship with the grassroots shouldn't be taken to mean that he is reflexively centrist on every issue. He is an emphatic supporter of US intervention to help staunch the outrages in Darfur. "Where we can [help], America must," he said in the CNN debate. "Why Darfur? Because we can. We should now."

Biden has weaknesses, of course. A presidential bid came unhinged in 1987 when he appropriated, without attribution, a famous speech by Neil Kinnock. He has a reputation for being undisciplined. And this year's campaign was almost stillborn when, in an interview with my New York Observer colleague Jason Horowitz, he described Barack Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

The words clanged horribly. Yet, as Peter Beinart pointed out in the New Republic, "stupid, insensitive remarks shouldn't sink political candidacies unless they bespeak some larger animus ... His long career in congress suggests no sympathy for racists."

The reality, unfortunately, is that Biden's many strengths will count for nothing if his ability to raise money does not improve. Asked in Iowa last month how he might break into the first tier of Democratic candidates, Biden replied, "I don't know what the hell I'm gonna do ... I thought a lot more about what I would do as president than how to get elected president. I'm trying like the devil to change that."

Still, it's far from impossible to see a scenario in which Biden could vault into serious contention. The shallow opportunism of John Edwards becomes more apparent with each passing week. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are much stronger, but not without their respective Achilles' heels.

In Clinton's case, her high unfavorability ratings remain, as does the suspicion that, if asked what she thought of today's weather, she would calculate the electoral pros and cons of every possible response before replying. Obama has the charisma to drown Biden, Clinton and everyone else, but he has made some foreign policy missteps recently and his debate performances have been more halting than many expected.
Biden says that "honest to God" he believes he will be his party's presidential nominee. Perhaps time will prove that optimism misplaced. Or perhaps the Dems will eventually turn in his direction.

At the least, the senator from Delaware is worthy of much more serious consideration than he has so far received."
7:59 PM | Posted in , ,
Feel free to add your own answer...

7:12 PM | Posted in , ,
So, I sat around all day long quizzing myself on how many houses I owned (ONE). I even tried to trip myself up by asking the question really fast (ONE). I asked everyone I know how many houses they own (ONE). I hid in the bushes, lunged out at passers by, and demanded to know how many houses they own (ONE). Not once was I able to trip anyone up.

Who knew that the question could be so difficult for some:



H/T to Wonkette for the graphic:
And the appropriate smackdown in 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1:
The Obama Campaign needs to start rolling out a whole lot more of these ads to hit McCain. It is high time we took off the gloves:



It reminds me of my own representation in Congress, who believes this economy is super awesome...

There is an excellent LTE in the Sherburne Citizen posted yesterday. It takes Mark Olson to task and essentially portrays him as someone who is running for office simply because he needs a job and the health care benefits that go along with that job. It is ironic that the man who so vehemently hates government is trying so desperately to stay in that government.

Check it out:

The Aug. 2 letter from Mark Olson displays no remorse for his past behavior. He blames others by saying that he is the victim of "misinformation and politically malicious lies".

He judges others but is incapable of self judgment. He wants to convince us, as he has convinced his wife, that his re-election is "so important" that he must run. He sees his "eight victorious elections" as a sign of God's support. History proves that political success is not a sign of righteousness. Marks self love has led to the false pride, arrogance and ambition that will eventually undo his political career. He needs private, not public redemption.

Mark is a carpenter who, as a legislator, has participated in creating an economy in which it is difficult for a carpenter to find enough work to support a family. This, I believe, is the real driver behind Mark's need to run.

A legislator receives excellent pay for the hours worked and high quality health care and retirement benefits all paid for by the taxes that Mark claims he doesn't like. The job doesn't need Mark, Mark needs the job.

There are other good people running for this position that are more deserving.

Ron Thiessen

Becker, Mn

Infrequent contributor to this blog, Taxpaying Liberal, made this comment about the Thiessen LTE:

The Republicans have been accusing the Democrats of exploiting Marks legal problems and until now that was a weak case as Democrats have not commented on the internal problems of the Republican Party inSD16.

Now they can point to letters like this one and unite their party against the Democrats.

Thank God this guy steps up and writes a letter that may end the internal Republican fighting and unite their party.

The author is a director of the Sherburne Co DFL which makes this letter even worse. Instead of sticking to facts and sighting quotes from Olson, he plays DR. Phil and wildly speculates about Olson’s motives for running.

This is a text book example of how not to win votes and influence people. A 100% negative letter against a candidate never works with undecided voters or swing voters. It may make the base happy but they were already with you.

Let’s hope in the future both sides will speak for a candidate instead of confining themselves to being wholly negative.


While weighing in on the infighting between Krueger supporters and Olson supporters, this blog has also tried to inject positive press for the DFL candidate in this race. This blog, while liberal in nature is by no means beholden to the DFL or its candidates and if those candidates or their surrogates screw up I will be more than willing to report that. That being said, is this a strategic blunder by Thiessen and the Democratic Party in SD16? Is it a strategic blunder for Democrats to weigh in at all on this situation? You be the judge...


In primary polling news, Krueger supporters have swung the numbers back in her favor and she is now leading Mark Olson 54% to 46%. I will keep this poll open for another few days so that we can get more respondents. If you live in Senate District 16, and have not yet taken the polls, you can click on them in the top left sidebar. Comments on the state of this race are welcomed and for other coverage I would encourage people to stay tuned to myself, Lloydletta's Nooz, Dump Mark Olson, Blue Man, MNPublius, and what appears to be the Mark Olson Defense Team blog. Oh, and if you want to find some strategic outrage you can visit the Brodkorb blog.
8:24 PM | Posted in
A friend of mine from college, Jeremiah Liend, is currently running (for the second time) to become Mayor of Bemidji. Good luck, Jeremiah!






From his website:

A letter from Jeremiah:

Dearest Bemidji,

Hello there. I am Jeremiah Liend. Today I filed for the office of mayor. It is a decision I have considered well during the last four years. Four years ago I ran for the same office on a platform of change. I ran with a campaign budget of $200. I ran for the common man. Over 1,200 fine people cast their lot with me in the belief that I had the ability to affect change and I thank them for their votes. Four years later I have seen little change for the better.

The last few years I have been listening. I do not listen merely in conference rooms or halls. I listen where my people congregate. My people work the unpleasant jobs that keep the stuttering gears of commerce grinding away. My people are uninsured and desperate for a chance. My people are a renegade assortment of artisans and merchants hoping for the American dream to be more than just that. My people are mad as hell. They are the people who encourage me to fight the good fight and to that end, I enter the ring. To my people I tip my hat and assure them that a vote for me is a vote for them.

There are a number of failures and shortcomings I could rail against. Every mistake over the last four years has been mentally catalogued and filed. But I do not want to play that game. I don’t want to tear anyone down or point fingers. Rather I would like to offer a vision of something better. More complete and powerful than anyone is willing to offer these days. Inside me dwells a pack of dreams and machinations to make Bemidji into the city I know it can be.

The people in power want to see Bemidji evolve into the next Brainerd or Saint Cloud. The cities they strive to become are limited by their fear of the unknown and the grumbling dissent of the old guard’s status quo. I have no such fear. When I look into the future I see Bemidji taking it’s rightful place as the crowned city of the Mississippi, a sibling of the Saints Paul and Louis and the mouth to New Orleans roar. The one city the mighty Mississippi would travel north to visit deserves better. I defy those who claim it cannot be done. We are a community of great people and I truly believe that, working together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

I have assembled a series of stratagems called “The Bunyan Initiative”. It’s end game is to make our city famed and prosperous. Our Florence but requires the Medici, men and women with the power, will, and ability to invest in the vast reserves of talent we have left unexplored for far too long. When I look at the marvel of Bemidji what I find most amazing [and tragic] is not that it lacks in ability and resource, but that our leaders have not used them. Production companies lurk in basements, desperate for assistance. Local business owners facing recession combat a legion of corporations without ally or weapon. Three great colleges see students arrive, learn, and escape without a second glance to an anemic and failing job market.

Amid it all I find myself wanting only one job and one charge. I want the office of mayor for but a two year term in which I hope to wrestle the wheel of progress away from the discouraged and fearful and direct our course into a bright new future. A future where taxes are eliminated and not raised. A future where our people speak out and our leaders listen. This is your wake up call to the revolution. You need not live in anger and fear of being ignored any longer. I will bring your word to those in power and they will tremble from your assembled voice.

I make these promises: First; I will fill every vacant downtown storefront with local business owners by the end of my two years. The first component of “The Bunyan Initiative” details just how to do it. Second; I will always vote for bids to go to local companies. The time of throwing your tax dollars out of Bemidji will end. We are not a group of bumpkins and incompetents but a powerful assembly of greater Minnesota’s best and brightest. And finally I promise to place the struggling masses of rent-poor wage-earners that this city is built on in the forefront of every policy I enact and every vote that I cast.

Four years ago I ran on a platform of change. I ran for the common man and nearly a quarter of Bemidji believed I had the ability. Four years later I have seen little change for the better. This time around I am taking no prisoners. I need your help to make this revolution a reality.

If everyone who voted for me in the prior election convinced two other people to vote for me, it would be a victory for the books. I thank you in advance for your time, your vote, or any other assistance you would lend to me.

Yours most sincerely,

Jeremiah T. Liend


He also has a video up on youtube:

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There is an excellent LTE in the Sherburne Citizen posted yesterday. It takes Mark Olson to task and essentially portrays him as someone who is running for office simply because he needs a job and the health care benefits that go along with that job. It is ironic that the man who so vehemently hates government is trying so desperately to stay in that government.

Check it out:

The Aug. 2 letter from Mark Olson displays no remorse for his past behavior. He blames others by saying that he is the victim of "misinformation and politically malicious lies".

He judges others but is incapable of self judgment. He wants to convince us, as he has convinced his wife, that his re-election is "so important" that he must run. He sees his "eight victorious elections" as a sign of God's support. History proves that political success is not a sign of righteousness. Marks self love has led to the false pride, arrogance and ambition that will eventually undo his political career. He needs private, not public redemption.

Mark is a carpenter who, as a legislator, has participated in creating an economy in which it is difficult for a carpenter to find enough work to support a family. This, I believe, is the real driver behind Mark's need to run.

A legislator receives excellent pay for the hours worked and high quality health care and retirement benefits all paid for by the taxes that Mark claims he doesn't like. The job doesn't need Mark, Mark needs the job.

There are other good people running for this position that are more deserving.

Ron Thiessen

Becker, Mn


In primary polling news, Krueger supporters have swung the numbers back in her favor and she is now leading Mark Olson 54% to 46%. I will keep this poll open for another few days so that we can get more respondents. If you live in Senate District 16, and have not yet taken the polls, you can click on them in the top left sidebar. Comments on the state of this race are welcomed and for other coverage I would encourage people to stay tuned to myself, Lloydletta's Nooz, Dump Mark Olson, Blue Man, MNPublius, and what appears to be the Mark Olson Defense Team blog. Oh, and if you want to find some strategic outrage you can visit the Brodkorb blog.
11:19 PM | Posted in , ,
Not more than a couple weeks ago, talking to a group of colleagues, I was describing McCain in this exact same way:


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9:58 PM | Posted in , ,
I received this article in an email. It is a great comparison of the world views of the two Presidential candidates:

Worlds Apart
McCain's Clarity vs. Obama's Nuance

By Sally Quinn
Monday, August 18, 2008; Page A11

When I was little, I had a recurrent dream that there was a terrible earthquake. My father, his body a horse with wings, swooped down from the sky, kneeled so I could jump on his back and flew away just as the earth cracked open beneath me. It was my most comforting dream. I want to live in that world again. I want to live in John McCain's world. My father was a military man. My parents were friends of McCain's parents and lived in the same apartment building. My father's closest friend was Barry Goldwater, McCain's mentor. Those were the days when men were men, when the differences between good and evil were clear, when they knew where they stood on every issue, when life was less complicated, when there was an air of insouciance, no matter how difficult the issues.

I want to live in a world where Gen. David Petraeus and Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, are the wisest people I know, where offshore drilling will help ease our energy crisis, where a guy stays in a Vietnamese prison camp even when told he could get out, and has great stories to tell. I want to live in a world where I was absolutely certain that life begins at conception, where a man is a maverick and stands up against his Senate colleagues when he disagrees with them, where the only thing to do with evil is defeat it, where a guy will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell to capture him.

I want to believe that our biggest enemy is radical Islamist terrorists. I want to be part of a world that doesn't have to raise taxes; where America is a beacon, a shining city on a hill; where our values are simply Judeo-Christian values; and where a man always puts his country first. I want to be one of "my friends."

By the time McCain finished his interview with pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, Saturday night, part of a forum that also featured Barack Obama, I was curled up in a fetal position in my chair, wrapped in a mohair throw, practically sucking my thumb.

McCain did a great job of making me feel confident. He was clearly in his element at Saddleback, among supportive evangelical Christians, and he went a long way toward alleviating their fears about his inability to communicate with them in their own language.

Obama came first, and he handled himself well in front of an audience that clearly disagrees with him on many issues. He also managed to put to rest the notion that he is a Muslim, which 12 percent of Americans still believe he is. He talked directly to Rick Warren as though they were having a real conversation, whereas McCain played to the audience, rarely looking at Warren. He was low-key, thoughtful and nuanced.

That kind of nuance is hard to understand sometimes -- it's unclear, complicated. Obama's world can be scarier. It's multicultural. It's realistic (yes, there is evil on the streets of this country as well as in other places, and a lot of evil has been perpetrated in the name of good). It's honest. When does life begin? Only the antiabortionists are clear on that. For the majority of Americans (who are pro-choice), it is "above my pay grade," in Obama's words, where there is no hard and fast line to draw on what's worth dying for, and where people of all faiths have to be respected.

I would rather live in McCain's world than Obama's. But I believe that we live in Obama's world.

Afterward, the commentators talked abut how Obama needs to have better stories, to be more accessible and less aloof, and to have sharper, shorter, simpler answers rather than be so cerebral. But Obama is authentic. He is who he is. To try to change would be a mistake. Al Gore's handlers decided he was too stiff and tried to loosen him up. What they did was rob him of his authenticity instead.

This was not a debate. There was not a winner or a loser. The one sure winner was Rick Warren, who overnight changed the face of evangelicals in this country from the cartoon caricature of rigid, right-wing fundamentalists to one of open-minded, intelligent, concerned citizens. There were grumblings that the forum should not have been held in a church. But Warren managed to keep the religious aspect of the event to a minimum, including in his questions. And he followed his own advice, the lead sentence of his best-selling book "The Purpose-Driven Life." It wasn't all about him.

Now, can we have more of these events in Catholic churches, mosques, synagogues and ethical society meeting halls? Or would that be too much Obama's world?

The writer is a co-moderator, with Jon Meacham, of On Faith, an online conversation on religion.

I too, would love to live in a world where everything is so clearly black or white. It would make decisions and issues that much easier. However, we live in a dynamic world where things just aren't that simple. Despite what some conservatives would have you believe, there are always more than two sides to an issue and countless variables that must be considered.

The media has been increasingly mentioning Delaware Senator, Joe Biden as the potential VP pick for Barack Obama. While some in my own party are less than thrilled about this choice, I couldn't be happier that Obama may choose Biden. He was my first pick to be the Presidential nominee and I truly believe he is one of the brightest public servants we have in this country:

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.

Beyond the calculations of geography, because we all know that Delaware is going to vote Democrat, Biden brings a couple of very important features to the ticket that compliment Obama:

1. Biden as policy wonk to Obama's vision: Barack Obama is perhaps the best speaker of this generation and lays out a vision of the United States that is appealing to a vast swath of the American public. When you couple that with the ability of Joe Biden to get into the minutae of issues and come to common sense solutions you have a lethal combination that might be able to truly solve the pressing issues of our day. Specifically, on the issue of Iraq, Biden remains the only person to get to the heart of the problem and offer a solution that will bring our troops home and keep Iraq from descending into chaos.

2. Biden as attack dog: There are few politicians out there who can match the beat down skills of Senator Joe Biden. During the primaries, Biden was more than willing to smack down people such as Rudy Giuliani and President Bush and highlight their utter incompetence. Unfortunately, during the past couple of election cycles we have not had someone willing to get down into the muck where Republicans spend their entire existence and match them blow for blow. While Obama has made some attacks on McCain, a Biden partnership could turn those few jabs into a barrage the likes of which we have not seen in a very long time.

Of all the choices Barack Obama could make to turn the Democratic ticket into an unstoppable force, the right choice has to be Joe Biden.
The Republican Party is at odds about whether or not Mark Olson deserves support after his endorsement by Senate District 16. While most able minded individuals would have little internal struggle over supporting or shunning a convicted abuser, Republicans are having a difficult time on the support vs. shun question.

In order to continue his meme of attack on Al Franken, Michael Brodkorb decided to throw Olson under the bus early last week. He urged the Senate Republican Caucus to join him in shunning a locally endorsed candidate. Hearing that order from on high, the caucus took the appropriate action and told voters in Senate District 16 that their endorsed candidate was undesirable and would not be welcome within the party. In addition to that, Norm Coleman took the unusual step of taking the wheel of the bus Olson had been thrown under and backing it up to make sure that he and Brodkorb were cleared of any charges of hypocrisy and could resume their attacks on what a person writes and jokes about.

You might think that these actions would make it clear that the vast majority of Republicans do not support the election of a convicted abuser but you would be wrong. First, the Republican Party has already stated that it is a party of local control and refused to denounce the actions taken by Senate District 16.

"We are a party of local control, and the Senate District 16 Republicans have endorsed Mark Olson, and we respect that decision," said Minnesota Republican Party communications director Gina Countryman.

Second, Olson supporters are fighting back through letter writing campaigns and the blogosphere to explain away the abuse and express outrage that outsiders in their own party would interfere with an endorsement that saw Olson garner 90+ votes (well over the two-thirds needed).

Finally, Jason Lewis took some time out of his show to devote to slamming Brodkorb and others who he deemed "elitist party hacks" (h/t to Dump Mark Olson) for jumping in to a local election. During the show, to further confuse the issue, 6th District Republican Chair, Mark Swanson called in and refused to denounce the candidate or the endorsement. So, as of right now you have the local and state party at odds with the Senate Caucus, Coleman, and Brodkorb.

The support vs. shun question remains unchanged for Republicans despite the best efforts of Brodkorb, Coleman, and the Senate Republican Caucus. However, the Great Divide asks a pertinent question: Don't Wackos Deserve Representation, Too?

In polling news, Mark Olson is currently leading Alison Krueger 55% to 45% on the primary election question. Olson supporters appear to be coming out in droves to support the man and his actions. You can continue voting on this and the two general election polls located at the top of the left sidebar.

All of this infighting and controversy leads one to ponder what the chances are of a DFL takeover in Senate District 16.
Over the past week there has been an onslaught of letters in the St. Cloud Times touting the candidacy of DFL candidate, Joanne Dorsher. The theme of each has been to positively explain who Joanne is and what she is about. While some will claim that these editorials are little more than platitude laden fluff pieces, they fail to see the experience angle being laid out by each of these successive editorials. Dorsher has been in the trenches trying to improve the educational opportunities of our children and volunteering to further that education beyond the walls of the school building.

From the August 12th letter:

Joanne has shown that she cares for the quality of life in our community. Our children have benefited from her years of service on the St. Cloud school board and as a volunteer in our schools. Joanne has supported the St. Cloud Public Library. She is a member of the St. Cloud Friends of the Library and volunteers in the bookstore.

From the August 13th letter:

She has shown herself to be an enthusiastic and responsible leader serving our community. Before she was elected to the St. Cloud school board, she spent many hours tutoring public school students in reading and math and leading academic extracurricular programs. She also volunteered with the Adult Basic Education program, especially helping English language learners.

From the August 17th letter:

From the time she arrived in Central Minnesota 18 years ago, Joanne has been a community builder who does her homework and works behind the scenes to get things done.

Not only has she served in elected office on the St. Cloud school board, Joanne has also served in numerous other civic positions, including on the board of G.R.E.A.T. Theater, as a Girl Scout leader and a member of the NAACP and Interfaith Alliance. She works quietly and effectively to build relationships and accomplish goals.

This is an extremely impressive resume when you consider that much of the work at the Capitol is centered around education and children. It is quite easy for people to dictate from afar what and how we should be teaching our children and it is a common problem affecting both Republican and Democratic politicians. However, the experience and real life solutions come when you have actually stood in front of a large group of children and tried to get them all moving in the same direction and at the same pace. That is the experience of Joanne Dorsher.

When you compare that to her "Just Say NO" to education and everything else opponent who has spent nary a moment in a classroom, it is absolutely clear who people should be supporting come this November. Couple that with his connections to organizations bent on destroying public education and his shameful lack of support for anything advocated by Education Minnesota there is little choice for those concerned about the educational opportunities of our kids.
3:15 PM | Posted in
Recently, a colleague of mine introduced me to a fantastic website known as Wordle. Since that introduction, I have been wasting large amounts of time playing around with the site.

What is wordle?

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Being the huge history & politics nerd that I am, I decided to use the site to conduct an experiment.

What would the Inaugural Addresses of our President's look like in wordle form and more importantly could you determine whether the wordle is from a Republican President or Democratic President? If you are really talented, you may even be able to determine which President each wordle represents. Remember, though, that these are their words and not necessarily their deeds.

I will give you one hint: These two represent President's from the past 60 years.

Wordle #1
(click on the image for a larger view)

Wordle #2
(click on the image for a larger view)
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